Latitude Engineering Successfully Tests HQ-55

The HQ-55, the newest airframe from Latitude Engineering, recently completed a successfully flight.

This flight marked the completion of a Phase 1 National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR).

On December 12, 2017, the Part 107 compliant aircraft successfully preformed multiple auto-hovers and a short flight.


HQ-55 Phase II

Phase II will involve refinement of the design and testing of the automated launch and recovery from a moving ship. This ship-borne capability will dramatically improve the capabilities of atmospheric and oceanic researchers around the world.

In addition, the vehicle will provide one of the highest payload capacities and range of any part 107 compliant aircraft.


Find other Latitude Engineering products at Unmanned Systems Source.


Drone Airborne Collision Report Released by FAA, ASSURE

Last October, a research team from the Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence (ASSURE) released a report on airborne collisions.

At this time, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is yet to definitively address drone collision concerns.

Currently, several universities continue to conduct studies and collect data to help inform any future decisions by the FAA.

The report by ASSURE concludes that drones that collide with large manned aircraft can cause more structural damage than birds of the same weight for a given impact speed.

The FAA plans on using the research results to develop operational and collision risk mitigation requirements for drones.


Choosing the aircraft

The research team began the study in FY 2016. The focus of the study was simple, answer the question: what happens when there is a collision between an sUAS and an airplane?

Researchers determined the most like impact scenarios by reviewing the operational environments of both sUAS and manned aircraft. Based on this evaluation, the team selected the business and commercial aircraft as well as the sUAS for computer modeling and physical validation testing.

The final selections included the characteristics of a Boeing B737 and an Airbus A320. These crafts represent 70% of today’s commercial aircraft fleet. Characteristics of the Learjet 30/40/50 represented the business jet model.

For the sUAS, the team chose a small quadcopter as well as a light fixed-wing UAV.

Areas of a manned craft determined to most likely experience impact included: edges of wings, vertical and horizontal stabilizers, and windscreens.

The ASSURE team continues to conduct testing of engine impact scenarios. The findings will be released in the future.


The impact results

Currently, commercial aircraft manufacturers design aircraft structural components to withstand bird strikes. Simulations by ASSURE demonstrate that sUAS of an equivalent size and speed of a bird strike inflicts more damage.

And, whereas birds are mostly composed of water…drones are not.

Testing showed that the stiffest components of the sUAS – such as the motor, battery and payload – cause the most damage. Concentrating those masses on the drone also increases the damage.

The structural damage severity levels ranged from no damage to failure of the primary structure and penetration of the drone into the air-frame.

However, the research specifically did not explore the risk to flight imposed by that damage.

ASSURE researchers emphasized the importance of properly researching and regulating the use of sUAS in the increasingly crowded national airspace system. Safe sUAS operations were a point of emphasis. Adoption of  “detect and avoid” or “geo-fencing” capabilities by manufacturers are another way to reduce the probability of collisions.

Read the entire report, here.

In 2014 Congress directed the FAA to establish a UAS Center of Excellence. The FAA selected ASSURE, led by Mississippi State University, in May 2015.


Keys to Adding Drones to Public Safety Agency Operations

Often, one of the biggest obstacles to the widespread adoption of any new technology is the initial uncertainty of the regulation landscape.

For example, consider the promise of self-driving cars. While the technology is advancing by leaps and bounds, the much-needed test-driving hours are constrained by red tape. Without real-world testing the acceptance and adoption of this technology stalls.

Thankfully, drones are further down the road in terms of both societal acceptance and utilization. As the regulation landscape settles, the largest growth of drones is still ahead.

Today, more and more industries utilize drones to perform functions that were once unimaginable. Public Safety Agencies are beginning to harness their potential, as well. And, though they are some integration obstacles, advanced planning can reduce the pain.


Challenges of adding drones

For most public agencies, navigating drone operation regulations is fairly straightforward and manageable. A thornier issue is managing public opinion.

Public opposition to the use of UAVs by local municipalities, though decreasing, is still fairly high. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 36% of American Adults now favor the use of unmanned drones by police agencies in the United States. Slightly more (39%) still oppose the use of police drones, while 25% are undecided.

Objections range from concerns about privacy to liability issues in the event of a drone mishap.

At the same time, municipal agencies face resistance from within their organizations. Of particular concern is the financial cost of purchasing equipment, training staff, and the natural hesitance that comes with adopting any new technology.

It’s best if any agency looking to add drones to the public safety toolkit address these issues in advance.


Overcoming Perceptions

Drones are powerful tools which can help maintain public safety, assist in search and rescue operations and even perform humanitarian relief work.

However, for many in the general public, drones are just glorified toys. In part, this is due to the relative newness of the technology coupled with limited experience with “serious” drone operations.

The “drone is just a toy” mentality is particularly harmful when it comes to price. Acquiring a drone built for commercial or public service involves considerable financial outlay.

Commercial drones can cost several thousand dollars once peripherals and accessories are taken into consideration. There is also the added cost of training personnel and securing the proper certification for the pilots.

Understanding the costs of adding a drone to the agency is imperative. Keep in mind, though, the technological benefits are substantial.

From conducting night operations with infrared cameras to surveying areas that are inaccessible or inhospitable to humans, drones extend the reach of an agency. In high risk situations, drones can help minimize personnel exposure. Plus, drones are highly portable with a small take-off and landing footprint, and deploy rapidly.


Integrating the technology

Once an agency decides to add a drone to their operations, the next step is to ensure adequate preparation for their use.

Commercial drone operations are, of course, regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Drone operators must complete training and certification before taking control of a drone. The agency, as well, must apply for their waiver in order to conduct operations.

The issue of liability is another consideration when integrating this technology.

In the course of any operation, mishaps occur. It is important to understand the liabilities associated with operating a drone for public safety work. It is helpful, too, to understand how they agency will handle any liability issues that arise. A review of insurance coverage is vital.

Integrating drone technology into public safety operations can vastly improve the reach and efficiency of an agency. With careful investment in the right equipment, training and education, an agency can integrate drones with much success.


Understanding IP Rating Standards and how they Relate to Your Drone

An Ingress Protection Rating, or IP rating, is a laboratory-certified industrial rating for a piece of electronic equipment or an enclosure for electrical equipment.

The IP Rating explains the degree of protection provided against debris and water intrusion. It also measures protection against accidental contact — including body parts like fingers or hands — to critical components.

Developed by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), this internationally recognized rating system is in wide use in Europe and Asia. North America is adopting this standard at a slower pace.


IP Rating Standards

The standard provides consumers more detailed information than terms like  “waterproof”. The IP rating consists of two digits, each of which measure different forms of environmental influence.

The first digit represents protection against intrusion of solid objects, such as dust and debris. The second digit represents protection against ingress of liquids.

The higher the value of each digit, the greater the protection. Hence, the digit 0 means no protection is provided. For example, a product rated IP45 provides better protection against environmental factors than a similar product rated IP31.


IP Ratings and Your Drone

For drones, checking the IP rating of its various parts is a good way to determine the weather tolerance of the UAV.  A sleek design and high IP rating ensure that your motors and fully enclosed components are protected against dust and rain.

An IP rating is especially important if you’re looking to fly your drone in rain, near construction sites, or in any situation where weather conditions might change quickly and bring upon adverse conditions.

For instance, KDE Direct’s KDE-UAS125UVC  is optimized for multi-rotor and single-rotor applications and has an ingress protection rating of IP66. This rating ensures an all-weather and dust-proof operation. It provides complete protection against contact with external debris and projected water (heavy rain) and snow conditions. The current KDEXF-UASHVC ESCs, in operation worldwide, have a certified IP56 rating. This ensures cool-running temperatures and all-weather operations for use in a wide range of harsh environments and commercial/industrial applications.

KDE Direct uses the highest-quality materials and manufacturing processes to provide you with multi-rotor and single-rotor motors, electronics, propellers blades, and upgrades to ensure your drone takes off and lands safely.


UgCS Releases Centralized Drone Management Solution for Command Centers

SPH Engineering announces the launch of UgCS centralized drone management solution for Police, Search and Rescue, Firefighter and Security Service Command centers for efficient drone implementation in first response and surveillance operations.

This centralized solution was presented at MiliPol 2017.


How it works

UgCS centralized drone management solution enables Command center operators to track the real-time position of drones in-field. Plus, receive live video streams. Command center operators can also mark points of interest on the shared map. Thus, alerting field drone operators to conduct detailed inspections of certain areas. Centralized management centers can even take manual control over the drone and its camera.

UgCS is built to ensure full integration into enterprise infrastructure. Additionally, UgCS centralized drone management solution can integrate with existing Command center software.

To enable complete data security, all UgCS components can deploy in a private network to transfer data over a secure connection (no internet required). Also, command centers can access acquired or stored data for detailed incident investigation or to analyze equipment’s usage and plan maintenance.


Effective management for first responders

“UgCS centralized drone management solution enables effective UAV integration into emergency and security command centers. UgCS and drones provides a live preview of the situation not only to personnel in-field, but for officers at Command center. This enables more precise situation assessment, decision making and effective management of first responder teams, providing more efficient resolution of disaster situation or even saving lives,” said Janis Kuze, SPH Engineering sales director. “A capital city police department is currently using this solution.”

Additionally, UgCS enables support for the most popular UAV models. Also, the UgCS centralized drone management solution has no vendor lock. It supports DJI, Yuneec, Lockheed Martin and MAVLink compatible drones (Pixhawk/APM).


Shop UgCS line of solutions at Unmanned Systems Source.


Brushed or Brushless Motor: What’s the Difference?

The biggest difference between brushed and brushless motors, unsurprisingly, is the brush. Otherwise, the principle behind the internal workings of brushed and brushless motors are much the same.

As the motor windings energize, it creates a temporary magnetic field to repel or attract permanent magnets. This magnetic force is converted to shaft rotation, allowing the motor to do work.

As the shaft rotates, the electric current is routed to different sets of windings. This maintains electromotive repulsion or attraction, forcing the rotor to continually rotate.


History of Brushed and Brushless Motors

The use of brushed DC motors began in 1856. Today, electrical propulsion, cranes, paper machines and steel rolling mills all use brushed motors.

One problem with brushed motors is that the brushes wear down and require frequent replacement. Brush wear became a significant drawback as application demands increased and high-electric discharge noise became an issue. Hence, a new motor was born…the brushless DC motor.

Brushless DC motors use electronic speed controller devices and quickly displaced brushed motors for many applications. Advancements in solid state technology in the early 1960s resulted in the invention of the first brushless DC (BLDC) motor in 1962. T.G. Wilson and P.H. Trickey called it a “DC machine with solid state commutation.” The key element of the brushless motor is that it requires no physical commutator, making it the most popular choice for computer disk drives, robotics, and aircrafts.


Brushless Motor Advantages

Brushless DC motors, with no brushes to wear out, represent a huge leap forward in technology. They also provide significantly higher efficiency and performance. They also offer a lower susceptibility to mechanical wear than their brushed counterparts.

Brushless motors offer several other advantages, including:

  • Higher torque to weight ratio
  • Increased torque per watt of power input (increased efficiency)
  • Increased reliability and lower maintenance requirements
  • Reduced operational and mechanical noise
  • Longer lifespan (no brush and commutator erosion)
  • Elimination of ionizing sparks from the commutator (ESD)
  • Near-elimination of electromagnetic interference (EMI)

Today’s Brushless Motors

Despite their reliability, the initial downside to early brushless motors was that they could not generate a great deal of power. When better permanent magnet materials became available in the 1980s, they enabled brushless motors to generate as much (or more) power as the previous brush motors on the market. In the late 80s, Robert E. Lordo built the first large-scale brushless DC motor with ten (10)  times the power of the earlier brushless motors.

Today’s brushless motors solve many limitations of brushed motors by combining a higher output power, smaller size and weight, better heat dissipation and efficiency, wider operating speed ranges, and very low electrical noise operation. Brushless motors have no electrical contacts designed for wear, providing the greatest advantage in reliability and reduced maintenance intervals for commercial and industrial applications.


KDE Direct Brushless Motors

Designed and engineered in the United States, KDE Direct’s brushless motors provide best-in-class power, performance, and efficiency. From design redundancy standards and fail-safes to payload capacity and thrust performance, KDE Direct motors are engineered for longer flight times, higher efficiency and higher payloads that push the limits of today’s technology.

The KDE Direct UAS Multi-Rotor Brushless Motor Series presents high-quality and engineered motors specific for multi-rotor and UAS applications. The series was designed to provide market-leading performance and zero-vibration operation for hours of maintenance-free usage and market-leading performance.

Shop KDE Direct’s complete Brushless Motor Series at Unmanned Systems Source.