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Inside Drones

Inside Drones (Jul 17th, 2019)

1. AV Club's Reid McCarter points out the dangers of weaponizing drones to control other people, citing a recent video showing a drone firing Roman candles to break up a street party. Mashable writes that the video, which is making its way across social media, was a stunt by the Brazilian Instagram personality Lucas Albert and friends. While the video doesn't show any bystanders getting hurt, it raises concerns about how people could equip their drones as technology advances. - AV CLUB

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2. Swiss startup Flybotix built a flying saucer drone that can stay in the air for twice as long as traditional quadcopters. According to Engadget, the drone flies via two propellers stacked on top of each other that turn in opposite directions; its endurance and smaller size make it ideal for search-and-rescue situations or inspections, its makers said. - FUTURISM

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3. Skydio is releasing a new drone this fall. The company hasn't revealed much, except in a statement sent to subscribers in which it said it will be "even more spectacular" than the R1 drone and is "the culmination of everything we’ve learned from our first drone." The company has "worked tirelessly to build something that truly redefines what a drone can do, opening up new possibilities in aerial video," it added. - DRONE LIFE

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4. A flamethrower attachment for drones goes on sale this Thursday for $1,499. The Throwflame TF-19 Wasp can attach to commercial-grade heavy lift drones (in the case of this video, a DJI S1000 drone) and stream fire for up to 100 seconds via a one-gallon fuel tank. As far as uses, the company says it could be used to destroy wasps nests or undergo controlled grass burns, for example. A flamethrower drone was also used to clean debris off of high voltage lines in China. - THE VERGE

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5. Origami and insects - specifically, pill bugs - were the inspiration behind a new airframe created by scientists at the City University of Hong Kong. The proposed frame attaches to drones and mechanically unfurls when a quadcopters collides with other objects, protecting cameras and other sensitive components. Scientists from the university's department of mechanical engineering and biomedical engineering described the design in a newly published preprint paper, “A Quadrotor with an Origami-Inspired Protective Mechanism”. - VENTURE BEAT

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6. MIT scientists developed a platform for people to create hybrid hovering-gliding drones. The fixed-wing drones can take off and land vertically. To speed up te process of creating different flight modes, a team from MIT CSAIL used developed a method based on neural networks that can automatically compute a controller. - ENGADGET

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7. California-based Cape is no longer selling software compatible with Chinese drones. The company cited security concerns as the reason to end its relationship with Chinese drone manufacturers, which includes DJI. Cape, based in Redwood City, supplies drone and related tech to law enforcement and public safety agencies, mainly in the U.S. - BLOOMBERG

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8. Wildlife advocates worry that camera drones could inadvertently spook animals. Such was the case of a video showing a cub sliding down a snow-covered mountain as it tried to reach its mother at the top; scientists revealed later that the bears were likely scared by the drone used to capture the footage. - FAST COMPANY

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9. Studio Drift's latest drone show, dubbed Franchise Freedom, celebrated the 50th anniversary of NASA's Apollo 11 mission. Three hundred drones took to the skies above the Kennedy Space Center’s rocket garden in Florida on Tuesday and created patterns in the air accompanied by Duran Duran’s music. As Studio Drift artist Ralph Rauta described: "It felt like we were bringing some Space travel history back to earth." The drone show also took place during Burning Man in 2018. - DOMUS

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10. Today's drone video of the week comes from YouTube's Chad Walling, who captured aerial views of a killer whale family passing near his parents' house in Juneau, Alaska.

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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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