Good to see the FAA has given BP the first license to operate commercial drones. Curt Smith had told ne in The New Polymath in 2010 about early experiments with drones to supplement Cessnas to monitor pipelines in remote areas.
“BP's Prudhoe Bay operations rely heavily on gravel roads, which require constant maintenance. AeroVironment's Puma drones, which are hand-launched and have a 9-foot wingspan, use laser-based sensors that can pinpoint problems on the roads, identify how they should be repaired and calculate how much gravel would be needed, the companies said.
The drones also can create 3-D models of gravel pits, and then calculate how much gravel remains and identify areas that are vulnerable to flooding.”
Once the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) establishes airspace rules, which is likely to happen next year, the drone industry could fuel a decade-long, $82-billion economic boom, according to a study done by the industry’s leading trade group. Already, one analyst estimates the global market for small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) at $250 million to $300 million. The truth is, we’re witnessing a Kitty Hawk moment—the start of an era in which drones will change the world and the way we live in it. They’ve saved lives overseas; at home, they will make our cities and grids smarter, keep people safer, and help save our planet. And, as you’ll see on these pages, they can be fun, too.
“The figures are striking. The Defense Department's Prisoner of War and Missing Personnel Office lists the number of troops unaccounted for from past conflicts: World War II has 73,547; Korea 7,883; the Cold War 126 and Vietnam 1,642. In comparison, Iraq and other conflicts (which also include Afghanistan, Desert Storm and Libya) have a total of six. Six unaccounted for in more than three wars; clearly something changed.”
“Innovative technology has enhanced this advantage by greatly increasing the ability of American troops to project force and rescue isolated troops. GPS technology allows American ground troops to accurately determine their location and call for precision-guided munitions that provide quick, accurate and direct combat support.Drones can linger and search over the battlefield, streaming superb battlefield intelligence. Satellite communications, emergency beacons and computer technology stretch the communications zone so that units remain connected and personnel can be located.”
Competition to host the (FAA selected) test sites was fierce, with state economic development agencies predicting the expansion of a major industry.
The six winners, chosen from a field of 25, included Griffiss International Airport, a former Air Force base near Rome, N.Y., which will fly some tests from Cape Cod in Massachusetts, and Virginia Tech, which will fly in Virginia and has an agreement with Rutgers University in New Jersey for testing there as well. Virginia Tech plans to conduct “failure mode” testing — finding out what happens if the aircraft’s control link is lost.
The other winners were the University of Alaska, which plans to test in Hawaii and Oregon as well as Alaska, the State of Nevada, the North Dakota Department of Commerce, and Texas A&M University Corpus Christi. Michael P. Huerta, the administrator of the F.A.A., said the sites provided diverse geography, climate and air traffic density.
Real estate specialist Manie Kohn uses drones to video luxury properties (see video below). Terence Reis flies them to photograph surfers. Brad Mathson monitors farmland in the Dakotas, while Ryan Kunde uses a drone to improve production at his vineyard.
(Jeff) Bezos thrust drones into the spotlight when he talked about his plans to use them to deliver packages on 60 Minutes Sunday night. But thanks to drones' ability to shoot aerial photos and video steadily and collect other data cheaply, they are already being used in many sectors, including movie making, sports, mining, oil and gas production and construction.