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Inside Drones

Inside Drones (Jun 12th, 2019)

1. Uber plans to start delivering fast food by drone in San Diego starting this summer. Uber Elevate, the ride-­sharing company's aerial arm, already conducted initial drone flights at San Diego State University via its partnership with McDonald’s. It now anticipates that commercial trials could begin across the city as early as this summer, once it receives final FAA approval. According to Bloomberg, customers will be able to order McDonald's online and have their deliveries flown by drone to “designated safe landing zones." From there, Uber Eats couriers will unload the package and drive it to the customer’s home. (Eventually, the landing zones could include the roofs of parked Uber cars.) The delivery costs are expected to be around $8.50 or less in San Diego, which is about the same as regular delivery fees there, the company said. - TECHCRUNCH

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2. The European Union unveiled new rules for using drones that are set to take effect a year from now. The rules, which will override a country's individual rules on drones, outline what's allowed (and not) when flying a UAV. Specifically, it says that drone operators will need to register in their respective member states and, after that, will be allowed to fly their drones legally anywhere across the E.U. Member States get a year, until June 2020, to implement the requirements. - AP

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3. Amazon's drone-based package delivery isn't going to happen as quickly as the company suggests, the CEO of Swiss drone startup Matternet says. Last week, Amazon executive Jeff Wilke said he expects the new drones to start delivering packages within months, but Matternet CEO Andreas Raptopoulous said on YFi PM that we're "probably a couple years out before we can see a commercial operation that will be the type of scale that Amazon would like to see.” While the e-commerce company has received a special certificate of airworthiness from the Federal Aviation Administration, it has yet to make clear what it plans to do on the operation side of things. - YAHOO FINANCE

For more news like this, check out Inside Amazon, the best source of in-depth news and analysis about Amazon.

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4. DJI is now selling a camera-equipped, remote-controlled car called the RoboMaster S1. The largest drone maker in the world debuted the part teaching tool/part battle bot this week for $499 online. The educational toy drone, which is geared toward children and students (but could be used by adults), comes disassembled, so buyers have to piece together its 46 various parts. The toaster-size robotic tank has 31 sensors to map its environment and can be coded to move autonomously or driven from a mobile app. The Robomaster app is divided into three sections — Solo, Battle, and Lab — for users to drive it like an RC car, play against other S1s, or program it to perform other tasks using a programming language with code blocks, respectively. - THE VERGE

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5. The India-based company Zomato successfully tested a food delivery using a hybrid drone. The drone carried an 11-pound payload (the company didn't specify what it was) over a distance of 3.1 miles in 10 minutes, reaching a top speed of 50 mph. - THE ECONOMIC TIMES

6. More and more companies are working to develop and build landing pads for passenger-carrying drones, The Wall Street Journal reports. Investors across the globe hope to create the landing facilities, also known as “vertiports,” as the autonomous drone taxi market takes off. - WSJ

7. A firefighting helicopter was forced to land after a drone was spotted over the Coldwater fire in the Coconino National Forest. Afterward, a forestry official reminded drone users that it's illegal to fly near wildfires. - DRONELIFE

8. Researchers studied how Harris hawks intercept prey, which could be used to better design drones that can capture rogue drones in cluttered environments. The University of Oxford’s department of zoology used cameras to record flight paths used by the hawks as they chased an erratically-moving target. The findings could teach people how to design a drone that can safely chase down another drone. - ELECTRONICS WEEKLY

9. University of Queensland engineers have developed tiny whisker sensors that can help drones navigate through dark or tight spaces. The technology could replace heavier sensors such as lidars that are hard to mount on smaller micro drones. - BOINGBOING

10. AirSelfie released its newest drone design, the Air Pix. The selfie drone improves upon earlier versions of the company's drones and comes with a fully autonomous mode. - NEW ATLAS

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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 and other 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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