Inside Unmanned Systems

OCT-NOV 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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6 unmanned systems inside   October/November 2017 M ake the best of it. For the unmanned sec- tor, at this point in time, that advice can be read two different ways. While 'make the best of it' is the well-intentioned admonition for those going through a rough patch it can also mean recogniz- ing and embracing opportunity. Both certainly apply to the unmanned aircraft sector. Intense competition and the slow uptake of drone technology in some markets have led f irms to change direction. There also is wide spread frustration with the still confusing and slow process of getting waivers from the Federal Aviation Administration (FA A) to f ly outside of the parameters set by Part 107 regulations (page 38). Perhaps more importantly, the new rules that were to make f lights over people easier— rules that were expected this past January—are being held up by national security concerns with no clear deadline for resolution. It is likely a number of drone entrepreneurs won't make it past these hurdles. On the other hand, for the f irst time the tr ue ut i lit y of unma nned a ircra f t systems has been demonstrated to a broad lay audi- ence in the af termath of Hurricanes Har vey and Irma. As our special report shows (page 14) many local off icials were unsure how they could use drones until someone came along and dramatically improved their ability to do their jobs. Homeowners benef ited from faster drone-based damage estimates, utilities were more quickly restored and, by all accounts, the FA A's for ward-thinking actions helped enor- mously. In fact, the way av iation reg ulators handled drone f lights during the hurricanes' aftermath may become a template for handling such emergencies going forward. Will local and state agencies, and the politi- cians who fund them, now be more likely to sup- port buying drone services or hardware? Almost certainly. And new sensors will give them a wider array of ways to use those drones. The lens-less microscope that enables rapid, in-flight air testing (page 32) could be a terrific tool for smoggy urban areas or emergencies when fires fill the air with contaminants. New opportunities to work with local agencies should be a boon to drone service providers as long as government shops do not compete against them for business (page 74). The basic research that fu- els innovation will spur still more capabilities and products, like those introduced at InterGEO (page 42) and perhaps even entirely new ways to apply sensors such as in the robotic fish being developed to track water pollution (page 56). Unexpected windows of opportunity will also open due to market forces. For example, though security concerns involving DJI drones may be causing their Chinese manufacturer problems, those customer concerns may be just the break another firm needs to offer a new drone (page 8). The point is—opportunities always arise. Being able to seize them is how the drone community will endure when markets and rules don't evolve as expected. That f lexibility, actually, is what 'make the best of it' truly means. Make the Best of It EDITORIAL OPINION Photos courtesy of © Alain Herzog / 2017 EPFL, Topcon and Brian Emfinger Live Storms Media.

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