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Inside Drones

Inside Drones (Aug 30th, 2016)

Regulations from the Federal Aviation Administration now in place, a drone captures the birth of a hurricane, and the latest commercial drone concepts

NEW FAA Regulations for commercial drones go fully into effect today.. The rules, which were outlined back in June to cover unmanned aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds, state that drones must remain in visual line of sight of the pilot, that pilots must be at least 16 years old and hold a remote pilot airman certificate, and that drones can only operate in daylight and at a maximum speed of 100 mph and maximum altitude of 400 feet. They don’t, however, apply to drone delivery operations like Amazon’s or Google’s. - THE VERGE

There will be roughly 600,000 commercial drones taking to the air within the next year, according to the FAA. Transportation secretary Anthony Foxx says we are in “one of the most dramatic periods of change in the history of transportation,” and thanks to a new regulation that makes it easier to become a commercial drone operator, the number is expected to increase 30-fold. More than 3,000 people preregistered to take the certification test the day the rule was implemented. - NPR

Drones are helping farmers in drought-stricken California figure out the best ways to conserve water. For instance, farmer Cannon Michael in Central Valley uses a camera-equipped drone to find leaks in his irrigation system, which he estimates could save enough water to sustain more than 550 families of four for a year. Drones with thermal cameras can also be used to show moisture variations in the soil. - ABC NEWS

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The FAA is allowing a tech startup called PrecisionHawk to fly their drones outside of the pilot’s line of sight. In the first exemption of this rule in the country, the fixed-wing “agri-drone” company in North Carolina can now collect aerial images and information over an entire farm, not just one field at a time. PrecisionHawk will still have to follow the other regulations, like yielding to other aircraft, avoiding flying over people and only flying in daylight. - TECHCRUNCH

Google's latest patent is a drone that can be used to run teleconferences. The company has designed a telepresence system device featuring an H-shaped drone with video and audio capabilities and a moveable screen, which would hover around the room during the conference. The benefits of this system would include better maneuverability, energy consumption and speed, according to the patent. - CRN

NASA’s Global Hawk surveillance drone captured the moment when Tropical Storm Gaston became a hurricane. The drone, typically used for military surveillance at high altitudes, flew over the storm and dropped small instruments called dropsondes into it to measure storm conditions. At 12:15 AM ET on Thursday, one of the dropsondes confirmed that winds had reached 75 mph. - POPULAR SCIENCE

A Canadian designer has a concept for a drone that can carry shipping containers full of cargo. Charles Bombardier’s “Shango” design would lift 40-foot-long containers across Africa, the Mediterranean and other seas where trade routes are interrupted, according to a description from his nonprofit Imaginactive. It would be capable of vertical takeoff and would be used to deliver medical supplies and other goods. - POPULAR SCIENCE

A new “selfie drone” from Yuneec will cover all your social media needs for $500. The Breeze is a compact drone with an on-board 4K camera, making it ideal for high-quality aerial selfies. It will come with an app to let you control the flight, see a live stream, take photos or video, and then download them to your phone and post to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram or WhatsApp. - ENGADGET


As the new FAA regulations go into effect, many drone enthusiasts will have questions about the fine print. On the Drones subreddit, user Slagard just passed the FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot License Exam and has opened a forum for questions. “The test, from my vantage point was fairly straight forward. I used this app to practice called - GroundSchool by, DAUNTLESS AVIATION. I teach safety management for unmanned aircraft and have a consulting company that helps companies build drone programs, so I certainly had a leg up in the regulations side, but this app would have done the trick for me. There are 60 questions and you need a 70% or better to pass. I missed questions about weather and communicating with ATC, but the reference they give you has a legend in the front with much of the airspace information. I recommend studying up on weather, airspace (E, G, D) on sectional charts, and how center of gravity works. I was surprised by those questions but still knew the answer.”

On a different thread, Ed_Kel wonders if it’s against the law to confront a drone pilot while they’re operating their UAV. “I was just asked by a friend of mine who recently saw a clip on YouTube where some guy said ‘…. you're breaking the law by bothering me.’ I have never heard of this before nor have I found anything out there to prove the illegality of confronting a drone pilot mid-flight. Is there anyone here that can shed some light, if there's even any light to be shed?”

User thisisalamename thinks the operator is full of crap. “There is no law that I am aware of that stops anyone from talking to a person flying a drone. With that said, every drone operator I have worked with doesn't like chatting while flying for obvious reasons. It's possible your friend was making the operator break the law if he was operating commercially since you can't fly over non-participating persons.” McMeaty remarks, “If the operator is in a public space, they have no reasonable expectation to privacy and can be ‘confronted’ about their activities. However, depending on the state, there may be criminal harassment laws that could make something like that illegal. Common criminal harassment requirements include making repeated, credible threats to another's safety.”

Now that the new FAA regulations for drone operators are official, do you think they're too restrictive for entrepreneurs?

Hit "Reply" and give us your thoughts, and we'll publish your answers in the next edition of Inside Drones.

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