Saturday, June 25, 2016

turn your smart phone into a quadcopter?

"Since their inception, smartphones have been confined to only two dimensions – limited to roam the earth at ground level. It’s time to set your smartphone free! Grant your smartphone access to the third dimension with PhoneDrone Ethos! PhoneDrone Ethos is a remarkable device that gives your smartphone wings, allowing you to deploy your iPhone or Android phone as an autonomous aerial camera. Why is this revolutionary? We’ve leveraged the sensor, processor, and wireless capability of your smartphone. What you get is a powerful, cloud-connected aerial vehicle for a fraction of the cost of a typical drone."

I'm skeptical.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Russians use drones against Ukraine

"Combined Russian-separatists forces increasingly use unmanned aerial vehicles to spy on Ukrainian army and adjust fire in the combat zone.
'25 flights of drones were spotted over the past week, with five of them conducted reconnaissance operations from the territory of Russian federation,' the chief of the Main Intelligence Department of Ukraine's Defence Ministry Vadym Skibytskiy told at a briefing in Kyiv.
He added that the drones were also used to adjust artillery fire in the direction of Novoaidarsk, Donetsk, Volnovakha and Mariupol."

I wonder what altitude these things are flying?  Hard to shoot down?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

New FAA rules out

"Under the final rule, the person actually flying a drone must be at least 16 years old and have a remote pilot certificate with a small UAS rating, or be directly supervised by someone with such a certificate. To qualify for a remote pilot certificate, an individual must either pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center or have an existing non-student Part 61 pilot certificate. If qualifying under the latter provision, a pilot must have completed a flight review in the previous 24 months and must take a UAS online training course provided by the FAA. The TSA will conduct a security background check of all remote pilot applications prior to issuance of a certificate.
Operators are responsible for ensuring a drone is safe before flying, but the FAA is not requiring small UAS to comply with current agency airworthiness standards or aircraft certification. Instead, the remote pilot will simply have to perform a preflight visual and operational check of the small UAS to ensure that safety-pertinent systems are functioning property.  This includes checking the communications link between the control station and the UAS.
Although the new rule does not specifically deal with privacy issues in the use of drones, and the FAA does not regulate how UAS gather data on people or property, the FAA is acting to address privacy considerations in this area. The FAA strongly encourages all UAS pilots to check local and state laws before gathering information through remote sensing technology or photography."

wow.  So to fly a drone commercially you need a pilot's license?  Amazing.

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Oregon standoff people had 2 drones?

"In a prior court hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Gabriel said Blomgren also told law enforcement that the occupation leaders never booby-trapped the wildlife sanctuary but talked about using 'IEDS,' or improvised explosive devices, when planning for a worst-case scenario and using at least two drones to spy on the FBI."

Hm.  i'd like to know more about this.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Idiot disrupts Dubai airport

"DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- The busy Dubai International Airport closed for over an hour after a drone flew into its airspace.
The airport says the closure disrupted flights for 69 minutes on Saturday. The airport, the world's busiest for international travel, reopened at 12:45 p.m. (0845 GMT)
This is not the first time a drone has disrupted flights into the airport, which is the base of the long-haul carrier Emirates."

What will it take to stop idiots?  Jail time?

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

spying on your neighbors

"Gamboa says he watched the device go up and down the floors. At one point, he estimates, it got to within 15 feet of the side of the building

A local attorney says if the incident is a case of drone peeping, the violator has committed a felony act.
The punishment is no laughing matter -- up to five years behind bars and a $10,000 fine."

There will probably have to be some convictions before the idiots get the message.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

The quadcopter that wasn't; Zano

"They reported that drones would repeatedly “bunny hop”’ a few centimetres in the air before landing again, or veer off wildly to crash into walls. Video quality was dreadful, and there was no sign of even basic obstacle avoidance or gesture control, let alone fully autonomous flight. In mid-October 2015, already months late, Torquing again pushed back delivery for the bulk of the Kickstarter rewards to as far off as February 2016.
On 18 November, the axe fell. Torquing announced via a Kickstarter update that it was entering a creditor’s voluntary liquidation, the UK equivalent roughly of an American “Chapter 7” bankruptcy filing. It appointed a liquidator who would bring its business operations to a close and attempt to sell the company’s remaining assets to pay its outstanding bills. Legal documents show that Torquing had not only burned through the £2.5m from its Kickstarter campaign, it had run up another £1m in debt. It was Kickstarter’s most spectacular flame-out to date."

Things that are too good to be true probably are too good to be true.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Menlo Park leads the way on drones

"Skyfront has developed Tailwind, a hybrid gas-electric drone that also is used in work site surveys and can fly for more than four hours, roughly 10 times more than typical.
'We're building in redundancy in the communication link and the aircraft itself ... to make sure (crashes) never happen,' Mestler said. 'That's a problem we solved.'
Mestler and Dobbs agreed that Menlo Park is a drone-development hot spot because of the infusion of venture capital and engineering talent coming out of Stanford and UC-Berkeley.
'I think the concentration of venture capital is why a lot of commercial drone operations have gotten their start here ... and Silicon Valley often provides leadership and technology,' Dobbs said.
Mestler said drone companies tend to flock together to share research and build partnerships, though he wouldn't share specifics."

My quadcopter has no automation whatsover. I've spent months learning to fly it. Now anybody can buy a new quadcopter and fly better than I do now with mine.  This is both good and bad, of course, because "anybody" includes idiots.   But meanwhile usefulness is also growing in the field. that's probably the tradeoff right there.

Even forest tribes are using drones

"Panama's indigenous groups first started using drones to monitor their ancestral lands last year, the FAO said.
The current FAO drone project began in February and is being carried out through the U.N.'s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Programme (UN-REDD), in partnership with Panama's environment ministry and the non-governmental Rainforest Foundation.
The project focuses on seven ethnic tribes in Panama. Up to three representatives of each tribe, including women, are trained to use drones, download and interpret images, produce detailed maps and collect data.
The project's first drone flight was last month, the FAO said."

Even forest tribes see the economical usefulness of drones. Let's just hope the idiots don't spoil a good thing. 

Do R/C modelers hate drones?

"For eight decades, aviation enthusiasts have been flying at local Academy of Model Aeronautics clubs like DC/RC — with their mentorships, insurance and safety rules that predate even the formation of the Federal Aviation Administration. All of a sudden, fly-by-night drone rookies started taking to the skies whenever and wherever they wished, often aimlessly, and landed, constantly, in the headlines.
'Honestly, I could see it right away,' Pfarr says, 'the idiots are going to kill us.'"

I love this article.  It shows that remote control flying has been around forever, but that the newest quadcopters aren't really flying since they're so automated.  Great points throughout here.