Doubling down on drones

salariesRepresentatives from the public and private sector gathered at Reno-Stead Airport on a chilly February morning, all eyes focused on a small plane.

At a little under 5 feet long, the glossy white plane looks almost like a toy. For the Silver State, however, unmanned aerial vehicles are no game.

With an annual global market valued at $11.3 billion, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International expects unmanned aerial systems — also known as drones — to grow into a $140 billion industry within the next decade. During the first three quarters of 2013, investors poured $40.9 million into drone startups, more than double the amount invested during all of last year, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association.

For a state eager to rebound from the recession and diversify its economy, the potential financial windfall from the industry is a big opportunity. Just how big an economic…

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This New Naval UAV Is a “Blackjack”-of-All-Trades

Predator drones are very, very good at what they do, but $8 million will only get you about half of one. Doesn’t matter which half, that guy ain’t gonna to fly. Instead, the US Navy is investing in a smaller, lighter, more versatile recon drone.

US Naval Air Command recently awarded Boeing subsidiary Insitu an $8.8 million contract to supply the military with a one-off model of its new RQ-21A Blackjack UAV. The svelte, 80-pound, twin-boom, single-engine flying machine measures 8 feet long with a 16-foot wingspan with a 104 mph top speed, 19,500 foot service ceiling and 13 hour-plus loiter time. What’s more, the Blackjack can easily adapt to both land and sea-based missions thanks to its pneumatic launcher-the same used by the Scan Eagle-and net-based recovery system, neither of which require a runway of any length.

But the RQ-21’s real value comes from its highly configurable, modular component design…

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Tech company at ATMC in Fall River plans to manufacture unmanned aerial drones

The technology to power medium-sized unmanned aerial vehicles, better known as drones, is closer than one would think.

In fact, that technology could be manufactured in Fall River as soon as next spring.

The Lakeville-based company O’Neill Power Systems has taken up residency at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth’s Advanced Technology and Manufacturing Center on Martine Street.

The company’s plan, according to founder and president James O’Neill, is to deliver a system that can power unmanned aerial vehicles for use in industries other than the military and espionage.

The civil aviation, agriculture and public safety sectors would all benefit from the efficiency of O’Neill’s UAV, the prototypes of which have already been designed and built — twice — explained the company’s chief executive officer, Jerry Kelly.

UAVs can revolutionize those industries, especially agriculture, according to O’Neill. Using a UAV instead of manned vehicles, which can cost companies as much as…

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Adventures With The DJI Phantom

So….. Agreed to do a promotional video yesterday, based on the recent Jeff Bezos created hubbub. Overall, I think he did more for the UAS/Drone industry in the 60 Minutes segment than maybe has been done thus far, especially with many of the negative stories highlighted in the media.

While I’m waiting for the folks to finish what is a very complex edit, I’ll share a few stills from yesterday. First and foremost, this is the first time I’ve flown the Phantom with an external load. I had absolutely no idea what to expect, and to make matters worse, was landing on a “pad” that was about 6 inches from a pillar and a grouping of plants. The Phantom was still awesome with the external load, but with any speed, the box beneath spins, creating some yaw.

More pics and video on this soon.