October 31, 2014

These Drones Will Fly Directly Into Tornadoes To Predict Future Storms

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 08.10.51.png Tornadoes are notoriously hard to predict. Some 70% of the time, tornado warnings are false alarms, and when a storm does hit, the average warning reaches victims only 12 minutes in advance. To help increase that lead time, and to make warnings more accurate, a group of researchers now plans to start flying drones directly into the storm to collect data that humans can't safely obtain. [via FastCompany]

quotemarksright.jpgThe new drones will fly at 100 mph into one corner of the tornado, and then get sucked in. "The supercell thunderstorms that produce tornadoes have a unique anatomy to them."

The drones aren't designed to survive the storm, but a small package inside is tough enough to last through the tornado, and will collect and store data for scientists to analyze. An accelerometer will also measure force, to gather data that engineers can use to design buildings that can better withstand tornadoes.

"Not a lot is known about how tornadoes form--that's the big issue," says Warren Causey, part of the team creating the drone for the Siren Project, now crowdfunding on Kickstarter.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

No one knows who’s been flying drones over French nuclear power plants

images.jpg The French Interior Minister told French public radio (Google Translate) on Thursday that the government has begun an investigation into who has been flying drones above as many as 10 nuclear power plants nationwide this month. [via arstechnica]

quotemarksright.jpgThere's a judicial investigation under way," French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said in an interview on France Info radio. “Measures are being taken to know what these drones are and neutralize them."

Le Monde reported this week that the drones have been variable in size, with some “a few dozen centimeters" in size, while others had a diameter of up to two meters.

The French office of the environmental activist group Greenpeace has denied any connection to the drone flights and denounced the lack of security. The group is a longstanding opponent of French nuclear power.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 8:59 AM | Surveillance Drones | permalink

October 24, 2014

How Drones Are Fighting Infectious Disease

drone-infectious-disease.jpegIn a remote area of Southeast Asia, drones are fighting a battle — not against terrorists or insurgents, but against infectious disease. LiveScience reports.

quotemarksright.jpgResearchers on the island of Borneo are using flying robots to map out areas affected by a type of malaria parasite (Plasmodium knowlesi), which most commonly infects macaque monkeys. In recent years, public health officials in the Malaysian state of Sabah have seen a rise in the number of cases of humans infected with this deadly parasite, which is spread, via mosquitos, from macaques to people.

By mapping the communities where these cases occur, researchers hope to figure out why the parasite is spreading from monkeys to people with greater frequency.

Drakeley and his colleagues used a small, camera-carrying drone called a senseFly eBee to create maps and digital surface models of the land and vegetation surrounding communities where P. knowlesi has turned up in humans. The drone can fly for up to 50 minutes and carries a 16-megapixel digital camera.

"What we're doing is creating a detailed map, which we can then superimpose or overlay with the human and the macaque movement," said Chris Drakeley, professor of infection and immunity at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the United Kingdomquotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 8:52 AM | Drones and Wildlife | permalink

Drones take over the catwalk

Screen Shot 2014-10-24 at 08.48.47.png Lilly Pulitzer is the latest designer to zoom in on the world of high-tech fashion, using a drone to capture her Spring 2015 collection. [via The NY Daily News]

quotemarksright.jpg The Instagram video highlights Victoria's Secret model Erin Heatherton strutting her stuff in a Lilly Shift Dress during a photo shoot in Palm Beach, Fla.

The "Drone Cam" made its debut at Fendi's autumn/winter 2014 collection soaring over models' heads as they walked down the runway. The Italian fashion house said drones gave non-attendees the opportunity to experience the emotions of the show with an added aerial view that was streamed world-wide via Fendi.com.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 8:46 AM | Drones and Art | permalink

October 15, 2014

Serbia Albania Football game interrupted because of drone

Serbia vs Albania Football game interrupted when an Albanian fan flew his country's flag on a map of Kosovo, swinging from a quadcopter over the football field. A fight broke out amongst the players.

emily | 8:43 AM | News | permalink

October 8, 2014

America can’t lead the world in innovation if the FAA keeps dragging its feet on drone rules

As the latest revolutionary digital technology takes off, entrepreneurs are finding themselves battling federal regulators for permission just to experiment with new applications. [via The Washington Post]

quotemarksright.jpgTo be clear, we’re not talking here about the lethal, multi-million dollar military aircraft that are changing the nature of warfare. We’re talking about small, consumer-friendly devices that sell today to hobbyists and others for less than $300.

The FAA conservatively estimates that, within a decade, private drones will constitute a $90 billion industry. Already, according to the Consumer Electronic Association, 2014 sales of UAVs are forecast at $84 million and 250,000 units. By 2018, CEA predicts consumer drone sales will approach $300 million and about a million units.

Pretty impressive, especially for a technology that is technically illegal.

Rules for small drones were promised three years ago, with the FAA now saying they will come later this year. quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

Drone flyers compete in Star Wars style race in forests of France

Drones are popping up everywhere from movie sets to sports games — now a club in France is holding competitions that invoke the pod races of Phantom Menace, and wants other to follow. GigaOM reports.

quotemarksright.jpgHerve Pellarin, president of the Airgonay drone club in the French Alps, posted a video to YouTube that shows dozens of lightweight drones taking off and zipping around a forest at speeds of up to 40 miles an hour, while dodging trees and other drones.

The video shows the drones taking off and racing around the course, as well as the various competitors who steer the devices by means of on-drone cameras and “First Person View” goggles.

Pellarin, who is a virtual reality developer, says he hopes the YouTube video will inspire people in countries around the world to organize similar competitions, and that top competitors will come to square off in a global tournament one year from now.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

emily | 2:08 PM | Drone Hobbyists | permalink

October 3, 2014

Ohio Prisons to Launch Drones to Patrol Prison Perimeter

url.jpg The Ohio penal system is to be the first in the country to use drones to monitor its facilities. [via Breitbart]

quotemarksright.jpgOn October 2, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections began a pilot program to test the capabilities of two $170,000 drones bought to monitor the exterior of its Lebanon and Warren Correctional Institutions.

The drones are called the Aerostat and are a tethered system that hovers overhead but is not free roaming.

The flying machine has day and nighttime cameras to monitor inmates in the yard as well as keeping cameras focused on fence perimeters to make sure no unwanted visitors sneak up to the fence line.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 3:03 PM | Surveillance Drones | permalink

First Americans to be tracked down and arrested thanks to a police drone

Last Friday, near a cornfield in North Dakota, four underage men were pulled over under suspicion of drunk driving. The four men hopped out of their car and bolted into the cornfield. Grand Forks police didn't follow them: Instead, they put a drone in the sky. [via motherboard]

quotemarksright.jpgOne of them was walking through the cornfield. It took about three minutes to find him," Alan Frazier, Deputy Sheriff in charge of the Grand Forks Police Department's unmanned aerial vehicle system unit told me. "The other was found on a second flight, after maybe 25 minutes."

The two other suspects were apprehended at another time—they had the unlucky distinction of becoming the first Americans ever tracked down and arrested with the help of a police quadcopter.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article

emily | 10:59 AM | News, Surveillance Drones | permalink

October 2, 2014

Video: Indonesian Villagers Use Drones to Protect Their Forest

Indonesia - Dayaks and Drones- How technology can promote sustainable forests and communities from Handcrafted Films on Vimeo.

Dayaks and Drones,” a video produced by Handcrafted Films, chronicles how the villagers teamed up with an Indonesian nonprofit to learn how to program and operate drones.

Equipped with GPS technology, the small drones photograph the forest and monitor the area for illegal activities, especially plantations and mines. The villagers will use information gathered by the drones to create a detailed map of their land, which will help in future conservation efforts.

[via Yale Environment 360]

October 1, 2014

Can you shoot down a drone on your land? New incident raises self-defense questions

A man this week shot down a small drone flying over his property. He was arrested but a recent legal paper suggests his action may have been justified under privacy and self-defense laws. GigaOM reports.

quotemarksright.jpgAfter a New Jersey man spotted his neighbor’s camera-equipped drone flying over his house this week, he fetched a shotgun and peppered the drone with holes, knocking it from the sky. Did he have a right to do so?

Even though local police arrested the man on unlawful weapons charges, some people will feel he had the right to defend himself against an unlawful robot intrusion. More broadly, the episode highlights an emerging issue as more drones take to the skies: how to balance the rights of drone owners against people’s rights to privacy and self-defense.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

California bans paparazzi drones

California on Tuesday approved a law which will prevent paparazzi from using drones to take photos of celebrities, among a series of measures aimed at tightening protection of privacy. [via Phys.org]

quotemarksright.jpgThe drone ban bill, which is aimed at shoring up privacy for the general public but will work equally well for celebrities, was authored by lawmaker Ed Chau.

"As technology continues to advance and new robotic-like devices become more affordable for the general public, the possibility of an individual's privacy being invaded substantially increases," he said.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

September 30, 2014

Drones Used to Count Seals

seals_reykjavikzoo.jpg Scientists in Iceland will use drones for the seal count this year, organized by the Institute of Freshwater Fisheries and Icelandic Seal Center. If the method proves successful, it will be added to the usual counting of seals by plane and is hoped to reduce costs, visir.is reports. [via Iceland Review]

quotemarksright.jpgThe last comprehensive counts took place in 2011. This year, funding was lacking, and so seals can only be counted in limited areas. Scientists received only one fourth of the funding they had asked for from the government.

“Drones and helicopters will be used in addition to the traditional airplane. We then want to compare the methods and hopefully reduce costs,” said project leader Sandra Granquist, a seals expert at the Institute of Freshwater Fisheries.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 8:22 PM | Drones and Wildlife | permalink

Ban on drones scattering human ashes in historical park

20140929__TDT-L-AZTECRUINS-0930~p3_300.jpg Piloting drones or depositing cremated human remains are now prohibited at Aztec Ruins National Monument and Chaco Culture National Historical Park. The Daily Times reports.

quotemarksright.jpgLast month, Larry Turk Larry Turk, who is superintendent at both Aztec Ruins and Chaco, erected four signs at Chaco that warn visitors of the park's policy on scattering cremated remains at the park.

Turk said park officials aren't clear why or how visitors are leaving ashes behind, but he said the ashes confuse the archeological record and are considered offensive to many descendants of the ancestral Puebloans whose ruins Turk is charged with preserving.

"It's really noticeable," he said. "Some people dump the ashes right on the ground, along the trails or sprinkle them on the walls. We've never witnessed anybody do it, so I can't say why they're doing it.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 8:11 AM | News | permalink

LED-equipped quadcopters drone figures in the air

Call them Spaxels, they are LED-equipped quadcopters that make up a drone swarm that can “draw” three-dimensional figures in midair.

quotemarksright.jpgIn the dead of night, the strange glowing objects take to the sky in perfect formation, forming shapes and moving with pinpoint accuracy. To the untrained eye, they look like a fleet of tiny UFOs rising up. However, in reality this is one of the most impressive demonstrations of quadrocopters, tiny four bladed flying machines, flying in a ‘swarm’.quotesmarksleft.jpg

[TIME via Ars Electronica FuturLab]

emily | 8:02 AM | Drones and Art | permalink

September 28, 2014

Wearable Drone Flies Off Your Wrist to Snap a Selfie

Nixie is different kind of drone. It's a drone that you wear, like a bracelet. Whenever you need to let it soar, you give it a command to unwrap, power it up, and let it go. It flies out far enough to snap a photo and return to you.

The Nixie team will be presenting their prototype for the Intel Make It Wearable Challenge Finale on November 3, 2014 in San Francisco.

[slashdot via hothardware]

emily | 9:23 PM | News, Technology | permalink

September 26, 2014

Argentina uses drones to root out wealthy tax evaders

Drones deployed by tax inspectors near Buenos Aires found 200 mansions and 100 swimming pools that hadn't been declared, reports The Telegraph.

quotemarksright.jpgThe Argentine government has used drones to catch out wealthy tax evaders who had not declared mansions and swimming pools.

Unmanned aircraft were dispatched over an upper class area of Buenos Aires and discovered 200 homes and 100 pools that had not been detailed on returns.

Tax officials said the drones took pictures of luxury houses standing on lots registered as empty.

The evasions found by the drones amounted to missing tax payments of more than $2 million and owners of the properties have been waned they now face large fines.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 9:25 AM | News, Surveillance Drones | permalink

The FAA Gives Hollywood Its Drones, and Other Industries Will Soon Benefit

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 08.20.12.pngU.S. regulators will allow six movie and television-show makers to fly unmanned drones in shooting their productions, a concession to pent-up demand from a range of industries that want to use the devices. Business Week reports.

quotemarksright.jpgThe FAA decision, announced on Thursday, allows drones only on closed sets, where they must be controlled by certified pilots and can be flown only up to 400 feet. Producers must notify the agency before any flights, inspect aircraft before it is used, and never fly the drone out of view.

The MPAA had filed for the permission in May on behalf of seven companies that want to use drones in their work; the seventh application is still pending.

Forty similar applications are pending with the FAA from other industries. FAA Administrator Michael Huerta emphasized on Thursday that any business with a legitimate use for drones is welcome to seek an exemption, following the film and television production model.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

September 25, 2014

Facebook developing giant drones to 'fly for months'

Facebook is considering flying giant drones above us as the social network "figures out how to connect the world". The BBC reports.

quotemarksright.jpgThe idea to develop huge unmanned aircraft comes from Facebook's Connectivity Lab, set up by company founder Mark Zuckerberg.

The aim is to make the internet available to two-thirds of the world's population who can't currently get online.

They say expanding internet access would create another 140 million jobs.

And they say it could help lift 160 million people out of poverty, and reduce child mortality.

The lab's engineering director Yael Maguire revealed the drone plan at the 2014 Social Good Summit in New York.

He didn't actually use the word "drone" but said that unmanned "planes roughly the size of a commercial aircraft, like a 747"" would serve as huge connectivity hubs could one day stay up in the air for months, even years, at a time.

Maguire explained: "In order for us to fly these planes we actually have to fly above the weather, above all airspace. That's between 60,000 and 90,000 feet. Routinely, planes don't fly there, and certainly not drones."quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

emily | 6:17 PM | News | permalink

DHL authorized to trial drone delivery in the German island of Juist

dhl-paketkopter-juist-anflug-600.png Logistics firm DHL is using a drone to fly parcels to the German island of Juist, in what it says is the first time an unmanned aircraft has been authorized to deliver goods in Europe. [via Reuters]

quotemarksright.jpgThe company, owned by Germany's Deutsche Post, joins the likes of Amazon.com and Google in testing the potential for drones to deliver parcels and packages.

Its drone - the "parcelcopter" - can fly at up to 65 km (40 miles) an hour. It will deliver medication and other urgently needed goods to the car-free island of Juist, off Germany's northern coast, at times when other modes of transport such as flights or ferries are not operating.

Flights to the North Sea island, home to around 1,700 people, will start from Friday, weather permitting, and will continue until the middle or end of October, the spokeswoman said.

If the trial is successful, the craft could be used to deliver such packages to other remote areas.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 8:55 AM | Delivery Drones | permalink