Inside Drones - October 4th, 2016

Inside Drones (Oct 4th, 2016)

Facebook in talks with countries for drone internet broadcasting, Google successfully delivers burritos, Eurosport considers drone racing, GoPro CEO optimistic

Facebook is searching for partner countries to test out a new project for broadcasting internet content from drones in poorly-connected areas. Martin Gomez, director of aeronautical platforms, says a number of countries are interested in hosting the demo, as 57% of the world’s population still isn’t connected. Government cooperation is important because the project requires approval to operate in foreign airspaces and use the radio spectrum. Demonstrations could begin in 2018, though an exact schedule hasn’t been set. - WALL STREET JOURNAL

More than 600,000 drones will be active in the new drone-based economy within the next year, according to the FAA. With new regulations in place simplifying drone registration, industry leaders are starting to look ahead to where these new drone pilots will come from and what they’ll be doing. Jay Bregman from TechCrunch predicts that many will be independent entrepreneurs who start out as hobbyists and form new businesses around their passion for flying. - TECHCRUNCH

Google conducted its first drone delivery tests with paying customers by delivering Chipotle burritos to Virginia college students. Project Wing conducted test runs of fast food delivery at six FAA-approved test sites, including the Virginia Tech campus. Food was selected for the trial because it’s fragile and must be delivered quickly, and the delivery fees were donated to a regional food bank. Google hopes to eventually deliver sensitive materials like medicine and emergency supplies to remote areas via drone. - BLOOMBERG

While pre-built and programmed drones like the DJI Phantom are easy to buy, many of the main manufacturers  contribute a lot to the DIY drones community. For example, TechRadar featured a build-your-own-drone tutorial from 3D Robotics, which uses open-source Linux software and offers a large education program for consumers. The tutorial will walk you through an open-source community project for assembling and test flying a Raspberry Pi Zero and Erle Robotics PXFMini. - TECHRADAR

Eurosport is the latest TV network to consider drone racing as a televised spectator sport. The network is in talks with potential partners to broadcast drone racing, potentially joining the ranks of ESPN, British broadcaster Sky Plc, and Germany’s ProSiebenSat.1. The format allows them to combine the live-event format of NASCAR and Formula 1 with eSports and the digital age. The Drone Racing League, now 15 months old, has also partnered with MGM Television to develop a reality series about drone pilots. Eurosport chief executive Peter Hutton said it’s worth paying attention to the sport and testing it on audiences. - REUTERS

GoPro CEO Nick Woodman said he was optimistic about Quarter 4 earnings following the release of the Karma drone, Hero5 cameras and GoPro Plus cloud service. Calling the new equipment an “end-to-end storytelling solution,” he said it would make it easy for customers to go out into the world, capture their lives, and easily upload photos and videos to the cloud. GoPro shares lost nearly a third of their value from the 2014 initial public offering, but shares have rebounded about 40% in the last six months. The Karma still faces stiff competition from the DJI Mavic, a similarly compact drone released in the same week. - CNBC

A UK executive who ran England’s version of the FAA is joining a California startup that helps drone pilots keep track of low-altitude aircraft and follow local regulations. Richard Deakin, former CEO of NATS which ran the British national air-traffic control system along with the Civil Aviation Authority, has announced he’s moving to work for AirMap in California. AirMap’s technology helps drone operators avoid airplanes and airports, which could be crucial to making drones more commercially viable. Deakin’s departure from NATS was controversial; he resigned following a major failure at a national control center that kept flights grounded for hours. - RECODE


Redditor profesh_lurker on the Drones subreddit couldn’t wait to share some amazing footage of his recent trip to Iceland. “Took my drone adventuring in Iceland for two weeks, and flew down waterfalls and across glaciers. Here’s the result!”

“Did you use an ND filter for any of these shots? Gorgeous landscapes!” says morriwi, and profesh_lurker replies “Most of the waterfall shots were taken with a CPL, but I did use the ND for most of the sunny landscape and lake shots.” CreamGravy501 remarks, “Amazing footage! I wish I had a drone when I was there in December when Iceland was covered in snow!”

On a different thread, windsurferk put in a plug for DronePan, “a free iOS app that works with your DJI to easily capture 360 panoramas. The app was created by a good friend.” Some examples of DronePan’s handiwork are available on r/360panoramas. If you're on the lookout for new aerial photography apps, this might be worth checking out.

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