Drones may fight invasive species–with cameras

Capital News Service

LANSING — Invasive plants can grow so thick and tall they hide the world’s greatest Lakes. “In the lower part of the state it’s pretty bad,” said Laura Bourgeau-Chavez, a research scientist with Michigan Technological University. “We were doing work in Saginaw Bay, and there are kids who live there and they don’t even know there’s water there because the weeds are so tall. “So they’re unable to take advantage of the fact that they live next to a Great Lake.”
Help is on the way. Bourgeau-Chavez maps wetlands and monitors them in the field.

Wildlife researchers unsure about drones

Capital News Service
LANSING — Perhaps drones could track feral swine to help oust the invasive critter from Michigan. But local researchers hesitate to employ the technology for wildlife management. “There’s a lot of potential for uneasiness,” said Stephen Beyer, who manages wildlife research for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). He cited public fears of surveillance and intrusion on privacy. “We’re a state agency,” Beyer said.

State eyes more drones in the skies

Capital News Service
LANSING – Drones on retail shelves for the upcoming holiday season or bomb unsuspecting civilians in war zones get lots of media attention, but Michigan’s Aeryon SkyRanger flies below the public attention radar. It’s a remotely operated aircraft system, belonging to the State Police, that the Federal Aviation Administration approved for use anywhere in Michigan. But does Michigan need it? Would a future sky full of drones help Michigan residents feel safe? Deploying the Aeryon SkyRanger comes with many advantages, according to the State Police.

Drones are everywhere — here’s why

Capital News Service
LANSING — Seems like every day we’re hearing something new about drones, whether it’s military use of drones overseas, Amazon floating the idea of creating a drone delivery system, journalists using drones to report stories — or even just a neighbor down the street who bought a drone for fun. In Washington D.C., a drone recently crashed onto the lawn of the White House. In Michigan, lawmakers were concerned enough about drones to pass a law preventing people from using drones to hunt or to bother hunters. “The future of drones is absolutely astonishing, as to what they’re going to be able to accomplish for us,” said Ryan Latourette, a recreational drone user from Grand Ledge. Drones are increasingly becoming part of everyday life, but they’re still not well understood.

Drones flying despite FAA ban but the industry wants rules

Capital News Service
LANSING — State and university officials as well as entrepreneurs in Michigan are anxiously awaiting the results of a federal appeal that will affect how a commercial drone industry develops in the state and across the country. The status of using what are also called Unmanned Aerial Vehicles – UAVs -commercially is in a holding pattern after a federal judge ruled last month that the Federal Aviation Administration had no authority to issue a $10,000 fine against a Virginia drone pilot. That set off celebrations in the drone community that were short-lived. The following day, the FAA announced it would appeal the decision and the ban on commercial drone flight remains in effect until the appeal is decided. “In a way really nothing has changed,” said Tony Sauerbrey, the drone program manager at Northwestern Michigan College in Traverse City.

Detroit filmmaker shoots fire footage from a drone

Capital News Service
Three big fire trucks have brought out ladders and are spraying water on a burning building from above. On the ground firefighters and several fire trucks work to put out the flames. That’s when Harry Arnold launches his drone and flies it towards the fire, filming the big cloud of grey smoke rising from the building. Two firefighters were hurt in this May 30th Detroit fire. Arnold thinks that the video he made of the fire shows how important it can be to have an eye in the sky.

Unmanned aircraft program lets students fly now, prepare for careers later

Capital News Service
The U.S. government isn’t expected to open airspace for civilian drone flight until 2015. But Northwestern Michigan College students can fly drones today. The Traverse City college is the only school in the Great Lakes region and one of a handful in the nation with federal approval to teach courses on unmanned aerial vehicles, more commonly known as drones. The college teaches U.S. drone law, drone technology and how to operate the school’s unmanned fixed-wing airplanes and quadcopters – helicopter-like unmanned aircraft with four rotors. It also has a certificate of authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that permits the college and its students to research and conduct unmanned, outdoor flight with a number of remote control aircraft.

Photos by drone fill business, artistic needs

Capital News Service
LANSING — The jury is still out on regulations for unmanned aircraft, but that’s not stopping a Michigan business from using them commercially. Hovershots Aerial Photography and Video APV uses remote controlled helicopters – popularly known as drones – to capture video footage that is otherwise inaccessible or extremely expensive. The company’s recent picture of a record-breaking flotilla of kayaks on Suttons Bay in northern Lake Michigan made it into the Guinness Book of World Records. Hovershots owner Kevin Haley, 50, from Linden near Flint, has more than 25 years experience with remote controlled systems. But in the past he has only had access to shoddy cameras to attach to them. So when Haley, a health and nutrition storeowner, began researching drones and state-of-the-art cameras, he saw an incredible business opportunity, Haley said.

Grand Rapids firm blazes drone trail

Capital News Service
LANSING – Imagine pulling on a harness, latching yourself to a wire and zip-lining through the treetops while a flying camera captures your wild ride on video. Fun fact: This actually happens. Expertise in Aerial Imaging uses unmanned aerial vehicles – commonly known as drones – to capture video and photo images. The Grand Rapids business, known as EAI, has shot aerial perspectives of events as diverse as off-road street-car racing for Rally America and zip-liners careening through a forest of green for the Nantahala Outdoor Center in North Carolina. Showcasing high-end homes for real estate agents is also in the mix.

Undaunted by federal rejection, Michigan pursues drone opportunities

Capital News Service
LANSING – While the state recently lost its bid for a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) drone test site in northern Michigan, aviation officials insist they’ll be able to advance the new industry. The FAA recently designated sites in six other states, none in the Great Lakes region. Those now have federal support for civil and commercial exploration of what are known as unmanned aerial systems.
The competition received 25 applications from 24 states. The winners are Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia. Michigan remains committed to advancing the fledgling industry, said Rick Carlson, transport and safety manager for the Department of Transportation (MDOT) Office of Aeronautics.