Quadcopter Inspects B-52 on USAF Taxiway

Edwards 1Reposted from UAS VISION (http://ift.tt/2o8axwG)

An unusual aircraft went through its motions on the Edwards Air Force Base flightline March 16 when a small quadcopter equipped with a camera took to the sky to perform a visual inspection of a B-52 Stratofortress.

This was the first-ever test using a small unmanned aerial system near an active taxiway on an Air Force flightline.

As aircraft taxied by on their way to launch or recovery, and others flew overhead, the tiny quadcopter flew a pattern around the B-52 under the direction of the Emerging Technologies Combined Test Force.

This inspection was the second in a series of tests to examine the feasibility of using small unmanned aerial systems to perform visual pre- and post-flight inspections of large aircraft. The first was done on a C-17 Globemaster III parked on an out-of-the-way ramp during training day.

Major Will Niblack, the ET-CTF operations officer and sUAS pilot, said there were some added challenges to this second test with the B-52.

“Two significant differences were conducting the aircraft inspection near a main operating taxiway – successfully avoiding being a conflict to other aircraft – and completing this capability (demonstration) while actual exterior maintenance was being done on the aircraft. We avoided being a hindrance to their maintenance operation,” Niblack said.

Edwards2

One of those maintainers, James Rebel, a B-52 crew chief with the 912th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, was working on his aircraft as the sUAS was doing its tests. He said he thought it was a pretty cool concept.

“It only takes about an hour for us to get harnessed up and do an inspection,” Rebel said. “So this may not save us much time yet. But once they get it fine-tuned, I can see its usefulness.” He said it would be especially useful on higher areas, such as the tail, on B-52s and C-17s.

Niblack said this second test was very successful, and the 412th Maintenance group has shown continued interest in developing this capability for future maintenance support.

“We plan to continue working with the (Maintenance Group) to stand up this capability in their respective units,” he said.

He also said the ET CTF is working on future capability demonstrations with the 412th Civil Engineer Group to perform building and roof inspections.

Photos: U.S. Air Force photos by Christian Turner

Source: US Air Force

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Sentera Announces Real-Time NDVI Video Streaming

This is an interesting development.  Prior to this technology, NDVI required post-flight processing to be effective. According to Sentera, they can now accomplish this live and in-camera.

Sentera today announced the upcoming release of LiveNDVI™ video: live streamed NDVI video via the Sentera Double 4K sensor. This breakthrough technology will offer agronomists worldwide the fastest way to make decisions and specify inputs based on complete, real-time data. Sentera’s Double 4K “little green sensor” processes normalised difference vegetation index (NDVI) data in-flight, on the sensor, and live streams NDVI video directly to the user’s mobile device on the ground, the moment it’s captured.

“This is a great new tool for agronomists and other advisors,” said Eric Taipale, CEO of Sentera. “Users have been limited in what they could immediately take away from sensor data while they’re still at the field’s edge. With the Double 4K’s LiveNDVI capability, these users get definitive NDVI data on the entire field immediately, and with complete confidence. It could not be faster, and it costs less than traditional methods of data collection.”

Capabilities like LiveNDVI continue to reduce the time and expense associated with lower-value data collection tasks. By collecting higher quality data faster and less expensively than ever before, agronomists can focus on high-value advisory and prescriptive tasks, bring more acres under management, and provide better advice, to more growers, at a lower cost.

Drone Watcher: Android App That Detects UAS

This new app for Android detects nearby “consumer” grade drones and then alerts that user of their presence.  I assume (I haven’t tested it – no Android phone), that it utilizes the device’s WiFi radio to do some sort of sniffing of 2.4GHz traffic around and near the phone – but that’s just a guess. That would also explain the disclaimer that Drone Watcher does not detect ‘toy’ drones or DoD class vehicles – neither of those would utilize the 2.4GHz ISM radio bands.

The intriguing thing here (for me), is the first sentence of the app description on the Google Play store:

Are you concerned that your neighbor is spying on you with their drone?

If you are, may I recommend a nice pattern for your tinfoil hat as well?

This app sounds pretty nifty, and the upcoming ‘Pro’ version, which will allow a network of these devices to cover a wide area in a coordinated way, might have some legitimate uses in places where UAS should not be flown.  Right now, Drone Watcher illustrates the paranoia (mostly uninformed) that the public has towards UAS in general.