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|0 Comments

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.

page13image47662928

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

Autel Enterprise is Announces Its Partnership with FoxFury Lighting

Autel Enterprise is Announces Its Partnership with FoxFury Lighting

Congratulations to two of our favorite partners and their partnership announcement.

“The FoxFury-designed, Autel-owned platform will support multiple FoxFury D3060 or D10 lighting systems, enabling pilots to be creative with lighting, dependent on need. A single D3060 might be mounted to fulfill FAA anti-collision lighting requirements, or mount multiple lights for daylight flight, indoor flight, or creative photography. The lights are rechargeable via USB-C connector.”

Read the entire Press Release here.

 

By | September 17th, 2020|Construction, Drone, Drone Safety, Inspection, Law Enforcement, Mapping, Night Flight, Public Safety, Regulations, sUAS, sUAS Regulation, sUAS Safety, Technology, UAV, UAV Maintenance|Comments Off on Autel Enterprise is Announces Its Partnership with FoxFury Lighting

SMG at Commercial UAV Expo 2020

Today Commercial UAV Expo 2020 launched with the “Outdoor” Virtual Demonstrations.  Fortunately, it’s a lot warmer than last year, sitting comfortably at our desks!

Registration is still open, the exhibit hall is FREE to all attendees, as is the keynote sessions.  If you haven’t already registered, be sure to do so and check out what’s happening within the drone industry.  The keynote sessions are stacked and the rest of the sessions offered are deep with some heavy hitters from the industry.  Check out the full list of speakers here.

Back to the Virtual Drone Demonstrations; what a wonderful way to start the show!  We started off with Iris Automation and a detailed discussion of their onboard detect-and-avoid for BVLOS drone flight.  Very impressive how they are managing BLVOS operations.

Next up was a demonstration from Doosan and their hydrogen fuel cell long-endurance drone.  With the two hour flight time, they are BVLOS ready and better economics.

Anchoring the first section of Drone Demonstrations today was our very own, Douglas Spotted Eagle, showcasing the Sundance Media Group Night UAV CSI workflow.

Douglas took the time to walk the audience through best-practices on capturing a night forensic scene by drone. He includes a brief overview of the equipment used (links below) as well as access to the Pix4D model generated.

Find the full session on our Vimeo Page here.

 

If you have any questions, please email us at requests@sundancemediagroup.com. 

And if you’re interested, check out last year’s CommUAV Night UAV CSI event video here,  which includes interview with local law enforcement.  (It was quite COLD out there!)

Finally, here is a list of the equipment we used:

Autel EVO II Series: auteldrones.com/pages/evo-ii-pro-detail
DTResearch GNSS Tablet: dtresearch.com/en/Gnss-Tablets/DT301X-TR.html
FoxFury Lighting: foxfury.com/
Hoodman Accessories: hoodmanusa.com/Drones-Phones-Tablets-s/127.htm
Pix4D Software: pix4d.com/

And find the full project here for you to work with:
cloud.pix4d.com/dataset/701216/map?shareToken=a9c1cdc4-dad3-4b49-b51a-df8239135811

 

Thank you to our partners for helping us keep sharing information within the drone industry:

 

By | September 15th, 2020|Drone, Inspection, Law Enforcement, Mapping, Night Flight, Photography, Post-Production, Public Safety, sUAS, Technology, Video|Comments Off on SMG at Commercial UAV Expo 2020

Sundance Media Group Announces Drone Training Reseller Agreement with SYNNEX Corporation

Sundance Media Group Announces Drone Training Reseller Agreement with SYNNEX Corporation

Agreement Provides Certified Drone Training to Government Agencies and Organizations Across the U.S.

Las Vegas June 3, 2020 Sundance Media Group (SMG) today announced an agreement with  SYNNEX Corporation (NYSE: SNX), a leadingbusiness process services company, to provide certified drone training to government agencies and organizations across the U.S.

SMG specializes in assisting police, fire and private corporations seeking to stand up new small Unmanned Aircraft System drone programs or add sUAS workflows into their existing drone programs. SMG offers drone training programs across the U.S. as well as the filing of Certificates of Authorization and/or waivers with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. SMG also creates and assists in the implementation of Policy, Procedures and Operations manuals for ISO-compliant municipalities and organizations.

“Training is a vital component to a viable, safe and effective drone program. This agreement with Sundance Media Group enables us to offer a B2B turnkey solution within the unmanned aircraft industry,” said Ed Somers, Vice President, Public Sector and Vertical Markets, SYNNEX. “The addition of SMG safety-first training methodology services to our own product offerings elevates our complete technology solutions.”

SMG has a 19-year history working in aviation and crime scene investigation and has developed training missions for Major Incident Response Teams, CSI, traffic homicide, night-time forensic missions, and crowd overwatch with and without tethering components.  Drones offer an aerial vantage point and are a significant force multiplier. Operations may be initiated faster with fewer persons involved. As a force multiplier, nothing compares to sUAS with regard to cost, safety, speed and capturing/recording /archiving information that may be passed up or down the chain of command.

SMG’s training, now available through SYNNEX, include 107 offerings from prep, introduction to practical flight and advanced applied to vertical-focused flight training and post-processing training.

“We look forward to bringing our standard of excellence for various segments within the UA industry to SYNNEX and its customers,” said Jennifer Pidgen, Chief Operating Officer of Sundance Media Group, now celebrating 26 years in training. “SYNNEX focuses on helping their business partners grow and the SMG culture is to ensure that every client gets white-glove services. We identify the clients’ specific sUAS needsand we build out our training programs to meet those needs to ensure they are successful in their adaptation of this new technology.”

 

 

 

About Sundance Media Group

Founded in 1994, Sundance Media Group (SMG) began as a training organization focused on cameras, codecs, and post-production technology. In 2004, the company began training in aviation technology, adding sUAS in 2011. In 2012, SMG produced the world’s first UAS training conference at the NAB/P|PW Conference and is vendor neutral, where we collaborate with manufacturers, service providers, and software developer to find the best solution for our clients’ needs.

With instructors from Public Safety, Construction, Vertical Inspection, Real Estate, and Cinematography, SMG instructors may be found speaking at technical, aviation, and UAS conferences around the globe. For more information on SMG, please visit www.sundancemediagroup.com or via email at requests@sundancemediagroup.com

About SYNNEX Corporation

SYNNEX Corporation (NYSE: SNX) is a Fortune 200 corporation and a leading business process services company, providing a comprehensive range of distribution, logistics and integration services for the technology industry and providing outsourced services focused on customer engagement to a broad range of enterprises.  SYNNEX distributes a broad range of information technology systems and products, and also provides systems design and integration solutions. Founded in 1980, SYNNEX Corporation operates in numerous countries throughout North and South America, Asia-Pacific and Europe. Additional information about SYNNEX may be found online at synnex.com.

SYNNEX, the SYNNEX Logo, and all other SYNNEX company, product and services names and slogans are trademarks or registered trademarks of SYNNEX Corporation. SYNNEX, the SYNNEX Logo, Reg. U.S. Pat. & Tm. Off. Other names and marks are the property of their respective owners.

By | June 3rd, 2020|Drone, Drone Safety, Inspection, Law Enforcement, Mapping, Night Flight, Public Safety, sUAS, sUAS, sUAS Safety, Technology, Training, UAV, UAV Maintenance|Comments Off on Sundance Media Group Announces Drone Training Reseller Agreement with SYNNEX Corporation

THE SNAKE OIL OF THE CUAS INDUSTRY

First and foremost, there are exceptionally capable counter-UAS solutions available from developers and manufacturers with great integrity. This article is not about them. Image result for snake oil

This is about the “jump on the bandwagon to capture bucks by generating uninformed fear” businesses that are cropping up like weeds in a concrete parking lot. Otherwise known in the security industry as “FUD” (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt).

We recently attended a C-UAS conference, where five manufacturers were invited to a panel, discussing UAS, Counter-UAS, and how they themselves are allegedly already countering UAS within the United States.

Not one of the panel members was aware of the ramifications of Part 107 flight, none were Part 61 nor Part 107 certificated pilots, and none have had any experience in flying UAS. Granted, flying UAS is not a requisite to counter UAS, any more than holding a drivers license should be a prequalification to manufacturing safety equipment for an automobile. But it’s probably a good idea to have at least minimal awareness?

Rather than pontificate the essence of the panel, it is likely more valuable to comment on statements made by the panel members and bring to light some misunderstandings within the C-UAS community.

“We are already countering UAS all over the country, dropping drones like flies when they’re in unauthorized areas.”

This is false. Mitigation of an aircraft that would “drop a drone like a fly” is an authority relegated to federal agencies, such as DHS, FBI, etc. It is a violation of FCC law to interrupt an aircraft via RF, and illegal per the FAA to interdict an aircraft mid-flight (UAS or otherwise). In some situations, public safety officers have limited scope on stopping nefarious aircraft. Were UAS “dropping like flies,” the industry would certainly be aware and informed.

“Hospitals are begging the FAA for laws pertaining to UAS peeking into hospital room windows, especially with thermal cameras,  because this causes a violation of HIPPA laws/regulation.”

Thermal cameras are incapable of viewing through a window. Further, it is highly unlikely an RGB camera would offer any grade of detail assuming it could peer through a window. There is near-zero chance of being able to read a patient record through a window due to diffraction, resolution, etc.

“We’ve already experienced a Raspberry Pi-equipped drone landing on a major corporation’s roof and being used as an access point to hack into their network, unseen. This has happened many times.”

(I asked when, and a general idea of where and what industry this had occurred, and was told I can’t tell you that, it’s secret information.” )

“The FAA is coming out with incredibly strict laws about where drones can fly, how high they can fly, what time of day they can fly, and who can fly them. These laws are scheduled to be show to the public in November of 2019.”

Not quite. The NPRM has already been released, and while new regulations are inevitable, there always has been, and always will be, a period for public commentary. There are no new regulations being ‘revealed’ to the public in November of 2019.

“It is currently perfectly legal to shoot down a drone using a net system in the United States.”

Until 18 U.S.C. § 32 is further amended, it is currently not legal to shoot down an sUAS in the United States of America. There are indeed federal agencies with the authority to do so. The context in which this statement was presented was relevant to a lay-person protecting their private property from sUAS overflight.

“The property above your home or business belongs to you for up to 100’ above the highest object on your property. In other words, if you have a 50’ roof line, the lowest a drone could fly over your home is at 150’.”

Not quite. The sUAS aircraft may transit any property at any necessary altitude. Were the aircraft to stop and loiter over private property, state law likely comes into effect, no different than if an individual were to put a ladder against a fence, and take photos of someone’s back yard. There is no federal mandate of altitude, and states for reasons of preemption, may not create/enforce laws relevant to altitude.  Read more about that in one of our earlier blog posts here.

 

There were many other statements of absolute authority made by members of the panel, but the above are illustrative of the ignorance of some C-UAS developers. After listening to their commentary and panel discussion with the very able moderator, I had a few questions of my own.

“How is your business planning to respond to Carpenter vs United States?”

“We do not have to worry about Carpenter vs United States, as that is very old case law.”

Actually, this opinion was rendered 5-4 in June of 2018, with Justice Roberts penning the opinion. In other words, yes, the C-UAS developers and those that would use C-UAS technology are going to need a cogent answer to this question.  As a brief summary, Carpenter reiterates the rights of a citizen to expect privacy in their home, electronic devices, etc. To interrogate a s-UAS mid-flight is arguably a violation of that right to privacy and a warrant is required. Warrants aren’t rapid to access in the majority of situations, potentially leaving law enforcement and C-UAS developers in a challenging situation.

“You say you are able to track a rogue drone anywhere in flight. How do you determine that the operation is a rogue operation?”

“Any drone operating within 5 miles of an airport or over city property is rogue and therefore we will be authorized to interdict and bring the drone to the ground within any means available.”

Interesting thought process, but entirely false. For example, one night my company was operating multiple aircraft on a security mission, in Class Bravo, with a night waiver. The local “drone experts with the State of Nevada” were quick to rush to the television station to denounce the flights as ‘illegal and unsafe,’ although we had ATO authority. Had the local state drone expert had a C-UAS solution available, he likely would have interdicted, putting people’s safety at risk and violating federal regulations. In other words, coordination is required for C-UAS and authorized operations, via the Unmanned Traffic Management system that the US shall soon see in place.  Along that theme, imagine if the aforementioned “drone expert” from the State of Nevada had access to a mitigation system, used RF or physical interdiction to bring down an authorized aircraft, and the authorized aircraft drops onto the head of a civilian. Exponentially increasing the severity of the situation would be a typical LiPO fire that may occur during the impact with the ground, causing property and physical (to human) damage. Last but not least, the C-UAS operator would likely have found himself to be liable in a lawsuit for denying access to public airspace. 
LAANC Connected

“How does your solution tie into the LAANC system for authorized flights of sUAS in controlled airspace?”

(Unilaterally) “We’ve never heard of LAANC.”

Read more about the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability program on the FAA website here.

At the end of the day, it’s important to understand that while we need Counter Unmanned Aircraft System, it has to be intelligent. It is inappropriate that some of these tools are being developed in a bubble without regard to current regulations, operational standards, and programs currently available to sUAS pilots today.

Counter-UAS developers would do well to take the time to learn what pilots are able to access, what laws regulate sUAS, and how the FAA itself is working to ensure authorizations are available to certificated pilots in controlled airspace. If nothing else, C-UAS developers and manufacturers should be aware that there is great potential to rob authorized pilots of access, and their C-UAS program may well backfire, creating greater liability vs offering relief.

Purchasers of C-UAS technologies are encouraged to do the same, in order to avoid liabilities and challenges to any C-UAS strategy thay may run afoul of FAA or FCC regulation. When it comes to airspace, private property ceases to be private and there certainly is more to the conversation than taking action against an airborne sUAS.

It is our position that Counter-sUAS technology is a critical component in securing our country, events, properties, and public areas. It is equally our position that these protection tools be responsibly described within the industry to users, security directors, industry

Sundance Media Group’s newest educational tool – Podcasts!

Every year, Sundance Media Group sits with it’s employees and takes a moment to debrief the past year.  What’s worked, what challenges we’ve faced, and what we’d like to see implemented in the days/months/years to come.  Given the amazing team we have, it should be no surprise that the team wanted to find even more ways available to them to share our expertise with the public.    Thus was born the idea of an SMG Podcast.

I am grateful to Brady and Douglas for taking the reins on this new endeavour, their excitement to breathe life into the concept and put their experiences with Podcasting to work is motivating!

First we had to decide on a venue for hosting Podcasts.  As a team, we agreed that to take our extra office space and set it up as our Podcast studio; ready to roll at a drop of a hat. 

After a hectic first two quarters of tradeshows, travelling, and training, the Las Vegas team came together for our introduction Podcast, but we officially launched this new channel on May 21st and we haven’t looked back.

So why do YOU care?  Well, we’re a different type of Podcast, we’re affectionately calling them “Podbites” or “Pod-snacks”as we aim to keep our content short, sweet, and to the point.  We know just how busy you are in the field and our goal is to share bits of information with our audience in segments of 5-10 minutes and for subjects that may take more time, we’ll break it into multiple sections so that it is easier to digest.

Drop by our Youtube channel and subscribe to keep current with us, or find our playlist and simple let it run through the episodes available.  We have a lot of great content on Youtube available including product reviews, tips and tricks, and our LIVE From playlist where you might have a snippet from us in the field, in the office, or at a tradeshow showcasing something new from the industry.  Be sure to check them all out and welcome to more insights from the SMG team.

Of course, we expect to hear from you too!  Drop us a note and let us know if you have any topics that you would like us to zero in on for future Podcasts.

 

By | July 2nd, 2019|Audio, Post-Production, Production, sUAS, Technology, Training, Video|Comments Off on Sundance Media Group’s newest educational tool – Podcasts!

FoxFury High CRI Rugo Lighting Instruments

Last week I acquired a set of the new high CRI FoxFury Rugo 2’s. Although I was first introduced to the Rugo as a tool for UAS flight and photography, these new hi CRI Rugo 2 units captured my  interest and excitement. I’ve purchased several sets of the older Rugos (5700k) units, and they’re terrific for drones or basic, backfill, accent, or action cam lighting. They’re a bit too cool for scene lighting without corrective gel or filters. The CRI rating of the Rugo 2 is 92, which displays color more accurately and naturally than other LED lights.

Having access to these new Rugo 2 lights with the high CRI was exciting, as they represented yet another “shrink” in my portable imaging kit.  The size is the perfect tool for keeping on the camera full-time, whether shooting video or photos. Flashes aren’t always optimal for size, space, nor balance and the Rugo 2 allows everything to come together for the ideal compact system.

My first experience with the high CRI Rugo 2 instruments was in setting up a product shot and I was immediately knocked out at how quickly the shot came together. Before I laid out my plans for a product shot, I tested the Rugo 2’s on a toy that has a broad dynamic range (seen below in the unedited Pixel 3-captured images). One aspect that greatly impressed me was that regardless of battery status, the color did not shift (as common with most low-cost LED systems). The lights also run very cool to the touch, even after being powered up for three hours.

Liking what I saw in the final test images I decided to try them on a video interview, and again, impressed with the final result of the evaluation.

The lights pictured below are supported by very inexpensive, extremely lightweight flash stands typically found in a photographer’s kit, vs a videographer’s kit. They are essentially disposable at a cost of around $15.00 each, but are easy to pack on a plane. The Rugo is sitting on a ball swivel, the same type one might put a flash head.  This allows the Rugo 2 to tilt and angle.

 

 

LENSES

One of the features that makes the Rugo 2 so flexible is that the Rugo 2 has three lenses, aka “Tri-Lens®” technology. These three lens positions allow for a tightly-focused spot light, diffused, and flood light from one instrument. The lens may also be removed for situations where control isn’t critical. Removing the lens also offers a slightly more powerful light beam.

BATTERIES

When the battery is expired, the Rugo 2 has a clip/lever that allows the battery pack to be removed, and a fresh battery connected. This ensures wait-free production. For me, this was a huge step up, given the other battery powered instruments I’d worked with all have internal batteries, which required re-charging before use.  Batteries are inexpensive, and I recommend having a few spares on hand if the shoot is expected to go beyond three hours. Additionally, the Rugo’s flash for purposes of anti-collision lighting on a drone/UAS system.  Battery life is dependent on intensity, but generally runs in the 3, 2, 1 hour lifespan. On the lowest setting, the batteries may last as long as 6 hours. Recharges take approximately 2.5 hours, but charge faster when using upgraded USB charging systems and cables.

MOUNTS

The Rugo 2comes with a standard quarter/20 mount, as well as a Go-Pro style mount. Additional mounts are available for various kinds of drones, bikes, etc.

FLEXIBLE

The high CRI Rugo 2 also has a new power button; (look for the orange switch) this means that the instrument not only provides strobing, but also can be put in 60 feet of water, making it ideal for the underwater photography or underwater accent lighting kit. They are so small, I carry a couple in my day-to-day backpack for accent lighting, primary lighting when shooting with my mobile phone, and for when I need a flashlight.

For years, we drove around a production van similar to this one from my friends at New York Rentals. Essentially a five-light kit, three cameras/tripods, and sound kit, this required a van filled to the roof with gear. We also had a 6K lighting system that carried in a 14′ box truck with distribution and lunchboxes. With the Rugo2, those days are long gone.

Image result for production, grip equipment, van

These new Rugo 2’s from FoxFury enable me to carry essentially the same amount of lighting power and flexibility in a small case that can be carried on to any airplane, or carried on my back as a backpack, with a similar five lights, four-channel audio kit, three cameras/tripods, and a few assorted gels, C47’s, and small accessories in one kit/case.

While I was in New York teaching a class on drone imagery, it was fun to meet one of the Fire Department New York staff photographers, and I noticed on her belt, a Rugo 2 light as well.

Comparing notes, we both found how much we appreciated the small size, long battery life, and multi-lens, multi-intensity options of this new lighting instrument. She commented on the durability noting “I dropped this thing down a 75′ elevator shaft, and it didn’t miss a beat, and even provided some interesting back lighting while I was shooting.” It’s true the Rugo 2 light, like all FoxFury products, are made for durability.

SUMMARY

  • Warm color 
  •  Interchangeable Battery
  • Up to 6 hours battery life
  • Lightweight/small/cool running
  • Three lens options
  • Stand-ready
  • Virtually indestructible/Waterproof (60′)
  • No color shift (CRI 92)
  • Affordable

For the corporate producer, these lights are ideal for small in-office interviews, headshots, product shots, underwater glamour, and many other creative spaces. I simply cannot imagine going back to large-package light kits weighing over 80lbs when I can carry five FoxFury Rugo 2 instruments, and five stands in a backpack weighing less than 10lbs while achieving not only the same amount of illumination, but more valuable are the greater options with the lenses, intensities, and swappable battery packs.

FoxFury High CRI Rugo 2 LED light compared to older PhotoFlex halogen

Watch for a video coming soon on the video viability of the FoxFury high CRI Rugo lights!

Here are some photos from a recent Photowalk I did with the WPPI folks, with all lighting from the Rugo 2’s.

Mobile Phone grabs from a by-stander (apologies for out of focus areas, I didn’t shoot these, they are courtesy of someone on the photowalk

 

 

By | November 7th, 2018|Production, Technology, Training, Uncategorized, Video|Comments Off on FoxFury High CRI Rugo Lighting Instruments

AUGMENTED SECURITY WITH sUAS

sUAS or “drones” are a big buzzword in security operations these days, as they should be. sUAS are a force multiplier like no human ever could possibly be.

For starters, sUAS are a dynamic aerial platform for CCTV, allowing security teams to monitor large-scale areas with ease, reducing headcount for manned patrols, able to travel faster and farther than a human can travel on foot, while providing access to detail that the human eye cannot see.

sUAS may be automated for perimeter security, allowing repeatable, automatic flight over any given area. Large areas may be hybridized, with manual and automated flight over defined sectors. Combined with security patrols/tours, sUAS provide a faster response time, greater situational awareness, and opportunity to track an incursion until law enforcement or other forces are dispatched.

Adding infrared/thermal to sUAS aircraft provides ideal vision in the dark, regardless of the environment. Seeing through smoke, fog, or darkness, thermal cameras allow detection of a live body in any area. Depending on the cost/resolution of the thermal camera, Detection, Identification, and even Recognition may be possible from very high in the air.

On large scale construction sites, sUAS are already serving double duty as mapping devices for progress reports, and security devices assisting in detecting shrink whether through shorting of delivered stock, disappearances of heavy equipment, or identification of individuals in unauthorized areas.

 

Equipped with a zoom lens, sUAS are capable of providing license plate information from a distance. Imagine for example, an incursion detection, the intruder runs to a car and drives away. Not only can aircraft track/follow the intruder as they exit the protected area upon detection, but the aircraft can also capture images, even in low-light, of the intruder’s license plate as they escape the area.

 

Tethered sUAS allow for aircraft to remain airborne for days, if necessary, providing instant overwatch at events, high profile gatherings, or in high-risk areas where temporary requirements make it infeasible to install pole-mounted cameras.

Additionally, areas where events may be held may be pre-mapped multiple times, onion-skinned for changes in the environment with differences outlined for security notification, or simply mapped for purposes of understanding crowd flow, ingress, egress, points of vulnerability, and planning response times.

All of this at greatly reduced risk to security personnel, greatly reduced cost, and with video/images to provide evidence in the event of an incursion.

 

 

 

Learn more at the Global Security eXchange Conference in Las Vegas, September 23-27. Several drone manufacturers, service providers, software developers, and consultants will be on hand to answer questions and provide information.

Drop by the Sundance Media Group booth 5413 and have a walk through of the AVOC and see how we have been assisting local agencies and organization with their sUAS implementations.

By | September 13th, 2018|Drone Safety, Public Safety, Regulations, sUAS, sUAS Regulation, sUAS Safety, Technology, UAV|Comments Off on AUGMENTED SECURITY WITH sUAS

CSI and sUAS: Tools for the Crime Scene Analyst

FoxFury, Pix4D, Sundance Media Group (SMG), and the Nevada Drone Center of Excellence came together during the InterDrone Conference, sharing techniques and technology used for capturing forensic scenes during night hours. This event will be repeated during the Commercial UAV Expo in Las Vegas on October 3, at the WestGate hotel. Register now for the Commercial UAV Expo CSI demonstration.

Sundance Media Group and the CSI data may also be viewed at Booth #5413 at the Global Security eXchange Security Conference and Expo, September 23-27 in Las Vegas, NV at the Las Vegas Convention Center.  Register for the GSX show HERE.

Douglas Spotted Eagle addresses a crowd gathered for a crime scene/sUAS demo with local crime scene investigators, FoxFury, Pix4D, and Sundance Media Group

As you’d expect, the ratio of nighttime vs daytime crime is much higher,” said one investigator from a local law enforcement agency. “This sort of training and experience provides greater depth to our toolkit. We are grateful to have partners willing to research and share experiences that may benefit our agency.”

Using FoxFury Nomad Hi CRI, daylight-balanced lighting, to light the scene in an area of East Henderson where no power and no available light existed, the team used Hollywood makeup techniques, a bit of stage blood, and shell casings to re-create a genuine crime scene. The “crime scene” was kept pristine as nearly 100 attendees looked on.

The FoxFury Nomads, properly positioned, provide a no/low-shadow environment with accurate colors.

Most LED lighting systems will generate a color-cast that may create problems in the post-capture investigation. Moreover, the lights do not require cabling that can trip up those on-scene, or create their own form of scene contamination. To place them, we merely pull down three legs, raise the pillar, and power up the lights. At half intensity, the lights provide approximately 12 hours of lighting,” says Douglas Spotted Eagle of Sundance Media Group. The FoxFury Nomads may be charged over a 12v connection in a patrol/support vehicle as well. 

FoxFury Rugo’s are placed on the aircraft for additional lighting as well as for FAA compliance. The Rugo provides a constant flash indicator in addition to options for Flood, Flat, or Pinspot light distribution. The Rugo mounts for the Yuneec and DJI products offer a 360 swivel, allowing for light control in any direction. Users may choose from four intensities in addition to the flash/cycle option.

 

James Spear talked about the aircraft lighting, saying “We use the FoxFury Rugo’s for our scene and night lighting not only due to the many options for lighting focus, but also because of the interchangeable batteries. At full intensity, we enjoy about an hour of flight time, yet the lights will operate for up to three hours at lower intensities.”

Ground Control Points were laid into place on the perimeter of the scene, taking care to ensure no one stepped into the scene. These are used as tie-points during the 2D and 3D assembly of the data, using Pix4Dmapper. The GCP’s for night capture are painted with Day-Glo paint colors for bright visibility and identification in the darkness of night. Similar techniques may be employed during thermal mapping projects (Pix4Dmapper on the desktop may be used for thermal mapping if the thermal camera properly embeds/captures meta-data). Shown here by Brady Reisch of the SMG team, the GCP’s are a highly-valued component to set scale constraints to the scene.

The area was flown with a drone equipped with a camera capturing GPS location, capturing a reduced area for purposes of avoiding flight over persons, and for expediency during the demonstration.

The pilot, wearing a Brother AiRScouter HUD, is able to simultaneously observe the aircraft and telemetry. Attendees of the event had opportunity to wear the HUD and appreciate the value of a constant display that enables pilots to observe the aircraft, telemetry, and video data, all at once.  Jennifer Pidgen of SMG commented, “We have equipped each of our pilots with the AiRScouter system not only for these scenarios, but more importantly for those times where we’re inspecting critical detail and looking away from the aircraft may increase risk. The AirScouter enables our pilots to observe the aircraft flying closely to objects while providing a constant stream of information to the pilot.”

The sUAS captured nearly 100 photos used to create the overall model/map of the scene. Normally, the scene would encompass the entire area in the event that there may be more clues hidden in the brush or sandy areas surrounding the site. Thermal may also be used to search for other bodies, or persons involved in the crew.

The images were then taken into the Sundance Media Group AVOC computers, where we assembled them as a low-resolution 2D file to verify all areas of the scene were adequately captured,” said Sam Pepple, of Pix4D. “Once verification and confirmation are complete, the scene may be released to the rest of the CSI team for standard investigation. Following the low-resolution verification, a high-resolution image was processed and evaluated by the team, as shown in the Pix4D booth at InterDrone.”

The point cloud of the scene is shared online here. Hold CTRL+SHIFT to rotate the scene in 3 dimensions.

Once the scene is captured, the rectified scene may be viewed internally or via secured online site by CSA, or Crime Scene Analysts, allowing measurements to be verified, retaken, or examined from a multitude of angles. 

The Sundance Media Group team will be demonstrating this experience at the Commercial UAV Expo in Las Vegas on October 3. Location TBA, near the WestGate hotel (walking distance).  REGISTER HERE. It is recommended that attendees register early. The last event ran out of space/slots within three days.

Thank you to Pix4D, FoxFury, Brother, NDCOE, WestWind Unmanned, Las Vegas Metro, Henderson PD, and Sundance Media Group for their efforts to bring this to the attendees of the InterDrone event.

Douglas Spotted Eagle addresses a crowd of nearly 100 attendees at the CSI demo.

Sam Pepple of Pix4D addresses the crowd, describing how Pix4D will be used to capture the scene, the importance and value of GCP, and why these models are valuable to crime scene investigators. 

An investigator briefs the crowd on how UAS are changing the face of scene capture, and details how a scene is approached, observed, captured, and processed.

We captured the scene using multiple drones. Brady Reisch captured video of the event; we’ll soon have that available for viewing.

The SMG AVOC was the hub of activity prior to the night flight. Pizza and drinks provided by FoxFury and Pix4D.

The FoxFury Rugo lights are a key component to SMG night flight. They may be mounted  to nearly any sUAS platform including Yuneec H520, Hplus, DJI Phantom, Inspire 1, Inspire 2, Matrice 200 series, AEE Mach 4, and many others.

By | September 10th, 2018|Drone, Public Safety, sUAS, sUAS, sUAS Safety, Technology, Training, UAV|Comments Off on CSI and sUAS: Tools for the Crime Scene Analyst