NYC Drone Approval? Aloft Air Control API, Mysterious Drone Leaks

Welcome to the weekly UAS update. We have three exciting stories for you this week. The first one is that City is proposing to approve drones to fly in the city. However, let's not get too excited yet; let's see what happens. Secondly, Air Control has released a new API. We're actually going to have John from Aloft talk to us about this. Lastly, there have been some drone leaks. So, let's get to it.

Flying drones in New York City

The first story this week is kind of a big one. There is some movement as far as flying drones in New York City. Or maybe not any movement. I decided to reach out to Vic Moss from the Drone Service Provider Alliance. It's been a while since Vic has been on the show. I think the last time was when we were in Denver, and we did that live show together. So, Vic, welcome back to the show.

“Thank you very much. It's always a lot of fun. Thanks for having me.”

Perhaps we can go back a little bit and talk to people who maybe don't know the current limitations that exist in New York City regarding flying a drone. Can you currently fly your drone in New York City without any additional approval?

“Well, you can if you're in an AMA field, but if you're outside of that, you have to go through a bunch of hoops, usually involving the Film Commission. Otherwise, it's basically illegal.”

This proposal here is from the New York City Department. I'm reading the PDF that was given, and they're saying, “We are proposing to amend the rules to create a procedure by which members of the public may submit applications to launch and land an unmanned aircraft, including a drone, within New York City.”

This sounds like great news, right?

“Well, it is wonderful news if you're a million-dollar production company putting together a big-budget video or movie using drones in New York City. Otherwise, it's just another way for New York City to prohibit drones if it goes through as proposed.”

Can you walk us through maybe the application process? What is being proposed right now? What are the sticky points that we don't like too much? Then, we'll talk about how people can actually submit comments on all this.

“Sure. First of all, it's eight pages long. I've never seen a city ordinance proposal this long when it comes to drones. The requirements are just exhaustive. They're proposing everything from a 30-day advance notice, which is fine if you're a production company, a $150 non-refundable deposit, and no time frame for the denial or approval. They may come back 29 days later and say, ‘No, you can't fly here.' So, that's problematic.”

“You have to have a data privacy policy, which is strange considering how many people walk around New York City with their phones taking pictures. You have to have notifications. You also have to have insurance, which is a good thing, but it's a $4 million aggregate policy, which many people will not carry. I carry a five-million-dollar policy, so that wouldn't be such a big deal. Here you go. This is what you have to do if you get approval, which is only after you've spent your hundred and fifty dollars that you will not get back.”

“You must notify each community board of the community district or districts where the unmanned aircraft is anticipated to capture or transmit still images, audio, or video, and each member of the city council of the district or districts where the unmanned aircraft is anticipated to capture, and so on. An unmanned aircraft is being utilized in their district. The takeoff and landing site is designated on the permit, as is the date and time of the takeoff of the unmanned aircraft, the date and time of the landing of the unmanned aircraft, and the expected duration of the unmanned aircraft operation. The applicant's contact information, including the name and telephone number, must also be provided.”

“That's just the first notification. After you get approval and go through all this, and you notify everybody and their brother who has anything to do with it or holds a title in New York City, you then have to post notices where the unmanned aircraft is being used. These notices should include the name and telephone number of a representative of the applicant. The permittee may post such notices on poles, trees, and other similar city-owned structures, provided that if the permittee posts such notices on trees, elastic bands and string must be used. Tape is prohibited. A permittee must remove all signs, including tape, which you're not allowed to use, upon completion of the permit.”

“There's so much wrong with it that, in my opinion, it's just another way for New York City to prohibit drones.”

It's essentially an unachievable process at this stage. However, the good news, if it can be called that, is that there is a possibility for people to submit comments. There will be a public hearing on this on July 7th at 10 A.M. at the auditorium at One Police Plaza, which I'm guessing is the police department in New York City.

There are different ways you can do this. They say anyone can comment. You can go to the website; you don't have to go to the hearing. You can send an email – we'll put all these links down in the description. You can send mail, you can send a fax, or you can even request to speak at the hearing. You'll have to send your question ahead of time and sign up to do this, but you can write all these comments until July 7th. That gives a little bit of time if you live in the area, plan on flying, or have had the opportunity but couldn't in the past to fly in New York City. I would highly recommend that you voice your concerns, if you have any, and let them know what you would like to see and how this process can be made easier in order to fly in there. Now, what else can we talk about, Vic, for this?

“Well, I think even if you're not in New York City, you really ought to look at this pretty hard. If you have no plans on going to New York City, you need to examine this rigorously because what's going to happen is, if New York City passes this, you're going to see a lot of other cities following suit. I live in Denver; you live near Phoenix, another large city, and they're going to look at this and go, “Hey, look what New York did, let's do the same thing.” Then we're going to be back to square one with so many of us, including you and me and scores of your listeners, who have done so much to fight and ensure this kind of thing doesn't happen. So, even if you have no plans for going to New York, I think it's important to pay attention to this issue. I'm certainly going to do it, and I have no plans to go to New York City.”

No, I agree. I think, uh, this has been interesting. In the last couple of weeks, we've seen a lot of these proposals for rules, and they're getting more and more stringent on drone pilots, and we're not even talking about this DJI thing from last week. So, uh, I think we need to, uh, yeah, we need to stand united in this case and kind of let them know.

I think it's good that they're finally opening up to the idea because this has been a restriction. This is an old avigation law from a long, long time ago that I think from 1946. So, uh, this is something that, you know, it's good that they're opening the doors to the idea of this happening. So, let's be cordial. Let's make sure that you guys are polite if you're going to send these messages, and then, uh, try to bring some sense into them, and hopefully, we can get something right. Anything else, uh?

No, I think that's it. Definitely want to be cordial. Don't quite have the same attitude I had just a few minutes ago talking about it because it's just, you know, be professional. Those who know me and know that we are professional in situations like this. So, um, yeah, put the word out, make sure you get your comments in, and let's swamp them with ideas.

Yep, I agree. Alright, Vic, thanks for your time, and we'll catch you very soon.

Aloft Air Control API

Alright, and our second story this week is about Aloft. You may know the app Air Control from Aloft that they released a couple of months ago now, and we're going to be talking about a major update that they released this week, which is kind of exciting because we might see a lot in more places now. And I thought, who better to talk about this than the CEO of Aloft, Jon Hegranis, who is with us right now. So, John, welcome to the show.

“Cool, hey Greg, thanks for having me on, appreciate it.”

So, you guys have been busy doing new updates. Can you tell us a little bit more about this new release and what it means for Loft and then maybe what it means for the users and where they're going to see your Loft now?

“Yeah, absolutely. So, this has really been a year plus in the making in terms of how do we, really, the core element that we're trying to solve is, how do we get in front of more people? We've done some different studies, looked at compliance rates, and we know that as much as LAANC is growing, last year the FAA announced a million LAANC milestone for example, we know that it's still not reaching enough people.”

“And so, looking at today's use cases, how do you get Lance in front of drone pilots today but also think about the future, how do you enable one-to-many operations, how do you enable and really these advanced kinds of use cases, and the answer for both of those is you need a programmatic LAANC solution. You need to be able to embed LAANC capabilities in different applications, in different control centers, and in different apps. And so that's really what we accomplished with FAA, was saying, let's create a framework by which you don't have to go to the Aloft app to get LAANC through Aloft, you can embed it in different places. So, we're really excited to see where this goes. Right, this could be right in your Fly app that you use, so you're in a specific drone, maybe they can build it right in there, so you don't have to bounce around to different applications. Maybe you think about drone-in-a-box or delivery. Maybe those more scalable solutions need this embedded. So, I think it's big for the industry to have just a lot more options and capabilities.”

Yep, so now it's in the hands of developers that are building apps, and, or even have, like you said, their own delivery workflow. And then, now they can actually add Aloft straight into it without having to get LAANC approval, which we know is time-consuming and expensive. And then, building the whole back end, which you guys have done.

I'm sure the first question we're going to get from people is, ‘Can I get this into my DJI Fly app, so that I can get not only DJI approval but right away get also LAANC approval?' So, that's a potentiality, right? If DJI decided to do this.

“Yeah, I think, obviously, DJI would have some specifics to get around. We know what that's like, but it's not impossible. As long as you're able to meet our rules and guidelines, and requirements, you're able to meet the FAA's rules and guidelines. It's really open. So, this becomes less about specific UI elements. Make it your own. If you're in, and I imagine 's app would look different from DJI's, for example, I'm sure that would look different from the drone-in-a-box solution and what kind of workflows they need.”

“So, I think that sort of freedom is what's powerful. And as we've seen, it's hard to be a USS. As you pointed out, it takes a lot of time, technical expertise, and security requirements. And I think that makes sense when you're directly interfacing with FAA systems. There should be that higher bar. But what this does is it creates a different bar to embed that approved authoritative solution into what you're doing.”

“I've been there. You know, anytime you have to go to a different app or go to a different site for something, it's easy to forget. And what's interesting is, you don't have to, for example, implement this. You don't have to recreate every single LAANC feature. Maybe there's one or two that would work with your users. If you're some photo gathering social, who knows whatever it is, you might have a very simple need to just say, ‘Hey, how do I quickly request LAANC from my users?' It could look a lot different if you were an enterprise operation that's now saying, ‘Hey, I don't need to have my users in the app all the time. We can bring this into our claim center for processing.' It's going to look a lot different for who you are, but that's the beauty of it.”

That's the beauty of the API and bringing this in there. Well, this is really exciting. I'm sure you have other projects now that you're working on. Is there anything that you can tell us that we can get excited about LAANC in the future?

“I think I'm super excited about LAANC overall. It was easy to kind of say, ‘Hey, are we stagnating?' Like how is LAANC supposed to be version one of these kind of UTM capabilities? There have been key pieces added, but we know that it needs to keep evolving. And hopefully, we're going to see that with new regulations that come out around BVLOS, for example. There's just going to be a lot of new elements. So, I think this just gives momentum to USSs and the LAANC industry to say, ‘Hey, we're evolving.' Yeah, I guess one thing that you know, I'll put a little bit out there. Stuff that we're working on is, it's not just here in the US anymore. There are a lot of places, a lot of countries, a lot of regions that are quickly moving forward with airspace, with UTM, with LAANC-like systems. And they've seen what's possible in the US and say, ‘Hey, we can do stuff similar.' So we're starting to see where we can go now that those are a lot more concrete than they have been in the past.”

Starting to expand. That's awesome. Well, John, thanks for your time, and we always look forward to hearing more about what you guys are doing. It's always exciting, and hopefully, we'll talk to you very soon.

DJI Air 3 drone

All right, thank you. And our final story this week is about some drone leaks. Yes, we've got leaks of the DJI Air 3 and then also a new potential release.

The Air 3 – let's get started with that. and B&H both appear to have leaked the Air 3 using advertising and confirming the upcoming launch. Unfortunately, there's no pricing at this stage, or really a whole lot of specs. We are expecting a one-inch sensor and then priced around one thousand dollars. These specs would be right in between the Mavic 3 Classic and then the DJI Mini 3 Pro, which is where you would want a drone to sit anyway. So, I will keep you updated if we see more.

Now, in the meantime, if you're into the , we just posted a really cool video. Make sure that you go check it out. We spent quite a bit of time creating this thing, and we had a ton of fun, and I think the final product is pretty funny. So if you need a quick pick-me-up today, make sure you head over there and take a look at that.

As far as Autel Robotics, they might also have a new release from Autel, something that would be like a larger drone to compete with the Matrice 300 or the Matrice 350. In a press release this week, the company announced that the new product will be on display at the Energy Drone & Robotics Summit that's in Houston. That would include the Autel Alpha and the Autel Titan. These are new models. We're excited to see what they're going to say about this. They're both so far unreleased drones, and then they're going to be on display at the event.

So that's it. Thanks for watching. Tune in, and make sure you go watch that video. It's really fun, and we'll see you next week.


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Greg Reverdiau
Greg Reverdiau
Articles: 81

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