Starting the Conversations about Conservation

This is the first post tracking the progress of the UAS Survey+ project. This project is multi-faceted, and is aimed at fulfilling criteria that will complete a Masters Degree in Drone Technology.

The author is concerned about a few things that ultimately underpin the motivation for this research:

Drone Law in the US vs UK

We intend this to be an overview to serve as a reference and link source for those unsure of the laws in the UK and US with regard to flying drones.

This article is for recreational users, if you want to use a drone commercially, by all means, get in touch.

The first thing to accept is that in law, a Drone, or UAS (Unmanned aerial systems) is in fact an aircraft. There are toys, there are big drones too – they fly, and that is what counts. Let’s keep this simple: Drones such as the Mavic, Spark and Mavic Air (and anything the same size or bigger) are not toys. They are in fact extremely dangerous, as the propellers rotate at around 5500rpm when hovering…. imagine what they get to when they are going for it! Continue reading “Drone Law in the US vs UK”

Raise your School Profile – Bring in the Drones!

Not only are drones and their applications almost endless, they are also set as an industry to be worth in access of £40bn a year in the UK by 2030. Globally, UAV technologies are projected to be worth more than £120bn a year.

Now is the time to get young people interested in drone tech…

What better way to do it than with a Legal, Licenced Pilot to inspire your learners?

Some progressive, forward thinking schools in the UK are seeing the benefit of bringing in DSR Pilots, with their wealth of knowledge and specialist skills. Our network of professional, personable pilots are the best possible choice for bringing a curriculum to life. The extensive reach of drone tech is unsurpassed.

  • Geography – drones regularly produce amazing maps, through incredibly clever techniques such as photogrammetry, structure from motion and other things that will spark interest in your learners.
  • Mathematics & Physics – there is a lot of mathematics involved in making a drone fly, including revolutions per minute, time, distance and speed calculations, altitude
  • Design & Technology – from aerodynamics of propellers to ergonomics of controllers, drone tech has it all. Electronic components and how they work are key elements in how this tech comes together.
  • Biology – drones are on constant patrols in wildlife reserves across the African continent, as guardians over rhino and elephant, in Borneo, monitoring families of Organutans. Protecting endangered species and helping to track poachers is yet another engaging way drone tech is changing the world we live in.
  • Electronic Engineering – all drones have similar parts, however the way they go together can vary. Your learners can learn how they can build their own drones – racers, lifters, trackers and mappers. All this is available for your school with DSR Pro members.

All of these subject areas can be targeted, however more generic introduction sessions can be provided, along with drone demonstrations. Students of all abilities are encouraged to have a go, have a look and check out the possibilities for their future careers.

We at DSR recognize the relevance and the importance of drone tech, and how it can fit in to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects. Schools can harness this opportunity to enagage and help children of all ages and abilities to harness the power of the propeller, the understanding of the science, and to become the next generation of engineers, pilots and scientists that our country needs.

Getting your students ahead of the employability game couldn’t be easier; contact your local pilot to learn about how to enhance your school offering today!

You never know, the pilot might get a great aerial image of your school whilst the aircraft takes it’s demonstration flight!


River Mersey Flight Training

This afternoon saw Drone Factor pilots flying over the River Mersey – our experience and knowledge of how to use the gear was paramount, but launching and landing on a tiny, moving target is still an exceptional challenge!

This was extremely interesting say the least! The weather was clement, and the wind not too high to make it impossible, but not too still to make it easy… In keeping with our already flawless track record, we had no incidents, and also had a little visit from the Ports’ Pilot boat, the brand new ‘Petrel’. What a lovely vessel… would work on that any day!

We set out from National Marine’s HQ near Eastham, and made way north towards the Liverpool Pier Head, passing Brunswick dock, Queens Dock, Exhibition Centre Liverpool, The Echo Arena, the Albert dock and the iconic pier head itself.

This is all in preparation for the Wirral Kayak Challenge, on the 24th June (just over a week away). We have to thank National Marine for providing the boat for us to practice on, and Peter for piloting it – and the brilliant team of the Kayak Challenge for organising this.


June Quay Business Forum Session

This morning we had the pleasure of meeting plenty of local business representatives and owners at the LJMU Mersey Maritime Knowledge Hub at the Quay Business Forum: We were treated to a fascinating talk from Peter Murney of Cruise Liverpool.

What an inspiring project, something we can’t wait to see develop over the next few years.

We had a great conversation with a fab lady from LCR Future Energy and made first contact with the amazing Mersey Media Group, a perfect client for us (hint hint you guys!).

We also had the pleasure of meeting another drone operator – Hi Darren! – and we hope to meet with him soon to discuss the future of drone tech, our industry and the world at large. We also had the opportunity to appreciate his brilliant photography of the cruise liners that come to Liverpool: great images there!

We look forward to the next time we can attend, and thanks to Pam for organising!

UAV Glossary

This list is dynamic, so check back or contact us is you think there’s something missing!

AAIB    Air Accident Investigation Branch

Airprox             Aircraft having unplanned close proximity in the air

AN       Anchor Nodes

AOA    Angle of Arrival

AP        Access Point

Aplanatic lens A lens that has been corrected for spherical and chromatic aberrations (also relevant is Apochromatic lenses, corrected for Red Green Blue).

BMFA   British Model Flyers Association

BVLOS Beyond Visual Line of Sight

CAA    Civil Aviation Authority (UK)

CAD  Computer aided design. A general term for computer programs such as DS Solidworks, AutoCad, 3DSMax, blender, etc.

CAP     Civil Aviation Publication

CSAIL  Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory

Diffraction        The effect a surface has on a light source

DF        Drone Factor Ltd

DJI       Dà-Jiāng Innovations

Reproduction and Copy-paste of this list is prohibited.

DSM     Digital surface model

EASA   European Aviation Safety Agency

EKF      Extended Kalman Filtering

FAA     Federal Aviation Administration

GLONASS        Global Orbiting Navigation Satellite System

GNSS   Global Navigation Satellite System (Galileo)

GPS      Global Positioning System

IPP       Integration Pilot Program

IPS       Indoor Positioning System

IR         Infra-Red (light)

KF        Kalman Filter

Lipo      Lithium Ion Polymer Battery

LOS      Line of Sight

MERSAR          Merseyside Search and Rescue

NARI   Next Era of Aviation

NASA  National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NLOS   Non-Line of Sight

NN      Nearest Neighbour

Reproduction and Copy-paste of this list is prohibited.

OM      Optical Metrology. Measurements made through optical sensors.

OSC     Operational Safety Case

PfCO   Permission to Fly Commercial Operations

PIC      Pilot (or Person) In Command

Refraction        Bending of light by a medium (eg water, glass)

RGBD  Red/Green/Blue + Depth

RGB     Red/Green/Blue (light detection)

RTH Return to Home

RSS      Received Signal Strength (also known as RSS, depending on system)

RSSI     Received Signal Strength Indication/Indicator

Rx        Receiver (radio link)

SfM      Structure from Motion is a photogrammetric range imaging technique for estimating three-dimensional structures from two-dimensional image sequences that may be coupled with local motion signals (Shapiro 2001)

SLAM   Simultaneous localization and mapping (of objects/points in an image).

Reproduction and Copy-paste of this list is prohibited.

Specular Gloss              Relative reflectivity of a surface or object.

SUA     Small Unmanned Aircraft

TDOA  Time Difference of Arrival

TN       Target Node

TOA    Time of Arrival

Tomography/tomographic scans            In this context, tomographic scans are essentially instances of a scan repeated over time, so one can see any movement or changes in the scene.

UAS     Unmanned Aerial System

UAV     Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

UK       United Kingdom

USD     United States Dollars

UTM    Unified Traffic Management

UWB   Ultra-wide Band

VLOS   Visual Line of Sight

WRCFS            Wirral Remote Control Flyers Society

XY       measurements made in 2 dimensions only: X axis (horizontal), Y axis (vertical)

XYZ     measurements made in 3 dimensions: X axis (horizontal), Y axis (vertical) and Z axis (depth)

Reproduction and Copy-paste of this list is prohibited.

Drones in Bits Introduction

Our resident DSR researcher Sam Barnes has put together a guide on the components inside your drone. He is building the next generation of drones and currently studying a Masters in Drone Technology and Applications at Liverpool John Moore’s University, and is aiming to do a PhD that will further develop the future of drone tech for the UK industry.


Do you know your FCs from your ESCs? This introductory guide will help explain the RTH from the RTB, the Rx from the Tx, the CCW from the CW and the Aero from the Eebee.

Disclaimer: this is an overview! This is a semi-generic guide that is aimed at enlightening those who would like to know more about how drones work.

How to begin explaining something so complex? Well, it’s actually relatively straightforward to construct a drone from component parts: drone racers and hobbyists have been doing this for a long time. The majority of the technology – motors, servos and the ways in which they are controlled are all taken more or less directly from the remote controlled model world.

The Flight Controller

The RC world did not use flight controllers as we know them today… the flight controller is the central hub of the system, processing the balance, the motion, motor speeds, aircraft movement (Inertia Measurement Units), GPS/GLONASS positions, altitude, attitude (angle relative to the earth) and any waypoint data. All in all, it’s quite a busy little box, and that’s just the start!

Many flight controllers have multiple IMUs, interia measurement units. The IMU is essentially a sensor that detects movement, or changes in movement, so the drone can calculate it’s inclination (angle relative to the ground/earth) and it’s azimuth (bearing, relative to the compass or magnetic north). These two pieces of information are critical to the steady and ‘flat’ flight we are used to. If anything is out of kilter, or if these sensors are calibrated incorrectly or not calibrated to their environment) the drone will do odd things, and quite likely crash. The addition of a GPS unit and compass (commonly incorporated into the same device) adds an additional layer of protection, but another layer of information to deal with.

If you haven’t heard of the research group ETH Zurich, spend a moment looking up their creations. This team created a code, or protocol, called MavLink. This powerful coding system for flight controllers is what powers a lot of our drone systems, and looks to be the benchmark and the go-to for building custom systems.

Next episode: The Sensors

Luckiest Location Location Location

Radar Nest at West Kirby Marine Lake

It’s safe to say that today was a hot one, and this sunset photograph is a nicely suitable way to remember it. The image above was captured this evening, as high tide and sunset coincided.  A rare day where the golden sun over the Irish Sea showers over the evening strollers around the Marine Lake on the tip of the Wirral.

The funny shaped lollipop poking out of the water is a radar reflector,designed to be visible in all weathers to ships coming into the Port of Mostyn

Docks over the water on the North Wales coast, and the fishing vessels that come by from Heswall and Parkgate.

Continue reading “Luckiest Location Location Location”