Drones: Protect & Deliver

Drones & Airspace

According to the Associated Press, there are 110,000 commercial drones operating in U.S. airspace, a number expected to quadruple over the next four years. Most of these registered drones are used for industrial surveying purposes. With such a high number of drones, more on the way, and airspace not able to expand, the FAA has to stay on top of the regulations.

Under today’s FAA regulations, to act as a remote pilot for a drone, you must be 16 years old, read, write, speak, and understand English, be in physical and mental condition to safely fly a UAS, and become an FAA-Certified Drone Pilot by Passing the Knowledge Test. Once a certificate is obtained from the FAA, you must register your drone with the FAA for a nominal 3-year fee of $5. Once your drone is registered, you must label your drone with its registration number. General FAA Drone Guidelines

  • Aircraft must weigh less than 55 lbs. (25 kg)
  • May not operate over any persons not directly participating in the operation, not under a covered structure, and not inside a covered stationary vehicle
  • Daylight-only operations, or civil twilight (30 minutes before official sunrise to 30 minutes after official sunset, local time) with appropriate anti-collision lighting
  • First-person view camera cannot satisfy “see-and-avoid” requirement but can be used as long as requirement is satisfied in other ways
  • Maximum groundspeed of 100 mph (87 knots)
  • Maximum altitude of 400 feet above ground level (AGL) or, if higher than 400 feet AGL, remain within 400 feet of a structure
  • No operations from a moving aircraft
  • No operation from a moving vehicle unless the operation is over a sparsely populated area
  • No careless or reckless operations
  • No carriage of hazardous materials
  • A person may not operate a small unmanned aircraft if he or she knows or has reason to know of any physical or mental condition that would interfere with the safe operation of a small UAS
  • External load operations are allowed if the object being carried by the unmanned aircraft is securely attached and does not adversely affect the flight characteristics or controllability of the aircraft
  • Transportation of property for compensation or hire allowed provided that:
    1. The aircraft, including its attached systems, payload and cargo weigh less than 55 pounds total
    2. The flight is conducted within visual line of sight and not from a moving vehicle or aircraft; and
    3. The flight occurs wholly within the bounds of a State and does not involve transport between:
      • Hawaii and another place in Hawaii through airspace outside Hawaii
      • the District of Columbia and another place in the District of Columbia or
      • a territory or possession of the United States and another place in the same territory or possession

Drones in the Military

All branches of the US Military have drones for various purposes. The size and capabilities of these vehicles can vary, with some even looking like small personal planes, but the power, speed, and scope of these unmanned aerial vehicles are something to be marveled. The US Air Force’s primary offensive strike MQ-9 Reaper can fly at speeds up to 230 mph. And wIth wide-range sensors, a multi-mode communications suite, and precision weapons, it provides a unique capability to perform strike, coordination, and reconnaissance against high-value, fleeting, and time-sensitive targets. The Multi-Spectral Targeting System has a robust suite of visual sensors for targeting, integrating features like infrared sensor, image-intensified TV camera, and a laser designator.

The RQ-11B Raven’s primary function is reconnaissance and surveillance with low altitude operation. Weighing only 4.2 lbs with a 4.5 foot wingspan, this unmanned aircraft system provides real-time direct situational awareness and target information for Joint Special Operations troops in the U.S. military. The Raven includes a color electro-optical camera and an infrared camera for night operations. The air vehicle is hand-launched and has an endurance of up to 80 minutes.

The R/MQ-8 Fire Scout is designed to operate from air-capable ships and will provide a significant improvement to organic surveillance capability. Capable of providing UHF/VHF voice communications relay, it has a baseline payload that includes electro-optical/infrared sensors and a laser designator that enables the system to find tactical targets, track and designate targets, accurately provide targeting data to strike platforms and perform battle damage assessment. Fire Scout provides critical situational awareness, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and targeting data to the forward deployed warfighter.

Drones & Last Mile

Last mile delivery using drones means new infrastructures will be required for the numerous service points that will be needed in many locations across metropolitan and rural America.

Unmanned Aircraft System (UAV) Quadcopter Drone Pilot with Controller Inspecting New House Framing.

DHL & the Parcelcopter

DHL is the first parcel carrier in the world to incorporate a parcelcopter into its delivery fleet. In December 2013, DHL introduced the “quadrocopter” which delivered a small package from the east bank of the Rhine to the DHL headquarters on the west bank. After some modifications to optimize functioning and the German Mobility Prize in 2016, DHL developed the parcelcopter. The 2016 three month trial through the winds and snow of the Bavarian Alps, DHL successfully delivered to customers in two mountain communities.

Also in 2013, DHL partnered with Microdrones and the Institute of Flight System Dynamics at RWTH Aachen University to test the feasibility of delivering medications to 2,000 Juist island residents. Juist is only 11 miles long and reachable solely by plane or ferry. Using the parcelcopter, DHL was able to deliver meds at night and during foggy conditions, when the ferry isn’t able to run. With a top speed of 31 mph, a 90 minute air travel time, and a carrying weight up to two pounds, the drone flew 20 minutes from Norddeich to Juist where a courier took the meds to the island’s pharmacy. Amazon & Prime Air

In December 2013, Amazon and Prime Air company CEO Jeff Bezos told “60 Minutes” that he hoped to have autonomous drones deliver packages to your door, taking delivery trucks off the road, reducing traffic congestion and pollution, as well as help with lost packages. Last April, the FAA granted Amazon an experimental airworthiness certificate, which allows Amazon to test during daylight hours, within sightline of the operator, and below 400 feet. Calling the service Prime Air, Amazon hopes to bring unmanned aerial vehicles to their deliveries.

Wing Delivers Internationally

Wing, a division of Alphabet, the umbrella company that owns Google, is launching a trial delivery service in Finland this month. Delivering from a local restaurant and food market, the delivery flights will cover a maximum of 10km, delivery times of 10 minutes, and package weights up to 1.5kg. Even though customers or residents where the drones fly have had several noise complaints, Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority has granted Wing approval to start making deliveries, as well as the FAA approving deliveries in the United States.

Drones in PR Stunts

In 2014, Lakemaid Beer flew drones carrying a case of beer to ice fishers on Mille Lacs Lake in Minnesota. The FAA wasn’t pleased with the drone flying above the mandated 400 feet and downed the drones. But anyone who saw the video of the drone delivering a case of beer to a group of ice fishers can appreciate the benefits of door to door drone delivery.

For three days in 2013, the Alibaba Group delivered ginger tea to 450 shoppers in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. Remote controlled drones flew to specific buildings where a human would unload and deliver to the individual customers.

Drones, Filters, & UAF

Whether the sun is blazing, it’s pouring rain, or the temperatures are below zero, drones need protection to keep them flying and functioning efficiently. The elements aren’t the only factors to affect proper drone operation, there is also the potential for the components inside the drone to overheat, causing malfunctions. For both weather and internal component protection, filters are essential. To find or create functioning filters that meet appropriate standards and classifications, you need not look further than Universal Air Filter.

Keeping out mist, rain, and other liquids, products like UAF’s moisture-resistant hydrophobic mesh air filters are helpful. Offering a water-repellant, low pressure drop media, hydrophobic filter media is durable and cleanable. It can be installed in a one-piece, low profile, ultra-thin frame alone or combined as part of a two-stage filter media solution in other frame assemblies for dust and water mist prevention.

UAF’s windowpane products can incorporate a mesh screen to keep out insects, airborne seeds and other particles. As thin as 1/10th of an inch and lightweight, open mesh screens allow maximum airflow without unwanted contaminants. Adding a flexible frame, Uni-grid supported, roll-formed aluminum frame allows air to move more freely without concerns of prolonged wind stress.

UAF offers other filter options for outdoor applications like military and delivery drones. And not only can you find a plethora of in-stock, standard filters, but UAF offers prototyping services for custom filters.