On Feb. 14, 2012, President Barack Obama signed a new Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) re-authorization bill worth roughly $63.4 billion, mostly intended for the FAA to fund and create a new national navigation system for commercial aircrafts, such as jetliners and private aircrafts. The intended outcome is to switch the nation’s air traffic control system from older radar systems to newer satellite-based Global Positioning Systems (GPS), enabling more efficiency and safety management procedures. However, what is exciting to many technology vendors that play in the government and defense space is that this new bill also paves the way for use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) into commercial U.S. skies. For companies like FreeWave Technologies (www.freewave.com) that provide reliable, high-performance spread spectrum and licensed radios for mission-critical data transmission, the bill opens up significant new market opportunities to sell wireless communications technology into the new governmental and non-governmental markets. The foremost UAS requirements outlined in the new FAA bill include:
- September 30, 2015 deadline for full incorporation of unmanned aircrafts into the national airspace - Calling for small unmanned aircrafts (under 55 pounds) to be allowed to fly within two years - Requiring six new test sites within six months - Necessitating accelerated access for public safety officials, such as law enforcement and emergency response teams - Enabling first responders to fly very small unmanned aircrafts (4.4 pounds or less) within three months - Requirements are outlined for the FAA to study the causes of accidents related to unmanned aircraft systems
Today, there are proven wireless data communications technologies for unmanned systems in the government and defense markets. Some vendors have mastered the requirements for military UAS applications and have been selling wireless data communications solutions into the government and defense markets for a few decades. FreeWave is excited by the opportunity this new FAA bill offers. It opens up new opportunities for us, our partners and other technology vendors to expand our solutions and offerings into new commercial markets. Up to now, vendors, like FreeWave, have been limited to selling these types of solutions to customers and partners in the defense and government markets only.
For example, ways in which this new bill can positively impact organizations like FreeWave include new market opportunities in:
- Police Departments and Emergency Responders - Public Safety Organizations, Homeland Security and Border Patrol - Agricultural business Companies and Farmers - Oil, Gas and Energy Companies
In my local area (Washington/Baltimore), hobbyist “radio controlled aircraft” already require a license before they can legally be flown. At first reading, it looks like the new rules will dramatically increase entry cost for the hobbyist. This will tend to depress the current manufacturer’s market, at least until they can provide the upgrades that will conform to the new rules.
This is quite interesting.
And it comes along with the notice of the Google auto-pilot car. Does this means that the future will hold automatic pilot for cars and planes?
Software will reach new heights of safety. Indeed this appears to be the start of a whole new market and the way a lot of things are done. I imagine pizza being delivered by a drone! Yikes! :)
NASA said Thursday (March 29) that it will be conducting very low level training and "photographic" flights over the Washington area on April 5. Airspace over the national capital is highly restricted, hence the NASA announcement that it was conducting the flights in conjunction with the FAA. T-38 jets will fly as low as 1,500 feet over the Washington area, NASA said, adding that the "flights are intended to capture photographic imagery." Given the start of safety testing for commercial drones, we have contacted NASA to find out if these flights have anything to do the FAA/NASA testing program for commercial drones. If we get a response, we'll pass it along.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.