Drone News: Autel Alpha, FlyCart 30, KY Bill on Drones, Walmart Adds Wing, and Drone Surveillance.

Welcome to the weekly UAS news update. We have five stories for you this week. The Autel Alpha has hit the FCC database, is being released outside of , we have a Kentucky bill that could limit drone operations (not a good one), partners with Wing, and lastly, someone is trying to curb crime using drones. Let's get to it!

Your Drone News this week

Autel Alpha hits FCC database

First up this week is the Autel Alpha, which finally hit the FCC database. It's been a long time since we talked about the Alpha rumors, and many of you may have forgotten about the drone.

The specs supposedly include an IP55 rating, 45 minutes of flight time, a 50-megapixel camera, a 25x zoom camera, a thermal at 640×512 resolution, a laser finder, multiple payload options, autonomous missions, multiple aircraft operation, and 360° obstacle avoidance.

Now, nothing here we haven't seen in other drones, but obviously, new technology coming from Autel is pretty cool if it finally gets to the US. From the leaked images we've seen, the Alpha looks like a larger Max 4T.

So, if you've ever seen that drone, that's a fairly sizable drone. It also has downward-facing propellers in the front of the drone.

We'll keep you updated if we hear more, but good to hear that companies other than DJI are making drones.

DJI Flycart 30 Ready to Deliver

Second up this week is the Flycart 30, which is DJI's delivery drone. Speaking of DJI, the Flycart has been released outside of China. If you're not familiar with that aircraft, it's a heavy lift aircraft. It has a capacity of 30 kg, which is about a little over 60 pounds, and it has a dual battery setup, and also 40 kgs, a little over 80 pounds with the single battery setup.

The safety features include IP55 Active Radar with what they call binocular vision, obstacle avoidance, dual batteries, parachute, weight, and center of gravity detection, so if it shifts, it has the ability to detect that, and then swing stability because it might be carrying packages underneath.

We watched a video on YouTube from a Chinese YouTuber. It was all in Chinese, so I couldn't really understand any of it, but they put that thing to the test, and they actually collided two of them. One of them deployed a parachute and came down. I guess they know someone at DJI because these are not cheap, and they were able to test them that way.

Actually, a very entertaining video, even if I couldn't understand what they were saying. Flycart 30: uses the DJI Pilot 2 app, the RC Plus, and then the O3 system that has a 10-mile range, more or less. The drone has a 38,000 milliamp battery that's rated for 1500 charge cycles, which, if you think about it, is actually not that much if you're going to be doing deliveries day in and day out.

So, we'll see if anyone currently doing drone delivery picks up this thing for testing, or if we can get our hands on one of them. That would be pretty cool.

Kentucky Bill Limits USA of Drones

Next up this week is a Kentucky bill that could limit the use of drones. The Kentucky bill is Bill 45, which would prohibit the use of unmanned aircraft systems for surveillance.

You may say, “Okay, well, I don't do surveillance,” but listen to how this is defined, and this is a quote: “Number one, with respect to an owner, tenant, occupant, invitee, or licensee of a privately owned real property, the observation of such person with sufficient visual clarity to be able to obtain information about their identity, habits, conduct, movement, or location.”

This is the first definition. I'm going to rewind and replay this because I want you guys to hear it one more time.

Think about when you do a video of something or someone on their property, whether you do it on purpose or not. Think about whether or not this is going to apply to you.

Number two is “with respect to privately owned real property, the observation of such property's physical improvement with sufficient visual clarity to be able to determine unique identifying features or its occupancy by one or more persons.”

Again, think about this definition and how it applies.

Now, if I'm understanding this correctly, the bill makes nearly any image of private property taken from the air as well surveillance in this case.

Now, the bill goes on to say that for the purpose of this section, a person is presumed to have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Listen to this: they're redefining expectation of privacy.

A reasonable expectation of privacy on his or her privately owned real property if he or she is not observable by a person located at ground level in a place where they have a right to be, regardless of whether he or she is observable from the air with the use of an unmanned aircraft system.

So, to simplify this, they're basically saying that, well, let's put it this way: at the moment, invasion of privacy really includes inside of a house, and so you cannot take pictures of someone inside their house because there is an expectation of privacy.

Now, in this case, what they're saying and, and in current laws in most states, if you're in your backyard, even behind a fence, technically it's not covered by the invasion of privacy.

Now what they're doing here is that they're redefining this in saying that as long as someone cannot see you from the ground, for example, behind a fence, then you should be covered also from not being seen from the air from an unmanned aircraft. They specifically mention unmanned aircraft.

So, you might be wondering, what about traditional aviation? Well, in the bill, it says there's a bunch of exemptions, including, and this one is important, business owners operating for their business.

So, what this is saying is that if you have a business, and it goes as far as saying that you need a business license in that state in Kentucky, then you wouldn't be covered by this.

So, a operation done under a business for a business owner in Kentucky would be okay, but if you're traveling from a neighboring state and you're doing a Part 107 job, then you wouldn't be covered because you need a license in that state.

It also has an exemption for inspecting utilities, mapping, environmental monitoring, cargo delivery, or by an appraiser. Now, please note that there's no exemption at the moment in this proposed bill for recreational operators of a UAS that are taking images for fun or videos for fun.

So, if you're in Kentucky, please reach out to the sponsor of the bill. There are actually six of them. We're going to put them down here and then make them aware that this is really not acceptable at this stage.

This could have major repercussions for people that are trying to, well, do their job or even fly for recreational purposes using a drone. So, we'll leave a link in the description down here if you want to read more.

Walmart Expands Drone Delivery

Fourth this week is Walmart, who is expanding deliveries in the Dallas area. They're partnering with Wing and to expand their deliveries in Dallas beyond the current 60,000 people coverage that they have.

Now, by the end of 2024, they hope to have a coverage of 1.8 million, up from 60,000, and using both Wing and Zipline's certificate for (Beyond Visual Line of Sight).

So far, Walmart says that they have completed 20,000 successful deliveries from two of their stores. Now, this is a pretty big addition for Walmart. One thing that I didn't see mentioned anywhere is their contract with .

DroneUp was, I think, the initial contract for Walmart, and then Walmart brought on Zipline and then now Wing, which I'm wondering the implication that this has for DroneUp. Also, I think it's interesting that in this entire amount of time, they've only really delivered to 20,000 people.

Now, this may seem like a big number, but if they have a reach of 60,000 people and over the years they've been doing this, they've only delivered to really 20,000 people. It's actually not a big percentage of that population. It means that one-third of all the people living there have ordered once only from Walmart to get these type of deliveries.

Drone Surveillance

Now, last up this week is a bit of a weird one. A business owner from DC hopes to curb crime by using live streaming drones over a neighborhood.

The idea is that the drones would be equipped with loudspeakers, cameras, and spotlights that would fly over the neighborhood and then live stream the cameras to the residents.

The program will have a two-week test period, after which the neighborhood would be able to book the service for $60 to $125 per hour.

The city council is not too excited, neither are the people in the neighborhood. They say that the company does not have any permits or authorization to proceed. The business owner has said that their pilots would be following all the local and FAA rules, which I find hard to believe in this case if that's what they were going to be doing.

There is actually a law in that state that prevents someone from doing surveillance with drones. I don't know if the business owner has seen that specific law, but this is not the last I'm sure we hear about this. Let me know what you think in the comments about this type of use of drones. I have my personal opinion, but I'll hold on to it for right now.

Alright, that's it. Have a great weekend. We will see you on Monday for the next live, and yeah, that's it. See you next week.

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Greg Reverdiau
Greg Reverdiau
Articles: 68

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