Inside Drones - August 19th, 2016

Inside Drones (Aug 19th, 2016)

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Today in drone news: HorseFly drone gets there first, Gizmodo buyer's guide, New Orleans flooding, Little Ripper drones "bomb" sharks, CNN AIR launches

U.S. shipping firm Workhorse has managed to beat Amazon to active drone deliveries, using trucks to launch their fleet in especially rural locales. The system Workhorse uses, called “HorseFly,” operates within the boundaries of the new FAA rules on unmanned aerial vehicles, which maintain that a drone must always remain in the line-of-sight of the operators. Workhouse can accomplish this by launching drones from a movable truck platform a few miles from delivery spots. – CNBC

Gizmodo offers a beginner's guide to buying a drone. The short article offers pointers in regards to types of drone (including both small quadcopters and bigger pieces of hardware), key specs, and extra features (a la "follow me" mode.) - GIZMODO

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Baton Rouge-based drone company Atmosphere Aerial has put together a kind of online database of footage of locations affected by the area's recent catastrophic floods. The company asked Facebook followers to send them locations of homes being battered by storm and flood damage, gathering vital visual info for friends and loved ones of those affected. The FB post was shared hundreds of times, as Atmosphere Aerial's drones capture footage of homes, animal shelters, senior communities, and cemeteries where loose coffins were seen being carried away by flood waters. – POPSCI

Australia's Surf Lifesaving Clubs are being trained to use drones to "bomb" sharks with electric devices meant to scare them away from swimmers and surfers. The Shark Shield devices emit pulses that irritate a shark's senses and hopefully send it back out into safer, open water. (The drones, called Little Rippers, are also capable of carrying flotation devices and defibrillators to hard-to-reach ocean areas.) – GOLD COAST BULLETIN

CNN has announced the launch of CNN AIR (Aerial Imagery and Reporting), a drone-based newsgathering division. The new group will feature two full-time drone operators to "fully integrate aerial imagery and reporting across all CNN networks and platforms." CNN has made small steps already, and has used their new tech for reportage from the Louisiana flooding as well as the two recent major political conventions. – SALON

Researchers at the University of Manitoba are working on an autonomous drone brain for use in shipping goods to remote Northern Canadian communities. The payloads for the "near-sentient" drones will be much larger than what Amazon is looking to ship with their drones, and the distances will be much greater. The drones will not be able to rely on user input or GPS (spotty in the north), so the autonomy will be necessary for drone self-adjustment during trips. – METRONEWS

At Intel's Developer Forum this past Tuesday, the company unveiled a ready-to-fly quadcopter drone aimed at software developers rather than hobbyists or commercial concerns. The drone comes fully assembled, and runs on Intel's Aero Compute Board with a Linux operating system. In addition, it comes with Santa Monica startup's Airmap kit pre-loaded. (Airmap help drone flyers operate in safe and legal zones.) – TECHCRUNCH

Spanish thrill-seeker Ruben Alonso has become an internet sensation after uploading drone footage of himself walking along the edge of cliffside ruins in the Canary Isle. – DAILY MAIL


A San Diego woman will be sentenced today for conspiring to send a $50 million missile-firing drone and jet fighter engines to China via Florida's Broward County. – SUN SENTINEL

Queenstown, NZ police are investigating an incident involving a drone that forced an Air New Zealand flight to alter its flight path during the final approach to Queenstown Airport on Wednesday afternoon. – OTAGO DAILY TIMES


Members on the drones subreddit are talking about TechCrunch's article covering drone battling "for the Battlebots generation," particularly the use of entanglement devices (meant to immobilize opponent drones via nets or adhesive tape.) Xanatos451 writes, "Eh, entanglement devices seem so cheap of a weapon to use. Doesn't make for a very exciting battle. I'd rather see drones that used flamethrowers or smaller ballistics. Entanglement is too effective." SpartanFrost adds, "Which is the exact reason why entanglement devices are banned in Battlebots. If it were that easy to win then no one would watch boring, net throwing, robots duke it out." Prof_Establishment comments, "Battlebots got boring every time the peak of an arms race was reached. Flippers were when i quit watching."

At the Phantom Pilots forum, member strgazr27 mourns the loss of his P3A drone on Litchi mission during a vacation to the New Hampshire's White Mountains, and asks other members for tips on how to find the errant machine. User alokbhargava says, "It's always risky to fly in mountains unless you carefully study and plan elevations... Go to the place where you lost the last connection, that might give you clues. Mikesmiley adds, "I'm very sorry for your loss. If I had to guess, I would say it's probably up in a pine tree." Kcmusa opines, "I am wondering if when you flipped the controller on and off it took that as a signal to cancel the mission and hover." TheTastyCat offers solace: "Heartbreaking! So sorry. Definitely upload the flight logs ASAP - people here may well be able to figure out where it is." Strgazr27, still devastated, writes "Thanks for the replies guys. It was not a terrain issue. I have spent over 8 years at the same cabin and know the land like the back of my hand. Although it is mountainous the area I planned the mission in had nothing taller than 125' so I should have been more than safe with my 200-300' altitude depending on the waypoint. The hardest part is not knowing exactly what happened. I'd rather of crashed it myself than lose it this way."

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