Inside Unmanned Systems

AUG-SEP 2018

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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30 unmanned systems inside August/September 2018 AIR IPP NORTH DAKOTA work with CNN and law enforcement to conduct these f lights, and hope to eventually find a way for media and emergency responders to deploy drones simultaneously. "If law enforcement is at a scene it might be a newsworthy event and CNN or an affiliate might want to deploy a drone," said Nick Flom, executive di- rector of the Northern Plains UAS Test Site, which is part of the North Dakota IPP team. "That coordination piece is challenging and the short answer for CNN and other news media is they can't be in that area. So we're looking at how we can engage both of those parties in an ops-over-people environment, may- be using a UAS Traffic Management- like system for coordination so they don't have to pick up the phone. Instead, it would be automated." This project will be completed in a layered approached, Flom said, start- ing with f lights over people in con- trolled air space and then moving to the coordination of multiple news and law enforcement drones. While they'll deploy two drones at first to test coordination, that number could grow, Buchholz said. "Right now, we're starting with the risk factor and with safety in mind," Buchholz said. "First, we're going to deploy one system to make sure we can validate the data. In the future, we'll have multiple drones. We'll start with two in controlled airspace and could go further than that, but we have to be able to prove the safety case. We expect to eventually have multiple drones us- ing sensor development to detect and avoid so they're not conf licting with one another." transmission lines they inspect today tend to be located in rural areas, mak- ing the missions fairly straightforward. The IPP team wants to take this a step further and actually deploy drones to inspect the distribution lines found in cities. "We're adding to the complexity by doing more urban environment opera- tions, while still focusing on BVLOS," Flom said. "That adds value to the research." Buchholz ex pec t s both pha ses to last three to six months, he said. Depending on the outcomes, once ini- tial testing is complete, the team will either dig deeper into these research areas or start looking at some of the other initiatives that were part of their IPP application. THE CHALLENGES With both projects, the team will conduct community outreach in the towns and communities where testing will take place, Buchholz said. While it's good to get the public involved and to gain insights from their feedback, this type of engagement could lead to obstacles along the way, especially if someone objects to drone f lights in their neighborhood because they don't understand the benefit. "Public outreach is a challenge," Flom said. "How do I get the public to see that a drone flying over a distribution line is Photo courtesy of CNN. UTILITY INSPECTION Working with Xcel Energy for distribution line inspection is an important part of the IPP project because Xcel will be able to enhance services for their customers while also getting the local communities involved in the process, said Nick Flom, Executive Director of the Northern Plains UAS Test Site. "Customers have high reliance on the energy grid," Flom said. "Finding fault from an inspection standpoint is important, and from an IPP standpoint this a repeatable process that brings in local government to be part of a solution." FOR MORE INFORMATION on how CNN and other media are using drones to report the news, read News From a Different Angle at RELATED STORIES ONLINE North Dakota is one of the largest UAS users in the country. It's only going to grow further. Being part of IPP will help streamline processes and make operations safer and easier." Russ Buchholz, the North Dakota Department of Transportation director and Information Technology Division/UAS Integration Program administrator " For the second phase, the focus will shift to BVLOS f lights with Xcel Energy. These f lights will be a bit more complicated, so it will likely take lon- ger to obtain waiver approvals from the FAA, Buchholz said, which is why this testing isn't expected to begin un- til September. Xcel Energy already has approvals for BVLOS f lights for transmission line inspections, Flom said, and this project will build upon the work the company has already done. How? The

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