PrecisionHawk, the Raleigh-based startup that’s quickly emerging as a leader in the booming drone industry, is receiving plenty of publicity White House style today.

The White House office of science and technology is hosting a “Workshop on Drones and the Future of Aviation” at which PrecisionHawk is unveiling a report as well as new test data on drone safety.

According to the White House, the Bob Young-led startup is unveiling results of a study titled “Pathfinder” that demonstrates “the safety of extended visual line of sight (EVLOS) operations for drones in rural areas.” The range is up to 3 miles.

“EVLOS provides societal benefits through expanded commercial applications and greater flexibility in operations,” the White House notes.

“Under the Pathfinder program, an FAA-led initiative to facilitate the early introduction of low-altitude operations for small, unmanned aircraft systems into the National Airspace System, PrecisionHawk quantified the EVLOS distance at 2-3 nautical miles for non-technology assisted drone operations.”

Study results

Here are the key results of the study as published early Tuesday in a blog at PrecisionHawk:

“In summary, Phase I research efforts have quantified the nominal EVLOS distance via the above experimental protocol at 2-3 nautical miles provided the following conditions are met,” wrote Alex Moss.

  1. Ambient Light = Bright: i.e. time of flight between 1 hour after sunrise to 1 hour before sunset
  2. Visual Angle = Low or Mid-Low: i.e. visual angle of obstructions < 5 deg.
  3. UAS PIC meets the qualifications of the PICs used in the Phase I experiments (i.e. FAA pilot certificate, 2nd Class Medical, passed PrecisionHawk internal training course on Lancaster operation)

Even within the limited uses and restrictions of commercial visual line of sight (VLOS) operations permitted to date, UAS are proving beneficial to numerous industries by providing insights previously unattainable from other means of remote sensing. This is due to the high spatial and temporal resolution of the UAS, allowing for the rapid and cost-effective capture of essential decision-support data,” Moss addeData secur

“Currently, the majority of the day-to-day operational cost of the UAS, beyond the initial capital investment in the system itself, is due to the cost of placing the PIC at an appropriate location to fly. EVLOS operations allow a given operator to obtain more data from the same location, increasing return on investment with every operation. Without the ability to fly EVLOS, many companies nationwide will not be able to attain a substantial percentage of the available remote sensing value from the UAS. As explorations into EVLOS deepen, it is worth briefly exploring how the public stands to benefit from such flexibility of commercial drone operations.”

Read more about the study at:

Data security

PrecisionHawk also is releasing data about security for drone operators in conjunction with the Future of Privacy Form and Intel.

The report, titled “Drones and Privacy by Design: Embedding Privacy Enhancing Technology in Unmanned Aircraft,” explains how “leading drone companies are building privacy safeguards into their technologies and services,” the White House notes.

“The report highlights technologies and practices that help drone operators minimize the collection and retention of personal data, obfuscate images of individuals collected from the air, and secure personally identifiable information. The widespread adoption of geo-fencing and other technologies is enabling drones to reduce privacy risks while tackling important, often life-saving missions.”