Monday, December 3, 2012

I/ITSEC 2012

I will be at the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation, and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) this week, where I will be presenting my paper, Effects of Visual Interaction Methods on Simulated Unmanned Aircraft Operator Situational Awareness, on Wednesday at 8:30AM. For more information see the 2012 I/ITSEC agenda:

Saturday, November 17, 2012

USAF Academy- Football Game

On my last night in Colorado Springs I had the opportunity to attend a USAF Academy football game as a VIP. For details and pictures, see my latest entry over at my travel blog: Engineering a Travel Plan....

Friday, November 16, 2012

Tour of the USAF Academy

This week I participated in an Industry Advisory Board (IAB) meeting, where I briefed aviation/aerospace industry representatives, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU)-Worldwide faculty, and University leadership on the status of the Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) curriculum I have been working on for the last couple months. One of the major highlights of this trip was a guided tour of the august military education institution, the U.S. Air Force Academy.

USAF Academy Chapel
MQ-1B Predator UAV on Display in Cadet Dining Hall
Closeup of MQ-1B Predator
USAF Academy Chapel at Night with the Rockies in the Background
USAF Falcons Ice Hockey Rink (notice all of the CNY teams represented here)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Could "spooky actions at a distance" Hold the Key For Latency Free Communication?

Albert Einstein could not support belief in quantum mechanics because "physics should represent a reality in time and space, free from spooky actions at a distance" (as cited in Greene, 2011, sidebar caption).  The phrase "spooky actions at a distance" has become synonymous with quantum entanglement (Greene, 2011; Moskowitz, 2011), which occurs when two particles are linked despite distance of seperation (Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, 2012). Researchers have made significant advances in creating controlled quantum entanglement in the hopes of establishing advanced communication systems (Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, 2012). 
Recently efforts have been made to develop entanglement free quantum communication to obtain faster speeds with diminished distances (Chirgwin, 2012; Zyga, 2012).  These advances hold significant potential for the development of advances communications systems. Quantum communication technology is currently being explored for use in generating encryption keys for U.S. Naval submarine communications (Dillow, 2011).

A key virtue of entangled quantum communication is the capability to retain security, as there would only be communication between the two linked nodes.  As this technology matures, the applicability to unmanned aviation will be significant. The control and telemetry links between ground stations would no longer be subject to latency, loss of signal (LOS) due to attentuation or barrier, and external hacking of signal. 

June 2014 Update: It appears this concept and the associated supporting technology has been refined sufficiently by researchers at the TU Delft's Kavli Institute of Nanoscience, who successfully transmitted a single bit across a three meter space in a lab environment (Jeffrey, 2014). If the process is repeatable, scalable, and stable and the footprint of the equipment can be reduced to support portability, the implications of this research to support latency free communications could be revolutionary.

Chirgwin, R. (2012). Scientists ‘untangle’ quantum communications: Faster without entanglement. The Register. Retrieved from

Dillow, C. (2011). Quantum scheme could allow submarines to communicate securely. Popsci.comRetrieved from

Jeffrey, C. (2014, June 3). Scientists teleport quantum information across the room. Gizmag. Retrieved from

Greene, B. (2011). Spooky action at a distance. NOVA. Retrieved from

Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics. (2012). Breakthrough in quantum communication. AlphaGalileo Foundation website. Retrieved from

Moskowitz, C. (2011). Two diamonds linked by strange quantum entanglement. LiveScience website. Retrieved from

Zyga, L. (2012). Quantum communication without entanglement could perform faster than previously thought possible. Retrieved from

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Proposal to Identify Design and Implementation Criteria for Low Cost Two-Person Supervisory Small Unmanned Aerial System Control

Download in PDF format...

14 Nov Update: I just received word that I have been awarded internal funding from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to pursue this research project. Check back for details as the research is developed and I post the status.

First person view (FPV) equipped model aircraft are a form of small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS), developed and flown by private operators for recreational hobby purposes (Federal Aviation Administration, 2010; Kumar, Ramesh, & Srinivasa, 2011; Schneider, 2010).  FPV operation involves affixing a wireless camera to a remote control (R/C) aircraft and flying the vehicle using the live transmitted video feed as an egocentric view from the aircraft (Finch, 2012; Reyes, 2012; Schneider, 2010).  The legislated rules and recommended regulations set for the operation of FPV aircraft are also inclusive of sUAS developed and flown for research (e.g., academia, Government, and industry) and Government approved missions (e.g., law enforcement, search and rescue, geological surveying, etc.) with a certificate of waiver or authorization (COA; Academy of Model Aeronautics, 2012; Federal Aviation Administration, 2010; Kumar, Ramesh, & Srinivasa, 2011). 

Historically, the flight of FPV aircraft required the use of a spotter (i.e., pilot in command) equipped with a buddy box control to assume command of the aircraft, operated within visual line of sight (LOS; Academy of Model Aeronautics, 2012; Finch, 2012; Lucidity, 2012).  A buddy box setup requires the use of a two linked R/C transmitters (TX) to provide dual control of a single onboard receiver (RX) for supervisory control and manipulation of aircraft servos (, 2012; Cory & Tedrake, 2008; Han, Straw, Dickinson, & Murray, 2009; Hazeldene, Sloan, Wilkin, & Price, 2004; Schneider, 2010).  A noteworthy aspect of using a commercially-off-the-shelf (COTS) buddy box configuration is the reliance on a single RX (, 2012), which represents a single point of failure for control (, 2009).

With the release of the new Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA; 2012) document, AMA guidelines for radio controlled model aircraft operations utilizing first person view, failsafe, stabilization and autopilot systems, the need for use of a buddy box has been removed for experienced operators (Finch, 2012; Lucidity, 2012).  While a buddy box is no longer required for approved AMA FPV operations (Academy of Model Aeronautics, 2012; Lucidity, 2012), inclusion of a low-cost, easy to implement control solution capable of seamless control hand off while providing a secondary control interface (i.e., second RX) merits consideration based on the safety and operational benefits. The benefits of including a secondary RX and buddy box operational configuration include:

1)      capability to integrate a personal computer (PC) control system with a conventional hobby R/C radio system (data logging, alternate human-machine-interface [HMI] interaction methods, and extended communication range)
2)      decreased timing for spotter (i.e., primary operator) control acquisition/hand off
3)      secondary control in the case of signal loss for primary TX/RX (control redundancy)
4)      capability for manual operator control when integrated with an autopilot/autonomous control system

This research study is proposed to examine the needs and limitations of sUAS operators and recommend a low cost control solution (i.e., system and procedures) for two person supervisory operations within established legal boundaries for increased safety and operational benefits. For the purpose of this research, sUAS are defined as R/C model aircraft weighing 15 pounds (lbs) or less with a maximum speed of 70 miles per hour (mph; Academy of Model Aeronautics, 2012) and operators are defined as researchers, Government agencies, and first person view (FPV) remote control (RC) model aircraft hobbyist.

Estimated Equipment Costs (to prove functionality and perform evaluation of design and procedures; see following)

Eight-channel hobby radio system (TX/RX)         
Futaba8JH 8-Channel 2.4GHz S-FHSS Heli Radio System
$279.99 (1 unit):  $279.9

sUAS Platform
Heli-MaxAxe 400 3D Rx-R w/4 Futaba S3114 Servos       
$249.99 (1 unit): $249.99

$44.99 (2 units): $89.98

$53.95 (1 unit): $53.95 

$179.98 (1 unit):  $179.98

$29.95 (1 unit): $29.95 

$149.00 (1 unit): $149.00

$19.95 (2 units): $39.90

$3.25 (1 unit):  $3.25

$34.99 (1 unit): $34.99 

$129.99 (1 unit): $129.99

USB Video Capture
DIAMONDVC500 One Touch Video Capture Edit Stream or Burn to DVD USB 2.0    
$49.99 (1 unit): $49.99 

To cover, shipping and handling, tax, and unforeseen costs 
12.50% subtotal: $161.37      
Total Estimated Costs: $1,452.33

Proposed Design Overview

Estimated Timeline/Milestones
·         Performance of literature review and development of documentation identifying design criteria (duration: one month starting in January 2013)
·         Development of recommended design and associated documentation (e.g., architectural overview diagrams, theory of operation, and design decisions; duration: one month starting in February 2013)
·         Construction of proof of concept system (duration: two months starting in March 2013)
·         Component and integrated testing of system (duration: one month starting May 2013)
·         Development of conference ready whitepaper, documenting results and recommendations (eight to 10 pages, in Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers [IEEE] format; duration: two months starting in May 2013 and concluded by 30 June 2013)

REFERENCES (2009). Features of the wireless buddy box. Retrieved from

Academy of Model Aeronautics. (2012). AMA guidelines for radio controlled model aircraft
operationsutilizing first person view, failsafe, stabilization and autopilot systems [Adobe Acrobat reader]. Retrieved from (2012). Wireless head tracker instruction manualv1.0 [Adobe Acrobat
Reader]. Retrieved from

Cory, R., & Tedrake, R. (2008). Experiments in fixed-wing UAV perching [Adobe Acrobat
Reader]. Paper presented at the AIAA Guidance, Navigation and Control Conference and Exhibit, Honolulu, HI. Retrieved from

Federal Aviation Administration. (2010). Fact sheet – unmanned aircraftsystems (UAS).
Retrieved from

Fitch, G. (2012 October). Changesin FPV restrictions. Model Aviation, 38(10), 139-142.
Retrieved from

Han, S., Straw, A.D., Dickinson, M.H., & Murray, R.M. (2009). A real-time helicopter testbed
for insect-inspired visual flight control. IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, 3055-3060. doi: 10.1109/ROBOT.2009.5152667

Hazeldene, A., Sloan, A., Wilkin, C., & Price, A. (2004). In-flight orientation, object
identification andlanding support for an unmanned air vehicle [Adobe Acrobat Reader]. Paper presented at the 2nd International Conference on Autonomous Robots and Agents, Palmerston North, New Zealand. Retrieved from

Kumar, K.S., Ramesh, G., & Srinivasa, K.V. (2011). First pilot view (FPV) flying UAV test bed
for acoustic andimage data generation [Adobe Acrobat Reader]. Paper presented at the Symposium on Applied Aerodynamics and Design of Aerospace Vehicle, Bangalore, India. Retrieved from

Lucidity. (2012, October 12). FPV: Legal, or what? [Web log post]. Retrieved from

Reyes, C. (2012a). Definition: FPV aircraft. Retrieved from

Schneider, D. (2010). DIY eye in the sky: How to get a pilot’s-eye view while keeping both feet
on the ground. IEEE Spectrum, 47(2), 20-22. doi: 10.1109/MSPEC.2010.5397773

If you are interested in potential collaboration on this topic/proposal or have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Micro UAS Are Getting Smaller and More Sophisiticated

The design and development of miniature or micro unmanned aerial systems (MUAS) are taking more cues from the insect world. A team of researchers at Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have modelled their Robobee UAS on honeybees (Falconer, 2012). The Robobee system was recently made capable of remote controlled flight through the inclusion of two actuators for pitch and roll control (Falconer, 2012). The team is working to develop yaw and feedback capabilities to the system (Falconer, 2012). Law enforcement groups have begun to examine the use of such small scale UAS, while the US Army has been considering their tactical advantages for a couple years (Foxnews, 2012; Robinson, 2010). 


Falconer, J. (2012 Oct). Harvard's Robobee learning to fly. Gizmag.comRetrieved from
Foxnews. (2012 Oct). Policeweigh tiny new colleagues: micro-drones. Retrieved from

Gizmag. (2012). harvard-robobees-2.jpg [image file]. Retrieved from
Robinson, B. (2010, July). Beware of that bug: It could be following you. Defense SystemsRetrieved from


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Career Change - It's Official

I signed my first academic contract today, accepting an offer from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU)- Worldwide. I have been appointed to the rank of Assistant Professor of Aeronautics, a full-time, tenure track position with the University. My area of specialization will be in Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), specifically course development, instruction, and research. I'm very excited to start this new career path working for one of the nations "Great Colleges to Work For," as identified by The Chronicle of Higher Education (Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, 2012). The Chronicle also provided ERAU with an Honor Roll designation for their performance in the following six employer categories:
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Compensation and Benefits
  • Respect and Appreciation
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Facilities, Workspace and Security
  • Professional/Career Development Programs (Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, 2012).
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. (2012). The Chronicle of Higher Education again names Embry-Riddle a "Great College to Work For": Three other rankings honor Emry-Riddle as a top employer [News Release]. Retrieved from

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

My Dissertation Available for Purchase

My Ph.D. Dissertation Manuscript, Examining Effects of Visual Interaction Methods on Unmanned Aircraft Operators Situational Awareness, is now available for purchase from ProQuest/UMI:

 Author:Terwilliger, Brent Andrew   |  No. of pages:   302

To order a copy, please click here...

PDF (immediate download): $37
Unbound: $39
Softcover: $54
Hardcover: $70
Microfilm: $46
Microfiche: $51

The manuscript is free to all Northcentral University (NCU) learners (currently enrolled), alumni, faculty, and staff on the following page...

APA 6th ed. reference:

Terwilliger, B. (2012). Examining Effects of Visual Interaction Methods on Unmanned Aircraft Operators Situational Awareness (Doctoral Dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database (UMI No. 3516061)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

New Camera Actuator Technology Simulates Ocular Movement

A new camera motion control system developed by Ph.D. candidate Joshua Schultz from the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, replicates ocular movement using piezoelectric cellular actuators (Goodwin, 2012; Rennals, 2012; Robotic camera mimics eye movement, 2012). This technology could lead to the development of more intuitive human-machine-interfaces (HMI)s between remote devices and controllers (Goodwin, 2012).  The use of piezoelectric materials facilitates finer camera movement and reduced power, which cannot be replicated using bulky servos (Cain, 2012; Robotic camera mimics eye movement, 2012). The research, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF; NSF, 2012), was recently presented at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE; IEEE, 2012) International Conference on Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics in Rome, Italy (Goodwin, 2012).

I would be interested in examining this technology for inclusion in future teleoperation or unmanned vehicle interaction research. Specifically, what the implications might be when combined with a pan and tilt gimbal or servo base, a head tracker, and an eye tracker. An ocular camera motion base system might provide additional perception fidelity for a system to establish enhanced visual interaction (i.e., telepresence) to further replicate data capture that more accurately replicates head and eye movements of a remote operator.

Cain, P. (2012, August). Robotic cameras get human-like eye Retrieved from

Goodwin, S.E. (2012, July). Robot vision: Muscle-like action allows camera to mimic human eye movement. Atlanta, GA: Research News & Publications Office, Georgia Institute of Technology. Retrieved from

IEEE. (2012). [website]. Retrieved from

NSF. (2012). National Science Foundation [website]. Retrieved from

Rennals, L. (2012, July). History of robots could change with more life-like eyeball. Retrieved from

Robotic camera mimics eye movement. (2012, July). Retrieved from

Wired. (2012). Schwartz.jpg [image file]. Retrieved from

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Paper to Be Published and Presented at 2012 I/ITSEC

I was just informed my paper, Effects of Visual Interaction Methods on Simulated Unmanned Aircraft Operator Situational Awareness, was accepted for publication and presentation at the 2012 Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation, and Education Conference (I/ITSEC) in Orlando, FL this December.  My material has also been selected to be appropriate for Continuing Education Units (CEUs) through a partnership with the University of Central Florida (UCF; Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation, and Education Conference, 2012). For additional detail, see the following excerpt from an email received from Program Chair, Ron Smits:

The purpose of this letter is to confirm that your paper has been selected for both publication in the proceedings and presentation at this year's Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference, December 3 - December 6, 2012, in Orlando, FL, at the Orange County Convention Center.

Please accept my congratulations on behalf of the entire Conference Committee. The Subcommittee will be providing comments on your paper for you to incorporate in your paper. Your bird dog will be contacting you with this information in early August. Final revisions must be completed by August 17, 2012. Once your content changes are made and approved, you may be contacted by the editors at "" regarding the processing of your paper for publication. Your prompt attention to their requests will enable us to meet our timelines for the CD production.

Additionally, your paper was chosen to be designated as appropriate for Continuing Education Units (CEUs). Congratulations! As a result of this designation, you will be required to develop four questions and responses pertinent to your accepted paper/presentation. Your bird dog will forward a spreadsheet to you for the submission of those questions and responses. Attendees seeking CEU credit will have to attend your presentation at I/ITSEC and answer those questions on-line to obtain credit. Please ensure that you cover the answers to the questions in your presentation.

(Smits, 2012, para. 1-3).


Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation, and Education Conference. (2012a). CEUs. Retrieved from

Smits, R. (2012, July 25). Your I/ITSEC 2012 paper has been approved [Electronic mailing message].

Monday, July 23, 2012

Preparing for a Career in Simulation

I developed a presentation detailing an overview of a career in simulation for an Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) Industry Day that I organized last Fall (Terwilliger, 2011). The aim of the event was to bring together ERAU alumni from various aviation/aerospace industries (eg., program management, maintenance, simulation, and airline pilots) to discuss their careers, educational and training backgrounds, and recommendations to students for entrance into each respective field. To view my presentation regarding a Career in Simulation, click the following link...

Terwilliger, B. (2011, September). A career in simulation. Presented at An Afternoon with Industry Alumni, Daytona Beach, FL. Retrieved from

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My Teaching Philosophy

As an alumni of the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Daytona Beach campus and two online post-graduate education environments, I have participated in multiple forms of learning, including live classroom, tutorial/laboratory, and asynchronous instruction.  I do not believe there is a single right way to instruct.  Instead, all modalities need to be considered and the right method be selected based on the requirements of the given scenario.

It is essential that learners be treated as equals in the quest to understand the history, theory of operations, and applications associated with the topic.  While the students have enrolled in a class to learn, the instructors have an opportunity learn from them as well. The role of faculty is to guide and mentor learners by furnishing a comprehensive and thorough foundation of knowledge.  Teaching how to critically think, frame logical arguments, present information, and challenge expectations creates an environment where the learner can actively engage the subject matter.  Having an in depth understanding of these concepts will prepare learners for more advanced studies and career growth once their degree is complete. 

My primary goal for students is to relay knowledge in a manner that ensures comprehension, understanding practical application, and realization of why what they are learning is relevant.  The ability of a professor to motivate their students, while remaining quick to react to change, is necessary to realize success.  Success as an instructor is learner-centered, where the challenge is to identify student weaknesses and strengths, while promoting a flexible approach to ensure maximum growth and development. An instructor needs to understand how to communicate effectively to prevent confusion, inspire trust, motivate, understand, and set goals with students.  When a goal is important to a student, they are more likely to succeed. Likewise, providing a learner with opportunity to accept responsibility, such as learning to use a system, can improve their overall effectiveness. 

I have developed and presented courses describing the theory of operations of a simulation system to operators, including the user interfaces and data inputs.  I tailored my instruction design to focus on making the material relevant to how students use the system, to improve their understanding and motivation to learn.  When the material was introduced as a way to simplify use of the system, they became invested in the learning process, desiring to learn more.  Through our interaction, they began to understand new ways to make their jobs easier, providing the motivation to delve deeper into the material.  The students wanted to become experts, understanding the intricacies of the design to lead their fellow operators and provide higher fidelity experiences for their system users (i.e., military pilots and soldiers).  The key to success was finding out what was most important to them and leveraging that desire into a motivating factor.

One personal area I would like to focus on building is experience with University administration and education from a faculty perspective.  While I do have some experience developing and leading courses, I would benefit from a mentor/mentee relationship with senior faculty to gain a more thorough understanding of how to teach using various modalities, such as the blended methods.  I believe that improvement is a constant cycle, there is always room for it, it is driven by the desire for personal growth, and it is focused by feedback from our colleagues, students, and leaders.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Expanded Electric Motor Propulsion Duration for UAS

Lockheed Martin announced the successful operation of a remote laser power transfer technology using their Stalker UAS in a wind tunnel test that proved the capability of 48 hour operational duration (Quick, 2012). The remote power transfer system, Power Link developed by LaserMotive, has the potential for significant refueling and endurance expansion of the silent Stalker UAS (Cook, 2012; Quick, 2012). The test, stopped once the goals of the analysis were met, indicated positive endurance results with more energy stored in the battery system at the conclusion than at the start (Cook, 2012; Frink, 2012).

This announcement is a clear indicator that the usability of electric propulsion systems has matured to the point of serious performance gains over their internal combustion (IC) counterparts for small unmanned aerial systems (SUAS). In 2005, I developed a research study that examined the cost and performance associated with these two types of propulsion systems (i.e., IC and electric motors), which indicated the smaller the airframe the more efficient and cost effective it becomes for unmanned operation (Terwilliger, 2005). My study relied upon a direct comparison of standard brushed electric motors and nickel metal hydride (NiMh) batteries, which have been supplanted by use of brushless motors and  lithium-polymer (LiPoly) batteries (expanded capacity, lower weight; Terwilliger, 2005). The following comparison depicts the differences between equivalent (i.e., voltage and capacity) NiMh and LiPoly batteries:

NiMh to LiPoly Size and Weight Comparison:
The following information was taken from the product description of the Venom Racing 6-cell 3300 mAh NiMH Battery (Hobby-Lobby, 2012b):
Length (L): 5.375"
Width (W): 1.75"
Height (H): 1"
Total size/area (L x W x H): 9.4063
Weight 12.1oz

The following information was taken from the product description of the 3300mAh 2S 7.4V 25C LiPo Battery (Hobby-Lobby, 2012a):
Length: 5.35"
Width: 1.69"
Height: .51"
Total size/area (L x W x H):7.55 (80% of the size of NiMh equivalent)
Weight 5.93oz (49% of the weight of NiMh equivalent)

This comparison indicates the current generation of LiPoly batteries have a reduced footprint and weight for the equivalent voltage (7.2v) and capacity (3300 mAh). With the enhanced capabilities of such components, a new examination into cost and performance to determine where the line between the two technologies now meet would merit consideration.

13 July Update: BAE Systems has announced the development of a solar power system that can be used to form the structure of an airframe (Leung, 2012). Such as system, composed of hard composite material,  is believed to eliminate the need for batteries altogether for some uses (Leung, 2012). Coupling this technology with Power Link, backup high capacity-low weight batteries, and increased efficiency motors has significant potential for extending the endurance of unmanned aircraft.

8 November Update: A joint research effort between Rice University and Lockheed Martin have found a potential method for increasing the capacity of Lithium-ion batteries by almost three (Falconer, 2012).  This increase would be made possible by crushing a silicon anode film so that is has a total surface area 50 times more than crushed silicon alone (Falconer, 2012).  Such an increase is believed to be a significant power storage breakthrough with implications for mobile electronics and electronic vehicles (Falconer, 2012).

Cook, J. (2012, July). Laser power test extends flight time of spy plane to 48 hours. Geekwire. Retrieved from

Falconer, J. (2012, November). How to boost lithium battery performance - just add crushed silicon.
Retrieved from

Frink, T. (2012, July). Lockheed Martin and LaserMotive user laser to power UAV for 48 hours. Retrieved from

Leung, I. (2012, July). Integrated solar power storage eliminates batteries. Electronic news. Retrieved from

Gizmag. (2012). laser-power-stalker.jpg [image file]. Retrieved from

Hobby-Lobby. (2012a). 3300mAh 2S 7.4V 25C LiPo battery [product description]. Retrieved from

Hobby-Lobby. (2012b). Venom Racing 6-cell 3300 mAh NiMH battery [product description]. Retrieved from

Quick, D. (2012, July). Stalker UAS flight time improved by 2,400 percent using laser beams. Retrieved from

Terwilliger, B. (2005). Cost and performance analysis of internal combustion (IC) engines versus electric motors for use as unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) propulsion system. Daytona Beach, FL: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Extended Campus. Retrieved from

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Privacy Concerns Represent Another Hurtle in Domestic UAS Operations

Concern over the potential for privacy invasion is another of the major hurtles domestic developers and operators of UAS will have to overcome before the systems can be fully integrated into the national airspace (Catch-up time on drone regs, 2012; Ryan, 2012; Surveillance drones drive privacy fears, 2012). Domestic surveillance concerns include law enforcement monitoring without warrants, businesses monitoring consumer behavior, and invasion of constitutional rights to privacy (Catch-up time on drone regs, 2012).The potential for domestic spying does exist with this technology, much like other technology we rely on (i.e. cellular phones, internet connection, and credit cards/banking). However, before outright rejecting the use of UAS domestically, the benefits need to be considered including, remote surveying, three-dimensional mapping services, border and drug protection, search and rescue (SAR), fire fighting, and weather monitoring that will not place operators in danger (Ryan, 2012; Surveillance drones drive privacy fears, 2012). In order to effectively ease concerns and ensure continued protection of personal privacy, a set of enforceable Federal and State guidelines/laws will need to be established with serious repercussions and public exposure for violators.

13 July Update: The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Virgina has partnered with Republican Delegate Todd Gilbert to introduce unmanned aircraft regulation into the 2013 Virginia General Assembly session (The Associated Press, 2012). The legislation would require law enforcement officials to obtain a warrant before using unmanned aircraft, set standards for public monitoring, and necessitate the destruction of any  imagery data captured without authorization (The Associated Press, 2012).

Catch-up time on drone regs. (2012, July). Pocono Record. Retrieved from

Surveillance drones drive privacy fears. (2012, July). San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved from

Ryan, M. (2012, July). Worried about your privacy? Don't forget to look up. Retrieved from

The Associated Press. (2012, July). Gilbert, ACLU say bill will regulate drones. Retrieved from

Monday, July 9, 2012

ERAU to Explore UAS Testing

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU)-Daytona Beach is working with Volusia County to establish a UAS operation framework, which would support the anticipated growth of the unmanned market, integration of UAS into the national airspace, and consideration to be one of six UAS testing sites nationwide (Gant, 2012; Sanford, 2012; Tracy, 2012).  This agreement would provide a path forward for obtaining an FAA Special Certificate of Authorization for routine flight operations (Gant, 2012).  The initial UAS proposed under the agreement is a small UAS (SUAS), featuring electric propulsion capable of 20 to 30 minute flight durations (County council to consider Embry Riddle Drone Testing, 2012). Considering the initiation of the UAS major this fall at ERAU (Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, 2012) and their involvement in unmanned research & development (R&D; Circelli, 2012), this agreement represents an important step to establish the University as a foundational institution for unmanned research, education, training, and operation.

Full disclosure: I am an alumnus of ERAU (BS Aerospace Studies 2000/MS Aeronautical Science 2005) with continuing ties to the University.

Circelli, D. (2012, June). ERAU advancing the science behind drones. Daytona News-Journal. Retrieved from

County council to consider Embry Riddle Drone Testing. (2012, July). News Daytona Beach. Retrieved from

eagleNEWS. (2012). Team_awesome.jpg [Image File]. Retrieved from

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. (2010, Feb). Embry-Riddle to train unmanned aircraft pilots [News Release]. Daytona Beach, FL: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Retrieved from

Gant, A. (2012, July). Volusia County, Embry-Riddle consider testing unmanned aircraft. Daytona News-Journal. Retrieved from

Sanford, B. (2012, June). Unmanned aircraft systems market to hit $51 billion by 2018 says report. ReportBuyer. Retrieved from

Tracy, D. (2012, June). Drones could soon be flying in Florida skies. Retrieved from

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

AUVSI Posts UAS Operations Industry Code of Conduct

The news wire is buzzing with the release of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) "Unmanned Aircraft System Operations Industry 'Code of Conduct'," guideline (AUVSI, 2012a; Begos, 2012; Calamur, 2012; Wolfgang, 2012). The guideline, developed to direct industry designers and users, features recommendations for "supporting the growth of the industry in a safe and responsible manner" (AUVSI, 2012b, para 2). Membership in AUVSI and adherence to the code is not mandatory, with no penalties for those who chose to breach or opt out of participating in the code (Wolfgang, 2012). The development of this code represents a major step towards fulfilling the need for safe integration of UAS into the national airspace by September 2015, as identified by the FAA Modernization and Reform act (AUVSI, 2012b; Begos, 2012; Calamur, 2012; Wolfgang, 2012).

Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. (2012a). Unmanned Aircraft System OperationsIndustry “Code of Conduct”. Retrieved from

Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. (2012b, July). AUVSI releases "Code of Conduct" for unmanned aircraft systems operations: Promotes safe, responsible use as integration into airspace proceeds. AUVSI News. Retrieved from

Begos, K. (2012, July). Conduct code for unmanned aircraft is unveiled. Associated Press. Retrieved from

Calamur, K. (2012, July). A code of conduct, for drones? National Public Radio. Retrieved from

National Public Radio. (2012). ap1203280109207_11858769_wide.jpg [Image File]. Retrieved from

Wolfgang, B. (2012, July). Rule book for drone operators released: Voluntary guide as use expands. The Washington Times. Retrieved from