Michael Pehel

Recent Posts

Hololens and Drones: A Perfect Match

At AUVSI’s XPONENTIAL conference, Drones-as-a-Service provider Insitu announced the establishment of a specialized commercial business unit. The new division will leverage its existing airframes, data science teams and Inexa Control (the commercial version of its ICOMC2 control system) to provide solutions to an expanding base of clients in industries like firefighting, energy and railway monitoring.

Greer Carper, ICOMC2 product manager at Insitu, illustrated the capabilities of Inexa Control with hands-on demonstrations of the system utilizing the Microsoft HoloLens. The walkthrough consisted of an interactive augmented reality overlay of a real-world wildfire scenario complete with a 3D map and variety of fixed-wing and UAV drones at the user's control.

All of the airframe’s core functions were available for the user to manipulate. Tapping into a drone’s camera was a matter of only a couple of gesture-based clicks, and important flight information like trajectory could be mapped with waypoints placement. From an operations standpoint, the benefit of tracking the airframes in 3D space is clear: Altitude is only a number on a 2D map, but was a tangible reality in the HoloLens demo.

The demo took some time getting used to. The HoloLens still has that wishy-washy scanline feel of Google Cardboard, but the setup and operation is more mature. Also, using your own hands to move things around is mildly disruptive to the simulation at first, but the visual feedback is its own teacher. Overall, the demonstration proves at least one use case for Hololens in the enterprise.

Carper explained that Insitu built Inexa Control on Unity to ensure multi-platform use. That means regardless if the client’s device of choice is a smartphone or tablet (or even a device as complex as the HoloLens), a bespoke solution can be carved out to match their needs with a common codebase for all devices. For example, the UAV controls are provided by a simple plug-in for ArduCopter-based vehicles.

Development editions of the Microsoft HoloLens are shipping now for $3,000, and as only a prototype, Carper believes they’ve just begun to tap into its potential. “We’re not expecting to sell tons of $3,000 devices to teams, but this is only the first round, and as the chips and form factor improves, more and more teams will want them.”

May 6, 2016 4:18:26 PM

Topics: Updates

Why The FAA is Temporarily Suspending Drone Registrations

Following the FAA’s rule requiring all small-UAS to be registered, the Federal Aviation Administration will be temporarily suspending the registration system due to an overwhelmingly strong initial demand. Users submitted over 45,000 registrations in the first couple of days after the system launched, and the shutdown is an effort to combat reported slowdowns.

Dec 29, 2015 3:22:57 PM

Topics: Regulation

Why We Need Amazon Prime Air...and Services Like It

An important thing happened this year on Black Friday: More people shopped online than in stores for the first time ever. Brick-and-mortar stores might not be dead yet, but they are moving into retirement. However, the wonderful stress-free world of online shopping created by companies like Amazon has left a huge gap if brick-and-mortar goes away. What do you do when you need it now?

Dec 2, 2015 1:27:50 PM

Drones Used for Tracking Radio Tagged Wildlife in Australia


Aug 26, 2015 1:28:50 PM

Topics: Humanitarian

Duke Opens Drone Facility for Marine Conservation

Duke University will be joining the list of institutions utilizing drones for scientific research in the U.S. as it recently opened a new UAS testing facility at the Nicholas School of the Environment. The Marine Conservation Ecology Unmanned Systems Facility, as it is called, will conduct studies in weather research, such as hurricanes off the coast, the surveying of marine mammals, and the tracking of marine macro plastic distributions.

Aug 20, 2015 2:11:38 PM

Topics: Maritime

First Legal Drone Delivery in US Brings Med Supplies to Remote Areas


Jul 22, 2015 10:20:10 AM

Drones Help Secure Our Beaches

Summertime is here, and people will be flocking to the beaches, ready to hit the water. Wanting to keep swimmers safe, researchers, lifeguards, and search and rescue teams are increasingly using drones in their efforts to improve safety and respond to emergency situations.

Jul 8, 2015 9:20:18 AM

Topics: Updates

Boeing Patents Mid-Air Recharging System for Drones

Well-known aircraft manufacturer Boeing was granted a patent for a mid-air recharging system. Each aircraft or drone would be comprised of an electrically powered buoyant aircraft, a control system to maneuver the aircraft, and a retractable tether to couple the aircraft with a ground charging station. The aircraft would be able to disconnect autonomously when a call for a delivery is made.

Jun 4, 2015 11:06:00 AM

Topics: Drone Development

Introducing the Phantom 3 from DJI

Apr 8, 2015 12:35:16 PM

Topics: Releases

Why the FAA Struggles with Drones


In a recent hearing before the Senate Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security Subcommittee, Federal Aviation Administration representative, Margaret Gilligan, stated the agency had inadequate infrastructure in place for testing commercial drone beyond line-of-sight operations for commercial drones, and they will continue to be committed to safety. Both statements are sincere, but it’s hard to take the agency's side when it expends resources hunting down drone enthusiasts on YouTube. It might be time for the FAA to swallow its pride and focus more on catching up to the rest of the world on commercial UAS regulation.

Apr 1, 2015 1:22:00 PM

Topics: Regulation