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Inside Drones

Inside Drones (Oct 20th, 2017)

The Federal Aviation Administration has granted a new waiver allowing CNN to fly drones over crowds. The waiver, considered to be the first of its kind, “represents a bigger step for the company as well as for the use of drones for commercial purposes,” Fortune magazine reported. While the FAA has granted waivers to CNN and companies to fly drones above people, the drones had to be tethered, in closed sets, and could only fly up to 21 feet in the air. Under the new waiver, CNN can fly a Vantage Robotics Snap drone up to 150 feet. - USAT

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The Los Angeles Police Department will launch a new pilot program to test drones. The L.A. Police Commission granted approval for a trial this week, making it the largest police department in the country to undergo such an evaluation. Police Chief Charlie Beck said the plan is to purchase two drones, including one for backup. "Whether it’s an active shooter at a school, or a suspect barricaded in a home in a Los Angeles neighborhood, this technology will help us save lives,” the department's union president said in a statement. Police can only use the drones in certain searches, tactical situations or natural disasters. Critics worried that the policy could lead to unnecessary surveillance or weaponized drones. The ACLU of Southern California argued that the program "inadequately protects residents of Los Angeles and fails to take into account public mistrust of the LAPD's surveillance activities." - LATIMES

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Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority has tightened its rules governing drones. Operators are now barred from flying recreational drones within 5.5 kilometers, or roughly 2.2 miles, of most airports in the country. They must keep the drones under 400 feet and 30 meters - about 100 feet - away from other people. Recreational and commercial drones are also banned from public safety operations unless there is approval. Pilots can only fly a single drone at a time, among other rules. “We certainly don’t want to ban recreational drones but we do have to make sure public safety is properly protected,” CASA's director of aviation safety said. - PN

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Skyward, a drone operations-management platform, will soon be able to grant instant access of controlled airspace to commercial drone operators. The Federal Aviation Administration granted approval this week for Verizon-owned Skyward to launch the program at several airports this fall. The services automate and speed up the process for businesses to access the airspace. So far, they have had to submit manual requests for approval, which can take months. The program is part of the FAA's Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability services, also known as LAANC.- SUAS

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Drone research alliance NUAIR has hired a former FAA drone adviser as its CEO. Retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Marke “Hoot” Gibson will lead the Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance. The association of more than 100 organizations oversees one of seven FAA-designated test sites for drone research and development. Its projects include a planned 50-mile drone flight corridor from Rome to Syracuse in New York, which has agreed to provide $50 million in funding. “My vision is to create an unsurpassed innovation-friendly environment for UAS research, testing and operation,” Gibson said. - UA

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