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Inside Drones

Inside Drones (May 1st, 2019)

1. For the first time, a drone delivered a kidney for transplant. The drone transported a donor kidney on April 19 to a surgical team at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, which successfully transplanted the organ into a 44-year-old local woman. According to the hospital, the woman had gone through eight years on dialysis due to kidney failure before undergoing the transplant. During the flight, the custom-built drone was able to monitor the organ in real time and provide updates to hospital employees. Joseph Scalea, the project's lead and one of the surgeons who performed the transplant, said that drones have "the potential to help widen the donor organ pool and access to transplantation." - USA TODAY

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2. Two U.S. senators are urging the FAA to publish a new rule for remotely identifying drones in the sky. In 2016, Congress tasked the FAA with developing guidance that would allow law enforcement and other agencies to remotely track and identify drones and their pilots. The goal is to respond better to illegal drone activity, such as the recent incidents at Britain's Gatwick Airport and Fenway Park in Boston. In a letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, U.S. Senators Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) wrote that recent drone sightings have “underscored the need to quickly adopt and implement remote identification.” They asked for a written response from Chao that would detail the next steps for the FAA to release such a rule. - ENGADGET

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3. The U.K. is considering charging a £16.50 ($21.59) annual fee for people to register their drones. The proposed license fee — which some trade groups have deemed too high — would cover the government costs of operating its new drone registration system. Starting in November, drone owners will be required to begin registering their personal information into a database and will have to take a free online safety test. (The registration will only apply to people aged 18 and older who own drones or model aircraft weighing between 250 grams and 20 kilograms, or 0.55 pounds to 44 pounds). The country's Civil Aviation Authority expects that 170,000 people will register into the system within the first 18 months. - BBC

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4. Jargon Watch: Geofencing. This term has seen an uptick in many stories after the recent Gatwick crisis and other instances of drones flying into restricted airspace. The term refers to the use of GPS to form a virtual boundary for a drone to fly away from or into a particular area. People place geofences to prevent drones from navigating into "no-fly" zones, near certain buildings, or into potentially dangerous areas such as military compounds.

On Wednesdays, we will feature the definition of a term heavily used within the drone community but may not be known to outsiders. You can send us your suggestions by replying to this email!

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5. DJI denied reports that it discontinued the Phantom 4 drone and canceled the Phantom 5, though their future is still up in the air, Digital Trends reports.

6. A detection system developed by the Southwest Research Institute uses machine learning and computer vision to locate pipeline leaks of oil and gas facilities using drones.

7. A team of researchers is using a drone equipped with high-resolution digital and hyperspectral cameras to monitor Australia's Great Barrier Reef for signs of bleaching and other degradation.

8. After a man illegally flew his drone over the home of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, police have put up signs warning that drone flights are prohibited in the area.

9. Researchers from the University of Denver are using drone images to form a 3D reconstruction of a Japanese internment camp known as Camp Amache in Colorado, where roughly 7,000 Japanese-Americans and Japanese immigrants were forcibly relocated during World War II.

10. Check it out: Storm chaser Brandon Clement captured new drone footage of a tornado from the air in Sulphur, Oklahoma.

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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 (Pittsburgh-based journalist and managing editor at Inside); Susmita Baral (senior editor at Inside, who runs the biggest mac and cheese account on Instagram); and David Stegon (senior editor at Inside, whose reporting experience includes cryptocurrency and technology).

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