Friday, December 25, 2015

How's your new quadcopter present?

North Dakota; hotspot for drones!

"For years, entrepreneurs have come here to farm and to drill for oil and natural gas. Now a new, tech-savvy generation is grabbing a piece of the growing market for drone technology and officials want to help them do it here, where there is plenty of open space and — unlike in other sparsely populated states — lots of expertise already in place.
Silicon Valley has the big money and know-how, Mr. Muehler and others say, but North Dakota can take unmanned aerial vehicles, as they prefer to call drones, from a fast-growing hobby to a real industry. And just as Silicon Valley got its start with a combination of military contracts, entrepreneurs and cooperative universities, they believe they can do the same with drones."

I was vacationing in North Dakota a few months ago and heard a local talk show discussing the future of drones in the area. They were quite upbeat and excited about what all drones can do, including helping farmers map out their fields for water and fertilizer needs.  I don't know how much wind they have up there (it was nice when I was there), but they do have a lot of open range.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Cheap starter quadcopter for Christmas!

Monday, December 14, 2015

time to register your quadcopter with the FAA

"Remote-controlled aircraft that weigh at least 9 ounces flown by hundreds of thousands of hobbyists across the country will have to be registered starting Dec. 21, the Federal Aviation Administration announced Monday.
The owner – whether it’s a new purchase or a drone that’s been flying for years – will have to register a name, a physical address and an email address with the FAA, as recommended Nov. 21 by a task force of manufacturers, retailers, pilots and hobbyists. Existing owners will have to register by Feb. 19, 2016, and new buyers will have to register before their first flight."

I'll bet manufacturers will be skirting right up to that 9 oz. limit now.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Let the Races begin! Drone Prix

"Dubai will host the first 'World Drone Prix' in March, which organisers say will be the world's biggest drone race, with a grand prize of $1 million.
Speaking at the last day of the World Air Games at Skydive Dubai's Palm drop zone, Minister of Cabinet Affairs Mohammed Abdullah Al Gergawi said that the upcoming Drone Prix represents the future of air racing and drone technology."

This is cool.   There have already been such races, but this will no doubt establish some ground rules and such.  I'm wondering how best it will be to watch such events; live, online?

how to catch a drone

Radio Wave Gun
Force Field

Well.... I think we have a ways to go yet for defending from drones.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Drone wars in Japan

"Sources told the Japan Times that Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police Department is even intending to set up a special anti-drone unit for identifying and taking down suspicious-looking UAVs spotted in the capital. The report said the unit would use “a large drone” with a net to capture UAVs caught flying in areas like airports, a comically crude solution for a country brimming with tech know-how. If the story is indeed true, many will wonder why the authorities aren’t going for a high-tech solution like thisor this, instead.
Drone operators can apply for permission to fly in restricted areas, with regulators examining each application on a case-by-case basis. Rule breakers could be fined up to 500,000 yen ($4,100).
Masahiro Kobayashi, an Osaka-based lawyer with experience in drone-related cases, told the Japan Times that while some of the new laws are acceptable, restricting the use of toy devices as light as 200 grams was unfair, as is the move to stop people flying their machines in pretty much all urban locations."

Seriously?  Catch another drone in a net?  

Saturday, December 5, 2015

A quadcopter that also flies underwater!

"Behold the Naviator, a new drone built by researchers and students at Rutgers University. As the portmanteau moniker would suggest, the bot is at home both in the water and in the air. This remotely controlled quadcopter can transition from flight to underwater mode and back seemingly with ease.
The Office of Naval Research commissioned this project in the hope of creating a new vehicle capable of rapid deployment for a multitude of missions. For example, a combination quadcopter-sub could inspect bridge foundations, investigate undersea pollution, or perform search-and-rescue operations."

Not many situations call for this ability but it's pretty cool!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Take heed to those spinning blades of doom

"Mr Evans, who was an experienced drone operator before the accident, described the moment it hit Oscar.
He said: 'It was up for about 60 seconds. As I brought it back down to land it just clipped the tree and span round.
'The next thing I know I've just heard my friend shriek and say "Oh God no" and I turned around and just saw blood and his baby on the floor crying.'
Mr Evans said he has not flown the gadget since the accident as the sight of one makes him feel 'physically sick'.
Oscar's mother said she wanted to warn others how dangerous drones can be."

Things can go wrong. Spinning blades of doom can cause damage.  Be cautious always.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Shark detecting drones

"Part of the Australian coastline popular with swimmers and surfers will now be patrolled by drones as a way to protect beachgoers from shark attacks, government officials announced Wednesday.
The trials in the southeastern state of New South Wales are part of a AU $16 million ($11.6 million) program that will test the effectiveness of drone technology in mitigating shark attacks. The drones will send real-time images of coastal waters back to an operator using GPS coordinates."

Sharks can be spotted from above more easily.  See?  Drones have many good uses.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Oregon legislators considering drone laws

"Huffman has for three years spearheaded a drone work group that is rounding out state rules and regulations that will govern the skies while the federal government figures out how it will address a growing demand for the small, remote-operated aircraft.
He and a wide group of civil liberties advocates, business leaders and state agency officials worked in 2012 and 2013 to limit how law enforcement agencies could use drones. House Bill 2710, which passed widely in 2013, requires police to get a warrant if they're using a drone to gather information in a case, unless the agency has probable cause and believed time was a crucial factor in solving a case."

They're working on how to restrict not only recreational users, but also the police and other governmental bodies.  Good on them.

Where 70% of drones are made

"One company, DJI, produces 70 percent of all civilian drones in the world in Shenzhen, China.
'We're an international company,' DJI Public Relations Director Michael Perry told CBS News.
Perry doesn't highlight the company's China base, perhaps because Americans are often concerned by a Chinese company that controls so much of the market.
'We have an international footprint that reflects our international character,'" Perry said.

That's a pretty huge segment of any market!

Know before you fly

I was browsing through today's Black Friday ads and was amazed at how many stores are now selling cheap quadcopters. Better read up before you go flying!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

4-winged copter dies at birth?

"It seems TechJect failed to even fully develop the Robot Dragonfly even though the project hit first hit Indiegogo nearly three years ago. The Indiegogo project page states the developement had begun (in at least 2012) on a $1m grant from the US Air Force. “We don’t want users to wait for technology to trickle down,” the page says. Yet backers are still waiting.
After the company announced the financial troubles yesterday, backers took to the comments section on Indiegogo en masse. And rightly so. Today, the company clarified that technically the project has not been canceled yet. The company just needs more money to continue. It also notes that if the product fails to ship, the company will release all the “all the company’s Dragonfly IP with full license authority to all our campaign backers for use, re-sale and more as they please to instigate recovery against their loss.”
The Robotic Dragonfly always seemed a bit far-fetched. We covered the campaign after visiting the Georgia Tech labs where the project was born. But good engineers do not always make good founders. It takes a special team to see a product from CAD drawings to prototypes to store shelves."

They were advertising this as a platform for video work.  I don't see it being very stable with 4 flapping wings.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Qudcopter view of a Greek Monestary

Μετέωρα | Έξι μοναστήρια πάνω στους βράχους - έξι μοναστήρια που αγγίζουν τον ουρανό.Αποχαιρετώντας τον Αύγουστο, "πετάξτε" για 3 λετπά πάνω από αυτό το μοναδικό τοπίο της Ελλάδας, που δεν σταματά να μαγεύει επισκέπτες απ'όλο τον κόσμο...
Posted by Ευρωπαϊκή Επιτροπή στην Ελλάδα on Sunday, August 30, 2015

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

army tries out drone swarms

""It has been proved that consumer [drones] can be used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, distraction tactics and, in the future, the ability to drop small munitions," said Barry Hatchett with the Army's Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation.
On its own, a consumer drone doesn't pose a huge threat or offer much in the way of an advantage on the battlefield. It's range is limited, it can't lift much, it isn't defended against radio jamming and can be easily brought down with a shot from a rifle.
But they are cheap."

Drone swarms are something worth looking into.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

vdeo from Gopro's test quadcopter

National drone racing chaimpionships!

"Imagine a first-person-view video game where you’re racing through the air and dodging obstacles. Losing even one-tenth of a second can cost you the race. Now imagine that it’s not a video game. This is the sum-total experience of first-person-view (FPV) drone racing. Drone racers see all the action from their drone’s perspective as they weave through the air at upwards of 70 miles per hour. And it happens in places that were previously physically impossible to navigate.
Drone racing can be a bit intimidating, but I’m here to help. I’ve spent the past five years as an R/C flight enthusiast, and I founded the popular community and YouTube channel Flite Test in 2010. More recently, my feature film, Rotor DR1, features a drone race inspired by our community before FPV was even “a thing” (you can find it on Hulu here)."

Monday, October 19, 2015

Recreational drone operators will need a license

"The national registry will not hinder efforts to create overarching regulations, Foxx said. The registry task force will be made up of representatives from the federal government and the aviation and unmanned aircraft industries.
It will decide which drone owners are exempt from the registry and whether people who already own drones will be forced to register them.
Drone operators will be hit with 'penalties' if they fail to register their drones, Foxx said, although it's not clear what those penalties will be."

the one thing that is not mentioned is how big or technically proficient are the drones that need to be licensed?  Or are they going to even license those little 2" by 2" quadcopters?  I'm wondering...

Friday, October 16, 2015

A ghostly quadcopter for Halloween

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

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Drone killing gun

"The weapon weighs roughly 10 pounds and can target drones up to 400 meters away. When the trigger is pulled, the gun emits a blast of electromagnetic energy tuned to the most common GPS and ISM frequencies, safely disabling the drone and preventing it from accepting any additional commands from its operator."

It had to happen sooner or later.

naughty drones

"Over the past 24 months, UK police have recorded these incidents among plenty more:
  • Concerns about drones flown over packed crowds at Hyde Park: a film-maker was fined £1,125 earlier this month, for illegally flying his drone over Hyde Park without permission during a shoot for a promotional video.
  • Drugs (as well as knives, cameras and phones: all contraband) being dropped into prisons.
  • Intrusion: Greater Manchester Police (GMP), for example, took one call that described how the 'occupant of house nearby is sending a radio-controlled drone over address where [informant] is sunbathing. Believe is taking photos. Been over three times now.'
  • Distracted drivers: GMP logged one incident, titled 'Drone causing trouble,' noting that - 'someone is flying this drone over this junction. Looks like a giant spider and everyone is looking at it and not where they are going.'
  • Merseyside police, among many other police departments, have logged reports about the use of camera drones near children. One log entry:' Drone over Funland playground - adult challenged.' Another: 'Suspicious circumstances. Drone near children’s play area.'"
Simple rules can change this. Enforcement is a must.

Friday, October 9, 2015

don't fly around the White House

"Sgt. Anna Rose of U.S. Park Police said Friday morning that the operators of the drone were on Washington Monument grounds overnight. She says the drone landed — and may have crashed — across Constitution Avenue on the Ellipse, a grassy park just south of the White House.
Rose says the operators were issued federal tickets, but were not arrested. Rose says there's no indication that the operators had any nefarious intent."

Think before you fly.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

paparazzi can't use drones in California

"California has put limits on flying drones, in an effort to stop paparazzi photographers from snapping photos of celebrities from afar.
The law expands the state's definition of invasion of privacy to include sending a drone over private property to make a recording or take photos.
Singer Miley Cyrus filmed a paparazzi drone flying above her home last year."

Sounds good to me. I like the rule that you can't fly over private property without permission.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Good use of quadcopters in Nepal, to help the community

"Our joint UAV mission combined both hands-on training and operational deployments. The full program is available here. The first day comprised a series of presentations on Humanitarian UAV Applications, Missions, Best Practices, Guidelines, Technologies, Software and Regulations. These talks were given by myself, KU, DJI, KLL and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of Nepal. The second day  focused on direct hands-on training. DJI took the lead by training 30+ participants on how to use the Phantom 3 UAVs safely, responsibly. Pix4D, also on site, followed up by introducing their imagery-analysis software."

This is pretty cool and should be emulated all over the world.

Monday, September 28, 2015

GoPro gets cheaper!

"GoPro has unveiled the Hero+, a new action camera that offers Full HD video capture along with Wi-Fi connectivity for $200, making it one of the company’s most affordable cameras yet.
The Hero+ is capable of shooting 1080p and 720p at 60 frames per second, as well as 8-megapixel photos and time lapse videos."

best quadcopter with camera deal yet! $50

"This great little quadcopter drone typically retails for $100, which is already a pretty sweet deal. At under $50, it’s a no-brainer. It’s obviously not going to be a top-of-the-line drone at this price point. But it’s more than good enough to have some fun with, and you’ll capture some great footage in the process."

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Drone expo, North Dakota

September 21-23, 2015 | Grand Forks, North Dakota

The UAS industry is in the midst of an economic and technological evolution. The 9th annual UAS Summit and Expo—set in Grand Forks, North Dakota, near the heart of some of the most prominent U.S. UAS activity currently happening—is set to showcase and explain the evolution of UAVs while revealing the current state of the commercial UAS industry.

Join UAS Magazine, industry leaders, UAV manufacturers, payload providers, designers, and commercial operators at the one UAS event of the year that can combine previous event success with the most important insight of today’s UAS world. The UAS Summit and Expo will combine the perspective of regional UAS personnel with the regulatory insight of national UAV entities all while offering attendees a glimpse into the commercial realities and major economic opportunities and possibilities present in the most exciting growth space in North America.

Top Reasons to Attend The UAS Summit and Expo in 2015

This event has a history of uniting the best UAV minds in the industry in a single venue for an informational and content-charged two-day period.
  • Focused, technical presentations and special events designed to describe the latest technology offerings, software packages, business models and regulatory updates on the UAS industry
  • Exclusive conference social media site, where you can connect with your colleagues before, during and after the event.
  • Industry specific tours
  • Magazine coverage before, during and after the event
  • Exhibiting companies showcasing the latest technologies, new product launches and valuable industry services

Who Should Attend?

quadcopters autonomously build a rope bridge

Friday, September 4, 2015

drone interrupts tennis match; pilot arrested

"A teacher in New York has been arrested for flying and crashing a drone into empty seats during a tennis match at the US Open, police say.
Daniel Verley, 26, has been charged with reckless endangerment and operating a drone in a public park outside of a prescribed area.
Tennis officials say no-one was injured, though the drone briefly interrupted a tennis match."

The operative word here folks, is "permission."

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Boeing builds an anti-drone laser

"Hang on to your drone. Boeing’s developed a laser cannon specifically designed to turn unmanned aircraft into flaming wreckage.
The aerospace company’s new weapon system, which it publicly tested this week in a New Mexico industrial park, isn’t quite as cool as what you see in Star Wars—there’s no flying beams of light, no “pew! pew!” sound effects. But it is nonetheless a working laser cannon, and it will take your drone down."

North Dakota police weaponize their drones

"According to The Daily Beast, the bill, originally proposed by Republican state representative Rick Becker, was actually meant to outlaw the potential for police in the state to add weapons to drones. Amendments to the bill were then suggested by a lobbyist for the North Dakota Peace Officer’s Association (NDPOA), Bruce Burkett, which allowed for weapons like tasers and bean-bag guns to be included in drones used for policing.
Mike Reitan, the president of the NDPOA, told Quartz that, originally, the bill would’ve required police to get a search warrant to fly a drone in a police operation, whereas that’s not required for something like a helicopter. “If you’re walking down the street and you see a handgun in someone’s yard, you’re not prohibited from looking at it,” Reitan said, regarding privacy concerns. He added that the discussion to add non-lethal weaponry into the bill was based around “future developments” in drone technology. He outlined a future scenario where a SWAT team could call for a drone to be sent in that can deploy pepper spray."

This is not a slippery slope. This is already falling into the crevice.  Bad idea!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

quadcopter on a string

"The Fotokite Phi, on the other hand, greatly reduces the learning curve by essentially being a flying selfie stick. Designed by Perspective Robotics AG, the Phi landed on crowdfunding site Indiegogo today and follows the same path as the company's professional version in use by the BBC and other news outlets by eschewing a remote controller or mobile app for a simple retractable leash. And instead of having a built-in camera, it just uses a GoPro Hero3 or Hero4 camera.
Made to be ultraportable, the Phi folds down and fits entirely inside a tube roughly the size of a whisky bottle and with a camera it weighs just 350 grams (12.3 ounces). To get it ready to fly, you fold down the arms and twist a lock on top. Then you can attach a GoPro to the camera housing in front."

The concept here is interesting. I'm not sure 25 feet is a long enough cord though.  on the other hand, it makes learning how to use the darn thing a snap.

Concerned citizen downs a drone, goes to jail

"Lehecka was released eight hours later after posting a $10,000 bail, according to the newspaper.
On Tuesday, however, the district attorney's office declined to press charges against Lehecka.
The aircraft belonged to a pilot who works for a drone company, who said he was not invading the group’s privacy and suffered $750 in damage from the drone’s crash-landing."

Simple rule; don't fly over anybody unless you have their permission.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

"Romain Dillet of TechCrunch tried a Slick prototype first-hand. He said the stabilizer was amazing especially when you look around. Instead of recording the sudden movements, the camera smoothly moves from one angle to another. This accessory may not be for everyone. But a large number of GoPro video professionals may find it useful. It works with almost all the GoPro cameras, including the recently announced Hero4 Session.
Slick launched it Tuesday with an Indiegogo campaign. The startup has priced it at $199, and plans to start shipping the accessory in March 2016."

Hm. If this doesn't weight too much, it might be good on a quadcopter.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Drones are stressing out animals

"The end goal would be to figure out whether repeated drone use is likely to be harmful to animals. With the bears, for instance, Ditmer says there is a chance that the animals could become accustomed to drones over time and be less bothered by them. Other research could also examine whether different heights, speeds or even sound frequencies are less likely to bother the animals.
To be clear, Ditmer says, his team’s study is not meant to advocate against the use of UAVs, which have high potential for both conservation and research applications. 'We’re just highlighting a potential issue that needs to come into closer consideration when we decide where and where to use them,' he says."

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Drone racing growing as a sport

"Property developer and Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is investing $1 million in the Drone Racing League, a New York startup that aims to hold its first public race later this year, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. It’s a move that reflects the growing interest in drones for commercial and recreational use in the US, and brings first-person view (FPV) drone racing – till now an underground activity for hobbyists – one step closer to becoming a professional sport."

This has quite a ways to go yet, but there have been model car races forever.  As soon as the FCC gets it's butt moving, this could be a thing.

Norway via quadcopter

This amazing drone footage was shot from on top of a mountain in Norway and shows the stunning beauty of the landscape.(Credit: ViralHog)

Posted by The Weather Channel on Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Eagle attacks a drone

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

how to get a quadcopter out of a tree

or, my brother used a tennis ball with a long string attached.

This is the reason you want your name and phone number clearly on your drone, so if you have to leave it, the wind might knock it down later and a good samaritan will call you up.

quadcopter flies over prison wall, distributes goodies

"It wasn't until authorities later reviewed surveillance tape that they saw what led to the fisticuffs: A drone had flown over the yard and dropped a package.
Inmates were able to get their hands on the delivery containing 144.5 grams of tobacco, 65.4 grams of marijuana and 6.6 grams of heroin before the fight ensued and the package was thrown into the prison's south yard, the incident report said.
If the heroin is half pure, that package amounts to about 140 individual doses, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
Officers had to use pepper spray to get the situation under control, according to the report. Inmates were later strip-searched before being allowed to return to their cells."

Monday, August 3, 2015

quadcopter owner defends himself after shotgun blasts his drone

"The owner of the drone, David Boggs, just released the flight data recorder from his iPad, saying it tracks the drone's path. In a video Boggs sent WDRB, he comments on drone's path 40 seconds before, during and after the incident.
'We are now one minute and 18 seconds into the flight,' he says on the video. 'We are now 193 feet above the ground. This area here is the world-famous drone slayer home, and this is a neighbor's home, and our friends live over here, and over here, and over here. You will see now that we did not go below this altitude -- we even went higher -- nor did we hover over their house to look in. And for sure didn't descend down to no 10 feet, or look under someone's canopy, or at somebody's daughter.'
'We are right now one minute, 56 seconds over the drone slayer's house. We're still not on his property line -- we're just now getting ready to cross it....In less than two seconds...we are outside of his property, still at 272 feet. He shot the drone here, and you'll see it rapidly lose altitude, and the drone crash. Boom -- there it goes. Crazy, in the words of the great Paul Harvey, now you know the rest of the story.'"

Still, the drone should not have flown over private property.  I'm not with shooting the thing out of the sky.  There should be respect on both sides. Get permission before flying over private property.

Friday, July 31, 2015

man shoots drone, sues pilots

"Merideth, 47, lives in Hillview, Kentucky. As WDRB-TV reports, a neighbor heard gunshots and called the police. Merideth allegedly told the police that a drone was hovering over his house, where his teen daughter (he has two) was sunbathing. So he pulled out his gun and gave it a merry death.
The drone's owner, police say, said he was flying it to take pictures of a neighboring house."

Yeah, see, you don't fly over somebody's property without their permission. And you don't shoot somebody's drone in town.

Monday, July 27, 2015

California offers $75,000 reward to find drone pilots who interfered with fire suppresion efforts

"San Bernardino County in California is set to begin offering a $75,000 reward for information on whoever flew drones over three recent wildfires."  Firefighters were delayed almost 1/2 hour because of the drones.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

NASA and Google work on drone air traffic control

"Google is partnering with NASA and 13 other companies, including Amazon and Verizon, to create an air-traffic control system for drones, called the Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Traffic Management.
Drones are the way of the future, and ‒ rather than let the air be clogged with unruly, unregulated unmanned robots ‒ the government is seeking to work with the private sector to create rules of the aerial road. The move comes after a series of incidents involving drones, including crashes at national parks and on the White House grounds. Yet, for some businesses, the regulations can’t come fast enough."

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

hacking via drone

"Presumably, attaching a small network injector to a drone would give the ability to attack Wi-Fi networks from above, or at a greater distance. The system operator wouldn’t have to get physically near the target. Insitu did not respond to The Intercept’s requests for comment.
Hacking Team gained notoriety in recent years as human rights and digital security advocates found traces of its spyware on the computers of journalists and political activists from Ethiopia, Morocco and elsewhere. As The Intercept reported last week, the leaked files confirm that Hacking Team sold to many countries with dubious human rights records, and also to agencies in the U.S., where the use of such spyware is still the subject of legal controversy."

The creeps are starting to look for how to use drones.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

time to jail wayward drone operators?

"Phelan, California (CNN)Of all the elements they must battle in a wildfire, firefighters face a new foe: drones operated by enthusiasts who presumably take close-up video of the disaster.
Five such "unmanned aircraft systems" prevented California firefighters from dispatching helicopters with water buckets for up to 20 minutes over a wildfire that roared Friday onto a Los Angeles area freeway that leads to Las Vegas.
Helicopters couldn't drop water because five drones hovered over the blaze, creating hazards in smoky winds for a deadly midair disaster, officials said."

If enthusiasts can't stop themselves from getting in the way of  important government business, then I'm afraid it's time for some strict laws.  Thanks, idiots.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

weaponized quadcopter

It had to happen sooner or later.  Good things can also have bad uses.  Cars run over people, but we still use them.  So now we have quadcopters, that can do all sorts of wonderful things, also being used for bad things.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

firefighting hampered by presence of a drone

"However, she said fire officials grounded the planes for about eight minutes until the drone left the area of the fire.
It was the fourth time in the last month that the spotting of a drone over a California wildfire prompted the Forest Service to ground the firefighting planes out of fear that the drones will collide with the aircraft."

Saturday, July 11, 2015

quadcopters as characters becoming a thing

"Like the Snoopy one we featured earlier this week, R2-D2 is a remote controlled quadcopter created by Otto Dieffenbach. You can see more of his company’s creations on their website."

Where will the usefulness of quadcopters end?

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Swiss mail by drone

"The Swiss postal service has started testing the use of drones to make deliveries, a move it says will help in emergencies and allow items to reach isolated areas.
Governments tightening rules on use of drones
Footage released by Swiss Post and its partners on Tuesday showed an unmanned drone, about the size of commercial devices used by hobbyists, in flight.
The company says it will be exploring the cost effectiveness of drone use, but does not expect widespread use until at least five years from now."

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

quadcopters cause firefighters headaches

"So far this fire season, officials have recorded three instances where drones have interrupted firefighting operations.

Jennifer Jones is a Forest Service spokesperson. She said in a couple of those cases, officials had to shut down air operations causing the fire to grow larger."

I'm a fan of figuring out where drones can cause serious problems, and making rules about it.  

Sunday, July 5, 2015

a simple design octocopter from Russia

"nother of the company’s drones, the ZALA 421-22 copter, is capable not only of conducting video surveillance, but of guarding a set perimeter or monitoring a designated infrastructure installation.
It can carry a specially designed sea rescue package, the SSK-4, consisting of an inflatable life jacket or small inflatable raft, and deliver it with high accuracy to the specified coordinates of an emergency area."

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

"drones are tools for art"

"You might think they're dangerous or tacky, but using drones as a means of capturing breathtaking, far-reaching images is becoming more popular for journalists, artists and photographers. HuffPost Live's Nancy Redd chatted Tuesday with a panel of drone-friendly content creators, who discussed embracing the depths of drones' reach. In the video above, check out their conversation about how drones are both changing and enhancing the quality of their work."

Interesting interviews from people using drones for all kinds of things.  It shows just how new and diverse this method of photography is.

Monday, June 29, 2015

drone whacks bystander

"The 25-year-old woman was standing near Fourth Avenue and Madison Street when the 18-inch-by-18-inch drone crashed into a building and fell into the crowd, striking the woman in the head, according to Seattle police. The woman’s boyfriend caught her as she fell to the ground.
An off-duty firefighter helped treat the woman and called for police.
One of the victim’s friends turned over the damaged drone to police. The friend also gave police photographs of a man who may have been piloting the aircraft."

See, I don't mind rules that keep drones away from crowds.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Neighbor shoots drone, pays for fix

"Most of the hexacopter survived the crash intact, but Joe ended up needing to replace about $700 worth of equipment, which he asked McBay to cover, in light of the fact that he’d shot the drone down, and all. McBay said he would split the cost with Joe, but declined to pay the full amount, so Joe took his neighbor to court - and won.
Property owners have legitimate concerns about camera-wielding drones photographing their property, where the law says there’s a reasonable expectation of privacy, but it’s not yet clear what legal recourse you have if your neighbor is using a drone to peep into your bedroom window or just to be nosy about your gardening methods. Legal responses to trespassing vary from state to state, and the courts haven’t agreed yet whether drone flights count as trespassing."

I have no problem with rules that keep me from flying over my neighbors' property.  I'd be happy with rules that require permission before a drone can fly over private property.

Monday, June 22, 2015

3 good buys for video quadcopters, with samples

"The best of the camera drones to buy is the DJI Inspire 1. The DJI Inspire 1 has a cutting edge design that allows for two controllers to be used simultaneously — one to control the drone’s flight, and the other to control the camera. This drone with camera gives users an unprecedented level of control for recording and snapping photos."

"For a cheaper option, Yuneec’s Q500 Typhoon drone with camera is a great option that will save you a significant amount of money. It comes in at just $1,249, and still has a ton of great features. While it’s not possible to capture 4K video with it, the Yuneec Q500 is capable of recording 1080P surveillance footage at 60FPS and snaps still photos at 16 megapixels. It also has a 3-Axis Gimbal to help get the perfect shot. It has a wide angle 130-degree field of view lens."

"If you’re looking for the cheap camera drone option, the clear choice is the Parrot Bebop Quadcopter that has 14MP FULL HD 1080P capabilities for a fraction of the price of the other drones on this list. Obviously, the price drop means it comes with significantly less features. There’s no 4K capabilities nor does it record in 60FPS. But it does record full 1080P HD videos at 30FPS and can take stills at 14 megapixels. You can read our full Parrot Bebop Drone review here."

Saturday, June 20, 2015

quadcopter racing in Australia

"FPV is such a different, immersive experience, everyone's wanting to be that Star Wars pod racer, going in between the hills," says Nowak. "When I fly full-sized aircraft I see things and think, 'oh it would be so fun to dive in between that,' but I can't because it's my life at stake and you've got to take it a bit more seriously. With these thing I can now do that. And if I get it wrong, worst case, I break a frame and I have to build a new one."

I've seen a little group here setting up foam obstacles in an open field.  Looks like fun.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

How to Catch an Evil Drone

"ON APRIL 22nd a drone carrying radioactive sand landed on the roof of the Japanese prime minister’s office in Tokyo. It was the latest of a string of incidents around the world involving small drones. Last year more than a dozen French nuclear plants were buzzed by them. In January one crashed on the White House lawn. In February and early March several were spotted hovering near the Eiffel tower and other Parisian landmarks. Later in March someone attempted to fly one full of drugs (and also a screwdriver and a mobile phone) into a British prison. The employment of drones for nefarious, or potentially nefarious, purposes thus seems to have begun in earnest. It is only a matter of time before somebody attempts to use a drone, perhaps carrying an explosive payload, to cause serious damage or injury. The question for the authorities is how to try to stop this happening."

Yeah, yeah. New technology is going to destroy society. Have we heard that before?  Of course drones can be used for bad as well as good. Every leap in technology from fire to the printing press to drones is capable of good and bad.  We should prepare though, as this article is showing, to counter the nuts who misuse drones.

Friday, June 12, 2015

quadcopter investigates crop circles in Russia

"Puzzled by the “alien patterns” in a wheat field in the Republic of Adygea earlier this week, local residents sent a drone to investigate the series of mysterious crop circles. Meanwhile similar shapes have also surfaced in the Moscow region."

As I understand it, you don't want people walking around in the crop circle before it's investigated, so they don't spoil the evidence of how the crop circle was created. This one looks like people actually walked around in it while it was being made!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

DJI adds some great features to new quadcopter

"So perhaps it was just a matter of time before industry heavyweight DJI came to the party with what it claims is the first commercially-available collision avoidance system for drones. Guidance relies on an array of ultrasonic sensors and stereo cameras to detect when the drone flies too close to objects, with this range configurable and can extend to 20 m (65 ft)."

"Ready to fly out of the box with dual battery slots and a whopping 40 minutes flight time, the Matrice 100 features several communication ports, power supply leads and expansion bays for extras components, so that additional hardware can be fixed to the drone to afford it new functionality. "

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Enrique Igesias hurt by 4 whirling blades of doom

"A representative for the singer said in a statement that Iglesias was 'semi-treated' after the accident at the side of the stage to stop the bleeding on Saturday night. He was advised to end the show but went on to perform for 30 more minutes...
 During live shows, Iglesias sometimes grabs a drone to show the audience a 'point of view' angle."

Those are nothing to trifle with.  Whoever thought this was a good idea in the first place should be fired.

Friday, May 29, 2015

plane diverts to avoid drone

"A passenger jet heading to LaGuardia Airport had a close call with a drone near Prospect Park in Brooklyn Friday morning, just hours after five pilots reported someone had pointed green lasers at their planes near New York-area airports, officials say.
Shuttle America flight 2708 was heading toward LaGuardia from Washington, D.C., when it encountered the unmanned aircraft in its flight path, officials say. The plane's pilot had to pull up about 200 feet to avoid the drone, authorities said. The plane later landed safely."

Thursday, May 28, 2015

GoPro to make quadcopters!

"Woodman also said GoPro is planning to create a quadcopter that won't start shipping until the first half of next year.
In an interview with CNBC's Josh Lipton, Woodman said:
'We see similarities to the viral growth of quads, similarly to early days of GoPro. We recognize those same trends and when we consider that a quadcopter is potentially the most versatile GoPro accessory, that means it's very core to our business, and makes sense for us to get involved officially.'"

YES PLEASE!  The reason I have a quadcopter is so I can stick a GoPro on it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

cockroach launches a drone!

parks and recreation article on drones and their use

"Parks have not been exempt from problems created by irresponsibly piloted drones, including a number of high-profile incidents at iconic national parks such as Zion and Grand Canyon. A widely reported incident occurred at Mount Rushmore National Park when a hobby drone was launched from a parking lot, hovered over a crowd of 1,500 people gathered for an evening program at the monument, and then flew over and around the four sculpted heads before being flown back to the parking lot. Other public complaints about inappropriate or unauthorized use of drones have been received by the National Park Service (NPS), including harassment of wildlife, noise at iconic scenic viewing points and drone crashes in parks.
Jeffrey Olson, public affairs officer for NPS, says that the prohibition on unmanned aircraft in national parks issued by Director Jon Jarvis in a policy memo last June was 'basically a timeout.' The ban on new drone flying was prompted by public complaints concerning incidents similar to what happened at Mount Rushmore. NPS management policies call for careful consideration of any 'new form of recreation,' which drone flying clearly is, and the impact of this activity has not been evaluated. The administrative action will trigger a review of existing and proposed policies and will lead to a Notice of Proposed Regulation, a process that is likely to take about 18 months, according to Olson.
Incidents from rogue operators or inexperienced pilots are not the only concern. Privacy advocates, industrial and national security experts, and law enforcement officials are very concerned about the potential use of drones in terrorist plots or other criminal activity. Drones are starting to be a concern at virtually every large-scale public event that someone might want to observe or photograph, such as a drone that buzzed Chicago Park District’s Lollapalooza Festival last year. The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) even went so far as to declare the 2015 Super Bowl a 'No Drone Zone,' and issued an advisory to enjoy the game, but 'leave your drone at home.;”

Useful article.

hybrid quadcopter flies for an hour

"One hour of flight time, a top speed of 100 km/h (62 mph), a payload of 5 kg (11 lb) – these are big figures for a drone, and figures that are basically out of reach using today's LiPo battery technology. But German startup Yeair! believes it's possible using a hybrid system in which each rotor is driven by two motors – an electric, and a two-stroke 10cc gasoline engine."

Another useful advance for quadcopters. I plan to stick with the smaller versions though.

Quadcopter views the Texas flood

Thursday, May 21, 2015

drone classes at Idaho State University, classes full

“'For example, we have had drones fly above potato fields and with special sensors can detect the presence of blight before it can spread,' Slack said. 'This is information that if it were obtained on the ground might be too late  to save the surrounding crop. Aerial search and rescue as well as weather forecasting  are also part of this ever-increasing and expanding technology. The possibilities are endless.'
And while the expansion of such technology naturally brings with it legal, moral and ethical questions, Slack added that a board at the college has been formed to investigate and fully answer such queries. What was once the purview of NASA and the military just a few years ago has now become readily available. So much so that average citizens are investing in these entities more and more."

A degree in drone technology. I wish I was younger.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

burglars using quadcopters?

"Police in the UK are now seeing incidents were burglars are scoping out potential targets using off-the-shelf consumer drones.
Suffolk Constabulary has confirmed that there were 16 incidents involving the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) between January 2014 and March 2015, in response to a freedom of information request made by the East Anglican Daily Times.
In 10 of the incidents, the police were called to investigate by civilians who had seen the drones flying, and in one case, a UAV was flown around a residential property in September 2014, allegedly to identify it as a potential burglary target, although no one was charged for this incident.
Only one person was charged in total, for an incident where the individual got into an altercation with the owner of a drone after reporting seeing it flying in January 2015."

foldable mini-quadcopter

"Robotics researchers Stefano Mintchev and Dario Floreano at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology unveiled their creation yesterday: a wee quadrotor drone whose arms wrap around itself, folding into a trapezoid for compact storage. When it needs to fly, the arms—a 0.3-millimeter layer of fiberglass and an underlying layer of inextensible fabric—snap out in an instant, the rotors begin spinning, and the drone shoots off into the air. Of course, you still need to fold it by hand, but the researchers are working on an automated folding mechanism (and also, don’t be such an impatient pain in the ass)."

Not bad.

Illinois state police get to use drones

"CHICAGO (WLS) -- Illinois State Police have gotten the okay to start using drones. The unmanned missions would help record information from traffic crashes and crime scenes.

The Federal Aviation Administration approved the use on Friday. State police say they've spent the past two years coming up with a program to use drones safety and go along with all rules and laws now in place."

Fine by me, so long as they have to follow the rules like everybody else.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

South Africa's strict drone rules

"Essentially the new rules require a person who operates a drone to have a CAA approved and valid remote pilot licence as well as a letter of approval to operate the drone. Approval letters will be issued for 12 months at a time.
Drones also cannot be sold unless the seller makes the purchaser aware of the SACAA’s criteria but proof of licence does not seem to be a prerequisite for purchase. 
Those who fly drones adjacent to or above a nuclear power plant, prison, police station, crime scene, court of law, national key point or strategic installation will be seen as breaking the law.  
Cannot fly within 50m of crowds
Additionally, drones cannot be flown within 50m above or close to a person or crowd of people, structure or building - without prior SACAA approval.
The new regulations also states that an RPA shall give way to manned aircraft.
In addition to this, RPA pilots will be required to tune into the air traffic services for the controlled airspace they will be flying in as well as keep a logbook of all flying times and distances.  "

Some of this is a bit severe, and I'm sure after a bit of time they will be loosened a bit.  I think one thing is to have different rules for the capability of each drone. Toy drones don't need as much restriction as an octocopter than can lift several pounds, for example.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The little drone that could; after you drop it

"The Cicada or Covert Autonomous Disposable Aircraft, is a GPS-guided, micro disposable air vehicle that can glide like bird, as scientists explain, after being dropped from any aircraft, balloons, or even a larger drone.
'The idea was why can't we make UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) that have the same sort of profile,' Aaron Kahn, a flight controls engineer, from the Naval Research Laboratory told AFP. 'We will put so many out there, it will be impossible for the enemy to pick them all up,' he added.
Despite its relatively tiny size, the drone can fly at about 75kph and is fairly silent, as it has no engine or propulsion system."

Unless you have a bigger drone or an airplane, or live near a big cliff, this probably won't be of much use.  I wonder how it would work in a tornado?

a quadcopter with gecko feet

"Working with researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, they have figured out how to enable a quadcopter drone to stick a landing — at any angle — much like a flying gecko or a bat. Without any kind of suction or sticky, the flying robot can now perch on a slippery surface."

Now THAT is cool. You can land on just about any surface, at any angle.

Friday, May 15, 2015

quadcopter interferes with news helicopters

"PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — NewsChopper 2 had a close encounter with a drone while flying over a massive fire in Squirrel Hill.
Our chopper pilot says the drone came very close to his helicopter. He also captured some footage of the device flying low and away from him.
There two other news helicopters there as well, so the drone could have posed a safety hazard.
The Federal Aviation Administration may investigate."

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Your quadcopter buddy follows you

"The Lily's battery is only good for 20 minutes of flying time, however, and the company says that the battery is non-interchangeable due to the drone's waterproofing measures. Lily also says that the drone lacks object avoidance, according to this YouTube comment thread, so filming yourself in areas with crowded airspace could be dangerous.
Still, it's a neat concept, but there's a while to wait if you're ready to film your own derring-do. The drone is available for pre-order at a discounted $499 until June 15, but it won't start shipping until February 2016. The normal retail price will be $999."

Well... I think having a friend do the stunts while you do the video is better.

Monday, May 11, 2015

The latest drones

"In the past year, drones have crashed onto the White House lawn, hauled radioactive cesium to the roof of the Japanese prime minister’s Tokyo office, and swooped above battlefields in Iraq and Ukraine. The future of drone design is an area with huge importance for companies and for the military. At the recent Unmanned Systems 2015 show in Atlanta, Georgia, that future was on display.

Hosted by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, the show brought together drone makers, military types, and business leaders from around the globe. (Google founder Larry Page was spotted briefly on the showroom floor.) All were looking for the next thing in UAV design. Here’s a look at some of the most interesting, innovative and outlandish drones Defense One ran across. "

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Hong Kong embraces drones (mostly)

"Blogging about his visit to Hong Kong, an American videographer, whose aerial film of the city has become a favourite of local drone pilots, writes: "Coming from the US, people often look at drones with mistrust, or even fear, but in Hong Kong, people seemed genuinely curious and interested, which I found refreshing. Even the police officers would come by to take a closer look, and provided me with tips on good places to fly."
Still, some worry that the city's love affair with drones may reveal a darker side. Fears about privacy and the potential for injury are common. Drones are speedy devices - a top-range model from DJI can reach 80km/h - and their spinning rotors can cause serious injury if they hit a person.
Perhaps the most publicised injury involved an American photojournalist who lost the tip of her nose when a drone became tangled in her hair during a restaurant publicity event. In another close call, a drone filming the Occupy protests in Mong Kok last year crashed into a building and tumbled into the crowd. Luckily, no one was hurt.

Supporters are quick to point out there have not been any reports of serious injury or drone-related privacy complaints even though Hong Kong is one of the world's most densely populated cities."

I still think, though, that clear, good rules are needed.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

quadcopter racing is a thing now

"Communities and serious competitions have been springing up from the Bay Area to France, sending drones through courses in the woods like the speeder bikes in Star Wars. Though there are models marketed for racing, most of these crafts are built in garages, either from scratch or with heavy modifications to products out of the box. Parrot doesn’t make models specifically for racing — yet. That’s why Philippe is here.
The impetus for this race is the Drones, Data X conference in Santa Cruz over the weekend. Heavyweights like Amazon, Google, GoPro and Facebook are all interested in how unmanned aerial vehicles can factor into their business. Facebook bought a solar-powered drone company to broadcast the Internet. Amazon may use them to deliver packages. GoPros are one of the most commonly mounted cameras on the nose of a drone. Who knows what Google wants with them but the company has shown an unending interest in robotics."

I see a local group of a few people setting up courses near the fairgrounds here. Looks like fun.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Portugal invests in quadcopter

"Tekever is in talks with the Portuguese government regarding the potential acquisition of its VR1 Colibri quadcopter to operate alongside the nation's fleet of fixed-wing unmanned air vehicles.
The Colibri was introduced earlier this year, and is the first vertical take-off and landing system developed by the company.
It was designed to work alongside Tekever's fixed-wing platforms, many of which are already in use by Portuguese government agencies including the military and police force, and payloads can be swapped between the different aircraft.
The quadcopter and fixed-wing types operate using the same communications link and ground control system, so it is easy to exchange payloads and then operate it quickly afterwards..."

Portugal invests in quadcopter

"Tekever is in talks with the Portuguese government regarding the potential acquisition of its VR1 Colibri quadcopter to operate alongside the nation's fleet of fixed-wing unmanned air vehicles.
The Colibri was introduced earlier this year, and is the first vertical take-off and landing system developed by the company.
It was designed to work alongside Tekever's fixed-wing platforms, many of which are already in use by Portuguese government agencies including the military and police force, and payloads can be swapped between the different aircraft.
The quadcopter and fixed-wing types operate using the same communications link and ground control system, so it is easy to exchange payloads and then operate it quickly afterwards..."

Saturday, May 2, 2015

3D print your own quadcopter!

"Even though i have now abandoned this design i have put to much time in it not to release it so here it is.
My goals when starting was to create a different design than what we usually see for 3D printed quads and enclose all electronics in the design itself. The idea was an experiment to create parts from a strong material with thin walls and low infill to keep the weight down.
Everything is designed to fit the electronics from a DJI 450 Flamewheel."

Friday, May 1, 2015

drones and vandals

"In the early hours of Wednesday morning, the age of robotic graffiti was born. KATSU, a well-known graffiti artist and vandal, used a hacked Phantom drone to paint a giant red scribble across Kendall Jenner’s face on one of New York City’s largest and most viewed billboards. By all accounts, it is the first time that a drone has been deployed for a major act of public vandalism.
In April last year, KATSU made headlines when he demonstrated that he had figured out how to attach a spray can to an off-the-shelf DJI Phantom drone. At the time, he was only using the drone to paint canvasses for white-wall galleries. But he assured the world that soon he would take his mad invention out into the streets and create enormous tags in places that were previously inaccessible to even the most daring and acrobatic taggers. Now, he appears to have made good on his promise in grand fashion."

Bummer. All good things can also be used in stupid ways.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Drone shows damage after Nepal earthquake

"Video footage taken by a drone has revealed the damage caused by the magnitude-7.8 quake which devastated Nepal as the death toll rose above 4,000.
Thousands of sick and wounded are due to spend a third night out in the open because of the fear of more collapsing buildings.
The drone footage shows toppled monuments, cracks across major roads and widespread damage to residential buildings across the city."

Another good use of drones.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Quadcopters learn to fight invaders in Ukraine

"We pulled away, hearing a firefight to the right of us, and passed armoured vehicles firing towards the separatist forces’ positions until we finally pulled over on a muddy track. Removing a giant box from the roof of the vehicle, the soldiers took out an enormous multirotor drone. Within minutes it was set up and flying thousands of feet above our position. Then they quickly brought it back down – and began to attach the bomb.
The drone pilot fiddled with the controls and two soldiers stepped forward to attach the bomb to a holding mechanism that sprung out from underneath the drone. It was quickly in the air again, hovering just a few hundred feet from our position. And then they dropped the bomb.
But nothing happened. They just laughed, and turned to us saying: 'It’s just a practice bomb.'”

I kind of hope quadcopters aren't weaponized, but it's probably inevitable.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Has Canada figured out drone regulations?

"With a quick, flexible process for giving permits to commercial operators, and a blanket exemption for small UAS, the civil aviation authority Transport Canada issued 1,672 commercial drone licenses last year, 945 in 2013, and 345 in 2012. As of this writing, the FAA has issued a grand total of just 28.
The Federal Aviation Administration finally proposed rules for commercial use of UAS last month, but even so, the agency’s cumbersome rule-making process means that nothing will change for at least another 18-24 months. So even though the FAA is dropping the requirement for a pilot's license, you'll still need to have a license to fly an actual plane until those rules are finalized -- in roughly 2017 or so.
In the new rules 'the FAA clearly concedes that the requirement of having a pilots’ license has very limited relevance for UAS operation,' says Diana Cooper, a drone-law specialist at the Canadian firm of LaBarge Weinstein.' There’s no reason that until we have those rules in place, they should be requiring a pilot’s license for an exemption. That [change] could be implemented right away. But I’m not sensing any messaging from the FAA that suggests that they’re planning to do that.'"