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Google Is Serious About Drones

Google’s skunkworks Google X team has spent the last two years working on a secret program. Google appears to be serious about delivery in the air—getting products from the warehouse to their destination in about two minutes.

Alexis Madrigal of the Atlantic has a scoop about the secretive Project Wing, a Sergey Brin concept that’s been fleshed out by top engineers recruited specifically for the task. Madrigal reports that Google developed a special kind of unmanned arial vehicle called a “tail sitter” with a few tweaks that make it specially designed for delivery.

This Youtube video which has been viewed almost 400,000 times shows a real aircraft delivering products to customers through the use of GeoMapping software. This is a hybrid plane/copter device that was specifically designed for delivery. Google believes it is years…but not decades away from becoming a reality. test new entry


Canadians create laws to stop "Drone" Hunting

Canadians taking steps to ban "Drone Hunting".

Canadians taking steps to ban “Drone Hunting”

A ban on hunting using drone aircraft has now been added to Saskatchewan’s wildlife regulations.

There have been some cases in the United States where hunters have used them to find and track animals.

The Saskatchewan government, along with hunting groups, believe UAVs cross the line of what is considered a “fair chase.”

“The biggest concern is that these devices would give hunters an unfair advantage,” said Travis Williams, a wildlife allocation specialist with the Environment Ministry.

In addition to being used to spot moose and other game, there’s also a concern the suitcase-sized flying devices might be used to flush animals out from concealed areas, he said.

Previously it was illegal to “operate or be a passenger in an aircraft” for the purpose of hunting wildlife.

Adding “or unmanned aircraft” to the ban makes it more clear.

Manitoba also imposed a ban in June.


Fresh Incidents Sharpen Drone Concerns

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A Jazz crew on a flight from Fredericton to St. John’s spotted what may have been a drone 1,000 feet above their aircraft, prompting Transport Canada’s latest investigation into what has become a time consuming issue for the agency.

The incident occurred Aug. 3 and it’s not clear from media reports what altitude or phase of flight the Jazz aircraft was in but the pilots reported seeing a red and white vertical tube with a rotor attached above them and called it in.

There has been a spate of airline/drone encounters in Canada and involving Canadian aircraft in the U.S. in recent months and so far the pilots have been elusive.

Perhaps one of the most disruptive incidents was at Pearson Airport in June, according to a Toronto Star investigation.

In that case, controllers had to change runways because a drone was spotted on the approach to one of its main runways, 24R. “Multiple aircraft on short final to Toronto runway 24R reported seeing a drone operating…left of centreline. Changed operation to land runway 23 only,” said a Transport Canada report.

A similar incident in Vancouver disrupted operations there, too.


Small UAS Operator Requirements Set

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Transport Canada will soon release its rules for those who want to fly UAVs that weigh less than 25 kilograms within line of sight.

Rather than require operators to have pilot licences, the rules will require that operators have a working knowledge of Canadian airspace and air law and the place for unmanned systems within the airspace system.

Canada allows the use of drones for commercial use under Special Flight Operations Certificates and the about-to-be-released regulations will be a requirement for those hoping to use a UAV.

Harv’s Air is among the first to offer an online course that teaches all the components of the knowledge requirement. It’s a 30-hour course and successful candidates will get a certificate of completion.

As we reported last week, Transport Canada has designated 750 square kilometres of southern Alberta airspace for the testing of drones designed to operate beyond line of sight.


Military Wants Swiss Army Knife Drone

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The Department of National Defence’s specifications for a new fleet of drones are so broad that most companies say there isn’t a single design that can fulfill them.

That’s sent senior military planners back to the drawing board to decide whether to hold separate competitions for two types of drones.

The military wants drones that can provide surveillance domestically (think the North) and overseas but it also wants them with teeth so they can carry Hellfire missiles on operations overseas.

Generally, surveillance drones have small engines and long endurance to provide long loiter times and autonomous operation.

Attack drones are fast and powerful and are almost always under direct control of ground-based pilots.

In 2012, DND invited eight companies to respond to a request for information for a one-size-fits-all drone and five of them proposed a “mixed fleet” according to the Globe and Mail.

The Globe reported that it’s the latest chapter in a story that goes back 10 years and involves six separate attempts by the military to buy drones. It did have a small fleet of unmanned aircraft called the Sperwer during deployment to Afghanistan and it also used some Israeli-built Herons in Kandahar but turned those over to Australia when the Canadian deployment ended.

There is some time for the the military to sort out the current situation. DND doesn’t actually have a plan to pay for new drones until 2019.