Drone News of the Week May 20

drone news of the weekAll of the DRONELIFE headlines and drone news of the week May 13: Watts Innovations, Drone Racing League, American Robotics and more.  Click on the headline to read or listen to the full story.

Continue reading the headlines below, or listen here: 

Aloft Geo Portal Brings FAA Drone Regulations and Local Rules Together for Operators

Drone airspace systems and UTM technologies leader Aloft Technologiesreleased the Aloft Geo Portal, a free tool that brings together FAA airspace rules and local ground rules for drone operations nationwide.

New submissions will gradually be published during the portal’s first phase, with the first set expected to publish in June. Essential for all drone flight, access to a reliable data set covering all air and ground requirements is especially crucial for the future of drone delivery and air taxi use cases.

Ondas Holdings Inc., through its subsidiaries, Ondas Networks and American Robotics (“AR”), is a provider of private wireless, drone, and automated data solutions. The company announced its first quarter results on May 11, 2022.

Key figures in the announcement:

  • Revenue for the first quarter was $400k compared to $1.2 million for the three months ended March 31, 2021.
  • Gross margin was 29.8% compared to 52.3% in Q1 2021.
  • Net loss was around $10 million compared to a $3.1 million loss in Q1 2021.
  • Cash balance at the end of March was $32.1 million.

Liteye Wins DoD Contract: $12.1 Million for Counter Drone and Ground Surveillance Systems

Colorado-based Liteye Systems, Inc. has won a $12.1M, multi-year contract with the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) “to provide its entire portfolio of integrated multi-domain, multi-mission Air Base Surface and Ground Defense systems, including Counter UAS (C-UAS) solutions,” says a company announcement.

As the commercial drone industry expands and the number of drones in the airspace increases, government and civil agencies have prioritized the implementation of counter drone systems, commonly referred to as C-UAS.  DoD and other U.S. government agencies have shown increased willingness to partner with commercial technology suppliers rather than building in-house systems, as the Liteye DoD contract demonstrates.

Watts Innovations Drones for Film, Delivery, Inspection and More: US-Based Startups ;Engineering Mindset Pays Off [DL Exclusive]

When Bobby Watts launched Watts Innovations six years ago, he could only imagine that his company, which once offered custom engineering solutions for everyday people, including custom-built toothbrushes and toilet seats, would one day specialize in the manufacture of unmanned aerial systems to service the film industry and other industrial drone users.

Today, the company’s products, which are designed and assembled in the U.S.A. — are used in a number of applications from film and television production, to LiDAR-based surveys and asset inspections for the oil and gas and electric utility industries.

Commercial UAV Expo 2022 Program; Vegas Show is Back, and Bigger than Ever

Commercial UAV Expo is a can’t miss event for the industry – the opportunity to meet, greet, and do business with the biggest players inthe industry, in your business vertical.

Experts from DJI, DroneUp, Elroy Air, FAA, Kiewit, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, Skydio, State of Alaska, Sundt Construction, Turner Mining Group, Windover Construction, Wing, Zipline and many other top organizations will share their expertise on a range of topics. Session formats include Keynotes and Visionary Panels, where drone innovators, regulators, and end-users share their expertise and vision and discuss the critical issues facing the industry; Deep-Dive Vertical Market Sessions that offer practical, actionable education for professionals working with UAS in vertical markets including construction, infrastructure, and surveying and mapping; and Industry Update Sessions that provide up-to-the-minute information on topics that affect everyone in UAS, such as AAM, BVLOS, and autonomy.

French Defense Ministry to Use Elistair ORION 2 Tethered Drones

The DGA (French Armament General Directorate) has awarded tethered drone solutions leader Elistair with a framework agreement for the supply of ORION 2 tethered UAVs.

The ORION 2, an automated smart tethered drone, is able to reach a height of 100 m and maintain flight for up to 24 hours at a time. The drone’s tether protects data transfer and guards against jamming and interference. The ORION 2 also successfully passed all of the DGA’s Information Systems Security (ISS) certification tests.

The ORION 2 was selected for the purpose of reinforcing surveillance and observation systems within DGA’s missile test sites. The contract was granted to Elistair in order to fulfill the requirements of DGA EM’s Landes and Mediterranean sites, as well as the Mediterranean and Aquitaine flight test sites of DGA EV (DGA Flight Tests).

U.S. Air Force and Drone Racing League Partner to Celebrate 75th Anniversary and Accelerate Drone Pilot Skills

The U.S. Air Force and Drone Racing League (DRL) share a passionate interest in showcasing drone pilot skills and encouraging new entrants into the drone industry.

Now, the US Air Force and Drone Racing League have partnered to “showcase their mutual commitment to ‘Innovate, Accelerate, and Thrive’”: creating new content, immersive gaming and pilot spotlights from Military Appreciation Month through the 2022-23 DRL Algorand World Championship Season.

Partnering with the Drone Racing League makes the U.S. Air Force look cooler – and that’s the point.  With this partnership, the USAF hopes to reach their next generation of pilots – especially those already skilled drone pilots, says a DRL press release:

American Robotics Reese Mozer on the Many Types of BVLOS Flight: EVLOS, True BVLOS, Automated, and More

BVLOS stands for “Beyond-Visual-Line-of-Sight”. That phrase refers to where in space a drone is operating in relation to the Pilot In Command, or PIC. This last part is where the confusion begins. In the aviation world, every flight must have a designated Pilot In Command, regardless of whether the aircraft is a Boeing 747 or an $8 micro-drone from the mall. This “PIC” title refers to a very specific individual that is formally granted the authority to fly and ultimately, the responsibility of the safety of the operation.

Why do the FAA and other regulators care about this? For an aircraft to safely operate in the airspace, the PIC has to have some understanding of the state of their own aircraft and where other aircraft are so he or she can avoid them if necessary, and continue to maintain the safety of the operation and the airspace. For the past 100 years, the primary sensor tasked with accomplishing this ‘see and avoid’ capability was the Mark 1 human eye and brain, hence the emphasis on “visual”.

Drone Industry Influencer Randall Warnas Named EVP at Enterprise UAS

Leading enterprise drone distributor Enterprise UAS announced that former Autel Robotics CEO Randall Warnas will be joining their senior management team as Executive Vice President. The parent company of three of the industry’s leading brands in DSLRPros, Dronefly and Aerial Media Pros, this new hiring is part of an effort by Enterprise UAS to further expand its reach in the drone industry.

For the Dark, Dirty and Dangerous, Flyability Elios 3 LiDAR Drone: Check Out this Fly Through a Decommissioned Nuclear Plant

Today, Flyability launched its Elios 3, the first ever collision-tolerant drone equipped with a LiDAR sensor for indoor 3D mapping.

“The Elios 3 has some of the very best stabilization in the world, a modular payload, the ability to create 3D models in real time while in flight, and it paves the way towards an increasingly autonomous future,” said Flyability co-founder and CEO Patrick Thévoz. “For industrial inspections, the Elios 3 is a key enabler of Industry 4.0, presenting an inspection solution that can make inspections safer, more efficient, and less expensive than ever before.”

National Grid Drones: Trialing Automated Corrosion Inspection of Transmission Pylons

National Grid Electricity Transmission (NGET) is conducting a trial of a system intended to fully automate the capture and processing of corrosion-related condition assessment data. The system, born out of a collaboration with Keen AIand sees.ai, deploys automated drones flown Beyond Visual Line of Sight for the collection of accurate data, which is then processed by artificial intelligence.

NGET periodically assesses its extensive network of steel lattice pylons –  used to carry overhead transmission conductor wires – for corrosion and deterioration. NGET inspects roughly 3,650 steel lattice pylons per year, capturing images from helicopters and manually operated drones, which are then manually processed.

The trial of this new system will allow a fleet of autonomous drones to be piloted nationally with authorization from the Civil Aviation Authority and with supervision by remote operators in a secure Remote Operation Centre.


Miriam McNabb

Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry.  Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.


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