7 takeaways from unique UAS event

By Luke Geiver | December 10, 2015

This week I was at one of the most unique and informative UAS events I’ve ever been too. For the seventeenth year in a row, the team at New Mexico State University hosted the TAAC show. The event draws many of the brightest minds from the research, regulatory and government-related portions of the UAS industry. We have already started on a feature-length look at the event and what it means to the industry (a lot). But until then, here are 7 takeaways from the show.

Spectrum will be an issue in 2016

Many of the attendees were buzzing about commentary made by a North Carolina State University researcher regarding the various spectrums that could be used to transmit UAS signals from platforms to control towers or radar systems. Many see the issue as one to watch next year as the industry works to figure out which spectrum will be suitable for future use.

Standards are coming

Members from several standards-creation groups explained their work to create UAS certification standards or operating standards. Each group said their work was almost finished and that a release of the information could be coming soon.

After the NPRM

Earl Lawrence, one of the new FAA UAS leads, not only injected a breath of fresh air into the attendees at the show through his clear vision for the future, he also explained what will happen after the NPRM comes out in a few months. The FAA UAS team will begin to tackle the biggest issues in UAS (night flights, beyond visual ling of sight, etc.) using a one-by-one approach. For too long, Lawrence said, many in the industry have been trying to solve every issue in the UAS world all at the same time.

Type class certification

In order to fly BVLOS, for example, UAV operators will have to be using a certified system. The process of class certifiying a system can take a long time, but it can also give UAS entities the chance to fly at near-full capability. Type class certification will be a hot topic in 2016 because of that.

ASSURE is rolling

Several members of the ASSURE team were at the event talking with attendees about their work. The list of work is impressive and after talking at length with ASSURE Executive Director Jim Poss, there are many more great things coming down the line for ASSURE and the entire industry.

Counter UAS explained

CACI International was there to give an update on its skytracker system. The system deploys sensors around a desired permiter to mitigate sUAS risks to that perimeter and inside area. The technology comes straight from the military world and most at the event were enamored by the possibilities for use in the future. I know one airport manager sitting next to me was interested. He rushed to talk with the CACI representative after his presentation.

BNSF showcases Pathfinder work

Of all the Pathfinder updates, BNSF provided the most impressive look at work that could impact the UAS industry the most, the quickest. The team explained its work to fly BVLOS with visual observers over a long section of railroad track. The data and imaging gained was amazing and the procedures used appear to be repeatable.