Drone Zone's Posts (24)

Walmart Joins the Drone Generation

Courtesy of Direct Marketing News: by Al Urbanski, Senior Editor

Walmart applied to the Federal Aviation Administration on Monday for exemption from rules governing unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), making it the most prominent retailer after Amazon to begin assembling its own drone delivery force. Exemptions from the rules allow UAS operators to begin testing their aircraft.

“This shows the effect that consumer expectations can have on closing the gap between online commerce and brick-and-mortar stores as far as how fast they can get merchandise in their hands,” commented Tom Caporaso, CEO of Clarus Commerce, which operates FreeShipping.com. “I once read that 70 percent of the U.S. population lives within five miles of a Walmart store, so drone delivery is not as strategic for them as it is for Amazon.”

But Walmart plans to do double duty with its drones, using them to take inventory of trailers outside of warehouses and improve efficiencies in its distribution system, according to a report from Reuters, which obtained a copy of Walmart's FAA application. “It looks like Walmart's motivation is more about optimization of its core business, and then to test deliveries in certain areas,” Caporaso said.

After dealing with objections from pilots associations, the FAA granted Amazon its exemption in April. It cleared the online retailer to test drones weighing less than 55 pounds and not exceeding speeds of 100 miles per hour. Their maximum altitude cannot exceed 400 feet and they must remain within unaided eyesight of a human controller.

At a NASA conference on UAS issues in July, Guy Kimchi, the director of Amazon's drone project, presented a plan that would designate a no-fly zone for other aircrafts that would allow commercial drones to operate between altitudes of 400 and 500 feet.

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When I was younger, remote control cars were the cool thing to have — especially the battery powered cars that didn’t need a cord connected to the controller. That’s all I wanted for my birthday, Christmas, or any other special occasion I could get away with asking for a gift. Not only did I just want a remote control car, but I wanted all the accessories as well.
Drones are the new remote control cars with a myriad of parts and accessories to add on. You have the option to assemble your drone collection from the ground up or purchase a kit that comes with everything you need to fly. And, with the massive growth in drone popularity, it’s important to state some of the things we shouldn’t do with drones — with a dose of humor, of course.

1.  Crash Weddings

When choosing a photographer/videographer for your wedding, make sure you hire someone that knows what they’re doing. Drone videography can create awesome videos from your wedding, but choose wisely in who you pick to run the drone. Choose a rookie pilot and you might get drilled in the head by a drone. Enjoy! See video here.

Image ©Sky News

2.  Import Drugs over the US Border

It finally happened. Someone really tried to fly drugs over the US border and expected to get away with it. According to Sky News, “Two California teenagers are facing lengthy prison sentences after what is thought to be the first US drug seizure involving a drone flying across the border from Mexico.” It’s fun to laugh at someone who really thought they could get away with this. Unfortunately, this probably isn’t the last time it will happen. 

 

3. Shoot Roman Candles at your Friends

I know this looks like fun, but probably not one of the best uses of a drone. This is hilarious to watch these guys running through the snow, without shirts on, from a drone shooting roman candles at them. Even though this is very funny, I don’t recommended using your drone in this way. Once again, enjoy!  See Video here.

Image ©Susanne Romo

4. Mess with Wild Animals

It’s always fun playing with our animals, right? It’s fun to see how they react to different toys, balls, ropes, etc. But how would your animal react to a drone flying by? My dogs wouldn’t do so well, and neither do bighorn sheep.

Last year in Zion National Park a drone flew over a herd of bighorn sheep and, reportedly, separated young bighorn sheep from adults. It’s definitely fun to play with our animals, but not all animals like to be messed with in their natural habitat. Now drones are banned in every National Park in America.

Drones are (obviously) growing in popularity, and wiith growth comes regulations. You’re probably not the type of person who will show up on a list like this, but don’t make the mistake of breaking a law you don’t know about. Stay up-to-date with drone regulations as they change frequently and as always — enjoy

Liz Greene hails from the beautiful city of trees, Boise, Idaho. She’s a lover of all things geek and is happiest when cuddling with her dogs and catching up on the latest Marvel movies. You can follow her on Twitter @LizVGreene

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Drone World Expo - Be Our Guest in November

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The DWE Conference will feature world-class panel discussions and workshops on the current regulatory environment, humanitarian applications for UAS, international lessons learned, how drones are transforming Big Data and IoT, insurance standards, safety and privacy concerns, late-breaking industry news... and an exclusive series of case studies! Hear directly from end users in agriculture, construction, cinematography, oil and gas, utilities, conservation, real estate and more on the process, the pitfalls and the potential of UAS for your business! Conference Details…

In the DWE Exhibit Hall, see hundreds of products on display! Experience live flying demonstrations, sit in on dozens of Tech Talks, and enjoy special events and unmatched networking opportunities!

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Drone World Expo has also partnered with MAPPS to offer specialized geospatial programming! Attend the MAPPS geospatial sessions at DWE for just $95!

*Complimentary conference passes are available to qualified end-users. End-users are defined as those with technology purchasing authority or purchasing influence who are currently employed by a commercial company that utilizes or has the potential to implement UAS technology for business purposes, but does not sell UAS technology products, services, integration or consulting. Company website is required and will be used in the qualification process. Please contact us at 203-371-6322 or info@jdevents.com with any questions.

 

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To Dronie or Not to Dronie, That is the Question

In early 2014 Twitter filed for trademark protection on the word “Dronie” in a number of classes relating to software, online communities, aerial photography, and other internet/photography-related types of services.  Now, as anyone who has been involved in the drone community knows, the terms “dronie” has been used for some time as a “selfie” that is taken from a drone.  Indeed, Dronestagram has had drone photography contests where one category was “Best Dronie”. 

Unfortunately for Twitter, the USPTO trademark examiner, who may or may not have been a drone flyer who took “dronies”, initially rejected the application, claiming that that the word “dronie” was merely descriptive as it just described the goods or services Twitter was intending to provide.

Twitter then responded, claiming to have invented the phrase “dronie” and apparently believes that everyone else copied that phrase when discussing “dronies” and having drone photo contests for “dronies”.   This argument did not carry weight with the USPTO as the examiner just gave “Dronie” a Final Rejection.

What can Twitter do?  I think their only hope is to prove they were the ones who coined the term “dronie”, and then publicized their use of the term well before others began using it.  However, since they filed the application under “intend to use”, this will be a difficult argument to make.

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Group Rules

This group is for drone photography and drone-related issues.    Please do not post content advertising for non drone related subjects. 

Your drone photographs, comments, product reviews, etc. are welcome. We will be happy to promote anyone's content, videos, experiences, etc.  If you would like for us post a blog for your company, drone experiences, news or videos,  please email us.  Thank you for visiting and we hope you enjoy the information we provide here.

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Quebecers like to fly drones illegally, it seems.

Since January 2014, all 12 of the fines Transport Canada has handed out for illegal drone-flying have been in Quebec — and with a maximum of $25,000, the fines can get pretty steep.

On top of that, Quebec is also home to 36 of the 69 drone-related accidents that were investigated by Transport Canada last year, although most of them were minor.

Too few permits in Quebec?

In Canada, people don't need a permit to fly drones recreationally, but they do have to follow Transport Canada's rules. Those rules include not flying near an airport or residential area.

The transportation authority asks drone users to respect other people's private lives and fly their machines during the daytime under clear skies for maximum visibility.

People who fly drones for commercial purposes need a special flight operating certificate to do so. Last year, 127 certificates were handed out in the province.

In comparison, 734 certificates were handed out in Ontario during the same period. A total of 1,672 permits were given out across the country.

Transport Canada fines 

People who should have an SFOC but don't:

  • Individuals: Up to $5,000.
  • Businesses: Up to $25,000.

People who don't follow the conditions of their SFOC:

  • Individuals: Up to $3,000.
  • Businesses: $15,000.

Yet Quebec videographer Julien Gramigna was fined $1,000 for using a camera strapped to a drone to film something he sold to a real estate agent.

Gramigna said Transport Canada's strict rules have caused him to lose out on other job opportunities.

Drone

The Aeryon Scout, a drone made in Waterloo, Ont., can serve both military and civilian purposes. It collects high-definition aerial images. (Reuters)

"I have a client who calls, says he'd like to have, for example, an aerial view of his condo project to show to his clients," Gramigna said.

But before he can sign a contract he needs to get authorization from Transport Canada — a process that can take weeks. The videographer already has eight pending authorization requests.

He also questioned whether Quebec was more heavily policed than other provinces.

"Canadian aviation rules apply to the entire country. Transport Canada has a sufficient number of inspectors who work to maintain Canada's strong record of aviation safety, including in all regions," said Roxane Marchand of the federal transportation regulator.

Read Bahador Zabihiyan's series on drones for Radio-Canada (in French) here:

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On May 4, 2015, every domain air, ground and maritime and industry, from agriculture and construction to energy and academia, will converge under one roof to shape the future through shared thought leadership and technology innovations.

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Opening the door for future study abroad opportunities, MTSU aerospace and agricultural students flew unmanned aircraft in Mendoza, Argentina, while performing research during winter break.

Along with the five undergraduate students and one alumnus, MTSU faculty members Tony Johnston from the School of Agribusiness and Agriscience and Doug Campbell in the Department of Aerospace teamed up to travel to South America and learn how unmanned aircraft systems — or UAS — can be used in agriculture.

Using the 3D Robotics X-8 aircraft, the group studied grape and olive production in Argentina to learn how their award-winning wines and olive oils are produced. They learned the ins-and-outs of making wine and olive oil and brainstormed ideas of how information from the unmanned aircraft, commonly called drones, could help producers increase grape and olive yields and quality.

“The experience was incredibly unique compared to anything I have ever done,” said Aubrey Bloom of Nashville, a junior agriscience major who is earning a minor in aerospace’s unmanned program. “The chance to be a part of this team and the trip was once in a career. It truly reignited my want for research.”

“Argentina was an unforgettable experience that I am proud to say I was part of,” said Jessie McMillin, a senior agribusiness student from Watertown, Tennessee. “It was exciting to finally put all of the skills that I have learned at MTSU to the test. It was also a great cultural experience to see how the people of Argentina lived.”

A flight instructor at the MTSU Department of Aerospace’s Flight Operations Center at Murfreesboro Airport, Nate Tilton, 21, of Brookhaven, Mississippi, “learned a lot about the unmanned aircraft and Argentina, and had an incredible bonding experience with the team.”

After learning about current production processes, students worked at Argentina’s National Institute of Agricultural Technology, or INTA, and flew the UAS above experimental grape vineyards and vegetable fields, gathering multispectral images used to determine crop health, Campbell and Johnston said.

The first to ever fly an unmanned aircraft above the Argentina research fields, the students presented their data and accompanying analysis to the institute’s lead agricultural researchers, who were quite pleased and welcomed future student groups, the faculty members said.

The students praised the 3D Robotics X-8 aircraft, which included autopilot and GPS capability that allows autonomous flight. The eight-rotor helicopter carried both a GoPro and multispectral cameras for analyzing the crops.

“The aircraft did an exceptional job during flight,” said Bloom, who suggests the “battery life vs. payload weight needs to be worked on to increase flight time.”

“My first impressions of the X-8 aircraft was pure amazement,” McMillin said. “We did run into some initial calibration issues. Once those were worked out, everything ran smoothly. It was exciting to compare the imaging data we collected with the ground data we collected.”

Tilton said the X8 proved to be “a dependable aircraft and performed well despite the hot and dusty conditions. It performed to its specifications and allowed us to capture the information we needed to analyze crop health from the air.”

The students learned to preflight the UAS, program a complex flight plan, fly it from a ground control station, provide backup during takeoffs and landings and process the agricultural images to ultimately produce a better grape crop, said Campbell, unmanned operations manager in aerospace.

Students Tori Hawkins of Murfreesboro and Megan Knox of Nashville and alumna Amanda Williams of Denver, Colorado, also participated.

The Federal Aviation Administration mostly prohibits the commercial use of UAS in the U.S. Campbell added that hobbyists can fly unmanned aircraft as long as they follow a simple set of rules to keep everyone safe, and public entities such as MTSU can fly for research and development purposes through an FAA waiver program.

By traveling to Argentina, MTSU students were able to conduct research they may not have been able to in the U.S. because of FAA restrictions.

Aerospace and the agriculture program plan to conduct the class annually to further strengthen the leadership role MTSU is taking in the use of unmanned aircraft and digital control sensing technologies to improve agricultural output, Campbell said.

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Heathrow plane in near miss with drone

An unidentified drone came close to hitting a plane as it landed at Heathrow, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has confirmed.

An Airbus A320 pilot reported seeing a helicopter-style drone as the jet was 700 feet off the ground on its approach to the runway at 1416 GMT on 22 July.

The CAA has not identified the airline or how close the drone came to the plane, which can carry 180 people.

It gave the incident an "A" rating, meaning a "serious risk of collision".

This is the highest incident rating the CAA can give.

Investigators were unable to identify the drone, which did not appear on air traffic control radar and disappeared after the encounter.

Crash warning

In May the pilot of an ATR 72 turbo-prop plane reported seeing a helicopter drone only 80 feet away as he approached Southend airport at a height of 1,500 feet.

The incidents have prompted a warning from the British Airline Pilots' Association (Balpa) that the rapid increase in the number of drones operated by amateur enthusiasts now poses "a real risk" to commercial aircraft.

The association's general secretary, Jim McAuslan said drones could cause a repeat of the "Hudson River experience", when a plane was forced to land in water in New York in 2009 after birds were sucked into its engines.

"The risk of a 10 kilogram object hitting a plane is a real one that pilots are very concerned about" he said.

"A small drone could be a risky distraction for a pilot coming into land and cause serious damage if they hit one."

Sales of drones have increased rapidly, with UK sales running at a rate of between 1,000 and 2,000 every month.

They are expected to be very popular as Christmas presents.

They cost as little as £35 for a smaller model - more advanced drones capable of carrying a high definition camera and travelling at 45 miles per hour cost almost £3,000.

Only a very small minority of people operating drones have attended training courses in how to fly them.

'Common sense'

A spokesman for the CAA said it had to depend on people using their common sense when they operated drones.

He said the current level of risk should be "kept in perspective" but warned that breaking laws governing the use of drones could potentially threaten commercial aircraft.

The CAA said it had to depend on people using their common sense when they operated drones

"People using unmanned aircraft need to think, use common sense and take responsibility for them", he said.

"There are rules which have the force of law and have to be followed."

Drones may not be flown higher than 400 feet or further than 500 metres from the operator, and they must not go within 50 metres of people, vehicles or buildings.

There are exclusion zones around airports and the approaches to them for drones weighing more than seven kilograms.

Mr McAuslan said there was an urgent need for rules to be tightened before much larger unmanned cargo planes - potentially the size of a Boeing 737 - took to the skies.

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Why Colleges Want Drones

Schools are requesting to fly the unmanned aircraft for multiple reasons.

One-quarter of drone requests came from colleges and universities, according to the FAA.

Universities across America really like the idea of using drones. 

New data released by the Federal Aviation Administration shows that colleges and universities accounted for 25 percent of more than 900 requests seeking approval to fly drones, also known as unmanned aircraft systems, in the U.S. The schools use the devices for everything from academics to disaster response, environmental research and agricultural monitoring. Some have even used them to film football practices and games.

[READ: FAA Releases Names of Organizations That Can Fly Drones in the U.S.]

"It's like a gun," says Mark Blanks, manager of Kansas State University's Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program. "Great technology can be used for good or for bad." 

Kansas State has a fleet of two dozen drones that buzz around the area for both research and academic purposes. The university has offered a bachelor's degree in unmanned aircraft systems flight operations since 2011, Blanks says. Students in the program take courses on basic electronics, piloting, aviation repairs, general psychology and trigonometry, among other subjects.

On the research side, drones can be a cost-efficient and timesaving way to respond to different types of natural disasters and search and rescue missions. 

"Often minutes can be very crucial," Blanks says. 

The aircraft also provide a distinct advantage in endurance and proximity. In rescue missions following devastating tornadoes, like the 2013 tornado in Moore, Oklahoma, searches can last for hours on end – a duration that might not be feasible for responders on the ground or typical manned aircraft. Search helicopters also can create noise that distracts rescuers on the ground from hearing and locating survivors. Drones can help in those situations because they can be flown for long periods of time and don't produce the same noise other aircraft do. 

[MORE: This Land Is Your Land, but Is the Air the FAA's Land?]

The University of Colorado-Boulder – which had nearly 30 waiver requests to fly drones, according to the FAA data – has recently used the technology to measure supercell thunderstorms, a specific type of storm that can produce tornadoes, says Brian Argrow, an aerospace engineering professor at the university.

Argrow says meteorologists still don't have a solid understanding of why most supercell thunderstorms don't produce tornadoes – and they can't safely get close enough to the storms to gather data on temperatures, humidity and pressure that could help them find out. That's where drones come in handy. 

"Our motivation is the scientists are now trying to answer big questions about climate, about whether they can develop the capabilities for warning and mitigating for the public to be able to respond to these things," Argrow says. "Our engineering objectives are to develop these systems that can be deployed by us or the scientists to collect these data you cannot get any other way."

Aside from their public safety applications, universities have used unmanned aircraft systems for agricultural monitoring. Schools with larger drones, like the University of California-Davis, can use them for crop dusting. At Kansas State, which focuses more on small aircraft systems, the focus lies more on inspecting crops.

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