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Inside Drones (Oct 21st, 2016)

Today in drone news: Venture capital investments down among drone startups, Mavic Pro delay, Taser drone, Wireless power exchange, 3D printer design hack.

According to the latest Venture Pulse report, third quarter venture capital investments in drone startups dropped 48% from the previous quarter. There was only $55 million invested in eight deals this past quarter, compared to $106 million and thirteen deals during the second quarter. The drop in drone funding is steeper than for other areas of venture capital funding. Much of this news is a factor of 2016's market establishing such clear drone market winners and losers. One source is quoted as saying, "In 2015, everyone was super-hyped about drones. We're now starting to see the leaders emerge." – MARKETWATCH

Nearly a week after DJI's Mavic Pro was supposed to start shipping, customers are beginning to worry about when they'll receive their drone. While some reviewers have had hands-on time with the drone, customers who laid down deposits at various retailers are still awaiting word of their merchandise shipping. DJI blamed the delay on "strong global demand." (UPDATE: DJI has just released another statement, saying that shipping on the Mavic Pro starts today.) – TECHCRUNCH

Are any of our readers among the frustrated DJI customers who haven't gotten word of shipment on their Mavic Pro yet? Is the delay affecting your feelings about DJI's customer service? We'd love to hear some personal consumer experiences on this subject so hit REPLY and let us know! 

Taser International is considering the concept of a drone armed with a stun gun for use by police. The company claims that they've received questions about the feasibility of such a drone in the wake of the Dallas Police's use of a bomb-disposal robot to kill a gunman in July. A rep for Taser, underlining that the idea is only a concept at this stage, said the company is "considering the potential misuses of such a technology... before we make any decisions." – WSJ

Researchers at Imperial London College are using one of Nikolai Tesla's concepts to develop drone technology that can wirelessly exchange power in midair. The Tesla notion, called 'inductive coupling', tunes two copper coils into one another electrically, enabling power exchange at a certain frequency. If the technology works, it could prove to overcome one of the main stumbling blocks of drone technology, namely flight time limitations based on battery charging requirements. – TECHRADAR

An international team of scientists, investigating the vulnerability of 3D printers to hacking, discovered a potentially dangerous method of design sabotage. Since the huge variety of 3D printers makes a cyber attack on the machines themselves difficult, the researchers instead aimed for the design process, sending a phishing attack that granted them access to their target PC. After finding the files pertaining to the design of a drone propeller, they were able to download, alter, and replace them, tricking the 3D printer into producing a faulty propeller that failed the drone after two minutes in the air. – NEW ATLAS

Eddie Paige, the Huntington Beach, CA aerial drone photography enthusiast known to many as "Drone Eddie," died in the middle of a shoot last week near the Huntington Pier. Paige's wife of 25 years, Jennifer, told the press she was glad he passed "while he was doing something that he loved." In fact, it was Jennifer Paige who insisted Eddie find a hobby: "I said, 'You need a hobby. If you don't find one, I'll strangle you.' It became his life." (Paige earned two Purple Hearts during his five-year tenure in the Navy.) – OC REGISTER

NASA and the University of Nevada, Reno's NUANCE lab are testing drones at a Nevada airport, working in concert to develop an unmanned air traffic control system. When it's ready, the program will keep track of drones and flight paths in real time, and will be essential to mainstream drone delivery plans. – RENO GAZETTE-JOURNAL

Scientists at the University of British Columbia used drones to capture footage of the elusive bowhead whale in its Arctic element. Bowheads, which have the largest mouths of any animal, are notoriously hard to track because of the remote locations in which they thrive. Research is necessary because there is concern that climate change may be affecting the zooplankton the whales favor, which is only found in especially cold Arctic waters. – METRONEWS

FROM THE FORUMS

Users at the drones sub-reddit are of mixed emotions over the brief delay in shipments of the DJI Mavic Pro foldable drone. 

Privvy_Gaming keeps pragmatic, writing, "I'd rather they delay it to make it work right than rush it and have problems come up."

Theshawnch writes, "I pre-ordered the Mavic, heard it was delayed, wasn't surprised, and eagerly wait for it to arrive next month. The reality is they pushed the announcement up before they were ready to crush GoPro's Karma before it could even get traction (which it has), and are now scrambling with the overwhelming pre-orders."

Acexprt adds, "I went to Best Buy today to see if they had the Mavic... nope. I walked out with a Yuneec Breeze instead. Pretty cool little selfie drone. The guy says they are expecting the Mavic to be on the shelves November 10th. He says tons of people have been asking," and then writes, "I honestly have a feeling it's gonna get delayed even further... God I really want that drone though."

Elsewhere, FUNKYDISCO asks for advice on how to efficiently prepare for his FAA remote pilot test, which he needs to pass for work. 

Austin913 offers, "I'm using the RemotePilot101.com online course. Came highly recommended by a friend."

RadThibodeaux says, "www.3dr.com has links to all the information and supplements provided by the FAA along with plenty of practice test questions!"

Theshawnch, who used the Aeroapps program to train, brags, "I literally studied with only this app for 1 day, took the test the next day and passed with 93%, pretty happy with the results."

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