Valmie Receives FAA 333 Exemption

There was a lot of enthusiasm at Valmie Resources when we received the news that our company had received the sought after FAA 333 Exemption to commercially operate unmanned aircraft in the National Airspace System.This authority is being leveraged to grant case-by- case authorization for certain unmanned aircraft to perform commercial operations prior to the finalization of the Small UAS Rule, which will be the primary method for authorizing small UAS operations once it is complete.When the excitement died down we began a thoughtful and careful consideration about what our authorization signified. As U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said, “Make no mistake: unmanned aircraft enthusiasts are aviators, and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility.”First, for us it means we are pioneers in this emerging space. We are among the first to have the ability to fly commercially and therefore will forever be viewed as industry trailblazers. We take this responsibility very seriously as we move forward with growth plans in a responsible manner.Next, we will fly safely. With every negative drone incident our entire industry suffers a setback. We plan to follow applicable safety guidelines and never do anything that will damage the evolution of this exciting sector.Last, we are committed to the overall growth of the drone sector as well as the growth of Valmie, and we are open to collaborations that will not only move our companies forward but also the entire industry. We are pleased with the partnerships we have formed thus far and look forward to partnering with other like-minded companies that hold a vision of drones for good in the years...

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Drones Taking Center Stage at CES 2016

Happy New Year! I hope you are coming back from a great holiday season and the New Year brings you peace, joy and lots of awesome futuristic gadgets!And speaking of futuristic devices, unmanned systems are revolutionizing the way we capture and monitor information. The topic of drones has been one of the hottest news items in technology during the past two years. Drones and other unmanned systems have taken off as a unique commercial tool, regardless of whether flight is controlled by onboard computers or remotely from the ground.At the massive CES (Consumer Electronics Show) 2016, unmanned systems are figuring heavily, where a record 27 recognized and new drone manufacturers have descended on Las Vegas to demonstrate their new technology.What are we likely to see at CES regarding the drone world? Valmie is just getting started checking out the exciting exhibits and conferences, but to their current controversial nature, drones will certainly place added importance on flight safety this year. Manufacturers will be featuring autopilot and homing features designed to minimize near misses and accidents. Improved battery life and extended flight times are also expected be demonstrated.Experience some highlights of the variations in design and functionality of this exciting technology and check out the next wave of advancements in the Unmanned Systems Marketplace at CES, January 6 through 9 in Las Vegas, Nevada.See you...

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Package Delivery in 30 Minutes

Shop online, hit the “buy” button and get your product 30 minutes later. How futuristic is that?The future is now at Amazon. Recently, the retail giant revealed the latest prototype of drones it will deploy as part of its Prime Air Service using unmanned aerial vehicles to deliver packages in less than 30 minutes.According to details released Sunday by Amazon, the “octocopter” drones weigh 55 pounds and can carry packages weighing up to 5 pounds. The drones fly under 400 feet and use “sense and avoid” technology to dodge potential obstacles en route to their delivery destinations.Amazon says they are testing drones in “multiple international locations” and will launch the service once the company has “the regulatory support needed to safely realize our vision.”Although the plan will require more safety testing and FAA approvals in the U.S., Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos estimates that delivery-by-drone, dubbed Amazon “Prime Air,” will be available to customers as soon as 4-5 years.Other companies are getting in on the act. Google is eyeing 2017 for the launch of a drone delivery operation transporting packages to consumers by drone. David Vos of Google’s Project Wing — the internal project for testing drone use – recently talked about the project to an audience at an air traffic control convention near Washington, D.C.Google is not the only company exploring drone delivery. Last month, Walmart revealed it was seeking permission from the FAA to test drones for deliveries.As a baby boomer who grew up watching the Jetsons, I get wildly enthusiastic about news like this. How about...

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Drones South of the Border

The commercial drone market is continuing to develop south of the border. From the Caribbean coast in Mexico and the Amazon rainforest to the Argentine Pampas, drones are busy assessing weather damage, surveying timberland and monitoring crops and livestock. Large businesses are already profiting, and smaller companies are beginning to reap the benefits as well. While many countries are widening their homegrown drone technology, several U.S. drone producers are looking to create production facilities in Latin America to make the technology more available. Valmie is there, and has recently signed an LOI with an international tech company to explore UAV collaboration. The agreement underscores Valmie’s search for unique teaming scenarios in less restrictive foreign environments to allow the opportunity to develop and perfect Valmie’s UAV platform more quickly. Check back for updates on this...

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Are You Ready to Fly a Drone?

The Consumer Electronics Association has forecast that 700,000 UAV’s will be sold this holiday season. People are excited about drones and their capabilities, and the use of UAV’s around the world has exploded.Most prospective operators – from consumers to businesses—want to fly safely, but many don’t realize that, just because you can easily acquire a UAV, doesn’t mean you can fly it anywhere, or for any purpose.Stay off the naughty list! If you will be among those fortunate new owners of a UAV in the coming weeks and you live in the U.S., you should be aware about “Know Before You Fly.”“Know Before You Fly” is a valuable resource that helps new drone users understand the responsibilities that come with UAV operation. It was founded by the three leading organizations with a stake in UAV safety – the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) and the Small UAV Coalition. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is partnering with the founding members to spread the word about safe and responsible flying.Their website includes integration with AirMap, an app-based software system that provides UAV operators with accurate airspace information including the geographic data on airports, temporary flight restrictions, restricted airspace, national parks and NOAA marine protection areas.The website now includes an interactive quiz, Are You Ready to Fly A Drone? The quiz tests basic knowledge of UAV rules and the airspace. When completing the quiz, users are ranked on their ability as an operator.Go to www.knowbeforeyoufly.org to learn much...

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Move over, Amazon and Google, delivery drones are coming!

An Ohio-based truck manufacturer has recently filed a Section 333 exemption with the FAA to deliver packages using its wireless recharging HorseFly octocopter that flies to and from a standard vehicle.The HorseFly is currently being tested in a program together with the University of Cincinnati to develop the system necessary to execute precision take-offs and landings from the top of a delivery truck in a variety of weather conditions.The concept behind the HorseFly is to combine drones with traditional package delivery services and assist in servicing outliers along the route to help cut down the overall cost of deliveries. This is the first UAV platform with the capability to make deliveries from a constantly moving vehicle and employs proprietary battery and system technology that was developed for EPA-approved electric work trucks.The electric delivery truck, along with the integrated HorseFly system was among the contenders this year for a contract to build the next generation delivery vehicles for the U.S. Postal Service.How it worksIf a driver has four deliveries in one part of town but only one in another, the drone might be able to handle that single, less convenient delivery.The technology combines autonomous and manual control.GPS is used to determine the delivery location, and the drone flies there without human input. When it arrives at its destination, a downward-pointing camera switches on and an operator at a remote center takes over. The operator guides the drone down, making sure to avoid people and obstacles, and releases the package. The drone then resumes autonomous flight and returns to the truck.In tests, the drone has flown at speeds up to 55...

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Sense and Avoid Technology

As reported in a previous blog post, earlier this year the World Economic Forum issued its list of the top 10 emerging technologies of 2015. The World Economic Forum is the international institution committed to improving our planet through public-private cooperation.Number 8, “Sense and Avoid” drones, is the next stage in UAV development that will transform drones from remotely flying aircraft (aircraft with human pilots on the ground) to machines that fly themselves. This opens them up to a much wider range of applications.This means drones must be able to sense and respond to their local environment, altering their height and flying trajectory in order to avoid colliding with other objects in their path.This collision avoidance and the loss of positive control, two of the FAA’s major safety concerns, will keep drone delivery services from deploying in the very near future. However, sense and avoid technology is beginning to evolve.The technology is already being deployed on larger and much smaller military drones. Drone manufacturer General Atomics Aeronautical Systems recently reported it has flight-tested an early version of a sense–and-avoid radar mounted on its 10,000-pound military drone.However, sense and avoid technology for drones weighing less than 55 pounds is not common and is keeping drones from being safely allowed to fly outside the line of sight of the operator.NASA, along with a private drone manufacturing company, is developing an Internet-based system that will give drone operators information on oncoming obstacles such as bad weather and physical obstructions, based on the filed flight plan. Eventually, more sophisticated feedback systems will be developed that could actively manage the airspace by, for example,...

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Analysis of Section 333 Exemptions

As reported in a recent press release, Valmie has submitted its Section 333 petition for exemption to the FAA for civil operation of unmanned aerial systems (UAS). The exemption will allow Valmie to realize the advantages of drones for future clients in the U.S.While we wait for our petition to be processed, I thought I would present a brief overview of FAA exemptions to date.The agency approved the first commercial operators in September 2014 to a group of film and television production companies. Prior to this time the only approved commercial UAV operations were granted for minimal operations supporting oil and gas activities in the Arctic under a lengthy process originally developed for manned aircraft.Within a year of commencing the exemption process, the agency ramped up its approval process and as of today, 1,008 petitions have been granted. The top industries receiving exemptions areReal estateAerial surveyingAerial photographyAgricultureAerial inspectionConstructionInfrastructure inspectionUtility inspectionFilm and TelevisionEnvironmentalThe top five states with most FAA-approved UAS operators areCaliforniaTexasFloridaIllinoisArizonaIn February 2015 the FAA released its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for drones, a drafted set of rules that could govern the commercial UAV industry. It is expected that the rule will be reviewed and completed in mid-2016. Until then, the Section 333 exemption process remains the most effective manner for commercial operators to responsibly and safely gain access to the national airspace.While this is a small segment of our nascent UAV industry in the U.S., it is the beginning of what will be a boundless economic driving force and a transformative business application that will increase society’s ability to save time and...

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Drones Among Top 10 Emerging Technologies for 2015

Technology is arguably the greatest change agent in the modern world. While never without risk, technological developments ensure innovative solutions to the most urgent challenges of our generation.Earlier this year, the World Economic Forum issued its list of the top 10 emerging technologies of 2015. The World Economic Forum is the international institution committed to improving the state of the world through public-private cooperation.With 2015 more than half over, I thought it might be good to revisit this list.Fuel cell vehiclesNext-generation roboticsRecyclable thermoset plasticsPrecise genetic engineering techniquesAdditive manufacturingEmergent artificial intelligenceDistributed manufacturing“Sense and avoid” dronesNeuromorphic technologyDigital genomeTo create this list, the World Economic Forum’s Meta-Council on Emerging Technologies, a panel of 18 experts, drew on the shared knowledge of the Forum’s communities to recognize the world’s most critical and timely technological developments.The purpose of this effort is to raise awareness about the vast impact of these 10 technologies and to close the gaps in investment, regulation and public understanding that so often impede progress.Number 8, “Sense and Avoid” drones, is the next stage in UAV development that will transform drones from remotely flying aircraft (aircraft with human pilots on the ground) to machines that fly themselves. This opens them up to a much wider range of applications.This means drones must be able to sense and respond to their local environment, altering their height and flying trajectory in order to avoid colliding with other objects in their path.I will discuss this in more detail in a coming post. In the meantime, read up on the “Top 10” list at...

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Valmie Exploring Agricultural Drone Platform Development in Mexico

If you’ve been following our press releases, you’re aware that Valmie is exploring collaboration with a technology startup in Mexico, Drone Lab Mexico.  We are investigating this relationship for the purpose of sharing technologies to build specialized drone platforms for a variety of commercial uses.Drone Lab Mexico is focused on the implementation of leading edge technology to meet needs in a variety of commercial spaces through design, development and customization of UAV’s.In addition to the value that Drone Lab’s team brings to the table, the country offers a less restrictive setting that will allow Valmie to develop its drone technology in a more flexible environment.With the majority of the commercial market for drones expected to grow in the direction of agriculture, our companies’ mutual interest in that area will result in a very productive relationship.  We look forward to developing platforms that will help farm operators on both sides of the border save money and conserve resources.Interestingly, agriculture is a major user of ground and surface water, accounting for as much as 80 percent of our nation’s consumptive use! By gathering and analyzing data from drones, farmers will be able to determine what portions of their fields need irrigation for maximum conservation of water. We at Valmie are excited to be part of this valuable project and we invite you to check here often to learn more about our...

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