Zacc Dukowitz

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  1. The FAA has issued the first national waiver ever to State Farm for drone operations over people and BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight) to conduct UAV missions for damage assessment. The waiver can be used anywhere in the U.S., and is good until November of 2022. Given the number of special BVLOS and flight over people waivers issued in the last several months, it looks like the FAA is starting to feel more comfortable issuing these types of waivers, and that companies are starting to better understand how to navigate the waiver process to obtain a successful outcome. Read today's article for more information on State Farm's new waiver, and the process they followed to get it. Are you excited to see the FAA issuing so many first-of-its-kind waivers? Share your thoughts here on this thread.
  2. Back in 2013, Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, predicted that by 2018 drones would be able to deliver items weighing up to five pounds within a 10-mile radius of an Amazon warehouse. Well, 2018 just came and went, and Amazon isn’t quite there yet. So how much progress did we actually make on the drone delivery front in 2018? Read today's year-in-review article for a look back at drone deliveries in 2018, broken down into medical and commercial drone delivery. What do you think—do we still have a long way to go when it comes to drone deliveries being a daily reality here in the U.S., or is that day still a long ways off? Chime in here to share your thoughts.
  3. Airobotics recently announced that they have received a first-of-its kind waiver, allowing them to fly BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) automated drone missions over people, using a VO (Visual Observer) who is not required to maintain a direct line of sight with the drone at all times. 2018 has been a huge year for Airobotics. In October they raised $30 million in a Series D funding round, in June they were picked for the Wall Street Journal's Top 25 Tech Companies to Watch in 2018, and they've received several other awards and recognitions this year. Read today's article on the UAV Coach site to learn more about Airobotics' new waiver, and how they are quickly making a play to dominate autonomous drone solutions around the world. Are you excited to see what Airobotics does with their new waiver? Share your thoughts here!
  4. Looking for presents for the drone lover in your life? Check out our list of 21 drone gift ideas for the holidays. With the holidays right around the corner, we wanted to share some gift ideas for those of you doing some last-minute shopping—hope you find it helpful! Comment here to let us know if you found a gift on our list, or share the other drone-related gifts you've been purchasing this year.
  5. Recently we heard about commercial drone pilots being stopped while in the field by FAA officials from local FSDOs (Flight Standards District Offices) for spot checks. The officials asked the pilots to show their Part 107 certification cards, as well as their flights logs and maintenance records, such as records of how often they change out their rotor blades. According to Jeff Rose, UAS Chief Pilot from the Sinclair Broadcast Group, these checks have been happening somewhat often for the commercial pilots he oversees, usually after the pilots have filed their LAANC airspace authorizations. So what exactly do you need to have on hand if the FAA stops you while you're operating a drone for commercial purposes? Check out our new guide on the Drone Pilot Ground School website for a checklist of everything you should have in case of a ramp check. Have you had a ramp check performed while you're flying commercially, or heard of anyone else who has? Chime in here to share your experiences.
  6. The International Standard Organization (ISO) recently shared their proposed International Standards for Drone Operations with the public. These standards are a big deal because they will help create a global structure for the types of flying that constitute responsible drone use, which could in turn drive drone adoption more quickly and responsibly throughout the world. Have you read the standards? Do you plan to comment? Check out our article on the ISO's standards, and chime in here to let us know what you think.
  7. Rutherford County, TN has become the first county government to receive a waiver to fly sUAS over people (also known as a 107.39 waiver). The county received permission from the FAA to use the Snap drone, created by Vantage Robotics, for their flights over people. They plan to use the waiver in both emergency and non-emergency scenarios. Read today's article to learn more about Rutherford County's 107.39 waiver and Vantage Robotics' Snap drone. In the last year the FAA has quadrupled the total number of 107.39 waivers, issuing fifteen of them to twelve different entities.Since the news of their 107.39 waiver first broke, Rutherford County has already had several agencies contact them to learn how they can pursue one for themselves. Are you excited about the progress being made on the 107.39 waiver front? Let us know what you think by sharing your comments and thoughts here on this post.
  8. The FAA issued its Small Unmanned Aircraft Rules, or Part 107 rules, back in August of 2016. Since those rules were issued, the FAA has used the authority granted it by Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations to establish further restrictions on where drones can be operated, in cooperation with various federal agencies such as the Department of the Interior (DOI), the Department of Energy (DOE), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), among others. But when we looked around, we couldn’t find a comprehensive list of all of the announcements the FAA has made, so we wanted to compile them into a single resource to make them a little more approachable. Today's blog post provides a list of all of the locations where the FAA has established flight restrictions using Title 14, organized by type (Military Bases, Landmarks, etc.), with a link to the original FAA announcement about the new restrictions. We hope you find this post useful. If you read it please let us know what you think, and whether we missed anything—and Happy Turkey Day to everyone!
  9. Today Switzerland-based Flyability announced a successful Series B fundraising round that brought in eleven million dollars, bringing the total amount raised since the company’s launch in 2014 up to sixteen million. In addition to announcing the results of their Series B fundraising round, Flyability announced the launch of Flyability Labs, which will be focused largely on developing the technology needed for automated inspections of underground / hard-to-reach places. Read today's article to learn more about Flyability Labs and who invested in the Series B. What do you think about this latest news from Flyability? Chime in on this thread to share your thoughts!
  10. Last Thursday the Drone Racing League (DRL) announced Paul “Nurk” Nurkkala as the 2018 DRL Allianz World Champion. The final race of the season aired on ESPN, and is currently airing internationally in more than 75 countries throughout the world. While training to become the champion Nurkalla put in grueling, 10-hour days, and ultimately beat out some of the best drone pilots in the world for the title, including 2x winning DRL Allianz World Champion Jordan “Jet” Temkin. I recently got to interview Nurk and ask him about his training regimen, how he became one of the best drone racing pilots in the world, and what advice he has for up-and-coming pilots out there. You can read the interview the interview here. Are you into drone racing, or want to be? Chime in on this thread with your thoughts and opinions on Nurk, the 2018 DRL Championship, and this fast-growing sport in the drone world.
  11. A new micro-drone created by scientists from Stanford and EPFL in Switzerland can pull objects that weigh 40 times its own weight. Many of the headlines out there right now about the FlyCroTug state that it can lift 40 times its own weight, but this is actually not true. As Sally French (a.k.a. the Drone Girl) recently pointed out the FlyCroTug can only pull 40 times its own weight. Tiny drones are also a good starting place for beginner drone pilots, since they fairly inexpensive. One other place we've been seeing small drones be used a lot is in light shows, like the one Intel put on at the Winter Olympics this year. What do you think about this new, super powerful micro-drone, and micro-drones in general? How can this tech be harnessed, and what do you see it being used for in the future?
  12. GE-owned Avitas Systems just received the first ever waiver issued by the FAA to fly a drone heavier than 55 pounds BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) for commercial purposes, and will be using the waiver for inspections of Shell equipment in West Texas. Not too long ago Xcel Energy became the first utility granted a BVLOS waiver for power line inspections in Colorado, and they’ve made statements about seeing the potential for expanding their BVLOS inspections to other states where they operate. Similarly, Avitas sees the potential for the inspection model they’re using in Texas to be used for other scenarios, in other locations. Looks like things are starting to move forward on the BVLOS front. What do you think? Are you excited about the progress, or do you think it's coming too slowly? Check out today's article to learn more about the waiver and what Avitas plans to do with it, and chime in here with your thoughts.
  13. The FAA seems almost suspiciously reticent right now regarding what exactly they're going to down next regarding the 336 repeal—all I've seen is that one statement they've issued, which I quoted in the article, w/ the list of bullet points. It does say that "Register your model aircraft" will be one of the new requirements. So even though they don't specifically call out that this is a new requirement, it does look like hobbyists will have to register each individual drone they fly. Re: the knowledge test, that wasn't even mentioned in the announcement (nothing on it in the list of bullets). So who knows? Maybe they're overwhelmed by the idea of creating / implementing that so they wanted to leave it off for now . . . seems like whatever happens there will take a long time to be put in place, if at all, but that's just my guess.
  14. Drone deliveries are back in the news, this time with a plan from Statupstaging Inc. to use a hooked mechanism attached to pre-set tracks to reduce costs to as low as $1 per delivery. But the hidden costs of building the tracks required for drone deliveries using this method seem pretty cost prohibitive. We think it's a lot more likely that UTMs will be the infrastructure that support drone deliveries, not tracks. Check out our recent article to learn more about Startupstaging's Drone Tracks idea, and where we think drone deliveries are headed. Do you think drone deliveries are right around the corner here in the U.S., or still a ways off? And will they be made on tracks? Chime in here to share your thoughts.
  15. The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 was signed into law less than one week ago, on Friday, October 5th, and it contains several drone-related sections. One of the biggest changes the new Act contains is the repeal of Section 336, otherwise known as the Special Rule for Model Aircraft, which means that hobbyists will be looking at some major changes to the requirements for flying a UAS. Specifically, Section 349 of the new Act "creates a framework for the operation of recreational aircraft including operating requirements, aeronautical knowledge testing, and the qualifications for community-based organizations that support recreational aircraft activities." So far the FAA hasn't released a great deal of information about what will actually be changed now that Section 336 has been repealed, and it's unclear if a knowledge test will actually be required for those who want to fly recreationally. For a full take on the new Act and what the implications are for hobbyists, check out our recent blog post on the topic. What do you think of the 336 repeal? Chime in on this thread to share your thoughts.