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Inside Drones

Inside Drones (Feb 9th, 2018)

Amazon was granted a patent on a system that would allow delivery drones to land on trucks for power. The patent lays out a system that would use commercial trucks to provide temporary transportation for delivery drones. The drones would be able to land into the trucks, whether they’re returning or heading out on a delivery. The truck would provide a power source for a drone that lands on it, and may also have packages available for the drones to deliver. The patent is not an indication that Amazon will indeed use the technology, but does give an insight into the company’s possible future drone delivery ambitions. — DIGITAL TRENDS

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Baltimore Gas and Electric will start using drones to inspect overhead power lines and poles. Starting today, the utility company is launching a pilot program that will involve camera-equipped drones using software developed by AeroLabs, which is owned by BGE’s parent company Exelon. AeroLabs is the software research and development arm of Exelon and is developing smart drone technology. BGE workers currently perform these inspections with binoculars or by climbing poles. Exelon subsidiaries ComEd in Chicago and PECO in Philadelphia already use drones to inspect power lines. — BALTIMORE SUN

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Los Angeles is moving forward with using drones in its police force. The Los Angeles City Council’s Public Safety Committee approved a $31,500 donation from the Los Angeles Police Foundation, which it will use to purchase four civilian-level drones. The full City Council will need to vote on the donation before the Los Angeles Police Department can use the drones. The LAPD’s drone proposals have been highly scrutinized over the years, and drawn a fair amount of public protest. Last year, the LAPD approved a one-year drone pilot program. The drones will not be weaponized and will not recognize faces, the department says, and will likely be used for search, rescue and tactical operations. — KTLA

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The Federal Aviation Administration has only caught and punished one drone pilot for flying without a license. In 2016, the FAA started requiring drone pilots to obtain a license if they wanted to operate commercially. However, the FAA apparently has not done much to enforce those rules. MarketWatch found that only one drone pilot in the United States has been punished for operating a drone business without a license. The drone licensing process has been criticized as be difficult to navigate, which has left many flying without a license. — MARKET WATCH

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Proposed legislation in Arizona would allow autonomous delivery drones on sidewalks. The delivery drones don’t fly overhead and instead operate on the sidewalk, with the capability to deliver smaller-sized packages and goods between short distances to customers. These robots have been tested by delivery services like Postmates and DoorDash in California and Washington D.C. Now, GOP Rep. Kelly Townsend wants to create a separate class of vehicle specifically for autonomous delivery drones. — 12 NEWS

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