Inside Unmanned Systems

AUG-SEP 2017

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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10 unmanned systems inside August/September 2017 any cell phone manufacturer. Because Google can't code to specific hardware, Android isn't quite as secure as iOS nor as stable. It is, however, f lexible and sales prove they made the right choice. Androids' 80.7% of the market dwarfs iOS's 17.7%. I think the drone market will go the same way, but for different reasons. The smart phone market consolidated around two operating systems for se- curity and stability. Drones need both security and stability, but add a third reason to consolidate—safety. Smart phones can do a lot of things, but plunging down on to your head from 400 ft with four propellers churning isn't one of them. A Focus on Safety The FA A doesn't require drones less than 55 lbs f lown under Part 107 rules to conform to airworthiness stan- dards but that doesn't mean the insur- ance companies—or personal injury lawyers—will let manufacturers sell unsafe drones. Because Part 107 only allows operations within visual sight of a remote pilot, civil drones have been small and uncomplicated. The vast ma- jority of civil drones in the U.S. weigh less than five pounds and these small drones self-certify their airworthiness, using industry standards versus formal FAA standards. A s I've said repeatedly, drones won't be commercially viable until the FAA permits beyond line of sight operations (BLOS) and these larger, more complex drones will probably require FA A airworthiness certifica- tion. Airworthiness is not for the faint hearted; it took General Atomics years and tens of millions of dollars to make an MQ-1 Predator that complies with NATO airworthiness standards. The need to have some sort of air- worthiness—from self-certified to for- mal—will promote market consolida- tion into a small number of very safe, very airworthy platforms. I think the days of dozens of startups building a wide range of drones are over. The market now knows how to make safe small drones and aviation regulators now know how to certify large drones. Prepare to see the market coalesce into a handful of safe, f lexible drone "trucks" that can easily swap sensors/ cargo, supported by a vibrant software library that will spark missions that we can't imagine now. Enabling airworthy drones with a large mission software library (or a drone app store) leads back to the Apple versus Android approach to hardware integration. Just like the drone airframe consolidation, expect to see consolida- tion around a small number of very safe drone operating systems. The Apple ap- proach would see a major manufacturer tightly integrating their hardware and OS, supported by published interface to permit an app store approach. The Android approach is more difficult for aviation because the actual f light con- trol software portion of the OS must be tightly integrated with drone hardware THE NEED TO HAVE SOME SORT OF AIRWORTHINESS– FROM SELF-CERTIFIED TO FORMAL– WILL PROMOTE MARKET CONSOLIDATION INTO A SMALL NUMBER OF VERY SAFE, VERY AIRWORTHY PLATFORMS. MAJOR GENERAL JAMES O. POSS (RET) is a leading expert on UAS, having targeted the first armed UAS strikes, designed the U.S. Air Force's remote split operations system for UAS control, and designed the Distributed Common Ground Station for UAS intelligence analysis. General Poss was the Executive Director of the Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence (ASSURE) of the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Center of Excellence Team. He is CEO of ISR Ideas—an intelligence, unmanned systems and cyber warfare consulting company with decades of intelligence community experience, coupled with insider FAA knowledge. General Overview by James Poss, Maj Gen (RET) USAF Photos courtesy of General Atomics/wikimediacommons.com and DJI. Caption: DJI Phantom.

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