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Inside Drones (Sep 13th, 2016)

Dutch police use trained eagles against drones, drone with robot arms can carry chairs, drone surfing

Police officers in Holland are deploying a team of trained eagles to take down unwanted drones. The Dutch police force is the world’s first to use eagles against drones following a series of successful tests in 2015. The eagles will be launched whenever drones are believed to be posing a danger to the public, like flying too close to an airport or hovering near sensitive state visits. - THE GUARDIAN

A loophole in the new FAA drone regulations has sparked the rise of mini-drones weighing less than 0.55 pounds. Models like the JetJat Nano and the Aerix Black Talon do not fall under the new rules, meaning you can fly them without registering them or taking a test for a pilot’s license. They lack the stabilization and advanced flight features of larger drones, but they’re still widely used for fun and photography. - WIRED

A scary-looking new drone from Japanese company Prodrone has claw arms that can carry off a chair. The six-rotor PD6B-AW-ARM drone has two robot arms with mechanical claws that allow it to perch on a fence, carry a flotation device out to sea in a mock-rescue, and in one promotional video released at a UAV conference in Las Vegas, swoop down on a patio chair and fly off with it. - CNN

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Drone surfing could be the next big thing in alternative sports. Drone maker Freefly Systems released a video showing a man wakeboarding while being pulled behind an Alta 8 drone, which costs $18,000 and can move a payload of up to 9 kg. It has the potential to join drone racing as one of the new sporting events powered by UAVs. - THE NEXT WEB

An experimental “shark drone” could be used to clean up garbage from ports before it washes out to sea. At the World Port Days conference in Rotterdam, site of Europe’s largest port, developer RanMarine unveiled an aquatic drone called the Waste Shark which can spot garbage in the water, swim over to it and scoop it up. The drone can gather up to 500 kilograms of waste before returning to a collection point. - FORTUNE

Animal rights group SHARK clashed with the Fresno County Sheriff’s office after flying a drone over a cattle feedlot. The group was using the drone to look for poor conditions at the Harris Feeding Company near Coalinga, California when officers showed up and started hassling them, snapping pictures of them and taking one activist’s ID card. The whole encounter was caught on video and posted to SHARK’s YouTube channel. - BOING BOING

Researchers at Texas A&M are testing the possibility of using drones to herd sheep. Dr. John Walker, resident director of research at San Angelo, tested out different uses for drones on a ranch, like locating lost animals, checking fences along a programmed route and herding livestock. He found that goats took off running but sheep moved along nicely. He still had to deal with obstacles like trees and brush, and sun glare on the screen of his smartphone or iPad. - PHYS.ORG 

Drone developer xCraft is appealing to drone racers with a new model that can clear 100 mph. The beta version of their “Rogue” drone includes a rear booster activated with a switch for an extra burst of speed, making it one of the fastest ready-to-race drones you can buy. - NEW ATLAS


As drone enthusiasts get used to FAA regulations, some are wondering what exactly happens if you get caught breaking them. “Who is responsible for catching the ‘Law Breakers’ and what really happens when you get caught?” writes JoblessTree in the Drones subreddit.

“There is no one answer here,” bwilliams18 replies. “It depends on where you are, what you're doing and how informed and nice the individual officer is. I've been caught flying by a cop. He asked me to bring the drone down, told me not to fly in the area again, took down my information, made sure I hadn't done it before and didn't have other outstanding issues and let me go. Flying over an airport - you’re probably gonna get arrested. Flying over a potential terrorist target - you’re probably going to get arrested. Don't be stupid. You're taking a risk anytime you fly illegally. Know how to manage the risk and be willing to accept the consequences.” dendroner agrees: “Most cops that you come into contact with will not be informed with all FAA knowledge, but that doesn't mean they can't quickly find out if they think you are doing something wrong. I've also had a cop tell me to bring it down but he didn't take my info. It's case by case. Just be polite and understanding but also know your stuff just in case it seems like you'll be getting into ACTUAL trouble from flying somewhere you know you can.”

In another thread, user Alecm3327 had a different problem on his mind after his Phantom 4 took an unexpected dunk in a pond. “I grabbed it after about 10 seconds, took out the battery (lights on the battery were still on.) I don't have the correct screwdriver or anything like rice to dry it out, although its 90 degrees here right now, so I just set it in my car to dry out. Suggestions? is there anymore to do but wait?”

“Should be fine after a good dry session,” advises yoonique_sound. “From what I have read, a properly manufactured lipo will be sealed so that water cannot mess with the cells internals. Lithium is highly reactive when it comes into contact with water (not the fun and harmless reactions). Things to watch out for now is the condition of connectors and what not. Seeing as you fell into freshwater and not saltwater, I wouldn't be overly worried about it. Maybe clean them with isopropyl alcohol and Q-tip. If you can get into the electronics of the battery then maybe a clean there as well. I really would invest in something that could help you out in wet situations, like the screwdriver.”

If you could invent a new alternative sport involving drones, what would it be?

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