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Inside Drones

Inside Drones (Feb 27th, 2019)

1. An E.U.-funded effort will use drones to survey hundreds of Jewish cemeteries across the continent. The European Jewish Cemeteries Initiative (EJCI), a German-based NGO, plans to seek out the burial sites in countries where Jewish populations were significantly impacted by the Holocaust. The drone footage will help the EJCI map out the sites and erect fences around them, "so people know there's a Jewish cemetery," EJCI Chief Executive Philip Carmel said. The effort comes as antisemitic attacks have escalated in the European Union, including the recent vandalism of a Jewish cemetery close to Strasbourg, France, where 100 gravestones were desecrated and spray-painted with Swastikas. - AP

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2. The Dow Chemical Company plans to deploy 400 DJI drones over fields in the U.S., Europe, Canada, and Brazil to help farmers better manage their crops. The effort, led by the agricultural division of DowDuPont known as Corteva Agriscience, is considered the world’s largest agricultural drone fleet, according to Drone DJI. Corteva partnered with DroneDeploy to use their live-mapping software to collect data about crops. According to Corteva, a drone can survey a 160-acre field in less than 15 minutes, spotting variations in soil and plant health that can help farmers improve their harvest. - DRONE DJ

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3. Malta's government is using drones to survey road conditions across the archipelago. The drone survey will help the island create a map of road conditions before it undergoes a planned $795 million upgrade to its infrastructure. The fixed-wing drones will capture aerial photos along 1,550 miles of roads in Malta and Gozom over the next several months. The images will be used to create a new Geographic Information System (GIS) with orthophoto maps of Malta’s road network, as well as digital road surface models, to help the nation prioritize the reconstruction, according to Infrastructure Malta, the agency behind the effort. - TIMES OF MALTA

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4. A Myanmar court sentenced a French tourist to a month in prison after he flew a drone near the country's parliament. Authorities arrested Arthur Desclaux, 27, earlier this month under a state law that prevents foreigners from bringing banned goods (in this case, a drone) into the country without a license. Judge Sulab Yadanar Oo said Desclaux confessed to not knowing about the law and pleaded guilty. Under the law, people caught flying drones could face up to three years in prison. Consul Frederic Inza said the French embassy will start spreading the word about the risks since the use of drones is becoming more common. - AP

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5. Kittyhawk has partnered with the U.S. government to redesign its B4UFly app, which helps drone operators determine where they can legally fly drones in the U.S. The drone management software startup plans to debut the app on Android and iOS later this year.

6. A SWAT team used a drone to defuse an armed standoff inside of a Denny’s restaurant in Campbell, California. The drone, which was built by Impossible Aerospace, provided live footage that helped police later arrest the man.

7. Australian police want to use LIDAR-equipped drones to search for a murder victim who may have been buried in a forest.

8. Researchers at the University of Toronto's Institute of Aerospace Studies are attempting to build a self-flying drone that can return home when its GPS has failed. The autonomous drone uses cameras and AI to find its way.

9. A student team from the University of Bath won a prize at the European Robotics League for creating a drone with special collision avoidance capabilities.

10. A former NASA astronaut developed a drone-flying joystick that he hopes will be adapted for robotic surgery.

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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: Kim Lyons (managing editor at Inside, a Pittsburgh-based journalist with recent bylines in the NYTimes and Columbia Journalism Review) and Susmita Baral (senior editor at Inside, recent bylines in NatGeo, Teen Vogue, and Quartz. Runs the biggest mac and cheese account on Instagram).

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