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Inside Drones

Inside Drones (Sep 11th, 2019)

1. Climate change activists plan to fly toy drones around London's Heathrow airport on Friday as a way to pressure the government to reduce carbon emissions. Police issued a warning to Heathrow Pause group, which is affiliated but separate from the Extinction Rebellion movement, to not repeat the chaos from December's drone sightings at nearby Gatwick Airport, which resulted in 1,000 flight cancellations. Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor said the agency would arrest anyone who turns up on Friday to fly drones near the airport. The group says it plans to fly the drones no higher than head level within a restricted zone around the airport but still outside flight paths, which would still force the airport to ground flights. - THE GUARDIAN

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2. A commission of the Los Angeles Police Department approved new regulations that cement the use of drones for the agency. The LAPD has been undergoing a yearlong trial of drones after some privacy advocates expressed fears that they would spy on people. During the trial, the agency's SWAT team deployed drones in four cases, mostly when suspects were barricaded inside buildings. On Tuesday, the five-member civilian Police Commission approved regulations that permanently allow drones to be used in specific situations, such as active shooters and search warrants. The drones are barred from having weapons or facial recognition software. - LATIMES

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3. The Audi AI:Trail, a concept electric dune buggy unveiled at this week's 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show, has triangular electrically operated drones for headlights. The five drones, dubbed Audi Light Pathfinders, can fly ahead of the vehicle - illuminating the path ahead - or land on the roof or roof rack of the vehicle, docking on to an inductive charging system. The drones' cameras can transmit footage to the driver's display via Wi-Fi. As The Verge's Andrew J. Hawkins puts it, "Impractical? Most certainly. Nonetheless rad as hell? You bet." - THE VERGE

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4. The Albuquerque Police Department's air support unit started using a tool to track drones in the sky. The device can identify a drone's serial number and operator. It can tell pilots "how many drones are up, how far they are, where they are, what the speed is of the drone, what the altitude of the drone is,” said Sergeant Will Taylor of the Albuquerque Police Air Support Unit. According to the FAA, nearly two dozen "close calls" with drones and other aircraft have been reported in New Mexico in three years. One of those included a near miss two years ago at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, when Taylor was flying a helicopter at 600 feet and the drone zipped by "literally almost right under our rotor disc," he said, adding that "It could have been catastrophic." - KRQE

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5. Iran wants to swap a British-Australian woman arrested for flying a drone in Tehran with an Iranian jailed in U.S. The woman, who was not named in reports, was reportedly a blogger traveling across Asia to Europe when she was arrested in July for flying the drone without a permit. News of her arrest came out Tuesday as Iran said it could potentially release her, along with another jailed British-Australian woman, as a bargaining chip to secure the release of Negar Ghodskani, an Iranian woman facing jail in the U.S. for conspiracy to export prohibited technology to Iran. - THE TELEGRAPH

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6. A federal director of aviation says the U.S. should redesign airspace below 400 feet so federal, state and local governments can fully take advantage of drones. Speaking at the Brookings Institution on Tuesday, Mark Bathrik, the director of Interior’s Office of Aviation Services, said additional small drone infrastructure is needed in the lower skies. However, he argued that there's no need to over-equip or overregulate drones that don't need to fly beyond a pilot's visual line of sight, as having too many drones could stifle simple line-of-sight operations for other pilots. The Department of Interior saved $14 million last year by using small drones, rather than helicopter, for things like tracking animal migrations and monitoring land. - FED SCOOP

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7. Australian arms manufacturer DefendTex debuted an underwater exploding drone that resembles a squid at this week's Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEI) show in London. The Sea Hunting Autonomous Reconnaissance Drone (SHARD) is capable of navigating through water and attacking itself to enemy submarines and exploding on command. The SHARD, which can act in swarms, is designed to float and look like a squid for camouflage. The device is currently still in development and not for sale. - BUSINESS INSIDER

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8. David Zimmerman, CEO of the data recovery company LC Technology, offered some tips on how to recover drone footage after a crash landing. The executive, who has worked with film producers to recover their footage, spoke with Drone Life's Miriam McNabb about saving and recovering video that could be lost. He suggests that pilots avoid water landing, use the same SD card for each drone, and avoiding DIY recovery methods that could make it worse. - DRONE LIFE

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9. BAE Systems is acquiring Prismatic as it seeks to further develop its solar-powered drones. The two companies began a collaboration last year that has resulted in two prototypes of the PHASA-35, or Persistent High-Altitude Solar Aircraft, UAV. The long-distance solar-powered drone spans 35 meters (115 feet) and weighs 150 kilograms (330 pounds), including payload, and could be used in things like disaster relief, surveillance, border patrol, and delivery of 5G networks. - CNBC

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10. Today's Drone Video of the Week comes from FPV pilot and YouTuber Viggo Koch, who used a GoPro HERO 7 Black and a custom-built racing drone to capture footage of a roller coaster at Sweden's Liseberg amusement park. Koch used Fatshark HD3 Goggles paired with a ImmersionRC RapidFIRE 5.8 GHz Module and VAS 3-turn Helical Antennas, along with a FrSky Q X7 Controller with a TBS Crossfire Micro TX long-range R/C link. - PETA PIXEL

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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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