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Good Stories From New Orleans UAS Event

By Luke Geiver | May 12, 2016

When we weren’t inside the private meeting rooms, partaking in a pre-scheduled booth meet-up or hosting our own UAS gathering at AUVSI last week, we were out and about talking UAS shop. I’ve gone through my notebooks, phone recordings and written-on pamphlets and set-aside most that I wrote or made the comment on, “this is a good story.” In this context, “good story” means that the conversation or topic I had was on a topic that will soon be very important to the UAS world, offered a unique perspective and/or background on an existing topic or involved several entities collaborating together for a common goal. In some way or another, these stories will find their way into our UAS content offerings.

UAS certification for the UAS buyer: We’ve all been following the FAA’s work to make platform type class certification a reaility for certain UAS manufacturers. The process would certify that a particular platform that passes the type class certification process is safe. Wyvern, an aviation risk and advisory company that has been around for 25 years is now working to give major UAS service or platform buyers some assurance. The company has created a program for buyers to validate vendors and make sure they meet best practices. This will be a good story about end-user needs from the UAS world.

The making of drone insurance plan: Insurance providers have always been viewed as a crucial portion of the UAS world’s emergence. After talking with and sitting in on a presentation from Global Aerospace and Willis Programs (the insurance underwriter) about a new drone insurance plan called DroneGuard, I made a note that the way in which the collaboration—which also includes AUVSI (non-AUVSI members are not eligible for the insurance)—was formed and executed on, it will make a great story of what great UAS insurance coverage looks like and what it took to figure it out.

Counter-UAS tech testing: In the Pathfinder update, CACI’s team gave an update on why it was added to the FAA’s list of pathfinders and what it has learned about testing counter-UAS near airports. According to CACI, the tests were better than expected. The results aren’t out yet, but could this technology be placed at all major airports? A story on this should tell us.

The case for UAVs and rail: Also in the Pathfinder update, BNSF’s Todd Graetz gave a wonderful example of just how connected BNSF wants to be to UAS. Eventually, he said, BNSF could have 2-plus UAV flying back and fourth a section of track 24/7, 365. This will make a great story that we can all use to point to as an example of how big a role UAVs will have in industry someday.

ADS-B and spectrum: The topic of ADS-B and spectrum has been a constant amongst UAS circles for the past year. Some think putting mini ADS-B transponders on sUAVs will fix the detect-and-avoid issues present between sUAVs and manned aircraft. For spectrum, many are concerned that their isn’t enough spectrum to operate all of the UAVs safely. At the show, some said putting ADS-B’s on sUAVs would only complicate the spectrum issue even more. We are going to work on an overarching story on spectrum, and ADS-B, very soon.

Time for commercial clients: Most UAS manufacturers we spoke with are confident with their platforms and are now looking for commercial/paying clients whether they be related to government, large private companies or research institutions. Many vendors at UAS shows now aren’t as interested in talking with other vendors, they are ready to talk with customers.

Note, these are only a few of the stories from the event. If you have something of interest, let’s set up a call. We’re here every day.