Drones: Coming to a School Near You
Though the military has been using unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) since the 1990’s, commercial use has long been outlawed in the U.S. and remains in its infancy worldwide. With the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s recent decision to exempt six film companies from its commercial ban, the era of domestic commercial drone use has begun.
Other businesses interested in using drones, including realtors, farmers, and news agencies, as well as Amazon and Google, who are developing their own delivery drones, have filed petitions with the FAA and are eagerly awaiting a green light.
Arthur Tisseront, TJ ’16 (right), is among those waiting for the FAA to approve the use of drones for commercial aerial photography. Arthur, who built his first drone last year in order to take videos on a family vacation to the Caribbean, now has two drones and a website ready for his future business.
In the meantime, Arthur has become involved with using drones to solve a major global issue, wildlife poaching. Poaching and trafficking of wildlife is the third largest organized crime in the world. During 2013 alone, South Africa lost 1,004 rhinos, representing a 5,000% increase in rhino poaching since 2007. South Africa’s flagship Kruger National Park, has lost more than 50% of its rhinos since 2010.
This summer Arthur interned at Kashmir World Foundation (KwF), a non-profit with many projects, one of which uses innovations in drone technology for counter-poaching. As KwF’s Drone Specialist, Arthur has taught at local drone workshops and is currently helping KwF prepare to host the Wildlife Conservation Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Challenge, which will be held in South Africa next Spring. Over 120 teams from 29 countries are preparing for the competition, which asks teams to design low-cost aircraft that include both embedded systems to detect and locate poachers and sophisticated software communications.
This September, Arthur traveled to South Africa’s iMfolozi Game Reserve, which includes an inaccessible wilderness area that is home to important populations of both white and black rhino, for the Inaugural World Youth Rhino Summit. The conference brought teens together from across the globe to hear from noted conservationists and write resolutions to be presented to the United Nations.
In the 8th period TJ UAV Club he started this year, members “will build a simple fixed-wing drone as an introduction to how all of the parts interact, and after they become experienced with that drone, they will build a multi-rotor of their choice (quad or hex),” Arthur explained. Students will also hear from guest speakers from the FAA, the Academy of Model Aeronautics, and the KwF, and will learn the safety rules that apply to flying non-commercial drones. Interpretation of the Special Rule for Model Aircraft, June 18, 2014.
The club already has a full interest sheet. Wherever there’s a revolutionary technology, you can bet that TJ students are learning about it and sharing their interest with each other.