Welcome to the Weekly UAS News Update. We have five stories for you this week. Pilot Institute, that's us! We are launching a new student community, and it's massive. AUVSI jumps on the anti-Chinese bandwagon, which is not good. We also have NASA's Ingenuity, which ends after 72 flights – this is amazing. Autel is finally releasing the Alpha, and lastly, we have a Remote ID update for the Mini 3 and Mini 4 Pro. If you're Part 107, you'll want to pay attention to this one.
New Pilot Institute Community
First up this week is our release of our exclusive Pilot Institute Community, or PIC for short. Get it? Pretty fun, right? We created the community as a place for all our students to interact and learn from each other.
We've had a Facebook group, or several Facebook groups, for a while. Facebook is a good place for people to talk, but it's just not the best place to organize content that's going to be seen over and over again by hundreds of thousands of people.
So, this is the answer for moving away from Facebook and having a place where everybody can talk. This is really cool. You'll get answers to your questions from subject matter experts, guest instructors, our graduates, and our staff.
You'll also be able to connect with other people who are studying the same topic at the same time as you. We have live chat areas where you can talk directly inside the course. If you're enrolled in one of our courses, you'll be able to chat directly with other people as they study. Make study buddies! The best part is it's all free and available with your current student login. So, if you already have an account or a course with us, even a free course, you'll be able to log in and see the new community.
Head over to community.pilotinstitute.com to get started. Also, tonight we will have an exclusive live event at 4 p.m. with the official kickoff. If you're watching this video before 4 p.m. on that Friday when it's going out, and this is 4:00 p.m. Arizona time, that's 6:00 p.m. on the East Coast.
Join us for the kickoff event. We'll walk you around and show you what it looks like. I'm actually really excited; we've been working on this for a long time. We've had people testing it for several weeks now, and it's just a really cool place.
Pulling out of AUVSI
Next up, speaking of cool, actually quite the opposite of that, is AUVSI, who appears to be alienating a large number of the folks they claim to represent.
AUVSI released a video this week calling for US lawmakers to take measures to strengthen the US Drone Industry.
You might be saying, “Well, how is that bad?” It's bad because of the way they want to do this. They basically want to take away DJI and Autel from the hands of our Public Safety agencies who use them to save people's lives.
AUVSI's stance is definitely affecting Public Safety, and if you look in the comments, you can clearly see that the industry's response hasn't really been in favor of what AUVSI and other American drone manufacturers are trying to push.
With so many companies, including us, pulling out of the AUVSI conference, we will not be at AUVSI Exponential this year.
Last year we had a big presence; we had a 20 by 20 booth, a lot of you came by to stop by and say hi. Not going to happen this year. I will not be giving a dollar to AUVSI going forward. This is just not acceptable.
There hasn't really been a better time than now to reevaluate who's advocating for you in the hobby or your profession when you're using drones and where you may be donating your money and how your money is going to be used.
I do want to mention that if you don't know what to do with your money that used to go to AUVSI, the Drone Service Provider Alliance is a great place to give that money and help them push for sensible roles on a lot of different things, including fighting local bills that restrict flying and anything that has to do with Public Safety, and making sure that they have the best tools available to save lives and do their job.
So, that's it. I'll get off my soapbox. I'm definitely extremely annoyed by this, as you can probably tell, but it needs to be said.
NASA's Ingenuity helicopter
Next up this week is an update to NASA's Ingenuity helicopter, or drone – it really is a drone. I know they say it's a helicopter, but it's not. Ingenuity suffered a hard landing on January 18th, which unfortunately damaged one or more of the rotor blades, making it unable to fly anymore. NASA's goal for Ingenuity was five total flights on Mars. Instead, they ended up with 72, from 5 to 72, which is incredible.
A total flight time of over two hours was completed. Now, this might not sound like a whole lot, but two hours that far away from Earth, with the way they control this thing, is just incredible. Over 10 miles covered.
It seems that Ingenuity's mission was more than a success, and hopefully, we'll see other versions of this type of drone headed back to the Red Planet very soon.
Autel Alpha Drone
Alright, and last up this week is the Autel Alpha. The Alpha was finally released. It appears to be a medium-sized Public Safety drone with a wide camera, a zoom camera, a laser rangefinder, and also two thermal cameras, which is really interesting.
With up to 56x hybrid thermal zoom, the Alpha is much bigger than the Max, which we've talked about before, and boasts a ton of features, including hot-swappable batteries, mesh networking, 4K at 35x optical zoom, an IP55 rating, and obstacle avoidance. It looks like a pretty cool aircraft; hopefully, we can get our hands on one of those and test it.
DJI Mini Update causes Issue for Part 107 Pilots
This means that at the moment, if you are Part 107 and doing operations under Part 107 with the Mini 3 or the Mini 4 or the Mini 4 Pro, then you will need to purchase a new battery or a module to put on top of your drone to make it compliant, which is not a good option.
Either way, you're going to have to spend more money, unfortunately, to comply with Remote ID.
Now, I'm not sure how DJI is actually getting away with this because both of these drones are documented and approved on the FAA's DOC list, which means that you're buying a drone that's technically Remote ID approved, but it actually is not.
So, not a good situation, if you ask me. A lot of people on the recreational side, I'm sure, are happy with this, but on the Part 107 side, not a great deal.
Alright, that's it. That's all we have. Have a great weekend, and we'll see you tonight for the live event at 4 p.m. Don't miss it; it's on the community site, community.pilotinstitute.com. See you there. So, it's going to be good.
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