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Inside Drones (Oct 17th, 2017)

DJI has announced a new technology, called AeroScope, to identify and track drones. The system acts like a license plate, relaying a drone's registration and serial number along with other information such as its location, speed and altitude. Drones broadcast the information to local receivers, which will be available to police, aviation agencies and other eligible parties. To protect operators' privacy, the system will not transmit the information until it is required by law in that particular jurisdiction. The technology works with all current DJI models, which account for more than two-thirds of the civilian market globally, according to the company. - DT

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X's Project Wing is testing out drone deliveries of food and pharmaceuticals directly to people's yards in Australia. "We’ll dispatch our drones to pick up the order from our partners’ loading sites and then transport and deliver the goods to testers at their residences," James Ryan Burgess, co-lead of Project Wing, wrote in a blog post Monday. The venture partnered with a Mexican food chain and a pharmacy company to deliver purchases that testers make on their smartphones using the Project X app. According to Bloomberg, sensors on the drone will navigate fences, trees and other obstacles to reach the testers’ homes in rural southeastern Australia. The drone will lower the items to the final destination using a winch. "The more test deliveries we do, exposing the sensors on our aircraft to new delivery locations, the smarter our aircraft’s algorithms will one day become at picking a safe spot for deliveries," Burgess wrote. - TC

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The Los Angeles Police Department could test out drones in a year-long pilot program. A commission overseeing the LAPD will decide on Tuesday whether to move forward with the trial. Under proposed rules, a high-ranking officer would have to approve each flight, which would be restricted to “a handful of tactical situations,” the L.A. Times reported. The program has critics who worry it could lead to increased surveillance or weaponized drones. “But that’s why this is a pilot program,” LAPD Assistant Chief Beatrice Girmala said. “Because we want people to take a look at how we are using this technology and be able to weigh in.” - LATIMES

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California authorities are reminding drone users to stay away from active fires. The warning comes after a drone operator was cited for impeding firefighting operations in northern California on Sunday. The Petaluma Police Department issued the citation to a 24-year-old man for flying his drone over an airport, which serves as a base for helicopters engaged in firefighting missions. The drone “caused firefighting helicopters to cease operations for approximately 10 minutes,” SFGate reported. The operator was unaware that his actions were illegal. The FAA will also investigate the flyover. - SFGATE

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A drone collided with a passenger plane in Canada last week, the first time such a crash was reported in North America. A Skyjet flight was approaching Quebec City's Jean Lesage International Airport last Thursday when the drone struck one of its wings. The airplane carrying six passengers and two crew members was able to land safely with minor damage, reports said. Canada prohibits operators from flying drones within 3.5 miles of an airport. The drone was also flying higher than the maximum height limit. "Although the vast majority of drone operators fly responsibly, it was our concern for incidents like this that prompted me to take action and issue interim safety measures restricting where recreational drones could be flown,” Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau said. - BBC

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