- Author: Sean Hogan
- Author: Brandon Stark
- Author: Maggi Kelly
non-recreational use of small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS - aka. drones) was added to the FAA's Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) in mid-2016, there have been a number of updates to the rules over the years, including an Academic Exemption for education and research purposes (which is only apply to institutions of higher education and not other state agencies or conservation groups). The most recent of these updates occurred in January 2021, when the regulations were further amended to allow for the operation of drones during the night and over people in limited circumstances. For some operators, these have been very welcome changes. However, maybe more widely relevant to our community of drone enthusiasts, in June 2021 the FAA announced the requirement of "The Recreational UAS Safety Test" (TRUST) for all recreational pilots; with the objective of ensuring that these pilots are likewise knowledgeable in the FAA's rules and regulations for drone operations.
Amidst these updates and changes to the regulations, a common question that IGIS receives is "what do I need to do to legally fly a drone?" To answer this question, the head of our UC System's Center of Excellence on Unmanned Aircraft System Safety (UASSafety), Dr. Brandon Stark, has provided the following simplified guidelines to help steer people in the right directions, for whether they need the TRUST and/or Part 107 certifications:
- Coursework -> TRUST
- Research in access-controlled field -> TRUST
- Research in public area with people -> Part 107
- Collection of data for another agency -> Part 107
- Promotional media -> Part 107
- Demonstration for students -> TRUST
- Demonstration for non-students -> Part 107
- Inspecting any structure for repairs -> Part 107
- Flying above the FAA's Facility Map Altitude -> Part 107
- Flying above 400 ft (AGL) -> Part 107
- Any operation that could profit the pilot in any way -> Part 107
- Strictly for fun (even if you have a Part 107 certification) -> TRUST
Note - The Academic Exception is not a loophole. Everyone now needs to have either completed a TRUST or Part 107 certification, and preferably both.
For the sake of drone operators everywhere, it is extremely important that we all abide by these rules and regulations; as it could take only one grievous mistake (even if the mistake is unwitting) to legally set back all of the progress that has been made for the allowance of sUAS operations, both within and outside of the UC System.
For more information on the TRUST and Part 107 certifications, please refer to the FAA's official site: https://faadronezone.faa.gov/
For all UC drone operations, please do not forget to file your flights in advance through the UC's UAS Safety App, https://ehs.ucop.edu/drones/. This is not only required by the UC System, but also provides the valuable benefit of insurance coverage for you and your drone in the event of an accident. Additionally, the recently created UC Drones knowledge portal is an incredible resource for a wide range of drone safety and regulation information: https://ucdrones.github.io/
- Author: Sean Hogan
- Author: Maggi Kelly
July 2021 marks the fifth anniversary of Drone Camp, and thanks to an all-star lineup of presenters and instructors and a fantastic and diverse group of over 255 attendees from all over the world, it was a massive success this year. Initially launched in 2016 by the UC ANR, IGIS Statewide program, DroneCamp has now evolved into a multi-campus and industry collaboration, with a network of drone experts hailing from UC ANR, UC Santa Cruz, UC Berkeley, UC Merced, UC Davis, CSU Monterey Bay, and the Monterey Bay Drone Automation and Robotics Technology corporation. From 2016 to 2019, this event was held in-person at Davis, San Diego, and then in Monterey, CA.; however, in 2020 it was moved online due to COVID-19. The move indoors, to discuss a very outdoor-oriented topic, came with some challenges. We had to shelve our important (and fun) hands-on equipment and flight training, for example. Yet it had rewards. We were able to reach a more diverse and a greater number of participants, and widen the scope of content. Ultimately, 2020 was a great success, but in the process we recognized that it could be even better with additional help from our network of drone expert friends from around the state.
Like last year, we came together online for DroneCamp 2021 in July. Over 255 people joined from around the world to learn about theory, application, regulation, and data processing. We learned about the practical aspects of maintaining safety while flying, we took deep dives into various software workflows, and explored agricultural, forestry, and vegetation mapping examples. This year we hosted 5 Plenary sessions, and had some electrifying plenary talk sessions from cutting-edge scientists from around California: Crashing drones! Precision Agriculture! Citizen Science! Mapping aquatic environments!
Because the overall objective of DroneCamp remains to provide the most practical and comprehensive learning experience possible for attendees, we are working on an in-person, hands-on training day that is being scheduled for October, to be held in Monterey/Marina California. And, as the threat of COVID-19 subsides, additional in-person training sessions will be added around the state of California in the coming year.
DroneCamp is designed for a wide range of skill levels and interests, for those who are interested in using drones for anything other than non-recreation use (calling for a part 107 remote pilot's license), from complete beginners with little to no experience in drone technology, to intermediate users who want to learn more advanced data processing and analysis. Between presentations on contemporary applications of drones in environmental and agricultural research, and hands-on data processing and analysis exercises, attendees have the opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the following topics:
Flight Skills: Safe Launch and Landings, Basic Operations, Traversing and Avoiding Obstacles, Night Flying
Safety and Regulations: Safety and Regulations Overview; How to be a Good Visual Observer; Operating in Controlled Airspace
Hardware: Sensors, Platforms and Field Accessories
Data Collection: Mission Planning; High Precision Mapping
Data Processing: Stitching Drone Images with Pix4D, Agisoft Metashape, ArcGIS Pro, and OpenDroneMap; Analyzing Processed Drone Data in QGIS and ArcGIS Pro
Data Analysis and Management: Vegetation Analysis, Vegetation Analysis and Classification in ArcGIS Pro;Analysis of the Intertidal Zone; A case study of data management, from collection to storage and sharing of data outputs.
It was super fun and rewarding, and a great success for ANR and all the other collaborators. We built networks, increased collaboration, learned some very cool technical stuff, and got updated on current regulations, including the fact that you can now renew your 107 license easily here.
Some inspiring quotes from anonymous attendee reviews:
I was so appreciative of the extremely high caliber faculty/instructors that were recruited to give presentations, demos, and use of software. You all worked so well together to impart different pieces of expert knowledge. You all are brilliant and I'm inspired!!!
Loved it. We started off heavy which blew my mind but all the talks were so informative and fascinating. Really appreciate the diverse group of people you gathered together. Just wish it was in person! I would love to meet everyone.
Excellent presentation that allowed those of us with ArcMap experience to see the similarities and differences offered by ArcGis Pro. Again, a wonderful presentation (by a professional) that accounts for all the practical steps involved with data manipulation rolled into a final product.
Once I read through my notes, look at my screen captures and watch some of the presentations again, I will be able to structure my drone classes for my students. I'm developing a drone program from scratch for middle and high school students at a local charter school.
Consider signing up for the in-person training in October, and keep DroneCamp 2022 in your sights! Further information will be coming soon to the DroneCamp website, https://dronecampca.org/
During this coronavirus lock down, IGIS has set out to revamp its data infrastructure to address our growing needs for big data storage and management moving forward. In particular, over the past few years we have accumulated over a dozen terabytes of drone data and associated mapping products, constituting tens of thousands of project files, and the quantity of this data is only expected to keep growing. Typically this drone data has been processed on a number of local desktop computers, and then backed up onto RAID hard drives or the cloud for cold storage; however, this is far from ideal in terms of consistent organization, versioning and ease of distribution.
As a solution to the problem, IGIS purchased a web server, equipped with multiple virtual machines (for processing, analysis and web services) along with a 30TB RAID data store/repository. The repository was networked to our various IGIS computers and RAID storage devices, so that all of our drone data could be transferred over to it. After much consideration, we settled on a standardized file structure, which could accommodate both datasets from past and future drone projects, with room for growth as needed. A python script was written to automatically generate this file structure, with some metadata inputs for each project, and our previous projects' data were then moved into their appropriate slots in the new structure, while jettisoning unwanted intermediary processing files; freeing up a ton of storage space. It would be correct to assume that this process of moving data was quite time consuming. However, moving forward, it will be easy to automatically set up our projects' file structures right from the inception of every new project, beginning with running the python script in ArcGIS Pro's Jupyter Notebook utility in the field, to eventually be delivered to the server repository down the pipeline, in a nicely organized package (similar to what we would provide to our non-IGIS project collaborators).
That alone is a big step in the right direction, but it gets better. Because all of this data is now in a standardized file structure, with standardized folder naming conventions, scripting our ArcGIS portal to automatically connect with the data via the imager server was only a small step away. With this complete, now any IGIS team member can access our entire post-processed, GIS-ready, drone data inventory of layers via ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Pro.
Ultimately this has been a big leap forward, in terms of IGIS's informatics infrastructure; to compliment our significantly evolved pipeline for drone data collection and processing, depicted below.
- Author: Sean Hogan
IGIS is pleased to announce its second offering of DroneCamp! This three-day intensive workshop will take place at UC San Diego, between June 18th and the 21st, 2018, and will cover everything you need to know about drones for mapping, research, and land management. This intensive bootcamp style workshop will include instruction and hands on training in the following areas:
- Technology - The different types of drone and sensor hardware, costs and applications
- Drone science - Principles of photogrammetry and remote sensing
- Safety and regulations - Learn to fly safely and legally, including tips on getting your FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate
- Mission planning - Flight planning tools and principles for specific mission objectives
- Flight operations - Hands-on practice with both manual and programmed flights
- Data processing - Processing drone data into orthomosaics and 3D digital surface models; assessing quality control
- Data analysis - Techniques for analyzing drone data in GIS and remote sensing software
- Visualization - Create 3D models of your data
- Latest trends - Hear about new and upcoming developments in drone technology, data processing, and regulations
The cost of this three-day event will be $500 for UC Employees and $900 for everyone else.
Additional information and registration info can be found at http://igis.ucanr.edu/dronecamp/. Registration requires a short application (no fee), that will inquire about your background and learning goals. Anyone interested in attending is encouraged to submit an application by April 15, 2018 for early priority registration. Be aware, last year's event filled up very quickly.
We hope to see you there!
UC ANR IGIS
Drone Service Coordinator
IGIS is pleased to announce a three-day "Dronecamp" to be held July 25-27, 2017, in Davis. This bootcamp style workshop will provide "A to Z" training in using drones for research and resource management, including photogrammetry and remote sensing, safety and regulations, mission planning, flight operations (including 1/2 day of hands-on practice), data processing, analysis, and visualization. The workshop content will help participants prepare for the FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot exam. Participants will also hear about the latest technology and trends from researchers and industry representatives.
Dronecamp builds upon a series of workshops that have been developed by IGIS and Sean Hogan starting in 2016. Through these workshops and our experiences with drone research, we've learned that the ability to use mid-range drones as scientifically robust data collection platforms requires a proficiency in a diverse set of skills and knowledge that exceeds what can be covered in a traditional workshop. Dronecamp aims to cover all the bases, helping participants make a great leap forward in their own drone programs.
Dronecamp is open to all but will have a focus on applications in agriculture and natural resources. No experience is necessary. We expect interest to exceed the number of seats, so all interested participants must fill in an application before they can register. Applications are due on April 15, 2017. For further information, please visit http://igis.ucanr.edu/dronecamp/.