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Inside Drones (Dec 2nd, 2016)

Today in drone news: London high-rise drone delivery, Star Wars laser-firing drones, Apple wants to improve Maps app with drones, Dancing with drones.

London’s forthcoming 67-floor Spire London skyscraper will offer tenants drone deliveries.  New specs for the luxury skyscraper reveal that “owners lucky enough to get (units) with windows will be able to have drones land on their winter balconies.” It’s unclear whether The Greenland Group, the Chinese organization that is developing the building, will acquire its own fleet of “bespoke” drones or rely on outside services. – GIZMODO UK

Photographer Johnny Miller, using a consumer drone, has starkly captured the inequality of life in Greater Mexico City. Greater Mexico City is the largest metropolitan area in the west, and is home to 21 million people. The economic divide is steep: According to Business Insider, four multimillionaires can claim 9% of the GDP, and just under half the population resides under the poverty line. – BI

Apple’s plan to use drones to improve its Maps application may hit some FAA hurdles. Bloomberg reported recently that the company was planning to have drones collect detailed road info for use in Maps, in an effort to stem oft-heard complaints about the app's functionality. Google’s more popular maps application used fleets of camera vans to collect detailed street info. Apple has some limited permission from the FAA to fly aerial photography drones, but not over the kind of heavily crowded areas the Maps upgrade survey will require. – RECODE

Mashable got hands-on time with Propel’s new laser-firing Star Wars drones. The exceptionally detailed, hand-painted drones “are not just your average licensed toy,” says Mashable’s Raymond Wong. Wong notes that the propellers are located on the drone’s belly, unlike on the AirHog Millennium Falcon where the visible propellers arguably threw off the design. As for the actual laser battles, up to twelve of the Propel Star Wars drones can engage in a dogfight at once. – MASHABLE

The world premiere of “The Machines,” a modern dance piece featuring six dancers and six flying drones, will be part of The Parsons Dance Company’s upcoming shows in Philadelphia. The work is a collaboration between choreographer David Parsons and a group of engineering and computer science students from Drexel University. “It’s always interesting to get artists and scientists to work together and to be reminded that we’re all creators,” Parsons said. – BILLYPENN

Last week in Mosul, Iraqi forces discovered an ISIS workshop containing “a strange collection of makeshift drones.” The oddest discovery was a fixed-wing drone with an attached Phantom quadrotor, which some speculate may be similar to a booby-trapped device used to kill soldiers in October. Earlier this year, drones made from Styrofoam and plywood were found at an ISIS workshop in Ramadi. – POPMECH

The UK’s National Air Traffic Control Service (NATS) has developed an app to alert drone operators when they’re nearing restricted airspace. The “drone assist” app will also let pilots know when they’re nearing public places where privacy or safety issues may arise. NATS drone spokesman Phil Binks says, “With the number of drone incidents on the rise, it's clear that many people are unaware of the rules or their legal obligations as pilots.” – BBC


At the drones subreddit, users are mixed on Walt Disney World's new "Starbright Holidays" drone show, featuring 300 synced Shooting Star drones. Most are impressed with the visuals, while some are unclear about how Disney got an all-clear from the FCC for the show. 

Member Winnydupooh writes, "So cool. The positioning could use some work, but still very impressive work. I met one of the imagineers at a conference a few weeks ago, and they have very ambitious plans for these 'flying pixels'. Was that one of the drones falling at 0:37?"

Lodenk says, "Okay, so I hate to be 'that guy' but Disney World has had a flight restriction with the FCC for two years. I wonder if its possible for us to see if they filed for a flight license / published their flights, or if they were illegally flying these drones."

Atheistpiece responds, "Disney was recently granted a waiver, allowing them to fly drones over their parks," to which Lodenk says, "Uuggghhhhh I feel like that is such a bad precedent."

Mintnose adds, "What pissed me off is Disney trying to patent it."

JTSwift says, "And then someone has to charge all those batteries. Ugh." 

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