Company offers commercial drone insurance, drone daredevil sues to reverse college expulsion, Marines testing pocket-sized helicopter drone, Brazil struggles to keep drones from the Olympics.
Startup Verifly is offering commercial drone insurance by the flight and on-demand. Verify’s associated app will draw a circle for a quarter-mile around a user, and determine the immediate risk (of hitting power line, crashing onto the White House lawn, etc.) On the spot, the app calculates and offers the drone pilot a line of insurance for the flight in question. If the pilot buys the policy, he or she has $1 million in third-party liability coverage as well as $10,000 in invasion-of-privacy coverage to cover whatever his drone gets up to within that half-mile radius. – ZDNET
Drone enthusiast Austin Haughwout, 19, is in the news again after suing Central Connecticut State University in an effort to be reinstated as a student. He was expelled for threatening to shoot his schoolmates, threats he said were only jokes. Haughwout believes the real reason for his expulsion were the videos he uploaded to YouTube showing off his flamethrower- and handgun-equipped drones. School officials deny the videos were behind the expulsion. Haughwout and his father, Bret, have been in the news over the last few months: They were recently made to comply with FAA subpoenas regarding their modified drones, a decision they fought against tooth and nail as a violation of their constitutional rights. – ABC
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The U.S. Marines are testing a pocket-sized helicopter camera drone that delivers three live video feeds and is tiny enough to fit in your pocket. Called The Black Hornet PD-100 (of course), the drone can stay aloft for 25 minutes on GPS-guided missions, and it has a 1-mile range which gives Marines surveillance options far beyond their current position. The three cameras (which can send live video or take pictures) are mounted looking ahead, directly down, and at a 45-degree angle, respectively. – CIO
A New York university is using drone technology to improve the health care of people in remote parts of Madagascar.Stony Brook University, which has been working in the island nation off the coast of Africa for nearly three decades, has teamed up with a Michigan startup called Vayu Inc. to transport medical samples by drone for laboratory analysis. The team made its first successful run of the drone technology in late July. - ABC NEWS
Brazil is trying — and failing — to keep drones away from the Olympics. After at least three drones hovered over the stadium during the Opening Ceremony and triggered a security panic, Brazilian authorities are taking bold new steps to protect designated areas, including geofences, jamming devices and even interference from the Armed Forces. So far, blocking drones while keeping emergency communication lines open has proved very difficult. - THE VERGE
With drones increasingly used to inspect the outsides of tall buildings, apartment dwellers in Australia are getting worried about Peeping Toms.Strata Community, the peak body for strata title and body corporates in Australia, said strict guidelines were needed for drones being used to inspect the outside of buildings, including all owners and residents being notified of the drone’s presence. - SYDNEY MORNING HERALD
After successful tests in Rwanda, Zipline’s medicine delivery drones are headed to the U.S. The California-based company has developed a drone delivery system to deliver emergency blood supplies and other critical medical products to isolated areas that lack roads and other infrastructure. The service has been operating in Rwanda this summer, and Zipline plans to expand to the US starting with Maryland, Nevada and Washington. - DIGITAL TRENDS
DRONE POLICE BLOTTER
A London woman has died in possibly the first drone-related accidental death. The young woman died in a car crash after her vehicle was followed by police investigating reports of a drone being flown near Wandsworth Prison in London. The incident may be the first fatality linked to the non-military use of drones. This comes a day after reports of a fourfold rise in the number of reports of suspicious activity involving shop-bought drones in the UK. - THE INDEPENDENT
FROM THE FORUMS
Like many drone pilots these days, Redditor brttf3 is studying for the Federal Aviation Administration’s commercial UAS certificate. “Wondering what resources people are using to study?” he asks on the Drones subreddit.
“I’m studying using the course at certifiedtraininginstitute.com for mine,” says DetroitHustlesHarder. “May not be the best, but my job is paying for it... so... yeah.”
wayneious advises, “I actually just downloaded the FAA Pilots Handbook and have been reading through that as I think a lot of training shops are not presenting the information well to the public. I'm seeing classes from $150-300. I need to settle on a place soon and get it out of the way.”
Meanwhile on the DIY Drones subreddit, ViperCodeGames is having issues with his hexacopter (6x 30a arris opto ESCs with 2213 935kv emax motors) momentarily losing power in one motor. “The motor spins freely so I think it's the ESC going out, but I've never had an ESC slowly die on me. I've just had it either fail or work. Do you think it's the ESC? I checked the connections at both the FC and the motor and both are solid. Any way to diagnose this?”
tyggerjai advises, “The easiest way to diagnose it is swap ESCs, see if the behavior moves with the ESC or stays with the motor. … Unfortunately, if it's hard wired, then eliminating the motor leaves you either the ESC or something in the flight controller, but it's a step.”
IcanCrash had a similar experience recently: “Have you recently flashed firmware on the ESC? I had some 30A AfroESC's and I think it was the latest version of BlHeli - caused one ESC to have sync issues. It wasn't a loss of power though. More like the ESC clamped the brakes on the motor. Smoked the windings in a couple of cases before I figured out what was going on. All that rotational inertia has got to go somewhere I guess.”
THE BIG QUESTION
For the topic this week, we're looking for advice from DIY drone experts: what are some of the best resources online for people interested in building their own drones, either as a beginner or as someone looking for the latest cutting-edge technology? Be sure to tell us how you've found them helpful.
Hit REPLY and send us your recommendations, and we'll put together a resource list for our next Inside Drones edition.