Then Aerial Vista Challenge Team has been very busy getting things arranged for the wildlife challenge. We are making progress and are blogging more about it soon. In fact we are setting out a new mission that we will talk a bit about in this blog and we are going to have a web store up soon to sale our catapult, t-shirts and other items to help raise funds to be able to compete in UAV Challenges. Today I want to talk about travelling with an UAS since this is something that will have to be done to compete in South Africa. I have travelled within the US fairly extensively with different UAS in the past but this week I traveled to Chicago with a DJI Phantom. My travels and purpose had me thinking about our mission as a challenge team.
Travelling with a UAS as checked baggage was uneventful and went quite smooth. To do so I prepared in several ways. I am sure that many of you have a complete uas package with travel cases. I have pelican cases for my planes and ground station and my DJI packs in a single goprofessional box. The new DJI has a nice battery profile and so you do not have wires sticking every which way. That has to help matters. Still I did not pack the batteries with the rest of the box. I actually packed my batteries on my carry on and had them clearly marked as batteries. This made for smooth conversations through security. (I am not setting this blog as any kind of way to get anything through security but legal items. I have not attempted nor would I attempt to take on illegal items. This is merely for the purposes of those looking to travel with a UAS for work or recreation can safely do so. This is not an attempt to beat security. It is to smooth travel for the convenience of the traveler and the security officer,)
The DJI Phantom itself was checked baggage. In order to avoid confusion and/or rough handling of fragile airframes and electronics I placed a clearly typed and displayed note to the TSA. I thank them for their service and I explain that what they are looking at is an aerial robot. It is for the purpose of aerial photography and that it is fragile. I thank them again for their time and wish them a pleasant day. I like to think that being polite and informative shows that you are working to have a cooperative relationship with respect to the TSA and their requirements. These are the things that I believe helped to make for smooth travels and my UAS was handled with care and arrived in one piece.
The spirit of cooperation also helped me to think more about the Aerial Vista Challenge Teams mission. We are currently competing in the 2014 Wildlife Conservation UAV Challenge and its purpose is to raise awareness to a specific issue of poaching. In the process we can also raise awareness to the positive uses of UAS technology and the positive benefits of open source with respect to advancement and development of new technologies. Drones have a bad reputation because they have been initially developed by military and intelligence organizations. In the process proper civilian use has been treated as secondary use. The truth is that the market would be many times larger for small UAS systems for commercial use than for the narrow market that is the military. The other side of that is that their are many uses that could be for humanitarian and ecological purposes that promote health and life rather than secrecy and destruction.
The Aerial Vista Challenge Team wants to be part of promoting UAS for good uses. Changing the conversation to how we can use UAS to serve us in positive manners rather than the negative reputation they have for surveillance and bombing. This weekend I had the opportunity to work with some colleagues to show an official from the City of Dallas the benefits of Urban Farming. We were able to show him the Growing Power facilities in Milwaukee and Chicago and how they are benefiting the community in many ways. While we were giving him the tour we were also able to take some aerial pictures for Growing Power and for what is the beginning of an aerial photo essay of urban and local farms across the country. We are able to promote the great things about farming but we are also able to show the positive use of an UAS and how it can be used to tell a story instead of taint a familiar tale of drones. The official from the City of Dallas and representatives from Milwaukee and Chicago will now have a different picture in their head when talk of drone use in their cities come up. So, I believe that this is our mission. To work with different humanitarian and conservation groups to promote human and ecological prosperity, while providing a positive experience of unmanned technologies. The Aerial Vista Challenge Team appreciates all of our readers support and we appreciate those that sponsor us so that we can continue our work. We will continue to improve our technologies and our efforts.