Inside Drones - October 25th, 2016

Inside Drones (Oct 25th, 2016)


Camera drones banned in Sweden, Dakota Access Pipeline protest, drone changing a lightbulb

It is now illegal to fly a camera drone in Sweden unless you have a special surveillance permit. In a move being described as a “heavy blow” to aerial photography and the drone industry, the Supreme Administrative Court of Sweden has ruled that camera drones qualify as surveillance cameras and can’t be flown without an expensive and hard-to-obtain permit, even for professional journalists. This overrules a lower district court decision that said camera drones did not count as surveillance. Industry group UAS Sweden argues that the court ruling could put 5,000 jobs in danger. - BBC

Police at the Dakota Access Pipeline protest in North Dakota shot at a drone being used by activists to document police encounters. Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said the drone was endangering a law enforcement helicopter flying over the area. About 300 activists were trespassing on private property on Saturday to stage a peaceful protest in honor of sacred Native American sites and water resources being destroyed by construction of the pipeline. There have been tense encounters with the police during the protest, with at least 127 people arrested on various charges (including “Divergent” actor Shailene Woodley). - CNN

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos provided some new details about the company's forthcoming delivery drones at an event in Seattle this weekend. He said the drones will find their landing spots using symbols that customers will print out on their computers and put outside. The drones will also be able to fly up to 20 miles at speeds faster than 50 mph, delivering packages weighing less than five pounds. Bezos said that Amazon is getting good cooperation from the British equivalent of the FAA to test and implement the delivery service. The company still faces restrictions in the United States, however. - GEEKWIRE

The World Wildlife Fund has released a video about a project using drones to save the endangered black-footed ferret. Over the summer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife announced a plan to vaccinate prairie dogs (a main food source for the ferrets) against sylvatic plague, using blue peanut-butter-flavored pellets. The pellets are usually distributed using an all-terrain vehicle, but in some locations the terrain is too rough and a drone is better suited to the task. The project is being tested in Montana, South Dakota and Colorado, and researchers say 60-90% of prairie dogs have eaten the pellets. - WASHINGTON POST

A viral YouTube video shows a drone trying to change a lightbulb, with mixed results. Posted on Sunday by Marek Baczynski, the video shows a quadcopter drone trying to remove a bulb from the ceiling and replace it with a new one. After a number of attempts where the drone hits the ceiling, plummets to the floor and breaks the bulb, the experiment is finally successful. - CNET

The U.S. Air Force says it has successfully taken down an ISIS drone “through electronic measures.” Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James said a drone that had killed four non-U.S. citizens in the Middle East was brought down with a digital attack. She offered no details about what kind of electronic measures were used, though the USAF has shown an interest in drone-jamming technology. The New York Times recently confirmed that ISIS was using unmanned kamikaze drones in Iraq, which James called an “emerging danger” and a “top priority.” - POPULAR MECHANICS

DIY robotics firm Makeblock has created a modular drone that will help kids learn to program computers. The AirBlock drone, currently raising funds on Kickstarter, is made of magnetic parts that connect together to form different vehicles, including a drone and a hovercraft. Users then program the blocks with an easy-to-use app in a graphics-based programming language. In drone form, the AirBlock has a flight time of six minutes and a maximum speed of 1.5 meters per second. - DIGITAL TRENDS

FROM THE FORUMS

Sci-fi series “Black Mirror” may have people freaked out about the future of technology, but that isn’t stopping the Drones subreddit from taking an interest in a kickass-looking drone featured in a recent episode. 

"Looks like an Inspire 1 Pro/Raw (DJI)," writes MemoriesOnceOwned. "Definitely the most sci fi looking drone on the market IMO." redditstealsfrom9gag replies, "Looks cool as f***, definitely out of my price range tho." fluffykittycat elaborates for tech enthusiasts: “Its an Inspire 1 RAW with the X5R camera. Similar to the Pro except the X5R uses 512 GB SSD's because its shooting 4K RAW video. The SSD slot is the thing above the camera that is protruding to the right. The Inspire 1 Pro's X5 does not have that as it only uses micro SD cards.”

Meanwhile, people are debating the recent news that U.S. police are considering using drones armed with Tasers. frojoe objects to the Slashdot post on the topic, saying: “They're not considering anything, they're just talking about future concepts that may make it safer to apprehend criminals (for both police officers, the public and criminals). There is a huge ass difference between considering (where the technology exists and can be used) and brainstorming (where the theory exist, but actual use of doesn’t).” diversity_is_racism argues, “If you have not experienced Slashdot, keep in mind that part of its role is to fear-monger as a way of making the more technically-capable part of the population oppose bad ideas before they get root, because waiting until after means techies have no influence.”

wyratt14 finds the whole concept impractical. “This is a sh** idea. All the person has to do is go inside for a half hour or so and they're free. Or just hop in a car and drive away. Hell you could probably bike out of range in a short amount of time. Also how do you aim the gun? Definitely not like a plane, that won't work. And since tasers have such short range you'd basically have to have one person control the gun and one person control the quad, and then be able to get within 20 feet or so of the person without hitting anything. I can just imagine all the shenanigans that would ensue from that. ‘Goddammit Jim, I said left! No, other left! HURRY THE F*** UP HE'S GETTING AWAY! And you've hit a tree again. Great job.’”

THE BIG QUESTION
Do the police have a right to shoot down a drone being used for peaceful, documentary purposes? When do you think it’s okay for law enforcement to shoot down a non-military drone?

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

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