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Satellites Driven by DeSIRE

The European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Defence Agency (EDA) have funded two consecutive projects called DeSIRE, in 2013, and DeSIRE II (Demonstration of Satellites enabling the Insertion of RPAS in Europe), in 2015, to examine how drones might operate within controlled airspace when controlled by satellites for commercial and governmental applications. To undertake this project the consultancy and technology multinational Indra (Spain) led the first phase DeSIRE with a European industrial consortium formed by AT-One (Germany and the Netherlands), SES ASTRA (Luxembourg), Thales Alenia Space (Italy and France) and CIRA (Italy).

The purpose of the project was to check whether a RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft System) or drone can safely share the sky with a conventional aircraft using the transmission of its command and control communications and communications between air traffic control (ATC) and the pilot on the ground via a satellite in geostationary orbit.

The benefits of satellite communications for Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) control and data transmission and reception was that the drone was able to send, in real-time, high-quality data to the ground control station to aid maritime surveillance. This was a necessity to show that what the military have been doing for several decades could be applied equally well to civilian operations.

The drone completed a 6-hour flight in civil and military airspace, sending to the ground, via the satellite data link, the signals from its on-board sensors. The RPA climbed to 20,000 ft (6,096m), entering airspace class C, managed by AENA, the Spanish Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP), from Barcelona Control Centre. The pilot of the RPA followed all the instructions issued by the AENA air traffic controllers, acting like any other civil or military aircraft. During this flight test, a manned Air Force aircraft approached, simulating frontal and 90º collision trajectories. The pilots of both aircraft followed the separation instructions issued by air traffic controllers, demonstrating the safe operation of remotely piloted aircraft in an emergency situation.

  • BVLOS flight by drones have many uses and have significant commercial potential. Applications include firefighting; fire prevention and monitoring; highway control; electricity transmission cabling inspection, critical infrastructure (such as bridges and railway lines) inspection: border surveillance; environmental protection surveillance; management of emergencies search & rescue in the framework of border control: illegal trafficking in the framework of law enforcement; fisheries control and even goods transport.

DeSIRE II, the second element of the ESA EDA RPAS project was aimed at developing and demonstrating services based on a remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) flying in beyond radio line of sight (BRLOS) and was completed in November 2018. From a regulatory perspective, the project had a key objective to demonstrate that the satcom link, allowed safe BRLOS Operations, potentially allowing RPAS operations in civil traffic airspace. In particular the aim provided the first set of required link performance (RLP) parameters for the RPAS C2 link (including ATC relay) following the guidelines provided by the Joint Authorities for Rulemaking of Unmanned Systems (JARUS), in BRLOS conditions via a dual satcom link. The project objectives were undertaken using a Piaggio Aerospace P.1HH RPAS, complemented by simulation and emulation activities.

The DeSIRE projects were supported by 26 members of the EU, excluding UK and Denmark. The UK along with the USA, Russia, China have extensive experience in flying military drones using satellite communication. Despite the challenges characterising satellite-controlled RPA systems (especially for civilian purposes), research and industrial communities are still investigating the feasibility of the introduction of RPAs into non-segregated airspace.

The benefits of drones and satellite communication are fairly transparent and many while the difficulties and costs are less clear. They fall, broadly, into four categories: signal degradation, signal latency (how long it takes to tell the drone what to do), availability and human perception.

For a ground station to communicate with a drone via satellite, the signal has to leave the station travel 40,000km to the satellite which deals with the signal and then routes it down 40,000 km to the drone. Wireless communications are corrupted by nature along the way. These corruptions include noise (general background electromagnetic signal that is added to the signal sent), Rayleigh fading (this is weakening of the signal by scattering as the signal passes through the stratosphere and ionosphere and hits and deflects from particles), Rician fading (when the signal partly cancels itself as parts of the signal spread as they leave the transmitter and arrive at the receiver on the satellite at slightly different times causing mismatch), the Doppler Effect (when the signal frequency changes slightly depending on the relative distance of source and receiver, and rain attenuation (the absorption of a microwave radio frequency signal by atmospheric rain, snow, or ice. Losses occur mostly between frequencies 11 GHz and 30 GHz). The drone has to act upon the signal and tell the ground station what it’s done. At light speed, the time is very short but it does exist. The time lapse is in the order of milliseconds which isn’t much unless you are travelling at 200 metres per second (720 kpm or 450 mph) at 20,000ft or so.

There are four common communication architectures for UAS. These are direct link, satellite, cellular, and mesh networking. Satellite-based may be the most promising solutions. The use of satellites can provide a better coverage than the use of the direct links, so that the UAS remains well connected. The typical limited bandwidth in satellite links does not really pose here an issue, because C2 protocols should not require large amount of available bandwidth. On the other hand, if user data were to be delivered, larger bandwidth may be required to meet the requirements of high data rate applications. Geostationary Orbit (GEO) and Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites can be employed; if considered, a large delay should be taken into account in the former case, while temporary disconnections are expected in the latter case.

Typical latency (how long it takes from sending the message to the UAS receiving it) is in the order of 0.25 to 0.6 seconds for GEO satellites. That’s probably acceptable for UAS  in non-civilian segregated airspace but not suitable for UAS’s operating below 200 ft.

We tend to imagine drone delivery, for example, as buzzing down the boulevards of Bognor or soaring through the streets of London  but much of the world has not configured their street furniture to allow drone access as the pictures from Delhi and Ho Chi Min City. A second’s delay in control on these roads would be a disaster.

LEO (100km to 1,500km height) satellites have a much-diminished latency of the order of 0.005 seconds. At the moment, GEO satellites and LEO satellite-constellations are owned and operated by different companies that see themselves in competition. Should one company have access to both and be able to set up a Wide-Area-Network (WAN) that UAS and ground stations could hook into, then many problems would become a thing of the past and freight drones could be easily integrated into existing air traffic management systems.

Availability measures the proportion of the year for which the communication link is operational.  High availability is expensive but worthwhile for safety, as even one second of interruption can be dangerous during remote control. To minimise the probability of an outage, parallel redundant systems are required. Triple redundancy with a voting system is commonly using in aviation.

Most satellite services are intended for passengers’ personal electronic devices’ connectivity rather than video streaming from a UAS platform, so care was taken when identifying the Forward Link and Reverse Link data rates. Global Xpress has global GEO coverage, only 99.9% availability, so it should be combined with another service. It operates at Ka-band frequencies (26 – 40 GHz).

Intelsat Epic currently covers 60 degrees North to 60 degrees South latitude the majority of land, and surrounding seas but missing big chunks of the polar regions.

The Iridium NEXT service has a high data rate of 1.5 Mbps forward link and 512 kbps return link. It uses LEO satellites to reduce the latency.

Is the general public ready for automated planes without pilots on-board? It boils down to politics and economics.

While the technology promises to revolutionise air travel and freight, it will cost pilots jobs. Given that many prognoses suggest that 800,000 pilots will be needed over the next two decades, that may not be such a burden. However, the shut-down of international travel during the Covid-19 crisis has taught us not to take anything for granted. It may well be that passenger airplanes may take longer to convert to the absence of pilots but freight lines such as Fedex Express, Emirates SkyCargo, UPS Airlines and Cathay Pacific Cargo might just embrace the concepts. The airline industry employs tens of thousands of pilots worldwide and they tend to be very vocal and political when they are unhappy. We can see the problem when we think of the railways, particularly in the UK and France, struggle to streamline their on-board staff. Trains run on rails and don’t really need drivers, let alone guards. We can only imagine the kerfuffle if on-board staff on airplanes are reduced or removed.

Economically, remotely-piloted or even AI-controlled (Smart) planes make perfect sense. The insurance industry needs data but, given that, by far, the greatest cause of airplane mishaps can be traced back to human error, it follows that premiums should fall. Insurance companies don’t like falling premiums so it is certain that the risks of errant code (as was the case of the Boeing 737 Max) or hacking will be brought to bear until sufficient data either negates or proves the concern. Removing pilots worldwide would save an incredible amount of money. Swiss bank UBS estimates that removing humans from the commercial cockpit could produce savings upwards of $35bn (£28bn) annually. That figure would boost profits in an industry that has often struggled to make money. For more information on Valour Consultancy’s latest report on the Commercial UAS platform study, click here.

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[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="no" hundred_percent_height="no" hundred_percent_height_scroll="no" hundred_percent_height_center_content="yes" equal_height_columns="no" menu_anchor="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" status="published" publish_date="" class="" id="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" margin_top="" margin_bottom="" padding_top="" padding_right="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" gradient_start_color="" gradient_end_color="" gradient_start_position="0" gradient_end_position="100" gradient_type="linear" radial_direction="center" linear_angle="180" background_color="" background_image="" background_position="center center" background_repeat="no-repeat" fade="no" background_parallax="none" enable_mobile="no" parallax_speed="0.3" background_blend_mode="none" video_mp4="" video_webm="" video_ogv="" video_url="" video_aspect_ratio="16:9" video_loop="yes" video_mute="yes" video_preview_image="" filter_hue="0" filter_saturation="100" filter_brightness="100" filter_contrast="100" filter_invert="0" filter_sepia="0" filter_opacity="100" filter_blur="0" filter_hue_hover="0" filter_saturation_hover="100" filter_brightness_hover="100" filter_contrast_hover="100" filter_invert_hover="0" filter_sepia_hover="0" filter_opacity_hover="100" filter_blur_hover="0"][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" layout="1_1" spacing="" center_content="no" link="" target="_self" min_height="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" hover_type="none" border_size="0" border_color="" border_style="solid" border_position="all" border_radius="" box_shadow="no" dimension_box_shadow="" box_shadow_blur="0" box_shadow_spread="0" box_shadow_color="" box_shadow_style="" padding_top="" padding_right="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" margin_top="" margin_bottom="" background_type="single" gradient_start_color="" gradient_end_color="" gradient_start_position="0" gradient_end_position="100" gradient_type="linear" radial_direction="center" linear_angle="180" background_color="" background_image="" background_image_id="" background_position="left top" background_repeat="no-repeat" background_blend_mode="none" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset="" filter_type="regular" filter_hue="0" filter_saturation="100" filter_brightness="100" filter_contrast="100" filter_invert="0" filter_sepia="0" filter_opacity="100" filter_blur="0" filter_hue_hover="0" filter_saturation_hover="100" filter_brightness_hover="100" filter_contrast_hover="100" filter_invert_hover="0" filter_sepia_hover="0" filter_opacity_hover="100" filter_blur_hover="0" last="no"][fusion_imageframe image_id="5440|full" max_width="" style_type="" blur="" stylecolor="" hover_type="none" bordersize="" bordercolor="" borderradius="" align="none" lightbox="no" gallery_id="" lightbox_image="" lightbox_image_id="" alt="" link="" linktarget="_self" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""]https://valourconsultancy.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Piaggio-Aerospace-P.1HH.png[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_separator style_type="default" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" sep_color="#ffffff" top_margin="20" bottom_margin="20" border_size="" icon="" icon_circle="" icon_circle_color="" width="" alignment="center" /][fusion_text columns="" column_min_width="" column_spacing="" rule_style="default" rule_size="" rule_color="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""] The European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Defence Agency (EDA) have funded two consecutive projects called DeSIRE, in 2013, and DeSIRE II (Demonstration of Satellites enabling the Insertion of RPAS in Europe), in 2015, to examine how drones might operate within controlled airspace when controlled by satellites for commercial and governmental applications. To undertake this project the consultancy and technology multinational Indra (Spain) led the first phase DeSIRE with a European industrial consortium formed by AT-One (Germany and the Netherlands), SES ASTRA (Luxembourg), Thales Alenia Space (Italy and France) and CIRA (Italy). The purpose of the project was to check whether a RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft System) or drone can safely share the sky with a conventional aircraft using the transmission of its command and control communications and communications between air traffic control (ATC) and the pilot on the ground via a satellite in geostationary orbit. The benefits of satellite communications for Beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) control and data transmission and reception was that the drone was able to send, in real-time, high-quality data to the ground control station to aid maritime surveillance. This was a necessity to show that what the military have been doing for several decades could be applied equally well to civilian operations. The drone completed a 6-hour flight in civil and military airspace, sending to the ground, via the satellite data link, the signals from its on-board sensors. The RPA climbed to 20,000 ft (6,096m), entering airspace class C, managed by AENA, the Spanish Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP), from Barcelona Control Centre. The pilot of the RPA followed all the instructions issued by the AENA air traffic controllers, acting like any other civil or military aircraft. During this flight test, a manned Air Force aircraft approached, simulating frontal and 90º collision trajectories. The pilots of both aircraft followed the separation instructions issued by air traffic controllers, demonstrating the safe operation of remotely piloted aircraft in an emergency situation.
  • BVLOS flight by drones have many uses and have significant commercial potential. Applications include firefighting; fire prevention and monitoring; highway control; electricity transmission cabling inspection, critical infrastructure (such as bridges and railway lines) inspection: border surveillance; environmental protection surveillance; management of emergencies search & rescue in the framework of border control: illegal trafficking in the framework of law enforcement; fisheries control and even goods transport.
DeSIRE II, the second element of the ESA EDA RPAS project was aimed at developing and demonstrating services based on a remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) flying in beyond radio line of sight (BRLOS) and was completed in November 2018. From a regulatory perspective, the project had a key objective to demonstrate that the satcom link, allowed safe BRLOS Operations, potentially allowing RPAS operations in civil traffic airspace. In particular the aim provided the first set of required link performance (RLP) parameters for the RPAS C2 link (including ATC relay) following the guidelines provided by the Joint Authorities for Rulemaking of Unmanned Systems (JARUS), in BRLOS conditions via a dual satcom link. The project objectives were undertaken using a Piaggio Aerospace P.1HH RPAS, complemented by simulation and emulation activities. The DeSIRE projects were supported by 26 members of the EU, excluding UK and Denmark. The UK along with the USA, Russia, China have extensive experience in flying military drones using satellite communication. Despite the challenges characterising satellite-controlled RPA systems (especially for civilian purposes), research and industrial communities are still investigating the feasibility of the introduction of RPAs into non-segregated airspace. The benefits of drones and satellite communication are fairly transparent and many while the difficulties and costs are less clear. They fall, broadly, into four categories: signal degradation, signal latency (how long it takes to tell the drone what to do), availability and human perception. For a ground station to communicate with a drone via satellite, the signal has to leave the station travel 40,000km to the satellite which deals with the signal and then routes it down 40,000 km to the drone. Wireless communications are corrupted by nature along the way. These corruptions include noise (general background electromagnetic signal that is added to the signal sent), Rayleigh fading (this is weakening of the signal by scattering as the signal passes through the stratosphere and ionosphere and hits and deflects from particles), Rician fading (when the signal partly cancels itself as parts of the signal spread as they leave the transmitter and arrive at the receiver on the satellite at slightly different times causing mismatch), the Doppler Effect (when the signal frequency changes slightly depending on the relative distance of source and receiver, and rain attenuation (the absorption of a microwave radio frequency signal by atmospheric rain, snow, or ice. Losses occur mostly between frequencies 11 GHz and 30 GHz). The drone has to act upon the signal and tell the ground station what it’s done. At light speed, the time is very short but it does exist. The time lapse is in the order of milliseconds which isn’t much unless you are travelling at 200 metres per second (720 kpm or 450 mph) at 20,000ft or so. There are four common communication architectures for UAS. These are direct link, satellite, cellular, and mesh networking. Satellite-based may be the most promising solutions. The use of satellites can provide a better coverage than the use of the direct links, so that the UAS remains well connected. The typical limited bandwidth in satellite links does not really pose here an issue, because C2 protocols should not require large amount of available bandwidth. On the other hand, if user data were to be delivered, larger bandwidth may be required to meet the requirements of high data rate applications. Geostationary Orbit (GEO) and Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites can be employed; if considered, a large delay should be taken into account in the former case, while temporary disconnections are expected in the latter case. Typical latency (how long it takes from sending the message to the UAS receiving it) is in the order of 0.25 to 0.6 seconds for GEO satellites. That’s probably acceptable for UAS  in non-civilian segregated airspace but not suitable for UAS’s operating below 200 ft. We tend to imagine drone delivery, for example, as buzzing down the boulevards of Bognor or soaring through the streets of London  but much of the world has not configured their street furniture to allow drone access as the pictures from Delhi and Ho Chi Min City. A second’s delay in control on these roads would be a disaster. LEO (100km to 1,500km height) satellites have a much-diminished latency of the order of 0.005 seconds. At the moment, GEO satellites and LEO satellite-constellations are owned and operated by different companies that see themselves in competition. Should one company have access to both and be able to set up a Wide-Area-Network (WAN) that UAS and ground stations could hook into, then many problems would become a thing of the past and freight drones could be easily integrated into existing air traffic management systems. Availability measures the proportion of the year for which the communication link is operational.  High availability is expensive but worthwhile for safety, as even one second of interruption can be dangerous during remote control. To minimise the probability of an outage, parallel redundant systems are required. Triple redundancy with a voting system is commonly using in aviation. Most satellite services are intended for passengers’ personal electronic devices’ connectivity rather than video streaming from a UAS platform, so care was taken when identifying the Forward Link and Reverse Link data rates. Global Xpress has global GEO coverage, only 99.9% availability, so it should be combined with another service. It operates at Ka-band frequencies (26 – 40 GHz). Intelsat Epic currently covers 60 degrees North to 60 degrees South latitude the majority of land, and surrounding seas but missing big chunks of the polar regions. The Iridium NEXT service has a high data rate of 1.5 Mbps forward link and 512 kbps return link. It uses LEO satellites to reduce the latency. Is the general public ready for automated planes without pilots on-board? It boils down to politics and economics. While the technology promises to revolutionise air travel and freight, it will cost pilots jobs. Given that many prognoses suggest that 800,000 pilots will be needed over the next two decades, that may not be such a burden. However, the shut-down of international travel during the Covid-19 crisis has taught us not to take anything for granted. It may well be that passenger airplanes may take longer to convert to the absence of pilots but freight lines such as Fedex Express, Emirates SkyCargo, UPS Airlines and Cathay Pacific Cargo might just embrace the concepts. The airline industry employs tens of thousands of pilots worldwide and they tend to be very vocal and political when they are unhappy. We can see the problem when we think of the railways, particularly in the UK and France, struggle to streamline their on-board staff. Trains run on rails and don’t really need drivers, let alone guards. We can only imagine the kerfuffle if on-board staff on airplanes are reduced or removed. Economically, remotely-piloted or even AI-controlled (Smart) planes make perfect sense. The insurance industry needs data but, given that, by far, the greatest cause of airplane mishaps can be traced back to human error, it follows that premiums should fall. Insurance companies don’t like falling premiums so it is certain that the risks of errant code (as was the case of the Boeing 737 Max) or hacking will be brought to bear until sufficient data either negates or proves the concern. Removing pilots worldwide would save an incredible amount of money. Swiss bank UBS estimates that removing humans from the commercial cockpit could produce savings upwards of $35bn (£28bn) annually. That figure would boost profits in an industry that has often struggled to make money. For more information on Valour Consultancy's latest report on the Commercial UAS platform study, click here. [/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

UTM in the Wilds

“I don’t see how he can ever finish, if he doesn’t begin.”

Alice thought to herself that unmanned traffic management should be easy, so she checked several countries that are beginning and this is what she found. In the Asia/Pacific region, there is practical experimentation but a willingness to standardise, Russia is ploughing its own furrow and Europe has developed a series of modular trials to have a co-ordinated commercialised traffic management system. The UK has also instituted a similar research group, Catapult Connected Places (CPC). The concept of integrated traffic management and logistics has yet to be addressed for U-space (U-space is that volume of the atmosphere that would normally accommodate urban drones, say, up to 200m above ground level (AGL).

The opportunities for Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) systems is that all the systems so far produced are created by private companies. This implies that the system has to be commercially viable, it has to make some profit. It also requires common standards and communication protocols. Such standards and protocols are gradually emerging from bodies such as ASTM, ANSI, STANAG (NATO Standard) and IEEE. Autonomous shipping faces the same problem.

For drones, clearly, passenger ticket tax, which pays the majority of the budget for conventional air traffic management, is not applicable. A simple fee for every flight, while obvious, has the knock-on effect that to make more money, more flights are needed, and the situation becomes another clogged system and the incentive to improve the system is diminished. An annual subscription or fee per miles flown or some combination of them all might be desirable. On the plus side, UTM systems lend themselves to automation so that there needs to be few humans employed. An ideal system might be an AI controlled system with integrated machine learning that allows only drones that can log on and have a credit account associated with them, and thus pay their fee, to take off. However, in the hands of a private company, such a system is open to abuse (as is one controlled by any government but that is a separate issue).

Many of the differences between conventional Air Traffic Management (ATM) and U-space have to do with scale. Drone traffic will be far denser than passenger jet traffic. Drone information services need to be significantly more detailed, diverse and dynamic than those used by aircraft today. Safety critical information will be needed at a much higher fidelity and speed than today’s ATM, and will include geospatial information services to ensure surface clearance, local weather information to calculate drone trajectory uncertainties and non-conventional navigation sources (such as signals of opportunity and vision-based navigation) to allow for more precise navigation on a local scale. Some of this can be delegated to on-board AI. Services of this level of fidelity require the movement and provision of massive amounts of data to a wide array of users spread out over a large geographical area and, perhaps await complete 5G coverage.

In Shenzhen, China, the home of DJI, since December 2018, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) controllers and city police in are currently managing over 2,000 drone flights a day following the introduction of a city-wide UTM system called Unmanned Aircraft Traffic Management Information Service System of CAAC (UTMISS). This system covers low altitude in segregated airspaces below 120m above ground level (AGL). The airspace is divided in a grid manner. UTMISS provides civil UAS with air traffic management functions for the local civil aviation authority. UTMISS adopts a distributed hybrid cloud infrastructure for safety and security purposes, and data process capability, also allowing expandability.

In Korea, PRODRONE has a commercialised UTM system collaborating with LG U+, a South Korean cellular carrier capitalising on its 99.5 per cent 4G coverage. The 5G penetration of 9.67 per cent, represents the highest penetration rate in the world and this is expected to cover the entire country by 2028. The “U+ Smart Drone UTM System,” enables a drone to fly safely for disaster monitoring and logistic transport in BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight). They have demonstrated an autonomous drone taking off in a remote location, carrying out duties and returning to a control centre on its own. The system confirms the drone’s position and elevation through the UTM system in BVLOS. Drone operators in a control room can control drones everywhere over land in the country, wherever the network is connected. It makes possible multi-person monitoring and creating a flight plan for multiple drones, useful in many applications.

In Japan, which has a long history of drone deployment for agriculture, a UTM system allowing many drone operators to share data, such as critical flight variables was tested in October 2019. The system, developed by Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation (NEDO) and others, trialled 100 flights per square kilometre for an hour and were completed at the Fukushima Robot Test Field, about 20km north of the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The drones had flight control devices fitted to report their position and speed to the UTM system. Security of the network was achieved with firewalls and intrusion detection systems (IDS). Authentication keys were allotted to drone operators permitting only approved operators to connect. Flight plan management and flight conditions assumed multiple simultaneous drone-use scenarios such as multiple drone weather observation, and multi-drone formation flights for delivery. Amongst others, Sky Perfect conducted flight tests in BVLOS mode as in disaster damaged areas where, perhaps, ground communication is not available. Position and flight condition data from the drones and control via communication satellites from the direct flight control function in real time was achieved. Hitachi with the Japan Information and Communications Research Institute developed a location sharing device with multi-hop communications that enables long-distance BVLOS flight of multiple drones. It was demonstrated that systems equipped with collision-avoidance technologies can interconnect with the drone traffic management system. The aim was to integrate the UAS traffic management system with collision avoidance technology. JAXA developed a UTM simulator and connected a part of the simulator to the drone traffic management system verifying deconfliction of drone traffic to avoid mid-air collisions.

Russia has opted for fitting drones with transponders and the use of low-level radar. Digital radio systems (CRTS) and the Aviation Institute for Navigation Instrumentation (Navigator) have developed a system of avionics and digital ground-based equipment for radar detection of light aircraft and drones for the management and monitoring of air traffic at lower level airspace. The systems comprise small-scale air surveillance system, airborne small-sized transmission system, aircraft responder, ground proximity warning system, airborne collision warning system, navigation and landing systems and ground stations. It allows the creation of objective situational awareness for air traffic using the principle of everyone-sees-everyone. It is difficult to see how such a system without a high degree of automation might cope with extensive commercial drone use.

In the USA, a UAS Traffic Management Pilot was initiated as a research project by NASA, and then between the FAA and NASA. The Unmanned Aircraft Systems Traffic Management System is intended to be distinct, but complementary to, the traditional FAA’s air traffic management system. The September 2019 pilot project was to develop and demonstrate a traffic management system to safely integrate drone flights within the nation’s airspace system, also creating a shared information network and gathering data. Using mature commercial technologies for UTM including flight planning, communications, aircraft separation and weather services for these drones operating under 400 feet AGL, there will be a cooperative interaction between drone operators and the FAA to determine and communicate real-time airspace status. The FAA will provide real-time constraints to the UAS operators, who are responsible for managing their operations safely within these constraints without receiving positive air traffic control services from the FAA.

The primary means of communication and coordination between the FAA, drone operators, and other stakeholders is through a distributed network of highly automated systems via application programming interfaces (API), and not between pilots and air traffic controllers via voice. The FAA UAS Data Exchange umbrella supports multiple partnerships, the first of which is the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC). Essentially the paperwork has been automated and the traffic management has been delegated to approved UTM vendors such as Aeronyde, AirMap, Airspacelink, AiRXOS, Altitude Angel, Kittyhawk, Skyward, Thales Group and UASidekick.

Many of these countries attended the third meeting of the Asia/Pacific Unmanned Aircraft Systems Task Force in Bangkok, in March 2019. These countries, Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong China, Macao China, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, USA and Viet Nam, were trying to achieve a common consensus on standards and legislation. India, China and Mongolia all reported on their UTM systems and security.

In Europe (not including UK which is conducting its own parallel projects), under the auspices of the Single European Sky (SES), there has been a co-ordinated series of projects to investigate building a roadmap for the safe integration of drones into all classes of airspace. This outlined the steps needed to ensure a coordinated implementation enabling RPAS to fly alongside commercial aircraft. Beginning 2017, a set of exploratory research projects was undertaken to address everything from the concept of operations for drones, critical communications, surveillance and tracking, and information management to aircraft systems, ground-based technologies, cyber-resilience and geo-fencing.

In 2018, practical demonstration projects to showcase U-space services managing a broad range of drone operations and related applications, and their interaction with manned aviation was launched. Those ranged from parcel deliveries between two dense urban locations, medical emergencies and police interventions, as well as air taxi trials in an airport-controlled airspace. Leisure use was also catered for, with projects demonstrating how private drone operators can benefit from U-space services. The operations also aimed to demonstrate different levels of automation that are possible, as well as seamless information exchange between multiple service providers in the same geographical area at the same time. In total 186 flight missions for 19 projects were made involving 19 countries. Together, they represent comprehensive preparatory work for commercial drone activities.

Stage 1 – Registration, Registration assistance, e-identification, Geo-awareness, Drone aeronautical information management.

Stage 2 – Tracking (Position report submission), Surveillance data exchange, Geo-fence provision (includes dynamic geo-fencing). Operation plan preparation /optimisation, Operation plan processing, Risk analysis assistance, Strategic Conflict Resolution, Emergency Management, Incident/ Accident reporting, Citizen reporting service, Monitoring, Traffic information, Navigation infrastructure monitoring, Communication infrastructure monitoring, Legal recording, Digital logbook, Weather information, Procedural interface with ATC.

Stage 3 – Dynamic Capacity Management, Tactical Conflict Resolution, Geospatial information service, Population density map, Electromagnetic interference information, Navigation coverage information, Communication coverage information, and Collaborative interface with ATC.

Stage 4 – Integrated interfaces with manned aviation, Additional new services such as logistical optimisation and commercialisation.

Table showing UTM Trials

There a multitude of various countries, bodies and companies trialling different UTM technologies. As in all things, several leaders will emerge and gradually coalesce into a common standard. NASA is moving things clearly in the US and in Europe, the SES has developed a comprehensive system. The Brussels effect (or Creeping Standardisation) is the process of unilateral regulatory globalisation caused by the European Union de facto (but not necessarily de jure) externalising its laws outside its borders through market mechanisms. Companies adopt the rules as the price of participating in the huge EU market, and then impose them across their global businesses to minimise the cost of running separate compliance regimes. Similarly, the USA sets its standards. Air Traffic Management has been able to embrace both requirements through a process of joint comparison embraced by the FAA and Eurocontrol. This is likely to dictate the host of well-known multinational companies that will jump on-board with the protocols, procedures and systems. The international market for UTM will undoubtedly become a very hot topic in the post-Covid-19 world. For more information on the commercial UAS and UTM markets, contact us at Valour Consultancy.

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[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="no" hundred_percent_height="no" hundred_percent_height_scroll="no" hundred_percent_height_center_content="yes" equal_height_columns="no" menu_anchor="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" status="published" publish_date="" class="" id="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" margin_top="" margin_bottom="" padding_top="" padding_right="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" gradient_start_color="" gradient_end_color="" gradient_start_position="0" gradient_end_position="100" gradient_type="linear" radial_direction="center" linear_angle="180" background_color="" background_image="" background_position="center center" background_repeat="no-repeat" fade="no" background_parallax="none" enable_mobile="no" parallax_speed="0.3" background_blend_mode="none" video_mp4="" video_webm="" video_ogv="" video_url="" video_aspect_ratio="16:9" video_loop="yes" video_mute="yes" video_preview_image="" filter_hue="0" filter_saturation="100" filter_brightness="100" filter_contrast="100" filter_invert="0" filter_sepia="0" filter_opacity="100" filter_blur="0" filter_hue_hover="0" filter_saturation_hover="100" filter_brightness_hover="100" filter_contrast_hover="100" filter_invert_hover="0" filter_sepia_hover="0" filter_opacity_hover="100" filter_blur_hover="0"][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" layout="1_1" spacing="" center_content="no" link="" target="_self" min_height="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" hover_type="none" border_size="0" border_color="" border_style="solid" border_position="all" border_radius="" box_shadow="no" dimension_box_shadow="" box_shadow_blur="0" box_shadow_spread="0" box_shadow_color="" box_shadow_style="" padding_top="" padding_right="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" margin_top="" margin_bottom="" background_type="single" gradient_start_color="" gradient_end_color="" gradient_start_position="0" gradient_end_position="100" gradient_type="linear" radial_direction="center" linear_angle="180" background_color="" background_image="" background_image_id="" background_position="left top" background_repeat="no-repeat" background_blend_mode="none" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset="" filter_type="regular" filter_hue="0" filter_saturation="100" filter_brightness="100" filter_contrast="100" filter_invert="0" filter_sepia="0" filter_opacity="100" filter_blur="0" filter_hue_hover="0" filter_saturation_hover="100" filter_brightness_hover="100" filter_contrast_hover="100" filter_invert_hover="0" filter_sepia_hover="0" filter_opacity_hover="100" filter_blur_hover="0" last="no"][fusion_imageframe image_id="5433|full" max_width="" style_type="" blur="" stylecolor="" hover_type="none" bordersize="" bordercolor="" borderradius="" align="none" lightbox="no" gallery_id="" lightbox_image="" lightbox_image_id="" alt="" link="" linktarget="_self" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""]https://valourconsultancy.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/UTM-in-the-Wilds-e1591188990204.jpg[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_separator style_type="default" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" sep_color="#ffffff" top_margin="20" bottom_margin="20" border_size="" icon="" icon_circle="" icon_circle_color="" width="" alignment="center" /][fusion_text columns="" column_min_width="" column_spacing="" rule_style="default" rule_size="" rule_color="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""] “I don’t see how he can ever finish, if he doesn’t begin.” Alice thought to herself that unmanned traffic management should be easy, so she checked several countries that are beginning and this is what she found. In the Asia/Pacific region, there is practical experimentation but a willingness to standardise, Russia is ploughing its own furrow and Europe has developed a series of modular trials to have a co-ordinated commercialised traffic management system. The UK has also instituted a similar research group, Catapult Connected Places (CPC). The concept of integrated traffic management and logistics has yet to be addressed for U-space (U-space is that volume of the atmosphere that would normally accommodate urban drones, say, up to 200m above ground level (AGL). The opportunities for Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) systems is that all the systems so far produced are created by private companies. This implies that the system has to be commercially viable, it has to make some profit. It also requires common standards and communication protocols. Such standards and protocols are gradually emerging from bodies such as ASTM, ANSI, STANAG (NATO Standard) and IEEE. Autonomous shipping faces the same problem. For drones, clearly, passenger ticket tax, which pays the majority of the budget for conventional air traffic management, is not applicable. A simple fee for every flight, while obvious, has the knock-on effect that to make more money, more flights are needed, and the situation becomes another clogged system and the incentive to improve the system is diminished. An annual subscription or fee per miles flown or some combination of them all might be desirable. On the plus side, UTM systems lend themselves to automation so that there needs to be few humans employed. An ideal system might be an AI controlled system with integrated machine learning that allows only drones that can log on and have a credit account associated with them, and thus pay their fee, to take off. However, in the hands of a private company, such a system is open to abuse (as is one controlled by any government but that is a separate issue). Many of the differences between conventional Air Traffic Management (ATM) and U-space have to do with scale. Drone traffic will be far denser than passenger jet traffic. Drone information services need to be significantly more detailed, diverse and dynamic than those used by aircraft today. Safety critical information will be needed at a much higher fidelity and speed than today’s ATM, and will include geospatial information services to ensure surface clearance, local weather information to calculate drone trajectory uncertainties and non-conventional navigation sources (such as signals of opportunity and vision-based navigation) to allow for more precise navigation on a local scale. Some of this can be delegated to on-board AI. Services of this level of fidelity require the movement and provision of massive amounts of data to a wide array of users spread out over a large geographical area and, perhaps await complete 5G coverage. In Shenzhen, China, the home of DJI, since December 2018, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) controllers and city police in are currently managing over 2,000 drone flights a day following the introduction of a city-wide UTM system called Unmanned Aircraft Traffic Management Information Service System of CAAC (UTMISS). This system covers low altitude in segregated airspaces below 120m above ground level (AGL). The airspace is divided in a grid manner. UTMISS provides civil UAS with air traffic management functions for the local civil aviation authority. UTMISS adopts a distributed hybrid cloud infrastructure for safety and security purposes, and data process capability, also allowing expandability. In Korea, PRODRONE has a commercialised UTM system collaborating with LG U+, a South Korean cellular carrier capitalising on its 99.5 per cent 4G coverage. The 5G penetration of 9.67 per cent, represents the highest penetration rate in the world and this is expected to cover the entire country by 2028. The “U+ Smart Drone UTM System,” enables a drone to fly safely for disaster monitoring and logistic transport in BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight). They have demonstrated an autonomous drone taking off in a remote location, carrying out duties and returning to a control centre on its own. The system confirms the drone’s position and elevation through the UTM system in BVLOS. Drone operators in a control room can control drones everywhere over land in the country, wherever the network is connected. It makes possible multi-person monitoring and creating a flight plan for multiple drones, useful in many applications. In Japan, which has a long history of drone deployment for agriculture, a UTM system allowing many drone operators to share data, such as critical flight variables was tested in October 2019. The system, developed by Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organisation (NEDO) and others, trialled 100 flights per square kilometre for an hour and were completed at the Fukushima Robot Test Field, about 20km north of the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The drones had flight control devices fitted to report their position and speed to the UTM system. Security of the network was achieved with firewalls and intrusion detection systems (IDS). Authentication keys were allotted to drone operators permitting only approved operators to connect. Flight plan management and flight conditions assumed multiple simultaneous drone-use scenarios such as multiple drone weather observation, and multi-drone formation flights for delivery. Amongst others, Sky Perfect conducted flight tests in BVLOS mode as in disaster damaged areas where, perhaps, ground communication is not available. Position and flight condition data from the drones and control via communication satellites from the direct flight control function in real time was achieved. Hitachi with the Japan Information and Communications Research Institute developed a location sharing device with multi-hop communications that enables long-distance BVLOS flight of multiple drones. It was demonstrated that systems equipped with collision-avoidance technologies can interconnect with the drone traffic management system. The aim was to integrate the UAS traffic management system with collision avoidance technology. JAXA developed a UTM simulator and connected a part of the simulator to the drone traffic management system verifying deconfliction of drone traffic to avoid mid-air collisions. Russia has opted for fitting drones with transponders and the use of low-level radar. Digital radio systems (CRTS) and the Aviation Institute for Navigation Instrumentation (Navigator) have developed a system of avionics and digital ground-based equipment for radar detection of light aircraft and drones for the management and monitoring of air traffic at lower level airspace. The systems comprise small-scale air surveillance system, airborne small-sized transmission system, aircraft responder, ground proximity warning system, airborne collision warning system, navigation and landing systems and ground stations. It allows the creation of objective situational awareness for air traffic using the principle of everyone-sees-everyone. It is difficult to see how such a system without a high degree of automation might cope with extensive commercial drone use. In the USA, a UAS Traffic Management Pilot was initiated as a research project by NASA, and then between the FAA and NASA. The Unmanned Aircraft Systems Traffic Management System is intended to be distinct, but complementary to, the traditional FAA’s air traffic management system. The September 2019 pilot project was to develop and demonstrate a traffic management system to safely integrate drone flights within the nation’s airspace system, also creating a shared information network and gathering data. Using mature commercial technologies for UTM including flight planning, communications, aircraft separation and weather services for these drones operating under 400 feet AGL, there will be a cooperative interaction between drone operators and the FAA to determine and communicate real-time airspace status. The FAA will provide real-time constraints to the UAS operators, who are responsible for managing their operations safely within these constraints without receiving positive air traffic control services from the FAA. The primary means of communication and coordination between the FAA, drone operators, and other stakeholders is through a distributed network of highly automated systems via application programming interfaces (API), and not between pilots and air traffic controllers via voice. The FAA UAS Data Exchange umbrella supports multiple partnerships, the first of which is the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC). Essentially the paperwork has been automated and the traffic management has been delegated to approved UTM vendors such as Aeronyde, AirMap, Airspacelink, AiRXOS, Altitude Angel, Kittyhawk, Skyward, Thales Group and UASidekick. Many of these countries attended the third meeting of the Asia/Pacific Unmanned Aircraft Systems Task Force in Bangkok, in March 2019. These countries, Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong China, Macao China, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, USA and Viet Nam, were trying to achieve a common consensus on standards and legislation. India, China and Mongolia all reported on their UTM systems and security. In Europe (not including UK which is conducting its own parallel projects), under the auspices of the Single European Sky (SES), there has been a co-ordinated series of projects to investigate building a roadmap for the safe integration of drones into all classes of airspace. This outlined the steps needed to ensure a coordinated implementation enabling RPAS to fly alongside commercial aircraft. Beginning 2017, a set of exploratory research projects was undertaken to address everything from the concept of operations for drones, critical communications, surveillance and tracking, and information management to aircraft systems, ground-based technologies, cyber-resilience and geo-fencing. In 2018, practical demonstration projects to showcase U-space services managing a broad range of drone operations and related applications, and their interaction with manned aviation was launched. Those ranged from parcel deliveries between two dense urban locations, medical emergencies and police interventions, as well as air taxi trials in an airport-controlled airspace. Leisure use was also catered for, with projects demonstrating how private drone operators can benefit from U-space services. The operations also aimed to demonstrate different levels of automation that are possible, as well as seamless information exchange between multiple service providers in the same geographical area at the same time. In total 186 flight missions for 19 projects were made involving 19 countries. Together, they represent comprehensive preparatory work for commercial drone activities. Stage 1 - Registration, Registration assistance, e-identification, Geo-awareness, Drone aeronautical information management. Stage 2 - Tracking (Position report submission), Surveillance data exchange, Geo-fence provision (includes dynamic geo-fencing). Operation plan preparation /optimisation, Operation plan processing, Risk analysis assistance, Strategic Conflict Resolution, Emergency Management, Incident/ Accident reporting, Citizen reporting service, Monitoring, Traffic information, Navigation infrastructure monitoring, Communication infrastructure monitoring, Legal recording, Digital logbook, Weather information, Procedural interface with ATC. Stage 3 - Dynamic Capacity Management, Tactical Conflict Resolution, Geospatial information service, Population density map, Electromagnetic interference information, Navigation coverage information, Communication coverage information, and Collaborative interface with ATC. Stage 4 - Integrated interfaces with manned aviation, Additional new services such as logistical optimisation and commercialisation. Table showing UTM Trials There a multitude of various countries, bodies and companies trialling different UTM technologies. As in all things, several leaders will emerge and gradually coalesce into a common standard. NASA is moving things clearly in the US and in Europe, the SES has developed a comprehensive system. The Brussels effect (or Creeping Standardisation) is the process of unilateral regulatory globalisation caused by the European Union de facto (but not necessarily de jure) externalising its laws outside its borders through market mechanisms. Companies adopt the rules as the price of participating in the huge EU market, and then impose them across their global businesses to minimise the cost of running separate compliance regimes. Similarly, the USA sets its standards. Air Traffic Management has been able to embrace both requirements through a process of joint comparison embraced by the FAA and Eurocontrol. This is likely to dictate the host of well-known multinational companies that will jump on-board with the protocols, procedures and systems. The international market for UTM will undoubtedly become a very hot topic in the post-Covid-19 world. For more information on the commercial UAS and UTM markets, contact us at Valour Consultancy. [/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Pandemic Will Propel Commercial Delivery Drones

Drone Carrying a Box

By Joshua Flood, Valour Consultancy

With most of the cities around Europe, North America and Latin America (except perhaps Brazil) deserted and the majority of populations locked away in their homes, the start of 2020 has not been best. The service markets, such as restaurants, gyms, co-working spaces, have come to a grinding halt and many businesses and industries will be damaged for years to come. The tax hikes after this pandemic will be eye watering. It’s a strange period, and also very sad, with the high risk of fatality to vulnerable people with underlying health conditions or the elderly in our communities.

Nevertheless, with every negative, there will be positives. Supermarket sales soared in March and companies like Walmart, Carrefour, Tesco, Sainsburys and many more will have surpassed all their past Christmas sales records but there have been additional costs that weigh heavily against potential profits. Home exercise equipment manufacturers have been inundated with unexpected demands for stationary cycle bikes, treadmills and rowing machines. Consumer entertainment content platforms will be tallying up new subscriptions like someone seeing their winning lottery ticket balls slotting in, unless your platform relies on live sports. In today’s environment, I think I could create a global sport phenomenon in camel racing.

One of those positives will be a huge increase in home delivery, Tesco has added an additional 145,000 weekly home delivery slots, enabling it to make 805,000 deliveries each week, or 20% more than before. With social distancing and people staying in their homes for periods for unimaginable periods of time, drone deliveries make unparalleled sense

Irish drone company, Manna Aero, is to trial delivery services in Moneygall, a small village halfway between Dublin and Limerick in Eire in the second week of April 2020. Currently, the service is focusing on medicine delivery to vulnerable people locked in their homes. However, this could expand to food if successful.

Zipline, a US company renown for its work in Rwanda and Ghana, is applying with the FAA to launch its own medicine delivery service in the USA and UK. Also in the US, Matternet has teamed up with UPS for medicine deliveries in North Carolina, and with SwissPost, in Switzerland, for deliveries of lab supplies. Chinese internet conglomerate JD.com’s first delivery was to a village near Baiyang Lake in Hebei Province in the north of the country in February. In China, hotels were using robots to deliver food to rooms, although this is not an unmanned aerial system.

Alphabet’s Wing drone service has reportedly performed more than 1,000 deliveries in Australia and the US in the last two weeks. Wing drone service opened up for service in late 2019, working with Walgreens, FedEx and Super Magnolia (a local Virginia grocery store chain). The new service, in Christiansburg, Virginia, has allowed customers to purchase roughly 100 different products, over the counter medications or pre-built packages. The FAA approved Alphabet’s drone delivery program in March 2019, and the company announced its plans for ‘store to door’ delivery of more than 100 products in Virginia six months later. The delivery drones are claimed to have the ability to fly up to 120 km/h (almost 75 mph).

The delivery service which was rolled out in Christiansburg, Virginia, which is actually within a short distance from Wing’s testing zone – it has been testing drone delivery as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Integration Pilot Program since 2016. For Wing, approval of its U.S. operations marks one of several major steps throughout 2019 that included a green light from Australia regulators who allowed public deliveries from the company in 2019 too. Its speed of acceptance has outpaced that of Google’s main competitor in the commercial drone space, Amazon, whose service, Prime Air, plans to deliver the company’s products straight to consumers’ doorsteps.

From a logistics industry’s perspective, drones represent one cusp of revolutionary change that will forever alter the way on-line goods are delivered. For food and small package delivery over the ‘last mile’, it can make little or no sense to send a ton of metal and a human to steer it. Replacing delivery drivers and couriers with lightweight energy-efficient UAVs, environmentally friendly, is accepted as the solution. In addition, there is no human to human contact.

It is believed there are at least 34 countries running or testing drone delivery services, either for medical, postal, food including pizza and coffee. In addition to those already mentioned, these include Australia, India, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Vuanatu in the Asia-Pacific region.

In Europe, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany (pizza), Iceland and Ireland have all tested or initiated drone deliveries. In the UK in December 2018, Vodafone tested drone deliveries in Portland Bill using their 4G mobile network rather than a radio transmitter and Amazon Prime has made a minimum of two trials of long-range drone operations near Cambridge and, in 2018, a fully piloted flight in East Sussex over a seven-mile route at about 400ft.

Also, German UAV company, Wingcopter is collaborating with UPS Flight Forward to develop a next-generation delivery drone solution for packages. UPS announced the launch of UPSFF in 2019, after getting FAA approval, Part 135 certification in September 2019, paving the way for the delivery service to fly further into the consumer market. UPS has since partnered with drone delivery company Matternet to ferry medical samples via drone at WakeMed hospital in Raleigh, N.C. Wingcopter and UPSFF will next seek regulatory certification for a Wingcopter unmanned aircraft to make commercial delivery flights in the United States.

Drone deliveries will never be a fit all solution but in circumstances such as today, drone deliveries make a lot of sense. In our latest commercial UAS platform report, we estimate nearly 3,000 systems were actively being used globally for drone deliveries. This figure will skyrocket in 2020 and 2021 beyond our highest predictions. We estimated the drone delivery service market was estimated about $2.3 million last year. By the end of 2020, this number of likely to be around $20 million as we see much greater deployment of systems, more start-up companies and also more partnerships and collaborations. For more information on our latest report, please contact us here.

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[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="no" equal_height_columns="no" menu_anchor="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" background_color="" background_image="" background_position="center center" background_repeat="no-repeat" fade="no" background_parallax="none" parallax_speed="0.3" video_mp4="" video_webm="" video_ogv="" video_url="" video_aspect_ratio="16:9" video_loop="yes" video_mute="yes" overlay_color="" video_preview_image="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" padding_top="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" padding_right=""][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" layout="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" border_position="all" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding_top="" padding_right="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" center_content="no" last="no" min_height="" hover_type="none" link=""][fusion_imageframe image_id="5349|medium" max_width="" style_type="" blur="" stylecolor="" hover_type="none" bordersize="" bordercolor="" borderradius="" align="none" lightbox="no" gallery_id="" lightbox_image="" lightbox_image_id="" alt="" link="" linktarget="_self" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""]https://valourconsultancy.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Drone-Delivery-April-300x163.png[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_text columns="" column_min_width="" column_spacing="" rule_style="default" rule_size="" rule_color="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""] By Joshua Flood, Valour Consultancy With most of the cities around Europe, North America and Latin America (except perhaps Brazil) deserted and the majority of populations locked away in their homes, the start of 2020 has not been best. The service markets, such as restaurants, gyms, co-working spaces, have come to a grinding halt and many businesses and industries will be damaged for years to come. The tax hikes after this pandemic will be eye watering. It’s a strange period, and also very sad, with the high risk of fatality to vulnerable people with underlying health conditions or the elderly in our communities. Nevertheless, with every negative, there will be positives. Supermarket sales soared in March and companies like Walmart, Carrefour, Tesco, Sainsburys and many more will have surpassed all their past Christmas sales records but there have been additional costs that weigh heavily against potential profits. Home exercise equipment manufacturers have been inundated with unexpected demands for stationary cycle bikes, treadmills and rowing machines. Consumer entertainment content platforms will be tallying up new subscriptions like someone seeing their winning lottery ticket balls slotting in, unless your platform relies on live sports. In today’s environment, I think I could create a global sport phenomenon in camel racing. One of those positives will be a huge increase in home delivery, Tesco has added an additional 145,000 weekly home delivery slots, enabling it to make 805,000 deliveries each week, or 20% more than before. With social distancing and people staying in their homes for periods for unimaginable periods of time, drone deliveries make unparalleled sense Irish drone company, Manna Aero, is to trial delivery services in Moneygall, a small village halfway between Dublin and Limerick in Eire in the second week of April 2020. Currently, the service is focusing on medicine delivery to vulnerable people locked in their homes. However, this could expand to food if successful. Zipline, a US company renown for its work in Rwanda and Ghana, is applying with the FAA to launch its own medicine delivery service in the USA and UK. Also in the US, Matternet has teamed up with UPS for medicine deliveries in North Carolina, and with SwissPost, in Switzerland, for deliveries of lab supplies. Chinese internet conglomerate JD.com's first delivery was to a village near Baiyang Lake in Hebei Province in the north of the country in February. In China, hotels were using robots to deliver food to rooms, although this is not an unmanned aerial system. Alphabet’s Wing drone service has reportedly performed more than 1,000 deliveries in Australia and the US in the last two weeks. Wing drone service opened up for service in late 2019, working with Walgreens, FedEx and Super Magnolia (a local Virginia grocery store chain). The new service, in Christiansburg, Virginia, has allowed customers to purchase roughly 100 different products, over the counter medications or pre-built packages. The FAA approved Alphabet's drone delivery program in March 2019, and the company announced its plans for 'store to door' delivery of more than 100 products in Virginia six months later. The delivery drones are claimed to have the ability to fly up to 120 km/h (almost 75 mph). The delivery service which was rolled out in Christiansburg, Virginia, which is actually within a short distance from Wing's testing zone – it has been testing drone delivery as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Integration Pilot Program since 2016. For Wing, approval of its U.S. operations marks one of several major steps throughout 2019 that included a green light from Australia regulators who allowed public deliveries from the company in 2019 too. Its speed of acceptance has outpaced that of Google's main competitor in the commercial drone space, Amazon, whose service, Prime Air, plans to deliver the company's products straight to consumers' doorsteps. From a logistics industry’s perspective, drones represent one cusp of revolutionary change that will forever alter the way on-line goods are delivered. For food and small package delivery over the ‘last mile’, it can make little or no sense to send a ton of metal and a human to steer it. Replacing delivery drivers and couriers with lightweight energy-efficient UAVs, environmentally friendly, is accepted as the solution. In addition, there is no human to human contact. It is believed there are at least 34 countries running or testing drone delivery services, either for medical, postal, food including pizza and coffee. In addition to those already mentioned, these include Australia, India, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand and Vuanatu in the Asia-Pacific region. In Europe, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany (pizza), Iceland and Ireland have all tested or initiated drone deliveries. In the UK in December 2018, Vodafone tested drone deliveries in Portland Bill using their 4G mobile network rather than a radio transmitter and Amazon Prime has made a minimum of two trials of long-range drone operations near Cambridge and, in 2018, a fully piloted flight in East Sussex over a seven-mile route at about 400ft. Also, German UAV company, Wingcopter is collaborating with UPS Flight Forward to develop a next-generation delivery drone solution for packages. UPS announced the launch of UPSFF in 2019, after getting FAA approval, Part 135 certification in September 2019, paving the way for the delivery service to fly further into the consumer market. UPS has since partnered with drone delivery company Matternet to ferry medical samples via drone at WakeMed hospital in Raleigh, N.C. Wingcopter and UPSFF will next seek regulatory certification for a Wingcopter unmanned aircraft to make commercial delivery flights in the United States. Drone deliveries will never be a fit all solution but in circumstances such as today, drone deliveries make a lot of sense. In our latest commercial UAS platform report, we estimate nearly 3,000 systems were actively being used globally for drone deliveries. This figure will skyrocket in 2020 and 2021 beyond our highest predictions. We estimated the drone delivery service market was estimated about $2.3 million last year. By the end of 2020, this number of likely to be around $20 million as we see much greater deployment of systems, more start-up companies and also more partnerships and collaborations. For more information on our latest report, please contact us here. [/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Uberecstacy

Author – Steve and Joshua Flood

In June 12th 2019, the Uber Elevate Summit in Washington DC, highlighted innovations in the emerging electric powered vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) and urban air mobility (UAM) markets.

The market for drone taxis is both technologically exciting and potentially useful. As a drone and monorail enthusiast, I wish the very best developmental and utilisation outcomes for both. However, we must caution against overenthusiasm. There are certain overtones of the excitement surrounding monorails and Maglev in the late 20th century. Monorails are an ideal solution to a very specific set of problems but were touted as panacea for inner city congestion and pollution. Overegged, the downsides for monorails were not appreciated leaving embarrassing reminders in over 50 towns and cities of failure.

For a good explanation of monorail pros and cons click here.

Equally, there is a definite place for cheaper, pollution-free aerial transport in congested cities and, apart from the requirements for some detailed air-traffic management and, perhaps, a little more awareness of roof strengths and clearances (think hoardings, cooling towers and phone masts), eVTOL taxis are the way to go. But it is quite a niche market. The number of reports coming out from firms such as Morgan Stanley, Deloitte, NASA, Booz Allen Hamilton suggest rather large potential theoretical markets. In its bottom tier forecasts, Morgan Stanley suggests a total addressable market of $1.5 trillion US by 2040. A more bullish forecast skyrockets the market at $2.9 trillion US.

There are quite a number of companies putting money into the development of eVTOL craft. Not all of these are in the position to consider an air taxi service but they are all starting out on the journey.

List of active or potential players

Airbus A3 – A Silicon Valley offshoot of Airbus has produced the Vahana, an all-electric, self-piloted, VTOL aircraft with 8 motors mounted on four rotating wings

AIRSPACEX – based in Detroit, the company is planning MOBi-ONE which is a rotating wing four motor VTOL

Alauda – a group of Australian blokes who just want to race air cars. Their Airspeeder has four sets of counter-rotating props, a 10-minute flight time and top speed of up to 250 km/h. It looks a bit like a racing car frame. It is still some way from realising that they will need a business to support their racing desires but, if Australia joins the air taxi business, they already have a head start.

Aurora Flight Sciences (A Boeing Company) – A hybrid with one propulsion motor and 8 lift motors designed to carry 225 kg and can travel up to 180 km/h. It looks similar to something Lego might have invented. They also have the “Lightning Strike” developed with Rolls Royce and Honeywell – let’s not go there.

Bartini.aero – A Russian eVTOL with a 30-minute endurance and a 150 km range. It comes in two versions, 2-seater and 4-seater. It has a wing-style body. Mr Bartini was an Italian aircraft scientist whom resided in Russia. Renown for his involvement in ekranoplans; in effect, low flying planes, which roughly flew 20-30 metres above the ground. They are very fast and can carry significant cargo. The major challenge is they’re difficult to control. However, potentially this could not be a problem in today’s AI world.

Bell Nexus – From the Bell helicopter company, a six tilting ducted fans and a hybrid-electric power train, the Nexus is expected to carry 4 passengers plus a pilot up to distances of 240 km, speeds of up to 288 km/h.

Carter Aviation – A USA hybrid autogyro-plane with a petrol or diesel engine called the PAV – a four place Personal Air Vehicle. It appears to be better than a helicopter but not as good as a plane. Not exactly a Vertical Take-off as it needs some short forward momentum to achieve lift.

CityAirbus (Airbus Helicopters) – a multinational co-operative but producing in Donauwörth, Germany is an eight-motor ducted fan VTOL carrying 4 passengers for 15-minutes.

DeLorean Aerospace – You would have to have a heart of stone not to want to see an eVTOL called DeLorean. This is probably not what a taxi driver would use but certainly an item wealthy person would have locked in their toys department is a bygone certainty. It will have a range of up to 193km and a cruising speed of 241 km/h.

Ehang – A Chinese company that produces two versions of its passenger drone. The Ehang 184 can reach speeds over 100 km/h. It started carrying passengers in 2015 and in the next three years made more than 1,000 test flights, including some in “violent” conditions with dummies – which include storm-force winds, low visibility conditions, at night, and greater than 300 metres above the ground. It has eight propellers on four arms. By July 2018, nearly 40 single pilot, single passenger EHang 184s had been built. The Ehang 216 is a two-seater with 16 propellers. It clocked over 1,000 manned flights by July 2018 and its maximum range flown was only 8.8 km. It can fly 25-minutes and roughly cover a range of between 30–40 km. This aircraft is autonomous flying, monitored from a command-and-control centre.

Embraer – A Brazilian company which is partnering with Uber to launch the EmbraerX. A straightforward VTOL air taxi with 8 lift fans and 2 propulsion propellers. As of yet, no specifications have been made available.

Esprit Aeronautics – the British firm is planning a one-man craft called the Lancer ePAV. This is not an air taxi yet but a one passenger VTOL aircraft which will have the option of being all-electric or a hybrid electric aircraft. A dual seater is in the planning stage. It claims a unique form of stability/control technology unseen in current eVTOL designs. It features four pairs of counter-rotating propellers mounted on an overhead wing. There are no aircraft specification available yet to the public.

Hepard AviaNovations – This is a delightful concept vehicle with foldable and rotating wings like a butterfly, but hepard means cheetah. Test flights were suggested last year but no notice has been seen. Each wing has 11 fans. It’s so beautiful and comes in a single seater or dual seater version. Control is by blockchain-like distributed computer system which is tolerant of up to 5 failures before a flight is compromised. It can carry 240 kg of weight up to 75km and has a battery flight time of 30-minutes. The wings fold up so it can fit in a standard garage. This is unlikely to be taxi material but it looks like lots of fun.

HopFlyt – Based in Maryland, the US, its product is still in the modelling stage. The Venturi A3 is a rather unique design which will, hopefully, allow inter-city hopping, reducing the time from commuting from Baltimore to Washington DC from nearly 2 hours to potentially 12-minutes.

Hoversurf – A Russian or Californian company planning a two or four-seater drone taxi. Working models have already been tested. It will provide a flight time over 1 hour and travel at speeds of up to 250 km/h. The company says its Hoverbikes are currently being used by the Dubai police force. A unique selling point is that it can use normal car parking spaces. On the plus side, it looks like something out of Star Wars.

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) – Producer of the 2-seater JAXA Hornisse type 2B. This is not a Starfighter. No specifications yet.

Jaunt Air Mobility – A Florida-based aerospace company that plans to test its prototype “flying taxi” at the end of 2020. Its key technology is reduced rotor operating speed aircraft (ROSA), which allows its flying machine to hover and cruise at least 50 per cent quieter than helicopters (apart from an almost irresistible urge to play “Ride of the Valkyries” over loudspeakers).

Joby Aviation – A California company developing an air taxi that may have a small aeroplane fuselage with four swivelling motors on each wing and two swivelling motors on each tail fin. The company is a tad secretive so technical specifications are not known.

Karem AircraftThe Butterfly is a quad tiltrotor aircraft that the Californian company said strikes the right balance between hover and cruise efficiency by using Optimum Speed Tiltrotor (OSTR) technology which combines the fast, inexpensive, safe operation of efficient fixed-wing airplanes with the robust hover capability of helicopters, a technology it has been working on for years for the US Army’s Future Vertical Lift programme.

Kitty Hawk / Zee Aero – This is the baby of Larry Page of Google. It is undergoing tests currently in New Zealand. It could have 12 lift fans mounted on the wings and one propulsion propeller at the rear of the fuselage.

Lilium Aviation – A Munich-based company producing a rotating wing 5-seater with 36 (yes 36) ducted fans. They have tested the 2-seater prototype and expect a 5-seater to be fully operational by the start of 2023

Napoleon Aero – A Russian offering which consists of a fat mini-plane with 46 fans embedded in its wings and canard. It’s a four-seater with a range of up to 100km.

Pipistrel – This Slovenian company is designing the Pipstrel 801 which has 8 lift fans in the wings and a single propulsion fan on the tail. Once at flying height the lift fans are shrouded leaving the wings to act normally and the craft acts as a plane. It’s a five person craft with a range of up to 100km and capable of speeds around 280 km/h.

Terrafugia – This is a Chinese-owned company based in the USA. They produce two versions of air taxis. One called the Transition which converts from car to plane and would be personally approved by Nick Nack (evil henchman in The Man with The Golden Gun), were he still with us. The other, and likely more serious offering, is the TF-2. This is an airframe with six lift fans and two propulsion fans which can be docked with either ca cargo pod or a 4-passenger pod. It has a provisional range of 300km and could carry up to 544kg.

VerdeGo Aero – Based in Daytona Beach Florida, the company has proposed a hybrid eVTOL called PAT200. It has two sets of tilting wings each with two propellors (so 8 in all) and independently powered. It can carry a 227kg load and travel at speeds of around 240 km/h. One assumes when not fully loaded

Vimana – A California-based enterprise offering a VTOL air taxi featuring fore and aft tilting wings with eight 60kW motors attached. Its range is estimated at roughly 900 km and could carry up 408 kg.

Volocopter – a German company with a rather unique design in air taxi. The VC2X is a two-seater fuselage mounted below a ring of 18 lift fans. It can carry up to 165kg and cover 27 km in roughly 27 minutes. It looks a little bit like Medusa on a bad hair day.

VRCO – In Derby, England, the company is promoting the NeoXCraft, a short lift-body fuselage/cockpit with electric ducted propellers fore and aft on each side. The ducts and propellers can go from vertical lift to horizontal flight mode. Its flight time is at least a 60-minutes and could fly up to 120 km and carry a maximum of 180 kg payload, roughly two passengers and can fly autonomously.

Workhorse – Workhorse is a USA truck manufacturer. This air taxi is a hybrid petrol-electric helicopter fuselage with four arms each with two electric contra-rotating propellers. This air taxi is called the Surefly. It can carry 180kg for a flight time of 1-hour and cover roughly 113 km.

XTI Aircraft – A private Denver, USA-based company that proposes the hybrid-electric Trifan 600. There is already an order book of nearly 80 craft. It is a 5 passenger + pilot craft which is capable of speeds around 300km/h and cover a range of 2,200 km. Probably suited to long-distance taxi fares.

There are several many others too.

The technological barriers that must be addressed

These include:

  • Landing platforms are fairly easily solved by elevated (above masts hoardings and towers) platforms on roofs
  • Landing priority may be a problem but logistically simple to solve
  • Safety is always an issue and there will be catastrophes but they will be significantly lower than motorway and road casualties (although the publicity may not indicate that)
  • Flight path permission may hinder some routes but there are ways round that
  • Mid-air collisions in this day and age of acute sensors and AI management should never occur
  • Weather will always be a problem for air traffic but, in the UK, at least, there is a certain philosophical acceptance of that
  • Regulation and Traffic management are quite simple but it will doubtless take many legislators, many greybeards and tons of bureaucracy before we arrive at an accepted outcome

There will be a portion of the wealthy, CEOs, super spies and politicians who might move from helicopters and there will be a portion of the limousine taxi riders who will move up. The problems are not the technology but the perception of risk and the laws of supply and demand.

One of the main advantages of the air-taxi model, given the limitations of power (battery energy) density and range, is the redundancy of the pilot/driver. Strangely humans appreciate a driver because they assume, rightly or wrongly, that a human driver will avoid risk as he/she would suffer the same consequences as his/her passengers. This is absurd as most risk events are caused by human-error, but it is not the way humans’ think.

In addition, people, in general, don’t like flying and don’t like flying in helicopters (or similar) even more so. The writer, having spent a large portion of his adult life in helicopters crossing the open seas to and from oilrigs, can attest that this is a nearly-universal truth. Overcoming this aversion may take longer than the funds to sustain the business model can last.

When money runs tight, economies must be made. Accountants and FCOs are especially vulnerable to cutting the cost of things they don’t understand. In the writer’s experience there is a special place in hell for bean-counters who try and save money by reducing maintenance.

This market will evolve slowly and steadily and not increase exponentially as many marketing companies envisage. It may well become a $2.9 trillion market US but it will take a generation at least.

-
[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="no" equal_height_columns="no" menu_anchor="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" background_color="" background_image="" background_position="center center" background_repeat="no-repeat" fade="no" background_parallax="none" parallax_speed="0.3" video_mp4="" video_webm="" video_ogv="" video_url="" video_aspect_ratio="16:9" video_loop="yes" video_mute="yes" overlay_color="" video_preview_image="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" padding_top="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" padding_right=""][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" layout="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" border_position="all" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding_top="" padding_right="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" center_content="no" last="no" min_height="" hover_type="none" link=""][fusion_imageframe image_id="4781|full" max_width="" style_type="" blur="" stylecolor="" hover_type="none" bordersize="" bordercolor="" borderradius="" align="left" lightbox="no" gallery_id="" lightbox_image="" lightbox_image_id="" alt="" link="" linktarget="_self" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""]http://217.199.187.200/valourconsultancy.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Volocopter-1.png[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_text columns="" column_min_width="" column_spacing="" rule_style="default" rule_size="" rule_color="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""] Author – Steve and Joshua Flood In June 12th 2019, the Uber Elevate Summit in Washington DC, highlighted innovations in the emerging electric powered vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) and urban air mobility (UAM) markets. The market for drone taxis is both technologically exciting and potentially useful. As a drone and monorail enthusiast, I wish the very best developmental and utilisation outcomes for both. However, we must caution against overenthusiasm. There are certain overtones of the excitement surrounding monorails and Maglev in the late 20th century. Monorails are an ideal solution to a very specific set of problems but were touted as panacea for inner city congestion and pollution. Overegged, the downsides for monorails were not appreciated leaving embarrassing reminders in over 50 towns and cities of failure. For a good explanation of monorail pros and cons click here. Equally, there is a definite place for cheaper, pollution-free aerial transport in congested cities and, apart from the requirements for some detailed air-traffic management and, perhaps, a little more awareness of roof strengths and clearances (think hoardings, cooling towers and phone masts), eVTOL taxis are the way to go. But it is quite a niche market. The number of reports coming out from firms such as Morgan Stanley, Deloitte, NASA, Booz Allen Hamilton suggest rather large potential theoretical markets. In its bottom tier forecasts, Morgan Stanley suggests a total addressable market of $1.5 trillion US by 2040. A more bullish forecast skyrockets the market at $2.9 trillion US. There are quite a number of companies putting money into the development of eVTOL craft. Not all of these are in the position to consider an air taxi service but they are all starting out on the journey.

List of active or potential players

Airbus A3 – A Silicon Valley offshoot of Airbus has produced the Vahana, an all-electric, self-piloted, VTOL aircraft with 8 motors mounted on four rotating wings AIRSPACEX – based in Detroit, the company is planning MOBi-ONE which is a rotating wing four motor VTOL Alauda – a group of Australian blokes who just want to race air cars. Their Airspeeder has four sets of counter-rotating props, a 10-minute flight time and top speed of up to 250 km/h. It looks a bit like a racing car frame. It is still some way from realising that they will need a business to support their racing desires but, if Australia joins the air taxi business, they already have a head start. Aurora Flight Sciences (A Boeing Company) – A hybrid with one propulsion motor and 8 lift motors designed to carry 225 kg and can travel up to 180 km/h. It looks similar to something Lego might have invented. They also have the “Lightning Strike” developed with Rolls Royce and Honeywell – let’s not go there. Bartini.aero – A Russian eVTOL with a 30-minute endurance and a 150 km range. It comes in two versions, 2-seater and 4-seater. It has a wing-style body. Mr Bartini was an Italian aircraft scientist whom resided in Russia. Renown for his involvement in ekranoplans; in effect, low flying planes, which roughly flew 20-30 metres above the ground. They are very fast and can carry significant cargo. The major challenge is they’re difficult to control. However, potentially this could not be a problem in today’s AI world. Bell Nexus – From the Bell helicopter company, a six tilting ducted fans and a hybrid-electric power train, the Nexus is expected to carry 4 passengers plus a pilot up to distances of 240 km, speeds of up to 288 km/h. Carter Aviation – A USA hybrid autogyro-plane with a petrol or diesel engine called the PAV – a four place Personal Air Vehicle. It appears to be better than a helicopter but not as good as a plane. Not exactly a Vertical Take-off as it needs some short forward momentum to achieve lift. CityAirbus (Airbus Helicopters) – a multinational co-operative but producing in Donauwörth, Germany is an eight-motor ducted fan VTOL carrying 4 passengers for 15-minutes. DeLorean Aerospace – You would have to have a heart of stone not to want to see an eVTOL called DeLorean. This is probably not what a taxi driver would use but certainly an item wealthy person would have locked in their toys department is a bygone certainty. It will have a range of up to 193km and a cruising speed of 241 km/h. Ehang – A Chinese company that produces two versions of its passenger drone. The Ehang 184 can reach speeds over 100 km/h. It started carrying passengers in 2015 and in the next three years made more than 1,000 test flights, including some in "violent" conditions with dummies – which include storm-force winds, low visibility conditions, at night, and greater than 300 metres above the ground. It has eight propellers on four arms. By July 2018, nearly 40 single pilot, single passenger EHang 184s had been built. The Ehang 216 is a two-seater with 16 propellers. It clocked over 1,000 manned flights by July 2018 and its maximum range flown was only 8.8 km. It can fly 25-minutes and roughly cover a range of between 30–40 km. This aircraft is autonomous flying, monitored from a command-and-control centre. Embraer – A Brazilian company which is partnering with Uber to launch the EmbraerX. A straightforward VTOL air taxi with 8 lift fans and 2 propulsion propellers. As of yet, no specifications have been made available. Esprit Aeronautics – the British firm is planning a one-man craft called the Lancer ePAV. This is not an air taxi yet but a one passenger VTOL aircraft which will have the option of being all-electric or a hybrid electric aircraft. A dual seater is in the planning stage. It claims a unique form of stability/control technology unseen in current eVTOL designs. It features four pairs of counter-rotating propellers mounted on an overhead wing. There are no aircraft specification available yet to the public. Hepard AviaNovations – This is a delightful concept vehicle with foldable and rotating wings like a butterfly, but hepard means cheetah. Test flights were suggested last year but no notice has been seen. Each wing has 11 fans. It’s so beautiful and comes in a single seater or dual seater version. Control is by blockchain-like distributed computer system which is tolerant of up to 5 failures before a flight is compromised. It can carry 240 kg of weight up to 75km and has a battery flight time of 30-minutes. The wings fold up so it can fit in a standard garage. This is unlikely to be taxi material but it looks like lots of fun. HopFlyt – Based in Maryland, the US, its product is still in the modelling stage. The Venturi A3 is a rather unique design which will, hopefully, allow inter-city hopping, reducing the time from commuting from Baltimore to Washington DC from nearly 2 hours to potentially 12-minutes. Hoversurf – A Russian or Californian company planning a two or four-seater drone taxi. Working models have already been tested. It will provide a flight time over 1 hour and travel at speeds of up to 250 km/h. The company says its Hoverbikes are currently being used by the Dubai police force. A unique selling point is that it can use normal car parking spaces. On the plus side, it looks like something out of Star Wars. Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) – Producer of the 2-seater JAXA Hornisse type 2B. This is not a Starfighter. No specifications yet. Jaunt Air Mobility - A Florida-based aerospace company that plans to test its prototype “flying taxi” at the end of 2020. Its key technology is reduced rotor operating speed aircraft (ROSA), which allows its flying machine to hover and cruise at least 50 per cent quieter than helicopters (apart from an almost irresistible urge to play “Ride of the Valkyries” over loudspeakers). Joby Aviation – A California company developing an air taxi that may have a small aeroplane fuselage with four swivelling motors on each wing and two swivelling motors on each tail fin. The company is a tad secretive so technical specifications are not known. Karem Aircraft - The Butterfly is a quad tiltrotor aircraft that the Californian company said strikes the right balance between hover and cruise efficiency by using Optimum Speed Tiltrotor (OSTR) technology which combines the fast, inexpensive, safe operation of efficient fixed-wing airplanes with the robust hover capability of helicopters, a technology it has been working on for years for the US Army’s Future Vertical Lift programme. Kitty Hawk / Zee Aero – This is the baby of Larry Page of Google. It is undergoing tests currently in New Zealand. It could have 12 lift fans mounted on the wings and one propulsion propeller at the rear of the fuselage. Lilium Aviation – A Munich-based company producing a rotating wing 5-seater with 36 (yes 36) ducted fans. They have tested the 2-seater prototype and expect a 5-seater to be fully operational by the start of 2023 Napoleon Aero – A Russian offering which consists of a fat mini-plane with 46 fans embedded in its wings and canard. It’s a four-seater with a range of up to 100km. Pipistrel – This Slovenian company is designing the Pipstrel 801 which has 8 lift fans in the wings and a single propulsion fan on the tail. Once at flying height the lift fans are shrouded leaving the wings to act normally and the craft acts as a plane. It’s a five person craft with a range of up to 100km and capable of speeds around 280 km/h. Terrafugia – This is a Chinese-owned company based in the USA. They produce two versions of air taxis. One called the Transition which converts from car to plane and would be personally approved by Nick Nack (evil henchman in The Man with The Golden Gun), were he still with us. The other, and likely more serious offering, is the TF-2. This is an airframe with six lift fans and two propulsion fans which can be docked with either ca cargo pod or a 4-passenger pod. It has a provisional range of 300km and could carry up to 544kg. VerdeGo Aero – Based in Daytona Beach Florida, the company has proposed a hybrid eVTOL called PAT200. It has two sets of tilting wings each with two propellors (so 8 in all) and independently powered. It can carry a 227kg load and travel at speeds of around 240 km/h. One assumes when not fully loaded Vimana – A California-based enterprise offering a VTOL air taxi featuring fore and aft tilting wings with eight 60kW motors attached. Its range is estimated at roughly 900 km and could carry up 408 kg. Volocopter – a German company with a rather unique design in air taxi. The VC2X is a two-seater fuselage mounted below a ring of 18 lift fans. It can carry up to 165kg and cover 27 km in roughly 27 minutes. It looks a little bit like Medusa on a bad hair day. VRCO – In Derby, England, the company is promoting the NeoXCraft, a short lift-body fuselage/cockpit with electric ducted propellers fore and aft on each side. The ducts and propellers can go from vertical lift to horizontal flight mode. Its flight time is at least a 60-minutes and could fly up to 120 km and carry a maximum of 180 kg payload, roughly two passengers and can fly autonomously. Workhorse – Workhorse is a USA truck manufacturer. This air taxi is a hybrid petrol-electric helicopter fuselage with four arms each with two electric contra-rotating propellers. This air taxi is called the Surefly. It can carry 180kg for a flight time of 1-hour and cover roughly 113 km. XTI Aircraft – A private Denver, USA-based company that proposes the hybrid-electric Trifan 600. There is already an order book of nearly 80 craft. It is a 5 passenger + pilot craft which is capable of speeds around 300km/h and cover a range of 2,200 km. Probably suited to long-distance taxi fares. There are several many others too.

The technological barriers that must be addressed

These include:
  • Landing platforms are fairly easily solved by elevated (above masts hoardings and towers) platforms on roofs
  • Landing priority may be a problem but logistically simple to solve
  • Safety is always an issue and there will be catastrophes but they will be significantly lower than motorway and road casualties (although the publicity may not indicate that)
  • Flight path permission may hinder some routes but there are ways round that
  • Mid-air collisions in this day and age of acute sensors and AI management should never occur
  • Weather will always be a problem for air traffic but, in the UK, at least, there is a certain philosophical acceptance of that
  • Regulation and Traffic management are quite simple but it will doubtless take many legislators, many greybeards and tons of bureaucracy before we arrive at an accepted outcome
There will be a portion of the wealthy, CEOs, super spies and politicians who might move from helicopters and there will be a portion of the limousine taxi riders who will move up. The problems are not the technology but the perception of risk and the laws of supply and demand. One of the main advantages of the air-taxi model, given the limitations of power (battery energy) density and range, is the redundancy of the pilot/driver. Strangely humans appreciate a driver because they assume, rightly or wrongly, that a human driver will avoid risk as he/she would suffer the same consequences as his/her passengers. This is absurd as most risk events are caused by human-error, but it is not the way humans’ think. In addition, people, in general, don’t like flying and don’t like flying in helicopters (or similar) even more so. The writer, having spent a large portion of his adult life in helicopters crossing the open seas to and from oilrigs, can attest that this is a nearly-universal truth. Overcoming this aversion may take longer than the funds to sustain the business model can last. When money runs tight, economies must be made. Accountants and FCOs are especially vulnerable to cutting the cost of things they don’t understand. In the writer’s experience there is a special place in hell for bean-counters who try and save money by reducing maintenance. This market will evolve slowly and steadily and not increase exponentially as many marketing companies envisage. It may well become a $2.9 trillion market US but it will take a generation at least. [/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Summary of Inmarsat’s Pop-Up UAV Lab

Authors: Joshua Flood and David Whelan

On Thursday 30th of May 2019, we attended an Inmarsat Pop-Up UAV Lab at the firm’s Old Street headquarters.

Rupert Pearce, CEO of Inmarsat, provided an introduction to the changing dynamics and use cases for aerial unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and noted down several significant developments of the technology. One remarkable example is Zipline’s deployment and delivery of medicines, vaccines and blood to hospital facilities in Rwanda and other African nations.

Shortly after, Rupert announced Inmarsat’s new Aviator UAV 200, a dedicated L-band SATCOM system for UAS.

The light 1.45kg terminal capable of delivering background data services up to 200 Kbps of data, with a 1.35 seconds latency, via Inmarsat’s BGAN coverage. Its streaming class services can deliver up to 180kbps with half HDR.

The new UAV terminal will enable beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) communications, enabling real time control of the UAV via the satcom terminal. It’s a class 4 Swiftbroadband product with Inmarsat offering hemisphere coverage to 5 degrees elevation.

Inmarsat invited several UAS entities to provide some insights into their trials and uses of the Aviator UAV 200.

These companies are listed below:

  • Silent Falcon, based in New Mexico, USA
  • A-techSYN, based in Ireland and Turkey
  • Alpha Unmanned, based in Spain
  • Robot Aviation, based in Norway
  • Flylogix, UK

Before these companies presented and participated in the panel sessions, Inmarsat’s senior UAS management program provided an introduction to its new agile management approach and developing a culture of teams workings within teams rather than its traditional siloed workings. For example, its maritime staff working on maritime projects only, aviation on aviation, government on government and so forth.

Mike Holdsworth and Andrew Legg provided some insight into how Inmarsat plans to develop specialist leaders to target certain areas for UAV solution.

These include:

  • Joe Carr – Mining
  • Steven Tompkins – Agriculture
  • Daniel Cooper – Aid/NGO/Media
  • Mike Holdsworth – Transport
  • Gary Cosby – Energy and Oil and Gas

The presentation then delved into how the Aviator UAV 200 compared to competing IoT trends, comparing an Iridium IoT terminal which weighed 30 grams, which was capable of 0.3 kbps and had a terminal latency of 22 seconds. The Aviator also performed better than Iridium’s 9522B and Aircell Axxess terminal solutions too.

Starburst, an accelerator consultancy, provided an overview of high-performance UAVs highlighting seven areas consisting of mapping and surveillance, infrastructure and energy inspection, insurance cartography, forest monitoring, ecology, search and rescue and humanitarian aid and remote delivery.

In addition, the firm illustrated performance UAVs – civil against competing solutions such as satellite, High Altitude Platform Station (HAPS), general aviation, and helicopter. The primary barriers facing civil UAVs, stated by Starburst, were its expensive nature compared to satellite, limited coverage compared to other platforms, and usage limited by national regulations.

The value chain is dominated by three player types:

  • UAV OEMs and OES
  • UAV providers
  • Data analytic providers

The only company noted in the value chain who is strategically attempting to cover all areas is DJI, the largest Chinese UAV OEM with its renown Phantom and to a lesser extent, Inspire, brand UAVs.

Presently, the key inhibitors for UAVs are its expensive price points compared to satellite, limited yearly flight capacity (100 and 200 hours per year), limited battery technology which is prone to quickly degenerating, and restrictive regulations by aviation bodies in certain countries.

However, one of its key drivers is its enhanced capabilities for certain professions, such as monitoring pipelines.

Starburst predicts approximately 3,100 platform fleets will be active by 2030. In 2018, the firm believed 300 platform fleets were active.

Robot Aviation

Based in Norway, the firm developed UAV inspection capabilities for critical infrastructure assets, such as powerlines and/or search and rescue (SAR). The potential use of Inmarsat’s satcom systems will enable Robot Aviation to reduce mission planning, increase its UAV coverage area and also provide a more robust solution.

The implementation and practical usage of the UAV is still in its early stages and as such Robot Aviation have not yet completed any missions to date.

Robot Aviation are also developing and producing small to medium sized fixed wing UAVs for other commercial and military use. No further information was provided on the latter point.

The firm’s primary objective is to help the Norwegian SAR organisation with locating missing people. They only have 12 helicopters, and it is very taxing to complete the number of missions required in certain parts of the year. In 2018, the Norwegian SAR organisation completed 1994 missions, 817 of which were SAR.

In the UK, 2636 SAR missions took place in 2018.

Outcomes and Conclusions

With the introduction of Inmarsat’s satcom capabilities it will enable Robot Aviation to save time on mission planning, however, the savings on operational costs are unclear as no missions have been trialled.

It is also believed safety for the end-user will be increased and there will be less operational risk for those undertaking the SAR missions.

Silent Falcon

Based in New Mexico, USA.

The firm offers a class 2 small UAS which utilises solar electric for long endurance flights. Solar panels are located on the aircraft’s wings and top body enabling the system to fly for up to 8 hours, in optimal conditions. Relying solely on battery, the UAS’s flight time is limited to 4 hours.

Its primary applications are combatting wildland fire, land management, wildlife management, search and rescue, emergency management and intelligent surveillance and reconnaissance for border control, maritime, anti-poaching and narcotic interdiction.

They have been working to get the FAA’s 107 waiver. This allows them to fly UAVs BVLOS and at greater than 400 feet (133 metres) altitude. The FAA have been willing to grant such waivers for firefighting, search and rescue, incident awareness and analysis and utility and other critical infrastructure restoration.

A-techSYN

Formed in 2013, the firm has 40 employees spread across Turkey and Ireland.

Its UAS system is an endurance drone, with flight times around 6 hours, and the use of a satcom systems allows it to be really maximise upon BVLOS applications such as pipeline inspections. Inmarsat and Cobham’s systems offers several advantages, one of which is the ability to fly close to the line and also transmit data from the UAS to headquarters live.

From A-techSyn’s perspective, its UAS solution is much more cost effective than using a helicopter, faster to deploy than a helicopter, safer than manned aircraft and thus increases safety for pipeline personnel. It can also use a fleet solution therefore deploying multiple UAVs over a pipeline route, and in effect, monitoring sections of a pipeline 16 hours a day, a flight operation every two hours. The firm has quoted BOTAS (Turkish state-owned company responsible for the country’s oil and gas pipelines) for a 3-year contract.

Alpha Unmanned Systems

Founded in 2014, the company sells and operates its UAV helicopter products. Indonesia and Israel are its main markets, addressing agriculture inspection and border control surveillance verticals.

Last year, the firm launched an Advanced Engineering service, and will launch a ResponseDrone, AlphaSecurityandDefense.com and new Alpha 900 models in 2019.

One of the key benefits for Alpha’s drones using the Aviator 200 UAV is the reliability of the connection. Radio Line-of-Sight is not always possible for the circumstances its clients require the drone to be used in.

The Alpha 800 is gasoline powered and has a range of 50km via radio. Its autonomous flight range is 3 hours and has a payload of 3kg. The firm has accumulated more than 3,000 hours of flight time.

With only a limited payload capacity of 3kg, the Aviation UAV 200 takes up half the platform’s weight capabilities. Nevertheless, future models will have greater payload carrying capacities, states Alpha.

Furthermore, satcom pricing will always be more expensive than direct radio link and service operators will likely use satcom as a back-up solution where radio is not possible.

One possibility is businesses moving to a leasing model, and potentially satcom costs could be incorporated into that leasing model.

Conclusion

  • As yet, no tangible benefits for the use of a satcom were revealed. Nevertheless, clear use cases for and why UAS service providers would use a satcom terminal as a communication channel are apparent.
  • SAR and critical asset inspection/surveillance seem to be the initial starting verticals for UAS incorporating satcom communications.
  • It is unlikely we will see much demand from media and other services, such as marketing material for real estates shots. It is also unclear the demand that agriculture will present for satcom UAS.
  • One significant potential market for UAS is likely to be goods delivery; particularly in regions with less developed infrastructure, such as some African and South American nations. UAS BVLOS may present a useful opportunity to compensate for any deficits in traditional infrastructure, hence such regions could provide a fertile market and an opportunity to demonstrate the capabilities of UAS BVLOS.
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[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="no" equal_height_columns="no" menu_anchor="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" background_color="" background_image="" background_position="center center" background_repeat="no-repeat" fade="no" background_parallax="none" parallax_speed="0.3" video_mp4="" video_webm="" video_ogv="" video_url="" video_aspect_ratio="16:9" video_loop="yes" video_mute="yes" overlay_color="" video_preview_image="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" padding_top="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" padding_right=""][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" layout="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" border_position="all" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding_top="" padding_right="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" center_content="no" last="no" min_height="" hover_type="none" link=""][fusion_imageframe image_id="4775|full" max_width="" style_type="" blur="" stylecolor="" hover_type="none" bordersize="" bordercolor="" borderradius="" align="none" lightbox="no" gallery_id="" lightbox_image="" lightbox_image_id="" alt="" link="" linktarget="_self" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""]http://217.199.187.200/valourconsultancy.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/inmarsatpopup-1200x600-2.png[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_text columns="" column_min_width="" column_spacing="" rule_style="default" rule_size="" rule_color="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""] Authors: Joshua Flood and David Whelan On Thursday 30th of May 2019, we attended an Inmarsat Pop-Up UAV Lab at the firm’s Old Street headquarters. Rupert Pearce, CEO of Inmarsat, provided an introduction to the changing dynamics and use cases for aerial unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and noted down several significant developments of the technology. One remarkable example is Zipline’s deployment and delivery of medicines, vaccines and blood to hospital facilities in Rwanda and other African nations. Shortly after, Rupert announced Inmarsat’s new Aviator UAV 200, a dedicated L-band SATCOM system for UAS. The light 1.45kg terminal capable of delivering background data services up to 200 Kbps of data, with a 1.35 seconds latency, via Inmarsat’s BGAN coverage. Its streaming class services can deliver up to 180kbps with half HDR. The new UAV terminal will enable beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) communications, enabling real time control of the UAV via the satcom terminal. It’s a class 4 Swiftbroadband product with Inmarsat offering hemisphere coverage to 5 degrees elevation. Inmarsat invited several UAS entities to provide some insights into their trials and uses of the Aviator UAV 200. These companies are listed below:
  • Silent Falcon, based in New Mexico, USA
  • A-techSYN, based in Ireland and Turkey
  • Alpha Unmanned, based in Spain
  • Robot Aviation, based in Norway
  • Flylogix, UK
Before these companies presented and participated in the panel sessions, Inmarsat’s senior UAS management program provided an introduction to its new agile management approach and developing a culture of teams workings within teams rather than its traditional siloed workings. For example, its maritime staff working on maritime projects only, aviation on aviation, government on government and so forth. Mike Holdsworth and Andrew Legg provided some insight into how Inmarsat plans to develop specialist leaders to target certain areas for UAV solution. These include:
  • Joe Carr – Mining
  • Steven Tompkins – Agriculture
  • Daniel Cooper – Aid/NGO/Media
  • Mike Holdsworth – Transport
  • Gary Cosby – Energy and Oil and Gas
The presentation then delved into how the Aviator UAV 200 compared to competing IoT trends, comparing an Iridium IoT terminal which weighed 30 grams, which was capable of 0.3 kbps and had a terminal latency of 22 seconds. The Aviator also performed better than Iridium’s 9522B and Aircell Axxess terminal solutions too. Starburst, an accelerator consultancy, provided an overview of high-performance UAVs highlighting seven areas consisting of mapping and surveillance, infrastructure and energy inspection, insurance cartography, forest monitoring, ecology, search and rescue and humanitarian aid and remote delivery. In addition, the firm illustrated performance UAVs – civil against competing solutions such as satellite, High Altitude Platform Station (HAPS), general aviation, and helicopter. The primary barriers facing civil UAVs, stated by Starburst, were its expensive nature compared to satellite, limited coverage compared to other platforms, and usage limited by national regulations. The value chain is dominated by three player types:
  • UAV OEMs and OES
  • UAV providers
  • Data analytic providers
The only company noted in the value chain who is strategically attempting to cover all areas is DJI, the largest Chinese UAV OEM with its renown Phantom and to a lesser extent, Inspire, brand UAVs. Presently, the key inhibitors for UAVs are its expensive price points compared to satellite, limited yearly flight capacity (100 and 200 hours per year), limited battery technology which is prone to quickly degenerating, and restrictive regulations by aviation bodies in certain countries. However, one of its key drivers is its enhanced capabilities for certain professions, such as monitoring pipelines. Starburst predicts approximately 3,100 platform fleets will be active by 2030. In 2018, the firm believed 300 platform fleets were active. Robot Aviation Based in Norway, the firm developed UAV inspection capabilities for critical infrastructure assets, such as powerlines and/or search and rescue (SAR). The potential use of Inmarsat’s satcom systems will enable Robot Aviation to reduce mission planning, increase its UAV coverage area and also provide a more robust solution. The implementation and practical usage of the UAV is still in its early stages and as such Robot Aviation have not yet completed any missions to date. Robot Aviation are also developing and producing small to medium sized fixed wing UAVs for other commercial and military use. No further information was provided on the latter point. The firm’s primary objective is to help the Norwegian SAR organisation with locating missing people. They only have 12 helicopters, and it is very taxing to complete the number of missions required in certain parts of the year. In 2018, the Norwegian SAR organisation completed 1994 missions, 817 of which were SAR. In the UK, 2636 SAR missions took place in 2018. Outcomes and Conclusions With the introduction of Inmarsat’s satcom capabilities it will enable Robot Aviation to save time on mission planning, however, the savings on operational costs are unclear as no missions have been trialled. It is also believed safety for the end-user will be increased and there will be less operational risk for those undertaking the SAR missions. Silent Falcon Based in New Mexico, USA. The firm offers a class 2 small UAS which utilises solar electric for long endurance flights. Solar panels are located on the aircraft’s wings and top body enabling the system to fly for up to 8 hours, in optimal conditions. Relying solely on battery, the UAS’s flight time is limited to 4 hours. Its primary applications are combatting wildland fire, land management, wildlife management, search and rescue, emergency management and intelligent surveillance and reconnaissance for border control, maritime, anti-poaching and narcotic interdiction. They have been working to get the FAA’s 107 waiver. This allows them to fly UAVs BVLOS and at greater than 400 feet (133 metres) altitude. The FAA have been willing to grant such waivers for firefighting, search and rescue, incident awareness and analysis and utility and other critical infrastructure restoration. A-techSYN Formed in 2013, the firm has 40 employees spread across Turkey and Ireland. Its UAS system is an endurance drone, with flight times around 6 hours, and the use of a satcom systems allows it to be really maximise upon BVLOS applications such as pipeline inspections. Inmarsat and Cobham’s systems offers several advantages, one of which is the ability to fly close to the line and also transmit data from the UAS to headquarters live. From A-techSyn’s perspective, its UAS solution is much more cost effective than using a helicopter, faster to deploy than a helicopter, safer than manned aircraft and thus increases safety for pipeline personnel. It can also use a fleet solution therefore deploying multiple UAVs over a pipeline route, and in effect, monitoring sections of a pipeline 16 hours a day, a flight operation every two hours. The firm has quoted BOTAS (Turkish state-owned company responsible for the country’s oil and gas pipelines) for a 3-year contract. Alpha Unmanned Systems Founded in 2014, the company sells and operates its UAV helicopter products. Indonesia and Israel are its main markets, addressing agriculture inspection and border control surveillance verticals. Last year, the firm launched an Advanced Engineering service, and will launch a ResponseDrone, AlphaSecurityandDefense.com and new Alpha 900 models in 2019. One of the key benefits for Alpha’s drones using the Aviator 200 UAV is the reliability of the connection. Radio Line-of-Sight is not always possible for the circumstances its clients require the drone to be used in. The Alpha 800 is gasoline powered and has a range of 50km via radio. Its autonomous flight range is 3 hours and has a payload of 3kg. The firm has accumulated more than 3,000 hours of flight time. With only a limited payload capacity of 3kg, the Aviation UAV 200 takes up half the platform’s weight capabilities. Nevertheless, future models will have greater payload carrying capacities, states Alpha. Furthermore, satcom pricing will always be more expensive than direct radio link and service operators will likely use satcom as a back-up solution where radio is not possible. One possibility is businesses moving to a leasing model, and potentially satcom costs could be incorporated into that leasing model. Conclusion
  • As yet, no tangible benefits for the use of a satcom were revealed. Nevertheless, clear use cases for and why UAS service providers would use a satcom terminal as a communication channel are apparent.
  • SAR and critical asset inspection/surveillance seem to be the initial starting verticals for UAS incorporating satcom communications.
  • It is unlikely we will see much demand from media and other services, such as marketing material for real estates shots. It is also unclear the demand that agriculture will present for satcom UAS.
  • One significant potential market for UAS is likely to be goods delivery; particularly in regions with less developed infrastructure, such as some African and South American nations. UAS BVLOS may present a useful opportunity to compensate for any deficits in traditional infrastructure, hence such regions could provide a fertile market and an opportunity to demonstrate the capabilities of UAS BVLOS.
[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Fly Low Sweet Chariot

The majority of drone marketing reports have been quite remiss in devoting little space to the discussion of the development of drone taxis. Indeed, the 2016 Valour Consultancy report only mentions the Ehang 184 in the section devoted to that company and only mentions the Urban Aeronautics AirMule in passing but in April 2017 the company made its debut test flight of the Cormorant.

Yet in mid-2017, we find that Dubai is planning to introduce the Ehang as a city-wide taxi service in July this summer and Las Vegas will trial them later in the year if it is cleared by the FAA after testing in Nevada. Still, there is some research ongoing as predictive algorithms are required to compensate for the greater inertia that a loaded aerial taxi possesses. In addition, it has taken slightly longer than anticipated to set up the command and control centre. Although the vehicle is completely autonomous, every parameter of the craft and its flight is monitored and checked by a team of operators in a specially-built centre. This gives passengers the reassurance that there is a human to talk to should the need arise.

Before we get carried away with the potential shown by driverless cars and drone taxis, we need to look at the market they are entering. The mechanical transportation market has developed over two centuries with incremental safety features arrived required, generally after some horrific incident.

Rail, buses, taxies and trucking are established industries that have more pull with the legislators, employ more people and are more heavily unionised than the technologically innovative transport such as drone taxis, driverless trucks and driverless taxis. There are even plans for unmanned ocean freight vessels. Yet in some parts of the world, the most obvious candidate for automation, the train, has yet to move to unmanned operation. There are nearly 80 Grade 4 (totally unmanned) metro systems in the world. These are all purpose-built and for such innovation to become feasible on traditional trainlines, there would need to be considerable investment which would be outside the capabilities of any commercial train operator.

Why is this relevant or pertinent to drone taxis? For free-flying service around a city, the number of safeguards would again require an almost inhibitive investment. The reliability and safety of this service has to be unparalleled. Remember that the airline Qantas has not had an accident related fatality since 1951. Drone taxi services must be better than this to win the public trust.

For this reason, perhaps the initial trial service might be over a fixed route where uncontrolled landing would not cause additional problems. It has been suggested that a taxi service for business travellers from a city centre to the city airport might be appropriate. This makes some sense since the taxi payload is limited to less than 100kg.

Once FAA approval is obtained, tourist flights over the Grand Canyon would be a great publicity boost especially if the body was made of a clear material. It would definitely compete favourably with the Skywalk.

Tactical Robotics which is a subsidiary of Urban Aeronautics has had the Air Mule unmanned supply and rescue ‘Fancraft’ on its development drawing board for a decade. It is not known if the Israeli Defence Force has yet had a chance to test it in a conflict situation. This vehicle has a significant payload of 500kg and a range of 50 km making it an ideal solution for disaster recovery scenarios. Of course, the main target audience is the military who have budgets enough to underwrite its development.

Another innovative possibility has been unveiled in March this year at the Geneva Motor Show by a collaborative venture between Airbus and Italdesign. This is called the “Pop.Up” and the concept is essentially a passenger pod that can hold two folk. This pod can either be latched to a self-steering four-wheeled ‘ground module’ or an eight-fan ‘air module’. Needless to say, this is all controlled via a Smartphone App. You plan your route on your phone and the App offers the most convenient combination of ground and air travel. Given the stated objective of freeing commuters for city congestion, the purpose of the ‘ground module’ seems a little vague. However, if they are going multimodal, it would not take a great stretch of the imagination to have to passenger pod mountable on to train bogie also thus providing door-to-door service for dormitory town residents.

Valour Consultancy does not believe this niche market has immediate potential for growth but can envisage a time in the not too distant future when unmanned Ubertaxis and autonomous Überpassengerdrones may be the main form of city transport.

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[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="no" equal_height_columns="no" menu_anchor="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" background_color="" background_image="" background_position="center center" background_repeat="no-repeat" fade="no" background_parallax="none" parallax_speed="0.3" video_mp4="" video_webm="" video_ogv="" video_url="" video_aspect_ratio="16:9" video_loop="yes" video_mute="yes" overlay_color="" video_preview_image="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" padding_top="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" padding_right=""][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" layout="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" border_position="all" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding_top="" padding_right="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" center_content="no" last="no" min_height="" hover_type="none" link=""][fusion_imageframe image_id="4986|full" max_width="" style_type="" blur="" stylecolor="" hover_type="none" bordersize="" bordercolor="" borderradius="" align="center" lightbox="no" gallery_id="" lightbox_image="" lightbox_image_id="" alt="" link="" linktarget="_self" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""]http://217.199.187.200/valourconsultancy.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Ehang-184-1024x576-1.jpg[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_separator style_type="default" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" sep_color="#ffffff" top_margin="20" bottom_margin="20" border_size="" icon="" icon_circle="" icon_circle_color="" width="" alignment="center" /][fusion_text columns="" column_min_width="" column_spacing="" rule_style="default" rule_size="" rule_color="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""] The majority of drone marketing reports have been quite remiss in devoting little space to the discussion of the development of drone taxis. Indeed, the 2016 Valour Consultancy report only mentions the Ehang 184 in the section devoted to that company and only mentions the Urban Aeronautics AirMule in passing but in April 2017 the company made its debut test flight of the Cormorant. Yet in mid-2017, we find that Dubai is planning to introduce the Ehang as a city-wide taxi service in July this summer and Las Vegas will trial them later in the year if it is cleared by the FAA after testing in Nevada. Still, there is some research ongoing as predictive algorithms are required to compensate for the greater inertia that a loaded aerial taxi possesses. In addition, it has taken slightly longer than anticipated to set up the command and control centre. Although the vehicle is completely autonomous, every parameter of the craft and its flight is monitored and checked by a team of operators in a specially-built centre. This gives passengers the reassurance that there is a human to talk to should the need arise. Before we get carried away with the potential shown by driverless cars and drone taxis, we need to look at the market they are entering. The mechanical transportation market has developed over two centuries with incremental safety features arrived required, generally after some horrific incident. Rail, buses, taxies and trucking are established industries that have more pull with the legislators, employ more people and are more heavily unionised than the technologically innovative transport such as drone taxis, driverless trucks and driverless taxis. There are even plans for unmanned ocean freight vessels. Yet in some parts of the world, the most obvious candidate for automation, the train, has yet to move to unmanned operation. There are nearly 80 Grade 4 (totally unmanned) metro systems in the world. These are all purpose-built and for such innovation to become feasible on traditional trainlines, there would need to be considerable investment which would be outside the capabilities of any commercial train operator. Why is this relevant or pertinent to drone taxis? For free-flying service around a city, the number of safeguards would again require an almost inhibitive investment. The reliability and safety of this service has to be unparalleled. Remember that the airline Qantas has not had an accident related fatality since 1951. Drone taxi services must be better than this to win the public trust. For this reason, perhaps the initial trial service might be over a fixed route where uncontrolled landing would not cause additional problems. It has been suggested that a taxi service for business travellers from a city centre to the city airport might be appropriate. This makes some sense since the taxi payload is limited to less than 100kg. Once FAA approval is obtained, tourist flights over the Grand Canyon would be a great publicity boost especially if the body was made of a clear material. It would definitely compete favourably with the Skywalk. Tactical Robotics which is a subsidiary of Urban Aeronautics has had the Air Mule unmanned supply and rescue ‘Fancraft’ on its development drawing board for a decade. It is not known if the Israeli Defence Force has yet had a chance to test it in a conflict situation. This vehicle has a significant payload of 500kg and a range of 50 km making it an ideal solution for disaster recovery scenarios. Of course, the main target audience is the military who have budgets enough to underwrite its development. Another innovative possibility has been unveiled in March this year at the Geneva Motor Show by a collaborative venture between Airbus and Italdesign. This is called the “Pop.Up” and the concept is essentially a passenger pod that can hold two folk. This pod can either be latched to a self-steering four-wheeled ‘ground module’ or an eight-fan ‘air module’. Needless to say, this is all controlled via a Smartphone App. You plan your route on your phone and the App offers the most convenient combination of ground and air travel. Given the stated objective of freeing commuters for city congestion, the purpose of the ‘ground module’ seems a little vague. However, if they are going multimodal, it would not take a great stretch of the imagination to have to passenger pod mountable on to train bogie also thus providing door-to-door service for dormitory town residents. Valour Consultancy does not believe this niche market has immediate potential for growth but can envisage a time in the not too distant future when unmanned Ubertaxis and autonomous Überpassengerdrones may be the main form of city transport. [/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Our Fine Tethered Friends

In VC’s Commercial and UAV report, the section detailing Technical Requirements (chapter 2), discussed in some detail the alternative of tethered drones. Recent articles in the media have shown that this niche market is developing apace.

Tethered UAVs on building sites for use with surveillance cameras make good economic sense. The basic problem with dirigibles is that payload capacity is limited. One cubic metre of Helium in a balloon can only lift roughly 1 kg which must include its own frame weight and the weight of its tether so to put a camera at 150m (say) probably requires an inflatable of 20m3. It might be possible to tether one to the top of a tower crane and reduce the size if the site has a tower crane. Helium is also a very leaky gas so top-ups are a necessary evil.

One interesting use of tethered dirigibles is as repeater relays for relaying commands to a fixed wing UAV flying over a large cattle station or ranch. Six tethered dirigibles at 150m on the horizon with repeater relays for command signals would allow the survey UAV to patrol an area several times the area of greater London which is quite useful for larger cattle stations in Australia which exceed this area by several times and even some of the ranches in Canada and the USA which almost approach this area.

The commercial world is cottoning on to the techniques that have already been used by military forces all over the world. Raven Aerostar has been making aerostats for military applications for several decades. They offer technological solutions for Integrated Situational Awareness (ISA) which is essentially a tethered blimp with a camera, radar and communication package.

AT&T have now tested a flying cell tower (delightfully called ‘The Flying COW’ – Cell On Wings) that can provide 4G coverage for 100 Km, essentially the area of Paris, France or Bronx County in New York City. It is tethered to a vehicle-based ground station which continuously powers the device and, using a fibre cable, sends and receives data. AT&T see the uses for this in Disaster Monitoring and Recovery and temporary set-ups such as music festivals.

EE says it is deploy a fleet of Allsop “helikite” drones over the next three years to extend wireless coverage in rural areas and when its 4G network goes down or needs more capacity. These are presently used by the military for surveillance and communication enhancement. Of particular benefit is their all-weather capability, the aerodynamic profile allowing overflight to continue in rain, snow and wind. EE expects to launch its first drone this year to coincide with a music festival such as Glastonbury that draws tens of thousands of fans to a remote location overloading the local network. Additionally, these Helikites have been used by ships in remote locations such as the Arctic and have been deployed for land and infrastructure surveys.

Another interesting potential for Helikites is in agriculture. Drone surveys for precision agriculture and forestry tend to be a single flight survey at a particular time of the day using Infra-red cameras, LiDAR and ordinary photometry. This provides an invaluable snapshot to indicate plants in distress and allow planning for remedial action. A permanent survey vehicle, such as a Helikite, would allow crop monitoring over 24 hours or longer which allows the agricultural engineer to pinpoint many more areas for crop yield improvement.

Last month, Bronx Fire Department, the largest fire department in the United States, deployed a tethered drone for blaze assessment on a building in Bronx County.

On 6th of March 2017, a building in Bronx County caught ablaze. The conflagration needed four units to tackle it and it posed significant dangers to firefighters. Normally the firefighting team would survey the fire from adjacent high-rises to optimise their team deployment. On this occasion the department used a Hoverfly Technologies drone to take high-resolution colour and thermal infrared footage that gave them a clear understanding of the fire spread so allowing for safe access. Hoverfly use Yuneec drones and a lightweight tether to power the drone and transmit and receive data.

Tethered drones can give prolonged surveying capability. During Catastrophe Remediation and in emergency situations, persistent surveillance allows the rescuing service to effectively strategise their deployment so saving lives and property. The ground power allows more heavy duty lift motors than would be possible with battery power which gives greater payload but that payload includes the weight of the tether so the Hoverfly combination is limited to 150m height. In addition, the tether limits manoeuvrability.

Two other suppliers of tethered drones are Powerline and Cyphyworks. Both use the DJI Inspire drone and address the same market as Hoverfly.

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[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="no" equal_height_columns="no" menu_anchor="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" background_color="" background_image="" background_position="center center" background_repeat="no-repeat" fade="no" background_parallax="none" parallax_speed="0.3" video_mp4="" video_webm="" video_ogv="" video_url="" video_aspect_ratio="16:9" video_loop="yes" video_mute="yes" overlay_color="" video_preview_image="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" padding_top="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" padding_right=""][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" layout="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" border_position="all" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding_top="" padding_right="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" center_content="no" last="no" min_height="" hover_type="none" link=""][fusion_imageframe image_id="4994|full" max_width="" style_type="" blur="" stylecolor="" hover_type="none" bordersize="" bordercolor="" borderradius="" align="center" lightbox="no" gallery_id="" lightbox_image="" lightbox_image_id="" alt="" link="" linktarget="_self" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""]http://217.199.187.200/valourconsultancy.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Combined-picture-1024x555-1.png[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_separator style_type="default" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" sep_color="#ffffff" top_margin="20" bottom_margin="20" border_size="" icon="" icon_circle="" icon_circle_color="" width="" alignment="center" /][fusion_text columns="" column_min_width="" column_spacing="" rule_style="default" rule_size="" rule_color="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""]In VC’s Commercial and UAV report, the section detailing Technical Requirements (chapter 2), discussed in some detail the alternative of tethered drones. Recent articles in the media have shown that this niche market is developing apace. Tethered UAVs on building sites for use with surveillance cameras make good economic sense. The basic problem with dirigibles is that payload capacity is limited. One cubic metre of Helium in a balloon can only lift roughly 1 kg which must include its own frame weight and the weight of its tether so to put a camera at 150m (say) probably requires an inflatable of 20m3. It might be possible to tether one to the top of a tower crane and reduce the size if the site has a tower crane. Helium is also a very leaky gas so top-ups are a necessary evil. One interesting use of tethered dirigibles is as repeater relays for relaying commands to a fixed wing UAV flying over a large cattle station or ranch. Six tethered dirigibles at 150m on the horizon with repeater relays for command signals would allow the survey UAV to patrol an area several times the area of greater London which is quite useful for larger cattle stations in Australia which exceed this area by several times and even some of the ranches in Canada and the USA which almost approach this area. The commercial world is cottoning on to the techniques that have already been used by military forces all over the world. Raven Aerostar has been making aerostats for military applications for several decades. They offer technological solutions for Integrated Situational Awareness (ISA) which is essentially a tethered blimp with a camera, radar and communication package. AT&T have now tested a flying cell tower (delightfully called ‘The Flying COW’ – Cell On Wings) that can provide 4G coverage for 100 Km, essentially the area of Paris, France or Bronx County in New York City. It is tethered to a vehicle-based ground station which continuously powers the device and, using a fibre cable, sends and receives data. AT&T see the uses for this in Disaster Monitoring and Recovery and temporary set-ups such as music festivals. EE says it is deploy a fleet of Allsop “helikite” drones over the next three years to extend wireless coverage in rural areas and when its 4G network goes down or needs more capacity. These are presently used by the military for surveillance and communication enhancement. Of particular benefit is their all-weather capability, the aerodynamic profile allowing overflight to continue in rain, snow and wind. EE expects to launch its first drone this year to coincide with a music festival such as Glastonbury that draws tens of thousands of fans to a remote location overloading the local network. Additionally, these Helikites have been used by ships in remote locations such as the Arctic and have been deployed for land and infrastructure surveys. Another interesting potential for Helikites is in agriculture. Drone surveys for precision agriculture and forestry tend to be a single flight survey at a particular time of the day using Infra-red cameras, LiDAR and ordinary photometry. This provides an invaluable snapshot to indicate plants in distress and allow planning for remedial action. A permanent survey vehicle, such as a Helikite, would allow crop monitoring over 24 hours or longer which allows the agricultural engineer to pinpoint many more areas for crop yield improvement. Last month, Bronx Fire Department, the largest fire department in the United States, deployed a tethered drone for blaze assessment on a building in Bronx County. On 6th of March 2017, a building in Bronx County caught ablaze. The conflagration needed four units to tackle it and it posed significant dangers to firefighters. Normally the firefighting team would survey the fire from adjacent high-rises to optimise their team deployment. On this occasion the department used a Hoverfly Technologies drone to take high-resolution colour and thermal infrared footage that gave them a clear understanding of the fire spread so allowing for safe access. Hoverfly use Yuneec drones and a lightweight tether to power the drone and transmit and receive data. Tethered drones can give prolonged surveying capability. During Catastrophe Remediation and in emergency situations, persistent surveillance allows the rescuing service to effectively strategise their deployment so saving lives and property. The ground power allows more heavy duty lift motors than would be possible with battery power which gives greater payload but that payload includes the weight of the tether so the Hoverfly combination is limited to 150m height. In addition, the tether limits manoeuvrability. Two other suppliers of tethered drones are Powerline and Cyphyworks. Both use the DJI Inspire drone and address the same market as Hoverfly.[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Individual Drone Identification

In our commercial UAV report, Valour Consultancy laid out a timeline for future Drone Industry Development, both drivers and inhibitors. One of the first items it listed as a driver for development was Individual Drone Identification:

“Commercial companies will welcome and whole-heartedly endorse drone registration and individual drone identification (they will do this for purely selfish reasons). Probability 95% + 5% – 10% Timeline 2016 Q4 to 2017 Q4”

Last week, DJI produced a well-reasoned and thoughtful whitepaper entitled ‘A Call for a Balanced Remote Identification Approach’.

http://www.dji.com/newsroom/news/dji-proposes-electronic-identification-framework-for-small-drones

In this paper, they argue that the privacy of the operator should be respected. To achieve this and respect the interests of privacy of third parties and of other airspace users and to comply with existing legislation and community principles, they suggest a Non-Network Localised ID. It appears that they suggest something similar to an IP address or other identification code being broadcast on the 2.4 GHz or 5.8 GHz bands. In itself, this is an ideal solution for drone manufacturing companies.

In a controlled airspace, a conflict of airspace is said to exist when aircraft are separated by less than 9km horizontally and 1km vertically. In uncontrolled areas, depending on the visibility, 300 metres horizontally and some vertical separation is all that is required. There are some issues that an identification code broadcast will not address however. In urban and suburban conurbations, this would seem to be ideal but it is in these areas that drones are likely to come into the operating space of other air users such as air ambulances, police helicopters, press helicopters and senior executives returning from late lunches at the golf course by company helicopter.

Wi-Fi broadcasts are pretty much line-of-sight and of limited distance. At 300m in clear field communication, the quality of the communication has been measured at 56%. This is reasonable as the communication (broadcast of ID) will be frequent and the content simple and so easily checked.

If we wanted to alert any other air vehicle to the presence of our drone at, say, 600m or around buildings (any buildings at 600m will have lots of glass so the likelihood is that signals will pass through), and in inclement weather, then we need a slightly different system. Experiments of radio transmission through concrete suggest that a thickness of 40cm (or 2 x 20cm) is enough to degrade transmission so that it becomes unreadable. Weather is also an issue as heavy moisture content in the air degrades a signal. More research is needed before a suitable broadcast can be finalised.

And then there is the issue of power. Broadcasting ID over 300m (say) at 10s intervals (say) in addition to normal command and control and even video streaming, can up power consumption for the control portion of power expenditure considerably. This shortens flight time, not significantly and not enough to disturb anyone using a drone to take photos or just enjoying the pleasure of flying one. However, if you are using the drone as a tool and you now require one or two extra sorties in an 8 hour work day to achieve the same surveying coverage, this increases cost for spare/stand-by batteries and man-power costs. Any holistic appraisal of drone productivity needs to be cognisant of these factors.

When we say the flight time is less or rather the power consumption increases but not significantly, we are talking around 0.5% increase (using a very rough rule-of-thumb calculation). That may not seem significant but remember that it is only the insignificant curvature of the Earth by 0.00025% that stops the Earth from being flat.

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[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="no" equal_height_columns="no" menu_anchor="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" background_color="" background_image="" background_position="center center" background_repeat="no-repeat" fade="no" background_parallax="none" parallax_speed="0.3" video_mp4="" video_webm="" video_ogv="" video_url="" video_aspect_ratio="16:9" video_loop="yes" video_mute="yes" overlay_color="" video_preview_image="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" padding_top="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" padding_right=""][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" layout="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" border_position="all" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding_top="" padding_right="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" center_content="no" last="no" min_height="" hover_type="none" link=""][fusion_imageframe image_id="5002|full" max_width="" style_type="" blur="" stylecolor="" hover_type="none" bordersize="" bordercolor="" borderradius="" align="center" lightbox="no" gallery_id="" lightbox_image="" lightbox_image_id="" alt="" link="" linktarget="_self" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""]http://217.199.187.200/valourconsultancy.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/droneregistrationproblems-1.jpg[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_separator style_type="default" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" sep_color="#ffffff" top_margin="20" bottom_margin="20" border_size="" icon="" icon_circle="" icon_circle_color="" width="" alignment="center" /][fusion_text columns="" column_min_width="" column_spacing="" rule_style="default" rule_size="" rule_color="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""]

In our commercial UAV report, Valour Consultancy laid out a timeline for future Drone Industry Development, both drivers and inhibitors. One of the first items it listed as a driver for development was Individual Drone Identification:

“Commercial companies will welcome and whole-heartedly endorse drone registration and individual drone identification (they will do this for purely selfish reasons). Probability 95% + 5% - 10% Timeline 2016 Q4 to 2017 Q4”

Last week, DJI produced a well-reasoned and thoughtful whitepaper entitled ‘A Call for a Balanced Remote Identification Approach’.

http://www.dji.com/newsroom/news/dji-proposes-electronic-identification-framework-for-small-drones

In this paper, they argue that the privacy of the operator should be respected. To achieve this and respect the interests of privacy of third parties and of other airspace users and to comply with existing legislation and community principles, they suggest a Non-Network Localised ID. It appears that they suggest something similar to an IP address or other identification code being broadcast on the 2.4 GHz or 5.8 GHz bands. In itself, this is an ideal solution for drone manufacturing companies.

In a controlled airspace, a conflict of airspace is said to exist when aircraft are separated by less than 9km horizontally and 1km vertically. In uncontrolled areas, depending on the visibility, 300 metres horizontally and some vertical separation is all that is required. There are some issues that an identification code broadcast will not address however. In urban and suburban conurbations, this would seem to be ideal but it is in these areas that drones are likely to come into the operating space of other air users such as air ambulances, police helicopters, press helicopters and senior executives returning from late lunches at the golf course by company helicopter.

Wi-Fi broadcasts are pretty much line-of-sight and of limited distance. At 300m in clear field communication, the quality of the communication has been measured at 56%. This is reasonable as the communication (broadcast of ID) will be frequent and the content simple and so easily checked.

If we wanted to alert any other air vehicle to the presence of our drone at, say, 600m or around buildings (any buildings at 600m will have lots of glass so the likelihood is that signals will pass through), and in inclement weather, then we need a slightly different system. Experiments of radio transmission through concrete suggest that a thickness of 40cm (or 2 x 20cm) is enough to degrade transmission so that it becomes unreadable. Weather is also an issue as heavy moisture content in the air degrades a signal. More research is needed before a suitable broadcast can be finalised.

And then there is the issue of power. Broadcasting ID over 300m (say) at 10s intervals (say) in addition to normal command and control and even video streaming, can up power consumption for the control portion of power expenditure considerably. This shortens flight time, not significantly and not enough to disturb anyone using a drone to take photos or just enjoying the pleasure of flying one. However, if you are using the drone as a tool and you now require one or two extra sorties in an 8 hour work day to achieve the same surveying coverage, this increases cost for spare/stand-by batteries and man-power costs. Any holistic appraisal of drone productivity needs to be cognisant of these factors.

When we say the flight time is less or rather the power consumption increases but not significantly, we are talking around 0.5% increase (using a very rough rule-of-thumb calculation). That may not seem significant but remember that it is only the insignificant curvature of the Earth by 0.00025% that stops the Earth from being flat.

[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Body Worn Cameras Shipments in Law Enforcement in 2017

The above chart is an extract from Valour Consultancy’s latest report on enterprise body-worn cameras showing our forecast for shipments of these devices in 2017. The report also contains data on historical shipments, associated revenues and ASPs from 2015 with the forecast period extending out to 2020. Additionally, data on deployment sizes, the number of police officers using body-worn cameras and subsequent penetration is provided.

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[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="no" equal_height_columns="no" menu_anchor="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" background_color="" background_image="" background_position="center center" background_repeat="no-repeat" fade="no" background_parallax="none" parallax_speed="0.3" video_mp4="" video_webm="" video_ogv="" video_url="" video_aspect_ratio="16:9" video_loop="yes" video_mute="yes" overlay_color="" video_preview_image="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" padding_top="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" padding_right=""][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" layout="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" border_position="all" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding_top="" padding_right="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" center_content="no" last="no" min_height="" hover_type="none" link=""][fusion_imageframe image_id="5007|full" max_width="" style_type="" blur="" stylecolor="" hover_type="none" bordersize="" bordercolor="" borderradius="" align="center" lightbox="no" gallery_id="" lightbox_image="" lightbox_image_id="" alt="" link="" linktarget="_self" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""]http://217.199.187.200/valourconsultancy.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Law-Enforcement-Body-Worn-Camera-Shipments-in-2017-1.png[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_separator style_type="default" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" sep_color="#ffffff" top_margin="20" bottom_margin="20" border_size="" icon="" icon_circle="" icon_circle_color="" width="" alignment="center" /][fusion_text] The above chart is an extract from Valour Consultancy’s latest report on enterprise body-worn cameras showing our forecast for shipments of these devices in 2017. The report also contains data on historical shipments, associated revenues and ASPs from 2015 with the forecast period extending out to 2020. Additionally, data on deployment sizes, the number of police officers using body-worn cameras and subsequent penetration is provided. [/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Over the Hills and Far Away

Vigilant Aerospace Systems (VAS), a private US company was founded in Oklahoma City in 2015, licenses aviation technologies. VAS commercialises NASA flight safety technologies and develops innovative situational sensing, analysis and prediction solutions which can enables collision avoidance and autonomous flight for both drones and small and medium-sized planes.

The company recently completed Beyond Line-of-Sight UAS Detect-and-Avoid Flight Testing at NASA Armstrong. This testing was observed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and by an observer from the Federal Communications Commission who monitored radio transmissions. The testing programme was the result of many months of development, rigorous safety planning and test preparation and finished in December 2016.

While there are still many, many hoops to jump through, the significance of this cannot be overstated. For drone delivery to be profitable, beyond line-of-sight operation of UAVs, operation of UAVs in twilight and evening hours and multiple drone operation by a single operator has to be permitted. As Valour Consultancy, has said previously, it makes no sense to replace a delivery rider with a qualified drone operator at twice the cost.

In the nine months since the FAA created a drone registration system (December 2015), more than 550,000 unmanned aircraft have been registered with the agency with new registrations coming in at a rate of 2,000 per day according to the FAA’s Earl Lawrence, Director of the UAS Integration Office.

These seem like big numbers but they will be completely dwarfed once economically-feasible drone deliveries are permitted. While the lowly paid jobs for delivery drivers will become scarcer, the benefits of decrease in pollution, speeding up of deliveries and the option of delivering to a mobile phone that can be tracked rather than to a house that is unmanned for most of the day while its occupant are at work become apparent and virtually irresistible.

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[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="no" equal_height_columns="no" menu_anchor="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" background_color="" background_image="" background_position="center center" background_repeat="no-repeat" fade="no" background_parallax="none" parallax_speed="0.3" video_mp4="" video_webm="" video_ogv="" video_url="" video_aspect_ratio="16:9" video_loop="yes" video_mute="yes" overlay_color="" video_preview_image="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" padding_top="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" padding_right=""][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" layout="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" border_position="all" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding_top="" padding_right="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" center_content="no" last="no" min_height="" hover_type="none" link=""][fusion_imageframe image_id="5019|full" max_width="" style_type="" blur="" stylecolor="" hover_type="none" bordersize="" bordercolor="" borderradius="" align="center" lightbox="no" gallery_id="" lightbox_image="" lightbox_image_id="" alt="" link="" linktarget="_self" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""]http://217.199.187.200/valourconsultancy.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Over-the-Hills-and-Far-Away-1.jpg[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_separator style_type="default" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" sep_color="#ffffff" top_margin="20" bottom_margin="20" border_size="" icon="" icon_circle="" icon_circle_color="" width="" alignment="center" /][fusion_text] Vigilant Aerospace Systems (VAS), a private US company was founded in Oklahoma City in 2015, licenses aviation technologies. VAS commercialises NASA flight safety technologies and develops innovative situational sensing, analysis and prediction solutions which can enables collision avoidance and autonomous flight for both drones and small and medium-sized planes. The company recently completed Beyond Line-of-Sight UAS Detect-and-Avoid Flight Testing at NASA Armstrong. This testing was observed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and by an observer from the Federal Communications Commission who monitored radio transmissions. The testing programme was the result of many months of development, rigorous safety planning and test preparation and finished in December 2016. While there are still many, many hoops to jump through, the significance of this cannot be overstated. For drone delivery to be profitable, beyond line-of-sight operation of UAVs, operation of UAVs in twilight and evening hours and multiple drone operation by a single operator has to be permitted. As Valour Consultancy, has said previously, it makes no sense to replace a delivery rider with a qualified drone operator at twice the cost. In the nine months since the FAA created a drone registration system (December 2015), more than 550,000 unmanned aircraft have been registered with the agency with new registrations coming in at a rate of 2,000 per day according to the FAA’s Earl Lawrence, Director of the UAS Integration Office. These seem like big numbers but they will be completely dwarfed once economically-feasible drone deliveries are permitted. While the lowly paid jobs for delivery drivers will become scarcer, the benefits of decrease in pollution, speeding up of deliveries and the option of delivering to a mobile phone that can be tracked rather than to a house that is unmanned for most of the day while its occupant are at work become apparent and virtually irresistible. [/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Terra Drone in Terra Incognita

In an interesting move, the Japanese drone surveying company Terra Drone has opened an office in Fortitude Valley in Queensland. Fortitude Valley is a suburb of Brisbane most famous for shopping and nightlife. Terra Drone specialised in LiDAR surveying of construction, mining sites and forestry and land surveys. It also has a small unmanned crop spraying helicopter ideally suited for market gardens and small holdings typical of Japanese farming.

While Queensland has a reasonably progressive attitude to the use of drones, there has to be some worry associated with this diversification. The mining industry in Australia has been severely depleted during this current economic down-turn and as China has decreased its mineral requirements considerably.

Farming in Queensland tends to be on a larger scale. Australia, in general, and Queensland, in particular, has not been blessed with deep and fertile soils so fields must be larger to obtain the same yield. Precision farming is still at the early stages of implementation although there has been a $2.5 million project funded by Queensland’s Agriculture Department and the Federal Government. There are already several companies promoting Precision Agriculture throughout Australia so the market is not without competition.

The construction industry is also largely flat for the nation as a whole with growth forecast at a miserly 0.1%. South Australia and Western Australia have the most promising outlook while Queensland construction is expected to contract by around 7%.

The markets that Terra Drone normally address have a fairly poor outlook and they have sited their office in an area not normally associated with commercial activities that might need a drone. They have set themselves a unique challenge and we wish them luck.

For more information about the commercial UAV market, please click here.

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[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="no" equal_height_columns="no" menu_anchor="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" background_color="" background_image="" background_position="center center" background_repeat="no-repeat" fade="no" background_parallax="none" parallax_speed="0.3" video_mp4="" video_webm="" video_ogv="" video_url="" video_aspect_ratio="16:9" video_loop="yes" video_mute="yes" overlay_color="" video_preview_image="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" padding_top="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" padding_right=""][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" layout="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" border_position="all" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding_top="" padding_right="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" center_content="no" last="no" min_height="" hover_type="none" link=""][fusion_imageframe image_id="5022|full" max_width="" style_type="" blur="" stylecolor="" hover_type="none" bordersize="" bordercolor="" borderradius="" align="center" lightbox="no" gallery_id="" lightbox_image="" lightbox_image_id="" alt="" link="" linktarget="_self" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""]http://217.199.187.200/valourconsultancy.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Terra-Drone-1-1-1024x619-1.png[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_separator style_type="default" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" sep_color="#ffffff" top_margin="20" bottom_margin="20" border_size="" icon="" icon_circle="" icon_circle_color="" width="" alignment="center" /][fusion_text] In an interesting move, the Japanese drone surveying company Terra Drone has opened an office in Fortitude Valley in Queensland. Fortitude Valley is a suburb of Brisbane most famous for shopping and nightlife. Terra Drone specialised in LiDAR surveying of construction, mining sites and forestry and land surveys. It also has a small unmanned crop spraying helicopter ideally suited for market gardens and small holdings typical of Japanese farming. While Queensland has a reasonably progressive attitude to the use of drones, there has to be some worry associated with this diversification. The mining industry in Australia has been severely depleted during this current economic down-turn and as China has decreased its mineral requirements considerably. Farming in Queensland tends to be on a larger scale. Australia, in general, and Queensland, in particular, has not been blessed with deep and fertile soils so fields must be larger to obtain the same yield. Precision farming is still at the early stages of implementation although there has been a $2.5 million project funded by Queensland's Agriculture Department and the Federal Government. There are already several companies promoting Precision Agriculture throughout Australia so the market is not without competition. The construction industry is also largely flat for the nation as a whole with growth forecast at a miserly 0.1%. South Australia and Western Australia have the most promising outlook while Queensland construction is expected to contract by around 7%. The markets that Terra Drone normally address have a fairly poor outlook and they have sited their office in an area not normally associated with commercial activities that might need a drone. They have set themselves a unique challenge and we wish them luck. For more information about the commercial UAV market, please click here. [/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

UAVs are a Key Enabler in Construction

Many people believe UAVs will become a big deal in the commercial construction space.

Companies like 3DR, Parrot, DJI and many others have bet big on this assumption.

We believe more than a 150,000 UAVs will be in active use in the asset, building (construction), land and mining inspection/surveying globally in 2017.

A prime example of drones being used in this area is Carillion, a UK-based facilities management and construction company.

The company’s Head of Building Surveying Services, Phil Neenan, highlighted how the company is deploying drones to gain better access to buildings and hard to reach areas.

This can vary from sloping rooftops to soft ground that will be damaged by the use of heavy vehicles/equipment.

Phil stated, “Using drones allows us to access sites without causing any disruption, and it’s much cheaper and faster to hire a drone than to raise scaffolding.

“Most importantly, by removing the need to work at height, they make our job safer.” For more information on this article, click here.

Furthermore, the capabilities of how UAVs examine different structures with high definition images, advanced thermographic and ultrasonic sensors makes a big difference to the level of details that can be retrieved.

Carillion use an external supplier called Team UAV,  but they have also used other drone operators such as the Drone Company, and Iron Bird.

The Drone Company, based in Kent, consists of 5 operators and has over 1,000 hours of flight time. Iron Bird is based in Liverpool and the business predominantly focuses on the filmography and entertainment sector.

Other notable projects that Carillion have used UAVs are the Royal Liverpool Hospital, and Birmingham Library.

For more information about the commercial UAV market, please click here.

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[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="no" equal_height_columns="no" menu_anchor="" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" background_color="" background_image="" background_position="center center" background_repeat="no-repeat" fade="no" background_parallax="none" parallax_speed="0.3" video_mp4="" video_webm="" video_ogv="" video_url="" video_aspect_ratio="16:9" video_loop="yes" video_mute="yes" overlay_color="" video_preview_image="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" padding_top="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" padding_right=""][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" layout="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" border_position="all" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding_top="" padding_right="" padding_bottom="" padding_left="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" center_content="no" last="no" min_height="" hover_type="none" link=""][fusion_imageframe image_id="5026|full" max_width="" style_type="" blur="" stylecolor="" hover_type="none" bordersize="" bordercolor="" borderradius="" align="center" lightbox="no" gallery_id="" lightbox_image="" lightbox_image_id="" alt="" link="" linktarget="_self" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_direction="left" animation_speed="0.3" animation_offset=""]http://217.199.187.200/valourconsultancy.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Carillion-3-e1463533766985-1024x516-1.jpg[/fusion_imageframe][fusion_separator style_type="default" hide_on_mobile="small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility" class="" id="" sep_color="#ffffff" top_margin="20" bottom_margin="20" border_size="" icon="" icon_circle="" icon_circle_color="" width="" alignment="center" /][fusion_text] Many people believe UAVs will become a big deal in the commercial construction space. Companies like 3DR, Parrot, DJI and many others have bet big on this assumption. We believe more than a 150,000 UAVs will be in active use in the asset, building (construction), land and mining inspection/surveying globally in 2017. A prime example of drones being used in this area is Carillion, a UK-based facilities management and construction company. The company’s Head of Building Surveying Services, Phil Neenan, highlighted how the company is deploying drones to gain better access to buildings and hard to reach areas. This can vary from sloping rooftops to soft ground that will be damaged by the use of heavy vehicles/equipment. Phil stated, “Using drones allows us to access sites without causing any disruption, and it’s much cheaper and faster to hire a drone than to raise scaffolding. “Most importantly, by removing the need to work at height, they make our job safer.” For more information on this article, click here. Furthermore, the capabilities of how UAVs examine different structures with high definition images, advanced thermographic and ultrasonic sensors makes a big difference to the level of details that can be retrieved. Carillion use an external supplier called Team UAV,  but they have also used other drone operators such as the Drone Company, and Iron Bird. The Drone Company, based in Kent, consists of 5 operators and has over 1,000 hours of flight time. Iron Bird is based in Liverpool and the business predominantly focuses on the filmography and entertainment sector. Other notable projects that Carillion have used UAVs are the Royal Liverpool Hospital, and Birmingham Library. For more information about the commercial UAV market, please click here. [/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]