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Safety Innovations To Prevent Restrictive Rules

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by DrJoe, Nov 25, 2014.

  1. DrJoe

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    I would hope manufactures are going to incorporate some simple, cheap safety features that would allow redundancy and protection of the people and property we are flying over. Without more industry innovation and a focus on safety, we are facing thousands of drones over our homes and families that can (and according to posts on this board- do) fall out of the sky at any time.

    I am not "chicken little". I don't think their is a big threat to life, limb and property from Phantoms, but the potential definitely exists. That subject has been debated to death.

    There needs to be a pathway for small scale commercial and artistic use of drones, beyond the "amateur" operator guidelines of the AMA and below the FAA guidelines of possibly requiring a pilot certificate with a commercial endorsement. The FAA needs to act to embrace this new tech, leave amateur pilots alone, and provide a way for artists and commercial operators to grow the industry into a viable new business providing jobs and a tax base, while protecting the public from idiots.

    Providing readily available, proven and inexpensive additional redundancy sends a strong message to the public, the media and the FAA that we are a group of responsible, safety conscious pioneers of a exciting, new technology.

    What if the FCC had limited modem transmissions on phone lines for fear of compromising the nation's communication system? What would that have done to the internet and its development? I think that analogy holds water in this argument. Draconian rules and restrictions by the FAA could set back innovation by years. Who knows what this technology can bring? Instant deliveries of life saving devices, search and rescue operations, commerce, journalism, jobs, tax revenues, and the impact of artistic freedom on the human soul... the possibilities are endless.

    Some simple, cheap fixes include:
    • Quad copters using software flight logic to make a controlled landing with the loss of a motor/esc/prop ( http://youtu.be/bsHryqnvyYA )
      Power supplied by a two (smaller) batteries is another step toward redundancy. Two smaller batteries powering the quad in parallel circuits brings little weight penalty and increased safety.
      Software logic, that in the event of GPS signal loss, would result in automated, slow descent and landing while in GPS or ground station (pre-programmed flight path) mode.
    DJI took a step in the right direction with software providing slow auto-land in the case of critically low battery level and restricted flight zones. All of these features could be implemented cheaply and easily.

    More expensive fixes are also possible for "heavy" commercial operators. The newer tech would be much more expensive for a "hobby" or "amateur" uav, but it is viable for commercial operators such as film production companies and drone delivery systems (i.e. Amazon).

    Expensive features include:
    • Hexacopters/Octocopters provide good redundancy in the event of power/esc/prop failure.
      Twin flight control computers (Naza, A2, etc) using agree/disagree logic is another redundant safety implementation that would go a long way into making "drones" safe for the type of activities while inside FAA defined "congested" airspace.
      Newer technologies such as position indicating transmitter could eventually be incorporated in order to make commercial drones "visible". Tiny ADS-B transmitter could alert aircraft (and more advanced uas) to their presence.

    In summary, the FAA needs to be much more friendly to innovation while protecting the public interest, as innovation is part of the public interest as well as safety. Manufactures need to incorporate more safety features to protect the public, their customers, and their industry. Together, operators, the FAA and manufactures can find a way to allow amateurs the freedom to enjoy their hobby, artists and light commercial operators access to the sky, and heavy commercial operators a pathway to drive the economy. The problem is, they needed to do it yesterday.
     
  2. LandYachtMedia

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    Well the FAA isn't going to be "nice". Not going to happen.

    There has been a lot of chatter regarding operator qualifications and most conversations have ignored what could be coming with hardware requirements.

    My thoughts is that quads will not be allowed for commercial flight due to the challenges with maintaining control if you loose a single motor. I predict that its going to be a HEX at a minimum and an OCT being recommended.

    When you look at critical systems such as power you have a single point of failure with a single battery/power distribution system. I expect there to be some kind of risk mitigation there. Whether that is a parachute recovery system or dual power systems I don't know. I could see either being viable or it could be something completely different.

    Where this will get truly expensive is with the flight controller. For sure there will be redundancy there. For sure the software will have to be developed using approved documentation techniques. For sure the software will have to be validated. This will make the controllers in my estimation 10x what they currently cost.

    The idea of simple and cheap redundancy is awesome but if you look at ANYTHING related to regulated aviation there is NOTHING cheap. Go buy a fan belt for a Piper Warrior and you'll see. It has a standard Gates number on it but it costs many times the SAME belt you can buy at the auto parts store. The only difference is the testing and the documentation. Once hardware and software enters this realm its cost to the consumer for a complete system is going to go up by at least 4x. I won't be surprised if the cost to get into this game for an approved platform is going to be $20k at a minimum for the airframe and the controller alone.

    When you look at a $20k-$30k buy-in in capital costs to get into this spending a few thousand dollars on a pilots license isn't such a big deal.

    So the reality of this when it all goes down is there will be operator regulations and equipment regulations. It won't be an either. It will be a both.
     
  3. Fyod

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    I seriously hope you're wrong.
    30K + licenses for a 3lb. hobby quad? What are you smoking?
    You sound like you're from the FAA with all those great predictions.
     
  4. Narrator

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    The more you add in extra safety features, the less likely people will want to pay for them, unless the feature has some sort of funky cool aspect.

    A drone crashed through the roof of a house in Perth (Australia) a few days ago.. middle of the night. It poked a hole in the ceiling but didn't fall through. The residents recovered the drone the next morning. Plenty of time for the LiPo batteries to catch fire and burn the house down.

    I think reasonable rules are the best way. Here in Australia, you're not allowed to fly over houses, but I think a case can be made for obtaining a dispensation if you have the proper procedures documented and in place - things like, giving the neighbors notice of your activity, a GPS location and crash recovery procedure, the right insurance. A dispensation could cover a period of time, say 12 months, for people who would need it regularly, such as real estate people needing aerial photos. Good procedures and guidelines will limit the risks, encourage responsible practices and reduce the rogues.
     
  5. Fyod

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    I'm surprised how much of an issue people can make of this while at the same time you can buy a couple tons of steel called a car, get drunk and floor it 130mph in any direction you like.
    The car industry has been making safety measures for decades and still people die.

    Just get insurance. Pay it. Have them pay out anyone whose property you damage. End of story.
    There's worse things going on in this world. Peanuts will remain a killer of more humans than quadcopters ever will.
     
  6. Narrator

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    I'm tempted to agree with you, except that if quads went ungoverned for a few years they would multiply like rabbits. Then once the sky became full of drones, safety might be a whole other ballgame (let alone privacy). So I can see why authorities are wanting to get in now. (As well as it being a cash cow for permits etc.)
     
  7. Fyod

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    Permits are not going to stop injury or damage.
    I don't agree there will be multiple drones flying anywhere. I highly doubt they'll become an item every household owns.
    If Amazon or a postal office ever does drone package delivery, there may be a few in the air, but there are so many hurdles to drone delivery that I can't imagine widescale use.
     
  8. Meta4

    Meta4 Moderator
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    The big appeal of multicopters for aerial photography was that for a very affordable price people would be able to DIY air photos that perviously cost a bundle because of the high cost of chartering a plane or helicopter and the associated hassle involved with a full size aircraft. But if you talk about a machine that costs $20-30K plus $8K for a license (that's almost completely irrelevant) plus thousands for insurance plus permits etc etc .... It just puts air photography back where it was costwise even though it's using a smaller craft. You may as well drive back to the airport and hire a plane again.
     
  9. ianwood

    ianwood Taco Wrangler
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    It's a pretty safe assumption the FAA would have put equally harsh restrictions on hobby use if Congress didn't expressly forbid it. I think the mentality of the FAA is that if you're not a licensed pilot, you're probably an idiot. So to fly a 3lb Phantom (commercially, that is) you have to prove you're not an idiot by getting a complete PPL. So I think the only safety innovations that would be of interest to them would be ones that idiot proof every Phantom out there.

    I would guess a modernized and miniaturized version of ADS-B/ACAS would be one step. A beacon that broadcasts GPS position and type and can even take evasive "orders" from an ADS-B ground station or manned aircraft. Whether or not this could be miniaturized and made cost effective enough is unknown. The aviation industry is so fearful of litigation that it would cost billions and take years to bring something to market that the FAA will sign off on.

    Meanwhile DJI could probably whip one up for a few hundred grand and about 6 months. It'd probably be buggy and only work 75% of the time until they got it right but it would be lightweight and cheap and it would be better than nothing. Just a wild thought.
     
  10. LandYachtMedia

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    My main point here is that I think the people that are voicing concerns about operator certifications are starring at that tree and missing the forest. Based on the trajectory this looks to be taking the cost of a private ticket isn't going to be the major cost of flying a UAV under FAA regulations. Buying approved hardware is what is going to be the expensive part if the FAA continues down this path. Vendors such as DJI won't be a part of that picture (in my opinion) based on their current level of software/hardware competence.

    And don't confuse these comments as an indication that I approve or support this. I support safety systems but where I have a problem with it is the level of crazy that happens under government bureaucracy.

    What everyone on this forum that is interested in using UAVs for something more than chasing the dog around the back yard needs to do is when the draft regulations come out you need to offer your voice by commenting via the formal channels.

    The government is inherently lazy. If they can force UAVs into a box that already exists that is what they are going to do. That is what it looks like they are trying to do now. If that happens the divide between the hobby side of the fence and the paid side of the fence will be so far apart that few will cross it. You can bet that is what some of the companies on the paid side of the fence are hoping for. They will be organized and they will lobby.

    Will you?