Operation Last-Mile: Critical Drone Delivery Testing Report

great. However, when 3 teams were operating simultaneously and multiple drops were occurring at the same time, it did not work for everyone to be on channel 3. The Airboss spontaneously allowed teams to move to their own dedicated channel. Since the RPIC and LoadMaster each had a radio, they could tune to both channels and communicate with the Airboss and their VO. This worked OK for 3 teams. A pilot cautioned that bad actors could disrupt radio communications if we used radios without dedicated bandwidth and less expensive radios are not going to work if there is great building density. If a delivery assignment were to be longer-term, a more expensive, and flexible radio system would be good to have. ● Radio Comms Training: The public safety and former military personnel were good at radio communication. The less experienced pilots struggled to stay off the mic and make their communication concise. The pilot orientation should include a more thorough discussion of radio protocol and role-playing with radios prior to commencing flight operations. ​ DroneUp ​ also wants to participate in the industry in establishing a common vocabulary and syntax for radio communications during drone operations. ● Sterile Cockpit: Manned aircraft guidance is that no extraneous chatter occurs in the cockpit. The same guidance applies to RPIC and LoadMaster operating a drone, particularly when the drone is beyond visual line of sight. This concept was explained in the pilot briefing but a number of pilots noticed that we were lax on this requirement at times. This is especially important during periods of multiple simultaneous drone flights. ● Building Side Firefighter Jargon: Firefighters are trained that the wall where the front door is located is called the “alpha” side of the building. Then if you are looking down and going clockwise from there, the walls are called bravo, charlie, and delta. This kind of convention would come in handy as pilots and VO’s are discussing drop locations and drone orientation compared to adjacent buildings.

Equipment

The pilots liked flying the Inspire 2 drone and they were familiar with DJI flight controller software. These recommendations were provided by the participants.

● Tether: ​ Test different tether lengths to see how they affect airworthiness ( ​ DroneUp ​ has done some testing in this area and for the Inspire 2, the 8-foot tether seems to be the sweet spot to cause the least amount of oscillation). We also should test a break-away tether that would release from the drone if a specific amount of force were exerted on it (i.e., a person grabs it). ● iPads: ​ Provide backup iPads if the weather is warmer. They notoriously overheat in warm conditions.

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