Drones Down Under (and over Snowy Boston)

Before heading to warmer climes, some news out of snow-covered Boston…  The city of Somerville, just northwest of Boston, is using UAS to inspect city buildings. For those of you who haven’t been subjected to an endless parade of snowstorms or have not lived in snowy areas, roof collapse is a serious concern when this much snow falls and doesn’t melt.

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The aerial coverage is being performed by a company called “Above Summit,” based in Somerville and boasting a large portfolio of aerial work.  The article reports that they are working within FAA guidelines, but does not explain the details of how they are doing so.  If you recall my post about batteries, Above Summit said that their UAS can fly for about 15 minutes in warmer weather, but only 5 min in colder weather.  I’m in San Diego for work but understand there will be another burst of cold back home, so this is a good reminded to think about battery life before flying.

Here is Above Summit’s highlight reel from 2014, which doesn’t include the video of the snow.  That can be found here.

In warmer news, the Aussies are making headlines in regard to American military UAS.  As I reported last week, the Department of State issued a press release summarizing its new, classified guidelines relating to export licenses for UAS.  These two stories make it clear that the U.S. is serious about expanding the sale of military UAS within the newly prescribed limits.

Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk, which set the record as the first UAS to cross the Pacific back in 2001 with a flight from California to Australia, made an encore appearance when it arrived for the Avalon Air Show in Geelong (west of Melbourne).

This comes as the Royal Australian Air Force (“RAAF”) is working to procure the MQ-4C Triton variant of the Global Hawk.  Reports today also indicate that a number of RAAF aircrew and support personnel are being trained at United States military bases to operate the MQ-9.

The MQ-4C is designated as a “broad area maritime surveillance” (“BAMS”) modification of the RQ-4 because it is better-suited for maritime operations – something that would help cover the vast expanses of the Pacific.  With refueling capability the “UAS can fly 24 hours a day, seven days a week with 80% effective time on station (ETOS).

 

 

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