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Inside Drones

Inside Drones (Apr 6th, 2018)

University researchers developed a system that uses drone technology to fight animal poaching. A partnership between ecologists and astrophysicists at Liverpool John Moores University resulted in the program, which combines drones and thermal imaging. The system can track poachers and animals automatically by detecting their body heat. The first pilot project launched last year tested drone infrared footage of humans and cows. The university team later teamed up with a zoo and a safari organization to collect the thermal profiles of other animals, including baboons. In September, a drone trial in South Africa was able to spot five Riverine rabbits, one of the world's most endangered mammals. "Given that there have only been about 1,000 sightings of Riverine rabbits by anyone in total, it was a real success," team member Claire Burke said. - NEWATLAS

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As global drone sales continue to grow, more colleges are offering degrees in drone programs. According to a report in the New York Times, at least seven colleges have the degrees, including Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology, and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Another 23 schools in the U.S., Britain, and Canada have partnered with the FAA on drone-based research programs. Colleges have noted the interest in drones, after worldwide sales more than tripled from 2014 to 2018. “It feels like the beginning of aviation all over again,” said Vaughn professor Maxine Lubner. - NYTIMES

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Some 3,000 Google employees signed a letter opposing the company's involvement in a government drone-surveillance project. The Pentagon pilot program, Project Maven, uses AI to detect objects in videos captured by military drones. It could improve the way drone strikes target objects. In a letter to Google's CEO, the employees argued that the company shouldn't build warfare technology, although management says that the Google technology won't be used to operate drones or launch weapons. - USATODAY

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A London art gallery is exhibiting the work of two DJI Drone Photography Award winners. Tom Hegen used a DJI Phantom 4 Pro to capture images of salt production facilities across Europe. His project, "The Salt Series," documents the often-overlooked process through abstract aerial photos. Winner Markel Redondo's images present bird's-eye views of Spain's housing-market crisis, including the remnants of abandoned and unfinished homes. DJI launched its Drone Photography Award on British Journal of Photography late last year, calling for photographs from a drone's perspective. London's theprintspace gallery will showcase both artists' work through April 18. - QUARTZ

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A commercial drone group representing Project Wing and other companies wants the FAA to regulate drone hobbyists. The Commercial Drone Alliance wants U.S. lawmakers to revoke a provision, which exempts hobbyist drone users from FAA safety regulations as long as they follow certain safety rules established by drone groups. Instead, the alliance wants all operators to fall under FAA standards. Current rules give some users “the mistaken impression they are flying legally," the alliance argues. Its members include Ford Motor Co. and Time Warner's CNN. - BLOOMBERG

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