Skip Miller doesn’t know where drones are going, but he’ll be along for the ride
by Tommy Wood on
LONGMONT — Skip Miller never set out to be an entrepreneur. In fact, it took him more than 40 years and four businesses to realize that he’d been one his whole life. The headquarters of UASUSA LLC, his company that manufactures and sells commercial unmanned aircraft systems, or drones, is adorned with trophies of companies past.
Miller proudly points at a Boulder Beer coaster on which a cup of coffee sits (he helped build the brewery from the ground up), and to a photograph of the paper napkin on which he drew the design for his first drone, the Tempest. Colorado small businesses are less likely to change health insurers for the upcoming year, even as they anticipate continued price increases, according to the second-annual Delta Dental of Colorado Small Business Survey.
He never got into any of his businesses — craft beer, land surveying, consumer products, now drones — with the thought of getting into business. He started with a vision and let that carry him.
DENVER -- Soon every drone user will be required to register their drone with the Federal Aviation Administration.
It might seem too early to talk about the holiday season, but it is a top priority for federal aviation officials. Drones are expected to be the hot holiday item this year.
Experts predict shoppers to buy almost 1 million of them by December, so federal regulators want to get some rules set in stone now.
Private drone users currently are not allowed to fly within five miles of an airport and they have to keep the craft below 400 feet. Soon, all drones will also have to be registered.
“It’s going to be complex for a while. Three to five years, it’s going to be sort of a complex issue, but then it’s going to be every day normal life,” said Skip Miller, CEO of UAS USA, a Longmont-based drone manufacturer.
Press Release- For Immediate Release Contact: Colorado, August 2015
NASA has chosen UASUSA’s TEMPEST drone to monitor subterranean wildfires and track swamp algae blooms in the Great Dismal Swamp Ecosystem, Suffolk, VA.
NASA PROJECT:Groundbreaking use of drones with sophisticated sensor equipment will help save ecosystems. 112,000 acres make up the Great Dismal Swamp Ecosystem. A vast land filled with wildlife species, forests and plant life, this area has been highly vulnerable to lighting induced wildfires, presenting ongoing challenges and dangers. NASA has chosen UASUSA’s Tempest drone to monitor and track data in this area, to help come up with solutions for this area. UASUSA Tempest: UASUSA’s drone, The Tempest, is unique in that it can carry the most advanced technology to monitor and track the data NASA requires, and stay in the air for long durations. From tracking algae blooms to monitoring wildfires, the Tempest will be used by NASA to examine, survey and give information to help create solutions. The Tempest will not only offer solid data to recognize problems, track patterns and plan solutions, it will also allow NASA to assess the benefit these drones have to future planning.
BOULDER, Colo. — Boulder County officials are trying to decide whether to allow drones to fly in open spaces.
The proposal is very limiting. Only researchers and officials would be allowed to fly the unmanned aircraft in the county’s open spaces. Visitors and commercial operators would be prohibited. Boulder County Parks and Open Space is considering a limited use of drones as a cost effective way to research and manage the land.
“It will do exactly what we tell it to do, nothing more and nothing less. It’s quite amazing technology,” said Skip Miller, CEO and founder of UASUSA, a Boulder-based drone manufacturer. Miller said drones provide a set of eyes we have never had before.
“We could have a fire in an open space. We could have cattle that are running around. We could have fences broken. I can cover that efficiently and silently,” Miller said. Some residents are worried about safety and privacy though.
“It’s not clear what they want to use them for and I think the whole reason we pay taxes for open space and parks is to have places free of motorized vehicles,” homeowner Andrew Schelling said.
Boulder County officials said they are sympathetic to the public’s concerns. All permits would go through a review process and they would have to let the public know before they could fly.
Commercial unmanned aircraft systems getting FAA permits, but makers say safety rules will unleash full economic impact
Fifteen of the first 500 FAA exemptions permitting commercial drones to fly were granted in Colorado.
But enabling those and other waiting businesses to spur an estimated $232 million in economic impact — and create more than 1,190 jobs — in Colorado by 2017 hinges on long-delayed rules based on a 1946 U.S. Supreme Court case filed by a poultry farmer.
Yes, that's right. Regulation of high-tech drones in the U.S. starts with chickens.
Under current aviation law, aircraft must fly no lower than 1,000 feet above congested population areas, and at least 500 feet above less-populated areas.
But there are no permanent regulations for commercial unmanned aircraft systems, or drones. The vehicles are illegal to fly in the national air space without a Federal Aviation Administration permit called a Section 333 Exemption. The permit allows drones to fly commercially as long as they fly in daylight, no higher than 500 feet and within the operator's line of sight.
The delay in deploying regulations that have been discussed for more than five years is frustrating companies in Colorado, and elsewhere, that use drones for such diverse tasks as delivering packag-es, and surveying real estate, oil and gas wells and farm fields.
Congress told the FAA in 2012 to enact permanent rules on drone safety and manufacturing by Sept. 30, but the agency is only now reviewing comments on a draft submitted in March and is expected to miss the deadline.
May 27, 2015
A consortium led by the University of Colorado Boulder has received permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to start flying drones over parts of Texas and Oklahoma this spring in the heart of Tornado Alley to conduct weather research.
The consortium, which includes CU-Boulder’s Research and Engineering Center for Unmanned Vehicles (RECUV) and researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) and Texas Tech University (TTU), received a Certificate of Authorization (COA) from the FAA to operate a Tempest drone over 54,000 square miles of the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles. The region is known for its extreme weather, including “supercell” storms that can spawn damaging winds, large hail and tornadoes.
Developed in conjunction with Phoenix Aerial Systems, the TerraHawk is a custom LiDAR integrated version of UASUSA's proven fixed-wing UAV called the Tempest.
- 80 minute flight times
- 75 meter scan range with the Velodyne VLP-16 and HDL32 sensors
- Excellent accuracy using the Sensonor STIM IMU
- Integrated high resolution photogrammety system using the Sony A6000 camera or Basler Ace Cameras
Other external sensors can be integrated using the 16pin I/O connector, which also supplies protected 5V and 12V power.