In an article for Axios, Executive Director Jenny Rosenberg explains that the U.S. national airspace system (NAS) is different compared to other countries, and presents challenges when it comes to integrating certain aspects of drone technology in the NAS. "This summer, Zipline will bring its fleet of delivery drones to North Carolina, where they will be used to deliver medical supplies to rural hospitals as part of the FAA's UAS Integration Pilot Program. Yes, but: The U.S. national airspace system is more complicated than Rwanda's, says Jenny Rosenberg, executive director of the Alliance for Drone Innovation...The U.S. has tens of thousands of commercial flights a day, plus military and general aviation flights. There's also a multitude of restricted zones, not to mention security and privacy concerns. The bottom line: The FAA's challenge is to balance the risks and opportunities created by all those drones without stifling innovation."
In an article for The JAMA Forum, ADI Executive Director Jenny Rosenberg highlights the FAA’s steps to integrate advanced drone operations that could, for example, enable prescription drug delivery in remote areas. "At the community level, the goal of safer, affordable, and greener travel can align transportation and health planning. The automobile industry is exploring a future for electric and autonomous vehicles with hopes that they can lead to improved fuel efficiency while lowering carbon emissions and deaths. Regulators are exploring urban air mobility that could reduce surface congestion. Private sector companies are closer to launching long-range electric-powered aircraft. The Federal Aviation Administration is now moving toward establishing regulatory frameworks needed for beyond-line-of-sight drone operations that could, for example, enable prescription drug delivery in remote areas.”
Bloomberg Technology's Brad Stone interviewed DroneSeed CEO Grant Canary on his company's use of drone technology to plant native trees and vegetation after devastating wildfires. "We do precision forestry. As you mentioned, per acre per service, planting trees, spraying to protect them, and monitoring their growth. We do that with drone swarms, so not just one drone, but up to five at a time. What's valuable about that is each aircraft can carry up to 57 pounds of payload, so that's seed, that's spray. We are the first ever to get that FAA approval to allow for aircraft over the 55-pound limit."
WRAL reports on the use of drone technology in a rescue mission in Transylvania County, NC. "Two rock climbers were rescued late Saturday in the North Carolina mountains after one fell almost 150 feet, according to rescue crews in Transylvania County. Around 4 p.m. on Saturday, crews received word that two rock climbers spanning the popular Looking Glass Rock were in trouble. The Transylvania County Rescue Squad Facebook page was updated constantly during the search and rescue process. Less than an hour after the initial report, crews found then two climbers with the help of a drone search from Connestee Fire Rescue. Late Saturday night, rescuers confirmed on Facebook that the rock climbers were safe."
Today, the Alliance for Drone Innovation (ADI) submitted letters of support to the Sioux Falls City Council and Mayor Paul TenHaken encouraging the Sioux Falls City Council to pass a measure that would lift restrictions on drone use. The changes to the Sioux Falls City ordinance “AMENDING THE CODE OF ORDINANCES OF THE CITY BY REVISING CHAPTER 95: PARKS AND RECREATION, SECTION 95.012 FIREARMS, GUNS, FIREWORKS, AND CERTAIN REMOTE CONTROL AIRCRAFT PROHIBITED” will promote more innovation and allow local small businesses to flourish. "We thank Council Member Christine Erickson for her leadership on this issue," the letter states. "Motivated by constituent concerns, she brought this use to the attention of the City Council and spearheaded the effort to create a glidepath that will advance drone technology in Sioux Falls. Commercial use of drones has the potential to transform and provide cost-savings to businesses at the heart of South Dakota’s economy."
IEEE Spectrum reports on a successful text by the University of Maryland Medical center involving drone transportation of organs. "When a patient who needs an organ transplantation is finally matched with a donor, every second matters. A longer wait between when an organ is removed from a donor and when it is placed into a recipient is associated with poorer organ function following transplantation. To maximize the chances of success, organs must be shipped from A to B as quickly and as safely as possible—and a recent test run suggests that drones are up to the task. One transplant surgeon’s personal experience at the operating table, waiting for organs to arrive, prompted him to think of new forms of delivery. 'I frequently encounter situations where there’s simply no way to get an organ to me fast enough to do a transplant, and then those life-saving organs do not get transplanted into my patient,' says Dr. Joseph Scalea of the University of Maryland Medical Center. 'And that’s frustrating, so I wanted to develop a better system for doing that.'"
A recent article in Popular Mechanics touts the benefits of drone technology in firefighting. "The Menlo Park drone program got started in April 2014, after Calvert saw a drone at another firefighter’s bachelor party and realized it would be an important tool for emergency workers. Drones outfitted with cameras help firefighters get a better idea of the scope and damage to the surrounding area or perform search-and-rescue operations. Today, MPFD personnel are in demand as experts on integrating technology into fire response. And despite (or maybe because of) his youth, McCandless is a crucial part of the program, which includes a fleet of fourteen DJI drones of various sizes and capabilities. He has an intuitive ability for getting the drones to cooperate and interconnect with other firefighting tech, and he also fabricates custom accessories for the MPFD drones from his home workshop, in a role Calvert says is 'basically research and development.' He’s added mounts for devices like gas meters and Geiger counters. He’s currently testing a mechanism that could throw life preservers or lifelines during water rescues."
Commercial UAV News recently penned an article touting the benefits of drones in researching climate change. "Efforts to understand why plants emit certain compounds have been hindered because scientists like Dr. Martin haven’t been able to spatially map out which plants are emitting these compounds at which times and for which reasons. That’s the 1km-type resolution in the horizontal that has been missing and which drones are able to provide. A couple of the key insights from his presentation centered on how drones are resetting the expectations that scientists like him have going into such projects. A single drone and fleet can tackle some science questions that traditional platforms cannot even get out of the gate for, and it’s made a difference in terms of the approach and findings for such projects. Additionally, Dr. Martin talked through the challenges associated with the political and social environment surrounding the Rainforest, which simply underscores the fact that there will always be challenges when it comes to operating a drone, regardless of the environment."
An article in The Sacramento Bee touts the potential of drone technology in fighting back against California wildfires. "Drones are another tool to consider; with trained pilots, unmanned drones can operate in high temperatures, fly at night and in heavy smoke and get to the scene quicker than a fire engine. The Interior Department flew nearly 5,000 drone missions over public land last year to minimize danger to human lives. One drone model drops flammable spheres to set controlled fires to reduce the spread of a wildfire. Mark Bathrick, director of the department’s Office of Aviation Services, told The Wall Street Journal that drones in Oregon detected a fire before it was reported and responders extinguished the blaze before it became a threat. Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, told a congressional hearing that drones are a great tool in remote and rugged terrain. More than 910 U.S. law enforcement, fire and emergency agencies have acquired drones, including several in California."
An article in the New York Times overviews a drone damage survey of the Fuentidueña apse, which dates to the 12th century. "The drone survey will let Ms. Kargère compare the drone photographs to images taken in the 1990s. The drone made it easier to see into high-up crevices and peer at the figures on the corbels, the brackets just under the roofline. Sunny weather helped, too. The survey in the 1990s was done in late winter. 'Everyone was freezing,' Barbara Bridgers, the head of imaging for the Met, recalled. This time around, the drone was sitting in the cobblestone driveway behind the apse, not far from a tent that had been set up as Mission Control. 'It’s like you’re walking into a James Bond set,' one Met official said, looking at the paraphernalia — a laptop, a portable monitor and extra batteries for the drone and the camera. A fully charged battery keeps the drone flying for about 20 minutes."