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Inside Drones

Inside Drones (Aug 21st, 2019)

1. UAV Coach released the results of its 2019 drone industry survey, which shows how the drone industry is faring in the U.S. The data, which is based on 1,389 responses from alumni of its Drone Pilot Ground School test prep course, is outlined in an online summary report. The survey had 16 questions, which were posed to students between April 20 and May 20. Here are some key findings:

  • The highest concentrations of commercial drone pilots are in California, Texas, and Florida.
  • DJI dominates the list of most commonly used drones.
  • More than half of drone pilots are freelancers or self-employed.
  • The industries of construction, mining, and aggregates lead in utilizing drones.
  • More than 60 percent of self-employed pilots began flying commercially within the last year. - UAV COACH
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2. Tennis great Serena Williams took on the challenge of trying to down a quadcopter using tennis serves, knocking the drone out of the sky on her third attempt. The unique challenge was posed by Randall Munroe, the author of the upcoming book "How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems." In the book, he poses "Serena Versus the Drones," an experiment (documented in a comic) where he explores what sports equipment is most effective at bringing down photography drones. Serena agreed to participate, and her husband Alexis Ohanian piloted a DJI Mavic Pro 2 above the tennis net. The results show it's possible to strike a drone in this manner, and most are not designed for this type of impact. - BUSINESS INSIDER

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3. Researchers from Iraq and Australia pitted a drone against a human-driven ambulance in a test run - and the drone won. As described in the journal Sensor, the team — which included people from Middle Technical University in Baghdad, University of Mosul, University of South Australia, and the Defence Science and Technology Group — raced a DJI Phantom 3 against an ambulance in Erbil, Iraq. Specifically, the drone and ambulance departed from a hospital with a first aid kit and attempted to reach fake "patients" in various neighborhoods around the crowded city. In tests, the drone arrived 90 to 120 seconds faster than the ambulance. - IEEE SPECTRUM

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4. Police in Sussex, England - where the London Gatwick airport drone fiasco took place last winter - have spent more than $1 million investigating the incident, without making any viable arrests. By March, the force had spent slightly over $500,000, meaning the cost for the investigation has doubled in six months, according to a public records request granted to Gary Mortimer, editor of the drone industry news website sUAS News. Some have speculated that the drone sightings, which caused the airport to close all flights Dec. 19-21, never actually occurred or were falsely reported. Mortimer told The Register that he believes the airport "should pay the bill for a false alarm or tell the world what really happened." A local couple was arrested and later cleared. - THE REGISTER

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5. Drone DJ compiled individual guides about the "best drones of 2019," including some that haven't been released yet. The publication notes that some of the best drones haven't actually come out, including the Skydio 2 drone, DJI Mavic Mini, and a potential DJI FPV drone to go along with its FPV system. Other contenders include the DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.0, which should be available again shortly, and the difficult-to-buy DJI Mavic 2 Pro. - DRONE DJ

What drone do you think takes the cake in 2019? Hit reply and let us know.

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6. A company that provides software for autonomous drones to gather inventory at warehouses has launched out of stealth. Pittsburgh-based Gather, founded in 2017, is comprised of graduates from Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, including its co-founder, Sankalp Arora, who won the 2018 Howard Hughes Award. Gather's software - including computer vision on drones that can read barcodes - links to warehouse management systems and IoT devices in a process that is generally cheaper and reduces inventory times, according to the company. - VENTURE BEAT

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7. A new video shows the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) experimenting with a drone swarm as part of a military experiment. The mock demonstration used drones to locate, surround, and secure a city building. As The Verge notes, drone swarms can be advantageous in that they can provide more insight into complicated surroundings and are harder to bring down. - THE VERGE

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8. Australia's Little Ripper Group is using its shark-spotting drone tech to monitor crocodiles in the northeast state of Queensland. Little Ripper and the University of Technology Sydney designed the technology, which can differentiate among 16 different types of marine life. The AI-based drone system includes an in-built siren and speaker system and flotation pod deployment to help rescue people during emergencies or alert them about crocs or sharks. More than 50 of the drones were deployed around Australia last summer. - ZDNET

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9. Police in Dubai issued another warning about flying drones in the city, where many drones have been spotted flying illegally. In a tweet posted on Tuesday, authorities said that legal action will be taken against pilots flying without official authorization. Penalties can include jail time and fines of up to $27,224. - GULF NEWS

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10. Today's Drone Video of the Week features great visuals and the fun concept of a drone racing against the Volkswagen's I.D. R ultra-fast electric vehicle, which already broke lap records at the Nürburgring. So, who wins the race? All we can say is, it came very close.

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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.

Editor: Kim Lyons (Pittsburgh-based journalist and managing editor at Inside).

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