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Inside Drones

Inside Drones (Jun 5th, 2019)

Straight from today's Amazon re:Mars conference in Las Vegas, the company showed off its latest delivery drone, which is fully electric. TechCrunch said the drone has a hexagonal hybrid design and "sensors and a suite of compute modules that run a variety of machine learning models," which are designed to keep the drone safe. Amazon expects to start using it to make deliveries "in the coming months," the publication noted. (For a full video of the drone, check out YouTube).

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1. Boeing-owned Insitu announced that it will lay off about 15 percent of its workforce, which will affect an estimated 225 jobs. The Bingen, Washington-based drone unit, which employs about 1,500 workers including 1,000 in the Columbia River Gorge, said the cutbacks are necessary due to a dropoff in business and increased competition in the drone industry. The military uses Insitu’s ScanEagle drones for Coast Guard surveillance and to monitor battle regions. - THE SEATTLE TIMES

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2. A Grupo Aeromexico flight that suffered from a caved-in nose cone did not strike a drone as originally thought, forensic experts wrote in a recent report submitted to the National Transportation Safety Board. Instead, the Boeing Co. 737-800, which made the flight last December, was damaged after a poorly done repair that caused its nose to collapse during a descent into Tijijuana, authorities stated. Original reports presumed that a drone or birds might have been involved. - BLOOMBERG

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3. Facebook filed a patent for a drone that would use two kites to stay aloft. The company's proposed “dual-kite aerial vehicle” would be able to generate its own electrical energy from air movement, which presumably would extend its flight time, according to the patent. The kites, which would be tethered together but fly at different altitudes, would be able to be directed independently. Facebook claims the aircraft would be smaller and weigh and cost less than your traditional plane or helicopter drone. - THE VERGE

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4. Air Canada, the country's largest aircraft carrier, signed a deal with Drone Delivery Canada Corp. (DDC) to market and sell drone delivery services. Under the 10-year agreement, Air Canada's cargo unit agreed not to use or engage with any other drone delivery providers and will market the service using its existing platforms. The company will utilize DDC's Sparrow drone, which can deliver up to 10 pounds of cargo, and the larger Condor drone, which can carry up to 400 pounds. Transport Canada still needs to approve routes for making the deliveries; once that's finalized, the companies said they will announce the value of the deal. - CBC

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5. Boeing led an investment round for the New Mexico-based startup Robotic Skies, which developed a worldwide network of independently-operated repair stations for drones. Other investors in the round included Thayer Ventures, KickStart Seed Fund, and Sun Mountain Capital. Neither Robotic Skies nor Boeing reported the total investment amount, though it's expected to be in the millions to the low tens of millions of dollars. - GEEKWIRE

6. A proposal in Canada would ban aerial drones from the country's 55 national wilderness areas, which span more than a million hectares. Sabrina Kemp, manager of wildlife compliance, promotion and regulatory development in the Canadian Wildlife Service, said the agency is proposing to ban drone take-offs and landings to minimize low level flights, which she said are the most concerning. - CBC

7. The worldwide agricultural drone market is expected to grow to $4.8 billion over the next five years, up from the current $1.2 billion. Boosts in venture funding for agriculture drone development, along with pressures to ensure global food supply, are driving the growth, with North America holding the largest share of the market, according to the firm MarketsandMarkets. - FUTURE FARMING

8. The California State Fair will use drones instead of fireworks at its nightly show this summer. The fair, which runs July 12-28 in Sacramento, is working with the Great Lakes Drone Co. to coordinate the array, which will utilize swarm technology and choreograph the drones to music. - LATIMES

9. A new study from PwC found that only 31 percent of Britons say they feel positively about drones. Two-thirds of the Brits surveyed also expressed concerns about drones being used in criminal activities, such as prison deliveries. - BUSINESS CLOUD

10. DJI quietly unveiled its eight-rotor Storm drone in a new YouTube video showing off its cinematography skills. The aircraft, which can carry up to 40.8 pounds and perform at a max speed of 50 mph, is currently reserved for DJI's Studio Custom Aerial Cinematography Service. - DRONE DJ

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Written and curated by Beth Duckett in Orange County, Calif. 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 and other hot topics in southern California here.

Editing team: Kim Lyons (Pittsburgh-based journalist and managing editor at Inside), David Stegon (senior editor at Inside, whose reporting experience includes cryptocurrency and technology), and Bobby Cherry (senior editor at Inside, who’s always on social media

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