Inside Drones - October 2nd, 2019

Inside Drones (Oct 2nd, 2019)

UPS drone delivery approval / Skydio 2 / Drones mapping India

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1. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted sweeping approval for United Parcel Service (UPS) to operate a fleet of drones for package deliveries. It's the first time that the FAA has given such broad and rare approval for a company to operate drones as an airline. The FAA’s Part 135 certification, which is utilized by some charter airlines, grants UPS the ability to fly at night and out of the pilot's line of sight, as well as carry cargo over 55 pounds. The company’s Flight Forward subsidiary plans to start a drone airline business and deliver packages by drone to hospital campuses, with the possibility of expanding it to other services in the future. “When the (FAA) regulations are complete we certainly believe there are residential opportunities and other delivery opportunities that will help supplement the incredible group of drivers we have all over the world,” CEO David Abney said. UPS already operates a drone pilot program at a hospital in North Carolina. - WSJ

2. The much anticipated Skydio 2 self-flying drone is expected to start shipping next month. The $1,000 drone comes at a lower price point than its predecessor, the $2,500 Skydio R1. The Skydio 2 has a 4K 20mm-equivalent camera to shoot video, a belly-mounted removable camera, four propellers, and six navigation cameras that feed data into its Nvidia Tegra X2 processor, which runs its AI scene-processing software. That's how the autonomous drone is able to fly itself and navigate through scenery such as trees and avoid obstacles. Compared to the R1, the 2 is about half the size and can fly for 23 minutes instead of 16, at a top speed of 36 mph (up from 25 mph). - NEW ATLAS

3. India's government is using drones to map out parts of the country in large detail. The Survey of India is leading the effort, which aims to map three-quarters of the country between now and 2021. The Ganges river basin is one of the first areas being surveyed with the fleet of 300 drones, which are capturing aerial footage that will be combined with other data to convert it into highly detailed maps. Professor Ashutosh Sharma, of India’s Department of Science & Technology, said India currently lacks a digital map with sufficient enough accuracy. The new maps will become "the basis for everything," he said, "whether we have to lay down train tracks, lay a road, put up a hospital ... or any kind of development and planning.” - WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM

4. During a recent drone trial in Canada, drones carrying automated external defibrillators (AEDs) arrived on average seven minutes faster than paramedics responding to cardiac events. The policy-changing trial involved flying LTE-connected drones and emergency vehicles to locations within a 10-mile radius. The time savings are "significant," according to County of Renfrew Paramedic Service, which participated in the trial along with technology partners InDro Robotics, Cradlepoint, and Ericsson. Drones can be especially useful for responding to cardiac arrest events in remote private, residential, or rural settings, County of Renfrew Paramedic Chief Michael Nolan said. - EMS1

5. Roughly half of all militaries around the world are now using drones, according to a new study published by Dan Gettinger, co-founder of the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College. The figures take into account both smaller quadcopters and missile-toting aircraft. According to Gettinger, the U.S., China, and Israel currently have the most sophisticated drone operations, although new leaders such as Russia and Turkey are emerging. According to Axios, the data suggests that drone-related clashes, such as the recent attack on a Saudi oil facility, will likely become more commonplace. - AXIOS

6. Researchers from Denmark used drone footage to "weigh" whales off the coast of Argentina. Normally the only way to weigh free-living whales has been if they are stranded or out of the water. Now, drones can provide aerial footage that shows the length, width, and height of the animal, which scientists can compare to previous measurements of the body density of that species in order to estimate its weight. The figure can provide more insight into whales' diets, stress levels, and how their bodies may change over time. - DAILY MAIL

7. Police in China used drones to track down a fugitive that was on the run for 17 years. Song Jiang, 63, a convicted people trafficker, was discovered in a cave hidden away in the mountains behind Song's hometown in Yunnan province, in southern China. After police failed to find Song on foot, they deployed drones, with one spotting a blue steel roof on a steep cliff that led them to his whereabouts. Song was in prison for trafficking women and children but escaped in 2002. - GIZMODO

8. A thief or thieves used a drone to steal cash and other items from a food cart pod in Portland, Oregon. Hapa Howie’s and PDX Dönerländ were two of the businesses that were burglarized in the incident earlier this week. Surveillance footage showed a drone flying around different food carts and hovering near windows and locks before flying off. "And then after that, this guy came and broke in, just snapped the lock right off of the door and helped himself,” said Kiaha Rasmussen, the owner of Hapa Howie’s. Checks and tablets were among the items stolen. - OREGON LIVE

9. Singapore authorities charged a man for flying his drone illegally during a parade. Singaporean Tan Jin Kang was charged on Wednesday for flying his DJI Mavic 2 zoom in a special event area without a valid permit during the National Day Parade earlier this year. Police spotted the drone, which flew for 45 seconds and tracked Tan before seizing his drone. In Singapore, the charge carries a potential maximum fine of up to $20,000 and/or a year in prison. - CNA

10. Video of the Week: YouTuber Dave AV shot this footage of wakeboarders Shaun Murray and Jake Pelot showing off on a lake. Murray writes in the video description that "drones have changed our world in many ways, mostly all for the better, and in the wakeboard world, it has allowed us to get amazing shots at a much more affordable price."

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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