Category Archives: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

M2 TechCast To Feature Drone Law Update, Cyber Security, and More

ROYAL OAK — The Monday, Nov. 21 edition of the M2 TechCast podcast will feature an update on drone law, cybersecurity, a new video news operation at Automation Alley, and help for entrepreneurs from a state agency.

Guests will include Mark Becker, a partner at the Grand Rapids and Detroit IT firm C/D/H, speaking on cybersecurity and attacks on the internet.

Tom Kelly, executive director of Automation Alley, will talk about a new video news partnership between the Alley and

Keith Brophy, state director of the Michigan Small Business  Development Center, will interview a company owner helped by MISBDC.

Finally, Traverse City attorney and drone law expert Enrico Schaefer, who operates, will update a story about a drone operator who was arrested for flying over a Trump rally.

The M2 TechCast airs live on the internet from 3 to 4 p.m. Eastern time each Monday at And you can listen to past episodes by clicking on

The M2 TechCast is hosted by Mike Brennan, founder and publisher of Michigan Technology News,, and Matt Roush, director of the university news bureau at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield. Both have covered high-tech in Michigan as journalists for more than 20 years.

The M2 TechCast is part of Podcast Detroit, a network of more than 50 locally produced podcasts on a wide variety of topics, anchored by IT in the D. the nation’s No. 1 tech podcast, which regularly draws more than 500,000 listeners a week. IT in the D airs live Monday nights from 9 to 11 p.m. Eastern time.

UM robotics building design approved, including space for Ford

ANN ARBOR — Robotic technologies for air, sea and roads, for factories, hospitals and homes will have tailored lab space in the University of Michigan’s planned Robotics Laboratory.

The UM Board of Regents has approved the schematic design for the $75 million building, which is slated for the northeast corner of North Campus in the College of Engineering.

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Ann Arbor Firm Using Drones To Inspect Wind Turbines

ANN ARBOR — The Ann Arbor drone inspection provider SkySpecs will demonstrate its technology at the Wind Energy Expo and WindEurope Summit in Hamburg, Germany next week.

SkySpecs brings 20-minute, automated blade inspections to the wind industry, allowing asset owners to monitor the health of their turbines faster and more precisely than with traditional methods.

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MSU team headed to national drone competition in Maryland

EAST LANSING — A group of Michigan State University engineering students is among 17 teams taking part in a national drone competition June 15-19 in Maryland.

The MSU team will be competing in the 2016 Student Unmanned Air Systems event at the Webster Naval Field in Patuxent River, Md.

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MSU’s Drone Team Gearing Up For National Competition

EAST LANSING — The Michigan State University Unmanned Systems Team is currently working to develop skills working with unmanned aerial vehicles, more commonly known as drones.

MSU Engineering’s team, which has 17 members, is gearing up to compete at the 2016 Association for Unmanned Vehicles Systems International (AUVSI) Student Unmanned Air Systems event in June. The competition will be held at Webster Naval Field in southern Maryland’s St. Mary’s County.

As a co-founder of MSU’s Unmanned Systems Team, Hanish Mehta happily embraces the UAV phenomena that he calls “the technology of tomorrow today.” Mehta is an applied engineering sciences senior from Mumbai, India.

“We are building a fully autonomous UAV, with flight times of greater than 30 minutes and a payload capacity of more than five kilograms,” he said.

The team is working on two quadcopters.

“One is huge and the other one fits in my backpack,” he said.

Much of the team’s assembly work takes place in Mehta’s apartment, where he houses a 3D printer in his living room to fabricate custom parts for the team’s UAV. The team also operates out of two workshops in MSU’s Computer Center, located next to the Hannah Administration Building.

“We house a fully equipped mechanical and electronics workshop, where we can fabricate using traditional methods and work on full-size projects that wouldn’t be possible in my apartment,” he said.

The team’s UAV uses a target recognition program during competitions that was written by the team’s computer science sub-committee. The software allows the team to keep track of the number of geometric targets detected and relays target information to mission control stations using an on-board payload computer.

To practice, they go to off-campus locations where they can fly in accordance with hobby category regulations.

“Our team always makes sure that the area we are using is cleared, and we fly at an altitude of less than 400 feet,” Mehta said. “We have two emergency retrieval members on stand by and one spotter always assists with flight operations to look out for potential hazards.”

Rules regarding locations in which UAVs can fly have been debated for some time. Officials at MSU are among the many who have been reviewing the rules, seeking clarifications to set campus guidelines and requirements.

In December, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration announced an online registration process for owners of unmanned aircraft weighing between half a pound and 55 pounds that requires airspace users to know airspace rules and be accountable to the public for flying responsibly. The new registration system is for hobby or recreation users, but not aircraft used in businesses. More FAA registration enhancements are expected this spring.

“With retailers selling around a million drones this past holiday season alone, I’m hoping this all gets figured out because there are emerging technology jobs in aerospace and defense organizations,” Mehta added. “And, I for one, would like to explore where the career possibilities will go.”

In the photo above, members of the MSU Unmanned Systems Team exhibited their UAVs during Design Day in December. Pictured (from left) are John LeFevre, Paul Schulman, Yi Wei, Hanish Mehta, Matthew Auvenshine, and Zach Taylor.

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Michigan Tech Designs Rogue Drone Catcher

HOUGHTON — In January 2015, a Washington, DC, hobbyist accidentally flew his DJI Phantom quadcopter drone over the White House fence and crashed it on the lawn.

Two years earlier, a prankster sent his drone toward German prime minister Angela Merkel during a campaign rally.

Small drones have also proven to be effective tools of mischief, and not just in the national news — from spying to smuggling to hacking. So when Mo Rastgaar was watching World Cup soccer and heard about snipers protecting the crowd, he doubted that they’d fully understood a drone’s potential.

“I thought, ‘If the threat is a drone, you really don’t want to shoot it down — it might contain explosives and blow up. What you want to do is catch it and get it out of there.’”

So Rastgaar, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Michigan Technological University, began work on a drone catcher, which could pursue and capture rogue drones that might threaten military installations, air traffic, sporting events — even the White House.

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