Droneport is reporting the “FAA has approved San Diego Gas & Electric’s test program for the examination of rural power transmission lines with drone-mounted HD cameras.” SDGE will fly sub-one-pound quadcotpers in “four rural test sites 70 miles east of San Diego in the McCain, Valley. The drones replace manned helicopter inspections that cost nearly as much per flight hour as the drone system’s total cost.”
I’m excited to see what comes of the future of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or drones. There is a great deal yet to learn, and ways UAV technology will scale up to the benefit of all aerospace. Of that, I have no doubt.
However, there is also much to figure out and, frankly, worry about.
From Droneport.com: “As reported by GulfNews.com, the US Navy is testing new autonomous technology in a sensor and software package that can turn any helicopter into cargo drones. With little input from the Marines they are destined to serve, the autonomous cargo helos will adapt to unexpected situations, including low visibility, they will encounter at combat landing zones.”
From Droneport.com, “Because it is getting more requests in the field, the FAA Flight Standards Division, whose aviation safety inspectors conduct pilot certification duties, recently issued a notice, Logging of Unmanned Aircraft Systems Pilot Time. It clarifies questions raised by drone pilots who request credit for flight time logged on drones.” Read the rest of Droneport.com Editor Scott Spangler’s take here.
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Just weeks after its designation as one of six federally-approved test sites for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi will conduct several test flights over South Texas ranchland to continue research and training on the RS-16 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
Fire fighters hoping to use drones to “map a fire’s size and speed, and identify hot spots,” are running up against FAA regulation. A New York Times story notes a drone is precluded, “from operating out of sight of a ground-based pilot. If distance or the smoke of a wildfire obscures a drone from observers on the ground, a piloted aircraft must be sent aloft to keep an eye on it.” Fire fighting is but one of many facets of drone use the FAA, federal government and U.S. citizens are debating.
“According to a recent national poll conducted by Monmouth University in New Jersey, nearly two-thirds of Americans support the use of unmanned aircraft [systems] (UAS) to protect the U.S. borders and control illegal immigration. Eighty percent of Americans support the use of unmanned aircraft to help in search and rescue missions.”
The above is included in Michael Toscano’s prepared testimony for the House Committee on Homeland Security hearing set for July 19, 2012. Toscano is the president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).