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Transportation Government

FAA OKs US UAVs 52

Posted by Soulskill
from the asap-iirc-bbq dept.
Two unmanned aerial vehicles have received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to perform commercial operations in United States airspace. The Scan Eagle 200 from Insitu will be launched from a ship and used to monitor icebergs and migrating whales in parts of the Arctic where companies are looking for oil. The PUMA from Aerovironment will be used by emergency response teams for monitoring oil spills. (Both are referred to as unmanned aircraft systems, or UAS, by the Administration.) "Issuing the type certificates is an important step toward the FAA's goal of integrating UAS into the nation's airspace. These flights will also meet requirements in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 that define Arctic operational areas and include a mandate to increase Arctic UAS commercial operations."
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FAA OKs US UAVs

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  • Filter error: (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by virgnarus (1949790)
    Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING.

      Sorry, grammar wins, internet fashion loses. The title was nearly entirely acronyms, acronyms should be capitalized.

      If you want to complain about a title being nearly entirely acronyms that is fine, but complaining about all caps is incorrect in this case.

      • acronyms should be capitalized

        Unless they can be pronounced as a word, in which case they can be lower-case, like laser and radar :P

        • by gstoddart (321705)

          Unless they can be pronounced as a word, in which case they can be lower-case, like laser and radar :P

          That usually means the acronym has been around so long that it has effectively become a word in its own right, even if it started as an acronym.

  • by tocsy (2489832) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @03:08PM (#44438635)

    WTF OMG?

    (I have nothing further to add to this conversation. I apologize for having wasted your time.)

  • It's only a matter of time before UAVs are free to fire on civilians, so, at some point, the Hellfire missiles will also be OK'ed by the FAA. I hate to agree with the gun nuts, but if I see a drone, I'm grabbing the shotgun and firing at it.

    • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @03:13PM (#44438701) Homepage Journal

      I hate to agree with the gun nuts, but if I see a drone, I'm grabbing the shotgun and firing at it.

      If you think about it, that doesn't really make sense except that the FAA is keeping the power dynamic unfairly tilted. The taco copter should be free to delivery to you and welcome, but only law enforcement and oil companies are being allowed access to airspace, apparently.

      • by jklovanc (1603149)

        law enforcement and oil companies are being allowed access to airspace,so far

        FTFY. It is a new program and the FAA is trying to avoid mid air collisions. They are working on the rules.

        • FTFY. It is a new program and the FAA is trying to avoid mid air collisions.

          I've heard that for a few years ... so I wonder:

          • is the software on these oil company UAV's sufficient to avoid mid-air collisions?
          • does the FAA think this software is possible?
          • does the FAA have any certification process in place for collision avoidance software?
          • is there a public API for validation / supercomputer simulation?
          • does the public interest demand an open source freely-available collision-avoidance algorithm?
        • by icebike (68054)

          It is a new program and the FAA is trying to avoid mid air collisions. They are working on the rules.

          If they were concerned with mid air collisions they would not certify a device with a 16,000 foot service ceiling.

          If anything, they are limiting the SIZE to something that is likely to be fairly inconsequential if hits a building or a passenger plane, and with very small payload capabilities. Mostly camera and telemetry packages. Still once certified, there is nothing to prevent anyone from owning one.

          When licensing these to private companies, not to mention law enforcement, you can expect a lot of push b

          • by jklovanc (1603149)

            If they were concerned with mid air collisions they would not certify a device with a 16,000 foot service ceiling.

            Most mid air collisions occur at much lower altitudes. There is also a difference between what something is capable of doing and what something is authorized to do. By your logic the government would never license a street vehicle that could go over 80 miles an hour.

            they are limiting the SIZE to something that is likely to be fairly inconsequential if hits a building or a passenger plane

            Considering birds ingested into jet engines have brought down aircraft the drone does not have to be that large.

            they can then authorize the military grade drones

            I have no problem with military grade drones. The issue is military armed drones and I don't see them ever being in common use.

        • FTFY. It is a new program and the FAA is trying to avoid mid air collisions. They are working on the rules.

          As an interesting sidebar...

          The missing piece of technology required to *safely* integrate drones into a country's national airspace is something called "Sense And Avoid" (SAA).

          Now for the past year or so, I've been developing an SAA system that does not rely on transponders (as most existing SAA systems do) and so far the test results are very encouraging. In effect, this SAA creates a virtual sphere around the craft to which it is fitted and then tracks any objects entering that sphere - plotting and ext

      • I hate to agree with the gun nuts, but if I see a drone, I'm grabbing the shotgun and firing at it.

        If you think about it, that doesn't really make sense except that the FAA is keeping the power dynamic unfairly tilted. The taco copter should be free to delivery to you and welcome, but only law enforcement and oil companies are being allowed access to airspace, apparently.

        So... then it does make sense...

        Screw the shotgun, I'm savin' up microwave parts so I can protect my property with a HERF array.

    • by oodaloop (1229816)
      Good luck with that. UAV's don't tyically fly 30ft from your house, so a shotgun isn't going to do much. Anything short of a .50 BMG sniper rifle will have little chance of hitting a small UAV flying miles away. And yes, some can zoom in on your house from miels away.
      • by Thud457 (234763)
        I'm pretty sure I saw a documentary on TV [tntnewsroom.com] just last night about some guy that knocked a UAV out of the sky with an EMP gun.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        I don't think he literally meant a shotgun - a medium-strength laser should do the trick nicely.

    • by rahvin112 (446269)

      Unless that drone is at 50' your shotgun isn't even a threat. Have you even fired a shotgun before?

      • by i.r.id10t (595143)

        Skeet/trap clays take 7 or so pellets hitting it to break nicely. Competitive trap shooters with great handicaps stand 27 yards back from the bunker, clay isn't visible above the bunker until it has traveled another 5 or 6 yards... And it is moving at about 60mph out of the gate. Then ya gotta find it, get a good sight picture, and then shoot it. Granted, the target is flying mostly away from you, not complete left to right (or right to left) like the center stations when shooting skeet.

        Using a larger sh

    • by Type44Q (1233630)

      Where's the 10ga Saiga/Vepr with the 36" barrel when you need one?! :p

    • It'll happen right after huge amounts of collateral damage on home soil become acceptable to the public.

      They can't just call all dead adult American males "suspected militants" and Americans won't just say "meh" to their own dead women and children either.

      • by icebike (68054)

        Americans won't just say "meh" to their own dead women and children either.

        Americans are already in the process of saying "meh" to total Government awareness and spying on every facet of their lives, and using SWAT teams for mundane process server jobs. What makes you think they won't excuse collateral damage deaths [reuters.com] as inevitable consequences that have to be accepted for the greater good?

        • They'll accept a small amount of collateral damage, but when it's more collateral than targets they definitely won't take it. Try to confine it to "bad areas" where the middle class will think "they're all a bunch of hoods anyway" and you'll get race riots. There's no way to pull it off.

    • by jklovanc (1603149)

      It's only a matter of time before UAVs are free to fire on civilians, so, at some point, the Hellfire missiles will also be OK'ed by the FAA.

      So why haven't they equipped their helicopters with Hellfires yet? They have had the capabilities for decades. You logic is flawed.

      Are you a psychic that you know for certainty what will happen years if not decades down the line? Remember your diagnosis was "psychotic" not "psychic". Tou have watched "Blue Thunder" too many times.

    • To start with, PUMA's and ScanEagles weigh much less than a single Hellfire missile, so cool the hyperbole. They have cameras that still can't see you in your Mom's basement eating Doritos in your underwear. And while we're name-calling other people "gun nuts" you're probably a Halo Hero who likely couldn't shoot anything to save your life, much less hurt a flying fixed-wing vehicle with a shotgun.

      Regarding local law enforcement exclusively I was at a UAS event a few months ago where the Executive Directo

      • by icebike (68054)

        On the other hand, considering the Federal Government's track record over the last decade, I wouldn't trust them not to cross the boundary with armed UAS, but they will do it bit by bit so as to not cause a stir until they've come up with a good way to sell it to the public. Customs and Border Patrol are already using Predators and Reapers at the border, so it may only be an "Executive Order" away.

        Once they certify the platform, the FAA has nothing more to say about what it can carry, especially in the hands of law enforcement. The ScanEagle can carry a payload about the size of a two liter soda bottle. Plenty big enough for armed use.

        When your local Sheriff's department gains a UAV it will be sold as search and rescue, with children trotted out to pet it and photo ops. It will save the children, you know.

        Make no mistake, this is a trial balloon, with use cases mentioned far away in places, where

      • by Rich0 (548339)

        On the other hand, considering the Federal Government's track record over the last decade, I wouldn't trust them not to cross the boundary with armed UAS, but they will do it bit by bit so as to not cause a stir until they've come up with a good way to sell it to the public.

        When was the last time you saw a government-operated manned aerial vehicle actually fire on something over US soil? I don't really see why unmanned aircraft would be any more likely to be armed. The only time I can think of where law enforcement actually fired on something from an aircraft was this incident. [wikipedia.org] It didn't end well.

        Weapons deployed from aircraft are really not a good solution to most problems, especially when you have police stations every few miles anyway. I can see why they are used deep i

    • "Gun nut" here. Don't bother with the shotgun. Birdshot has an effective range of 200 yards, and even 00 buckshot won't damage a drone out past 500 yards. And that's horizontal range. Of course, you could use [non-Foster] slugs, but at that range you won't have a prayer at striking your target. You'd have much better luck with a rifle, but really, small arms aren't going to help you take down any drones unless they're flying very low, very slow, and you have very good aim.

      Better idea: take apart a microw
  • What I am trying to understand is the rational for using UAV on US soil versus standard aircraft. It still requires a pilot even if the pilot is sitting in an office. The plane still has the same general costs so where is the savings? If we are talking programmed drones with no human connection, that is just scary.

    I can see a UAV for flying into hostile territory, thus the military bent to using them and saving pilot lives, but on domestic soil I do not see what a drone or UAV can do that cannot be done

    • by couchslug (175151)

      UAS use over ocean or ice where a "locally manned" airframe loss would kill the crew before rescue make sense.

      "These vehicles have similar fuel constraints so no gains in longer survey times and I'd rather have a human eye looking for me, not a camera."

      Modern vision systems work much better than the Mark 1 eyeball and can do so at night. You can hang those on "directly piloted" aircraft but then you need another crewman.

      "It still requires a pilot even if the pilot is sitting in an office."

      That pilot can wor

    • by jklovanc (1603149)

      These vehicles have similar fuel constraints so no gains in longer survey times

      Care to cite anything to back this up? Not having a pilot on the aircraft is a weight savings and therefore a structural savings which makes a bigger weight savings which means less fuel used. There is also the weight saving of all the instruments that are not necessary. Sire there are radios needed but they are in a regular aircraft too.

      Maintenance costs are lower,
      No need for improved airstrips.
      Less fuel required therefore less costs and transport issue..
      Can operate from regular ships using catapult launch

  • US airspace? Most of it isn't. And others exploring for oil up there (Russia for one) might look upon this as a form of surveillance of their exploration activities.

All life evolves by the differential survival of replicating entities. -- Dawkins

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