Christina Cardoza

May 5, 2016 3:40:43 PM

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The AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2016 event happened this week in New Orleans. While the focus was meant to be on unmanned systems in general, the interest in the commercial drone space was evident. Companies and attendees from all around the globe wanted to learn and hear about the market space and how to make the industry grow.

Besides the wealth of educational resources, the conference gave commercial drone companies a platform to showcase their latest technologies, strategies and software.

Cloud-seeding drone sees success in experimental flight
Drone America announced the first successful flight of the Savant, a fixed-wing unmanned vehicle weighing less than 55 pounds, designed for aerial cloud seeding operations. According to the company, aerial cloud seeding operations will help address ongoing impacts of drought, and provide new solutions for natural-resource challenges.

“We have reached another major milestone in our effort to reduce both the risks and the costs in the cloud seeding industry, and help mitigate natural disasters caused by drought, hail and extreme fog,” said Mike Richards, President and CEO of Drone America. “With a wingspan of 11 feet, 10 inches, and its lightweight design, the Savant is the perfect vehicle to conduct this type of operation due to its superior flight profile, long flight times, and its resistance to wind and adverse weather conditions.”

PrecisionHawk partners with Insitu
PrecisionHawk, an aerial data and safety platform provider, and Insitu, a subsidiary of Boeing, are teaming up in order to provide more platform, hardware and software solutions.

“Our customers are always pushing us to bring more advanced and comprehensive solutions, and we go above and beyond to make sure we are developing tools that serve their specific needs," said PrecisionHawk CEO Christopher Dean. "We feel that collaborating with Insitu will only assist us with further delivering against that promise."

In addition to the collaboration, the companies plan to work together to research and test new technologies that will allow drones to safely fly beyond visual light of sight as part of the FAA’s Pathfinder Program.

Echodyne announces the development detect-and-avoid radar for drones
Echodyne wants to make sure that once you get your drone up in the air, it is able to fly safely with no collisions. The company plans to release the MESA-DAA, a airborne detect-and-avoid (DAA) radar system for all to medium-sized unmanned systems by the end of the year.

“NASA, the FAA, industry and academia have spent years studying the DAA problem, and have determined radar is by far the best sensor—if not the only sensor—capable of providing the all-weather, long-range and broad field of view scanning that is necessary for safe, highly reliable DAA. MESA-DAA technology may well represent the key to safely opening up airspace for beyond visual line of sight operations,” said Jim Williams, advisor for Echodyne.

According to Eben Frankenberg, CEO and founder of Echodyne, existing radar technology is too slow, bulky and expensive. The upcoming MESA-DAA aims to change that.

Microdrones announces plans to expand operations to the U.S.
German UAV manufacturer Microdrones is merging with Avyon with plans to expand its drone operations in the U.S. According to the company, with the restrictions in the U.S. beginning to ease, the company has new opportunities to expand its commercial footprint.

“Those in the UAV industry are very familiar with the Microdrones brand and reputation,” said Vivien Heriard-Dubreuil, president of Avyon. “Avyon built Microdrones’ North American business, implementing successful solutions and services. The two companies are a natural and complementary fit. Our Avyon customers can expect the same excellent standards of service under the new Microdrones brand.”

FLIR unveils the Vue Pro R
FLIR Systems, a manufacturer and provider of sensor systems, is adding a new camera to its thermal imaging series. The Vue Pro R is design to enable commercial drone operators to save pictures in order to analyze images post-flight and measure the temperature of image pixels. The new camera features calibrated radiometric imaging, records digital thermal video, takes radiometric thermal till images, and has an onboard micro-SD card slot.

According to the company, the Vue Pro R works well with applications for electrical inspection, infrastructure assessment, and precision mapping.

FreeWave releases new wireless IoT Sensor-2-Server solutions
Wireless networking solution provider FreeWave announced new commercial drone radio solutions designed to give customers more bandwidth and lower power consumption. The ZumLink series features four platforms with two radio modules and a board-level embeddable and fully enclosed device. In addition, the series features the ability for developers to build applications onto the radio for unmanned systems.

"The new ZumLink Family represents an evolution for FreeWave and opens up brand new communication possibilities for our customers," said Scott Allen, CMO of FreeWave. "By combining amazing radio performance with an intelligent platform, ZumLink enables customers to tailor their IoT communications to whatever they need, commercial or industrial, and also provides the ability to develop custom software applications for their future technology requirements."

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