The 'Tequila Sunrise' issue of Dronin' On 08.25.18
Check out the 1999 performance!

The Eagles Greatest Hits 1971-1975 just passed Thriller as the best selling album of all time. How ’bout another tequila sunrise to see the summer off?


Hi all –

The interview I did with Randy Goers of the Drone Radio Show, Stuck Between UAV Legislation & Regulation is read. I’ve embedded the link at the end. It’s like Dronin’ On for your headphones.

This week the FAA, UAS IPP, ULC, sUAS weaponization around the world, Smart Thinking, why wildland fire is not neutral, the world’s biggest airplane and yet another Holy _____ moment.


Wednesday Morning Transportation reported that we’re still stuck:

BREAK THE CYCLE: Every day brings lawmakers closer to the deadline to reauthorize the FAA, and both funding the government and confirming a Supreme Court nominee are on their to-do list for September. But Senate Commerce ChairmanJohn Thune (R-SD) told reporters Tuesday he isn’t planning yet for an FAA extension. His concern: Congress will continue to kick the can with more extensions. “We go down that path and I just think it’s really — it ends badly.” 

Friday they added: A TRUCK-SIZED BARRIER: A commercial trucking issue continues to stand in the way of a hotline on amendments to the Senate FAA bill (S. 1405 (115)), which is leaving floor time out of reach. “We’re looking at all potential avenues to get the bill on the president’s desk and signed into law before the Sept. 30 deadline. All avenues,” Thune said.

Bowing to the inevitable, LeClair Ryan has again postponed their FAA Reauthorization Webinar until September 19, 2018.  “Hopefully by then we will have an actual FAA Reauthorization Act that we can analyze in detail.”

I have been working with the InterDrone panelists for FAA Regulations: The Latest Outlook which will immediately follow FAA Acting Administrator Dan Elwell’s keynote. Here are some of the topics that we are expecting Dan to cover that we will be discussing:

  • 100,000 RPICS
  • Remote ID and 336 – what if?
  • LAANC beta is coming to an end – what’s next? And will he talk
    about utilization?
  • UAS IPP is getting off the ground – how will this influence decision making?
  • ULC – though Dan probably won’t say a word a number of the panelists are eager to tear into this.


UAS IPP is just getting off the ground. Because of the way IPP was structured, there is no consistent reporting, nor is there any “transparency” into the program as a whole. Hopefully the FAA will figure out how to “roll up” the results. Until then it will be catch as catch can. Here are some early reports to give you a taste of things to come – plenty of civic pride showing.

In Kansas, KDOT Launches Its First Flight in Federal Drone Program The goal of this program is to improve drone technology, so drones can be used in many industries, including infrastructure and agriculture in Kansas.

North Dakota Drone Facility Gets Federal OK to Expand Testing The new authorization means Grand Sky can fly larger UAS aircrafts at higher altitudes, Northern Plains site director Nicholas Flom said.

San Diego Drone IPP Launches with Cape Telepresence Tech In San Diego, the focus is on food and medicine delivery, border protection and public safety, with partners including Cape, Intel, Uber, AT&T, the city of Chula Vista and some
local schools.

And in North Carolina, NCDOT to Hold Public Meeting in Raleigh for UAS Integration Pilot Program The N.C. Department of Transportation will hold a public meeting in Raleigh Aug. 30 to provide information about its program to test the use of commercial drones for the delivery of medical supplies.


I expect the proposed Drone Tort Law to be a hot topic at InterDrone and Commercial UAV Expo – for all the details please see the Bright Line issue.

David Fidler writing for the Council on Foreign Relations, The Drone Revolution Shakes Up Tort Law argues that the impact of the initiative will extend far beyond
the statehouse.

Although only a discussion draft, the proposed act is a significant inflection point in policy and legal debates about drones. State lawmakers, who have been active in regulating drone use, will study this authoritative proposal. The draft act will also influence how executive branch activities, such as the Unmanned Aircraft System Integration Pilot Program, and  proposed legislation in Congress, such as the Drone Federalism Act, further integrate drones into national airspace while respecting property and privacy rights.   

Here’s a carefully researched article from veteran filmmaker Douglas Spotted Eagle of the Sundance Media Group, Property Owner “Air Rights:” Fact or Fiction? If a Homeowner Doesn’t Own the Air Above Their Home, Who Does?

But…what about the UAS the hovers in a backyard and takes photos of sunbathing children? Doesn’t the FAA regulate this? Doesn’t the homeowner have “air rights?”

No to both questions.

What the homeowner does have, is a potential claim of invasion of privacy… Each state has its own definition of “invasion of privacy” and there are no federal laws, and no FAA position on this topic.

Which of course is the problem that ULC will tell you they are trying to solve. Hat’s off to Douglas who took the time to have the article vetted by several attorneys. Love his last line:

At the end of the day, it is the responsibility of the UAS pilot to be familiar with all local and State regulations regarding UAS flight, and aware of what is and is not permissible. After all, being fully informed is but one facet of being a professional, wouldn’t you agree?

PrecisionHawk SVP Diana Marina Cooper’s op-ed for The HillDrone Benefits Are Here to Stay – the FAA’s Drone Oversight Should Be Too gives voice to a growing concern in the community about the implications of ULC.

…Some entrepreneurs support state and local drone regulations because they see opportunity in complexity, even though it would hurt responsible drone businesses. Their data-broker business models depend on a patchwork of local laws that would require every drone pilot, even kids flying toys in their backyards, to use an app to explain ever-changing airspace restrictions and altitude limits. 


This is a random collection of reports from around the world that are influencing the perception of the domestic threat.

Avionics reports Trump Nominee for DHS Undersecretary Advocates Anti-Drone Bill. This is the one that is now an amendment to the Senate Reauthorization bill,
S. 1405.

Current law allows for detecting and tracking of UAS, “but we’re not able to take any mitigation actions,” William Bryan, the Trump administration’s nominee to be DHS Undersecretary of Science and Technology, said at his Senate confirmation hearing. “We cannot even do research, development, testing and evaluation in an operational environment.” [Could you have one without the other?]

In the January 2018 CES Show issue, I carried a story about a 13 aircraft  sUAS attack on a Russian airbase in SyriaIt must be working because Russia Says Drone Attacks on Its Syria Base Have Increased:

Russian air defense assets in Syria have downed 45 drones targeting their main base in the country, its military said Thursday, after an attack by the Islamic State group on a Syrian army base a day earlier killed seven troops.

Here’s a recent CNN report. For more background, here are two from January in The Drive and The Aviationist.

Russia is not the only country countering a drone problem – the French Defense Ministry published Chammal: Anti-Drone Fight at the Planned Air Base in Jordan. [translation is by Google]

The proposed air base (BAP) in Jordan has experts and equipment in place to guard against the overflight of potentially dangerous drones… The detachment is implementing a cell dedicated to anti-drone control composed mainly of operators from different air-surface defense squadrons (EDSA).

Demon with RPG-26 Grenade LauncherSo what is the problem? The Demon will be for somebody, Ukrainian Company Unveils New Drone With Grenade Launcher

The first prototype of the Demon UAV is fitted with the RPG-26 grenade launcher. The configuration… is designed for pre-emptive surprise attacks on armored vehicles, firing points, air defense systems, enemy headquarters at distances up to 10 km. 

InSightCrime asks Are Armed Drones the Weapon of the Future for Mexico’s Cartels?

Drones are gaining popularity throughout Latin America among criminal groups and law enforcement officials for their ability to traffic drugs and carry out surveillance. But their use, or intended use, by organized crime to execute violent attacks is a recent development.

As Mexico’s criminal world continues to fragment… these groups may start to use drones as an “offensive weapon simply because it will not require the loss of human personnel, which is difficult to replace especially if they are trained and have a full understanding of the cartel’s operations.” [my emphasis]

courtesy Martek Marine+

UK based Martek Marine is now offering their free Guide to Addressing Emerging Drone Threats in Ship Security Plans.

Terrorist use of drones deploying explosives is already well documented and the potential for a drone to deliver an explosive charge through the deck of an oil/gas tanker, passenger ship or port facility with potentially catastrophic results is a stark reality. Vessels and cargo in port or at anchor are ‘sitting ducks’ and currently powerless to know if/when they’re going to be attacked, let alone be in a position to defend against the threat. takes a somewhat contrarian tack arguing that Consumer Drones Are Propaganda Tools, Not Killing Machines:

While no data is available, Bellingcat researcher Nick Waters roughly estimates that the number of casualties from commercial drones is somewhere in the high hundreds, the vast majority if not all of which having occurred in active war zones.

 So far drones remain a worrisome but still largely theoretical threat compared to, for example, the approximately 10,000 gun homicides in the United States
each year. 

The Maduro incident shows they are marvelously effective as weapons of terrifying propaganda.

Propaganda manipulates one’s emotions; it exists outside empirical logic and calm, rational analysis. People’s well-documented distrust of small drones is not rooted in bloodless assessment of risk. 

Public opinion polling bears this distrust out. A 2017 survey on technological fears found that, of the 18 new technologies listed, Americans are most concerned about a “swarm of autonomous drones.”

Inquiring minds want to know – where did swarmophobia come from?

And in The RAND Blog, Approaching a ‘New Normal’: What the Drone Attack in Venezuela Portends suggests:

That the drones were able to get so close to a world leader at a public outdoor event in Caracas, Venezuela, speaks to how easy drones are to use—and how difficult they are to defend against.

With the advent of machine learning and artificial intelligence, drones may soon become programmable and smart enough to be used without human guidance and for increasingly nefarious ends.


I will also be moderating Drones and the Power of Artificial Intelligence
at InterDrone.

I very much like the definition that Mike Blades at Frost & Sullivan is using “AI encompasses the concepts of computer vision, machine learning, and deep learning” in their new paid report, Commercial Drone Market Competitive Intelligence, 2018—Artificial Intelligence Companies.

This research study focuses on 18 companies competing to develop AI-enabled drone solutions for a multitude of commercial applications. [The companies
are listed.]

NextGov has an attention grabber with Tech Companies Just Woke Up to a Big Problem With Their AI:

From studies showing that language processing AI can be sexist to more recent research on facial recognition’s failures on darker skin tones, years of research have erupted into a flurry of actions from Microsoft, IBM, Google, Mozilla, Accenture, and even Congress

A new title in an occasional series of short videos from Colin Guinn, Guinn Partners Bridging the Gap to Autonomy & Autopilot Deep Dive.

In this video, I focus on a few specific processes and concepts that will help us get a little closer to automation in the field.

From the Future of Life Institute, Podcast: Six Experts Explain the Killer Robots Debate. Great panel.

Why are so many AI researchers so worried about lethal autonomous weapons? What makes autonomous weapons so much worse than any other weapons we have today? And why is it so hard for countries to come to a consensus about autonomous weapons? Not surprisingly, the short answer is: it’s complicated.

As I mentioned in my review of Army of None by Paul Scharre (one of the panelists) the implications of autonomous operation – man out of the loop – are nuanced and complex – and extend beyond the military. I encourage you to read some of this work to become more familiar with the challenges of achieving truly autonomous operations. (Trust me, it will make you a much smarter shopper.)

DefenseOne has an interesting application story, How Artificial Intelligence Could Keep US Army Vehicles Ready for Action.

Under the agreement, Uptake will deploy its software on 32 Bradleys stationed at Fort Hood in Texas and work to predict when future repairs are needed and optimize the timing of general maintenance.

Defense Update (an Israeli pub) has a story from the UK, Mission Planning Tool Helps Commanders Assess Cyber Threats. The approach is called JUMP for Joint User Mission Planning for Cyber and Electro-Magnetic Activity (CEMA). I am confident that this kind of approach is going to be a big winner with all sorts
of agencies:

Bringing together all the physical knowledge a commander planning a mission needs, such as mapping, the environment, satellite imagery and 3D buildings, JUMP also provide cyber situational awareness enabling decision makers to better understand risks and make decisions.

JUMP uses visual presentation tools, including dynamic 3D terrain modeling displayed in Augmented Reality (AR) to provide field commanders with an informed visual understanding of their mission and the integration of cyber operations across all domains – something that is currently missing from existing mission
planning tools.

Enterprise IoT is offering up a free paper Smart Manufacturlng: Asset Management, Predictive Maintenance,Dynamic Scheduling and Other Key Use Cases. This is a thoughtful piece with many implications for UAS. Does this sound familiar?

No one, it seems, wants to share – neither their success stories, nor their failures. Why? Because their new digital practices and learnings give them a distinct edge, while their competitors find their way. 

Much closer to home, props to DJI which continues to build ever smarter products, this time two new Mavics. The Mavic 2 Pro is the first product from their investment in Hasselblad. It boasts a 1” CMOS sensor (like a Phantom Pro 4) and has a suggested MSRP of $1,449. The Mavic 2 Zoom has a 2/3” sensor and can do a ton of cool tricks including dolly zooms. It will go for $1,249. Both feature:

An improved Advanced Pilot Assistance System (APAS) allows the aircraft to analyze its surrounding environment and automatically fly around obstacles without stopping.

Finally. If you want to know what the smart money is thinking here’s Dear Elon: An Open Letter Against Taking Tesla Private. The letter is written by Catherine Wood, CEO,ARK Invest who sees a really interesting future with TSLA Generating most of its profits from Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS), a business that we believe will enjoy 80% gross margins.”


Never in the history of technology has less been more. So in case you think that net neutrality can’t ruin your whole day… RCR Wireless News reports Verizon Under Fire for Throttling Fire Agency’s Data During CA Fires.

While responding to the largest wildfire in California’s history, Santa Clara County firefighters ran up against the fact that “unlimited” wireless plans don’t usually mean unlimited LTE speeds…

Anthony Bowden, fire chief of the Santa Clara County Fire Department said:

“Throttling has had a significant impact on our ability to provide emergency services. Verizon imposed these limitations despite being informed that throttling was actively impeding County Fire’s ability to provide crisis-response and essential emergency services.”

Bowden’s comments were filed as part of a petition for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. circuit to review the Federal Communications Commission’s repeal of net neutrality rules.


Stratolaunch concept rendering showing all payloads

Stratolaunch – the ginourmous airplane that dwarfs the A380, is the brainchild of Burt Rutan and Paul Allen. First flight is expected by year end. Its mission is to launch a rocket in mid-air, known as air launch to orbit – then land, rinse
and repeat.

ARS Technica has the best photo gallery, Finally, the Biggest Airplane in the World Has Some Rockets to Launch

WIRED gets into the backstory in 385 Feet of Crazy: The Most Audacious Flying Machine Ever

Futurism also goes into some detail about the four payloads.  The World’s Largest Aircraft Will Carry These Four Launch Vehicles

HOLY _______

Screen grab of Mavic video posted to Facebook

Enjoying an afternoon flight with my drone around Hollywood Beach, FL. A private helicopter flew right into my drone. I guess I got lucky that day nothing has happened. Phewww

For as carefully planned as last week’s A380 shot was, this was anything but. Aptly entitled Out of Nowhere; I found it on the Facebook UAV Legal News & Discussion group. There is another story here from Take a minute to read some of the (defensive) comments on both posts…

I agree that we need to follow the best practices, but I disagree on regulating the hobby. Politics are stupid and incapable of understanding anything about anything… Their regulations cause more problems than anything.

Apparently the FAA was made aware of the footage and is said to be investigating.

PLEASE NOTE There will not be a Labor Day issue, enjoy the long weekend and a tequila sunrise. I will be back with a show report from InterDrone on September 8. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Here is the link to the Drone RadioShow podcast. Just click and listen.

Thanks for reading and for sharing. Back issues of Dronin’ On are here.


Christopher Korody
Editor and Publisher
follow me @dronewriter

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