Photo sunset over the Pedernal
Sunset over the Pedernal
Hi all –
Another quiet week without much from the FAA – except that they pulled some guys pilot license for flying over Coney Island. C’mon man, no hotdogging.
And then there was the amazing news that 3DR dodged the bullet again when a Board member came up with a $29M infusion. You’ve got to figure he knows something. So congrats to Chris and Colin for keeping the dream alive.
There are a number of articles this week that I have devoted considerable time to, starting with Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins annual Internet Trends presentation which is eagerly awaited by many. Last year drones were front and center, this year not so much but there are important trends in sharing video and images, transportation and data that directly apply and I’ve pulled those out for you. And if you’re wondering what the thud in your wallet is, one reason is that Internet growth is slowing.
Patrick Egan had a huge keynote at sUSB Expo at the end of April that was a very powerful call to action to the entire industry. It was just released on YouTube and I spent some time breaking it down. It’s a message about taking responsibility and keeping it real that, if taken to heart, should make a nice difference.
It’s interesting to contrast Patrick’s speech with a panel of consumer drone manufacturers at RISE, a big tech conference in HongKong. All four executives seem to believe that the solution to regulation is technology.
If you want some inside scoop on these manufacturers take a look at these two articles. The first one looks at it from an investment perspective and includes Zano, 3DR, Yuneec, DJI and three you’ve never heard of. The second looks at the R&D philosophies and capabilities of Yuneec, Zerotech, 3DR and DJI.
Enrico Shaefer’s ( predictions about what a post Part 107 world will look like is another one I spent some time on. The big headline is that while 333 exemptions are typically held by a business entity (eg corp, LLC etc.) Part 107 licenses will be issued to individual operator.s While I agree that doing away with the pilot’s license requirement will open up the field, I think it will come with heavy burdens. This will create a lot of changes in the market – most obviously in insurance.
That segues nicely to a terrific interview in Robotics with Mike Kelly, the Media Risk Control Manager at Prosight Specialty Insurance, which insures businesses that use commercial drones. Greg Nichols asked a lot of thoughtful questions – one take away I had is just how 333 centric the current underwriting model is.
It also lines up with with an article by Jeremiah Karpowicz on crossing all the ‘t’s’ and dotting all the ‘i’s’ before you charge for flying your drone. Again another 333/pilot centric model.
If you get the feeling that I think that the FAA is creating a four class system consisting of 333 holders, 107 holders, consumer registration holders and model aircraft holders you’re right. Argus’ purchase of USI (Unmanned Safety Institute) marks the second aviation training company to enter the fray in recent weeks. Confusion in the marketplace is coming at a high rate of speed.
The flip side of this is a fast growing effort to protect all manner of people and places from the onslaught of rogue drones. The Economist takes a look at the contest sponsored by MITRE on behalf of the Feds, and comes away with some sobering insights. It is illegal to use radar, it is illegal to intercept and jam signals and it is illegal to interfere with an aircraft in flight. Clearly something has got to give, more likely many things.
Meanwhile the FAA isn’t letting any grass grow under their feet. They have now added the world’s first fully integrated detect-track-disrupt-defeat Anti-UAV Defense System (AUDS) for evaluation at US airports as part of its Pathfinder Program. This is one bad mother.
Faine Greenwood writing for Slate proposes a set of voluntary rules for good drone citizenship that begin with the advice to put down the beer, avoid the dog park, and stay away from forest fires. I think that this makes at least as much sense as the NTIA’s voluntary best practices and propose a mashup.
Of course we have some eye candy for you. If you are absolutely not afraid of heights – and I mean not the least bit queasy – then you’ll enjoy this drone’s eye view of BASE jumpers in Norway. And if you’re a water sign or your tastes run more towards David Attenborough and The Living Desert, take a look at this stunning project documenting whales in the Sea of Cortez.
Thanks for reading and for sharing.
Christopher Korody

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