November 27, 2015

DJI announces agricultural drone designed to spray crops

Screen Shot 2015-11-27 at 09.11.26.png

DJI's latest model, an eight-rotor Agras MG-1 is designed for spraying crops, with the ability to cover between seven and ten acres an hour and a tank that holds 10 liters (about 2.6 gallons) of liquid. [via The Verge]

quotemarksright.jpgDJI says the Agras is over 40 times more efficient than manual spraying. Using a microwave radar, the drone can scan the ground below and maintain the right distance from crops to spray the correct amount of liquid. It flies up to eight meters per second, modulating its spraying for even coverage. It can be used in automatic, semi-automatic, or manual operation, and is designed for durability with dustproofing, water resistance, and an anti-corrosive build. The Agras also folds down into a compact package after use.

DJI is launching it in China and Korea at first, with availability in other markets to follow.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

November 2, 2015

Calming Down About Drones | Matt Waite | TEDxLincoln

In this show-and-tell presentation, Matt Waite draws eye-opening parallels between today’s legislative ignorance and the media battle over drone technology, and the chaos that followed the first manned plane flights. You’ll Re:Think perceptions of innovation, privacy and more.

emily | 11:17 AM | | permalink

October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween

By Popular Mechanics.

New Ghost on the Block

This guy's going to make "scaring the trick-or-treaters" a new sport. (Video: DJ Vegh)

Posted by Popular Mechanics on Tuesday, October 13, 2015

emily | 9:23 AM | News | permalink

October 28, 2015

A Drone with a Sense of Direction

drone.x299.jpg A small drone capable of building its own maps of an indoor space shows how the craft could become easier to use. [via MIT Technology Review]

quotemarksright.jpgCommercial drones are starting to be used for tasks like inspecting oil rigs and crops. But they still require a highly skilled human pilot, and even those that are semi-autonomous usually use prebuilt maps or access the data over a wireless link.

Researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich are making drones more independent. They have demonstrated a small drone that can build its own 3-D map of an unfamiliar environment with minimal help from a human operator, and then plan its own routes around a space and its obstacles autonomously.

“This is the first time we can show full mapping, relocalization—finding the drone on the map—and planning on board,” says researcher Michael Burri, who worked on the project. The combination of software and sensors could make it easier to deploy drones for tasks like inspecting an oil rig, he says. A company would need to do one manual flight to have a drone build its map. For subsequent inspections, the drone could do the job autonomously.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

October 26, 2015

How airborne delivery tests are starting to take off

Posti.jpg Drones could soon be delivering our mail - or at least our parcels. Finland's national postal company, Posti, has successfully tested the use of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) - in other words, a drone - for delivering online purchases. [via ZDNet]

quotemarksright.jpgIn the recent four-day experiment in the Finnish capital Helsinki, parcels weighing under 3kg (6.6lb) were flown by a robotic helicopter between the mainland and the island of Suomenlinna, a Unesco World Heritage site 4km (2.5 miles) from the city centre.

... Finland claims to have one of the world's most flexible environments for automated traffic and plans to create an easy environment for the testing, development, and operation of unmanned aircrafts.

"The airspace structure in Finland offers great opportunities to arrange [segregated] test-flight areas also for more demanding beyond-line-of-sight experiments," says Hannola. "It's a high priority in Finland to make these kinds of tests possible, and this is a clear difference between us and more conservative countries.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

emily | 11:25 AM | Delivery Drones | permalink

October 17, 2015

Report: Feds Will Require All Drones to Be Registered

NBC News is reporting that the federal government will soon announce new requirements for drones, the most severe of which is that consumer drones will need to be registered with the Department of Transportation. [via Wired]

quotemarksright.jpgThe move is reportedly intended to increase airplane safety, and comes amid concerns about possible collisions between consumer drones and larger aircraft.

We should expect the new regulations to be made public Monday, the report says. This will enable the new rules to be put into place before the holidays, as drones are expected to be among this year’s hottest gifts.

Such regulation at the federal level is groundbreaking, as most vehicle registrations are handled by individual states. For example, there is no national registry for cars, motorcycles, or even firearms.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

October 12, 2015

Drones Could Plant 1 Billion Trees a Year

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 09.41.22.png How do you reverse the damage done to the planet when 3 billion to 6 billion trees are cut down every year to make way for other crops such as soy beans, palm oil trees or grazing land for cattle? [via Discovery News]

quotemarksright.jpgA UK-based startup called BioCarbon Engineering thinks they have an answer. CEO Lauren Fletcher and his team have a plan for using fixed-wing and multiple-rotor drones to plant 1 billion trees per year.

The process begins by deploying fixed wing drones to assess areas in need of replanting and create 3-D maps.

Using the mapping data, multiple-rotor shoots seed pods at specific locations — much like a paintball gun shoots pellets, according to the startup’s team.

Later, drones will swing back around to audit the status of growth, information that will be used to assess the ecosystem and improve planting methods going forward. See the video below for more details.

BioCarbon Engineering won best startup at the Hello Tomorrow Challenge and was awarded €100,000 as the Orange Grand Prize.

They’ve recently committed to planting trees on a plantation in South Africa.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

October 9, 2015

FAA Testing Technology to Track Drones Near Airports

Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 07.46.35.png The FAA is testing technology to locate and track drones flying near airports. [via TIME]

quotemarksright.jpgAccording to a press release from the FAA, the organization will work with CACI International Inc. on technology to identify drones flying within 5 miles of an airport through their radio signals.

“The demand for recreational drones has exceeded anyone’s expectations,” FAA Deputy Administrator Michael Whitaker testified before the House Aviation Subcommittee Wednesday, explaining the dangers of drones being operated near airports. “This demand is driven in large part by individuals who are completely new to the aviation experience. They are not necessarily the traditional model airplane operators—members of local clubs who follow safety guidelines and rules.”

Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon told USA Today that he received a CACI briefing about the technology used in military applications, and he explained how the tracking would work. “They can pinpoint the operator,” he said. “They can force the drone to land, they can force it to go back to the operator. Or, in the case of hostiles, they can deliver something to the operator.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

October 6, 2015

FAA Seeks Largest Fine Yet against a Drone Operator: $1.9 million

The FAA is proposing the largest fine to date against a drone operator as the agency cracks down on the booming use of unmanned aircraft in congested skies over populated areas. Bloomberg reports.

quotemarksright.jpgThe FAA said Tuesday it was recommending a $1.9 million penalty against SkyPan International Inc., which made 65 drone flights from 2012 to 2014 in airspace above cities including New York. The company uses drones to photograph the prospective views from Manhattan high rises under construction, according to its website.

The action comes as the FAA has struggled to enforce existing rules on drones and attempts to finalize the first regulations allowing small unmanned vehicles to operate commercially. Drone sightings by pilots, including close-calls with airliners, have surged from only a handful a month last year to over 100 per month.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 9:10 PM | News | permalink

October 5, 2015

Un million de drones seront vendus à Noël, un cauchemar pour la FAA

Dans le cadre du Sommet de l’Aviation pour l'Amérique qui a eu lieu à Washington le 29 septembre dernier, Rich Swayze, un officiel de la Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), l’agence gouvernementale chargée des règlementations et des contrôles concernant l'aviation civile, a partagé ses craintes sur la prolifération des drones dans le ciel. Une situation qui pourrait s’aggraver sérieusement si l'estimation d'un million de drones vendus à l'occasion des fêtes de Noël devait se réaliser.

Selon Swayze, la FAA va mener une campagne de formation auprès des vendeurs du géant américain de la grande distribution Walmart sur les questions de sécurité liées aux vols des drones.

Une mesure qui représente une goutte d’eau au niveau de la prévention et qui ne tient pas compte des achats sur Internet. Les consommateurs doivent se responsabiliser eux-mêmes et s'informer sur les consignes de sécurité en visitant le site de la FAA «Know-Before-You-Fly».

Walmart propose une vingtaine de modèles dans son catalogue en ligne, à des prix variant de $19 à $520. Sur, plus d'une centaine de modèles sont proposés entre $15 et $3’000.

Le nombre de UAS (systèmes d'aéronefs sans pilotes) observés à proximité des avions, ainsi que les accidents évités de justesse, auraient triplé en 2015 par rapport à l’an passé, selon un rapport de la FAA publié en août dernier, s’élevant à 678 incidents contre 238 en 2014.

Pour le représentant au Congrès américain pour l'Oregon, Peter DeFazio, intervenant dans le cadre de cette même conférence à Washington: «Ce que constatent les pilotes, c’est un usage irresponsable de ces jouets. Les drones ne devraient pas être mis en vente, à moins d’être équipés de geofencing».

Le geofencing est un logiciel installé dans le système de navigation d’un drone qui tient compte des zones interdites de survol. Ainsi bridé, lorsque le drone arrive dans une zone illégale comme le périmètre d’un aéroport, d’une centrale nucléaire ou de la Maison Blanche, il est programmé pour faire demi-tour.

Ce serait déjà un premier pas. Deux modèles du fabricant DJI en sont déjà équipés, «Phantom 2» et «Phantom 3».

Précisons que le mot drone est utilisé couramment, même par la FAA, mais à proprement parler il s'agit d'UAVs, de véhicules aériens sans pilote commandés à distance.

Publié dans Bilan le 5 Octobre 2015 à 8:30

October 1, 2015

The number of drones expected to sell during the holidays is scaring the government

Screen Shot 2015-10-01 at 08.26.19.png As many as one million drones could be sold during this year’s holiday season, FAA official Rich Swayze has told ATW Online. [Fortune]

quotemarksright.jpgOfficials are understandably concerned about what a million drone sales will mean for the safety of both their operators and the public, and they want to inform people about the risks.

The FAA will send a representative to Walmart to educate its salespeople about UAVs, and how to pass that information along to customers. This might not be all that helpful if people purchase them online. Walmart currently offers 19 drones on its website, the cheapest one going for just $19.99.

It has been difficult for government agencies to implement regulations regarding UAVs because there are so many different aspects to attend to. Swayze mentioned that in the 15 years he has been working on policy in Washington, D.C., he has “never seen so many divergent interests driving one topic.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 8:24 AM | Drones and Wildlife, News | permalink

September 17, 2015

Here's why drone insurance may be the industry's downfall

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 17.18.10.pngAmerica’s burgeoning drone industry is being threatened by liability risks. Fortune reports.

quotemarksright.jpgLast month, the Federal Aviation Administration approved its 1,000th commercial drone permit, 998 more than it granted last year at this time.

But as commercial drones move toward ubiquity, the industry still faces a major obstacle in assessing and appraising drone-related liability and adequately insuring both drones and the companies that use them.

A report released last month by UK insurance house Lloyd’s details just how challenging insuring the drone industry may become in the years ahead. The report cites “patchy regulatory regimes” and “poor enforcement” among the key risks facing the drone industry—risks that exist beyond the control of drone manufacturers or operators themselves.

Pricing risk in the absence of strong regulatory frameworks and enforcement mechanisms could prove troublesome, the report says. And, that’s before you delve into issues like third-party liability for a technology where risks range from broken windows or roof damage to major aviation catastrophes.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 5:15 PM | Drone Insurance | permalink

Video: These Animals Really Do Not Like Drones

The animal kingdom’s ire toward drones spans the cornucopia of species. Dogs, birds, cheetahs and rams can all be seen sending drones into a death spiral with unflinching tenacity. [Digg video via Discover]

emily | 3:36 PM | Drones and Wildlife | permalink

September 16, 2015

Nasa and the UK work together on drone traffic system

The UK government is working with Nasa to build a tracking system for civilian drones.
A potential system could involve commercial drone pilots having to enter their details into an online database that holds information about their flights below 500ft. [via The Telegraph]

quotemarksright.jpgNASA is already working with the US government and companies like Google, Amazon and telecoms company Verizon on developing a database which will allow drone pilots to reserve blocks of airspace for flights. There is nothing yet in place at the EU level.

The collaboration comes as a result of widespread anxiety about the possibility of a mid-air collision between small drones and commercial aircraft.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

September 15, 2015

Watch 50 drones controlled at once in a record-breaking swarm

A team at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, has succeeded in launching 50 drones that were all controlled by a single person. New Scientist reports.

quotemarksright.jpgTo our knowledge, this is a world record for the number of UAVs under single operator control, by quite a long way,” says project lead Kevin Jones.

The team aims to develop swarming behaviours that give the benefits of having multiple drones without the need for a large number of operators.

The Zephyr drones they used are custom-made, largely from hobby parts, and cost about $2000 each. Getting so many into the air at once was challenging because they cannot be hand-launched like some smaller drones.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read more.

emily | 8:25 PM | Drones and Art, News | permalink

The UK has convicted a drone pilot for the first time

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 19.20.49.png

A resident of Nottingham has been convicted of illegally flying drones over football stadia and congested areas in London and other parts of the UK, marking the first prosecution of its kind in the country. [via The Next Web]

quotemarksright.jpgLondon’s Metropolitan Police Service said that 42-year-old Nigel Wilson pleaded guilty to seven offences that went against the Air Navigation Order 2009 [PDF], and was fined £1,800 ($2,770) plus £600 ($923) in costs.

He has also been banned from purchasing, owning and flying drones for the next two years.

Wilson flew his drone over Anfield stadium last September to film a soccer match featuring Liverpool and Ludogorets FC. The stunt startled mounted police officers’ horses, which nearly injured passersby.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Read full article.

emily | 7:19 PM | News | permalink

Drones et avions de ligne, à quand la catastrophe?

drone-750x410.jpg Le nombre de drones observés à proximité des avions ainsi que les accidents évités de justesse auraient triplé en 2015 par rapport à l’an passé, selon un nouveau rapport de la FAA, s’élevant à 678 pour la période de novembre 2014 à août 2015, contre 238 pour l’année 2014.

Emily Turrettini pour Le Temps.

quotemarksright.jpgDes chiffres alarmants, car si un drone devait se trouver aspiré par le réacteur d’un jet commercial, les conséquences seraient catastrophiques.

Pour Arthur Holland Michel, du Centre des Etudes de Drones au Bard College de New York, dont les propos ont été rapportés dans Vice, les chiffres de la FAA sont à prendre avec prudence. Lorsqu’un pilote rapporte avoir vu passer quelque chose à toute vitesse pendant une fraction de seconde, ce n’est pas forcément un drone. Et les objets volants non identifiés observés à l’horizon depuis un cockpit, pourraient être aussi bien être un oiseau qu’un ballon d’hélium égaré.

Du métal au lieu des plumes

Mais d’avantage que le rapport de la FAA, ce sont les propos du capitaine Chesley Sullenberger qui retiennent notre attention. Le pilote américain qui a fait atterrir le vol US Airways 1548 dans la rivière Hudson en 2009, sauvant la vie de 155 passagers après que des oies sauvages ont été aspirées dans ses réacteurs, s’est prononcé sur le danger des drones à proximité des aéroports.

«Nous savons que l’impact avec un oiseau de 3 kilos peux faire descendre un avion. Imaginez les dégâts que pourrait faire un engin pesant entre 11 et 30 kilos, composé essentiellement de métaux. La question n’est pas si cela va se produire, mais quand cela va se produire.»

Le danger est donc bien réel et il est urgent d’agir. Législateurs, constructeurs et innovateurs se penchent sur des solutions pour parer aux vols illicites.

De nouvelles lois se profilent, exigeant une formation de la part des pilotes, puis l’obtention d’une licence. La Nasa de son côté envisage un couloir aérien destiné uniquement aux drones commerciaux. Les constructeurs eux, installent des logiciels de “geo-fencing” dans leurs systèmes de navigation qui tiennent compte des zones interdites de survol. Ainsi bridé, lorsque le drone arrive dans une zone illégale comme le périmètre d’un aéroport ou d’une centrale nucléaire, il est programmé pour faire demi tour.

De son côté le groupe français Thales travaille sur un système anti-drone qui brouillerait les fréquences afin de perturber les échanges de données entre drone et pilote.

La fin de la légèreté

Et afin d’identifier à qui appartient cet objet volant qui bourdonne au-dessus de nos têtes, des chercheurs de l’University de Berkeley en Californie, dans le cadre d’un projet baptisé Lightcense, ont développé des plaques d’immatriculation dotées de lumières LED clignotantes, permettant d’identifier le propriétaire du drone selon la séquences des clignotements. Des séquences qui seraient stockées par les forces de l’ordre dans une base de données consultable par une application pour smartphone, selon le journal de MIT, TechnologyReview.

Les pilotes se doivent en tout temps de respecter le règlement de l’aviation civile de leur pays, mais les imprudences de certains ont fait la une des journaux, alarmant le public et les autorités. C’est la fin d’une certaine période de légèreté et de liberté pour les drones. Le Port Authority de New York et du New Jersey a même demandé qu’ils soient retirés des points de vente dans les aéroports sous leur juridiction.quotesmarksleft.jpg

September 8, 2015

Aviation expert issues warning, after drone crashes at Cambridgeshire charity event

A drone instructor has warned amateur pilots to take greater care, after one was involved in a near-miss at a public event in Cambridgeshire. ]via Cambridge News]

quotemarksright.jpgSpectators at Sunday's Duxford Soapbox Derby narrowly avoided injury after a drone lost control and collided with a tree.

lan Perrin, an instructor at the Cambridge UAV Academy, which trains commercial drone pilots, said event organisers were becoming more aware of the dangers of drones.

He told the News: "Lots of people who are interested in technology, or want the latest gadget, are getting drones for their own use, without understanding the rules, the potential pitfalls or the legalities they are associated with."

Drones can currently be used for personal use without licence, but anyone using one for commercial gain requires formal permission from the Civil Aviation Authority.quotesmarksleft.jpg

Related: - Student's drone crashes into Kentucky stadium before college football game

emily | 8:48 AM | News | permalink

September 1, 2015

Another Drone Big Enough to Ride

Built by a British Engineer, The Swarm has 54 counter-rotation propellers. It can run for about ten minutes and can manage to get 8-10 feet off the ground. [via Vice]

Related - Dutch Engineer building a quadcopter drone big enough to ride

emily | 7:54 AM | | permalink

August 28, 2015

Start-up to deliver marijuana by Drone

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 18.19.13.png San Francisco-based startup Trees Delivery is gearing up to deliver marijuana by drone.

It's target markets? California, Colorado and Washington D.C. where smoking weed is legal.

[via PSFK. Watch video.]

emily | 6:09 PM | Delivery Drones | permalink