dbc header-0092Hi all –

After big wins at the UAV Symposium and XPONENTIAL, the FAA had a not so great week. First, EPIC won their suit requiring that the FAA open the records from the registration task force meeting (aka Christmas registration, half pounder rule.) Pretty clear that there was some misdirection about the privacy of registrants.

John Goglia at Forbes who is a real FAA watchdog, reports that there is going to be a new online database to report “suspicious or illegal” drone activities. My headline here is ‘sneaky’… note that this was never announced or all the reporters were napping.

Also under the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) there is what seems to be a very curious FAA response to Motherboard’s request for information about the FAA’s CRDA – “Cooperative Research and Development Agreement” with CACI, which was written in October 2015. What comes out in this article is the FAA’s tremendous level of concern about the failure of their educational outreach programs. Interesting for historical reasons since this took place at the same time the decision to convene the registration task force
was made.

Alan Perlman, the UAV Coach published the results of a survey he conducted with over 1,500 pilots this week that brings those education problems into
sharp perspective.

Came across a brilliant presentation by Parimal “PK” Kopardekar, who is the Manager of the NASA’s Safe Autonomous System Operations (SASO) Project. UTM to us. There is a 45 minute video you can watch. I found it so compelling that I did a summary using slides from the video. If you need or want to understand the concepts behind UTM, this is a terrific primer.

A great OpEd story this week from Future Tense, a Slate newsletter project we quote frequently. This article looks at the rise of the non-violent drone, pegging 2012 as the year that peaceful drone use began to outnumber military use. Nice combination of elegant research and food for thought. Think about it as the “democratization of disruption.”

Talk about an industry ripe for disruption, Terry Miller from Unmanned Risk wrote a great post on LinkedIn about the not very progressive state of the insurance industry to which I added my very own thoughts and observations. If you don’t know, I got into this because I saw a huge opportunity to disintermediate insurance… still there.

Lots of eye candy this week starting off with a very thoughtful interview with Eric Cheng. Eric was with DJI and flew the Iceland live volcano coverage featured on Good Morning America which became an instant classic. Cute to hear him explain that even though he worked for DJI, he wasn’t allowed to lose very many drones.

A report from the Exponential Manufacturing Conference includes a reference to a robot playing ping pong. There is a brilliant, tongue in cheek video of World Champion ping ponger Timo Boll getting it handed to him by the KUKA Robot shot in 2014. Be sure to take a look at the five trends accelerating robotics which also apply to flying robots.

Drone racing continues to attract huge interest and investment. This time, its Mountain Dew ponying up to sponsor a race. To kick things off they did a TV spot – I don’t want to be a spoiler so I am not going to write another word, but if this doesn’t get your inner Mad Max going.

Very early in my career, I was doing a lot of product presentations for the aerospace industry. This video for the Silent Falcon in New Mexico is text book. You can really see the military influence here in the high level of integration and the reliability designed into the product.

For contrast, check out the launch video for VADER from South African builder SteadiDrone, which is straight out of our Yamaha Motorcycle product launch playbook. VADER is a high-end industrial strength octocopter and the contrast with the fixed wing Falcon couldn’t be more striking. Pretty great that people can choose between such sophisticated products.

And for a nice capper, Intel is back with another 100 drone synchronized flight, this time over the desert in Palm Springs with full FAA approval. You don’t suppose Michael said “Hey Brian, listen if you’ll chair this thing for me you can go fly your Ascends….”? Naw, only happens like that in the movies.

Thanks for reading and for sharing.


Christopher Korody


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