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Inside Drones

Inside Drones (Feb 20th, 2019)

1. The Federal Aviation Administration is proposing major changes to drone regulations, including ending its ban on flying drones over people. On Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that the proposal is part of the Trump administration's efforts to ease drone-related security concerns while also relaxing certain rules for UAVs. The FAA wants to close a regulatory loophole that could place law enforcement at risk from booby-trapped drones, among other changes. This story is developing. - WAPO

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2. NASA selected sites in Texas and Nevada to test out its drone traffic management system. The joint FAA project is meant to safely manage drone traffic in urban areas. According to Engadget, NASA wants to conduct its final series of technical demos at the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems in Las Vegas and the Lone Star UAS Center for Excellence & Innovation in Corpus Christi, Texas. The two organizations plan to show off a range of drone technologies, including collision avoidance, automated safe landing techniques, and detect-and-avoid capabilities. The test flights, which will be heavily watched by the commercial drone industry, will take place in July and August in Corpus Christi and from March to June in Reno. - CNBC

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3. The U.K. government is expanding the country's no-fly zone for drones around airports. Starting March 13, drone operators will be banned from flying within 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) of airports, which is an increase from the current 1 kilometer (0.6 miles). More than 1,000 flights were delayed in December after drone sightings were reported near Gatwick, Britain's second-busiest airport. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said people who fly drones near airports "are not only acting irresponsibly, but criminally," and could face charges and even imprisonment. - BBC

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4. Researchers at the University of Zurich created a drone that can fold into itself to fit through tight spaces. The UAV, which is still in early development, is designed for disaster scenarios and search-and-rescue missions, researchers said. The drone could have "multiple impacts – it can go into areas that would otherwise be inaccessible. In the aftermath of an earthquake it could let rescuers enter and explore a collapsed building," said Davide Falanga, one of its developers. - CNBC

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5. The U.K. Airprox Board issued a report about a near-miss between a commercial drone and a Loganair flight near Scotland's Glasgow Airport on Nov. 24. Crew members spotted the drone flying about 5 meters (16 feet) above the captain's window, the regulatory agency said.

6. A bill that would have criminalized using drones to violate another's privacy died in the the North Dakota House of Representatives on Wednesday. Before the vote, Rep. Mike Nathe said that passage of the bill would have been "detrimental to the UAS industry and its growth in this state."

7. The Russian defense contractor Kalashnikov Concern is now selling a self-destructing drone. The Kalashnikov KUB-BLA drone carries a small explosive charge that detonates on impact.

8. The U.S. government granted Vigilant Aerospace a special license allowing the drone firm to streamline exports of its FlightHorizon GCS, an airspace situational awareness and detect-and-avoid system.

9. A bill making its way through the Missouri State Legislature would ban drone pilots from flying over state prisons. The Missouri Department of Corrections has experienced 11 reports of drone sightings and other incidents since September 2016.

10. Officers in Park Township, Michigan used a drone to locate a teenage girl who was stranded on the ice of Lake Michigan.

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Written and curated by Beth Duckett in Orange County. Beth is a former reporter for The Arizona Republic who has written for USA Today, Get Out magazine, and other publications. Follow her tweets about breaking news in southern California here.

Editing team: Susmita Baral (editor at Inside, recent bylines in NatGeo, Teen Vogue, and Quartz. Runs the biggest mac and cheese account on Instagram) and Kim Lyons (Pittsburgh-based freelance journalist whose byline has appeared in The New York Times, Columbia Journalism Review, and other local and national publications).

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