Vanilla Aircraft’s VA001 Unmanned Aerial System recently completed its first test flight, reaching altitudes of 6,000 feet MSL before landing.
The UAS, powered by an efficient heavy-fuel engine, met all test objectives, according to the company website. The test validated the VA001 design and performance projections. Vanilla Aircraft is planning additional flights to reach the aircraft’s full payload, endurance and altitude capabilities.
The VA001 features 10-day endurance and reduces the operating costs and manpower needed to provide persistent aerial coverage, according to the website. It is designed to complete missions that, until now, have been beyond the capabilities of mid-size UASs.
The VA001 program began development under Vanilla IR&D funding and Phase I and Phase II SBIR funding from the NASA Earth Sciences Division, according to the website.
Congratulations from the Praxis Aerospace Concepts International team to our dear friends at Vanilla Aircraft. We were very proud to be a part of your maiden flight, and will enjoyed seeing your successes in the future.
Read the press release on SuasNews here, and get more information from Inside Unmanned Systems here.
Today organizers announced that the first edition of the Flying Donkey Challenge in Kenya, which had preliminary sub-challenges slated to begin this November, is on hold indefinitely due to delays in obtaining final approvals from Kenyan authorities.
According to their press release:
Beginning with the horrific Westgate attack last September in Nairobi and following the tragic terrorist attacks near Lamu this month, it has become clear that organising a high visibility drone event in Kenya is incompatible with immediate security concerns. To be clear, it is not that cargo drone testing presents any threat whatsoever to Kenya, or that international participants would be at risk from travelling to Kenya, but only that, for the coming months, the overseers of civil and military aviation in Kenya have made it clear they are unlikely to be able to sign off on legal precedents for autonomous flight.
Since April, we have been pursuing air space approvals and locations in other African locations. While these talks have been productive, our unfortunate conclusion is that we will not be able to confirm a new date and location in 2015. Without a clear time-scale, closing on the budget is not possible. Taking into account the speed with which research and commercial drone ventures are proceeding, we feel it unfair to leave the teams that have applied for the Challenge in limbo and prefer to put the Flying Donkey Challenge in its current format on hold.
Simon Johnson & Jonathan Ledgard Flying Donkey Challenge Co-Founders
Organizers remain steadfast in their goal to spur a new transport industry using cargo drones in order to solve the problem of supply delivery in places where infrastructure is poor or non-existent.P
Zürich, 24 March 2014: The IBM Intelligent Operations Center (IOC) greeted potential FDC participants at the first Flying Donkey Challenge Technical Workshop with the premise: “Can we use IOC as a Master Control System, with links to the authorities such as the KCAA, for the FDC starting in Kenya by November 2014?”
The Workshop began with a keynote by Oliver Evans, Chairman of The International Air Cargo Association & Chief Cargo Officer Swiss WorldCargo.
Simon Johnson, Co-Founder, led the Workshop to address a simple objective to demonstrate how IOC could be used to track the location, log the status and send commands (e.g. Abort Flight) to multiple UAVs via operators’ Ground Control Stations.
Selected entrants provided presentations on their team solutions: senseFly, University of Southampton, University of Bristol, Barnard Microsystems Limited, Praxis Aerospace, and the University of Zurich .
Afterwards, the attendees formed teams to work on best practices and recommendations.
About The Nevada Twenty-Mule Team The Nevada Twenty-Mule Team draws its name from the great Nevada mule teams that hauled minerals across the blistering deserts of Death Valley over 100 years ago. These trains traveled 162 miles from Furnace Creek in Death Valley to Mojave, California; and from the mines at Old Borate to Dagget, the nearest railroad points. Their routes carried them over some of the most forbidding land on the face of the earth: parched and shifting sands of the desert, and dry and rocky ravines of the Funeral Mountains.
The successful transportation of minerals out of Death Valley by the 20-Mule Team is the highest development of this method of transportation, and speaks volumes for the ingenuity and ability of the past.
About The Flying Donkey Challenge The Flying Donkey Challenge is an escalating series of sub-challenges held annually in Africa. World-leading roboticists, engineers, regulators, entrepreneurs, logisticians, and designers will win substantial grants by advancing the safety, durability, legality, profitability and friendliness of flying-parcel carriers on a massive scale. Before 2020, with world media attention, the sub-challenges will culminate in a race of Flying Donkeys* around Mount Kenya in under 24 hours, delivering and collecting 20 kilo payloads along the way. The winner(s) will collect a multi-million dollar prize. *Cargo robots with a maximum takeoff weight of 60 kilos
The event is open to worldwide entrants but non-African teams entering the Flying Donkey Challenge must collaborate with a recognised higher education African school or laboratory.
You can read more about the Flying Donkey Challenge here, in this article and in this article here.
33 Teams from Africa, Australia, Europe, India and North America have applied for the first edition of the Flying Donkey Challenge that will be held in Kenya 8-16 November 2014, including PACI-led “Nevada Twenty-Mule Team”.
La Fondation Bundi (a Swiss non-profit organisation) and its partners are pleased to report that 33 teams from around the world have applied for the first edition of the Flying Donkey Challenge that will be held in Kenya 8-16th November 2014. Applications are from universities, start-ups and companies with recognised research, proven technology and experience in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). All the candidates are eager to take on the challenge of demonstrating the capabilities, safety and benefits of unmanned cargo aircrafts in Africa and beyond. The proposed aerial designs vary from fixed-wing, rotary-wing, lighter-than-air, paramotor to inflatable airframe. Teams are also proposing different powertrains (variations of combustion or electric motors) and cargo delivery strategies (e.g. loaded, winched or dropped). The event is open to worldwide entrants, but non-African teams must collaborate with a recognised higher education African institute, school or laboratory.
“This is a great endorsement for what we are doing. The teams understand that we must find solutions that are adapted to the environment and task. It’s the ecosystem of engineers, designers, lawyers, regulators and business partners that must collaborate to demonstrate the benefits and gain acceptance of flying donkeys that are going to be part of our future transportation infrastructure”, said Simon Johnson, Flying Donkey Challenge Co-Founder and Director.
About The Flying Donkey Challenge The place to launch commercial aerial delivery services is in Africa! Africa has a population that will double by 2050, some of the fastest growing economies, forecasted infrastructure deficit, a flexible regulatory environment, plenty of air bandwidth and a structure that makes it ready to leapfrog technology. Solutions proven in Africa will be replicated in other areas.
The Flying Donkey Challenge is an escalating series of sub-challenges held annually in Africa. World-leading roboticists, engineers, regulators, entrepreneurs, logisticians, and designers will win substantial grants by advancing the safety, durability, legality, profitability and friendliness of flying-parcel carriers on a massive scale. Before 2020, with world media attention, the sub-challenges will culminate in a race of Flying Donkeys* around Mount Kenya in under 24 hours, delivering and collecting 20 kilo payloads along the way. The winner(s) will collect a multi-million dollar prize. *Cargo robots with a maximum takeoff weight of 60 kilos
You can read more about the Flying Donkey Challenge here, in this article,and in this article here.
Carson City, January 1, 2014: On December 30th the FAA designated Nevada one of six test sites for the integration of commercial applications of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) into the National Air Space. Nevada’s success was the culmination of two years of work to put the state at the cutting edge of this new and promising industry. With an FAA stated goal of introducing small unmanned vehicles into the commercial airspace by September 30, 2015, Nevada has already begun the process of recruiting companies to Nevada to test at our sites.
“Being selected as one of six sites for UAV development in the country is a historic moment for Nevada,” Governor Brian Sandoval said.
The State of Nevada submitted the final volume of its proposal to the FAA in May of 2013. Nevada’s application included the State as the direct applicant and a 28-member team. Nevada’s team members, who represented a cross section of public and private partners, industry and academic leaders, within the northern and southern regions of the state, identified four locations for testing across the state. Those four testing sites are: Fallon Municipal Airport, Boulder City Municipal Airport, Desert Rock Airport, and Stead Airport.
Praxis Aerospace Concepts International (PACI) is proud to be one of the 28-members of the awarded team. Our CEOwas the proposal manager for Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) bid and establishment of an FAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site within the State of Nevada, and was the inaugural Technical Director of the State’s UAS Program Management Office for the full duration of that contract.
49 regions from 36 states submitted responses to the FAA. That number was reduced to 25 in mid-2013, and on the 30th, Nevada joined successful sites in New York, Virginia, Texas, North Dakota, and Alaska. Director Hill signed the Other Transaction Agreement (OTA) – the contract with the FAA – on December 31st.
In their announcement release, the FAA had this to say about Nevada: “Nevada’s project objectives concentrate on UAS standards and operations as well as operator standards and certification requirements. The applicant’s research will also include a concentrated look at how air traffic control procedures will evolve with the introduction of UAS in the civil environment and how these aircraft will be integrated with NextGen. Nevada’s selection contributes to geographic and climatic diversity.”
Read the full article in the January 2014 issue of “THE ECONOMIC PULSE” here
It is with great pleasure that PACI announces its intention to partner with the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) to support the establishment of a Nevada Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site in response to the FAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site Selection (UASTSS) solicitation proposal and all follow-on efforts, if awarded.
Our Co-Founder is the proposal manager for Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) bid for establishment of an FAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site within the State of Nevada.
Editorial: At the time of this release, PACI had not yet incorporated and was still operating as a Nevada LLC. Our Executive Director and Co-Founder would become our first CEO.
Praxis Aerospace Concepts is a service-disabled, veteran-owned, small business (SDVOSB) based in Southern Nevada. Using a mix of proprietary technology, unique team domain expertise and unique partnerships, PACI develops practical solutions for multi-modal (ground-air-sea-industrial) robotics and unmanned systems (UxS) that benefit from experience and “best practices.” PACI operates field and laboratory facilities for autonomous systems research, development, test, evaluation, deployment, commercialization, and training.
Our expertise allows us to provide services in ITAR-Restricted and Federal Services, EAR-Controlled products, International Importing and Exporting, Licensed Spectrum, Unmanned Systems Infrastructure and Integrated solutions, UAS Repair Services, Training Services, and Airport Operations.
PRAXIS (process): the process by which a theory, lesson, or skill is enacted, practiced, embodied, or realized.