'In Memoriam' Edition of Dronin' On 01.14.17
Walk In Beauty All Around You

Hi all –

I have been in LA since last week supporting my mother who passed last night. I would not bring it to your attention except that she was the first investor in DroneBusiness.center. While her passions were art, music and literature, she shared my excitement for technology and our emerging industry.

Until a few months ago, she read every issue of Dronin’ On, gleefully pointing out the typos, asking what UTM was and wanting to know how geofencing worked and whether it was important. She passed last night within minutes of my putting this issue to bed. She was 93. If you enjoy Dronin’ On, please say a little prayer for your Mom – or better yet give her a call.

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta kicked off the New Year at CES with a speech entitled “Drones: A Story of Revolution and Evolution“. The line that stuck out to me was “Over the past year, over 670,000 drone pilots have registered their aircraft; this includes more than 37,000 in the last two weeks of December alone.” Let’s play a quick round of what’s wrong with this picture – the FAA estimated 2016 Christmas drone sales north of 1 million – 37,000 is not even a
rounding error.

Commercial Drones And A Look Into The Future At CES 2017 from Jeremiah Karpowicz reinforces what I said last week – 2017 is not starting out as a big year for aircraft manufacturers. There’s from Yuneec, DRONE VOLT and Byrd. Yes, that’s it.

Safe to say the predicted consumer industry shakeout is continuing into 2017. To no one’s surprise, Lily finally admitted that their drone will never fly and has promised rebates to everyone who placed an advance order. To quote the press release, it’s a story of losing “a race against a clock of ever-diminishing funds.” I have to say that if these guys can come up with $34M after running out of money they are pretty smart. Gary Mortimer at sUAS News has the obit.

Meanwhile, Parrot is laying off over a third of their workforce. The news tanked the stock which trades on the Paris Bourse. An interview with CEO Henri Seydoux made it clear that they are either pivoting or reinventing themselves. “By rapidly reorganizing the company, I am confident in the excellence of our technological choices and our ability to remain a leader while renewing with sustainable and profitable growth.” Why not reboot US marketing while you’re at it? Here is the press release and here are the numbers. It is ironic that last year at CES, Seydoux predicted an industry bloodbath.

On the subject of toys, the NYT came out with Santa Delivered the Drone. But Not the Safety and Skill to Fly Them. “On Christmas Day, with Twitter full of drone drama, Faine Greenwood, a researcher on unmanned aerial technology at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, retweeted messages under the hashtag #dronecrashmas. This was the second year she has “followed the drone-crash beat,” she said. “It’s becoming a major theme on Christmas Day.”

Got a note from reader Rob Thompson, a UAS lobbyist with FalconFoundationUAS.com asking me to share an interview he did with Patrick Egan called “Winds Of Change” on his sUAS News podcast series. The interview explores how our industry “heavies” have squandered numerous opportunities to influence the FAA and Congress. This is Egan at his best, using his encyclopedic knowledge of the issues to great effect. (Polite for body part rearrangement.)

Virginia Tech Assessing Injury Risk From Unmanned Aircraft falls under the category of It’s About Time. “I see this research as having two key pieces,” said Mark Blanks, the director of the Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership. “First, what is the risk of injury: how likely are these impacts, how hard are they, and are impacts at that level dangerous? And second, what can we do, from an engineering or operational perspective, to reduce that risk?” Hopefully, the FAA will delay issuing the NPRM until these good people (and others) have completed
their research.

This by the way, is exactly the kind of research that Egan has been arguing that the industry should have been investing in for the past few years. You know, facts people can use to help the Kool Aid go down…

New Generation of Drones Set to Revolutionize Warfare is a 60 Minutes report on the use of swarms by the military. This is real world Swarm Troopers stuff. “This swarm over the California desert is like nothing the U.S. military has ever fielded before. Each of those tiny drones is flying itself. Humans on the ground have given them a mission to patrol a three-square mile area, but the drones are figuring out for themselves how to do it.”  They dropped 100+ drones from special pods on F-18s – not exactly cost effective but they will get there. If you get WaPo check out the video from the test at China Lake.

From the other side of the trench, ISIL Ramps Up Fight With Weaponised Drones is noteworthy because it was published in Al Jazeera. To no one’s surprise, the bad guys are moving past DJIs and are building ever bigger and deadlier fixed wing flying IEDs. “In addition to using drones for reconnaissance in Iraq, ISIL has been sending them out with bombs attached. If they continue along this path, then we should be worried, because they still have a strong research and development capacity, have advanced their production abilities in the past, and still have the workshops capable of building sophisticated devices.”

Jetstream: 2016 And Beyond, the annual forecast from Global Aerospace, has an entire section headlined Steep Learning Curve For UAS. The article notes that “With the reassurance of greater regulatory certainty, this buoyant industry is advancing at a staggering pace.” There is a great punch list of five questions to help potential corporate users evaluate their needs – flip it around and it makes a handy dandy way to approach a sale.

In Data From Drones: How Companies Can Collect, Store And Use These Insights. 5 members of Forbes Technology Council offer their insights into how they see companies storing and using the massive amounts of data gleaned from drones. Not earthshaking but a good overview of the challenges with some
staggering statistics.

Oil & Gas UK have launched their seminal drone guidelines to industry, ‘Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Operations Management Standards and Guidelines’, in partnership with an expert panel, including Sky-Futures. “The intention is to encourage offshore operators planning on using this emerging technology to think about the whole operating and safety system offshore and not just the air vehicle,” said Mick Borwell, health, safety and environment director with Oil & Gas UK. This appears to be very much along the lines of NATE and the Fire Chiefs guidelines we reported last week. Note there is a charge to download the document.

In a related story Sky-Futures is rolling out a comprehensive  Basic Drone Certification Course; “”he new course will enable persons and organisations in the UK to reach the basic standard required to operate drones under a CAA Permission for Commercial Operations (PfCO)”. This is a powerful combination that I expect will be augmented by industry specific training.

If you feel like doing some traveling, there are upcoming drone events in Brussels and Barcelona in March and Athens in June. Mom knew and liked all of them.

Thank you for reading and for sharing.


Christopher Korody
follow me @dronewriter










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