US announces task force aimed at mandatory drone registration

20 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Booting Up: Hey Feds: Leave drones alone.

The federal government will require many drone aircraft to be registered, a move prompted by the growing number of reported close calls and incidents that pose safety risks, officials announced Monday.WASHINGTON — Federal regulators said Monday they plan to require recreational drone users to register their aircraft with the government in an attempt to restore order to U.S. skies, which have been invaded by rogue flying robots.The Federal Aviation Administration’s move to require the registration of recreational drones makes as much sense as it would for the National Transportation Safety Board to license remote-controlled cars. Pilot sightings of drones have doubled since last year, including sightings near manned aircraft and major sporting events, and interference with wildfire-fighting operations, the government said. “These reports signal a troubling trend,” Federal Aviation Administration chief Michel Huerta said at a news conference to announce the step.

U.S. officials said they still need to sort out the basic details of the registration system but concluded that they had to take swift action to cope with a surge in sales of inexpensive, simple-to-fly drones that are increasingly interfering with regular air traffic. “The signal we’re sending today is that when you’re in the national airspace, it’s a very serious matter,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told reporters. Registration will increase pressure on drone operators to fly responsibly, he said, adding, “when they don’t fly safely, they’ll know there will be consequences.” To work out details, the FAA and the Transportation Department are setting up a 25- to 30-member task force including government and industry officials and hobbyists. But this episode of busy-work-for-bureaucrats is very real, with the potential to crush investments in a burgeoning startup segment that will either be dominated by consumers in the United States or somewhere with fewer regulations. They’ll recommend which drones should be required to register and which should be exempted, and design a system that would be easy for commercial operators to comply with, the department said. The recommendations are due by Nov. 20, and administration officials hope to have the registry in place before Christmas, when they say that more than 1 million new drones could be given as gifts to new untrained operators.

So far there have been no accidents, but agency officials have said they’re concerned that a drone weighing only a few pounds might cause serious damage if it is sucked into an engine or smashes into an airliner’s windshield. CBS4’s Rick Sallinger visited a flying club in Arvada and found the news from the FAA isn’t positive from drone owners who take great care to fly safely. As for regulations, the toughest are likely to apply to the most popular drones that sell at the $1,000 price point, whereas the 2-ounce toys that sell for $100 (and nobody will buy anyway) may be excluded.

The initiative represents the administration’s effort to address the rising number of unauthorized drone sightings near airports and crowded public venues. Drones that weigh only a pound or two or that can’t fly higher than a few hundred feet are considered less risky, but heavier ones and those that can fly thousands of feet pose more of a problem. But the process is so rudimentary — the online registration is on a web page that looks more like a complaint forum — that users say it is pointless.

The new regulations and registry details are supposed to be out by Christmas, among the fastest federal regulatory action against an industry in recent memory. In addition, once you have a commercial exemption approved, there is no system that allows you to use it in areas where there is even just a helipad because drones can’t be operated within 5 miles of an airport or a helipad, though commercial helicopters can. “Thanks to the UPMC helipad [at Mercy Hospital] Downtown, Pittsburgh is virtually a dead zone for commercial drone work,” said Mr.

It’s just a small portion which CBS4 found on FAA records from around the country. “To say somebody couldn’t take something and do something stupid with it — of course they could,” Weissenfels said. “But registering everything that we do just because somebody could do something stupid with it? The Consumer Electronics Association has forecast that 700,000 drones will be sold this holiday season, and Foxx said it’s especially important that new drone users be taught the responsibilities that come with flying. Foxx said the group has until Nov. 20 to finalize its recommendations so the government can set up the registry before Christmas, the peak season for drone sales. But the best course of action is to look at this and say, let’s do the best we can,” said Michael Drobac, executive director of the Small UAV Coalition, one of two drone industry group on the task force. The fast-growing drone industry is expected to increase at a rate of 19 percent each year from now until 2020, according to a report from BI Intelligence.

In addition to snarling air traffic, nuisance drones across the country have interfered with firefighters, flown into tall buildings and crashed into bystanders on the ground. We’re about to hold the owners of fun little quad-copters to a stricter standard than gun owners who have successfully lobbied against a universal federal registry for weapons that are truly meant to kill. Under a law passed by Congress in 2012 to protect model-airplane enthusiasts, the FAA is prohibited from imposing new restrictions on recreational drone owners.

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BMW and Nissan roll out dual-plug EV chargers across the US

24 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

BMW and Nissan partner to create joint fast-charger network in the US.

BMW and Nissan announced Monday that they have teamed up to launch a public network of fast-charging stations across the country, challenging Tesla’s Supercharger network.CNN Money calls the Tesla Model X “the new king of crossover SUVs.” In its round-up of its favorite luxury SUVs of 2015, CNN places the electric ute on the top of its list.

The Model X’s EV powertrain, excellent acceleration and handling and cool design and technology features (including much attention paid to its slick Falcon Wing doors) earn it high praise. With dual 50 kW DC Fast-charging station with both CHAdeMO and CCS (Combo) connectors incorporated into each station, Nissan LEAF and BMW i3 drivers will be able to travel virtually range-anxiety-free. The breadth of Nissan and BMW’s fast-charger buildout is expansive, with fast chargers now available in California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, North and South Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin.

These 50 kW stations can charge EVs from Nissan and BMW up to 80 percent in about 20-30 minutes, as compared to the longer time required to recharge at a Level 2 (240V) charger, currently the most commonly available public charging station. When the network will be completed, however, is not yet known. “Drivers can easily locate the chargers with ConnectedDrive in the BMW i3 — either using the in-vehicle Navigation or by using the BMW i Remote App — or via the Nissan EZ-Charge smartphone app,” read the joint press release. “Additionally, these chargers are compatible with the Nissan EZ-Charge cards.” This is a significant move. Since the launch of Nissan LEAF – the world’s best-selling electric car – Nissan has reinforced its commitment to zero-emission mobility with investments in EV charging infrastructure to serve the needs of LEAF drivers in markets across the U.S.

Nissan also recently introduced the new 2016 LEAF, which has available best-in-class range of 107 miles, making it the first affordable EV to get more than 100 miles on a single charge. All LEAF models feature an 80kW AC synchronous motor that generates 107 horsepower and 187 lb-ft of torque, providing a highly responsive, fun-to-drive experience. BMW i is focused on the development of visionary vehicles and mobility services, inspiring design, and a new understanding of premium that is strongly defined by sustainability.

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