Sunday, November 30, 2014

Drone suppresison map

In the United States, the laws regarding drones are a confusing mish-mash of FAA guidelines, potentially unconstitutional state laws, and a deafening silence on the issue from Congress. While the commercial use of drones—along with when and where it's acceptable to take pictures with them—is in flux, it is possible to answer the question of where it is and isn’t legal to fly them.
An interactive map, posted on the custom online mapping site Mapbox by data analyst Bobby Sudekum,details all of the places in the United States where it is and isn’t legal to fly drones. On the map, all of the places where drones are forbidden are indicated in red."

Now things are getting clearer.  We need more information like this.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Chernobyl by quadcopter

"British videographer Danny Cooke made 'Postcards from Pripyat, Chernobyl' in his spare time while filming a segment for CBS News. His aerial footage, recorded using a DJI Phantom 2 drone and a Canon 7D camera, provides a fascinating look at the iconic shots that have come to define a city that has been empty for decades: Decaying ferris wheels, neglected Soviet monuments, heavily-wooded city squares."

Some great video that shows what a quadcopter can do that no other method could so easily and cheaply.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Quadcopters for Christmas!

"Black Friday is bringing prices down even further — here’s a roundup of deals not to miss. We and our friends at Stack Commerce put together the ultimate guide for getting a drone, and we've got one for every budget.
Don't forget to use the code HAPPYBF10 for an extra 10% off. 
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Business Insider's Insider Picks team. We aim to highlight products and services you might find interesting, and if you buy them, we may get a small share of the revenue from the sale. This is not an advertiser sponsored post and we operate independently from our advertising sales team. We welcome your feedback. Have something you think we should know about? Email us at"

I don't own any of these so can't vouch for them.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Weird uses for quadcopters keep coming

"SINGAPORE: Restaurant-goers in Singapore can expect to be served by autonomous flying robots – the world’s first commercial attempt – by the end of next year.
Infinium-Serve, the autonomous flying robotic waiters, will be first launched at one of Timbre Group’s five outlets in Singapore. Infinium Robotics CEO Woon Junyang estimated the project to cost a 'low seven-figure sum' for the five outlets, subject to final negotiations and certain variables of the actual deployment of the robots.
Infinium Robotics signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Timbre Group on Oct 31. Both companies are seeking productivity-related government grants to help offset deployment costs.
Mr Woon said he is confident that such robotic solutions will help alleviate the Singapore’s labour crunch. Introducing this technology into restaurants would take away mundane tasks of serving food and drinks, and allow human waiters to focus on higher-value tasks such as getting feedback from customers, he said."

It's fun compiling all the wacky ideas people have for drones.  At least here they thought of protecting their clients from the four spinning blades of doom.

Thanksviging with an octocopter

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Gopro to make quadcopters!

"GoPro Inc. is developing its own line of consumer drones to expand from its core business of making wearable video cameras popular with surfers and other sports enthusiasts, according to people familiar with its plans.
The company plans to start selling multirotor helicopters equipped with high-definition cameras late next year, aiming for a price tag between $500 and $1000."

This should be great!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

FAA to crack down on drones

"Highly anticipated federal rules on commercial drones are expected to require operators to have a license and limit flights to daylight hours, below 400 feet and within sight of the person at the controls according to people familiar with the rule-making process."

I wish they'd just come out with their final rules already.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Ukrainian ex-minister's palace filmed by drone

"An RFE/RL investigation has revealed an opulent palace belonging to Ukraine's former minister for the environment and natural resources, Mikola Zlochevskiy, who served under ousted President Viktor Yanukovych. Anticorruption campaigners in Kyiv are demanding an investigation into Zlochevskiy, whose business links include the son of the U.S. vice president."

You can't see the palace from the ground, so this was a good way to show what is there.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

quadcopter through the fog

Dude flies his quadcopter in Buffalo snowstorm

and the next day...

Ghost Drone project

"We are an international team of flight enthusiasts and adventurers, and founded Ehang to remove the barriers to drone use so everyone could enjoy aerial filming. Drones are traditionally hard to pilot, easy to crash, and expensive. We developed our first product, the Ghost Drone, to address these challenges so you can discover a new way to capture magic around the earth.
Pre-order your drone to help us generate the volume we need to lower the cost for you and bring you additional features. Vote with your dollars and tell us which features you want us to develop.

Unlike many other drones being advertised, the Ghost Drone will be ready to ship between mid-December and end of January at the latest. With its lower price point and easy-to-use smartphone app, the Ghost Drone will make the perfect gift for first-time users and drone lovers alike."

This looks like a nice but not unique system.  $350.  Worth a look anyway.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Man brings the hammer down on drone pilot

"Writing for the board in the judicial order, Acting Chairman Christopher Hart states:
Respondent [Pirker] points to the legislative history of the Act—as well as a reference in the [Federal Aviation Act of 1958] to policies in furtherance of 'air transportation'—as evidence Congress intended the term 'aircraft' to mean a manned aircraft. However, the Act did not contain such a distinction, and the definition’s use of the passive voice in describing a device that is "used" for flight does not exclude unmanned aircraft. If the operator of an unmanned aircraft is not 'using' the aircraft for flight and some derivative purpose—be it aerial photography or purely recreational pleasure—there would be little point in buying such a device. In summary, the plain language of the statutory and regulatory definitions is clear: an 'aircraft' is any device used for flight in the air."

So FAA rules written for manned aircraft are now used against drone pilots.  Great.  Something to keep in mind.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

quadcopters harassing people, says UK

"Unlicensed drones controlled by members of the public are being used to harass people, police chiefs have warned. They further warn the technology is being used in protected airspace.
Addressing the House of Lords, Chief Inspector Nick Aldworth said unmanned drones were 'undoubtedly' being used in a 'reckless' o'r malicious' way.
The Lords Internal Market, Infrastructure and Employment Committee is holding an inquiry into the civil use of unmanned aircraft.
Committee Chair Baroness O’Cathain expressed concerns about breaches of privacy caused by flying drones close to private property."

Again, I agree that there should be some sort of control over drones, especially in inhabited areas. Like any useful tool, they can be misused as well.  Hopefully this will be worked out in a positive manner.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

When Quadcopters Attack

"The next day I took the Phantom out in the middle of the afternoon. I was about 50 feet off the ground, doing some speed runs to the tree line and back. At some point the GPS signal must have dropped again, because the light switched from green to red. I brought the unit to a halt, hovering it in front of me.

A strong gust of wind came through and suddenly the Phantom was drifting quickly towards my in-laws' house. Without GPS, the unit wasn’t correcting for this at all, and I didn’t want to break any windows. So I tried to correct hard back against the wind, but the breeze had also rotated the unit, and my orientation was off. Instead of fighting the wind, I actually doubled down, accelerating the unit over the house and out towards the road in front.

At this point I panicked. I couldn’t see the drone and wasn’t sure how to recover. So I decided the best thing to do was go to ground. I killed the rotors and listened with horror to the sound of my Phantom impacting into concrete. I think all this happened in less than two or three seconds.
I came running around to the front of the house and found a woman on a bike, stopped by the side of the road. On the back was a small child in a bike seat. Both were wearing helmets. My Phantom was strewn across the road in several pieces.
It was hard to tell how far in front of the drone they had been when it came down, but they were clearly shocked. A few seconds earlier, a few feet to the other side, and it could easily have come down on them instead. There is no way to say exactly what would have happened, but a heavy object falling out of the sky, striking someone in the head, at which point they crash their bike, certainly could have ended in serious injury or worse."

This is why I get very nervous when I see a quadcopter flying over a crowd.  Things go wrong. Blades twirl.  It's a bad idea.  Stick to the open fields.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

$3000 and you're in the professional quadcopter business

Not a bad price, I don't think.  Things are getting interesting....

South Park takes on quadcopters

It's an overgrowth of drones that lead to a tense standoff in South Park. 

quads and airplanes don't mix

"'It should not be a matter of luck that keeps an airplane and a drone apart,' said Rory Kay, a training captain at a major airline and a former Air Line Pilots Association safety committee chairman. 'So far we've been lucky because if these things are operating in the sky unregulated, unmonitored and uncontrolled, the possibility of a close proximity event or even a collision has to be of huge concern.'
The FAA requires that all drone operators receive permission from the agency, called a certificate of authorization, before they can fly their unmanned aircraft. Most certificates limit drones to 400 feet in altitude and require that they remain within sight of the operator and at least 5 miles away from an airport. Exceptions are made for some government drones. The military flies drones in great swaths of airspace in remote areas designated for military use. Customs and Border Protection flies high-altitude drones along the U.S. borders with Mexico and Canada."

the article lists several incidents. These should not happen.  Keep planes and drones separate.

North Korea using cheap drones

"Yes, North Korea's drones are simple and crude, and fly along a preprogrammed route. They're small, with a length of less than 7 feet and a wingspan of less than 10 feet. They're low-performance, with top speeds estimated at 75 miles per hour, a maximum flight duration of four hours, payloads of no more than 7 pounds, and an altitude of no more than 20,000 feet. Contrast this with the high-payload, stealth-capable drones the United States is developing now. Even the workhorse Predator MQ-9 can reach speeds up to 300 miles per hour, has flight durations exceeding 14 hours, can carry payloads up to 1,500 pounds, and can operate up to 50,000 feet. And whereas Predators carry high-tech sensor packages for surveillance and precision targeting, the most sophisticated piece of technology found on North Korean drones appears to be nothing more than a commercial-grade camera. But it's the low-performance qualities of North Korea's drones that enable them to evade South Korean defenses, which are optimized for more traditional threats from bigger, faster, higher-altitude aircraft."

Everybody is getting into drones.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

drones for farmers


"'We've identified agriculture early on as one of the potential early adopters of the technology,' said Justice. His center has invested some $350,000 in the development of unmanned aircraft systems over the past five years.
As progress toward commercial drone operations accelerates, state lawmakers are expected to take up the issue of privacy protections during next year's legislative session.
'It's timely at this point for the legislature to act so that operators in the state know what the rules of the road are,' Justice said.
All told, the Federal Aviation Administration has estimated as many as 8,000 commercial drones could be flying by 2020."

Fly up, take specialized photos, see which area of your property needs more water/fertilizer/whatever.  Save having to reapply to the whole field.  Great savings, and this is one area where I think drones will actually prove useful.


Friday, November 7, 2014

Kiwi travels the world with his drone

"It was posted by photojournalist Amos Chapple to Reddit on Saturday, titled 'I managed to fly a drone over the Kremlin (then hastily escape) yesterday. Here’s what it saw.'
Mr Chapple is a New Zealand freelance photographer who travels the world taking photos of international cities on drones.
He told Reddit users the photo was 'a commissioned shot (from a Russian company) but they made it clear I was on my own if I got caught.'"

I'd like to know what this drone is. A stealth quadcopter?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

another use for those 4 whirling blades of doom; delivery

yeah, those blades aren't gonna hurt any curious kids or protective pets or anything.  And nobody would want to grab it and take it home for fun.  yep, this will work great.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Or, just put a camera on an eagle

"Recently in Paris, Sony strapped its Action Cam Mini on a white-tailed eagle named Victor. It flew from the top of the Eiffel Tower, over the Seine, and down into the Trocadéro Gardens.
The eagle's handler, Jacques Olivier Travers, is the head of the nonprofit organization Freedom, whose objective is to reintroduce the white-tailed eagle into its natural habitat in the French and Swiss Alps. These eagles have been extinct in France for more than 50 years."

No need for a quadcopter, apparently.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

China will shoot your drones down

China has developed a highly accurate laser weapon system that can shoot down light drones at low altitude, state media reported.
The machine has a 1.2-mile range and can bring down “various small aircraft” within five seconds of locating its target, the official Xinhua news agency said, citing a statement by the China Academy of Engineering Physics (CAEP), one of the developers.
Xinhua showed pictures of large metal boxes in camouflage paint and the wreckage of a small drone, some of it burning."

So follow the rules!  Whatever they are in China.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

quadcopters to the rescue!

"Pars is an Aerial robot which is designed and made for saving human lives. The first purpose of building the robot is the relief of people drowning near coastlines. By developing its applications, it can be used in ships and off shore reliefs. It can also be used in other applications such as monitoring of marine and off shore structures, recording films and pictures from dangerous path ways for rescue missions, precise positioning and monitoring of off shore disasters.
The designed robot uses new technologies for guidance and navigation. Some of the technologies used are artificial intelligence, sound and image processing, autopilot search and rescue and a wide combination of sensor technologies. The robot is very simple and also very applicable and can play a significant role in saving the injured people.
Pars is designed in a way that it can quickly move towards drowning people by user guidance and activate its savior system. This system releases life tubes for the drowning ones. Considering that many people drown all over the world every year, this robot can decreases the duration of rescue operations and can save many lives."

I dunno.  It's nice to see how many people are looking for useful applications for quadcopters and drones, but some ideas seem a bit out there to me.  I'm not sure how this would be better than a lifeguard with a jet ski, for example.