Drones and hoverboards have a lot more in common than you might think. This week Dan and guests Kyle, Todd, and Terry, jump into the world of drones. From the legal limitations to the physical and mechanical aspects, they cover it all!
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Welcome to the Space Shuttle podcast. Today you'll notice that I'm not actually on the episode. I am in the room, I just don't have a microphone or camera on me, so there are some sections where I jump in, ask some questions, and in those sections I do put the question on the screen because it is a little hard to hear me. This conversation is all about drones, so we're talking about the future of drones. What we're doing now with drones and what that looks like for some new technology.
In the future, we're joined by Kyle Todd and Terry. Dan has a great conversation with the three of them. They are drone experts that work for avian. If you're interested in learning more about what we do with drones, you can visit the AVN website at AVIA n.com avian.com. Besides that, there were some technical glitches with some of the cameras, so you'll notice that some of the footage was lost, but the audio is still all there. If you're interested in this type of tech, I think you'll really enjoy what you hear and see in this episode. Thanks again, and I'll see everybody later.
Hey this is Dan.
As you guys know, I'm the vice president for strategic innovation here at AVN, and I got three really smart guys here with me today. Overall, to introduce yourselves alright.
Sure, things my name is Terry Hahn work with UX 24 as a basically a drone pilot.
Call Matthew at work for you is 24. I'm the lead drone pilot.
Excellent the lead pilot. Everybody's quickly put in their place.
In my name is Todd.
It's double bottom to say regular drone pilot for you. It's 24 so not the lead drone pilot not delete. I just share the office with the.
Lead kylesa tallest so yeah background.
Sure you are. 24 is a test and evaluation squadron squadron under Navair. We basically like all the other test squadrons. In Pax River we test unmanned aircraft all the way from Group One or the Group 4 so small. It would be probably like a Raven. Largest is a MQ 8B and Charlie Fire scout.
So, so how did you become a drone pilot, let alone the lead drone pilot?
Many, many years ago so.
I start off as a Navy pilot, so I flew EA6B Prowlers. After that I went to Navy postgraduate School and got Masters Green Aerospace engineering while I was there, I met a really cool group that was flying drones for the US Navy, which I had never heard news. Maybe had them.
At that point I basically said I want to do that 'cause I've been into flying RC airplanes for my entire life basically, and I found out who they were, came to, Pax River to fly drones with them, and then it kind of got the drone kind of stink on me. And they're like, oh, you're a drone guy now, so that's kind of how I got.
Into it cool.
Alright, so in the movie back to the future we all remember the essentially flying skateboards hoverboards which were cool and just really used to get from point A to point B.
Fast forward or backwards a bunch of years, and here we are, with drones becoming more and more common. Not quite ubiquitous, but getting there. You guys have a lot of experience with drones, so if you were to guess a year from now, five years from now, 10 years from now, where we're going to be with common everyday usage of drones, you know there's this vision of Amazon drones flying everywhere. You know dropping off Twix bars and toilet paper an auto parts in your front.
On your front door is that really going to happen? What do you guys think?
Well, it's entirely possible. I mean, we're almost at that point now. As far as people flying around for recreation, right? With cameras and whatnot.
So as far as far as commercial availability of drones, I think it's just a matter of time.
The technology is definitely there, yeah?
Definitely. I mean the Navy kind of sees where this is going and we were testing a cargo UAV down at Pax River at Webster Field where you work at 24 that actually delivers parts from Navy ship to Navy ship. So we have a big demo in July kind of demonstrating that technology right now. So how big is it? So it is Max gross weight is 150 pounds. It can carry up to £25. It's got about a 18 foot wingspan.
So yeah, it's technology coming Navy is finally coming on board with it. The other services have been on board with drone technology for over a decade now, and so the military definitely sees the future in it. What's the range on?
The one you're talking about, roughly.
So it can 5 for about 7 to 8 hours and 60 knots. Stories about three 400 miles. OK so yeah.
Yeah, I mean for sure with technology getting smaller and smaller, you know, especially software firmware availability to cuts. Being able to purchase more easier. It's definitely going to get easier just for a consumer to build stuff, for example, like they're already doing commercially. Cargo delivery with wing Mountaineer Virginia. They're actually delivering, like cookies and textbooks that you can. They're flying around the College in your Virginia Tech.
Area, which is quite fascinating is Vitol aircraft that actually has a little like bucket that goes down a string and drops the bucket and then take it back off and goes pretty much on time asleep. But I mean only for year to year the technology is going smaller and more efficient ways of increasing battery life. Fuel economy in aircraft already doing, you know 45 hour flights nonstop is only going to get better and better and same thing could be applied to hoverboards. Just guys now and do and you know little quads that are hovering couple feet above the ground and.
Why is only going to get more efficient over time? It's definitely a possibility that you know there be commercially available for anyone to use.
So what when do the lawyers going to get involved here? So what's going to happen? And suddenly the lawyers aren't going to get involved and like put the brakes on everything like you're talking about the.
Down at Virginia Tech. Like what if? What if it misses? What if it?
What if something drops out of the Sky and lands on? Like you know some 4th grader in a playground then?
What that's definitely a possibility. I mean, it's always going to be lawyers, right? So? But look at Tesla. I mean, they have pretty much autonomous cars that you could drive around if they get into an accident where the lawyers do, then who do they Sue the Tesla? Do the owner? I see the Lord is probably going after deepest pockets, right? So they were the manufacturer is rather be Amazon or whoever. I'm sure the lawyers were grafted them first and then once you know.
Those expensive lawyers start fighting each other. They'll throughout the next round to the owner and say you weren't operating it in accordance with this Regulation or this manual. And then they'll be in trouble. So I mean, there is some sort of precedence here already with Tesla and what they're doing. I'm not sure what the legalities are if you get into an accident when you're driving your car autonomously, but I'm sure there are some.
Yeah, well, you kind.
Of talked about it here too. I mean, the lawyers are already basically in it as far as the FAA goes and setting up the regulations that are currently out there.
So like I said, following the regulations that are set forth, there's been a lot of.
I guess progress would be arguable, but they're making steps toward letting drones in a commercial airspace like we're talking.
About is it? Is it making it better or the opposite of better?
OK, my own personal here.
We're just talking about everybody like the whole world for.
Me personally, I like Kyle. I've been flying RC airplanes recreationally for years and it's making it much harder to do that, but it is opening up their space for commercial operations so.
So I think like most government regulations, it's probably very strict in the beginning, so it's going to be painful for everybody. And then as they see the technology grow and how. And it's got a safety record associated with it. Those regulations will start coming.
Coming down like I could get back to Tesla right ten years ago, do you think like the government would like? Yeah you could drive anytime this car in the road nowhere but take your hands off, take a nap good to go now but you know Tesla is proving that it can be done.
And it works great, except when it doesn't.
Exactly and so that's kind of.
What is leading to? That's why we need that years and years and years of safety behind it to say OK, this the probability of something going wrong. Is this because we have this much data to back?
It up right now, what do?
You think, and even now it's just getting more expensive. Integrating UAS into the national Airspace System is that now they want like pings transmitting in and out or just outside other aircraft can see the Germans, but now these units are like almost 2 grand apiece and average RC guy might not be able to afford that on his $50 airplane that is now required.
To have this integration for other aircraft to see so except for you know what technology getting smaller, smaller in overtime with more integration. I could definitely see it more cheaper over time. Being able to integrate it, but it's a huge kind of battle between RC hobbyists and will say drone hobbyists and guys trying different levels of UAS trying to integrate into national airspace system. Kind of people like Airbus or Lyft or Uber, dooney Urban Air mobility that has more.
Commercial records from known spots. Known routes in national Airspace System versus guys or girls or whoever just hoverboarding through traffic through the air at altitudes where you don't know what's really going on or through approach path. So it's definitely going to be an interesting way of how they.
Integrate all that but known it is being fully conductive like NASA and other agencies trying to integrate multiple test centers through the Nas.
Yes, so how many? How many different?
I'll say orthogonal vectors. Sorry for the engineering talk, the orthogonal vectors are coming in to try and sort of sort through this you have hobbyists, small companies, big companies, Urban Air, mobility companies, delivery companies. I mean there's.
A dozen more than a dozen people that are sort of attacking this right now trying to sort of get staked their claim. If you will. How is that going to sort itself out? I mean, holy cow.
Yeah, I wish I could tell.
You, it'll be great to know.
Haps the lead drone pilot can tell us.
Well, yeah, I mean, there's definitely a whole bunch of stakeholders in this. It's the wave of the future I should say, and everyones piece of the pie early, right? They want to get their foot in the door.
So where should we put our dollars? So who's going to win? Can you tell us?
You would have thought like a big company like Amazon or something would win, but when it came to the latest FAA regulations, Amazon and big companies actually didn't get what they wanted. What did they want? So basically that they wanted to have this system where?
All the little guys drone guys would have to put these tracking. Basically tracking systems that have to go over the air over your cell phone and be tracked tell you where you are where you took off from where aircraft is at all times and if you didn't have a smartphone or a way of doing that then you're kind of out of luck. Whereas a company like Amazon, they've got the resources to be able to immediately comply with those regulations. Basically shutting out half of the competition on the way, so that's kind of what they were looking at doing an FA. I thought. Why is he said no, we're not going to do that because.
If we do that, we kind of lose all of our credibility that we're selling out to the big companies. And that was a big win for the smaller UAV companies and the hobbyists. We didn't get everything we wanted. Amazon didn't get everything they wanted is going to be a compromise for a long time. So I mean at least it's a step in the right direction at the FAA FAA made that.
Decision OK cool. What do you guys think? Terry Todd.
Yeah, I don't think anything it's OK.
Yeah, I think I.
Think the biggest thing that is really about much is the fact that it's been an issue. I know out West and wildfires was drones interfering with firefighting aircraft or first responders.
And hopefully that gets sorted out the quickest. I would say and I think it's.
Going down that path.
Other than that, yeah, there's there's so many vested interests, it's hard to say, yeah.
Yeah, I mean, even with the smaller hobbyist UAS, I mean they do have protective failsafes to prevent them from.
Going into certain areas or certain altitudes or altitude restricted or airspace restricted, but most companies usually submit a waiver through the FAA.
For this site or beyond line of sight operations so.
Companies kind of doing that is helping kind of format that into their space, as I think each kind of layer has their own tier that makes sense, like small has, you know their airspace, there altitudes or pyramid has their routes throughout the twos and is trying to do the integration with manned aviation.
Is definitely out there, but I mean I know a couple test centers here out West NASA, New York are constantly testing smaller mincraft with nests and are able to execute it perfectly.
Just how do you take that and spread it down the tree to everyone else you know? I mean, so that's it's there. It's going to take some time, but I definitely think it's feasible that eventually everything will be kind of integrated into a fair play among everyone.
That makes sense, so you're hopeful hopeful? Yeah, I mean, it's been. Do you think we'll end up with like very specific air corridors where only certain?
Certain class unmanned systems can go.
You know, effectively, like commercial air travel, now you know there's very specific corridors that they fly you think will get that at various levels for unmanned systems.
For certain platforms, definitely yeah, it'll be tough to do that with, for example, the aerial delivery drones that will need you know big chunks airspace over wherever they want to deliver stuff, but for certain classes of drones, absolutely OK.
So let's talk about two different things. So one do you think that at some point? And let's presume this is going to be battery operated and not gas powered, 'cause holy cow?
We're kind of almost there, right where you could. We talked about this before the podcast started where you could create a drone, stand on it, and have it take you from point A to point B. Would you guys do that?
You only live once, right?
I mean if it depends on how.
It goes, but how high would you great if it's, let's say, and let's say the FAA says hey you got about everybody where you got to be 40 feet in the air. If you're going to do that.
I probably would be the first one to go to 40 feet in the air, but I would definitely do it at some point, especially firstly Overlake. I would do it, are you?
Staying, are you sitting in your mind as you're doing this? Are you standing or sitting?
I'm standing as I'm doing it, but as I get older I'm going to want to sit start with standing in first define.
What cold means? So be careful.
I get declined that answer that.
But yeah I would. Yes, I would sit in it and I drone an have it take me somewhere.
Why are you flying it or you punching in a coordinate and it's taking you?
As a good question, I would punch in accord and it would take me. But I want the ability to to take over and fight manually if I see something going wrong, OK.
What do you guys think?
Yeah, I would agree with that. My biggest thing would be falling into the props and being Leonard so long as we could avoid that. Yeah, So what about the people who are like 40 feet below you? Get your blender leaving after you've been a blender and somebody throws up on the total world, right? Everybody around it is the.
Ones that you know you're going to be going.
There's no corridors, right? So you're flying over the, you know, the giant parking lot supermarket, and there's like a mom with her two kids and all of a sudden your blender above her. And just as I don't know, man.
There's some chain link fence over those props or something.
But I mean honestly seeing in our line of work, we've seen drones land in all different sorts of configurations. They weren't supposed to ever be in, and they actually get back pretty darn good. It's it takes a pretty hard failure to actually down one of those. So, OK.
How we think?
Yeah, I mean, especially sometimes on my LinkedIn page. I see very interesting things come across my feed.
Kind of like we had designed hexa copters 66 arm propeller quads.
But the pitch they definitely have enough to pick up a person. If you were brave enough to grab onto it and have any stock left me off the ground a little bit, you know they do have hybrids that could definitely be supplied. The power and longer range, but we're definitely talking about a bigger footprint across that. However, I seen some people on my LinkedIn page literally like.
Fly it and then have some guy take the controller grab on to the bottom and then whip you around. You know I've also seen some guys take attritional quad and the kind of were like Urban Air mobility and like we're a couple of these small cargo drones are going in there using.
More efficient, but they're like more propellers on the on the quad on the diesel side.
But some guy had four panels. It was like he took four giant box fans and put like 100 propellers in each one and had a cradle sat in it. You know, like it's kind of like a racer, you know. And let's find around his yard, you know. So it's kind of like you can't really get hit by a prompt. Will just drop out this guy. You know we were talking earlier this although I have one of them had a hammock on the bottom who's laying in the hammock, countless talking about just flying himself around town.
I'm like that's awesome. You know now, like if if battery endurance or hybrids get there and you get like high pitched props that are kind of efficient. That can't drain actually. More on the upside of the curve. Yeah you could. Definitely I think fly around. It's just having the next generation be more creative. You kind of get those. Alright, we're going to let some people were going to put some people in it and then you're going to that age where these hoverboards might become actual racers. You mean like Vitol racers? Kind of like kind of seeing the future, so it's definitely I think, a possibility, especially with a lot of the software an.
Technology upgrades I definitely see it feasible, and companies being able to make it safe and affordable so.
So you bring up software so in your current line of work, how often does something go wrong again? Like, I don't know what happened, it was just a hiccup in the software.
Don't know is it more multiple times a day?
30 minute podcast.
This yesterday, right? So so there you have it right there is there's this old guys main issue with the Urban Air. Mobility is software best I can tell, at least in the year 2021 is imperfect, and stuff just happens and nobody knows why. And you know, if you're in that you know 4 Cedar going from downtown San Francisco to your meeting in Mountain View, and it's a 60 mile ride.
That it would take you an hour and a half via car, but it take you 20 minutes on your Urban Air mobility, EV tall. And then there's a software hiccup, and you get plunked into the Bay. I don't know, man, it's.
When you guys have software hiccups, what happens?
Take a Kyle.
Take it, take it, take it, take.
It take your neurally island.
Normally we have software issues, is tends to be on the ground, so will try to start something up and it won't start correctly or something will happen. We have like oh OK, reboot it, you know, let's check this shredded reboot. It rarely happens in the air. I will have to say that we have a software glitch that has a such a malfunction that the aircraft crashes. Usually it's a hardware failure. If the aircraft crashes, but software choose the on the ground.
Have you guys agree with me on that or?
Yeah, even on that with this boss.
yeah, especially like hardware failures, are known by usually if anything fails is usually just your Tellem trilink that usually fails is not usually the auto pilot. Flying the system is usually your link from the ground up there, which obviously can change and the more expensive units by telemetry wise usually have double or triple redundancies to mitigate that. But we're talking about like urban mobility and stuff like that. You know they might have like parachutes or some type of recovery system.
Oravet on their routes actually might have designated landing zones that are.
Picked for different legs at altitudes that make OK like engine out here auto or auto fully auto rotate down to this location. This location or whatever but I definitely think they would consider that you know I mean another doing some test flights now.
Even with some with the Air Force, I think they're doing like one man urban ability kind of units.
But I mean it is kind of like the same risk.
You could take out as a man helicopter pilot. You're just trusting an autopilot system, but most people trusted anyone. Airliners fine most of the time. For under feet, you're taking off as a pilot autopilot most of the way so.
I think people trust it more than they think they do, or they don't. Yeah, they know about because they have thousands people flying every day by autopilot, not knowing that a pilot is sitting there monitoring the system, taking it if if need be. So I think this building trust up, you know, will eventually get people more common to the idea of trusting the system like.
That in their fly by wire. Anyways, right? So even the pilot when he's controlling it is still going through the autopilot in the software, right? That's a fairpoint.
Comes first, the evil.
hoverboards that use. Drone technol.
Well, people who made the hoverboard already, yeah.
So I think it's really warm comfort. Yeah, Kerry said. We've seen YouTube videos. I think the hoverboards already here and it will get better and it would be before like the EV. Two of the bigger actually carrying people who haven't made it like if I'm in Evi tall hoverboard. I know I made it. I know what could go wrong. I know if how to troubleshoot if something goes wrong. If I get into something someone else made then it's kind of like how did they make this? How does this thing even work as things America zoom flys? Oh my God.
So I think that was confirmed so.
Kyle so, so intrinsic in. That is, if there was one for sale on Amazon. I mean theoretically, that would mean it's been tested. It's been approved. Somebody is given at the up check they, you know.
You up, I still wouldn't buy it or not yet.
Well, depends on the price, right? So yeah, I buy buy and fly around my farm for a little bit and just have fun with it, but I wouldn't take it out.
In town, OK, you wouldn't. So where do you live?
Locally, somewhere right down Pine Point OK.
So you wouldn't go from Piney Point and go into a Nats game.
Downtown, no, no, but I go from Piney .2 Webster Field over the water, OK?
Gotcha silver surfer.
Alright, so let's wrap it up guys. So closing thoughts on hoverboards, drones, unmanned vehicles, E vitols like your kids going to be getting on an EV tall and punching in coordinates and going to a concert downtown.
You think or maybe your grandkids, or maybe nobody.
You can start tearing.
As the shortest member of the team.
I don't know, it's it's definitely coming for sure. Absolutely, I think.
Kids probably I think, possibly us. I think a lot of us do with liability like you're talking about and reliability is the big one is, I think pretty much there. It's just.
Making sure the systems are redundant. I mean, it's definitely the wave of the future, right? There's nobody in the way around that, so alright.
Yeah, I have a four year old daughter and I think by the time she's my age she will be writing either a hoverboard that I built for her or she would be writing one anniv beetle type aircraft. Cool.
Pic socks only though, right?
Yeah, for when I eventually have kids, I think that's definitely a possibility. I also think it's a possibility with just the upcoming generation because all these kids now school are taking lots of coding classes. I mean more than like I told.
Coding with the D not a T right? They're not, they're not painting.
Especially with 3D printing, you know, especially I know it's been kind of there since like 90s bus so cheap and commercially available for high school students that I eventually think that that upcoming wave of this generation.
The crazy ideas that kind of the rebels will eventually start doing stuff like that, and part of that generation will be the kids that grew up with that, which might make the legislation easier or the integration easier.
But definitely there I maybe when I'm 80, I'll give it ago. That's right, you know. Fast and Furious 90 or something like that. Let's ride.
But certainly there. I think. I think it will be there if you just look at two years ago from the resolution to where we are now, it's it's there. It's just a matter of.
When well, yeah, and that's a great point. You look at the Wright brothers. You know 115 years ago versus the F35. It's come along way. We're kind of like in the 1940s and 50s of aviation right now. We know how to fly in. Our stuff is about to take off. Yeah, yeah exactly alright cool. Alright guys, thanks a lot.
I think that said Ian. Thanks alright cool. Thanks for having us, alright.