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Inside Drones (Oct 3rd, 2017)

DJI’s Local Data Mode is now available. The mode stops internet traffic to and from the app when the drone is being flown. It is likely that DJI was partly motivated to add the feature after the U.S. Army banned DJI drones from its fleet due to possible cyber vulnerabilities. Since Local Data Mode blocks internet access on the DJI app, the location of the user, maps, no-fly-zones and flight restriction zones won’t be detected, meaning users are solely responsible for the flight safety of their drones. Telemetry data, like altitude, distance and speed, will remain stored on the drone even if Local Data Mode is deactivated. The mode is not yet available for iOS or users of the DJI Go 4 app, but is available now for some Android tablets and CrystalSky, DJI’s proprietary drone tablet. — THE VERGE

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Energy drink maker Red Bull entered the world of drone racing. The company, which regularly uses action sports to market its products, launched a drone racing event called DR.ONE last weekend at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria, a track that is normally used for motorsports. The event is similar to the Drone Racing League, except that racers can fly almost any type of drone weighing up to 3.3 pounds. A 20-year-old Austrian pilot, Bastian Hackl, took first place. — NEW ATLAS

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Mercedes-Benz is launching a van-based drone delivery pilot program. The automaker is teaming with Matternet, a fully-automated drone delivery network, and Siroop, an online Swiss retail marketplace, for a drone delivery pilot program in Zurich, Switzerland. The program commenced last month and uses drones working in concert with delivery vans. Siroop customers can order certain products through the website and have them delivered partially via drone. Drones will not directly send products to customers. The drones will fly to a Mercedes-Benz van, which will then transport the product to a customer. — THE DRIVE

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The U.K. is looking for solutions to destroy contraband drones headed to prisons. The Ministry of Justice, the entity which manages the country’s prisons, has launched a competition looking for ideas to stop contraband from dropping via drone. The MOJ wants to use technology as a solution to this problem and is dedicating $1.2 million in a fund for potential solutions. The department wants solutions for detecting contraband items, like mobile phones, and for capturing and destruction of drones headed into prisons. Interested applicants may apply for a $66,241 grant to develop their designs. — ZDNET

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The Pacific Drone Challenge will see if drones are capable of flying from the coast of Silicon Valley to the coast of Japan. The distance, about 4,500 miles, will challenge teams to fly a drone across the ocean without stopping to refuel. While your standard quadcopter likely won’t make it across the Pacific, fixed-wing drones typically have longer ranges. One team, Silicon Valley's Sabrewing Aircraft Company, has already signed up for the challenge. The company is building a fixed-wing quad-rotor drone that can travel up to 5,500 miles. This would be nothing new, however. Facebook, in the past, has said its Aquila drone will eventually fly for 90 days at a time. — NEW ATLAS

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