UAS Project to Increase Snowpack in Nevada Mountains

2016-02-12

UAS Project to Increase Snowpack in Nevada Mountains
A new industry-academic research partnership will bring together Nevada’s top atmospheric scientists and leading unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) engineers, designers, and data experts to develop and test innovative applications focused on increasing snowpack depths in the Lake Tahoe region.

Led by the Desert Research Institute (DRI), and supported by Nevadas Knowledge Fund, this first-of-its-kind project will combine more than 30 years of DRI weather modification research and expertise with the proven experience in aerospace manufacturing and flight operations of Reno-based Drone America, and the industry leading unmanned aerial data services of Las Vegas-based AviSight.

“This project is a key part of helping Nevada address the ongoing drought and explore innovative solutions for natural-resource challenges such as augmenting our regional water supply,” said the projects lead scientist, Adam Watts, Ph.D, a DRI assistant research professor and expert in UAS applications for ecological and natural-resources applications

The project will develop and test Drone Americas latest UAS technologies for cloud seeding operations across the Lake Tahoe Basin and Truckee River watershed, where DRI has conducted ground-based winter cloud seeding operations for more than 30 years. On average, DRIs cloud seeding program adds approximately 14,000 acre-feet (4.5 billion gallons) of water to the Truckee River watersheds snowpack each winter season, explained Frank McDonough, lead forecaster and manager of the DRI Weather Modification Program.

Currently, under local support from the Truckee Meadows Water Authority (TMWA) and the Western Regional Water Commission (WRWC), DRI conducts cloud seeding using ground-based generators along and West of the Sierra Crest, increasing the resilience of municipalities and agricultural operations to drought, added McDonough.

While manned aircraft have been utilized in the past for cloud seeding operations and research in the Lake Tahoe region, DRI has not pursued such methods for cloud seeding in the region in nearly two decades due to the high costs and risks associated with airborne seeding from a manned aircraft.

This new collaboration hopes to change that, explained Watts.

When used correctly, airborne cloud seeding platforms offer great potential to increase the number of storms that can be seeded, thus helping to increase the local snowpack and resulting river flows, he said. Further, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) could be deployed much faster and more often to increase effectiveness and decrease the costs and risks compared to that of manned airborne cloud seeding.

The team will utilize two of Drone Americas cutting-edge unmanned platforms; the DAx8 multi-rotor aircraft that is designed to carry payloads, sensors and cameras while providing extra safety and redundancy; and the Savant fixed-wing aircraft that is designed to excel in tough commercial unmanned system applications despite its light weight design (less than 55 pounds). Both platforms incorporate a sophisticated autopilot system, providing the aircraft with autonomous capability and safe, reliable navigation over complex terrain such as the areas where cloud seeding is done.

Drone America will also provide experienced flight operations teams, consisting of air vehicle operators, payload operators, and technicians, who are well trained and mission-ready. The team has over 21,000 combined flight hours ranging from small UAS to commercial airliners.

We have been working with the DRI since 2013 on ways to utilize our UAS platforms to make aerial cloud seeding operations safer and more effective, said Mike Richards, President and CEO of Drone America. Now, with the support of Governor Brian Sandovals Office of Economic Development and the States Knowledge Fund we will be able to make these innovations a reality.

AviSight, a leading provider of manned and unmanned aerial data services will coordinate and manage the projects airspace access with the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and lead business development efforts to expand test and deployments in Nevada and surrounding Western states.

Together with Drone America and AviSight, DRI researchers plan to create weather forecasts and conduct flight planning for manned and unmanned aircraft; conduct test of cloud seeding operations using manned and unmanned systems as well as existing ground generators; and estimate the effectiveness of UAS cloud seeding applications across the DRIs current Lake Tahoe Basin operations area.

This project is going to notably advance Nevadas UAS industry, said Steve Hill, Executive Director of the Nevada Governors Office of Economic Development. When proven effective, this research can be used to promote Nevada-born UAS innovation in other areas where cloud seeding is currently done, including most of the Western States, Canada, and several other countries.

Additionally, jobs created as a result of this initiative are intended to be high-paying STEM jobs that will bolster the UAS research and development capabilities across Nevada. The projects Knowledge Fund grant will provide $400,000 to the project over the next two years.




Turkey set to become a major player on drone market

2020-04-06
Turkey set to become a major player on drone market
The success of Turkey’s indigenously produced Anka-S drone, and the development of the Anka-2 model, could position Turkey as a major player on the drone market, said an analyst writing inThe National Interest.

Turkey began operating and experimenting with drones in the 1990s, starting its own development program. “Anka” was the name under which a line of domestic medium-altitude unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) was developed by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI). Turkey also bought IAI Herons from Israel and started using them in 2010, said analyst Charlie Gao on Saturday.


FAA Small Drone Rule Lets Unmanned Aircraft Soar

2017-09-11
FAA Small Drone Rule Lets Unmanned Aircraft Soar
A host of new users is changing the world of commercial aviation thanks in large part to the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) small unmanned aircraft rule, Part 107 (PDF), which has now been in place for a year.

US Naval Research Lab Tests Stackable CICADA Microdrones Swarm

2017-08-22
US Naval Research Lab Tests Stackable CICADA Microdrones Swarm
The U.S. Naval Research Lab has been working on its CICADA (Close-In Covert Autonomous Disposable Aircraft) drones since at least 2011. The tiny drones are designed to be carried aloft by other aircraft and dropped, whereupon they’ll use GPS and little fins to glide to within 15 feet of their destination.

The Drone World Expo 2017 Interviews  Hector Ubiñas

2017-08-22
The Drone World Expo 2017 Interviews Hector Ubiñas
In the third of a series of interviews with key figures involved in the success of Drone World Expo, we talked to for Hector Ubiñas, Aviation Services Manager, San Diego Gas and Electric. Hector joined SDG&E in September 2016 and has been overseeing the Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) program since starting with the company. In this role, Hector is responsible for the daily operations of the UAS program and continuing to develop new work methods for its application in the utility industry.

Swarms of Drones Test New Dogfighting Skills

2017-04-25
Swarms of Drones Test New Dogfighting Skills
Aerial dogfighting began more than a century ago in the skies over Europe with propeller-driven fighter aircraft carried aloft on wings of fabric and wood. An event held recently in southern California could mark the beginning of a new chapter in this form of aerial combat.

13 Takeaways from The White House Workshop

2016-08-08
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The White House launched a new effort Tuesday to help increase the use of drones and showcased how government agencies have become a proving ground for a wide array of new drone concepts and technologies.

New Report: Drones in Public Safety and First Responder Operations

2016-07-24
New Report: Drones in Public Safety and First Responder Operations
It may not seem like it, but drones are still in their infancy and only proving themselves through the rigorous testing done privately, commercially, and by state and federal government agencies. Despite the tangible benefits that drones can provide, the public has mixed sentiments about their use by law enforcement, firefighting, and search & rescue operations.

Drone World Expo  Exclusive Interviews  Mark Bathrick

2016-07-14
Drone World Expo Exclusive Interviews Mark Bathrick
We wanted to find out more about the team behind Drone World Expo – what makes them tick, what motivates them and what are the secrets behind the success of the event. We interviewed Advisory Board member Mark L. Bathrick who directs a nationwide aviation services business for the U.S Department of the Interior (DOI) overseeing the safe operation of over 1,200 contracted and government-owned manned and unmanned aircraft across a wide range of business applications.

Rwanda Readies Life-Saving Drone Delivery System

2016-07-03
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This summer, small autonomous airplanes will begin carrying life-saving blood to 20 hospitals and healthcare centers across Western Rwanda, Africa, in one of the first-of-its-kind drone-based delivery demonstrations.

Tree-Planting Drones

2016-06-28
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Beaverton, Oregon-based drone startup DroneSeed created a drone with a device that fires seeds into the ground using compressed air in an effort to reforest the Pacific Northwest, and eventually forests around the world.


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