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Inside Drones

Inside Drones (Sep 6th, 2016)

Drone regulation in Europe, AT&T testing drones on 4G, drone racing in Paris, foldable drone images leaked

After a number of near-misses with drones and airplanes, 10 aviation associations have called for all small drones in Europe to be registered, as they currently are in the U.S. In a joint statement, groups including the European Cockpit Association and the International Air Transport Association said safety risks with drones are often underestimated and there needs to be a way to enforce compliance with regulations, like providing the ability to trace nuisance drones back to their owner. - BBC

AT&T is getting ready to test its delivery drones outside the range of WiFi and operators’ line of sight. The company plans to have the drones connect to its LTE 4G network, powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Flight platform. The challenge is to make sure drones stay connected to 4G throughout a delivery — and eventually during inspections, rescues and exploration. Testing will begin in San Diego this month. - ENGADGET

Paris just celebrated its first drone festival, with drone enthusiasts putting on a mini air show over the Champs-Elysees. The festival included a race with a brightly-colored obstacle course, a drone aviary confined in netting, piloting workshops and displays on regulations. Paris announced two permanent sites where operators can fly their drones on Sundays, starting September 18. - ABC.NET.AU

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City planning and regulations will play a critical role in helping people adjust to drone usage in their everyday lives. With companies like Amazon, 7-Eleven and Walmart exploring the potential of drone deliveries and more people flying drones for fun, local authorities will need to address safety issues, privacy concerns, enforcement of FAA regulations and new business development. The National League of Cities has put together a primer to provide insight on FAA rules and suggestions on how to make their own drone ordinances. - TECHCRUNCH

The UK is researching ways to use swarms of tiny drones in warfare. The Ministry of Defense launched a public competition, in partnership with Innovate UK, where people submit proposals for drone swarm tactics. The swarms will be tasked with jamming enemy communications, tracking targeted people and area mapping. Winning projects will be allocated a total of 3 million pounds for development. - MOTHERBOARD 

One of the best drone racers in the world is opting out of the emerging world of competitive racing. Carlos Puertolas, better known as Charpu, is famous for the freestyle drone stunts he posts to his YouTube channel. But in an interview with Wired, he explained that he’s not interested in joining groups like the Drone Racing League or competing in the National Drone Racing Championship. He says he gets anxious when he becomes the guy everyone wants to beat, and prefers to fly with just a few people without any pressure. - WIRED

Leaked images appear to show a new, collapsible camera drone from DJI. Drone site Heliguy released an image of a small drone that can fold down for easy transport, and is rumored to have a 4K camera, collapsible arms and an LCD-equipped controller running on Android. It would be the company’s lightest camera-equipped drone at 1.43 pounds. The design would fit DJI’s Adam Najberg’s recent thoughts on size and ease of use being top priority for the average consumer. - ENGADGET

A drone captured rare footage of a white whale calf swimming with its mother off the coast of southwest Australia. Researchers are monitoring populations of endangered southern right whales in the Great Australian Bight breeding ground, and drones have helped them measure the whales’ size and body condition so scientists can learn more about the health and reproduction of the pod. One drone from Australia’s Murdoch University managed to film one of the small number of calves born white. Typically white calves turn black within their first year. - NEW ATLAS


The leaked image of DJI’s folding “Mavic” drone is exciting news for one drone enthusiast on the Drones subreddit. “I’m excited to learn more about this, hoping it comes out soon,” writes SirPasta117. “I love my Phantom but its kind of bulky when I take it hiking or camping. I was considering getting the Breeze but hopefully this may be the one.”

On a different thread, user Verbally filmed himself building a quadcopter according to video guides by RC Model Reviews, sped up for your viewing enjoyment. “The initial costs are steep, but if you get good quickly it can be relatively cheap then after,” he says. He also posted links to the full parts list and the original video guide.

Meanwhile, user Greenmats wants to know why people in his apartment complex are so averse to him flying his drone. “I live in an apartment that has three massive gardens, I like to fly my drone around this part. People don’t go on the grass so there is no safety hazard. I was just out now flying my WLtoys Q333 around and then the security came up too me and told me THREE people have called in complaining. WTF I’m not even touching the ground, I mean the drone is loud but so is the lawn mowers.”

Evis03 replies, “They've been in the news a lot, with negative stories. People who don't understand what they actually are and what they do just sort of assume they're 'bad' because of that. Or that you are trying to look through their windows. Either way, people can be daft when it comes to impressive tech.” cdb3492 adds, “I just finished a book on drones, and apparently these sorts of reactions have been common when new consumer photography equipment is released. When camcorders that were affordable and used vhs media were released, there were tons of news stories about pedophiles using them in parks to record children. I'm sure that happened, but not nearly as often as people think it did. In that respect, it's not you and your drone, it's a long history of backlash against hobbyist photography and perceived invasions of privacy. I think this explains why the backlash is so strong against seemingly unimportant/harmless targets, but also shows that it will lessen over time.”

Do you understand Charpu’s reluctance to get into competitive drone racing? Do you think piloting drones lends itself naturally to competition, or is it more fun to just fly on your own, or with a few friends? Think Charpu will change his mind down the road, when potential winnings or endorsements come into play?

Hit "Reply" and let us know what you think, and we'll include the best answers in the next edition of Inside Drones.

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