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Inside Drones

Inside Drones (May 2nd, 2018)

Florida students are working on drone technology that could identify and disrupt potential school shooters. A local inventor named Skip Parish came up with the idea after developing drone technology for the military. In the wake of the Feb. 14 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Parish approached the Manatee Technical College in Bradenton, Florida, for help. Students there are now working on a drone prototype with Parish and Lumenier, a video-piloting company, to create a small drone that would use AI and facial recognition to identify active shooters. During emergency situations, the drone would be able to alert law enforcement officers, who could then launch and control the device. Speakers fitted onto the drone could also distract potential shooters. They hope to develop a product that could be manufactured commercially. - TAMPA BAY TIMES

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Drones are helping Britain's main railway operator create a map of trees that threaten nearby train tracks. Network Rail used aerial views from drones to create a map of 10 million trees that fall within 60 meters (197 feet) of its tracks in England, Scotland, and Wales. The goal is to keep branches and trees off the rail lines. The process has angered some environmentalists, who expressed concerns about the destruction of trees and threat to wildlife habitats. The company says that it is adhering to all environmental requirements, and won't remove or prune all 10 million trees. - TELEGRAPH

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Colorado lawmakers are poised to pass a bill that would make it illegal to fly drones near emergency situations. The measure would make it a misdemeanor to operate drones in a way that obstructs first responders during emergencies, such as wildfires. Stray drones have been a problem for some law enforcement agencies in Colorado, California, and elsewhere. Violators would face a $1,000 fine or up to a year in jail, or both. House Bill 1314 passed the Colorado House of Representatives and is now on its way to the Senate. - THE DENVER POST

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A bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives reauthorizes funding for drone test sites, including one in central New York. The test site at Griffiss International Airport in Rome is one of seven national sites authorized by the FAA for research on how to integrate drones safely into U.S. airspace. NUAIR, or the Northeast UAS Airspace Integration Research Alliance, runs the New York test site, which is considered a hub for drone research. (NUAIR is also developing a drone research corridor that extends 50 miles from Griffiss to Syracuse, New York.) The House passed the FAA Reauthorization Act last week by a vote of 393-13. - SYRACUSE.COM

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A corporation successfully tested crop-spraying drones over vegetable farms in the Philippines. The country's Department of Agriculture is behind the effort, which will use drones to spray fertilizers and pesticides over crops. Using drones is faster and more efficient than traditional methods, and also keeps harmful chemicals away from farmers. Vegetable farms in the highland province of Benguet, a province in the northern part of the Philippines, will serve as the initial pilot area to try out the technology. The DMM Corporation of Japan successfully conducted a test over farms in La Trinidad, the capital of Benguet, last week. - GULF NEWS

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