IS THE UAS INDUSTRY PREPARED FOR 8K? DO WE WANT 8K?

In 2004, Sony released the world’s first low-cost HD camera, known as the HVR-Z1U. The camera featured a standard 1/3” imager, squeezing 1440×1080 pixels (anamorphic/non-square) pixels on to the sensor. This was also the world’s first pro-sumer camera using the MPEG2 compression scheme, with a color sample of 4:2:0, and using a GOP method of frame progression, this new technology set the stage for much higher resolutions and eventually, greater frame rates.

It’s “father,” was the CineAlta HDWF900, which offered three 2/3” CCDs, which was the industry standard for filmmaking for several years, capturing big hits such as the “Star Wars Prequel Trilogy”, “Once Upon a Time in Mexico”, “Real Steel”, “Tomorrowland”, “Avatar”, “Spykids” (1 & 2), and so many others.  The newer HDV format spawned from similar technology found in the HDWF900, and set the stage for extremely high end camera tech to trickle down into the pro-sumer space.

Overtime, camera engineers identified methods of co-siting more pixels on small imagers, binning pixels, or using other techniques to increase the capture resolution on small surfaces. Compression engineers have developed new compression schemes which brought forward AVC (h.263), MP4(h.264), and now HEVC/High Efficiency Video Codec(h.265), and still others soon to be revealed. 

Which brings us to the present.

We have to roughly quadruple megapixels to double resolution, so the jump from SD to HD makes sense, while the jump from HD to UHD/4K makes even more sense. Following that theme, jumping to 6K makes sense, while jumping to 8K is perfect theory, and nears the maximum of the human eye’s ability to resolve information.

At NAB 2018, Sony and Blackmagic Design both revealed 8K cameras and in that time frame others have followed suit.

During CommUAV and InterDrone, several folks asked for my opinion on 6 and 8K resolutions. Nearly all were shocked as I expressed enthusiasm for the format.

    “It’s impossible to edit.”

    “The files are huge.”

    “No computer can manage it.”

    “There is no where to show 8K footage.”

    “Human eyes can’t resolve that resolution unless sitting very far away from the screen.”

    “Data cards aren’t fast enough.”

And….so on.

These are all the same comments heard as we predicted the tempo of the camera industry transitioning from SD to HD, and from HD to 4K.  In other words, we’ve been here before.

Video cameras are acquisition devices. For the same reasons major motion pictures are acquired at the highest possible resolutions, and for the same reasons photographers get very excited as resolutions on-camera increase, so should UAS photographers. Greater resolution doesn’t always mean higher grade images. Nor does larger sensor sizes increase quality of images. On the whole, higher resolution systems usually does translate into higher quality images.

Sensor sizes are somewhat important to this discussion, yet not entirely critical. The camera industry has been packing more and more pixels into the same physical space for nearly two decades, without the feared increase in noise. Additionally, better noise-sampling/reduction algorithms, particularly from OEM’s like Sony and Ambarella, have allowed far greater reduction in noise compared to the past. Cameras such as the Sony A7RIV and earlier offer nearly noise-free ISO of 32,000!

Sensor sizes vary of course, but we’ll find most UAS utilize the 1/2.3, or the 1” sensor. (Light Blue and Turquoise sizes respectively, as seen below). 


“Imagine an UAS equipped with an 8K camera inspecting a communications tower. Resolution is high, so small specs of rust, pitting, spalling, or other damage which might be missed with lower resolutions or the human eye become apparent with a greater resolution.”


Why Does Higher Resolution Translate to a Superior Finished Product?

Generally, we’re downsampling video or photos to smaller delivery vehicles, for but one reason. In broadcast, 4:2:2 uncompressed color schemes were the grail (no longer). Yet, most UAS cameras capture a 4:2:0 color sample.  However, a 4K capture, downsampled to 1080 at delivery, offers videographers the same “grail” color schema of 4:2:2!

As we move into 6 or 8K, similar results occur. We gain the ability to crop for post editing/delivery to recompose images without fear of losing resolution. This means that although the aircraft may shoot a wide shot, the image may be recomposed to a tighter image in post, so long as the delivery is smaller than the source/acquisition capture. For example, shooting 4K for 1080 delivery means that up to 75% of the image may be cropped without resolution loss.

 

As the image above demonstrates, it’s quite possible to edit 8K HEVC streams on a newer laptop. Performance is not optimal without a great deal of RAM and a good video card, as HEVC requires a fair amount of horsepower to decode. The greater point, is that we can edit images with deep recomposition. Moreover, we have more pixels to work with, providing greater color correction, color timing, and depth/saturation.

For public safety, this is priceless. An 8K capture provides great ability to zoom/crop deeply into a scene and deliver much greater detail in HD or 4K delivery.

The same can be said for inspections, construction progress reports, etc. Users can capture at a high resolution and deliver in a lower resolution.

Another benefit of 6 and 8K resolutions is the increase in dynamic range. While small sensors only provide a small increase in dynamic range, a small increase is preferable to no increase. 

To address other statements about 6K and 8K resolutions; They human eye has the ability to see around 40megapixels, age-dependent. 8K is approximately 33megapixels. However, the human eye doesn’t see equal resolutions across the surface. The center of our eye sees approximately 8megapixels, where the outer edges are not as deep. High resolution does provide greater smoothing across the spectrum, therefore our eyes see smoother moving pictures.

BEYOND THE HUMAN EYE

Going well-beyond the human eye, higher resolutions are applicable to “computer vision,” benefiting mapping, 3D modeling, and other similar applications. Generally speaking, more pixels equals greater smoothness and geometry. As technology moves deeper into Artificial Intelligence, higher resolutions with more efficient codecs become yet even more important. Imagine an UAS equipped with an 8K camera inspecting a communications tower. Resolution is high, so small specs of rust or other damage which might be missed with lower resolutions or the human eye become more visible with a greater resolution. Now imagine that greater resolution providing input to an AI-aided inspection report that might notify the operator or manager of any problem. Our technology is moving beyond the resolution of the human eye for good reason.

DATA STORAGE

Files from a 6 or 8K camera are relatively small, particularly when compared to uncompressed 8K content (9.62TB per hour). Compression formats, known as “Codecs” have been improving for years, steadily moving forward. For example, when compressions first debuted in physical form, we saw Hollywood movies delivered on DVD. Then we saw HD delivered on Blu-ray. Disc formats are dead, but now we’ve moved through MPG2, AVC, AVCHD, H.264, and now H.265/HEVC. In the near future we’ll see yet even more compression schemes benefitting our workflows. VVC or “Versatile Video Codec” will be the next big thing in codecs for 8K, scheduled to launch early 2022.

Unconventional h.264 and H.265/HEVC are currently being used as delivery codecs for compressed 6 and 8K streams. 8K has been successfully broadcast (in testing environments) at rates as low as 35Mbps for VOD, while NHK has set the standard at 100Mbps for conventional delivery.

Using these codecs, downconverting streams to view OTA/Over The Air to tablets, smartphones, or ground station controllers is already possible.  It’s unlikely we’ll see 8K streaming from the UAS to the GSC. 

U3 Datacards are certainly prepared for 6 and 8K resolutions/datastreams; compression is what makes this possible.  The KenDao 8K and Insta 8K 360 cameras both are recording to U3 cards available in the market today.

It will be some time before the average consumer will be seeing 8K on screens in their homes. However, 8K delivered for advertising, trying to match large format footage being shot on Weapon, Monstro, Helium or other camera formats may be less time-consuming when using 8K, even from a smaller camera format carried on an UAS (these cameras may easily be carried on heavy-lift UAS).

Professional UAS pilots will benefit greatly from 5, 6, or 8K cameras, and should not be shy about testing the format. Yes, it’s yet another paradigm shift in an always-fluid era of aerial and visual technology.  There can be no doubt that these higher resolutions provide higher quality in any final product. Be prepared; 2020 is the year of 5, 6, and 8K cameras on the flying tripods we’re using for our professional and personal endeavors, and I for one, am looking forward to it with great enthusiasm.

 

*Want to know more about codecs, compression/decompression, optimizing capture and data for streaming, or a greater understanding of how to create the best visual images without all the hype and mystery? Ask about training and classes in “Cracking the Camera Code” seminars found online, in our training facility, or in your offices.

 

By | November 25th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

HIGH-INTENSITY SPOTLIGHT FOR AEE MACH™ 4 sUAS

## PRESS RELEASE ##

CONTACT INFORMATION:

AEE USA

Mike Kahn

Mike Kahn mkahn@aee.com

858.349.5246

RELEASE DATE:  10.24.2019

 

HIGH-INTENSITY SPOTLIGHT FOR AEE MACH™ 4 sUAS

 Transformative lighting for unmanned aircraft now available

 

 Dateline: [Las Vegas NV 10.25.2019] — Powered by FoxFury, AEE announces a 4-degree spotlight created for the AEE Mach™ 4 aircraft, providing users with a lighting system similar to helicopter-mounted spotlighting systems.

“This new lighting system powered by FoxFury is far beyond anything currently available in the unmanned industry,” said

Mike Kahn, CMO-AEE. “We are excited at the power, battery life, and the unmatched intensity of this new focused spotlight system.”

The 5000 lumen, 790 gram light is built from 6061-T6 aluminum with an IPX7 rating, and offers three intensities and a strobe function. The AEE Mach™ 4 aircraft is capable of approximately 30 minute flight with the spotlight powered by the airframe power supply due to high power efficiency.

“Our intent is to re-create the experience of a helicopter-mounted spotlight while taking into consideration the payload and power capability of an sUAS system” said Mario Cugini of FoxFury. “AEE is the first sUAS system to deploy this platform-agnostic spotlight product designed for virtually any midsized sUAS.”

The AEE Mach™ 4 sUAS system is manufactured for Public Safety, EMS, and inspection purposes, priced at $6499 with a standard 4K camera and $7499.00 with a 10X optical zoom camera. The Spotlight system is $799.00. The AEE Mach™ 4 is a point-to-point secure system with a military-grade ground station control, offering long flight time and/or heavy payload capability with retractable landing gear and

Douglas Spotted Eagle (Sundance Media Group) Director of Education says “Currently there is no product from any manufacturer which offers the intensity, battery life, and viability of in-air scene lighting for public safety, night inspection, or security purposes. We have had opportunity to beta-test this system and are exceptionally impressed with the Mach™ 4 platform carrying the FoxFury Spotlight. The focus, distance/intensity, ultra-efficient battery consumption, and heat dissipation goes well beyond anything we’ve seen in the unmanned industry.”

The AEE platform and FoxFury lighting system may be seen in action at CommUAV Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 29/30, and during the Night Flight programming from Sundance Media Group in the same week.

 

About AEE

AEE Aviation Technology Ltd., has been a leader in developing and manufacturing professional, advanced and reliable recording equipment since 1999. This includes UAV drone systems, action cameras such as the MagicCam and police recording equipment. A pioneer in combining wireless audio and video transmission as well as image and processing and intelligent control technologies, AEE products are proudly distributed worldwide in more than 55 countries and regions across major retail chain outlets. AEE Aviation Technology, Ltd., is based in Shenzhen, China with offices in Munich, Germany and Walnut, California, USA.

 

About FoxFury

Since 2003, FoxFury leads the world in cutting edge LED lighting solutions for enterprise use. The FoxFury Xtremium™ products focus on durability and speed, providing unique solutions and possibilities for first responders, unmanned pilots, enterprise professionals, and videographers in over 65 countries, distributed through the world’s largest distribution centers. FoxFury is a proud US company, with offices in Oceanside, CA.

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By | October 25th, 2019|Counter UAS, Drone, Drone Safety, Inspection, Law Enforcement, Night Flight, Public Safety, Real Estate, Regulations, Security, sUAS, sUAS Regulation, sUAS Safety, UAV, UAV Maintenance|Comments Off on HIGH-INTENSITY SPOTLIGHT FOR AEE MACH™ 4 sUAS

ISC West 2019 & Unmanned Security Expo 2019

SMG BOOTH NUMBER:  3139

ISC West Show Schedule Info

ISC West is THE largest converged security industry trade show in the U.S. At ISC West, you will have the chance to network with over 30,000 security professionals through New Products & Technologies encompassing everything from access control to drones & robotics from over 1,000 Exhibitors & Brands.

Join us at ISC West, largest converged security industry trade show in the U.S. Experience 3 days packed full with networking opportunities, education and new technologies revolutionizing the security industry. Drive your business into a brighter and safer future by exploring new products and meeting new security industry professionals. Enhance your professional skills by attending world-class educational sessions.

Register Now

If you fall into any of these categories, ISC West is the right fit for you!

  • Physical Security:
    • Dealers
    • Integrators
    • Installers
    • End-Users from various vertical markets including Healthcare, Education, Finance, Retail, Transportation/Public Safety, Hospitality & Entertainment, Oil/Gas/Utilities and more.
    • Consultants/Specifiers
    • Architects & Engineers
    • Central Station
    • And More
  • IT Security:
    • IT Integrators
    • IT Vars
    • CISO’s, CIOs & Directors of Cyber & Information Security
    • CTOs
    • Risk & Compliance
    • And More

 

ALSO at ISC West:

Unmanned Safety and Security@ISC West

Unmanned Security Expo @ ISC West returns this year focusing on Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), Unmanned Ground Robotics & Vehicles (UGVs), counter-drone solutions and the various software and applications that support them. The market growth for unmanned technologies being used for security & safety benefits is progressing at a rapid pace, with the number of both commercial and consumer drones registering with the FAA causing an urgent concern for air space security. Unmanned Security Expo addresses the opportunities to improve security & safety functionality with the use of UAVs & UGVs, the threats that counter-drone technologies can address to ensure public & defense safety, and policy & regulation progress and key trends.

Located right on the ISC West exhibit floor, Unmanned Security Expo ensures that participants interact with and reap all the benefits of the complete ISC West audience. Unmanned Security Expo will include exhibits and a dedicated education theater, as well as demos of the best UAV, UGV and autonomous systems on the market.

By | April 9th, 2019|0 Comments

Update? Calibrate!

Software and firmware run the world of UAS, and some developer/manufacturers offer/require frequent updates. Updates are a component of the maintenance process for any UAS and should be manually checked at minimum, every 30 days. We recommend that any old software/firmware versions be archived if possible, in the event of problems encountered with a new update. Rolling back software is a good option (when possible).  In addition to archiving old software/firmware versions (when possible), it is required by the FAA that any maintenance be logged. This includes logging any software/firmware updates to the aircraft system.

For many UAS pilots/operators, the process ends at the update. In fact, many updates occur in-field with automated software updates being required by some manufacturer/developers, so the pilot uses WiFi or cellular connection to update the aircraft, controller, software, or battery, just before flying the next mission. There have been many instances where the next action with the aircraft is to begin the planned mission.

This is a mistake.

Any time software or firmware on the aircraft, tablet, battery, IMU, or other component of the aircraft is implemented, it is recommended that the aircraft be re-calibrated. This step is frequently put aside in interests of time, and can result in disaster.

The issue this pilot had could have been avoided had the aircraft and system been recalibrated prior to flight. The aircraft is a total loss due to compass error.

Software/Firmware updates are not always reliable and in some cases, result in safety issues. Recalibration is an important step in mitigating risk due to unknown factors generated via the software/firmware update process.  Compass, accelerometer, etc all must be recalibrated. It is also a good idea to let the aircraft sit for a few minutes after powering up, to acquire all satellites prior to flight after a recalibration.

Take 5 to avoid issues. Calibrate after every software/firmware update, and log the calibration along with the notice of update/firmware changelog.  Your flights will be more safe and confident.

 

By | November 27th, 2018|Uncategorized|Comments Off on Update? Calibrate!

BOTACH and Sundance Media Group partner for sUAS Training & Consulting Services

Press Release

BOTACH and Sundance Media Group partner for sUAS Training & Consulting Services

Las Vegas, NV, November 08, 2018:

Botach, Inc. (OTC Markets: BOTACH) (“Botach” or the “Company”), Botach (a drone reseller), drone service provider and distributor of tactical products to the U.S. Public Safety channel, and the U.S. Government), announced a reseller/training partnership with Las Vegas-based Sundance Media Group (SMG), a company that specializes in assisting police, fire and private corporations with standing up training programs across the country and filing Certificates of authorization and/or waivers with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). SMG also creates or assists in the implementation of Policy, Procedures, and Operations manuals for ISO-compliant municipalities and organizations.

During the Nevada State Traffic Incident Management training event this past week, Chushim Botach, Botach’s Chief Executive Officer, commented: “Our reseller partnership with Sundance Media Group (SMG) enables us to offer a necessary and critical component of our everything drone strategy to our customers. Through SMG and our own product offerings, we possess the ability to offer our customers a turnkey acquisition, training, and COA/Waiver package. We have observed their abilities over the past two years and have been exceptionally impressed with their dedication to excellence.”

“Training, authorizations and waivers are vital to a viable and successful sUAS program.”

SMG has a 17-year history working in aviation, and has developed training missions for MIRT (Major Incident Response Teams), CSI, traffic homicide, night-time forensic missions, and crowd overwatch with and without tethering components.

We are very happy to be a component of the Botach end-to-end solution for Public Safety and Government sUAS programming,” says Jennifer Pidgen, COO of the company now celebrating 24 years in training. “We look forward to bringing our training standard of excellence and certified instructor/examiner program to Botach’s nation-wide clientele.”

About Botach

Botach Inc. is a family owned business and is one of the leading retailers of tactical and military supplies throughout our great nation. From duty boots to assault rifles, we sell products in every category in the tactical/military industry. Founded in the Los Angeles area, we have recently moved to a new home in Las Vegas. Las Vegas brings into a more shooter friendly environment to which we look forward to exploring and growing within.

Our expertise has kept us in business for over 20 years.  We take pride in caring for our customers.

For additional information about Botach, please visit https://www.botach.com/.

About Sundance Media Group

Founded in 1996, 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 National Association of Broadcasters Post Production World Conference, and is an ISO-compliant organization.
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 sundancemediagroup.com

By | November 7th, 2018|Counter UAS, Drone, Drone Safety, Night Flight, Public Safety, Regulations, sUAS, sUAS Regulation, Training, UAV, UAV Maintenance|Comments Off on BOTACH and Sundance Media Group partner for sUAS Training & Consulting Services

PRESS RELEASE: Global Security Exchange X-Learning Stages to Address Intersection of Security and Technology

FOR RELEASE:  September 18, 2018

Media Contact:
Peggy O’Connor
pr@asisonline.org
+1.703.518.1415

AERIAL VEHICLE OPERATIONS CENTER/AVOC to be on display at GSX, demonstrating present and future technologies for sUAS in Security Operations

Alexandria, VA – September 15, 2018  Security is an ever-evolving landscape and sUAS (Drones) are an undeniable,  significant component of future security operations. sUAS are disrupting virtually every corner of the security, law enforcement, and event management industries.

Sundance Media Group (SMG) and their AVOC will be center stage at the Global Security Exchange (GSX) conference being held Sept 23-27 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. In the first year of its rebrand following a 63-year history as the ASIS International Seminar and Exhibits, GSX is expected to attract more than 20,000 operational and cyber security professionals and 550 exhibitors for the industry’s flagship event. ASIS International is the world’s largest association for security management professionals.

“The AVOC is a game-changer in event security and security operations demonstration,” said Jennifer Pidgen, COO of SMG, “The technology and ability have already demonstrated their value in a post 10/1 environment. “ Coupling aerial robotics with automated perimeter security, 360 video, and a low-profile, controlled environment makes for a cost-effective, low profile presence for outdoor venue security and perimeter monitoring.  Attendees of the GSX conference will have opportunity to walk through the AVOC, see the latest technology in simulated use, speak with sUAS experts in the security and law enforcement sectors, and gain a deeper understanding of how sUAS are currently being implemented, and how security organizations may implement sUAS in the future near and far.

Douglas Spotted Eagle, Director of Educational Programming said, “we are thrilled to be a part of the GSX experience, demonstrating security and forensic applications of sUAS for both day and night functions, controlled through our AVOC, as well as outside the AVOC for smaller events. The computer horsepower, display systems, and aircraft combine for a near invisible presence in the skies as overwatch and perimeter security, and we believe attendees of the GSX event will be surprised and enthusiastic about the opportunity to know more about drones in this changing environment.”

At GSX, the exhibit hall will be transformed into a learning lab environment featuring thousands of security products, technologies and service solutions, as well as immersive learning opportunities designed to connect the current threat landscape, as well as emerging risks, with leading solutions available in the marketplace. New features available on this year’s show floor include:

X-Learning Theaters:

X Stage—features leading-edge technologies and their impacts across the industry, examining innovations like blockchain and cryptocurrencies, AI, drones and robotics, social media and the digital self;

Xcelerated Exchange Stage—provides a forum for the critical discussions that need to take place between practitioners and solution providers to proactively address the current and future security landscape; and

Xperience Stage—showcases case studies and other tried-and-true best practices that address security challenges facing practitioners across all industry sectors, including active shooter scenarios, bullying in the healthcare industry, and the risks associated with hosting a public event at cultural institutions.

Career HQ, with new career fair and enhanced career center:
Job seekers will have access to resume reviews, a headshot studio, career coaching, professional development sessions and networking opportunities with employers and peers—all free. The new career fair will have top companies looking to hire talent, such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Apple.

D3 Xperience (Drones, Droids, Defense):
Supported by Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), D3 will deliver an immersive learning experience focused on the impact of Unmanned Systems on the security industry. Education and demos will showcase the emerging technology around the use of drones, droids and counter-UAV defense systems.
Innovative Product Awards (IPAs) Showcase:

The 2018 Innovative Product Awards highlights the new products and services on the GSX show floor that are poised to disrupt the security marketplace. The submission deadline is August 3.

In addition to these features, the exhibit floor will house an International Trade Center and the ASIS Hub, which includes access to ASIS Council representatives, live streaming interviews, and fireside chats.

“We have completely re-engineered GSX to provide more opportunities for security practitioners, solution providers, students, military and first responders. From Career HQ and the International Trade Center to our three unique theaters of education and live demos, attendees and exhibitors will find tremendous value in our immersive, engaging, and informative expo hall,” said Richard E. Chase, CPP, PCI, PSP, 2018 president, ASIS International. “There is no other event that compares to what GSX is offering this year, and we’re just getting started. We will continue to evolve and grow GSX in the years ahead as a part of our new brand promise to unite the full spectrum of security professionals to create the only global “must attend” security event.”

GSX brings together attendees, speakers, exhibitors and press from more than 100 countries. To learn more and to register, visit www.GSX.org/register. Members of the press are eligible to receive a free all-access pass, including keynote presentations, education sessions, and the show floor. Email pr@asisonline.org with your media credentials to register.

###

About Global Security Exchange

Entering its 64th year, Global Security Exchange (formerly the ASIS International Annual Seminar & Exhibits) is the world’s most comprehensive event for security professionals worldwide, dedicated to addressing fast-paced changes across the industry with a focus on immersive learning, revitalized networking, and a reimagined exhibit floor.

Attendance at GSX directly supports scholarship programs and the development of education, certification, and standards and guidelines year-round. ASIS International remains dedicated to expanding and enriching knowledge sharing, best practices, and peer-to-peer connections so security professionals across disciplines—and at all stages of their career—can get access to the information and resources they need to succeed. For information, visit www.GSX.org.

About  Sundance Media Group

Founded in 1996, 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 National Association of Broadcasters Post Production World Conference and is an ISO-compliant organization.

With experts in 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 

By | September 19th, 2018|Counter UAS, Drone, Drone Safety, Inspection, Night Flight, Public Safety, Security, sUAS, sUAS Regulation, sUAS Safety, UAV, UAV Maintenance|Comments Off on PRESS RELEASE: Global Security Exchange X-Learning Stages to Address Intersection of Security and Technology

BATTERY MANAGEMENT for sUAS

Batteries, Fuel, power, energy, no matter how the cells powering UAS are referred to, are components of the Unmanned Aerial SYSTEM that are frequently ignored, often to operational peril.

During this hot summer season we’ve had multiple agencies and individuals reach out with battery questions. In a few situations, fuel cells have been ignored for so long that the batteries are beyond recovery.

This issue is not limited, of course, to only UAS batteries. Laptops, mobile phones, radios, MP3 players, etc all run the risk of battery failure/damage if mismanaged.

HELP YOURSELF AVOID THIS ISSUE.

First and foremost, always store batteries at less than half-charge. Generally, batteries should be stored at 30-40% of charge. Yes, this may create some inconveniences for emergency services, and there are other ways around this issue. Proper battery maintenance means having a battery charging, logging, discharging, and storage strategy beyond the scope of this article.

Use a professional charging solution.

Manufacturers rarely provide quality charging systems. This means agencies and users must step outside the manufacturer ecosystem and purchase a third party charger. For example, Vertical Partners West manufactures a line of chargers branded as “Venom,” which fits into the low-midrange agency/organization price point and strategy. They also manufacture a high-end commercial charger with a subscription system, ensuring all-time battery optimization, monitored at the user location and/or their own servers in Idaho.

Note the “Cycle/Store” button options; these are critical for proper battery maintenance. Batteries that will not be used for some time should use the Storage feature to reduce the battery cells to 3.85 volts. This sort of system chargers at least 1.5X faster than manufacturer systems, so bringing a battery to full charge is a relatively fast process. These fan-cooled systems may live in the back of a patrol truck or command center; the key is keeping the battery cool.

Image courtesy Michael Panco

 

STAY CHILL!

One frequent cause of fuel failure stems from a fully-charged battery being kept in a black case in direct sunlight, a vehicle trunk, or other hot area. This will virtually always cause any battery to “gas off” and become puffy.  Some“gassing off” is normal of LiPo batteries, gassing off QUICKLY is not.

 

Some batteries are foil-wrapped and have air in the foil, vs the cell being truly puffed. These batteries should be disposed of for safety reasons, even though they may appear to be fully charged and operating properly.

Proper battery maintenance will USUALLY prevent this swelling from occurring. ** It’s important to note that battery life is reduced in extreme heat and extreme cold!

 

 

HANDLE WITH CARE

Next to overheating/over charging, the next biggest killer of LiPo batteries is from being dropped on the ground. Batteries are flammable, may explode in the perfect scenario, and should be handled with care at all times. We recommend storing them in cool, dry metal boxes or LiPo pouches. Surplus ammo cans are ideal. LiPo pouches, stored in a food cooler is another efficient means of storage.

Organizations with fleets of UAS are likely already using fleet management software, such as KittyHawk, Skyward, or similar. Fuel systems are often an afterthought. But what if the fleet management software could interface with the charging solution, ensuring accuracy and notification occur with battery management?

This is where a product like the Venom Commercial Battery Management System brings great value to the table. Fireproof drawers for charging batteries, intelligent interface that monitors battery health, cycles, temps, voltage, depth of discharge and more are possible. The system will also notify users of failing batteries. According to the VPW website, they also custom-build charging trays to user specification.

CHARGING ON-SITE

NEVER place a freshly-depleted/warm battery into a charger. Allow the battery time to cool off prior to re-charging.

USAGE TIP!

A common practice in many production houses is to place charged batteries on the prep table in the face-up position, or put a strip of green tape on the top of the battery. Depleted/ready to charge batteries are placed face-down/upside down on the charging table, sometimes with a strip of red tape on the bottom. Green/face up indicates a ready-to-go battery, while red indicates a depleted battery. Some houses go so far as to write battery cycles per-project on the tape so that batteries may be properly logged following production. These techniques help ensure fresh, fully functioning batteries on every project.

IN SUMMARY:

  • Store batteries at 30% of full charge
  • Store batteries in a cool, dark area
  • Log battery charge cycles. Replace batteries at 300 cycles (or follow manufacturer direction. For those in the USA, logging batteries is a maintenance requirement per AC107-2)
  • Replace/Dispose of swollen/puffy batteries
  • Use a professional-grade charging solution as opposed to manufacturer-included charging solutions

 

Douglas Spotted Eagle has been active in UAS aviation since 2010, and active in general aviation for nearly 20 years. He is a 25-year veteran of the Subject Matter Guru team, and a co-founder of Sundance Media Group (SMG), with a deep focus on sUAS for Public Safety, Construction, and Inspection verticals. As the co-author of five books on the topic of sUAS for specific uses, he continues to push the envelope in sUAS implementation.
Douglas welcomes input from readers.

By | July 22nd, 2018|sUAS Regulation, UAV Maintenance|Comments Off on BATTERY MANAGEMENT for sUAS