This +DNews presentation sums up some of the concerns that may halt Jeff Bezo's vision of delivery drones from taking the skies by Sept. 2015 (the FAA's deadline to issue commercial drone regulations):
- High-crash rates and poor maneuvering - Criminal issues such as drone hacking and theft - Public fears and privacy worries
For the first time, widespread use of the tiny devices give an aerial perspective on Thailand’s deep civil unrest.
Thailand’s news media outlets have been increasingly using small, unmanned flying gadgets that give them a bird’s-eye view of the protests in the streets of their capital. As my colleague Thomas Fuller writes, the miniature drones have circulated videos of the battles, including one between riot police outside the prime minister’s office and protesters attacking the barricades.
This is the first time that drones have been used so widely during protests in Thailand, which is now in the throes of its deepest civil unrest in three years.
Amazon 'Prime Air' could be the first step toward a postal service free of surveillance.
Amazon's Jeff Bezos [went] on 6o Minutes Sunday night and reveal[ed] a “secret R&D project: The beginning of Silk Air Road? ‘Octocopter’ drones that will fly packages directly to your doorstep in 30 minutes.” Yup. an autonomous drone delivery service that would use GPS coordinates to navigate, called Amazon “Prime Air.”
After the shock and awe wore off, many commentators immediately pointed out that this is currently illegal. While the po-po and government entities are allowed to fly drones if they obtain authorization from the FAA, private use of drones is limited to hobbyists, and they have to keep the drones under 400
feet and within their line of sight. But that’s just a temporary hang-up. Congress has ordered the FAA to clear the skyway for commercial use of drones by 2015. So, yes, Amazon will be able to get emergency diapers, toilet paper, or s-pound gummy bears (depending on the Octocopter’s weight limits) to you in 30 minutes (and Google will be able to launch ‘Drone Map’, and Facebook will be able to launch ‘Drone Stalk’, and on and on).
Law enforcement may already be gritting its teeth over the idea of legal drone delivery though. Being
able to send things by drone could be hugely disruptive to the existing mail system: a peer-to-peer postal service that cuts out the USPS and FedEx. That’s fine when Amazon is shipping out books, but what about the kind of deliveries that law enforcement wants to be able to track? The existing
Drone technology helps to clear debris and locate bodies in typhoon-struck Philippines, but critics say it could infringe upon privacy rights. Michaela Cabrera reports.
Equipped with a small camera, it aids in search and rescue, identifying blocked roads and bodies for collection. The company who developed it, Danoffice IT, says its made of plastic similar to lego. Equipped with a small camera, it aids in search and rescue, identifying blocked roads and bodies for collection. The company who developed it, Danoffice IT, says its made of plastic similar to lego.
nOV. 21 - A prototype electric 'volocopter' has completed its first public test-flight in Germany. Inventors of the VC-200 say their emissions-free aircraft will one day become as ubiquitous as cars on the road. Jim Drury reports.
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Veterans For Peace to submit petition to ban drones vtdigger.org Each of the signatories agreed with the petition statement requesting our congressional delegation to introduce or join in legislation to ban the use of armed drones by the CIA and the U.S. Military.
The petition presents the findings of the UK based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, published in January, 2013, which reports that in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia between 3,061 and 4,731 people have been killed by drones of which 558 to 1,126 were civilians. Four US citizens have also been killed three of whom were civilians.
Also included in the petition are the findings of a joint study conducted by Stanford University School of Law and the New York University Law School which concluded that drone strikes are not “surgically precise” as the government claims but, in fact, kill innocent people, terrorize civilians and facilitate the recruitment of non-state armed groups to conduct violent attacks.
The three-rotor SwitchBlade, a small, collapsible drone that's already raised $32,810 on Kickstarter, is designed to compete with radially symmetric quadrotors in the realms of search and rescue, infrastructure inspection, aerial photography, research, and (of course) recreational flight. According to creators Vision Aerial, the tricopter has better balance while flying forward compared with a quadcopter; it's also easier to determine the orientation of an asymmetrical drone while in flight.
The SwitchBlade comes in both regular and pro models. Neither include cameras or other special sensors right out of the box, but both have mounts for them. Both have on-board flight computers that keep the trirotor stable in the air; the pro's system allows for programmable missions. Radio controllers are included with each model. The regular SwitchBlade goes for $949 on Kickstarter, while the pro costs $1,549.
After years of quadrotor domination in the commercial drone market, we're excited to see new designs emerge. Watch some SwitchBlade-captured aerial views of a motocross track below.
Tom McKinnon and Jim Sears in Colorado ... have developed a low-cost, remote control drone that takes multispectral images of farmland.
This technology saves farmers money because it is much less expensive than manned aircraft flights or satellite imagery while providing useful information about the health of their plots. These drones can also be fitted with infrared cameras that map the soil moisture content of the area; affording farmers the opportunity to correct dry conditions before they affect crop production.
You may think this technology sounds expensive, but it is actually very affordable and could be used in our own communities to monitor the health of larger, community sponsored agricultural plots.
From a DIY perspective, a drone similar to the one created by McKinnon and Sears could be made for less than $1,000. This is cutting-edge technology that is affordable on most budgets.
Chris Miser, owner of Falcon UAV, was mapping flooded roads and waterways from above—before authorities on the ground told him to stop, or be arrested.
"The confusion in Colorado is an unavoidable outgrowth of the rise of civilian UAVs in American airspace, which PopMech covered in our September cover story. The FAA is under a Congressional mandate to formulate rules and regulation that will integrate drones into the way it polices our skies. But the going is slow. And until those rules are in place, there are bound to be more examples of drone operators clashing with authorities—whether those drone operators are flying mischievous dive-bombs around national landmarks, or trying to aid rescue workers in the midst of a crisis. "
The Lisa/S chip is 4 square centimeters -- about the same size as a Euro coin. But packed into this 1.9 gram chip is everything you need to autopilot an aerial drone.
It’s the world’s smallest drone autopilot system — over 30 grams lighter than its predecessor — according to the chip’s designers at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. And best of all, both the hardware and the software is open source, meaning anyone can copy and use it — for free.
“The main reason we chose open source is that we want to make it available for society,” says the project’s leader, Bart Remes. He envisions open source drone technology enabling a wider range of civilian drone applications, from agriculture to search and rescue.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued certificates for two types of unmanned aircraft for civilian use. The move is expected to lead to the first approved commercial drone operation later this summer.
Both the Scan Eagle and the PUMA received “restricted category type certificates”which permit aerial surveillance. Prior to the FAA’s decision, the only way the private sector could operate UAS in US airspace was by obtaining an experimental airworthiness certificate which specifically restricts commercial operations.
The PUMA is expected to support emergency response crews for wildlife surveillance and oil spill monitoring over the Beaufort Sea to the north of Canada and Alaska. The Scan Eagle will be used by a major energy company off the Alaskan Coast to survey ice floes and migrating whales in Arctic oil exploration areas.
The issuing of the certificates is seen as an important step to integrating UAS into US airspace. Both drone operations will meet the requirements of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, which includes a mandate to increase Arctic UAS commercial operations.
Why buy something when you could rent it, have it instantly delivered when you need it, and taken away when you're done? While Amazon's unveiling of its Prime Air drone-powered delivery service could make buying easier, it's drone pick-up that could make it so we don't need to buy things at all.
The sharing economy holds the promise of a more efficient, collaborative way of living. Startups like Airbnb and GetAround are thriving by making use of our empty apartments and parked cars. It's proving feasible for humans to share housing and transportation, but we haven't quite figured out the sharing of most objects. Perhaps the biggest hurdle is delivery and pickup.
We might buy less stuff and all objects would spend more of their existence being used rather than in a closet, so we wouldn't have to manufacture as many copies of things. That could put lots of people out of work. No, there aren't enough drone repairman jobs to make up for all those lost on the assembly line and delivery chain.
In a 60 Minutes interview, Jeff Bezos announced that Amazon is working on delivery that's even faster than Prime. The company wants to use octocopters to deliver your order within a half hour.
Bezos says that the project, which is heavily in the R&D stage right now, couldn't debut before 2015 even if Amazon were ready because of FAA regulations, but even then PrimeAir will probably still be a few years out. Bezos estimates that it will be another four or five years. He told 60 Minutes, "It will work and it will happen, and it's gonna be a lot of fun."
China successfully flew a stealth drone for the first time on Thursday, state media said, citing eyewitness reports.
The BBC's defence correspondent Jonathan Marcus says China is joining a small elite club of nations that includes the US, Israel, France and the UK, who are pushing the boundaries of UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) technology.
Our correspondent says that what is clear from recent air shows and the Chinese technical press is that Beijing has developed a variety of UAVs matching virtually every category deployed by the US.
Today, drones blow people up. In 2020, they might take the ultimate selfies.
Paparazzi, the selfie drone, is one of the two concepts that emerged from frog the workshop. It's a far cry from the Predator. The craft "lets you virtually stream your entire life to all of your social networks without pulling out your phone or even lifting a finger," as the designers put it. A spherical, stabilised camera shoots pics and video from the perfect vantage point, buzzing into position to account for lighting conditions and making sure it captures you from a flattering angle every time. It's the logical conclusion of our self-shot obsessed culture. It's a little bit ridiculous, but only a little bit.
Whether or not we'll reach the narcissistic summit of robotically optimised selfies, Paparazzi does succeed in challenging our expectations of what drones can be and what they can do. And that was very much the point of the exercise. For the workshop, frog's designers put themselves in the year 2020, trying to imagine a landscape in which which drones had become as ubiquitous as smartphones.
Ecologist Lian Pin Koh makes a persuasive case for using drones to protect the world's forests and wildlife. These lightweight autonomous flying vehicles can...
"Well recently, Nepal acquired a new tool in the fight against wildlife crime, and these are drones, or more specifically, conservation drones. For about a year now, my colleagues and I have been building drones for Nepal and training the park protection personnel on the use of these drones. Not only does a drone give you a bird's-eye view of the landscape, but it also allows you to capture detailed, high-resolution images of objects on the ground. This, for example, is a pair of rhinoceros taking a cooling bath on a hot summer day in the lowlands of Nepal. Now we believe that drones have tremendous potential, not only for combating wildlife crime, but also for monitoring the health of these wildlife populations.
The drone will be used to rush textbooks to students in delivery times as short as two to three minutes.
Here’s how it works: Students would order books from rental company Zookal via a smartphone app and one of six unmanned Flirtey drones would immediately deliver the books to students’ doors. Students would be able to track the drones’ progress in real time on a Google map.
The venture is still pending approval from Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority and its backers hope to launch the service in March 2014.
Flirtey plans to use laser range finders and sonar technology to help guide drones and avoid collisions with buildings, birds, and pedestrians – common problems in past drone experiments.
According to The Age, a special delivery mechanism “allows for textbooks to be safely lowered to the customer without the drone having to leave its hovering height of about three metres. If gentle force is applied to the drone's lowering cord, the parcel is released.”
From what we can surmise, this venture has more than just novelty going for it. The drones, which can carry up to 4 and a 1/2 lbs, can reduce waiting times to as little as two to three minutes, according to Zookal, and reduce delivery costs dramatically. Same day postal delivery in Australia can cost as much as $29.95, while Flirtey deliveries will cost $2.99.
In Pennsylvania, the thrill of shooting flying clay out of the air isn't enough for everyone. Some gun clubs have organized pigeon shoots, where live pigeons are used instead of clay targets. It's legal there, but controversial. Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK), an animal advocay group in Pennsylvania, is now using drones to catch pigeon killers.
SHARK flies octorotor drones with videos camera attached. Dubbed "Angels" (because subtlety) SHARK's drones have recorded people cleaning up after allegedly shooting pigeons in addition to allegedly disposing of dead pigeons (and burning tires, which is illegal for individuals, as there are health risks).
Why use drones and not just, say, a smartphone cam? Presumably because you can see a lot more when you're buzzing around in the sky.
This isn't the first time activists have used drones to support their cause. In Texas in 2012, for instance, a hobbyist's drone outside of Dallas took pictures of a meatpacking plant that was dumping pig blood into a creek.
Not everyone approves of these tactics, though. Texas responded to the pig blood incident bypassing a law that makes it illegal for hobbyists to use drones to photograph private property without the consent of the property owner. And in Pennsylvania, someone allegedly responded to one of the SHARK drones by shooting it down.
According to The Atlantic, a delivery was first spotted in Dongguan, China, by a bystander who quickly took a photo and uploaded it to Sina Weibo. Fellow social media users then spotted the SF Express logo on the drone’s parcel, which then led to speculation that the wide-reaching delivery firm was dabbling in the new technology.
An SF Express spokesman later confirmed that the company had indeed developed drones capable of flying 100 meters high, that can automatically deliver parcels to exact locations with an error of about 2 meters. The spokesman did not state whether or not SF express intends to roll out the drones on a mass scale.