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Inside Drones

Inside Drones (Sep 30th, 2016)

Today in drone news: Drone shipping still years away; Brown vetoes geofencing bill; Huge Millennium Falcon toy drone; Drones allowed back at British horse races; Queensland uses military drones to read gas meters.

Aviation authorities caution that mainstream package-delivery by drones is still a handful of years away from federal approval. The best estimate at the moment is 2020, as technical standards will likely take until then to finalize. Those standards involve a system of proposed "ground-based and airborne" sensors that haven't actually hit the development stage yet. – WSJ

California governor Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that sought to use geofencing to prevent unauthorized drones from interfering with airplanes. Geofencing is a kind of automatic shut-down that keeps unmanned planes from entering areas deemed off-limits. The bill would have also required drone owners to secure a drone insurance plan by 2020. Brown rejected the bill, saying that "the FAA will likely assert federal preemption on the bill's 'geofencing' requirements" and that a less piecemeal bill was necessary. – PRESS-ENTERPRISE


AER is kickstarting their dart-like shell for the GoPro HERO3+, 4, and 5 as an alternative to drone technology, for those who want to capture aerial photography on the cheap. Closer in design to a Nerf toy than a drone, the AER is affixed to a GoPro and simply tossed by the user. Quality of photography depends on how far and high the user can throw it. Obviously the AER offers the thrower little control on which direction the GoPro lens faces. (The casing is waterproof, and sufficiently padded to allow for hard landings.) – GEEK

Air Hogs has a new "XL" miniature drone Millennium Falcon in stores for the holidays. For a miniature, though, it's a whopper at 27 inches long. That means extra room for detail, which in this case means a lit cockpit hyperdrive system with a tiny Han Solo and Chewbacca inside. This version of the iconic spaceship comes complete with a barometric pressure sensor, which can keep the toy hovering at a specific altitude as long as is necessary. – GIZMODO


Iranian delivery company Digikala sponsored a competition to see who could design the best drone for package shipping. The drones in competition were tasked with carrying a 4 1/2 pound package for 765 yards. The prize money amounted to about $14,000 USD, but the Christian Science Monitor argues that the real reward was in giving "the country's whiz-kid youth... the hope that they have a future." – CSM

Drone footage of Aleppo shows the dreadful levels of destruction after continued airstrikes by Syria and Russia. The airstrikes have included torrents of "bunker buster" bombs. The bombs, intended for use against fortified military locations, have been dropped on everyday apartment buildings (in what may be a first for urban warfare.) - QUARTZ

Drones have once again been cleared to broadcast British horse-racing from above the action. Drone coverage was forbidden after an incident this past July when jockey Frankie Dettori was thrown from his horse. Dettori and another jockey both reported that the noise (described as sounding "like a swarm of bees") from the nearby camera drones had spooked the animal. The drones are being allowed back into action, but with several amendments to the rules, such as not allowing the camera drones to shoot races involving young or inexperienced horses. – RACING POST

Potentially fearsome U.S. military-grade surveillance drones are being used by Australia's Queensland Gas Company to read meters on gas wells from 1600 feet above the Darling Downs farming region. The two drones, Boeing Scan Eagles, have also been put to use searching for lost cattle, spotting bushfires, and tracking rising floodwaters. A representative from the Queensland Gas Company says the drones have saved the company thousands of man-hours. – COURIER MAIL


Redditor and amateur filmmaker theotherguysfilms got some pretty cool footage from his Phantom 4 after the massive storms in South Australia flooded rivers in suburban Adelaide.

“Well done!” says Fear_the_gazelle, “Footage is smooth AF!” The filmmaker replied, “Thanks mate, it does an amazing job at keeping it steady in the wind!” iReddit_while_I_work begged to differ, however, saying “Show your viewers what is out there, not how many edits you can toss together in 10 seconds.” Everyone’s a critic.

Meanwhile, drone enthusiasts are figuring out the finer details of filming with the new DJI Mavic. “Have any of you guys noticed from user review videos of the Mavic that the horizon looks tilted like the Phantom 3s were plagued with?” jonnycanuck12 writes. “Any thoughts on if this is an issue with the Mavic?” fluffykittycat replies, “Yeah I did notice that a little. Could be the gimbal needs calibrating. My Inspires even with 4000 X5R needs a calibrating every once in a while."

They added, "It appears that many of the people doing the reviews maybe did not read the f***ing manual, assuming that they know it all from their Phantom experience. This explains other issues on why it has a soft image. Apparently it has some variable focus unlike Phantoms.”

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