July 25, 2014

Drone users swarm for Burning Man registration, cap nearly reached

As of late Thursday, more than 150 registrants submitted requests to use drones at the annual week-long counterculture gathering in Nevada's Black Rock Desert. When organizers announced the registration Tuesday, it set limit the number of people allowed to use devices to 200. [via The Examiner]

quotemarksright.jpgThough registration was required at 2013’s event, organizers believed limiting the number of flyers to this year to 200 would more than accommodate the number of people intending to fly.

“We don't think we had anything close to that last year. We'll see what we get,” Graham said Wednesday.

But by 11 p.m. Thursday night, 156 attendees had registered for this August’s event.

Despite the numbers, Graham said Friday morning that the organization doesn’t believe it will need to increase the cap.

“We had a rush of applications when we announced registration,” he explained. “It has slowed to a trickle. We think the 200 cap is good and was based on our ability to staff and properly support the effort.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

July 19, 2014

Can Drones Fight Illegal "Pirate" Fishing?

Conservationists test unmanned aerial vehicles in Belize and California. National Geographic reports.

quotemarksright.jpgAn estimated 20 percent of all fish hauled in around the globe are caught illegally, through a combination of fishing in restricted areas, subverting quotas and seasonal limits, and using banned gear. The fish are shipped around the world and sold to existing markets, where most buyers have no idea that the food they are purchasing is stolen goods.

The problem is especially acute in Belize, where hundreds of incidents have been reported over the past few years, according to Julio Maaz, who serves as a fisheries coordinator in Belize with the U.S.-based Wildlife Conservation Society.

Belize has only 70 fisheries enforcement officers to patrol its 240 miles (386 kilometers) of Caribbean coast and more than 200 islands. And with fuel prices rising, the enforcement budget has been shrinking. As a result, fishermen get away with flouting the law, says Maaz—especially crews based in nearby Honduras and Guatemala.

But now a new weapon is being tested in the fight against pirate fishing: drones. quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

emily | 2:47 PM | Drones and Wildlife | permalink

Studio lighting drone takes first flight


Researchers at MIT and Cornell University have developed autonomous photographic lighting drones that automatically assume correct positions to achieve specific lighting effects. [via AmateurPhotographer]

quotemarksright.jpgThe system is controlled via a camera-mounted interface, through which the photographer indicates which direction he or she wants the light to come from, and the drone subsequently positions itself.

In the demonstration exercise, the photographer specified a thickness for the light's rim width. The drone then automatically adjusted its position to maintain the same lighting conditions as the portrait subject moved and turned.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more. Image left: The drone responds to the subject's movements and turns in order to keep the lighting consistent.

July 16, 2014

New Drone Equipped with 3D printer Will Create Mini-Drones Throughout Mission

The British defense business BAE Systems and the Ministry of Defense released information that future drones will have the ability to create mini-drones throughout a mission and be armed with laser cannons. SMNow reports.

quotemarksright.jpgThe on board 3d printer will produce mini-drones that will repair damage to the mother drone. Undoubtedly, the drone will have the ability to print mini-weaponized drones as well.

Engineers from BAE suggest that installing a printer aboard an aircraft which would allow printing full-scale drones mid-flight as well.

BAE believes this could create “the ultimate adaptable task force, with a lead aircraft able to enter any unknown scenario and quickly manufacture an effective tool set for any task” the UK Guardian reports.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

emily | 1:52 PM | | permalink

July 15, 2014

Disaster drones: are they the future of humanitarian aid?

Screen Shot 2014-07-15 at 10.51.41 AM.png

Drones may soon be used to carry vital emergency food and medical supplies in the wake of natural disasters without endangering the lives of rescue workers. The Telegraph reports.

quotemarksright.jpgWhile the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, in conflict zones is well documented, one British-Dutch company is developing the technology with the aim of revolutionising humanitarian relief efforts.

Speaking at the Farnborough Airshow, Steve Roest said his company Skycap was developing drones to allow aid organisations to bring medical supplies and food rations to hard to reach areas in the aftermath of a natural disaster.

These portable, affordable aircraft can be launched quickly into areas too dangerous for people to enter, locating survivors and sending data about their whereabouts to rescue crews on the ground.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

July 13, 2014

Private eyes using drones to nab scammers & cheating spouses

Screen Shot 2014-07-13 at 9.32.40 AM.png According to The New York Post, private investigators are using drones to catch New Yorkers cheating on spouses, lying about disabilities and endangering their kids.

quotemarksright.jpgMatthew Seifer recently pretended to test-fly a drone in Central Park. He was actually recording a husband fooling around with a female coworker from 100 feet away. “Sometimes the best thing is to be right there in plain sight,” said Seifer, president of Long Island- based Executive Investigations.

Seifer operates several Phantom models, including the Phantom 2 Vision, and said drones are a “selling point” for clients.

Firms like his are charging double for their use — hiking the hourly rate from $47 to $97.

... Seifer’s footage has also busted criminals. He recently helped a homeowner in another state file an insurance claim against tenants accused of running a dogfighting ring. “We couldn’t get access to the back of the house through regular means,” Seifer said. “We utilized the drone to get evidentiary video of doghouses, chains and certain individuals.”

He turned over footage to authorities, and four people were arrested. The tenant lost his lease.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

emily | 9:26 AM | Surveillance Drones | permalink

July 12, 2014

College Football’s Newest Toy: Drones

images.jpg College football teams are trying to get as many unique angles as possible for studying film. While most schools are using elevated platforms to film practices, UCLA is taking a different approach. [via The WSJ]

quotemarksright.jpgKen Norris, director of video operations, uses the drones to tape practices. He says that it allows them to get a vantage point that is only possible with skycams that networks such as FOX or ESPN use during games.

WSJ sports reporter Ben Cohen says that the drone sits approximately 15 feet above the field and allows for coaches to look at a lineman’s footwork and hand placement.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 8:46 AM | Surveillance Drones | permalink

June 25, 2014

Automated Remote Charging for Your Flying Drones (Video)

Skysense Intro

The Skysense Charging Pad allows your drone to land and recharge when it's batteries are low.

In their own words: "Save time and manage your drone operations remotely: whenever the batteries run out, land on a Skysense Charging Pad and take off as soon as the batteries are recharged. Without ever leaving the office."

[via Slashdot]

emily | 9:02 AM | Technology | permalink

Amazon: Don't worry, our drones are still preparing for takeoff

On Monday, the FAA released guidelines it said were in response to a recent spate of accidents involving unnamed model aircraft, and not commercial drones, flying dangerously close to commercial airplanes. Language in the FAA document suggests there's a ban on the use of drones for paid delivery services such as PrimeAir. Amazon says that's just plain wrong, and the FAA agrees that PrimeAir doesn't fall under those guidelines. [via C/net]

quotemarksright.jpgThe rule applies only to hobbyists and was meant to clarify what services are considered legal and what are not within that category, FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown told CNET. For hobbyists, "using a model aircraft to move a box from point to point without any kind of compensation," is OK, according to the guidelines, while accepting a fee for delivery services is not.

Brown said the rule doesn't affect Amazon's current plans for a drone delivery fleet in the US.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

June 24, 2014

FAA grounds Amazon’s drone delivery plans

Screen Shot 2014-06-24 at 5.11.02 PM.png

The Federal Aviation Administration has said that online shopping powerhouse Amazon may not employ drones to deliver packages, at least not anytime soon, according to arstechnica

quotemarksright.jpgThe revelation was buried in a FAA document (PDF) unveiled Monday seeking public comment on its policy on drones, or what the agency calls "model aircraft."

... In Monday's announcement, published in the Federal Register, the FAA named Amazon's December proposal as an example of what is barred under regulations that allow the use of drones for hobby and recreational purposes. The agency did not mention Amazon Prime Air by name, but it didn't have to.

Under a graphic that says what is barred, the FAA mentioned the "Delivering of packages to people for a fee." A footnote added, "If an individual offers free shipping in association with a purchase or other offer, FAA would construe the shipping to be in furtherance of a business purpose, and thus, the operation would not fall within the statutory requirement of recreation or hobby purpose."

Amazon has had its fingers crossed that the agency would change course. But for now, the online shopping behemoth realizes that its delivery methods won't include drones anytime soon, despite the FAA's announcement Monday. "Putting Prime Air into commercial use will take some number of years as we advance the technology and wait for the necessary FAA rules and regulations," Amazon has said.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

June 20, 2014

NASA considers sending quadcopter drone to look for life on Titan

Screen Shot 2014-06-20 at 4.13.15 PM.png While one NASA probe whizzes by Saturn’s moon Titan on Thursday to analyze its atmosphere, the American space agency is also considering a plan to send a quadcopter drone capable of searching for life. RT reports.

quotemarksright.jpgThe ambitious idea was outlined by Larry Matthies, a research scientist and supervisor at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab in California, and involves a drone that would be capable of flying out of a lander or balloon. The drone would explore the moon’s landscape and seas, collect samples, and return to the “mothership” in order to recharge its batteries and submit whatever it collects for analysis.

If successful, the new plan could drastically change the way humans explore space. Current rovers on Mars are akin to moving laboratories, but their grounded nature means they can be rather limited when it comes to exploring terrain. The 22-pound drone conceived by Matthies would eliminate that barrier with flight capability, allegedly at much lower costs than other options.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

June 18, 2014

This drone shoots crowds with pepper spray paintballs

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 9.08.16 AM.pngCrowds of protesters could soon come under attack from riot control drones outfitted with paintball guns, strobe lights, and speakers, reports The Verge.

quotemarksright.jpgThe Skunk Riot Control Copter, built by South African company Desert Wolf, has a suite of cameras and four paintball guns strapped to its chassis to help its operators monitor and control unruly crowds. The guns can fire ammunition from four different hoppers, meaning the drone operators can shoot protesters with dye markers, solid plastic pellets, or small capsules of pepper spray.

Defence Web says that a full drone system — including high definition and thermal vision cameras, the eight-rotored drone itself, and a ground control station — will cost around 500,000 South African Rand ($46,000). The device is controlled by two people: a pilot, and a payload operator who controls the drone's suite of weaponry. These operators will be monitored on duty by camera and microphone, an activity that Hennie Kieser, Desert Wolf's director, says will ensure they aren't too aggressive.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article. Image credit Defense Web.

emily | 9:08 AM | Technology | permalink

June 17, 2014

HEXO+ is an intelligent drone that follows and films you autonomously

Hexo+ is as “an intelligent aerial follow camera: no pilot, no cameraman, no headache. The team behind it figured out how to film their extreme sport performances handsfree, with fabulous aerial views.

The project is currently listed in KickStarter — where it has raised over $416,000 — with an estimated shipment date of May 2015.

[via TNW]

Related article: 'Follow Me' Drones Will Hover By Your Side on a Digital 'Leash'.

emily | 7:59 AM | Technology | permalink

June 16, 2014

Travel by Drone

Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 7.58.21 AM.png

TravelByDrone lets anyone share existing drone-recorded YouTube videos, alongside their corresponding location. Viewers click anywhere on a map to view footage of a particular area. Wonderful.

[via TNW]

emily | 7:54 AM | Drone Hobbyists | permalink

June 13, 2014

Someone Used A Drone To Spy On France’s World Cup Team


Scandal has already taken hold of the World Cup on the tournament’s first day of matches, according to sUAS News.

quotemarksright.jpgAfter spotting a drone hovering over its practice yesterday, France’s team manager Didier Deschamps has called for an investigation into the possibility that the team was spied on, according to Yahoo Sports.

The story is gaining traction in the French media. Sports website Infosport+ tweeted this yesterday: Un drone survole les Bleus lors de l’entraînement, enquête du service de sécurité.

The tweet translates to: “A drone flies over the Blues during training,” referring to a colloquial name for the French soccer team. It also alludes to an investigation.quotesmarksleft.jpg

It's likely that the pilot was a fan rather than a journalist or sports operative.

Read more.

emily | 3:48 PM | Surveillance Drones | permalink

June 11, 2014

Feds Approve First Commercial Drone Flight Over U.S. Soil

The FAA for the first time Tuesday authorized an unmanned aircraft flight for commercial purposes over American soil, a step toward wider use of drones by businesses in the U.S. [via Time]

quotemarksright.jpgThe oil and gas company BP and the drone manufacturer AeroVironment will fly the AeroVironment’s Puma AE to survey Alaska’s North Slope. BP will use the hand-launched drone—a small aircraft, 4 1/2 ft. long with a 9 ft. wingspan—to oversee maintenance activities on infrastructure, the FAA said.

While the FAA banned commercial drones in 2007, the agency still approves usage on a case-by-case basis, such as drones launched for academic research or public safety.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article. FAA press release.

June 6, 2014

Kenya and South Africa Ban Drones That Could Stop Poachers

One of Kenya's largest game reserves has been forced to halt plans to use drones to monitor its endangered rhino because of a government ban, park officials said on Wednesday. [News 24]

According to Motherboard, Kenya's government just banned the private use of drones, a move that will immediately ground an anti-poaching pilot program that was set to begin in one of the world's most important wildlife sanctuaries. And South Africa also just banned the private use of drones as well.

quotemarksright.jpgOl Pejeta conservancy, home to four of the world's last remaining seven northern white rhino, said they had planned to launch the "aerial ranger", equipped with a thermal imaging camera to track wildlife in real time, this month.

But Kenyan authorities have banned the private use of drones, deeming them to be a security threat.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

emily | 9:20 AM | Drones and Wildlife | permalink

Maybe Drones Would Have a Better Reputation if They Were All Made of Chocolate

The Chocolate Copter channel's first video shows how delicious and unfit for combat drones can be. This quadcopter is made from a mixture of melted dark and white chocolate that was molded into the cross or x of a quadcopter's base structure. Check here for recipe!

[via Slate]

Fisheries Use Drones for Monitoring

The Fisheries Department of Belize, Central America, is using drone technology to monitor the waters and to better fight illegal activities at sea. After receiving training from Conservation Drones, the officers attached to the compliance unit of the department are ready to put to use two operating drones and two test drones.

[via Channel 5 News]

emily | 8:50 AM | Drones and Wildlife | permalink

Stealth Wear: Clothes Designed to Protects Against Drone Surveillance

Screen Shot 2014-06-06 at 9.02.30 AM.png

Stealth Wear, which was created by Adam Harvey, is designed to "protect the wearer from drone surveillance and thwart cell tracking."

Harvey’s line of “Stealth Wear” clothing includes an “anti-drone hoodie” that uses metalized material designed to counter thermal imaging used by drones to spot people on the ground.

[via The Huffington Post and Slate.].

emily | 8:42 AM | News | permalink