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Inside Drones

Inside Drones (Apr 3rd, 2018)

Zipline has created what it claims is the world's fastest drone. The fixed-wing drone has a top speed of 75 mph and can fly nearly 100 miles in a single roundtrip. Since October 2016, the California-based startup has been delivering blood and other medical supplies to people in Rwanda. Its drones have transported about 7,000 units of blood in more than 4,000 flights, a third of which were life saving, CEO Keller Rinaudo said. The new drone will allow the company’s distribution centers to raise the number of deliveries from 50 to 500 a day. "Rwanda is basically writing the history books of showing what’s possible,” Rinaudo said. - QUARTZ

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Chinese authorities arrested 26 people accused of using drones to smuggle smartphones. The suspects apparently used the drones to fly a pair of cables between high rises from Hong Kong to mainland China. They attached bags filled with iPhones and other mobile devices to the cables, smuggling $79.8 million worth of smartphones over several months. Authorities seized two drones during a bust in early February. - WAPO

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Three underwater drones are monitoring an Antarctic ice shelf to study climate change. The Seaglider drones were placed underneath West Antarctica’s Dotson Ice Shelf to autonomously monitor ice changes during the winter. The data will help University of Washington and Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory study how climate change is affecting the ice sheet. The effort is backed by nearly $2 million from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. According to Drone DJ, the drones will enter a hibernation mode as the ice freezes through November. Once a month, one of the drones will gather data about the ocean conditions, which was previously impossible. The data will be stored in the Seagliders until they surface later this year. - DRONEDJ

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A Russian drone meant to deliver parcels crashed during its first test run. The incident was the Russian postal service’s first attempt at a drone delivery. The UAV was meant to transport a small parcel from the city of Ulan-Ude to a nearby village. It lifted off from a small launch pad and flew for several seconds before falling and crashing into a house, according to video footage. No people were harmed. The company Rudron/Expeditor 3M built the drone, which cost roughly $20,000. - REUTERS

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A small fire occurred at a drone range in Oregon. A mishap at the Pendleton UAS Range caused a fire to ignite at the Eastern Oregon Regional Airport on Saturday. An organization, which was not identified in reports, was testing a drone during an FAA-authorized operation. The Pendleton Fire Department extinguished the fire quickly, and no injuries or property damage were reported. The airport's control tower notified the FAA, as well as the city and the University of Alaska Fairbanks, which oversees UAS operations in the state. - AP

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