Safety, safety, safety! That was the clear and consistent message expressed by the regulators at the recent 2017 FAA-AUVSI Symposium held in Reston, VA. As General Counsel for CyPhy Works, a small drone manufacturer in Massachusetts, I appreciate the unambiguous, singular message. There is no room for misinterpretation: do not compromise on safety. Period. As Michael Huerta, the FAA Administrator stated at the symposium, “We don’t compete on safety.”
CyPhy sells the Persistent Aerial Reconnaissance and Communications drone, nicknamed PARC. It’s unique because it’s a tethered drone. PARC’s patented, Kevlar-strengthened tether system provides ground power to the flying hexacopter, at the same time as it provides closed communications between the operator and the air vehicle. Even though there is always an operator nearby per FAA 107 regulation, this unmanned aircraft operates autonomously by hovering in one place in all types of weather conditions. It can stay aloft at its designated hover spot for more than 200 continuous hours without landing, all while carrying a payload. PARC is capable of continuously monitoring its health and environmental conditions, and landing by itself in a predesignated spot in the event internal or external conditions exceed its pre-programmed specifications. All of these features have been designed from the very start, for safety: eliminating power-depletion crashes; limiting the field of operation to the length of the tether; and self-monitoring for any factors that might compromise the flight, then landing autonomously before safety parameters are breached.
Following the symposium, I also met with select leaders in the UAV industry at the Unmanned Aircraft Safety Team (UAST) meeting. As one of the pioneers in the highly competitive small commercial drone marketplace, CyPhy is proud to be a founding member of this industry-led group formed in 2016 to advance the safe integration of UAVs into the nation’s airspace through gathering and analyzing drone data. As an active member of the UAST, we will continue to lead the industry in keeping our skies as safe as possible. We applaud the FAA’s focus and fully support its goal of making the most of our shared airspace without compromising the safety of those on the ground or in flight.
If you fly a drone on your personal time, help the Unmanned Aircraft Safety Team understand your use of drones. UAST is a voluntary industry organization with the goal of gathering and analyzing drone data to promote safety. Please help by completing their series of anonymous surveys.