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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32 unmanned systems inside   August/September 2018 AIR IPP NORTH DAKOTA no big deal, and that there are no safe- ty concerns or no security or privacy concerns?" The team also will have to work with public officials in the cities they're f ly- ing in, Flom said, including key stake- holders such as city council members, mayors and city administrators. Many community leaders have very little, if any, experience testing UAS and might be leery of the technology, Flom said— especially when they start talking with stakeholders about the more advanced types of missions the IPP teams plan to complete. "Maybe it's easier to have conversa- tions with local governments when you're talking about straight visual line of sight flights," Flom said. "With these advanced operations, there could be new hurdles we haven't even thought of yet, and we're trying to cram every- thing into two years. If you look at the test site program, we're four and a half years into it and we're hitting on all cyl- inders now. We weren't at the front end. With IPP, we're still trying to figure out the value to the industry. I think we'll really hit our stride in two years, and I want to make sure we don't lose that momentum as the program concludes." And of course, safety is the No. 1 priority for every project. To maintain safety, the team has to be aware of other obstacles in the airspace and be prepared to respond. There are more and more UAS operating in the sky, Buchholz said, including hobbyists who don't know the rules and regula- tions, putting everything else in their path in danger. Pilots also will need to coordinate with aircraft that are sup- posed to be there, such as manned sys- tems that are operating medical f lights for local hospitals. Sticking with an incremental ap- proach to testing also could prove to be difficult, Flom said, because it's not how they typically operate. Everyone is always looking for bigger and better technologies and use cases, but these projects are about finding repeatable procedures that will help make com- plex drone f lights routine. "It's easier to get a one-off advanced operation that isn't necessarily repeat- able than it is to find a way to routinely do something in multiple different areas," Flom said. "That takes more time, but it's beneficial to spend the extra time to find THE NORTH DAKOTA ADVANTAGE The state has focused on developing UAS to grow its economy for years, and its landscape helps make testing these systems easier, said Russ Buchholz, the North Dakota Department of Transportation director and Information Technology Division/UAS Integration Program administrator. "We're a rural state with limited tree vegetation," he said. "You can see a lot for a fair amount of distance when flying UAS." repeatable operations that will advance commercial operations." THE FUTURE Initially, it's going to take time for these projects to gain momentum, but as the teams begin to really home in on their re- search areas and the projects get off the ground, Buchholz sees the process going smoothly, especially with the guidance the FAA is providing through program managers who can answer questions, fast track requests and review the quar- terly reports each team must submit. All 10 IPP teams have different proj- ects they're focusing on, but many have similar components, Flom said, which will make it easier to develop repeat- able procedures. They're all working to move the commercial UAS indus- try forward by focusing on more ad- vanced UAS operations and getting the community involved, which is an important piece to the puzzle. The teams will report lessons learned from this engagement and the research they conduct to the FAA, and that will help guide the way toward clear regulations and routine use. "If you look at the 10 IPP teams, may- be there's 20 initiatives getting a pretty good classification across a group of different use cases," Flom said. "My interest is not just finding one-off op- erations. I want to see things that can be transferred to the UAS industry as a whole. I'm hoping everybody does that. We're not doing anything with package delivery but we know that's a problem that needs to be solved. We'll solve some issues and other teams will solve others and collaboratively, we'll have great use cases to provide to the entire industry. I think everyone is going to be able to find value through IPP." A UAS flies over a field in North Dakota. Photo courtesy of the North Dakota Department of Commerce.

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