Drone delivery is already “taking off” in the city of San Francisco. QuiQui, an SF based start-up, is offering to deliver drug store items right to your door via a drone if you live in the city’s Mission District. The FAA’s recent loss in federal court is already opening up many opportunities for would be drone companies. It’s only a matter of time before Amazon Prime Air drones are delivering your next PS4 games.
“Traditionally, one of the most important tools in monitoring and protection of the oceans is aerial surveillance. When used for our ocean, current approaches involve rental of flight time on private aircraft or the use of military aircraft as a secondary mission. Unfortunately, this method typically results in less desirable coverage or lower frequency of flights due to the high costs involved and pilot limitations.”
“Thankfully, there now exists a technology that can change this approach forever. The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (commonly called a UAV, UAS, or drone) is a reusable robotic aircraft that can fly without a human pilot or crew on-board and, as a result, does not suffer the same issues associated with pilot fatigue or high operational costs.”
“Through the democratization and demilitarization of drone technology, there are a number of issues that can be solved more cheaply and effectively than our current methods.”
“Drone technology is in the midst of a technological boom. In the coming years, we will be seeing more and more uses for these platforms and acceptance into the industries that are ripe for this sort of innovation.”
The sUAS market is blossoming at an exceptionally swift pace. Being that I did not have a hobbiest background before starting this project, I wanted to find a package that was easy to use and that I could operate right out of the box. Autonomous capabilities were a must, and most importantly, it needed to be reasonably affordable for a someone still in college.
After seeing a presentation by 3D Robotics last August, I was sold on their products based on their prices and track record. The IRIS is 3DR’s flagship product. The quadcopter comes with everything necessary, including a battery and R/C controller, in a convenient package. Technicians even pre-program the R/C with 5 different flight settings.
The other key component necessary was the camera and camera mount. I had an iPhone already, so the camera was taken care of. Configuring a mount though was a major challenge since nothing exists on the market for iPhones. Copters by nature produce high frequency vibrations and without the proper mount, the vibrations will bleed into your photos/video. This effect is commonly referred to as “jello.”
As I came to find out, the iPhone’s CMOS rolling shutter sensor is especially susceptible to jello. To fix this, I ordered a vibration dampening mount made for a DJI Phantom. To my surprise, the mounting screw locations matched the IRIS’ bottom vents perfectly! After finding some go pro mounts, extension legs, and clear iPhone case, I had pieced together a vibration free fixed iPhone 5s mount for the bottom of my IRIS (See gallery below).
Since installing the mount, the images from my iPhone are now about 90-95% jello free. More experiments are under way to improve image quality even more, but for now, I’m pretty satisfied with the results.
In a nutshell, Mr. Geraghty’s ruling was based on the FAA’s lack of having a clear definition when distinguishing between “aircraft” (or UAS) and “model aircraft and ultralight vehicles.” As discussed previously, operators of model aircraft are allowed to fly for “recreation/sport” under the authority of AC 91-57 – basically at their own discretion as long as they follow a few simple guidelines. After yesterday though, the FAA essentially has no grounds to fine anyone operating a small UAS until clearer definitions are put forth regarding what is and what is not a UAS.
I wanted to shift gears away from the actual case for a minute and talk about the reaction/misinterpretation many folks are having already.”Commercial Drones Are Completely Legal, a Federal Judge Ruled” was the first article that immediately grabbed my attention to this subject. The title of this article should not be taken literal. Mr. Geraghty never specifies the legally of drones in his ruling; rather that the FAA has not defined them well.
The FAA’s credibility suffers the most from all of this. Pandora’s box has exploded, and UAS operators are now knowingly, or unknowingly, going to think it’s OK to operate commercially. Any future rulings made by the FAA will be laughed at even more than before. A peer of mine suggested the FAA will try to flex it’s muscles by shutting down all model aircraft. Others are optimistic that the Administration is now forced write rules immediately, an action the community as yearned for for years.
Whatever the eventual outcome may be, this decision will have a major impact on UAS legislation. I look forward to watching this legal soap opera unravel over the next few weeks and months.
The 3DR IRIS is a lot of fun and an amazing UAS. So far I have been able to fly manually pretty well and have set up some successful autonomous flights. Mission Planner can be overwhelming to a novice, but I’m excited to unleash its capabilities. There are a number of features I’m looking forward to learning including:
RC display errors
Applied Photogrammetry Using Drone Technology and the World's Most Popular Camera