About Jennifer Pidgen

As COO and majority owner of of Sundance Media Group (SMG), Jennifer is dedicated to developing sUAS/UAV training programs, overall logistics, and operations for SMG. Co-author of several UAS books, Jennifer guides agencies and organizations with sUAS program implementation. With over 25 years of marketing experience within the consumer electronics and photo/ video channels, Jennifer channels her expertise into cultivating mutually-beneficial partnerships and building a successful and safe sUAS/UAV community.

Influential Drones & SMG share UAS RISK Mitigation FAASTeam Webinar

FAASTeam Webinar with Influential Drones and Sundance Media Group

Join Douglas Spotted Eagle, Joanne Leming and Dave Krause of Influential Drones for our UAS Risk Mitigation FAASTeam Webinar.

Registration is required for this FREE 45 min session.

UAS RISK Mitigation FAASTeam Webinar Brief Description:

Risk mitigation is the part of the decision-making process which relies on situational awareness, problem recognition and good judgment to reduce risks associated with each flight. Join Sundance Media Group and Influential Drones in presenting this FAA Safety Team presentation.

Credit Applicability:  1 Credit for Basic Knowledge Topic 3
FAASTeam Project Information:  National Project: Airspace Outreach UAS

FAASTeam Webinar REGISTRATION

Additional Event Documents: EA17103351F

For more about FAASTeam drop by the FAA website to read more about their initiative for “Safer Skies Through Education”:  https://www.faasafety.gov/

FAASTeam Industry Members are industries, organizations, businesses and associations that support the FAASTeam at a national level and who have a vested interest in aviation safety.  Our partner, Influential Drones has been named an Industry Member.

 

Thank you to Influential Drones for working with the Sundance Media Group team!

CES 2021 – DAY 3: FoxFury & Autel Announce Professional Tactical Lighting & Payload Delivery Systems

FoxFury and Autel Announce Professional Tactical Lighting And Payload Delivery Systems For Autel Evo II Aircraft

13 January 2021

Oceanside, CA/Bothell, WA

Media Contact:

press@autelrobotics.com

antonio@foxfury.com

801-201-9212

 

AUTEL ROBOTICS today announces an expanded partnership with FoxFury Lighting Solutions, providing tactical lighting, mounting, payload delivery solutions for the public safety market. These products are designed to be mounted on, and in support of the Autel EVO II aerial platform.

The FoxFury Lighting Solutions SPOTLIGHT provides public safety users 2200 lumens of focused lighting with a 60ft (18 m) wide light at an altitude of 200’. The SPOTLIGHT weighs 350 grams, has a 70 minute battery life, and is water resistant. The SPOTLIGHT may be angled or aimed straight down. The directed, 15-degree focused beam provides brilliant white light, designed for illumination in areas otherwise challenged to light. The SPOTLIGHT is self-cooled; users do not need to be concerned about the lighting system draining the battery or overheating the airframe.

The SPOTLIGHT mounts to the Evo II via the TacSwan EXOLANDER © (patent-pending). The EXOLANDER © is an exoskeleton with 10 hard points that allows various accessories to mount to the Autel Evo II Mounting Platform. It also provides the Evo II with leg extensions, maintains proper CG (Center of Gravity) on the Autel EVO II aircraft and can be quickly attached/removed from the Autel EVO II aircraft without tools. 

In addition, a Payload Drop system enables public safety users to drop radio, space blanket, water bottle, first-aid kits, or other small assistive devices in situations where rescuers cannot reach or clearly communicate with a victim. The lightweight system is also designed to carry safety lines to stranded or drowning swimmers, and has been tested pulling over 400ft (122 m) of 550 cord to a swimmer in the ocean.

“We have had many agencies inquire about expanding the current EVO II Mounting Platform provided as a component in the Made in USA Autel EVO II Dual bundles, and many questions about a brighter, further-reaching light, that we began working with local law enforcement, Autel, and our engineering team to develop a solution that is rapidly deployable, ultra-rugged, and affordable,” said Mario Cugini, CEO of FoxFury Lighting Solutions. “Our primary market is public safety, so it makes sense that we partner with Autel to support their public safety programs. We’ve enjoyed great success with the D3060 lighting on the EVO Series aircraft, and anticipate similar successes with this new accessory lineup.”

“FoxFury’s latest lighting system for the EVO II aircraft is impressive, and expands possibilities for our public safety and enterprise users. We look forward to public safety agencies executing missions in the field with these new accessories,” said Gary DeLuca, CEO of Autel Robotics USA. “The EXOLANDER © opens the doors for many more accessories from FoxFury, enabling us to rapidly respond to our customer’s requests.” 

 

 

These accessories are all tested and authorized by Autel for use on its Evo II drones. They are all Made in the USA as well. The SPOTLIGHT is made by FoxFury and the EXOLANDER © and Payload Drop accessories are made by TacSwan and distributed by FoxFury. These items will be available in Q1 2021.

_______________________________________

The Sundance Media Group team is excited about this new announcement from FoxFury and Autel and their Professional Tactical Lighting And Payload Delivery Systems For Autel Evo II Aircraft!

For more on how the Sundance Media Group team will be working with this new equipment, please be sure to sign up for our eNews,  subscribe to our Youtube channel, or check out our previous blog posts!

By | January 13th, 2021|Uncategorized|0 Comments

CES DAY TWO – UASideKick & Autel Robotics Partnership

UASIDEKICK  & AUTEL ROBOTICS ANNOUNCE LAANC AND PROGRAM MANAGEMENT  PARTNERSHIP

Media Contact:

press@autelrobotics.com

media@uasidekick.com

801-201-9212

 

AUTEL ROBOTICS and UASidekick today announce a partnership to provide direct access to LAANC services from within the Autel Robotics Enterprise Explorer application.

Autel Explorer is the mission planning and control application for Autel Robotics EVO series unmanned aircraft. Users of Autel Robotics EVO II Explorer will be able to use LAANC from within the Autel Explorer application, saving users time, cost, and providing precision for planned missions and manual flight services.

“Autel Robotics is very excited to be able to provide LAANC services from directly inside the Explorer application, as this not only enables pilots to fly more safely with FAA compliance, but also saves pilots a significant amount of time in not having to shuffle between multiple applications,” said Gary DeLuca, CEO of Autel Robotics, “additionally, the UASidekick window in the Autel Explorer will store LAANC authorizations, waivers, COA’s, pilot management, aircraft maintenance, and other benefits needed by public safety and commercial UA flight verticals.”

Autel Explorer Mission Planner will allow users to create a mission, using the geolocation data to submit precision location data to the LAANC system via the UASidekick portal, without having to open a secondary application, while storing the LAANC authorization data on the device used for mission planning. Manual flight will allow users to instantly access the FAA airspace authorization system for flights in areas served by the FAA Facility Maps.

Additionally, UASidekick offers pilot maintenance, flight logs, certificates, waivers, COA’s and other relevant documents necessary for Part 107 compliance, along with AC107-2 compliance for all maintenance records required by the FAA. The application also serves pre-filled forms required by LAANC such as aircraft serial number, registration number, pilot data, and geolocation data.

“Our agency already uses UASidekick and Autel aircraft, and this joint effort is exciting to our UA teams as it allows us to be mission-ready more rapidly, confidently, and with compliance,” says Sgt Randle Ballenger of Greer City Police Department. “We chose UASidekick for its features and speed, and chose Autel EVO II’s for their rapid deployment, lack of flight restriction/denial of flight services, and data security.”

“This partnership is not only a first in the UAS industry, enabling users to quickly and easily access LAANC airspace authorizations directly from within the controlling application, but also provides a one-stop-shop for pilots to manage flight logs, pilot records, maintenance, and more.  This coupled with interactive airspace information and true micro-weather provides a comprehensive picture of the flight environment that improves safety and maximizes productivity.  Nobody likes to flip-flop between multiple apps while they are flying – this partnership solves that problem,” says Nathan Ruff, CEO of UASidekick. “Autel Robotics is a trailblazer in the UAS industry, and we’re pleased to be part of a solution that is making it easier for pilots to just go fly.”

Autel Robotics offers Made in USA (with foreign and domestic components and labor) and UASidekick expands the Made in USA direction, as UASidekick is entirely owned, operated, programmed, and developed in the United States.

“Autel Robotics is diligently working to expand, enhance, and support the Autel Made In USA initiative,” said Gary DeLuca, “Partnering with UASidekick allows us to continue to provide greater depth to our Made in USA goals. This revolutionary announcement of LAANC and pilot management from within a control application marks a historic moment for the Unmanned Aircraft industry.”

Autel Robotics and UASidekick customers will see the first of multiple phases to the partnership roll out early first-quarter of 2021.

About Autel
Opening its doors in 2004, Autel Tech expanded into unmanned aircraft in 2015. With their patented folding design, Autel Robotics revolutionized the packable drone industry. The company has offices, engineering and manufacturing teams in Germany, Shenzhen, USA (Washington and NY), and produces the EVO II Dual aircraft at the Bothell, WA location.  Learn more about AutelRobotics at AutelRobotics.com, and our social media @autelenterprise.

About UASidekick

UASidekick is a software as a service company to the aviation industry. UASidekick’s File and FlyTM platform provides intuitive & interactive airspace awareness, FAA LAANC flight authorizations, and safety tools for unmanned aircraft pilots.  In addition to these core service offerings, UASidekick functionality includes micro-weather, real-time & mobile NOTAM filing, fleet & pilot management, compliance tracking, and logbook capabilities. UASidekick is headquartered in Greenville, SC with all software development work performed exclusively within the USA (www.uasidekick.com).

 

CES 2021 – Autel Announces Next Generation Dragonfish

AUTEL ANNOUNCES NEXT GENERATION DRAGONFISH

AUTEL ROBOTICS ANNOUNCES NEXT GENERATION VERTICAL TAKEOFF/LANDING (VTOL) AIRCRAFT WITH MULTIPLE PAYLOADS, 2 HOUR FLIGHT TIME, AND FULLY AUTOMATED INTELLIGENT FLIGHT

Bothell, WA.–(PRNews)–Jan 11, 2021– Autel Robotics today announced that Autel, a world leader in commercial/enterprise unmanned aircraft (drone) and aerial imaging, will release the new Dragonfish flight platform in second quarter, 2021. The fixed-wing aircraft offers a 120 minute flight time, take off/landing in space-restricted areas, rapid deployment/assembly time of under three minutes, and a range of up to 30KM. 

Adaptive tracking allows the aircraft to track vehicles, persons, or other moving objects from a range of 2000 meters, and allows the aircraft to self-manage terrain, points of interest, and automated flight management.

Payloads include a FLIR® Boson Radiometric camera at 640×512/30Hz resolution/refresh rate, 1” sensor photographic cameras, and other payloads for specific vertical requirements. The system is expandable to fit into virtually any workflow, although the Dragonfish was specifically designed for overwatch and other public safety uses. 

“We see the Dragonfish as a next-level aircraft designed for public safety, government, and military applications, with a long flight time, small carry package, multiple purpose-built payloads, and intelligent flight capability,” said Gary DeLuca of Autel Robotics USA, “we anticipate broad acceptance in the security and protection industries.”

The Dragonfish’s unique tilt rotor design simplifies operation and maximizes performance and efficiency. With no complicated moving parts, the dragonfish is modular, waterproof, smart and reliable. The Dragonfish is mission ready right out of the box and includes powerful Al tracking capabilities and a multitude of modular payload options. An endurance of 120 mins (including payload) further augments the Dragonfish’s robust mission capabilities and pushes it significantly ahead against other VTOL competition. Additionally, the Dragonfish is equipped with two RTK modules for redundancy. Integrating the GNSS Base Station with the RTK modules, the Dragonfish may achieve centimeter accuracy with precise headings and strong anti-magnetic interference capabilities. These modules back up one another and greatly improves the quality of image metadata for photogrammetry while increasing flight precision and safety.

Ground Control Station

The high resolution (2048×1536), 9.7 inches, ultra-bright (1000 nits) TFT-LCD touchscreen ensures maximum visibility and practicality in all situations. Autel Ground Control Station is water, dust, and water resistant. Autel Robotics new antenna design allows the video transmission to reach up to 18.6 miles (30km) The Autel Robotics ground station controller has a battery life of up to 6 hours and can be operated indefinitely with a remote power source.

Autel is currently developing pricing tiers for various verticals for which the Dragonfish is appropriate. 

The Autel Robotics Dragonfish will be shown during the virtual Consumer Electronics Show 2021 in  January 11 – 14.  The Autel Robotics Dragonfish is currently available in AsiaPac, and will be soon available in the Americas.

For more information on all the new features and capabilities of the Autel Dragonfish, please visit https://auteldrones.com/pages/dragonfish

About Autel
Opening its doors in 2004, Autel Tech expanded into unmanned aircraft in 2015. With their patented folding design, Autel Robotics revolutionized the packable drone industry. The company has offices, engineering and manufacturing teams in Germany, Shenzhen, USA (Washington and NY), and produces the EVO II Dual aircraft at the Bothell, WA location.  Learn more about AutelRobotics at AutelRobotics.com, and our social media @autelenterprise. 

Night UAV Flight with FoxFury Lighting Systems

We wanted to share a guest post from our friends at FoxFury Lighting focused on Night UAV Flight and lighting requirements.

Introduction to Night Flight

Night flights are often some of the best any pilot can experience. The winds are usually calmer, seeing the city lights from above evokes emotions difficult to explain, and everything takes on an entirely new look. The view out the window or in the controller display is nothing short of spectacular, as even well-known sights take on a whole new look after sunset.

No matter what we might think of night flight, most RPC/Part 107 pilots (and general aviators) are well out of their element. Empirical data from various sources back this up, suggesting that many UAS operations at night end with some sort of minor incident, while a few are not so “minor.”

What is the Definition of “Night Flight”?

Night Flying is any flight that takes place 30 minutes after civil twilight, 30 minutes prior to before civil sunrise, or at any time between.

For more details on Night UAV Flight, FAA regulations, and safety flying unmanned aircraft at night, check out our handbook available on Amazon.

Please enjoy this blog post from our partner


Flying a drone or UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) at night offers tremendous possibilities for enterprise markets and public safety. There are numerous uses with thermal and standard cameras for inspections, search and rescue, surveillance, and more. While flying at night does provide incredible real time information, there are some risks, hazards, and limitations that need to be understood and overcome. Night flight is any flight that takes place 30 minutes after the sun goes down (civil twilight) and 30 minutes before the sun rises (civil sunrise), or anytime between.

UAV Night Flight Challenges

One of the biggest night flight challenges is the inability to see potential obstacles like power lines, tree branches, and wires. Any contact with these obstacles could produce accidental and potentially catastrophic damage to the drone along with property and/or persons in the area. This challenge can be overcome by properly scouting the area in the daytime, conducting pre-flight inspections and using a spotlight to help illuminate these hazards.

Another challenge is preserving night vision. It takes 30 minutes for your eyes to fully acclimate in the dark, so accidental exposure to light pollution such as looking at your cell phone will impair flight ability for at least that long. The use of red light on the ground in the launch area allows the pilot and observers to still see while preserving their night vision. The use of red gels and sunglasses can also help prevent accidental exposure to light pollution.

UAV Night Flight Certifications

Under Part 107 (Commercial Flight), remote pilot certificates require waiver FAR 107.29 to deal with night flight operations. Here is the official language:

107.29 Daylight Operation:

– Except for Alaska, a period of time that begins 30 minutes before official sunrise and ends at official sunrise

– Except for Alaska, a period of time that begins at official sunset and ends 30 minutes after official sunset

– In Alaska, the period of civil twilight as defined in the Air Almanac.

The FoxFury Rugo 2 lights meets the above requirements for 107.29. In fact, they are visible from a distance of 6 statute miles. The Rugo Quick Swap Power Pack with Strobe strobes at a rate of 90 times per minute, which is within the FAA requirement of 40-100 times per minute.

Assuming you have fulfilled the above requirements, you still need to have technical proficiency to fly a drone. Flying at night is stressful and practice is important.

The pilot also needs a night waiver when flying under section 107. Waivers for night flight need to be written correctly to help the pilot get access granted.The most important thing to consider when your waiver is that you have considered all possible problems that could arise and you are prepared to deal with each every one of them.

The approval process can take days to weeks, so it is critical to get it submitted and approved on the first attempt. The majority of 107.29 waivers are rejected by the FAA for a variety of reasons, yet the greatest cause of rejected waivers falls into two categories:

  • Incomplete waiver application
  • Copy / pasted waiver application and explanation of various procedures

 

Drone with Rugo Light illuminates path during inspection

Drone with Rugo 2 Lights illuminates path during inspection

 

Two Rugo Lights on a Drone meet 107.29 requirements.

Rugo 2 Lights mounted on a DJI Inspire meet 107.29 requirements

 

If you need anti-collision lighting or lighting for inspections that meets 107.29 requirements, using at least one of the FoxFury Rugo 2 Drone Lights with the Quick Swap Power Pack with Strobe will get the job done.

(more…)

By | December 16th, 2020|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Night UAV Flight with FoxFury Lighting Systems

AEE Mach 4 with Thunderhorn System

 

 

 

By | December 15th, 2020|Uncategorized|Comments Off on AEE Mach 4 with Thunderhorn System

AirData and Autel Integration and Partnership December 3, 2020

AirData and Autel Integration and Partnership

to Reduce Risk on Autel EVO II Series with AirData Fleet Management

AirData software platform integrates Autel EVO II Series drones

AirData and Autel Integration Partnership

 

 

 

 

 

 

AirData & Autel Partnership Video

Bothell, WA, [12/3/2020]: 

Today, AirData UAV and Autel Enterprise Robotics are announcing a new partnership specially tailored to meet the needs of Autel Pilots across the USA: Autel EVO II users will receive a one-month free trial of AirData Enterprise fleet management software.

Now optimized for all Autel Evo II camera models, by utilizing AirData, Autel pilots can reduce the risk in flying and managing Autel Evo II drones and fleets. AirData brings advanced fleet management functionality integrated with the Autel ecosystem, including pilot and flight data logging and analysis, compliance management, maintenance tracking, and crash prevention information, as well as increasing flight efficiency for better and safer drone operations.AirData and Autel Integration Partnership

AirData’s real-time live stream video is an additional benefit for Autel pilots, requiring no additional hardware, and compatible with virtually any common browser application on any device. The streams are PIN-protected, enabling pilots to securely determine who is able to view the low-latency drone feed anywhere over the Internet.

“With our fleet of over 80 drones and over 120 pilots, AirData has proven to be an invaluable resource for us addressing all of our fleet needs, in a very easy-to-use manner. We were also thoroughly impressed with the Evo II aircraft and the selling point for us was the compatibility with AirData. I am confident our railroad is a much safer place now with our drone program, the Autel Evo II’s and AirData,” said Kim Thomas, Manager-Safety Specialist, CSX Transportation.

In addition to live streaming video captured with the Autel EVO II, AirData also provides deep analytics into the performance parameters of the drone system, allowing pilots to better understand flight efficiency, battery life, radio strength, camera usage tracking, and any data relevant to the operation of the aircraft.

“At the onset of development of our sUAS program we realized a need for a robust, automated system to provide operational solutions. Our search led us to Autel and AirData. Since then we have experienced seamless integration and prompt support from our partners at Autel and AirData to help us continue to grow our program,” said Lieutenant Jim Pauly, Omaha PD.

This collaborative effort between Autel Enterprise Robotics and AirData combines one of the fastest “out of the box, into the air aircraft in the market with a market leader in unmanned analytic software packages.

“AirData is excited to partner with Autel to augment the EVO II’s impressive power, reliability and efficiency by analyzing its flight and pilot data to ensure optimal and safer flights. The AirData platform easily captures and manages Autel fleets, so that all pilots and flights comply with regulatory and operational requirements,” said Eran Steiner, CEO for AirData. “EVO II’s unparalleled payload lineup is a perfect match with AirData’s low latency live streaming; you can be up in the air and streaming in seconds, as no hardware or lengthy setup is needed.” AirData and Autel Integration Partnership

“Autel Enterprise Robotics are proud to offer a deep and robust aircraft with rich data output, augmented with AirData’s analytics. An informed enterprise pilot is a smarter and safer pilot, enabled to make efficient decisions around mission planning and flight operations,” said Gary DeLuca, Autel Robotics USA’s CEO.  “We are equally excited to enable our pilots to stream media anywhere without additional hardware, now that AirData is partnered alongside Autel Enterprise.” 

Join AirData and Autel Enterprise in their upcoming webinar Tuesday, December 8th, 11AM PST / 2PM EST to demonstrate live how the Autel EVO II works within the AirData Platform. 

Register for the PART ONE webinar here:  https://bit.ly/AirData_Autel 

PART TWO will be on Monday, December 11, 8AM PST / 11AM EST – REGISTER HERE:  https://bit.ly/AirData_Autel2

To know more about AirData UAV, visit AirData.com

OR for a 30 day free trial go to AirData.com/autel_trial

AirData and Autel Integration Partnership

30 Day Free trial

 

To learn more about Autel Enterprise Robotics, visit auteldrones.com

Contacts & Resources

Autel Enterprise

Press Contact: Douglas Spotted Eagle / Market consultant

Email: Douglas@autelrobotics.com

Phone: 801.201.9212 (PST)

 

AirData UAV

Press Contact: Kathryn Nichols / Marketing Manager

Email: kathryn@AirData.com

Phone: 530.558.5429 (PST)

——————————–

About AirData UAV

AirData UAV is the largest online fleet data management and real-time flight streaming platform. With more than 14 million flights uploaded to date, processing an average of 20,000 flights a day, with high-resolution data stored per each flight. AirData utilizes vast amounts of flight data and unique mathematical algorithms to offer full spectrum drone management that includes pilot and flight data logging, compliance management, maintenance tracking, and crash prevention information, as well as increasing flight efficiency for better and safer drone operations. AirData also offers an easy to use low latency live streaming service over the Internet with no additional hardware needed. AirData is growing steadily and now serving more than 170,000 active users worldwide.

About Autel

Opening its doors in 2004, Autel Tech expanded into unmanned aircraft in 2015. With their patented folding design, Autel Robotics revolutionized the packable drone industry. The company has offices, engineering and manufacturing teams in Germany, Shenzhen, USA (Washington and NY). Autel is a pioneer in the world of unmanned aviation, offering pilots secure data linage, operational decision-making in controlled airspace, and intelligent mission planning. Learn more about AutelRobotics at AutelRobotics.com, and our social media @autelenterprise. 

 ____________________

FULL Press kit: Check the Autel/AirData press kit

By | December 3rd, 2020|Drone Safety, Public Safety, sUAS, sUAS, sUAS Regulation, sUAS Safety, UAV, UAV Maintenance|Comments Off on AirData and Autel Integration and Partnership December 3, 2020

Women and Drones – eMagazine Launch: Vertical Space

Today is an exciting day!  Today was the launch of the new eMagazine from our partners Women and Drones.

Vertical Space (awesome name!) launched its inaugural issue with its Fall 2020 issue and according to sources, we can expect the next issue Spring of 2021 – so put your thinking caps on and be sure to share forward any interesting article ideas with managing director Belinda Betancourt Dow.

This digital magazine featuring articles and stories that will connect you with many aspects of the drone industry.    This issue contains our Women to Watch 2020 honorees, first insights into our plans to launch an African Chapter in 2021, an interview with a Pharns Genece, a pioneer in drone delivery, Advanced Air Mobility with help from NASA, and much more!

And if you have a keen eye, you might notice that Jennifer Pidgen (COO of Sundance Media Group) is on the front cover and shares her ideas on the necessity of a PPO for your drone business on page 9. 

#VerticalSpace from Women and Drones – check it out!

Lots of great articles and information.

By | December 1st, 2020|sUAS|Comments Off on Women and Drones – eMagazine Launch: Vertical Space

Autel Robotics and DroneSense Partnership

Autel Robotics and DroneSense Partner to Enable Advanced Public Safety UAS Operations

DroneSense software platform adds support for all Autel EVO Series drones

Check out the video summarizing the partnership here.

Austin, TX. & Bothell, WA., November 10, 2020 – Unmanned Aircraft Systems manufacturer, Autel Robotics, and DroneSense, the leading drone software platform for public safety, today announced a partnership that will allow UAS teams to utilize the full suite of DroneSense capabilities tailor-made for the needs of public safety operators with their Autel EVO Series aircraft.

 “Autel has developed the EVO II Dual with Public Safety applications in mind, featuring a short 30-second deployment time, the highest optical resolution available in a non-military application, a secure data policy, and best-in-class flight times,” says John Kuch, retired Fairfax County Police Department. “The DroneSense/Autel partnership provides public safety agencies the best tools available for managing unmanned aerial programs and coordinating flight operations.”

The Autel EVO II Dual is specifically designed to aid public safety personnel in recognizing persons and objects in zero-light environments through smoke/fog and offers a picture-in-picture display with an 8K resolution RGB camera for greater accuracy. This payload offers the highest resolution thermal imaging camera in its class. The EVO II Dual provides police and fire personnel crisp detail, 4X lossless zoom capability, and up to a 40-minute flight time.

“Autel Enterprise Robotics is enthusiastic about our relationship with DroneSense. The industry’s two best-in-class toolsets coming together provides public s

afety with a powerful workflow, functionality our customers have been requesting for many months, said Gary DeLuca, CEO of Autel USA. “Having DroneSense support all aircraft in the EVO Series, including our Made in USA Autel EVO II Dual, changes the situational awareness and management game for public safety agencies.”

DroneSense is the most complete drone management and collaboration platform designed specifically for public safety. The platform enables safe and effective drone operations in demanding environments and allows operators to deliver critical, real-time intelligence to decision-makers. DroneSense provides drone pilots with an intuitive, consistent flight control interface across all the drones in their fleet. Incident commanders gain complete situational awareness with live video streams and telemetry data from drones in the air as well as the ability to easily collaborate with pilots and neighboring agencies. Additionally, DroneSense provides program administrators with a complete system of record to keep track of critical data like flight logs, hardware, and personnel.

“We saw an increased interest from our public safety customers in the Autel EVO Series, so our engineering team evaluated the aircraft and was impressed with its features and performance,” said Chris Eyhorn, CEO of DroneSense. “With our new integration, we are able to offer an advanced hardware option that will facilitate more successful UAS missions for our public safety customers.”

Support for all Autel EVO Series drones is available today in the DroneSense Platform. 

DroneSense is featuring Autel Enterprise Robotics in their upcoming webinar next Thursday, November 12th, at 1 PM CDT to demonstrate live how the Autel EVO Series works in the DroneSense Platform. The event will focus on using these two pieces of technology to conduct successful public safety UAS operations. Registration information can be found here.

About Autel Robotics

Opening its doors in 2004, Autel Tech expanded into unmanned aircraft in 2015. With their patented folding design, Autel Robotics revolutionized the packable drone industry. The company has offices, engineering, and manufacturing teams in Germany, Shenzhen, USA (Washington and NY). Learn more about AutelRobotics at www.AutelRobotics.com and our social media @autelenterprise.

 

About DroneSense

Based in Austin, TX, DroneSense helps public safety leaders manage life-saving drone programs simply, securely, and reliably through a single integrated software platform. The DroneSense Platform makes it simple for first responders to leverage the full capabilities of drone technology in their operations and provides an unparalleled level of situational awareness that leads to more successful missions and a safer community. To learn more, please visit http://www.dronesense.com.

By | November 10th, 2020|Drone, Drone Safety, Law Enforcement, Public Safety, sUAS, Technology|Comments Off on Autel Robotics and DroneSense Partnership

Autel EVO II Pro, Pix4D, and Aviation Accident Investigation

Recently, David Martel, Brady Reisch and I were called upon to assist in multiple investigations where debris was scattered over a large area, and investigators could not safely traverse the areas where high speed impacts may have spread evidence over large rocky, uneven areas. In this particular case, a EuroStar 350  aircraft may have experienced a cable wrap around the tail rotor and boom, potentially pulling the tail boom toward the nose of the aircraft, causing a high speed rotation of the hull prior to impact. Debris was spread over a relatively contained area, with some evidence unfound.

crash site investigation with drones

Per the FAA investigators;

“The helicopter was on its right side in mountainous densely forested desert terrain at an elevation of 6,741 ft mean sea level (MSL). The steel long line cable impacted the main rotor blades and was also entangled in the separated tail rotor. The tail rotor with one blade attached was 21 ft. from the main wreckage. Approximately 30 ft. of long line and one tail rotor blade were not located. The vertical stabilizer was 365 ft. from the main wreckage.”

With a missing tail rotor blade and the missing long line, unmanned aircraft were called in to provide a high resolution map of the rugged area/terrain, in hopes of locating the missing parts that may or may not aid in the crash investigation.

The terrain was difficult and unimproved, requiring four-wheel drive vehicles for access into the crash site. Due to rising terrain, we elected to launch/land the aircraft from the highest point relevant to the crash search area, which encompassed a total of approximately 70 acres.

Adding to the difficulty of finding missing parts was that the helicopter was partially covered in grey vinyl wrap, along with red and black vinyl wrap, having recently been wrapped for a trade show where the helicopter was displayed.

drones in crash site investigation

We arrived on scene armed with pre-loaded Google Earth overheads, and an idea of optimal locations to place seven Hoodman GCP discs, which would allow us to capture RTK points for accuracy, and Manual Tie Points once the images were loaded into Pix4D.  We pre-planned the flight for an extremely high ground sampling distance (GSD) average of .4cm per pixel. Due to the mountainous terrain, this GSD would vary from the top to the bottom of the site. We planned to capture the impact location at various GSD for best image evaluation, averaging as tight as .2cmppx. Some of these images would be discarded for the final output, and used only for purposes of investigation.

Although the overall GSD was greater than necessary, the goal is to be able to zoom in very deep on heavily covered areas with the ability to determine the difference between rocks and potential evidence, enabling investigators to view the overall scene via a 3.5 GB GeoTiff in Google Earth, and refer back to the Pix4DMapper project once rendered/assembled.

The same scene minus initial marker points.

Although working directly in Pix4D provides the best in-depth view of each individual photo, the Google Earth overlay/geotiff enables a reasonably deep examination.

Using two of the recently released Autel EVO II Pro aircraft, we planned the missions so that one aircraft would manage North/South corridors while the other captured East/West corridors.  Planning the mission in this manner allows for half the work time, while capturing the entire scene. This is the same method we used to capture the MGM festival grounds following the One October shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada. The primary difference is in the overall size, with the Pioche mission being nearly 70 acres, while the Las Vegas festival ground shooting area is under 20 acres in total.

Similar to the Las Vegas shooting scene, shadow distortion/scene corruption was a concern; flying two aircraft beginning at 11:00 a.m. and flying until 1:30 aided in avoiding issues with shadow.

Temporal and spatial offsets were employed to ensure that the EVO II Pro aircraft could not possibly collide, we set off at opposite sides of the area, at different points in time, with a few feet of vertical offset added in for an additional cushion of air between the EVO II. We programmed the missions to fly at a lower speed of 11 mph/16fps to ensure that the high GSD/low altitude images would be crisp and clean. It is possible to fly faster and complete the mission sooner, yet with the 3 hour travel time from Las Vegas to the crash site, we wanted to ensure everything was captured at its best possible resolution with no blur, streak, or otherwise challenged imagery. Overall, each aircraft emptied five batteries, with our batteries set to exchange notification at 30%.

Total mission running time was slightly over 2.5 hours per aircraft, with additional manual flight over the scene of impact requiring another 45 minutes of flight time to capture deep detail. We also captured imagery facing the telecommunications tower at the top of the mountain for line of sight reference, and images facing the last known landing area, again for visual reference to potential lines of sight.

crash site investigation with drones

By launching/landing from the highest point in the area to be mapped, we were able to avoid any signal loss across the heavily wooded area. To ensure VLOS was maintained at all times, FoxFury D3060’s were mounted and in strobing mode for both sets of missions (The FoxFury lighting kit is included with the Autel EVO II Pro and EVO II Dual Rugged Bundle kits).

Once an initial flight to check exposure/camera settings was performed, along with standard controllability checks and other pre-flight tasks, we sent the aircraft on their way.

Capturing over 6000 images, we checked image quality periodically to ensure consistency. Once the missions were complete, we drove to the site of impact to capture obliques of the specific area in order to create a more dense model/map of the actual impact site. We also manually flew a ravine running parallel to the point of impact to determine if any additional debris was found (we did find several small pieces of fuselage, tools assumed to be cast off at impact, and other debris.

The initial pointcloud took approximately 12 hours to render, generating a high-quality, highly dense initial cloud.

crash site investigation with drones

After laying in point controls, marking scale constraints as a check, and re-optimized the project in Pix4D, the second step was rendered to create the dense point cloud. We were stunned at the quality of the dense point cloud, given the large area.

The dense point cloud is ideal for purposes of measuring. Although this sort of site would typically benefit (visually) from texturing/placing the mesh, it was not necessary due to the high number of points and deep detail the combination of Pix4D and Autel EVO II Pro provided. This allowed us to select specific points where we believed points of evidence may be located, bringing up the high resolution images relevant to that area. Investigators were able to deep-dive into the area and locate small parts, none of which were relevant to better understanding the cause of the crash.

“The project generated 38,426,205 2D points and 13,712,897 3D points from a combination of nearly 7,000 images.”

crash site investigation with drones

Using this method of reviewing the site allows investigators to see more deeply, with ability to repeatedly examine areas, identify patterns from an overhead view, and safely search for additional evidence that may not be accessible by vehicle or foot. Literally every inch of the site may be gone over.

crash site investigation with drones

Further, using a variety of computer-aided search tools, investigators may plug in an application to search for specific color parameters. For example, much of the fuselage is red in color, allowing investigators to search for a specific range of red colors. Pieces of fuselage as small as 1” were discovered using this method. Bright white allowed for finding some items, while 0-16 level black allowed for finding other small objects such as stickers, toolbox, and oil cans.

Using a tool such as the DTResearch 301 to capture the RTK geolocation information, we also use the DTResearch ruggedized tablet as a localized pointcloud scan which may be tied into the Pix4Dmapper application. Capturing local scan data from a terrestrial perspective with GCP’s in the image allow for extremely deep detail in small environments. This is particularly valuable for construction sites or interior scans, along with uses for OIS, etc.

Primary Considerations When Capturing a Scene Twin

  • GSD.​ This is critical. There is a balance between altitude and propwash, with all necessary safety considerations.
    Vertical surfaces. In the event of an OIS where walls have been impacted, the ability to fly vertical surfaces and capture them with a consistent GSD will go a long way to creating a proper model. Shadow distortion.​ If the scene is very large, time will naturally fly by and so will the sun. In some conditions, it’s difficult to know the difference between burn marks and shadows. A bit of experience and experimentation will help manage this challenge.
  • Exposure.​ Checking exposure prior to the mission is very important, particularly if an application like Pix4Dreact isn’t available for rapid mapping to check the data on-site.
    Angle of sun/time of day​. Of course, accidents, incidents, crime, and other scenes happen when they happen. However, if the scene allows for capture in the midday hours, grab the opportunity and be grateful. This is specifically the reason that our team developed night-time CSI/Datacapture, now copied by several training organizations across the country over recent years.
  • Overcapture.​ Too much overlap is significantly preferable to undercapture. Ortho and modeling software love images.
  • Obliques. ​Capture obliques whenever possible. Regardless of intended use, capture the angular views of a scene. When possible, combine with ground-level terrestrial imaging. Sometimes this may be best accomplished by walking the scene perimeter with the UA, capturing as the aircraft is walked. We recommend removing props in these situations to ensure everyone’s safety.

What happens when these points are put aside?

This is a capture of a scene brought to us for “repair,” as the pilot didn’t know what he didn’t know. Although we were able to pull a bit of a scene, the overexposure, too-high altitude/low GSD, and lack of obliques made this scene significantly less valuable than it might have been.

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Not understanding the proper role or application of the UA in the capture process, the UA pilot created a scene that is difficult to accurately measure, lacking appropriate detail, and the overexposure creates difficulties laying in the mesh. While this scene is somewhat preserved as a twin, there is much detail missing where the equipment had the necessary specifications and components to capture a terrific twin. Pilot error cannot be fixed. Operating on the “FORD” principle, understanding that ​FO​cus, exposu​R​e, and ​D​istance (GSD) cannot be rectified/compensated for in post processing means it has to be captured properly the first time. The above scene can’t be properly brought to life due to gross pilot error.

“ALWAYS PUT THE AIRCRAFT OVER THE PRIMARY SCENE LOCATION TO CONFIRM EXPOSURE SETTINGS, KEEPING ISO AS LOW AS POSSIBLE. USE ISO 50-100 IN MOST OUTDOOR SCENARIOS TO OBTAIN THE BEST IMAGE. NEVER USE OVERSATURATED PHOTO SETTINGS OR LOG FORMATS FOR MAPPING.”

Ultimately, the primary responsibility is to go beyond a digital twin of the scene, but instead offer deep value to the investigator(s) which may enhance or accelerate their investigations. Regardless of whether it’s a crash scene, insurance capture, energy audit, or other mapping activity, understanding how to set up the mission, fly, process, and export the mission is paramount.

Capturing these sorts of scenes are not for the average run n’ gun 107 certificate holder. Although newer pilots may feel they are all things to all endeavors benefitting from UA, planning, strategy, and experience all play a role in ensuring qualified and quality captures occur. Pilots wanting to get into mapping should find themselves practicing with photogrammetry tools and flying the most challenging environments they can find in order to be best prepared for environmental, temporal, and spatial challenges that may accompany an accident scene. Discovery breeds experience when it’s cold and batteries expire faster, satellite challenges in an RTK or PPK environment, planning for overheated tablets/devices, managing long flight times on multi-battery missions, or when winds force a crabbing mission vs a head/tailwind mission. Learning to maintain GSD in wild terrain, or conducting operations amidst outside forces that influence the success or failure of a mission only comes through practice over time. Having a solid, tried and true risk mitigation/SMS program is crucial to success.

We were pleased to close out this highly successful mission, and be capable of delivering a 3.5 GB geotiff for overlay on Google Earth, while also being able to export the project for investigators to view at actual ground height, saving time, providing a safety net in rugged terrain, and a digital record/twin of the crash scene that may be used until the accident investigation is closed.

 

EQUIPMENT USED

●  2X Autel EVOII™ Pro aircraft

●  Autel Mission Planner software

●  FoxFury D3060 lighting

●  DTResearch 301 RTK tablet

●  Seko field mast/legs

●  Seko RTK antenna

●  Hoodman GCP

●  Hoodman Hoods

●  Manfrotto Tripod

●  Dot3D Windows 10 software

●  Pix4DMapper software

●  Luminar 4 software

Douglas Spotted Eagle is the Founder and Director of Educational Programming at Sundance Media Group.  SMG serves as a consultant within the sUAS industry, offering training and speaking engagements on sUAS topics: UAV cinematography, commercial and infrastructural sUAS applications, sUAS risk management, night UAV flight, aerial security systems, and 107 training.   

 

By | October 16th, 2020|Drone Safety, Law Enforcement, Mapping, Photography, Post-Production, Public Safety, sUAS, Technology, UAV|Comments Off on Autel EVO II Pro, Pix4D, and Aviation Accident Investigation