Category Archives for "Civilian Drones"

RQ-4 Global Hawk back in Japan

U.S. Air Force photo by Bobbi Zapka

U.S. Air Force photo by Bobbi Zapka

The number and range of uses of RQ-4 Global Hawk HALE (High Altitude Long Endurance) UAVs continue to increase.  It was announced earlier this week that the US would be deploying two RQ-4’s at Misawa Air Base in Aomori Prefecture in the north east of Japan.  The drones are currently stationed in Guam but this puts them in the path of typhoons that frequently pass through the area.

The Global Hawk proved its worth in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami by providing surveillance and intelligence gathering during disaster relieve and recovery missions.  It’s worth reminding ourselves that the Japanese company TEPCO used a sUAV to photograph and film the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant after the disaster.  The photos and footage obtained greatly assisted the engineers in assessing the situation without putting anyone at risk while gathering the information.

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Drone Categories in the UK

If you stop a person in the street and ask them what they know about drones they are likely to mention the use of drones by the military, or perhaps they’ll call to mind their use in surveillance.  However, increasing numbers of people are becoming aware of their many uses in civilian life and for commercial purposes.  The range of drones now in existence is so great that there are many ways in which to categorise them, so in this post we’re going to look at some of those drone categories in the UK.

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February 14, 2014

FAA Grounds Lakemaid Beer Drone

I guess it’s too soon for this type of thing.  The FAA’s decision to ground the Lakemaid beer drone comes as no surprise.   The Minnesota brewery came up with the idea of delivering beer to thirsty ice fishers by drone, but the FAA have given a clear “Oh no you don’t” citing the safety of people on the ground and in the air.

The Lakemaid beer drone was inspired by the recent news that Amazon were experimenting with drone deliveries. Drone deliveries in urban areas present all kinds of hazards that don’t exist in open country, nor, for example, over frozen lakes.  Even so, there are lower limits to the height at which drones can legally fly over people etc.

Minnesota ice fishers will have to continue to carry enough beer to last their excursions or revert to more traditional methods for going back to the store for more.  Meanwhile, testing and experimenting by various companies will continue while the FAA and other aviation authorities draw up legislation and guidelines for the use of commercial delivery drones.  It is expected that the FAA will issue new guidelines on the safe use of commercial drones by 2015.