The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has now granted 3,711 Section 333 Exemptions for commercial use of drones as of March 1, 2016. That’s almost a 50% increase from the 2,500 as of July 1 of last year, or approximately 175 exemptions per month. Of these 528 include “construction” as part of their described use, and 1,260 include “inspection.”
Collision Avoidance; New Drone Announcements
Two interesting developments this year by major drone manufacturers is the addition of collision avoidance technology on drones. This is the ability of a drone to detect obstacles in its path and fly around them.
Yuneec, the maker of the well-regarded Typhoon quadcopter, announced the Typhoon H model will use Intel’s RealSense technology for real-time collision avoidance. Unlike the original Typhoon, the H model is a hexacopter (six rotors) and has folding arms. RealSense combines laser infrared and ultrasonic sensor technologies to detect and avoid even moving obstacles. Intel has been a major investor of Yuneec, investing $60 million in the company in August of 2015. The Yuneec H is slated to be available by summer but no further information is available at this time.
DJI, maker of the Phantom series of drones, announced this past week that its Phantom 4 with an Obstacle Sensing System will be shipping March 15. The Phantom 4’s collision avoidance system uses two forward-facing cameras to detect obstacles as far as 49.5 feet ahead, causing the drone to halt until the pilot redirects its path. If the Phantom has been told to fly to a certain location on a map, it will go to the location and avoid obstacles along the way. Information on the DJI drone can be found here.