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Inside Drones

Inside Drones (Dec 6th, 2016)

MIT’s drone-building software, edible drone for disaster areas, Elaine Chao taking over drone regs

MIT’s newest project allows you to design, simulate and build your own drone. Created by the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), the program lets you choose propellers, rotors and rods from MIT’s database and determine the size, shape and structure of the drone. You specify the requirements for payload, material cost and battery usage, and the system calculates the rod lengths, motor angles, torque and thrust required to make your drone take off, hover and land. The creators hope the program will lead to more innovation in the drone market. - ENGADGET

UK company Windhorse Aerospace is working on an edible drone that can be flown into hard-to-reach disaster areas. The “Pouncer” is nine feet wide, self-navigating and able to carry a 50 kg payload. It has an airframe skin made of starch-based thermoplastic, and it’s filled with compressed and vacuum-sealed food, water and cooking fuel. Next year Windhorse plans to run a demonstration where 30 of the drones are launched from the back of a C130 Hercules cargo plane and glide at least 35 km to their target. - ZDNET

President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of Transportation could go easy on drone regulations. Elaine Chao was Labor Secretary for George W. Bush, and was known for being light-handed with new regulations in that department. Industry experts and advocates are hoping that a similar approach to drones will help expand commercial drone use, particularly with delivery services. - LA TIMES

A South Korean startup has created a thumb joystick that lets you fly a drone with one hand. The Shift controller from "this is engineering Inc" has a wireless thumb ring, and the position of the user’s thumb determines the speed and direction of the drone. The design is supposed to make flying a drone more intuitive, according to developers. (The company was initially raising funds for this product on Kickstarter, but the campaign was later cancelled.) The controller is expected to go on sale in Europe, Asia and the Americas early next year, for around $150. - REUTERS

The UK Drones Show Championships in Birmingham shows how drone racing is catching on — but so far the sport is attracting very few women. Winner Brett Collis explained that drone racing has the same appeal as video games, with the added excitement of not being able to reboot if you crash your drone. But drone racing is still an overwhelmingly male hobby. Drone entrepreneur Alan Proto, who also competed in the event, said most of his customers are male, even though the few women he’s trained have been very good and his young daughter is one of the best pilots he knows. - GUARDIAN

Police in Orem, Utah are searching for the owner of a drone that was caught peeking into people’s bedrooms and bathrooms and recording videos. An Orem man captured the drone after he found it hovering outside his bathroom and followed it in his truck to a church parking lot. Detectives found the drone had taken several videos of people’s bedrooms and bathrooms — as well as a shot of the drone pilot, identified by police as someone previously convicted of voyeurism by peering over the walls at tanning salons. They know where the drone owner lives but haven’t been able to find him, and are calling for him to turn himself in. - KSL

The upcoming Cleo drone is small enough to fit in your pocket and can still take decent photos and high-definition video. Built for the average consumer, the Cleo has a stacked-rotor design and can shoot 360-degree video, panoramic shots, bird’s-eye views and selfies, controlled by your smartphone. It will make its international debut at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January. - DIGITAL TRENDS


The Peeping Tom from Utah has some people annoyed on the Drones subreddit.

"People like this are why everyone thinks I'm a creep because I own a drone," writes lalicat. "Hope they arrest this scumbag and make an example out of him."

Noting that police are warning people to watch out for drones “suspiciously near your home,” FrankNStein says, "I bet there are people who think 300 yards is 'suspiciously near' their homes. I agree with you though, dirtbags like this will give all of us a bad name."

On a different thread, qungfu posted a video titled “When you finally get the perfect view,” showing a zen-like aerial shot of Newport Beach, California — with a surprise ending that you might be able to guess if you know your Reddit memes. “Oh FFS,” says ben_v3. “Take my upvote and leave, sir,” says KillerG

Have you designed a drone before, or are you interested in trying it? What are some design concepts you haven’t seen yet that you’d like to see explored?

Hit "Reply" and send us your ideas, and we'll include them in the next edition of Inside Drones.

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