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Propwash #14 - Notify and fly, Imitation drones, winning drone photos and more
In this week’s Propwash,
The key element missing in FAA’s B4UFly notify and fly feature
The winners of the International Drone Photo Awards
Autel’s imitation game
📌 Notify and fly
The FAA’s B4UFly app helps drone pilots in the USA check for airspace restrictions and notifications before flight and also apply for authorizations to fly in controlled airspace through LAANC. The app was initially developed by the FAA themselves, which received poor reviews and suffered from frequent crashes and sluggish responsiveness. In 2019, the app received a complete redesign and overhaul by the company KittyHawk (which changed its name to Aloft recently).
Aloft recently announced an update to the B4UFly application that allows for pilots to notify their flight before it happens. This is a voluntary disclosure process, but the company strongly suggests everyone to use it. The feature works by the pilot filing their flight anonymously, which is then marked as a blue circle on the map for the next 60 minutes. This is visible to all users of the B4UFly app as drone activity in that area.
The feature is a welcome safety addition. Anyone using the app can know of drone activity in the area, and increased information transparency leads to safer operations across the board. The missing piece of the puzzle however, is this - not everyone uses B4UFly. Many use Airmap, and other services to get their authorizations, and airspace information. Unless the data from B4UFly is shared across multiple providers through a data exchange program, the potential value out of this system is forever going to be limited.
👬 Imitation is the best form of flattery
Autel is the second-largest drone manufacturer in the world, and have products that very closely resemble the largest drone company in the world. In-fact, the resemblance and imitation was so strong at one point that DJI decided to sue Autel for patent infringement that the Autel X-star products were too similar to the Phantom series. The dispute was settled out of court just last month before it went to the jury.
That’s not stopping Autel from being inspired by DJI to release new products though. The Evo II series is a direct competitor to the DJI Mavic series. Autel just announced that they are releasing an enterprise edition with a few familiar add-ons for the product - A loudspeaker, spotlight, strobe light, and RTK module.
These add-ons are the same found in the Mavic Enterprise series, and have found adoption in the public safety sector. From the last issue of propwash, we can see that the Speaker is the most popular payload that’s not a camera. The addition of these systems to the Evo series signals more competition in the space, which translates to greater choice for the customer. Which is always a good thing in my book.
The Evo II enterprise series. Credit - Autel
🖼 Best of the International Drone Photo Awards
The winners of the Internation drone photo awards were announced. Here are some of my favorite picks. You can find the full gallery here.
Pink-Footed Geese Meeting the Winter by Terje Kolaas. Photo of the year
Poisoned River by Gherghe Popa. Category - Abstract
Henningsvær by Nando Harmsen. Category- Urban
Hockney’s Pool by Louis Du Pisani. Category - Sport
Pray for Souls by Phu Khanh Bui. Category - people
🚁 Other news this week
Propeller Aero, the Australian enterprise drone solutions company announced support for workflows that enable using DJI’s Matrice 300 series with their Aeropoints product.
Zipline, the medical drone delivery provider applies for a patent for a detect-and-avoid system that uses sound to detect nearby aircraft.
Hubsan, the Chinese drone company announces the launch of the zino mini SE. This is a reaction to compete against the DJI Mini SE which was launched globally recently.
AT&T tests tethered drones to act as a portable cellular communication system for disaster affected areas and emergency deployments.
Policy and Regulations
DJI’s head of policy Brendan Schulman, also known as @dronelaws announced that he is leaving DJI to join an adjacent industry giant, Boston Dynamics as @robotpolicy. Brendan was an Industry giant who played a pivotal role in the adoption of Remote ID regulations, flying over people, and other FAA drone policy efforts. It’s sad to see him leave, and I wish him the best of luck.
India and USA sign a partnership for $ 22M to develop military UAVs.
BlueDart, the logistics company and Altitude Angel, the UK based unmanned traffic management software company start BVLOS medicine delivery trials in India.
⛳ Drone footage of the week
This week’s pick is this extremely impressive FPV fly-through for the PGA Golf Tour. Watch till the end! :)
Every week I also share something unrelated to drones, but makes for an interesting read. This week’s pick is a classic essay by Annie Dillard on the eclipse. I strongly urge you to read this, it’s one of the best writing I’ve read in a long time.
“Seeing a partial eclipse bears the same relation to seeing a total eclipse as kissing a man does to marrying him.”
🏁 Wrapping up
Congratulations on making it all the way down here. Hope you enjoyed this issue of Propwash. Subscribe if you haven’t already.
What did you like about this issue? Is there something you want me to cover in the future? Or if you have anything to discuss, reply to this mail. I answer every mail I receive.
By Nihal Mohan
Every week, I share the most important ideas, news and insights from all over the drone space and tell you what matters.
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