January 29, 2015

FAA Releases Video Declaring The Super Bowl A “No Drone Zone”

The FAA released a 15-second video Wednesday urging fans to enjoy the Superbowl and to leave their drones at home.

Drone Sales Soar Past $16 Million On eBay

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Ready to fly drones, like the ones already sold by Parrot and DJI, have brought the technology to the everyday consumer. On eBay, this has translated into $16.6 million worth of transactions of more than 127,000 drones since last March.

An average of 7,600 drones were sold on eBay each week between Thanksgiving and Christmas – more than five-times the rate six months ago.

[via Forbes]

emily | 8:52 AM | News | permalink

January 28, 2015

DJI Technology updates software so it's drones not be able fly over DC

Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 17.35.20.pngAccording to The Wall Street Journal, DJI Technology Co based in China, maker of the Phantom drone that accidentally crashed on White House grounds this week, is updating its drones'software to disable them from flying over much of Washington, D.C.

Programming a drone's software not to enter certain airspace is called geo-fencing, as explained by the BBC in December. Some drones, like the DJ Phantom series, are already programmed not to approach airports around the world. Not flying over Washington DC will be an update to their existing software.

quotemarksright.jpgThe GPS of the Phantom drone is programmed with the co-ordinates of thousands of airports around the world. It cannot enter these areas. If it tries to it will be forced to land. And within a 2km radius of a major airport its height will be capped at just 10m. The Phantom series of drones, sold by manufacturer DJI, already includes geo-fencing.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

The BBC Flew a Drone Over Auschwitz — And the Result Is Haunting

The power of filming with a drone is conveyed in this footage from the BBC. Auschwitz as you have never seen it before.

emily | 5:07 PM | Drones and Films/TV | permalink

January 27, 2015

Thailand mulls jail term for unlicensed drone pilots

images.jpg The Transport Ministry in Thailand is seeking to ban all unlicensed drone flights, including flights by individuals, local media reports via The BBC.

quotemarksright.jpgAll drone flights would require a licence under control proposals in Thailand. Those caught flying drones unauthorised could face a year in prison and a fine of $1229, Transport Minister Prajin Juntong said.

Attaching cameras to drones would also be prohibited except for business reasons, under the proposals.

The plans are being drawn up by the country's Civil Aviation Department. They would be sent to the cabinet for approval and could come into force as early as next month.

Drones should also only be airborne for a maximum of one hour (although current battery life limits most flights to about 20 minutes) and be within 15-150m (50-500ft) of the ground, the proposals state.

This is to limit their potential to interfere with commercial air traffic and to ensure the noise they make does not annoy the public.

In addition, the rules will specify how big and heavy drones can be.

Photographers, film-makers and journalists will be able to use drones fitted with cameras.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

The UAE Drones for Good Award

The UAE Drones for Good Award, which called for submissions for the best use of civilian drones to improve people's lives, has now listed the semifinalists.

The competition is divided into 3 parts:

-- The best use of civilian drones for improving people's lives

-- The best use of drones for UAE Government Services

-- The best government service using drones

You can spend all day here. The projects are all wonderful. Some of my favorites amongst the International submissions.

-- Landmines Detection Drone by Marc Beltran (video available). Detects underground mines through a smart integrated system.

-- The Window Cleaning Drone by Marcus Fritzsche. A civil drone which is able to clean windows and surfaces autonomously at high altitudes.

-- Drones for Planting 1 Billion Trees a Year by Lauren Fletcher. Using drones to automate industrial scale reforestation.

-- Disaster relief by Andrew Bartos (video available). A first responder system to the communications and transport problems that follow a disaster.

Amongst the UAE National Submissions:

-- Fully Automated Paid parking system by Mohammed Darweesh. To monitor car parks in designated areas and report car park violators.

Don't miss this page listing wonderful existing drone projects (videos available).

emily | 8:23 AM | News | permalink

January 23, 2015

The FAA and Raphael Pirker have decided to settle

Trappy-5.jpg ​For a good few months last year, commercial drones were completely legal and entirely unregulated, thanks in no small part to the persistent legal battle fought by a Swiss guy and his lawyer. Today, that legal battle is over—the Federal Aviation Administration and Raphael Pirker have decided to settle, scoring the agency what has probably been the hardest and most frustrating $1,100 it has ever earned. Motherboard reports.

quotemarksright.jpgThe case revolves around Pirker getting paid what he calls "pocket money" for ​filming an advertisement at the University of Virginia with his drone. The FAA caught word of the flight, in which Pirker used a couple-pound foam drone and hurt no one, and decided to fine him $10,000. Pirker ​hired a lawyer named Brendan Schulman and fought the case, eventually beating the FAA.

Pirker "does not admit to any allegation of fact or law herein, and by not contesting this Amended Order of Assessment is resolving the matter solely to avoid the expense of litigation," the settlement reads. In other words, this just goes away, because both the FAA and Pirker are tired of it.

The original decision, however, opened the floodgates for drone enthusiasts everywhere: The judge decided that drones were not "aircraft" and therefore any use of them was essentially unregulated by the FAA. That ​decision was overturned in November by an appeals court, but for a good eight months there, the FAA was virtually powerless to do much of anything about people who flew drones commercially.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

January 22, 2015

Forte dei Marmi beachclub in Italy to use drones to rescue swimmers

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Upscale Italian beach resort Forte dei Marmi wants to start using a drone to assist lifeguards this summer, saying it could get life jackets to swimmers in trouble more quickly than people could. The Guardian reports.

quotemarksright.jpgRoberto Santini, the owner of the exclusive Piero beachclub, wants to introduce an Iranian-designed drone into the skies over his club.

He said it could be used to transport life jackets and communicate with distressed swimmers from the shore.

We don’t want to replace the traditional lifeguards,” Santini told local newspaper

Read full article.

emily | 9:06 PM | Rescue Drones | permalink

Drone carrying drugs crashes near Mexican-US border


Tijuana police say drone overloaded with methamphetamine crashed in supermarket car park. The Guardian reports.

quotemarksright.jpgSix packets of the drug, weighing more than six pounds, were taped to the six-propeller remote-controlled aircraft. Morrua said authorities were investigating where the flight originated and who was controlling it. He said it was not the first time they had seen drones used for smuggling drugs across the border.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 9:50 AM | Delivery Drones | permalink

A drone was flown on the floor of Congress during drone hearing

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 09.42.50.png Representatives got a tiny taste of the future at a hearing on unmanned aircraft systems. [via The Verge]

quotemarksright.jpgThe House Science, Space, and Technology Committee conducted a hearing Wednesday on the current state of research and development in the drone industry. The goal was to discuss with industry advocates how best to safely integrate this new class of flying craft into our national airspace.

... To give our elected officials some perspective, Colin Guinn, senior vice president of sales at 3D Robotics, gave his presentation while a Parrot Bebop drone flew beside him. "We had to get permission to fly a drone in the committee room as well," said Chairman Lamar Smith. "So the rules are still pretty strict."quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

January 21, 2015

Water Sampling Drone Checks For Oil Leeks


Prototypes drowns able to swoop down to scoop up water samples are being developed to help ecologists, the oil industry, and others track oil leaks or invasive species. Some can even perform rudimentary analysis on the water they collect. MIT Technology Review reports.

quotemarksright.jpgCommercial drone company PrecisionHawk, of Raleigh, North Carolina, is testing a water sampling drone with some clients in the oil industry. It takes the form of a seaplane and has a pump mounted on its pontoons that can handle even viscous swampwater thick with bugs, mud, or algae. The water is sucked into a container and then carried to a lab to check for signs of oil leaks or spills.

“If you go up to Northern Canada or Alaska, there are literally thousands of ponds and lakes that are a few acres in size,” says PrecisionHawk CEO Ernest Earon. “Trying to walk through or take a boat to get water samples, it’s an almost impossible task.”

Earon says his team is now researching the possibility of a drone carrying a small spectrometer to analyze water for itself. That would save on energy-draining trips back to the lab.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

Norway looks to drones to aid search and rescue

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As Norway’s polar waters open to development, that country’s lawmakers are becoming increasingly convinced that drones could serve as a potentially life-saving tool in the event of a maritime accident. Arctic Journal reports.

quotemarksright.jpgHarsh weather conditions and vast distances make operations in the Arctic difficult and dangerous. Unmanned aircraft could be an important tool for search and rescue, surveillance and monitoring of ice, territorial waters and the environment,” the report, complied by the Norwegian Board of Technology, a publicly funded technology-assessment organisation, stated.

... “Drones can give improve polar maritime preparedness for Norway’s official search capacity as well as for the private sector’s,” Åke Refsdal Moe, the report’s lead author, said.

The report recommends that drones carrying equipment such as heat-sensors be deployed to conduct search operations. In the event a drone locates mariners in distress, it can drop equipment that can keep them alive until human rescuers arrive.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 1:28 AM | Rescue Drones | permalink

January 17, 2015

This drone could lead you to a parking space thanks to intelligent parking drone technology

QuadLot4-780x603.jpgLate for a meeting and worried you won’t find parking? Don’t worry: That drone flying above your car has got your back. BY Daniel Terdiman for VentureBeat.

quotemarksright.jpgIt may be some time before that wonderful vision of the future comes to pass, but Siemens thought enough of University of Massachusetts Dartmouth student Amir Ehsani Zonouz’s concept for “intelligent parking drone technology” to name it the winner of the company’s first-ever Mobility IDEA contest.

The idea is pretty simple: a set of quadcopters could fly over parking-impacted urban areas, keeping track of available spaces. When someone drives into the area, the drones could signal to the driver — perhaps through a mobile app or the vehicle’s onboard communications system, or by flying ahead of the car — where to go to park.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

emily | 2:58 PM | News, Technology | permalink

January 16, 2015

Next-generation drones will go where you point your iPhone and never crash, says startup

frame_shot.jpg Drones are a lot of fun, but making them to exactly what you want them to isn’t always easy, and a fair number of them are damaged or destroyed in crashes. Skydio, a startup formed by ex-MIT and Google X engineers, is hoping to change that by turning your iPhone into a ‘magic wand’ controller, reports TechCrunch via 9to5Mac.

quotemarksright.jpgTo demo its auto-pilot system, it’s built a drone “magic wand” that lets you direct a drone by simply pointing your phone where you want it go. That means you don’t need the traditional, clunky dual joystick drone controller.

The team demonstrated the technology by flying a radio-controlled aircraft at speed through an underground parking garage, and a drone through a cluttered office–seen in the above video.

Some of today’s drones have ‘follow me’ functions aimed at those into action sports like mountain biking and skiing, but Skydio believes that using 3D mapping will allow a drone to perform this kind of function far more intelligently, using its awareness of the terrain to ensure the best possible coverage of your heroic endeavors.

The team plans to partner with drone manufacturers, and recently raised $3M in seed capital to create the custom hardware to pitch it to drone makers.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

emily | 4:58 PM | News | permalink

Being pestered by drones? Buy a drone-hunting drone

4_3167464b.jpg A group claiming to be “commercial drone developers” have created a machine which can automatically identify drones, hover above them and release a “tangle-line” that falls into their rotors and causes it to crash. It will then return to its base station for recharging and re-arming. The Telegraph reports.

quotemarksright.jpgIt can tell the difference between a bird and a drone, and will fly over top of any drone within range, then disable it.”

The designers are still working on refining the design and in talks about mass production, but warn on their website that “it won’t be cheap”. It will be priced as a professional tool - we don't want this to become a toy people can use to disrupt legitimate drone use.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

emily | 4:29 PM | News | permalink

Times and Other News Organizations to Test Use of Drones

16drones-web1-articleLarge.jpg A coalition of 10 news organizations, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and NBCUniversal, has formed a partnership with Virginia Tech to test drones for news gathering, the companies said on Thursday, reports The New York Times.

quotemarksright.jpgThe partnership, the companies said in a statement, is “designed to conduct controlled safety testing of a series of real-life scenarios where the news media could use small U.A.S. technology to gather the news.” The college is one of six sites designated by the Federal Aviation Administration for testing of unmanned aircraft systems, or U.A.S.

The other members of the coalition are Advance Publications, A. H. Belo, The Associated Press, Gannett, Getty Images, E.W. Scripps Company and Sinclair Broadcast Group.

... This week, CNN announced that it had also been cleared to test drones for news gathering.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 1:41 PM | Drone Journalism | permalink

January 14, 2015

Drones and Everything After by Benjamin Wallace-Wells

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A fabulous lengthy article by Benjamin Wallace-Wells for New York Magazine on how drones are changing our perspective - and how they are greeted with both awe and alarm. A must read.

emily | 5:51 PM | News | permalink

January 13, 2015

CNN cleared by FAA to test drones for reporting

In the first program of its kind, the FAA will allow CNN to test camera-equipped drones for news gathering and reporting purposes. [via MoneyCNN]

quotemarksright.jpgCNN has partnered with the Georgia Tech Research Institute to collect data for the program. The FAA said it will analyze that information to develop rules about using drones for news gathering. "Our aim is to get beyond hobby-grade equipment and to establish what options are available and workable to produce high quality video journalism," said David Vigilante, CNN's senior vice president of legal.

... "Unmanned aircraft offer news organizations significant opportunities," said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. "We hope this agreement with CNN and the work we are doing with other news organizations and associations will help safely integrate unmanned news gathering technology and operating procedures into the National Airspace System."quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

emily | 3:46 AM | Drone Journalism | permalink

January 11, 2015

Ever wonder how exhibitors were allowed to fly their drones, indoors, at CES?

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 03.27.32.png Due to safety concerns, you're not usually allowed to fly a drone indoors at CES, but exhibitors were given a pass this year if they constructed a flying zone at their booth using massive mesh nets. Business Insider reports.

quotemarksright.jpgA drone that runs out of battery can plunge from the sky, and CES is already crowded enough without having to worry about drones flying overhead.

While every square foot of booth space costs plenty at CES, these netted areas allowed exhibitors the chance to fly their drones without worrying about injuring anybody, and they offered a safe place to let curious passerby the chance for a test flight.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 3:27 AM | News | permalink

Airstoc is a new marketplace for drone-shot stock aerial footage

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While drones make it easy for filmmakers to capture aerial shots, a new startup is taking things one step further. Airstoc exclusively sells drone-shot aerial footage via its online marketplace, and also connects customers to drone operators around the world for bespoke projects. [via The Next Web]

quotemarksright.jpgAirstoc has over 3,500 royalty-managed aerial clips for sale, shot by professional drone operators worldwide. Airstoc’s library features shots ranging from New York’s skyline to the Horseshoe Bend in Arizona to BMX cyclists in Sheffield, and is set to soon expand to 8,000 clips with its next batch of footage.

At present, Airstoc footage is priced by resolution, with HD shots at $378, 4K at $530 and 5K at $756 per royalty-managed clip, which can be used worldwide on a single project.

For custom shots, the company can put you in touch with a professional drone operator anywhere in the world, with daily rates varying from £1,500 to £5,000, depending on the brief, camera required, and location.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.