I was finally able to meet FAA UASIO Director Earl Lawrence in person at the NASA UAM GC meeting in Seattle. I know you are probably scratching your heads saying, “Wow it took you that long? I met him at such and such show.”
Please understand, I don’t go to the carpetbagger shows because the misinformation and vacuous content is detrimental to the industry that I am a part of. Realize that they offer to pay me to attend and I still say “no”! That doesn’t mean that I haven’t written emails or left messages for Mr. Lawrence. However, I guess he is just too busy with other business and public appearances to talk to the little people.
I introduced myself and straight away told him about my goals, business, jobs and STE(A)M education. I am not selling any airplanes, parts, or services, nor am I lobbying. The only thing I can think is that these notions are so far out of the norm that it is unimaginable to those close to and ensconced in this process. I further explained that I am primarily concerned with the future domestic industry and policy (or lack thereof) that has facilitated a Chinese consumer drone monopoly. It appears that the conventional DC wisdom amongst the regulator and the lobbyists is that the monopoly is due to Chinese manufacturing prowess, and it sounds plausible. But you cannot discount the damage done by a 10-year ban vigorously defended by the dubious safety of the NAS platitudes.
The facts are that the U.S. had a ten-year (being generous with only ten years but we don’t want to go down the Moore’s law rabbit hole) lead on the rest of the world in unmanned aircraft systems. The February 2007 ban made commercial UAS illegal for what I like to call the lost decade. The regulator was obtusely crowing about the safety of the NAS while they knew full well that everyone and their brother were flying BVLOS at night, over people, and around critical infrastructure, controlled airspace, and in the DC FRZ. It was a poorly executed and highly improbably ruse. Even now there is talk about the safest NAS in the world, and we all know folks are out having a fiesta flying anywhere they like pretty much with impunity from enforcement. Why are there no catastrophes is a story for another time, but I encourage everyone reading to ponder why that might be.
Sure, manufacturing is a factor, but ten years ago the best and the brightest in leadership roles at the various United States Government agencies—including but not limited to the DoD, DoJ, FAA, NOAA, NASA—didn’t believe the Chinese would be able to produce anything even remotely as sophisticated as a UAV—so much so that they tried to laugh me out of the conference at NASA Ames.
You have to understand that this wasn’t some one-off cocktail party; this was a meeting explicitly dealing with unmanned aircraft airspace integration. Again, we were talking about chance encounters of one or two unmanned aircraft in the airspace. I have been sick and tired of the one-off unmanned-aircraft-in-the-airspace assumption for more than a decade. I stood up and said, “This makes no sense what so ever,” and “What are you going to do when the thousand-dollar Chinese UAV shows up?” The room roared with laughter and doubled down that the cost in some cases would even be lower and the prices and sophistication of COTS equipment were already very capable. Most of this was explained in more detail in the “Don’t Wing Loong Me, Bro” story.
In hindsight, it is easy to see how everyone was primarily focused on the “Big Iron,” as that was where the big money was. At the time the cost of Global Hawks was in the hundreds of millions and the General Atomics stuff in the tens of millions. Budgets for test flights were huge and reduced the interest in the little stuff or the toys. I contend that one of the reasons integration took so long is that every meeting started with about five to ten minutes of small(s) talk and immediately went to the big iron and big budgets.
The previous example was not the only time I was ridiculed and lampooned for believing in the power and proliferation of the smalls. Around the same time, I was also a member of the AUVSI Airspace Advocacy Committee. After disagreements with committee leadership that included a future Google burrito delivery guy (who got fired), assured me that there would never be any money in small UAS. I got ghosted, and that, as I was recently reminded, was before ghosting existed as a thing.
Another relevant subject in the lost-decade-plus discussion is that of Standards. Standards were mentioned as a way for the industry to have expedient and meaningful input on UAM. I stood up and went to the mic for the last question of the event. In this instance, I made reference to the ASTM F-38’s thirteen, almost fourteen years of standards work (kickoff meeting was May 2005). My question was, after the countless person-hours invested, how many of these standards have been adopted by the FAA? The FAA answer (drumroll): none!
I said that it is impossible for a small businessperson to participant in something for over a decade on his or her own dime, and that is coming from a guy who has spent countless hours and tens of thousands of dollars of his own money on this. The Airspace integration effort has to be a two-way street, and this industry is owed much by the regulator (FAA). Mr Lawrence did say that we have new mandates that will make it easier for the adoption of standards. I did remind everyone that we had a huge mandate, the September 2015 Congressional mandate for NAS integration that came and went.
After the meeting, I was wondering why the FAA would set everyone to work on the ASTM, RTCA, etc. standards if there wasn’t a clear mechanism to adopt? There is an ASTM F-38 story in the hopper. I am waiting for a reply on a few questions about sponsored meetings and paid consultants. Stay tuned on Twitter @theDroneDealer.
Published at Wed, 07 Nov 2018 18:36:10 +0000
Astronaut and pilot-designed controller by Fluidity Technologies makes drone flight more precise, intuitive and easier to learn
HOUSTON, November, 2018 – Drone pilots, from commercial experts to novices, can now increase their flight precision and improve their image/video quality with a first-of-its-kind single-handed controller from Fluidity Technologies. The FT Aviator drone controller was conceptualized and designed by former NASA astronaut, pilot and physician Scott Parazynski, who has applied spaceflight and robotics control expertise to address and improve upon the many challenges of drone, or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), flying.
Unlike traditional controllers, which most closely resemble a gaming controller with a complex two-thumbed control design, the FT Aviator intuitively unlocks the human potential to fly a drone with a more natural and exacting way of piloting. Its ergonomic design incorporates the drone-relevant four degrees of freedom through space (x, y, z and yaw), eliminating the awkward interface and steeper learning curve of existing dual-handed drone control, as well as providing tactile and visual feedback on what’s really happening with an aircraft.
The controller also brings the most important camera functions to the controller, versus having them buried deep in an app. The controller has dedicated buttons to control the rate of tilt on-the-fly as well as other commonly accessed camera functions such a shutter speed, exposure compensation and even zoom to create smoother video sequences. This revolutionary controller stands to speed up drone adoption and quality of image/video capture for hobbyists and professionals, including cinematographers, videographers, photographers, realtors and inspectors
“Working with everything from the Space Shuttle robotic arm to surgical robotics in labs I found controllers clunky, inaccurate and in no way related to the dynamics of movement through space,” said Parazynski, founder and CEO, Fluidity Technologies. “Our patented technology changes that – for the first time providing highly-intuitive, precision movement to UAVs. It stands to lower the barrier to entry to drone flying, tremendously enhancing precision while also making drone flight a lot more fun.”
FT Aviator Features:
Plug and Play: The FT Aviator is a durable, premium grade, quick-to-assemble drone flight controller consisting of a joystick, a base and a smartphone holder.
Freedom of Movement: The FT Aviator single-handed controller precisely enables the four degrees of freedom of flight applicable to drones: forward and backward (X-axis), left and right (Y-axis), up and down (Z-axis) and turning left and right (Yaw).
Human-Centered Engineering: The FT Aviator reduces the “cognitive workload” for drone pilots with its single-handed controller and natural and cognitive translation of hand-to-device movement, allowing them to focus on what they’re filming, and not the mechanics of how they’re getting there.
Smooth, Consistent Motion: With a single-handed controller, the FT Aviator is not prone to cross-coupling, or inadvertent movements, enabling precision flight.
Tactile Feedback: Its advanced “return to zero” anti-drift capabilities and feedback when commanding a motion (or not) prevents inadvertent motion inputs in other degrees of freedom.
Situational Awareness Cues: This unique controller always provides visual and real-time critical situational awareness cues, guiding safe maneuvering of a drone in the event a pilot transiently loses sight of it.
Dynamic Adjustability: Drone flight control can be modified “on the fly,” maximizing a pilot’s time on the scene while optimizing the drone and camera system for the smoothest video while shooting.
Secure Communications: The FT Aviator leverages the native DJI transmitter-receiver radio, which is considered very secure, with frequency hopping and other security measures.
Incredible Video Functionality: The controller has dedicated buttons to slow the rates of tilt control to get smoother video sequences, as well as other commonly accessed camera functions, without having to dive into multiple layers of the app.
Insurance for Human Error: A capacitive dead-man sensor is located in the upper joystick grip, adjusted so that inadvertent stick movements won’t result in unintended drone motion.
The FT Aviator is currently compatible with nearly all DJI drones and will be available for purchase on Kickstarter. The FT Aviator is expected to retail for $449 but is available for pre-order for $225 – 50 percent off – with limited quantities. It is expected to ship in early Q1 2019.
The FT Aviator is the first product launched by Fluidity Technologies. Its patented and patent-pending technologies will soon be applied to virtual and augmented reality, computer and console gaming, surgical and medical robotics and more. Video, images, logos and more are downloadable here.
About Fluidity Technologies
Fluidity Technologies is a technology innovation company focused on redefining movement through 3-dimensional space. Founded by former NASA astronaut, pilot and physician, Scott Parazynski, the company’s mission is to simplify and improve motion in an increasingly complex world. In Fall 2018, Fluidity Technologies launched the FT Aviator, its first patented single-handed drone controller designed to dramatically increase the precision of drone flight, while tremendously simplifying it. For more information, please visit https://fluidity.tech/.
Published at Wed, 07 Nov 2018 15:33:54 +0000