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Drone Bill Passes Senate

By J. Sharpe Smith

AGL-ArticleImg6The Senate has passed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2016, which reauthorizes the FAA and related programs through fiscal year 2017. Among other things, the bill, known as S. 2658, advances drone technology. In particular, language in the measure “addresses safety and privacy issues, boosts enforcement, and clarifies federal and local roles regarding drones while creating new opportunities for testing and promoting innovative uses of this technology, subject to FAA approval.”

The National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) supports the Senate’s efforts to enhance education and safety in the use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS), according to Executive Director Todd Schlekeway.

“NATE is extremely interested in the commercial application of Unmanned Aerial Systems technology,” Schlekeway said. “UAS can complement and enhance the safety and well-being of communication tower workers by minimizing the risks associated with climber fatigue, weather, and distractions, while reducing repetitive stress injuries. Moreover, they can cut costs and promote efficiency while assisting with tower inspections and surveys.”

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, spoke in support of removing barriers to innovation in UAS, while addressing safety risks. Specifically, he noted an incident where a Lufthansa Airlines A380 jumbo jet experienced a near miss with a drone that flew just 200 feet over the airliner.

“To keep drones out of the paths of commercial airliners, the Senate bill would implement standards so that existing safety technologies can be built into unmanned aircraft,” Thune said. “This legislation also takes steps to require drone users to learn basic “rules of the sky” so they understand the limits of where and when unmanned aircraft may operate. This is critical as we move into an era where drones share airspace with commercial aircraft, emergency medical flights, low-altitude agricultural planes, and general aviation pilots.”

The legislation now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

TESSCO to Distribute Sentera Drones, Sensors, Big Data

Sentera, a provider of software, sensor, and drone technologies to the infrastructure inspection industry, has signed a distribution agreement with TESSCO Technologies. The agreement gives TESSCO’s customers access to Sentera’s innovative infrastructure solutions, including the OnTop Platform, precision sensors, and fixed-wing and quadcopter inspection drones.

Greg Emerick, executive vice president of business development for Sentera, said, “To stay competitive the infrastructure inspection industry continually looks for forward-thinking solutions to help increase operational efficiencies, ROI, and employee safety.”

The OnTop Platform works seamlessly with any inspection drone or sensor and lets users annotate and tag imagery, then instantly share the vital photos with teams and organizations, enabling tower owners, builders, climbers, and service providers to build a network of data points and unlock the data contained within inspection imagery. All imagery is saved to a secure, 256-bit AES + SSL encrypted cloud server, and, once uploaded, is available instantly anywhere in the world.


The Year of the Drone

2015 in Review

By J. Sharpe Smith —

A number of applications for drones or unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in the wireless industry came to light this year — everything from asset auditing, RF planning and line-of-sight testing between radio towers. And companies were formed to use them.

It all began in April when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) began granting exceptions to its rules to allow the use of commercial drones.

One of the first companies to get an exception was Solusia Air,  which wanted to use UAS to perform asset audits and safety inspections for wireless and utility infrastructure firms.

Solusia Air attaches video, still and infrared cameras and other instruments on Leica Geosystems’ Aibot X6 multi-copters, which it then flies around the cell tower. The multi-copter has six rotors encased in a carbon fiber frame and a maximum payload of 4.4 pounds. The inspections produces high-definition photo and video inspection, asset audits, RF microwave path validation, intermodulation/interference identification and safety assessments.

In July, Nokia Networks employed drones carrying smartphones to analyze the wireless network at Dubai International Stadium. The drones gathered network data and provided key performance indicators at the stadium, which seats 25,000, and were also used for tower inspections, radio planning and line-of-sight testing between radio towers.

The INSPIRE1 drone was used for network optimization at the stadium, and Microdrones md4-1000 was used for tower inspection, LoS and radio site planning. With automated testing, drones can cover the desired area more quickly than a manual test. Additionally, the test data is sent to a server at Nokia Networks’ Global Delivery Center so that it can be processed and reported to the engineers in the field, who then improve network performance in a timely fashion.

In October, Sentera, a UAS designer and manufacturer, brought its knowledge in acquisition and management of image-based data to the wireless industry.

Sentera, which initially worked with military systems, launched a mobile app and desktop client that provide the ability to analyze image data and a record of the location, date, time, and asset type. Photos are then presented in a searchable map view. Sentera began developing the product after it was approached by a tower company that had an abundance of images of its towers but no way to organize them and fully utilize them.

In September 32 Advisors spun off a drone-as-a-service company, Measure, and then in December it hired Chris Moccia, former CEO for Solusia Air, to serve as vice president of infrastructure.

“Measure’s Drone as a Service model allows cellular tower owners and operators to use drones for inspections without making a heavy capital investment,” said Measure CEO Brandon Torres Declet. “Chris’s skill set combines his experience as a businessman and industry expert with a keen ability to navigate emerging technology markets. With his leadership, Measure will help companies with vertical infrastructure realize the benefit of incorporating drones into their operations.”

Government regulators and industry associations engaged with the drone industry. The National Association of Tower Erectors (NATE) established a UAS committee, which will monitor the trends and regulatory environment associated with UAS technologies. Additionally, it will make recommendations to NATE members on best practices concerning UAS integration. NATE has also participate in the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) meetings on Unmanned Aerial Systems that have been held in Washington, D.C.

Drone Company Hires Chris Moccia

Measure’s Drone as a Service Model to Serve Vertical Infrastructure Market

WASHINGTON, Dec. 3, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Measure, the nation’s leading operator of drones, announced the strategic
hire of Chris Moccia to serve as Vice President of Infrastructure. An entrepreneur with more than 20 years of experience in wireless infrastructure, Chris will help telecommunications and utility companies collect valuable data using drones while keeping the costs of new technology as low as possible.

“Measure’s Drone as a Service® model allows cellular tower owners and operators to use drones for inspections without making a heavy capital investment,” said Measure CEO Brandon Torres Declet. “Chris’s skill set combines his experience as a businessman and industry expert with a keen ability to navigate emerging technology markets. With his leadership, Measure will help companies with vertical infrastructure realize the benefit of incorporating drones into their operations.”

Chris is a proven business leader and entrepreneur with more than three decades of experience growing businesses, including 20 years in wireless communications operations and network deployment. In 1998, Chris founded a group of companies under the Solusia brand, which provided wireless operators and original equipment manufacturers with infrastructure planning, build-out deployments and maintenance needs. In 2008, Solusia was recognized by Inc. 5000 as one of the fastest growing private companies in the United States. Chris attended St. Cloud State University in Minnesota where he majored in Business Administration.

About Measure:
Measure is the world’s leading Drone as a Service® company with Federal Aviation Administration approval to fly more than 200 different types of drones for a broad range of commercial applications. We provide turnkey solutions to acquire, process, and deliver cost-effective, actionable aerial data to enterprise customers. We don’t make drones. We make drones work. www.measure.aero