Solution for Autonomous Remote UAV Operations

Considering the emerging drone environment and the exponential drone growth occurring across enterprise industries like agriculture, construction, mining, insurance, oil, gas, and law enforcement. Businesses are compelled to make changes to remain competitive and companies must look towards advanced digitization and automation to stay ahead of the curve. Advanced technology, airspace data and artificial intelligence is critical to provide a more simplified, efficient, cost-effective approach to autonomous operations.  

SkyGrid provides a ready-to-use solution that lets you remotely control and manage drones and view live video feed with ease for autonomous drone operations. 

Organizations can use SkyGrid to facilitate routine inspections over an area of interest and generate optimal flight paths for multiple flight segments. These optimized segments are then linked automatically to create complete routes. Our advanced route generation capabilities create the safest route for each drone based on the flight plan, environmental conditions, the vehicle’s performance, and the mission criteria with minimum onsite support required for flight operations.  

Enabling autonomous remote drone operations for single and multiple drones reduces operational costs by pooling human, financial and material resources. It improves safety by eliminating the need for field workers to physically inspect faulty power lines to identify an issue and provides immediate access to critical insights to prevent and solve potential issues with real-time live video feed. With the new remote UAV operations functionality, SkyGrid will now allow remote operators to create and deploy these automated missions to a fleet of geographically disbursed aerial vehicles. 

Features: 
  • Remote Fleet Control – Plan flights and manage drone fleets remotely via SkyGrid Remote Command. 
  • Live HD Video Feed – Rapidly deploy drones and stream live, high quality video to remote ground station. Get expert eyes on scene monitoring all active flights in real-time with details on each drone’s mission progress, location, altitude, battery life, and more. 
  • Integration with Computer Vision Models – SkyGrid enables customers to integrate Computer VIsion Models with their drones’ Live HD Video Feed enabling automatic detection and alerting for objects of interest. 
  • Customize airspace & flight rules – Set up geofences, customize pre-flight checklists, and establish in-flight monitoring parameters to enforce flight rules for different missions and aircraft.  
  • Fully Automated Operations – Set and execute your flight parameters to automatically generate advanced sweep, waypoint, and multi-objective missions.   
  • Assign pilots and aircraft – Assign RPICs, visual observers, and add aircraft to support each mission. 
  • Drone fleet insights – Gather insights on the performance of your fleet and schedule maintenance requirements before your next mission. 
  • Easy Flight Information Access – Access all flight information and video streams on a single dashboard with an easy-to-use interface. 
Solution for Autonomous Remote UAV Operations
How SkyGrid’s Enterprise Remote UAV Operations works: 
Initiate 

Assign RPICs, visual observer, and add aircraft to support your mission. Set up geofences, customize pre-flight checklists, and establish in-flight monitoring parameters to enforce flight rules for different missions and aircraft. Set and execute your flight parameters to automatically generate advanced sweep, waypoint, and multi-objective missions. Send a field operative on-site with a drone or fleet of drones. Turn on the drone. The drone is now ready to be connected by the remote operator. 

Connect, Fly, Stream  

Once connected, the remote operator can initiate drone flight and is able to effectively control the drone using a simple and intuitive interface. Geofences aid in avoiding hazards and optimize routing. Advanced automated flight features pilot the drone to pre-defined locations or routes. UAV progress is tracked throughout flight with live UAV feed and metrics streamed in real-time. remote operators can switch feeds to any fleet UAV currently flying.  

Manage Date, Users, and Drones  

Our software provides the tools to create, archive, and manage everything you need for your operation: 

  • Flight Plans: Make your drone flight plan prior to flight. Reuse flight plans to facilitate routine inspections. Create unlimited flight plans and view, modify, or archive flight plan details. Specify waypoints, fly manually, or select an area to cover. Advanced route settings enable maximum control over route. 
  • Flight Data: Flight instructions capture your pre and post flight actions. Telemetry data and flight history provide insights into how drones are being used for your business and by which users aid in planning of maintenance, fleet expansion, and location reach. 
  • Videos & Photos: Access all your flight information and video streams on a single dashboard with an easy-to-use interface. 
  • Drones: Manage your drone fleet, location, status, capabilities, and historical data.  
  • Secure Access: Our portal provides secure access for you and your team. Authorize member access, assign crews to flights, and provide secure streams to enable your team with a safe operation. 
Remote Fleet Control
Solution for Autonomous Remote UAV Operations
See it in Action: 

SkyGrid Flight Control is an end-to-end airspace management system that uses AI and blockchain to provide a more simplified, efficient, cost-effective approach to traditional UAV operations. It is built for drone operation managers, subject matter experts, and operators. SkyGrid Enterprise Remote UAV Operations enables drone deployment with a few clicks, allowing you to manage everything, on one dashboard, for a flawless experience. 

Download SkyGrid Flight Control for free in the iPad App Store or learn more about our advanced enterprise features. 

Chartering the Future of Logistics with Drones

chartering-the-future-of-logistics-with-drones

In 2020, more than 100 billion packages were transported, and that number is expected to double by 2030. However, along with this exponential growth, companies are facing increasing costs, unprecedented market demands and growing labor shortages. Businesses are compelled to make changes in order to remain competitive and companies must look towards advanced digitization and automation to stay ahead of the curve.  

Innovative technologies have led to the next big industry unlock throughout the history of logistics, from the invention of the steam locomotive allowing for easier, cheaper, and faster long- distance transport of goods to IBM’s first warehouse management system revolutionizing orders, inventory, and distribution tracking. It is time for the next new normal. Autonomous logistics operations are paving the way for a big disruption. McKinsey & Company expects that, as smart warehouses and autonomous vehicles are widely adopted, logistics costs will fall by up to 40 percent.  

Drones play a key role in charting this future, speeding up efficiency and productivity, while lowering costs across the logistics value chain. Drone delivery will have a transformative effect on the entire supply chain, improving order fulfilment, warehouse operations, inventory management, and more. Look at three ways drones will be changing the logistics sector:  

Revolutionizing Last Mile Delivery  

‘The cost of global parcel delivery, excluding pickup, line-haul, and sorting, amounts to 70 billion dollars.’2 Not only is the market large, it is also extremely price sensitive, with the bulk of consumers preferring options with cheapest delivery. According to Goldman Sachs, using drones and robots could bring costs down by more than 80 percent for last mile delivery. Drone deliveries will allow for shipping that is both cheap and fast, for rural and urban locations alike. This will transform last mile experiences given that the cost and timing of deliveries has previously remained inversely correlated. Drones will be used in combination with other autonomous ground vehicles to increase efficiency. However, we can expect traditional delivery to continue existing for a small segment that require special handling or human decision making, such as that in e-groceries.  

Enhancing Warehouse Efficiencies  

While last-mile delivery has been dominating the discussion for drone technology, the impact autonomous aerial vehicles will have in warehouse management is not any less impressive. We can expect to see a complete change in how warehouses approach key operations and layouts. Drones will be used to count inventory, carry small packages within warehouses, conduct inspections and ensure perimeter safety. Walmart is currently testing drones for taking stock of trailers and other items in the parking lot of a warehouses.  

However, these changes might require an overhaul of how warehouses and distribution centers are currently laid out to accommodate autonomous robots and aerial vehicles in the same space. Today’s single story large docks might not be needed to accommodate for large ground fleets. We can also predict that supply chain processes would change significantly with these structural warehouses change.  

Transforming the Workforce  

With increased digitization, we can expect that the logistics workforce will face a shift in the desired skill sets. While some areas of work for employees will become deskilled and replaced with sensors and software, others might require employees to become more skill intensive. Ability pilot a drone if needed, carry our basic debugging while in route and knowledge of multi-modal transport systems might become job requirements.  

While the long-term transformation will be substantial, we can expect this to be felt in gradual steps, rather than a giant leap. The industry is taking a crawl, walk, run approach to adoption of this technology and this will give the workforce time to adjust accordingly.  

Bringing Data and Privacy to the Forefront  

Drone deliveries will bring privacy to the forefront like never before. Logistics companies will be faced with an entirely new wave of system security requirements and data laws. While we can expect regulation to define privacy rights, logistics companies will now have access to a world of data that is not only vast, but also more private. Imagine a drone delivering a parcel in a neighborhood. On the way to the delivery, the drone has aerial access to not one but many private properties. Maintaining how, when, and why this data is shared and ensuring compliance will be no small task. Other concerns will include susceptibility to hacking or theft, invasion of privacy, and collision liability, with potentially high insurance costs.  

While we may still be years away from this new normal, the drone industry has seen greater exponential growth and wider adoption in the last few years than ever before. Regulators are taking a more forward-looking approach to innovative technologies. Drone manufacturers, software developers and service providers are working closely with the logistics sector to prove out technologies, one step at a time. For example, SkyGrid is developing a solution that can enable multiple parcel deliveries autonomously and at the same time, while the operator is situated in his delivery vehicle or miles away from the delivery location.  

Depending on how quickly existing technology limitations are addressed and regulations are implemented, millions of drones may be in the skies sooner than we expect. 

By Zehra Akbar, VP, Strategy & Operations of SkyGrid. This article was originally published in Cognitive Times Vol.16. 

Download SkyGrid Flight Control for free in the iPad App Store or learn more about our advanced enterprise features. 

HyperWerx: Building the Future

HyperWerx: Building the Future

Amir Husain is the CEO & founder of SkyGrid, provider of airspace management services for commercial drone operators, enterprises, and aviation authorities. Husain explains how building the HyperWerx campus will showcase what AI really can do for SkyGrid and its partners. 

What is the vision for SkyGrid’s use of the HyperWerx facility? 

HyperWerx is a one-of-a-kind autonomy facility where SkyGrid and our partners can test complex systems, build, design, deploy, and showcase how AI, drones, sensors and other exponential technologies come together to solve important social problems and create large-scale economic opportunities.  

At HyperWerx, SkyGrid will bring next-generation autonomous aviation to life – end to end. This includes flying and testing drones, integrating them with AI algorithms, experiencing first-hand the limitations of commercial systems, the peculiarities of GPS receivers, image enhancement technology and the criticality of sensors and flight controllers. In a nutshell, exploring the art of the possible and expanding its boundaries.  

How is HyperWerx different from other testing facilities?  

The work at HyperWerx ranges from software to hardware, from fabrication to testing, and goes well beyond supporting just aerial robots. The capabilities available to us at HyperWerx are incredibly robust, and we will continue to add differentiated elements on the campus as time goes on.  

HyperWerx represents a unique ecosystem and community. In addition to SparkCognition and SGS, our key strategic partners, including Boeing and Raytheon, are also involved. Broadly, HyperWerx allows for collaboration with academia, commercial, and defense partners at the facility, who are able to work on challenging projects together. HyperWerx will be a hub for one-of-a-kind collaborations with leading minds across industry.  

What will HyperWerx allow you to do now that they have opened building one? 

HyperWerx will allow us to carry out physical integration with a variety of sensors, test guidance and swarm algorithms, monitor drone safety and performance, develop requirements for next generation versions of the SkyGrid platform, aerial-terrestrial integrated autonomous systems, and much more. 

Who are the HyperWerx partners? 

We are joined in our efforts by SparkCognition and SparkCognition Government Systems (SGS) and are already in discussions with leading enterprises and research institutions who will join us on what promises to be an amazing journey. The work we are doing with Boeing and Raytheon will also be featured significantly at HyperWerx. Together, we will work to imagine, prototype and build revolutionary new systems that accelerate our collective transition into a magnificent future, one which I hope will exceed our wildest imagination. 

Are all solutions developed at HyperWerx experimental, or are there products that are currently being sold to customers?  

Various systems ranging from experimental to production systems are being built and tested at HyperWerx. Some of these include autonomous control systems, hybrid UAVs, advanced computer vision systems, autonomous control systems and SkyGrid’s unmanned traffic management platform.  

Why did you choose this location?  

SkyGrid is headquartered in Austin, and the 50 acres of land on the outskirts of Austin, Texas, provides ample resources and space for testing. Austin is culturally rich, demographically diverse and has one of the finest research universities in the world. UT Austin’s computer science department, for example, ranks #6 and its prowess in the field of AI is arguably ranked even higher. HyperWerx will only continue to push the city forward as one of the world’s leading tech communities in Austin’s growing tech ecosystem.  

What are the future plans for HyperWerx? When will the development of the facilities and land be complete?  

Building One of HyperWerx is just the first of many phases we envision in the development of the HyperWerx campus. The campus will continue to see the addition of facilities and robust capabilities, including new structures, test ranges and support for industry specific scenarios. 

What excites you most about the HyperWerx facility? 

What excites me about HyperWerx is not just that it represents the growth of the company, but mostly that it will provide our clients, partners, and team with a laboratory within which to roll up our sleeves and build the future. Personally, I have no intention of merely watching this process unfold from the sidelines. I intend to be right beside our partners and our team – those brave architects of the future – neck deep in the heady business of building, testing, deploying and perfecting products that will tangibly fulfill the promise of the AI revolution.  

Top Drone Mistakes (Part 4): Operating in No-Fly Zones

Top Drone Mistakes (Part 4): Operating in No-Fly Zones

Where can I fly my drone? This should be the first question you ask before taking flight. However, many drone pilots still make the mistake of operating in no-fly zones, also known as no drone zones. These areas include the airspace around airports, stadiums, emergency situations, and more. 

Pilots who operate drones in no-fly zones are not only giving the industry a bad rap, they’re also putting lives at risk. To avoid these scenarios, we kicked off a new series on the top drone mistakes in 2021 and beyond. In Part 3, we covered the top mistakes around the flying in adverse conditions. This time we’ll focus on the top mistakes when it comes to operating in no-fly zones. 

 

Mistake 1: Flying in U.S. controlled airspace without flight authorization

Always should check the airspace classes and altitude ceilings in your area before taking flight. If flying in U.S. controlled airspace (Class A, B, C, D or E), flight authorization is required. Controlled airspace is typically found around airports and at certain altitudes where air traffic controllers are actively directing/separating manned aircraft. See how the FAA defines the airspace classes below:

drone no fly zones

Drone operators are prohibited from flying in controlled airspace without authorization. Although it sounds complex, drone pilots can easily identify controlled airspace and get authorization to fly using our free SkyGrid Flight Control app. As an FAA-approved LAANC supplier, SkyGrid provides real-time flight authorization in U.S. controlled airspace within the pre-approved altitude ceilings. This service is available to both Part 107-licensed and recreational drone pilots.

 

Mistake 2: Flying higher than 400 feet above ground level

When flying in uncontrolled airspace (Class G), drone pilots should never fly higher than 400 feet above ground level. This FAA rule helps minimize any potential collisions between manned and unmanned aircraft. Keep in mind the 400-foot limit is measured above the surface, so drones can still fly 400 feet above a cliff or building, as long as they’re in uncontrolled airspace.

When flying in controlled airspace (Class A, B, C, D or E), the altitude ceilings are absolute values above ground level. These altitude limits should NOT be added to the height of any structures. Pilots can find the altitude ceilings in controlled airspace within the SkyGrid Flight Control app.

 

Mistake 3: Flying within national UAS restricted zones

No matter if you’re flying in controlled airspace or not, it’s always important to check for National Security UAS Flight Restrictions (NSUFRs) in your area. These no-fly zones are often issued around military bases and high-security facilities and events. Operators who violate these flight restrictions may be subject to civil penalties and criminal charges. Pilots can find the areas labeled as NSUFRs in the SkyGrid Flight Control app.

 

Mistake 4: Flying near emergency situations, such as fires and vehicle collisions

Hopefully you already know this is big no no! Flying your drone near an emergency situation can prevent first responders from doing their jobs effectively and put lives at risk. For example, if a drone flies near a wildfire, fire response teams are often forced to ground their aircraft to avoid the potential of a midair collision. A drone flying near a traffic incident can also hamper police or medical aircraft operations. Ultimately, interference by a drone can cost lives.

 

Mistake 5: Flying near sporting events or stadiums

Unless authorized, drone pilots are also prohibited from flying in and around stadiums during events, starting one hour before and ending one hour after the scheduled event time. These events include concerts, sporting events, and races in stadiums and venues that seat 30,000 people or more. The no-fly zone covers a radius of 3 nautical miles of the stadium and up to 3,000 feet above ground level.

And that’s a wrap! We hope this series will help clarify some of the misconceptions around the drone rules and best practices. 

Download SkyGrid Flight Control for free in the iPad App Store or learn more about our advanced enterprise features.

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Top Drone Mistakes (Part 3): Flying in Adverse Conditions

Drone Flying in a Storm

As drone operators it is essential to recognize how important it is to have access to detailed, up-to-date airspace intelligence before taking flight in case anything unforeseen happens. In Part 2, we covered the top mistakes when it comes to not following drone best practices. This time we’ll focus on the top misconceptions around flying in adverse conditions. 

No matter if you’re a new drone hobbyist or an experienced commercial pilot, this list is a good reminder of what NOT to do when operating drones. 

 

Mistake 1: Flying in cold weather without pre-heating your battery 

In general, flying in cold weather will drain your battery faster, so keep a close eye on it! Making sure your battery is warm enough before flight will help. It’s recommended to pre-heat your battery to 68°F (20°C) or more. If you don’t have a battery heater, hover in place before taking off to make sure your battery warms up. The SkyGrid Flight Control app will show your battery’s temperature so you can check it before and during flight.  

 

Mistake 2: Flying in freezing temperatures  

Some manufacturers recommend avoiding temperatures below 14°F (-10°C), while others caution against any temperature below freezing (32°F or 0°C). Extreme cold weather can cause an unexpected power drop, or even cause batteries to fail completely. Cold weather can also dull a drone’s sensors, which may lead to a slower response from the control input. 

 

Mistake 3: Flying in temperatures above 104°F 

In many cases, drone manufacturers also recommend avoiding high temperatures above 104°F (40°C). Prolonged exposure to high heat will likely reduce the life of your battery. You also risk melting the internal wires and plastic. Also keep in mind that hot weather is often accompanied by humidity, which can damage your drone’s motor, camera, or gimbal. Always check the temperature and humidity before flying and ensure you wipe down your drone before and after flights.  

Pilots can check the local temperature, humidity, wind speed, precipitation, and more in SkyGrid Flight Control. The app shows microweather data within a 500-meter radius that’s updated every 60 seconds, which makes it easy to avoid unexpected weather conditions.  

 

Mistake 4: Flying in winds speeds above 24 mph 

Among the most popular drones, few are equipped to fly above 24 mph winds. For example, the Mavic 2 Pro can be flown in max wind speeds of 24 mph, but the Mavic Mini can only withstand up to 18 mph winds. Always check the max wind speed of your drone, but it’s likely safe to assume wind speeds of 25 mph and above are too dangerous to fly in and can lead to a collision. 

 

Mistake 5: Flying without a pre-flight checklist 

Ultimately, drone pilots should establish a routine before taking flight that includes checking your drone and gathering situational awareness. Pre-flight checklists commonly include recharging the battery and controller, recalibrating the compass, assessing the propellers, and confirming GPS connectivity. It should also include checking local conditions in the air and on the group. Our latest guide on improving your pre-flight checklist can help.  

 

Mistake 6: (Bonus!) Flying without remote ID technology  

Don’t be alarmed… remote ID technology isn’t required in the United States yet, but it will be by Summer 2023. At this time, drone manufacturers will be required to produce drones that broadcast their location, and drone pilots will be required to fly a compatible drone. You can get more details in our latest remote ID guide  

Stay tuned for Part 4 where we’ll focus on the top drone mistakes when flying near restricted areas. In the meantime, check out our new drone app to that includes advanced weather data, such as precipitation, temperature, wind speed and direction, cloud cover, visibility, and more. 

 

Download SkyGrid Flight Control for free in the iPad App Store or learn more about our advanced enterprise features. 

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Top Drone Mistakes (Part 2): Not Following Drone Best Practices

drones

From autonomous drones to air taxis, the urban air mobility market has advanced rapidly. Drones open the door to amazing new opportunities and allow anyone to access to the skies. With access like this comes responsibility.  Anyone operating a drone must make sure that their flights are conducted in a way that is both safe and legal. 

To avoid scenarios of pilots giving the industry a bad rap, we kicked off a new series on the top drone mistakes in 2021 and beyond. In Part 1, we covered the top misconceptions around the new FAA drone rules for flying over people, vehicles, and at night. This time we’ll focus on the top mistakes when it comes to not following drone best practices.   

 No matter if you’re a new drone hobbyist or an experienced commercial pilot, this list is a good reminder of what NOT to do when operating drones. 

 

Mistake 1: Keeping your battery connected to the charger  

Do not leave your battery connected to a charger once it’s fully charged. This could accelerate the aging of the battery or even spark a fire. If a battery is going to be left idle for several days, many manufacturers recommend discharging it between 40% – 70% of its total power before storing it. It’s always best to store batteries in a cool, dry place (i.e., room temperature) that’s away from any heat sources, such as direct sunlight, and clear of any flammable materials, such as carpet. Then charge the battery to 100% when you’re ready to fly. 

 

Mistake 2: Flying with less than 20% battery power in reserve 

It’s important to plan flights where your drone can comfortably return home with at least 20% battery power left in reserve. If you regularly push the limits of your battery’s charge, you’ll likely shorten the lifespan and reliability of your battery. Saving this extra battery power can also help manage any unforeseen circumstances, such as counteracting high winds or hovering until your landing zone is clear. Although it sounds complex, drone pilots can easily evaluate airspace classes, no fly zones, location insights, and advanced weather intelligence to see where it’s safe to fly using our free SkyGrid Flight Control app. 

 

Mistake 3: Flying without updating your firmware 

Just like the apps on our phones, a drone’s firmware requires regular upgrades from its developers to add new features, address bugs, or improve security measures. That’s why it’s critical to always ensure your firmware is up to date before taking flight. If you’re planning a complex flight or a commercial operation, it’s best practice to update the firmware the day before. This will allow you to download the update with a good Internet connection and ensure everything is working properly.  

 

Mistake 4: Flying near power lines 

Flying too close to power lines may affect your drone’s signal. But more importantly, you also risk sparking a power outage or fire if your drone touches the power lines. This is especially dangerous in dry climates, such as in California, where wildfires are common. You can check the wildfire risk in your area through apps like SkyGrid Flight Control that show the local fire index. But the bottom line is, always steer clear of power lines, especially when the fire index is high.  

 

Mistake 5: Flying without reading your local drone laws 

Although the FAA regulates the national U.S. airspace, state and local municipalities often have additional drone rules and regulations, so make sure you’re aware of them. Local laws might include restrictions around flying near historic sites or residential properties. The Pilot Institute recently created a handy wiki resource to help drone pilots stay on top of regulatory changes in each state. 

Stay tuned for Part 3 where we’ll focus on Flying in Adverse Conditions. In the meantime, check out our new drone app to check the risk in your area and advanced weather intelligence. 

 

Download SkyGrid Flight Control for free in the iPad App Store or learn more about our advanced enterprise features.

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How SkyGrid Flight Control Addresses Your Challenges with Our Unique Solution

SkyGrid HyperWerx Facility
Navigating the airspace is complex, and often risky.

Drone operators must account for a wide range of factors that can change on a whim. Heavy rain or high winds could pick up. A new flight restriction could be issued. Or an emergency helicopter could suddenly conflict with the route. It is simply not feasible for humans alone to monitor and track all these factors. But SkyGrid can help.  

Free drone app

Our Airspace Awareness application enables drone operators to understand the airspace, predict environmental changes, and avoid hazardous conditions. With a 3D airspace map and multiple data layers, including airspace traffic, flight restrictions, hyper-local weather, obstacle data, roadway traffic, and more, the application shows a comprehensive picture of the sky and the ground below. 

By powering our application with artificial intelligence and blockchain technology, we are eliminating the potential for human error when it comes to the safety and security of our airspace. For example, smart conditions within Airspace Awareness help enterprises ensure safe and compliant drone operations. Organizations can set company-wide conditions that apply to all flights in addition to custom parameters for specific missions, drones, or payloads.  

These conditions can be set based on a wide variety of factors, such as local regulations, weather, or vehicle health. Company-wide conditions could include regulatory standards, such as flying below 400 feet and avoiding areas near airports, while custom parameters for specific drones or payloads could include flying with at least 40 percent battery life or flying under 25 mph winds. 

SkyGrid blockchain technology, augmented with smart contracts that operate under performance guarantees, validates the conditions, and only authorizes flights that meet all parameters. This approach prevents pilots from selecting a mission or drone that does not meet the required safety conditions set by an organization. Once a route is approved, commercial fleet managers and pilots will receive real-time alerts if a condition is at risk of violation during flight. The blockchain maintains a minute-by-minute record of each drone’s status and its flight details, including altitude, location, etc.  

SkyGrid is also applying artificial intelligence to generate the safest routes and recommend new routes as the environment changes. For example, if a new flight restriction is issued or wind speeds suddenly increase, the AI models will generate a new route that is not at risk of violating a condition. 

What sets us apart?

SkyGrid is the first and only drone management system powered by AI and blockchain. These technologies are critical to avoid collisions in-flight, protect drones from malicious activity, and ensure data integrity. SkyGrid is backed by Boeing, the world’s largest aerospace company, we have more than 100 years of experience navigating the global airspace. We show the most complete operating picture of the sky and the ground below with global data feeds from industry-trusted sources. Our system eliminates the manual workflows, enabling drone operators to autonomously execute optimal flights and allowing authorities to automatically mandate the airspace rules. 

Download SkyGrid Flight Control for free in the iPad App Store or learn more about our advanced enterprise features.

 

Top Drone Mistakes (Part 1): Misinterpreting New FAA Drone Rules

FAA drone rules

Getting started as a new drone pilot can be intimidating. There are a lot of FAA drone rules and best practices to follow that often use confusing language and change on a regular basis. To clear up some of the confusion, we’re kicking off a new series to help pilots avoid the top drone mistakes in 2021 and beyond. No matter if you’re a new drone hobbyist or an experienced commercial pilot, this series will be a good reminder of what NOT to do when operating drones.

In Part 1, we’re focused on the misconceptions around the new FAA drone rules, including operations over people, vehicles, and at night.
 

Mistake 1: Flying directly over people with exposed propellers

You may have heard the news that the FAA will allow drones to fly over people without a waiver, but keep in mind this rule is limited to certain conditions. There are four different categories of aircraft eligibility, and in all cases, the drone must contain no exposed rotating parts that could lacerate human skin. Drones with propeller guards are eligible as long as they prevent the blades from causing lacerations.

The total drone weight must also be 0.55 pounds or less. If the drone weighs more than 0.55 pounds, additional conditions are required, such as a declaration of compliance, label requirements, and potential injury limitations. You can read the FAA’s full list of rules for flights over people here for more details. They’re expected to go into effect starting March 2021.
 

Mistake 2: Flying over moving vehicles for a sustained timeframe

The FAA also announced drones can now fly over moving vehicles under certain conditions. For starters, drones must meet the same requirements for flying over people. The drone must also remain within a closed/restricted access site where everyone is on notice that an unmanned aircraft may fly over their vehicle.

If you’re not within a closed/restricted access site, drones are not permitted to maintain sustained flight over moving vehicles. Sustained flight is defined as hovering, flying back and forth, or circling the area. That means drones can still briefly fly over moving vehicles if they’re in transit to another location. These new rules will be effective 60 days after the FAA’s official publication, so likely March 2021.
 

Mistake 3: Flying at night without anti-collision lights & proper training

Flying at night was also permitted by the new FAA drone rules, but drones must have a flashing anti-collision light that’s visible for at least 3 statute miles. It’s also required for drone operators to complete a Part 107 knowledge test or recurrent online training for those who already completed the initial test. The FAA is currently updating the testing and training materials to add new information about night operations.
 

Mistake 4: Flying commercially without proof of your Remote Pilot Certificate

A Remote Pilot Certificate (a.k.a. a drone license) is required to operate drones under the FAA’s Part 107 rules, which are primarily meant for operators flying for business, a commercial enterprise, nonprofit work, or for educational purposes. Keep in mind that any drone operation that results in direct compensation or used to advance any business can be considered commercial use and will require a drone license.

The new FAA drone rules require Part 107 pilots to have their certification in possession when operating drones. To obtain a certificate, drone operators must pass an initial in-person knowledge test. Pilots are no longer required to pass a recurrent knowledge test every 24 months, which previously cost $160. Instead, the FAA plans to offer a free online recurrent training, which will be required to fly at night. This training is expected to be available at faasafety.gov in March 2021.
 

Mistake 5: Flying without registering your drone

All drone pilots are required to register their drone with the FAA, unless it weighs 0.55 pounds or less and is flown exclusively under the rules for recreational flyers. Registration costs $5 and is valid for 3 years. It can be done via the FAA DroneZone website. Once complete, pilots are required to label their drone with the registration number.

Stay tuned for Part 2 where we’ll focus on the top drone mistakes when flying near restricted areas. In the meantime, check out our new drone app to help simplify compliance when planning your flights.
 

Download SkyGrid Flight Control for free in the iPad App Store or learn more about our advanced enterprise features.

Remote ID for Drones: Your Guide to the FAA’s New Rule

remote ID drones

Today, more than 1.7 million drones and 203,000 remote pilots are registered with the FAA, and these numbers are growing every day. However, the lack of a drone identification system has been a long-standing barrier to the scalability of unmanned aircraft. That barrier will soon be broken down. The FAA recently unveiled their final remote ID rule that will require drones to broadcast their location in the United States.

We’ll break down the basics of remote ID and what the new rule means for drone operators.
 

What is remote ID?

Remote ID technology, also known as a digital license plate, helps identify unmanned aircraft operating in the airspace. The FAA aims to create a comprehensive remote ID system where every drone in-flight broadcasts a unique identifier. This would allow authorities to identify any drone in the airspace and connect it with a registered pilot, much like an automobile license plate identifies a vehicle and the vehicle’s owner.
 

Why is remote ID important for drones?

First, remote ID technology can help aviation authorities provide situational awareness to other aircraft and identify unauthorized drones that may pose a security threat. Remote identification can also help law enforcement hold drone operators accountable if they violate any nuisance or privacy laws.

Secondly, remote ID efforts will help lay the foundation for more complex drone operations, such as flying over people, vehicles, or at night. Without a waiver, these operations were previously prohibited under the FAA’s Part 107 regulations. Remote identification is the first step to enable these advanced operations without requiring a waiver. In fact, the FAA recently announced they would begin allowing flights over people, vehicles, and at night under certain conditions.

Finally, a comprehensive remote ID system can help increase public trust in drone operations by providing assurances that the drones operating nearby are legal and safe.
 

What is the FAA’s final remote ID rule?

Under the final rule, all drones required to register with the FAA must enable remote identification. This would apply to all drones in the United States unless the drone weighs 0.55 pounds or less and is flown exclusively under the rules for recreational flyers. Drone operators can also choose to fly in a FAA-Recognized Identification Area where drones without remote ID are allowed to fly.

Otherwise, the rule requires the following data to be broadcasted: the drone’s serial number or an anonymous session ID; the drone’s position, altitude, and velocity; the position and altitude of the control station; emergency status; and time mark.
 

What’s required for drone operators to comply with remote ID?

In short, drone operators will have one of three methods for complying:

  1. Standard Remote ID Unmanned Aircraft: Drone pilots can operate a standard remote ID drone that broadcasts the required data directly from the drone via radio frequency broadcast (likely Wi-Fi or Bluetooth technology). The remote ID data will be available to most personal wireless devices within range of the broadcast. However, the rule states that correlating the serial number or session ID with the registered drone will be limited to the FAA. This information can also be made available to authorized law enforcement and national security personnel upon request. This method is most likely to enable beyond visual line of sight operations, depending on the broadcast range of the drone.
  2. Unmanned Aircraft with a Remote ID Broadcast Module: Drone pilots can also operate a drone with a remote ID broadcast module (may be a separate device attached to the drone). This would enable the retrofit of existing drones that don’t have remote ID capabilities. However, this method would require all drones to operate within visual line of sight.
  3. FAA-Recognized Identification Areas (FRIA): Drone pilots can also choose to operate a drone without remote ID, but at specific FAA-Recognized Identification Areas. No FAA-Recognized Identification Areas have been announced yet, but regulators will start approving applications for new zones in 2022. Organizations eligible to apply for establishment of a FRIA include community-based organizations recognized by the FAA, primary and secondary educational institutions, trade schools, colleges, and universities.

FAA remote ID rules

(Source: FAA)
 

When does the remote ID rule go into effect?

The final rule will take effect 30 months after publication. That means by the end of Summer 2023, remote ID will be mandatory for all qualifying drones in the United States. At this time, drone manufacturers will be required to produce drones that are compliant with the rule, and drone pilots will be required to fly a compatible drone.

It’s also worth noting that under the standard remote ID method, drone operators will not be able to disable the remote ID technology. The drone is required to self-test pre-flight and will not take off if remote ID isn’t functioning.

You can read the FAA’s fine print for more remote ID details here.

Ultimately, SkyGrid is committed to providing the solutions drone pilots need to simplify their operations and comply with FAA regulations as they evolve. Stay tuned for more updates from SkyGrid in the coming months.

In the meantime, be sure to check out our free drone app: SkyGrid Flight Control. The all-in-one app makes it easy to explore airspace, get LAANC, automate flights, and detect objects in real-time.
 

Download SkyGrid Flight Control for free in the iPad App Store or learn more about our advanced enterprise features.

AI Meets Drones: Detecting Objects In-Flight with Computer Vision

drone computer vision

Over the last two to three years, artificial intelligence has been a game changer for the drone industry. AI can be used to autonomously execute safe flight plans, predict drone maintenance needs, and protect drones from cybersecurity attacks.

During flight, AI can also be used to detect and track objects of interest in real-time through computer vision. This powerful technology is opening the door to new drone use cases that were previously unimaginable. It can help improve emergency response, animal conservation, perimeter security, site inspections, and much more.

Our free SkyGrid Flight Control app is equipped with computer vision to detect people, vehicles, animals, and other key objects in real-time as drone operators autonomously surveil a defined area. Get the scoop below and read on for more details.


 

What is computer vision?

Computer vision is a field of artificial intelligence that trains computers to identify, interpret, and track objects in imagery and video. The technology is driven by pattern recognition. It’s trained by feeding computer models thousands to millions of images with labeled objects. This allows the algorithms to establish a profile (e.g., color, shape) for each object to then identify the objects in unlabeled images.

Thanks to advances in machine learning and neural networks, computer vision has made great leaps in recent years and can often surpass the human eye in detecting and labeling certain objects. One of the driving factors behind this growth is the amount of data we generate that can be used to train computer vision models more accurately.
 

How does SkyGrid’s computer vision work?

Our computer vision is powered by a well-known neural network called YOLO, short for You Only Look Once. The YOLO object detection model is especially popular for real-time on-device systems because it is both small and very fast, while still maintaining high levels of accuracy. The models have been trained to recognize 80 different categories of common objects, such as people, cars, trucks, animals, electronics, and other objects. As a result, the SkyGrid Flight Control app achieves near real-time object detection (about 10-20 frames per second on an iPad) through a drone’s live video stream. See example below.

drone computer vision

SkyGrid Flight Control also enables users to select a detected object and track it through a drone’s live video feed. The algorithm itself is very performant, running at 60+ frames per second on an iPad.

drone object detection

Why kind of use cases can drone computer vision enable?

Our computer vision capabilities can support a wide variety of recreational and commercial drone use cases. It can help identify a missing person during a search and rescue operation or detect potential threats near critical infrastructure, such as an oil pipeline or high-security building. It can be used to count cars in parking lots to predict retail earnings or used to monitor wildlife to detect potential poachers. It can even help monitor social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

For enterprise customers, SkyGrid can train models to detect and track custom objects based on the mission objectives. For example, models could be trained to detect hurricane debris to help identify the most damaged areas in need of assistance. They could be trained to detect defects in solar panels to help improve the power output from a solar farm. Or they could be trained to detect sharks at the surface of the water to prevent attacks at popular beaches.
 

How will your computer vision capabilities evolve?

We’re constantly improving our computer vision models to make our object detection and tracking features more performant, robust, and specialized. Today, drone operators will see greater detection accuracy with a head-on view, which often requires flying at a lower altitude. In the coming months, we’re working to optimize this capability to improve accuracy at higher altitudes and maximize the usability to users. Stay tuned for more updates!
 

Download SkyGrid Flight Control for free in the iPad App Store or learn more about our advanced enterprise features.