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.