GoPro will relaunch its Karma foldable drone, FAA approves Beyond Visual Line Of Sight (BVLOS) operations at a UAS test site, a drone strike on an airliner proves to be false, a new droneport is taking shape, a Canadian company offers fuel cell-powered drones, and autonomous drone swarming is a success.
The new GoPro Karma foldable drone was quickly recalled shortly after becoming available last year. GoPro CEO Nick Woodman says that the drones loss of power and subsequent dive was caused by a “basic battery retention issue.” Details of the Karma relaunch are expected in February 2017.
The FAA has granted the Northern Plains UAS Test Site in North Dakota approval to operate large unmanned aircraft beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS). The UAS test site can use ground-based sense-and-avoid technologies to phases in BVLOS operations.
African airline LAM said a Boeing 737-700 on approach at about 4,000 feet was struck by a drone. Widely published photographs showed the damaged nose. Subsequently, the Aviation Herald published Incident: LAM B737 at Tete on Jan 5th 2017, radome structural failure. After its investigation, Mozambique’s Civil Aviation Authority says most likely the radome experienced a structural failure, not a foreign object strike.
Specific plans for privately operated Eldorado Droneport have been announced. Aerodrome will offer UAS training, FAA repairman and pilot certification and testing, and other educational, research and development services for commercial and recreational drone operators. Plans for the 50-acre site include a 15,000 square foot terminal building; 860,000 square feet facilities for research and development, warehousing, hangar, office, and training; and “build-to-suit” opportunities.
The French Air Force is acquiring the H2Quad 1000 drone from Montreal-based EnergyOr Technologies inc. EnergyOr says “the fuel cell/battery hybrid system has been optimized based on extensive UAV flight testing in several different platform configurations. It has been tested in widely varying environmental conditions and can meet the rigorous demands of operational UAVs.”
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) is continuing to develop autonomous swarming drones.
“Perdix are not preprogrammed, synchronized individuals. They share a distributed brain for decision‐making and adapt to each other, and the environment, much like swarms in nature. Because every Perdix communicates and collaborates with every other Perdix, the swarm has no leader and can gracefully adapt to changes in drone numbers. This allows this team of small inexpensive drones to perform missions once done by large expensive ones.”
The CBS television program 60 Minutes was allowed to film a swarm of 100 Perdix autonomous drones. The number of drones, their speed, and their unpredictable behavior made capturing them on video more difficult than anticipated!