Articles posted by David Davies

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The NEW YORK CITY DRONE FILM FESTIVAL is the world’s premiere drone film festival, and now they’re teaming up with VICE to bring you the first annual LOS ANGELES DRONE FILM FESTIVAL on Oct 6th – 8th 2017.

Submissions are open now until August 27th 2017.





Previous articleMicaSense Atlas, powered by Pix4D

Lausanne, Switzerland – 27 July 2017.
MicaSense Atlas is now integrated with Pix4D desktop software. This exciting partnership is designed to offer MicaSense customers the power of desktop processing, as well as the flexibility of MicaSense Atlas.

“Our customers value Atlas as an analytics and collaboration platform,” says Gabriel Torres, CEO of MicaSense. “They also tell us that processing data locally is important to them and their operations. By combining the processing capability of Pix4D’s software with the power of the MicaSense Atlas analytics, we provide a solution that optimally fulfills these needs.”

With the new “Upload to Atlas” feature (available August 8th, 2017), users can share the processed results with MicaSense Atlas directly from the Pix4D user interface.

Jorge Fernandez, Solution Manager for Agriculture at Pix4D says: “Pix4D’s agricultural focus has always been to provide the most radiometrically and geometrically accurate results possible. We are happy to open this up to MicaSense Atlas users. This new button simplifies everything for them, we are really excited to make this happen.”

Starting today, MicaSense will be distributing yearly and perpetual licenses of Pix4Dag and Pix4Dmapper Pro. For more details on how MicaSense Atlas users can incorporate Pix4D into their workflow, visit the MicaSense website.

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NTR Lab, a company that, among other things, is a software and hardware developer for UAVs, has recently come out with a drone custom made to perform oil tank inspections. It all started when a long-time Dutch client came up with a new startup idea and came to NTR to work on developing the idea. The problem: oil tanks must be inspected for tech problems every 10 years, and the process is very time-consuming, costly, and, most importantly, very dangerous for the human inspector.

It turned out to be a very challenging project, due to the nature of flight inside a steel tank. Some of the challenges faced include:

  1. The drone doesn’t know where it is because there are no GPS signals in places like steel tanks, tubes, or certain kinds of rooms and that makes standard drone navigation impossible.
  1. Frequently UAVs cannot be controlled over ordinary radio channels, because of surface reflection, which makes the need for “autonomous and unmanned” even more important. However, when dealing with various surfaces one size does not fit all, because each surface requires different custom features. And that’s why indoor drones stay indoors.
  1. Today’s cameras create amazing images, but they all have one thing in common: they require light to create images. The lack of sufficient light in tanks, tubes, etc., makes producing good images extremely challenging.
  1. UAVs are reliant on magnetometers when operating in places where GPS doesn’t work. However, manometers don’t always operate correctly; for example, electric motors generate strong magnetic fields and large chunks of ferrous metals can also affect the field.
  1. While drones are highly maneuverable they require space in which to do it. While they have no problem outside, it is much more difficult to fly in a tight, enclosed space, such as a tank or tube.
  1. Flying a UAV in the open air, or an empty room with plain surfaces, is very different from flying an environment full of edges and obstacles. Indoor navigation demands precise positioning to handle working goals, such as inspections, etc.

Accomplishing all this turned out to be far more difficult than anyone on the NTR team expected. However, they persevered, and the result is that they have succeeded in building a drone that could address all of the challenges above, and that meets all the DARPA FLA standards, which is definitely something to be proud of.




Previous articleHow Drones Can Improve Disaster Response and Relief

The news is full of stories of crises around the globe, and getting much-needed aid and materials to affected areas – whether in times of natural disasters or ongoing humanitarian issues – can often be a challenge. Natural and manmade disasters often take out critical infrastructures, from roads to railways to means of communication, leaving first responders scrambling in times when they’re needed most.

But emerging drone technology is helping solve that critical shortfall in times of humanitarian crisis. The very same unmanned aerial systems (UAS) that are making headlines for same-day delivery can provide valuable services for aid workers and others on the ground.

From accessing areas that vehicles simply can’t reach to more safely entering unsound structures, here are four ways UAS technology can provide a helping hand with disaster relief.

Going Down the Road Less Traveled

Step one following any disaster is to assess the current situation to best determine the next steps – determining who needs immediate assistance and where. But in remote areas where roadways are questionable before disaster hits, following a crisis, simply accessing these locations can be a monumental challenge.

Enter drones. With unmanned flights that can soar above any wrecked infrastructure, first responders and humanitarian missions can quickly and easily identify damage such as toppled buildings, obstructed roadways and fallen infrastructure, as well as locate potential survivors.

Such was the case in Utah, where late last year, flash floods swept through the cities of Hilldale and Colorado City. The Utah Division of Emergency Management deployed drones to survey where the floods started, assess damage and even access restricted areas where helicopters and other means of transportation weren’t usable in the past, such as tight river channels.

Save Time and Money

Dispatching fleets of emergency responders via helicopter or land vehicles costs precious resources, particularly in times when lives might hang in the balance. Sending out a UAS to survey an area requires minimal personnel, and it can be done in a matter of minutes following a disaster.

With UAS in use, emergency employees can also realize incredible budget savings. Per Utah Division of Emergency Management spokesperson Joe Dougherty, the Division purchased a drone for $2,200, which requires little to no maintenance costs. But helicopter missions – whether to survey damage, search for survivors or other emergency tasks – can cost upwards of $4,000 an hour for each deployment. In April’s flood, the ability to fly into previously inaccessible areas using a UAS instead of a helicopter saved time and money and afforded the Division critical information that they wouldn’t have otherwise had.

While drones can’t rescue people (yet), helping to pinpoint key areas of interest more quickly with UAS technology can potentially help reduce costs for each mission and reap dramatic savings for budget-conscious municipalities and emergency response teams.

Set Priorities for First Responders 

Using a single operator, aid organizations, emergency management operations and law enforcement departments can quickly observe damaged areas, like those left unsteady following April 2015’s earthquake in Nepal, without endangering other lives.

Flying over ravaged landscapes, drones collect GPS coordinates, real-time video and still images of the damage, helping first responders set priorities back at mission control. This data can be overlaid on area topography and maps using operational intelligence (OI) technology to show specifically where and how the landscape has shifted, as is often the case with powerful earthquakes, floods and other natural and manmade disasters that can decimate identifying landmarks.

This insight is invaluable for crews tasked with determining where to set up key access points to the area, locating and rescuing survivors and identifying critical needs for those who are still in the vicinity.

Go Where No Man Has Gone Before

In addition to getting into tight spaces like the flood channels in Utah, drones and other unmanned vehicles are ideal for deployment in areas that might not be safe for humans following disasters. Post 9/11, unmanned ground vehicles were sent into the rubble to search for survivors in buildings that lacked structural integrity.

Similarly, cases of arson, earthquakes, tornadoes and other emergencies can severely alter a building’s integrity and affect the ability of first responders to enter and assess damages. Using unmanned vehicles, emergency crews can gain unprecedented access to these areas without putting personnel at risk, with the added benefit of recording the encounter and collecting additional data.

UAS are also being used to measure radiation in nuclear power plant accidents because they can fly lower than manned operations without risk of exposure.

UAS adoption is rising rapidly, and while we hear stories about drones and their potential to make our lives more convenient, we shouldn’t forget that UAS also stand to have a dramatic impact on saving lives during times of disaster and helping those affected return to life as normal as quickly as possible following a crisis.

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In many regions of Norway, access to powerlines is difficult, so helicopters are often deployed to inspect the grid. But power utilities are increasingly becoming aware of the potential of drone-based inspections as a cost-effective and powerful method of obtaining data about the condition of the grid – especially when the software to store, share and analyse the images already exists. Skånevik Ølen Kraftlag is one of the first power suppliers to test the concept in Norway along with drone operators Funtek – and the results are looking good!

Funtek is a Norwegian drone operating company, offering drone-based inspections of powerlines, wind turbines and other critical infrastructure. To store and analyse the vast amounts of data generated by drone inspections, Funtek are using software developed by Scopito, a Danish specialist IT developer focusing on making infrastructure inspections much more effective in terms of time and cost.

Torstein Funderud, co-owner and founder of Funtek, explains: “We have been building and flying drones for nearly a decade, and with the fast-evolving technology development in this segment it became clear for us that this equipment can be applied to industrial inspections. We started out doing small test inspections and developing procedures and equipment specifically for this, and after some time we needed more specific input from the potential client base to further develop the concept. So I contacted our local power utility Skånevik Ølen Kraftlag and proposed the idea of doing test runs on their power lines, and they accepted.

We chose two lines with varied topography, to test the limitations of both the inspection procedures and the actual limitations of the equipment. And we decided to use Scopito’s software to store and tag all the many images that come from a single inspection run.”

Results indicate cheaper, more efficient power line inspections

Skånevik Ølen Kraftlag’s grid manager Jan Erik Fedje is happy with the results from the test runs:

“We have carried out two test runs using drones to inspect power lines running along the fjords and in the mountains; so, in challenging topographies. Although we have not yet analysed the data in great detail, we think that drone inspections and the software solution connected to them are really promising as an alternative to helicopter inspections – we also expect to find that using drones is much cheaper and more flexible than conventional inspection runs.”

Skånevik Ølen Kraftlag has also called upon Funtek to carry out inspections to detect and identify specific faults on the grid, when helicopters could not take off due to high winds. “Funtek responded and found the fault very quickly with their drone services, so we will definitely turn to this solution again in the future,” says Jan Erik Fedje.

Full software integration with Powel

Funtek is working closely with their own software developers and suppliers Powel and Scopito to make sure inspection data in Scopito integrates well with the customers’ existing Powel platform. Powel’s solutions are currently being used by both Danish and Norwegian utility companies to manage powerlines and powerline infrastructure.

“Scopito’s software is just perfect for this type for work,” Torstein Funderud says. “Before I found it, I had ideas of developing a system like it for our own use – but Scopito just does the job brilliantly. What’s more, when we can cross-reference our data with the information in Powel’s power grid management system and present and analyse it in Scopito, you have a complete solution.”

“In Powel’s power grid management system the clients can easily export GPS and name information for the lines they want to do inspection on. We merge this information with the captured inspection data so that when the customer gets the result of the inspection there is a direct correlation to their own maintenance system. This means that if the customers want inspection data for a mast in their system, they can simply type in their own mast “name” or identifier in Scopito and the images for that specific mast will appear.

We also use the data from Powel’s power grid management system to plan our drone inspections, and ensure that when an inspection job is done we do actually have data from all of the masts on that line – and no data is missing. This adds confidence since we can actually verify that the inspection that is carried out is complete.

In practical terms, this means that the utility company can save enormous amounts of money normally spent on helicopter-based inspections, and downtime and costly repairs can be foreseen – or entirely avoided – with extreme precision.

Exciting possibilities when integrating Scopito with Powel software

For utility companies already using the many different software solutions developed by Powel, the possibility of integrating Scopito imaging with Powel opens up a range of new possibilities.

Kjetil Storset is Executive Vice President at Powel AS and is in charge of Powel’s development of smart infrastructure solutions. He sees great potential for power companies and infrastructure owners in combining Scopito’s imaging software with Powel’s management solutions:

“When operators can integrate the data in Powel’s software with the image management in Scopito, the possibilities really open up. In our software, utility companies can have specific data on every single mast in the power grid, every single insulator and every other piece of equipment in the critical infrastructure. The Scopito software can share and visualize every single image taken, so that we have full knowledge of the exact position, altitude, time etc. of each image. Pair this with the data stored in our systems, and the utility company can now pinpoint the condition of every single mast and find the information in a matter of minutes.”

For further information, please contact:

Torstein Funderud, Funtek AS
Telephone: +47 95 05 86 92
Ken Falk, CEO

Scopito ApS
Agro Food Park 13, DK-8200 Aarhus N, Denmark
Telephone: +45 71 99 29 03

As advanced technology has spread all over the world, and has gained space in our everyday lives, drones have become very popular. With that in mind, it’s no wonder that drone simulation apps have also become very widespread on the market.

Are you a drone fanatic, and would you like to try simulation apps? Well, you’ve come to the right place as we have investigated some great apps for you! Some of them are compatible with real drones, too, for example AR.FreeFlight 2.2 app, as well as with VR headsets for an immersive feeling.

Virtual reality is applied in many fields of life, for instance arts, architecture and, naturally, entertainment as well. New video games are connected with VR headsets, which give us a totally full experience, minus the G-Force, of course.

Now without further ado, let’s see which are the best drone simulation apps!

This is one of the most advanced drone simulator apps for 3D games on the market. If you like those games that are great fun and don’t contain violence, this game is for you! You can find cool missions and I am telling you from personal experience that this app can be addictive.

3D Flight Simulator is not an ordinary game, so when you start it, you will get an RC quadcopter to fly. Sounds interesting, right? You can practice and develop your skills without paying the costs of a real drone. You can fly around in a large city with the help of simple but very easy-to-use controls.

This app is free so you can enjoy the feeling of flying a drone even today. Your task is to fly around the city and fulfill the missions you get. You will enjoy the amazing flight simulator, and you can be an awesome pilot who can complete all the tasks. While flying, you need to be careful not to crash into the huge buildings or any other objects you will see in the game.

This game is great for everyone who likes flying and completing various missions without violence. As you get more and more skillful, the game will be harder and harder. It is worth downloading it now and starting the big drone piloting adventure!

This is a new app from Parrot, and quite a small app, which is compatible with the extremely popular AR Drone and AR Drone 2.0. It gives you a wonderful feeling of virtual reality with tilting your mobile device (android phone or tablet) in any direction, meaning, you can use it with a VR headset. And, speaking of games that are meant for VR headsets, you can also check the Tech Insider’s article about the future of VR and the games that are the latest craze.

This app is also very easy to use, so even if you are not an experienced pilot, that’s nothing to worry about. You will feel a champion when using this app. This app is also free, so you don’t need to spend any money on it and you can download it here.

This game can be also very addictive; you won’t be able to stop playing with it, once you start it. Actually, it’s a military warfare game, in which you can find real action, fast-paced combat, and strategy.

While 3D Flight Simulator is a nonviolent game, we can’t say the same about this one. Due to the virtual reality and the incredible actions you will feel as you were in the middle of the battle. I am telling you, you won’t be able to stop playing it. But, you should know this game doesn’t support the iPhone 3G, iPad 1, and 3rd or 4th GEN iPod. This game is free also, but there are some in-game items for which you need to pay if you want to use them. Anyway, you can turn off the payment feature on your device.

We also need to mention some exclusive features of this game, such as 34 missions in 5 real world campaigns; you can choose Survive, Defend, Escort or Strike missions. You can find more than 70 Achievements and 282 Challenges in the game. Touch controls are intuitive and simple, so you need only your finger tip to command the whole battle! There are 20 official ranks, at the beginning you start as an Airman Basic, but you can be the Master of General in the end! You can download this game for free here.

And last but not least, we want to mention Drone Prix app by Edgybees. Using this app and flying your REAL DJI drone will make you a Pro drone pilot. The main task is to fly your drone through a virtual obstacle course, while you need to avoid the obstacles and collect prizes. This game is compatible with DJI drones, like Phantom 3 and 4, and the Mavic Pro.

When flying your drone, you need to beat the best performance of others, and your scores can be seen on a Leaderboard, so you can check the scores of the other pilots from all over the world. Actually, this app is a great combination of the best feeling of flying with the thrills of a drone race.

If you play this game, you will develop some serious piloting skills. You can chose solo and competition modes as well. During your flight, you get a flight assistant that will help you with the 3D space. There are more than 30 obstacle courses, suitable for beginners and experienced pilots as well. You can download it to your Smartphone easily from iTunes and Google Play Store. It is really worth trying it and improving your flying skills.


By Philip Avery, Managing Director of Navtech Radar

There’s no denying it, drones are here to stay. Once limited to military use, drones are now easily accessible to anyone and could easily fall into the wrong hands. In today’s current climate of increased national threats, we need to work fast to keep up with modern risks. However, creating new, complicated laws open to misinterpretation or enforcing a complete ban on privately owned drones seem like luddite solutions that undermine the potential of innovative technology. We need to work with technology, not against it, in order to ensure public safety and security.

Increasing Legislation

The media is regularly reporting the misuse of drones – drones are used to smuggle illicit goods into prisons, infiltrate high security sites, and cause immense disruption and damage at airports. With the technology developing at a rapid pace, drones are getting more sophisticated every day. In response to the recent commotion at Gatwick, there have been calls to review the legislation around drones. But to what end? If, as recommended by the British Airline Pilots’ Association, compulsory registration of drone users is implemented, then police will be able to track down and prosecute irresponsible drone operators. However, this may simply increase the illegal purchase of drones, which will not be registered and cannot be tracked. Toughening up on prosecution is one thing, but this will not necessarily prevent the misuse from happening in the first place – and all the damage, disruption and possible danger to lives that it causes.

Alternatively, there has been a push to ban privately-owned consumer drones outright. This would prevent the need for complex, potentially ambiguous legislation. However, the market for drones will undoubtedly continue to grow as the technology improves and the costs decrease. Banning drones would drive this lucrative market underground, and the economy would take the hit. indeed, it feels draconian and technophobic to ban an innovative new product simply because it is at risk of being abused – following that logical, surely we should also ban smartphones and the internet.

Embrace Technology as the Solution

Rather than trying to suppress technology for fear of it getting out of control, we need to keep apace with innovation and embrace technology as the solution. The answer is to fight technology with technology. Traditional security systems are struggling to keep up with the growing pervasiveness of drones. Perimeter fencing and security guards are no longer sufficient in protecting against intrusion. However, there is no reason why security systems cannot scan the sky for threats as well as the ground. Currently, systems that claim to be able to detect drones are either unreliable or prohibitively expensive, but the technology is rapidly developing. Over time, the more advanced security systems are destined to come down to a price point that is commercially accessible. By investing resource into the development of advanced sensors that can accurately detect drones as they approach critical areas (such as airports and prisons), the popularity of drones would no longer pose a threat to security.

The growing prevalence of drones should not be a cause for alarm and needless red tape, so long as we have the means to prevent their misuse. By investing in research and development, and looking towards alternative technologies, we can harness technology and create accurate security systems that are just as commercially accessible as the drones. If every airport, prison and, indeed, any household that wanted one, could be equipped with a highly effective drone detection system, we could prevent the misuse of drones without the need to stifle the technology. We shouldn’t repress technological innovation but support the development of mechanisms that can work in parallel to ensure that technology is used is a safe, controllable way.

Leading commercial drone manufacturer MMC has introduced their One-Stop Rental Solution for industrial drones in India and Asia.  The company plans to expand the program across the globe, opening centers in the United States, Australia, Canada, Europe, South America, and South Africa.

MMC  is the industry leader in providing innovative commercial and industrial drone solutions to clients around the world.  With their new One Stop Solution program, the company has resolved many of the practical barriers to widespread adoption of drone technology – creating a new model for the commercial drone market.

The Cost Benefit to Renting

MMC leads the market in high return applications for drone technology, such as mapping, inspections, power-line stringing, and surveillance. But while the return on investment for industrial uses is high, customers may hesitate to make an initial investment in a commercial drone before seeing what they can do.  In addition, customers who may need drone technology for several different applications find that renting on an “as needed” basis makes more sense than investing in a fleet of multiple aircraft.

The decision isn’t only based on cost.  MMC’s Lu Ling, VP and Managing Director of the Overseas Market, says that MMC recognizes the need to take on more of the burden of drone operation for their customers: drone maintenance, educating the end user, and setting up data analysis solutions.

“Investment in a drone program involves much more than the price of the drone.  The client needs to hire engineers and pilots, and repair and customize drones,” says Ling.  In addition to fleet maintenance, MMC’s One Stop Drone Rental Solution helps clients to convince their stakeholders of the value of drone technology – and helps them to set up the right data analysis program to get the benefits.

Professional Pilots – For Rent

It takes time – and the right staff – to learn to fly a drone for industrial applications.  While some customers send their own pilots to MMC’s state of the art facility for training, others simply want the job done.  MMC’s team of professional pilots specializes in commercial applications, combining expert flight skills with industry knowledge.

For companies without an expert pilot already on board, the One Stop Solution means that they get immediate benefits from their drone program – without the time it takes for hiring, training and licensing additional staff.  MMC’s pilots have already gone through intensive training and have hundreds of hours of flight experience, allowing clients to focus on the results rather than the drone operation.

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July 20, 2017 – BEND, Ore. Emerging trends and technologies shaping the unmanned aircraft systems industry in Oregon will highlight the state’s first UAS Summit & Expo, scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 10 at the Riverhouse Convention Center in Bend. The Oregon UAS Summit & Expo is free.

Industry-related suppliers and vendors who attend the event will have an opportunity to be included on the Oregon Preferred vendor list, which is shared with companies building UAV projects across the country.

The inaugural Summit will also feature expert commentary from numerous industry-related speakers including a keynote address from U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, a vocal supporter of Oregon’s UAS industry, as well as a vendor expo.

“Oregon UAS Summit & Expo is an exciting opportunity to learn about the latest UAS storylines coming out of our state and for industry-related suppliers to network,” said Earl Bowerman, executive director of SOAR, a nonprofit that supports UAS growth in Oregon. “UAV manufacturers, regional business leaders, research institutions and test range operators will all be gathered in one place to offer economic insight, technology updates and other topics impacting Oregon’s rapidly growing UAS industry.”

The event kicks off Wednesday, Aug. 9 with an evening reception followed by the daylong Summit & Expo on Thursday, Aug. 10. Summit attendees will also get a chance to learn more about the radical new Vahana project, a self-piloted electric aircraft project from A^3 by Airbus that is currently undergoing testing at Oregon’s UAS range in Pendleton.

The complete line-up of speakers includes:

  • U.S. Senator Ron Wyden
  • State Senator Betsy Johnson
  • Mark Peters, Oregon State University
  • Chris Proudlove, Global Aerospace Inc.
  • Chris Cummings, Business Oregon
  • Zach Lovering, Vahana Project Executive, A^3 by Airbus
  • Herve Hilaire, Vahana Project Manager, A^3 by Airbus

For more information or to register, please visit:

About SOAR

SOAR Oregon is a 501(c)(6), state-funded, nonprofit established to foster growth in Oregon’s rapidly evolving Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) industry.  Since the spring of 2014, SOAR Oregon has awarded $327,000 in grants for Oregon-based UAS projects and facilitated an additional $1 million in private industry investment. SOAR Oregon also supports ongoing research projects by promoting Oregon’s three FAA-designated UAS Test ranges in Tillamook, Pendleton and Warm Springs and facilitates public-private partnerships between education and industry. For more information, visit