Drone News & Drone Directory

3D Robotics News

Drone Download #7: A Rival for Amazon; New Drone Privacy Law; Safer Fracking; Let’s Play ‘Mark Zuckerberg or a Cardigan’

To get the Drone Download delivered to your inbox weekly, subscribe here.

Last week the drone industry and the media both scrambled to digest and analyze the surprise release of the FAA’s proposed drone laws—and as often happens, a ton of very cool, very important and very weird stories got lost in the rush: A new drone delivery system could rival Amazon Prime Air… Wind-powered drones have the potential to “fly indefinitely”… Company claims computer vision for drones has arrived in the mainstream… But does the fact that computers think Mark Zuckerberg “looks like a cardigan” confirm or contradict that claim?… And finally: a Japanese robot hat that can feed you tomatoes as you run…

Here are the links that matter:

An interview with the VP of Amazon Prime Air, discussing the future of delivery drones in America. (Popular Science)

Amazon schmamazon: A Cincinnati company is currently developing a drone called Horsefly that deploys from the roof of an electric delivery truck and is strong enough to carry parcels as heavy as 10 pounds—double what Amazon is shooting for. (Popular Science)

The BBC did a great job profiling our CTO Jordi Muñoz this week, dedicating both an article and a video to his incredible self-made story.

Humble brag #2: Here’s a breakdown of the five best funded US drone companies—featuring 3DR. (Silicon Valley Biz Journal)

And if you want to take your IRIS+ abroad, here’s an informative guide to safe international travel with your drone. (Slate)

Eighth Wonder: Check out the world’s first-ever perfect 3D model of Christ the Redeemer statue—the statue is so remote that a model could only be made by drones. (Gizmodo)

Make every district a red-light district: This guy can hack traffic signal systems from above with a drone—and it’s actually fairly alarming. (Wired)

Turning and turning in the widening gyre, the falcon cannot hear the falconer—oh wait, nm: We got drones to train falcons now. (Popular Science)

A clear-eyed and informative piece from a surprising place: What you should know about using drones for your business, from your pals at American Express.

The FAA is currently asking for public comments about the recently proposed small drone regulations. Here are 31 questions the FAA wants you to answer. Speak up for creating a separate category for micro drones (under 4.4 lbs)! (Center for Study of the Drone)

NIMBY: California considers a bill that would prohibit the unauthorized use of drones directly over private property—great start, won’t work, here’s why. (Forbes)

Drone runs entirely on wind power: “During trials, XAir got its drone prototype to fly for more than two hours with no observable battery drain, but Seshu Kiran GS, the company’s founding engineer, told VentureBeat that in theory, it could fly almost indefinitely in the right kind of wind.” (Venture Beat)

And in other breaking wind news: Methane sniffing drones to be deployed in fracking operations. “When released into the atmosphere, methane traps up to 30 times more heat than carbon dioxide, which may accelerate climate change. Flaring by oil and gas companies at drill sites is also a waste of this valuable byproduct, which burns more cleanly than coal.” (ASME.org)

According to this startup, computer vision for drones is here and ready for the big time. (Droneblog)

But according to this comprehensive study, it sure ain’t. In fact, one of the top commercial artificial-intelligence systems thought Mark Zuckerberg was a cardigan—not even a hoodie. (Bloomberg)

Domo arigato, Mr. Tomato: This Japanese robot hat feeds you tomatoes as you run. (Slate)

The post Drone Download #7: A Rival for Amazon; New Drone Privacy Law; Safer Fracking; Let’s Play ‘Mark Zuckerberg or a Cardigan’ appeared first on 3drobotics.com.

Drone Download #6: FAA Drone Laws; Kick a Google Dog Robot; World’s First Drone Circus

Click here to get the Drone Download delivered to your inbox each week.

All-out media blitz on the drone industry this week following the long-awaited release of the FAA’s proposed regulations for integrating drones into the national airspace—which, it should be noted, was only made public this early because of an accidentally leaked document that the agency didn’t take down fast enough. We’re obviously still a long way from stone tablet time (the actual laws will take well over a year to go into effect), so most of this week’s Download considers different opinions and analysis from some expert organizations. Had your fill of the FAA? You’re not alone—other goodies at the bottom.

Reactions to the rules

The FAA’s proposed rules are more lax than first feared. Seems they’re poised to open the sky to commercial drones—but not so fast: The actual implementation is likely to take over a year. (TechCrunch)

Here are five things you need to know about the proposed regs. Of particular note: Nothing changes for the everyday consumer, but as many as 7,000 drone-related companies might take off in the next three years. (The Verge) 

Gizmodo, however, says the regs might actually be a job-killer.

A view that Amazon shares, and this week voiced vociferously. (CNBC)

To wit, Gizmodo posits in an earlier article featuring our CEO Chris Anderson that the DIY drone movement could “launch a billion-dollar industry.”

The Washington Post also thinks the rules are too little too late. “The most disruptive—and potentially the most valuable—applications of drone technology will not be legal any time soon.” They have a point: What about MicroUAS?

And in a conspicuously well-timed release, the White House publicized this memorandum on safeguarding privacy and safety in the domestic drone era. (whitehouse.gov)

But how concerned are we really? A recent and quite interesting Reuters poll shows that a remarkable 42 percent of Americans support a private drone ban. However: “68 percent felt that the police should be permitted to use drones to solve crimes, while 62 percent favored their usage as a deterrent. Use by news agencies proved more controversial, with 41 percent in favor and 46 percent opposed—but curiously, 49 percent felt it was fine for parents to monitor their children with the assistance of flying robots.” (Slate)

But here’s another and reliably more fresh take on privacy from the New York Times: What all of this paranoia really says about us. The thesis: “Our privacy is far more vulnerable in the face of surreptitious phone photography or recording than it is to a noisy conspicuous device hovering in plain sight. The problem is not technology. It is, as it always was, us.”

And just to round it all out: This pilot says the FAA regs are actually too lenient.

And now for some coolness

Drones will dance, fly and race in the world’s first drone circus—to be held this year in (where else) Amsterdam. The trailer looks nuts, by the way.

Drones will scan the Amazon forest, looking for evidence of occupation by ancient civilizations: “The UK-led project is trying to determine how big these communities were, and to what degree they altered the landscape. The data is likely to inform policies on sustainable forest use today.” (BBC)

And an LSU researcher is developing a way to use drones to help prevent malaria. Our friend Dries Reymaekers is involved in a similar effort. (The Advocate)

“But they’ll just keep making bigger drones, with bigger nets…” This drone will purportedly trap smaller drones in a net—a quaint collision of new and ancient technology. (Popular Mechanics)

The FAA has cleared a company to use drones to inspect flare stacks: “Typically, chemical plants and refineries are no fly zones, so making these visual inspections is only possible from a distance,” said Lawrence Crynes, general manager of Total Safety Flare Services. “But distance and other factors can compromise the effectiveness of an inspection and they are sometimes impossible to do because of weather, trees, wires, fencing and other restrictions.” (UAS Magazine)

Kick this dog. Google-owned Boston Dynamics developed a spill-proof robot dog named Spot and dared people to knock it over. (Gizmag)

Here’s a very cool series of nadir aerials that offer a new way of looking at daily social life in China. (World Press)

For us geeks: A rad-looking new VTOL drone design. (Hackaday)

A high note: This one-person ambulance drone, modeled on a traditional quadcopter design, could reduce an estimated 1,000 “savable” lives lost due to slow accident response times. “This would enable a single pilot to control a whole fleet remotely, and to take over the manual controls for difficult takeoffs and landings. The drone would be able to land almost anywhere at the scene, thanks to a footprint the size of a compact car.” (Designboom.com)

And the truly big news this week: Battlebots returns. Presumably with drones. (Deadline)

The post Drone Download #6: FAA Drone Laws; Kick a Google Dog Robot; World’s First Drone Circus appeared first on 3drobotics.com.

Released: FAA Proposed Drone Laws

Last month 3DR’s own Colin Guinn testified in Congress on the topic of FAA regulation and the integration of small drones into the NAS. Just this morning the FAA released their proposed updates for small (under 55 lbs) drone usage. And while these new rules are a great start, the FAA will soon be proposing even more reasonable regulations governing “MicroUAS” or drones under 2 kg; many of the most popular consumer drones fit this category, and they might require registration but not a full certification like other copters up to 55lbs.

Brief Summary: Apply to aircraft under 55lbs Must maintain visual line of sight (unaided) May not operate over anyone not directly involved in the operation Daylight only Max speed of 100mph Max altitude of 500 ft Must obtain knowledge certification Additional proposal for MicroUAS to come Full Release Info:

Operational Limitations

Unmanned aircraft must weigh less than 55 lbs. (25 kg). Visual line-of-sight (VLOS) only; the unmanned aircraft must remain within VLOS of the operator or visual observer. At all times the small unmanned aircraft must remain close enough to the operator for the operator to be capable of seeing the aircraft with vision unaided by any device other than corrective lenses. Small unmanned aircraft may not operate over any persons not directly involved in the operation. Daylight-only operations (official sunrise to official sunset, local time). Must yield right-of-way to other aircraft, manned or unmanned. May use visual observer (VO) but not required. First-person view camera cannot satisfy “see-and-avoid” requirement but can be used as long as requirement is satisfied in other ways. Maximum airspeed of 100 mph (87 knots). Maximum altitude of 500 feet above ground level. Minimum weather visibility of 3 miles from control station. No operations are allowed in Class A (18,000 feet & above) airspace. Operations in Class B, C, D and E airspace are allowed with the required ATC permission. Operations in Class G airspace are allowed without ATC permission No person may act as an operator or VO for more than one unmanned aircraft operation at one time. No careless or reckless operations. Requires preflight inspection by the operator. A person may not operate a small unmanned aircraft if he or she knows or has reason to know of any physical or mental condition that would interfere with the safe operation of a small UAS. Proposes a microUAS option that would allow operations in Class G airspace, over people not involved in the operation, provided the operator certifies he or she has the requisite aeronautical knowledge to perform the operation.

Operator Certification and Responsibilities

Pilots of a small UAS would be considered “operators”. Operators would be required to: Pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center. Be vetted by the Transportation Security Administration. Obtain an unmanned aircraft operator certificate with a small UAS rating (like existing pilot airman certificates, never expires). Pass a recurrent aeronautical knowledge test every 24 months. o Be at least 17 years old. Make available to the FAA, upon request, the small UAS for inspection or testing, and any associated documents/records required to be kept under the proposed rule. Report an accident to the FAA within 10 days of any operation that results in injury or property damage. Conduct a preflight inspection, to include specific aircraft and control station systems checks, to ensure the small UAS is safe for operation.

Aircraft Requirements

FAA airworthiness certification not required. However, operator must maintain a small UAS in condition for safe operation and prior to flight must inspect the UAS to ensure that it is in a condition for safe operation. Aircraft Registration required (same requirements that apply to all other aircraft). Aircraft markings required (same requirements that apply to all other aircraft). If aircraft is too small to display markings in standard size, then the aircraft simply needs to display markings in the largest practicable manner.

Model Aircraft

Proposed rule would not apply to model aircraft that satisfy all of the criteria specified in Section 336 of Public Law 112-95. The proposed rule would codify the FAA’s enforcement authority in part 101 by prohibiting model aircraft operators from endangering the safety of the NAS.

View PDF from FAA here.

The post Released: FAA Proposed Drone Laws appeared first on 3drobotics.com.

US Drone Laws: How the FAA Stacks Up

Above: Informal chart comparing the regulatory policies that different countries have applied to commercial sUAS (drone) operation.

A little hazy on what America’s drone laws actually are? You’re not alone. But there’s good news: We can help.

The above chart is really useful—as long as you don’t live in the US. As you can tell from this conspicuous absence of a “US” column, the FAA is lagging far behind other countries in integrating commercial drones (i.e., flying drones for profit) into the national airspace. So while we’d like to add that column ourselves, we can’t. And like just about anyone else, we’d like to see this change ASAP.

What about you?

As for your personal use, there aren’t yet any laws outside the existing rules that have historically governed the use of model aircraft in the US. In other words, all the regulations specific to personal drone use are still being written, which means we’ll have new and concrete laws soon—well, hopefully soon.

But you just want to know if you can fly your drone and get cool aerial pictures and video, right? Bottom line: Yes, you can.

This doesn’t mean you can fly anything anywhere. For instance, as was recently brought to national attention following the White House drone crash, you can’t fly a drone in DC airspace, even recreationally. National parks are also off limits. If you’re wondering exactly where you can and can’t fly, here’s a helpful and continually updated map of “no-fly zones” in the US.

Know Before You Fly

Last December, the FAA partnered with a few collective industry entities to draw up some “Know Before You Fly” guidelines. The website offers guidelines for personal, commercial and public use of drones—but although the FAA sponsors the project, it apparently doesn’t officially endorse it.

Here are their guidelines for flying your drone for fun:model-aircraft-infographic

Follow community-based safety guidelines, as developed by organizations such as the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA). Fly no higher than 400 feet and remain below any surrounding obstacles when possible. Keep your drone within eyesight at all times, and use an observer to assist if needed. Remain well clear of and do not interfere with manned aircraft operations, and you must see and avoid other aircraft and obstacles at all times. Do not intentionally fly over unprotected persons or moving vehicles, and remain at least 25 feet away from individuals and vulnerable property. Contact the airport or control tower before flying within five miles of an airport. Do not fly in adverse weather conditions such as in high winds or reduced visibility. Do not fly under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Ensure the operating environment is safe and that the operator is competent and proficient in the operation of the drone. Do not fly near or over sensitive infrastructure or property such as power stations, water treatment facilities, correctional facilities, heavily traveled roadways, government facilities, etc. Check and follow all local laws and ordinances before flying over private property. Don’t conduct surveillance or photograph persons in areas where there is an expectation of privacy without the individual’s permission (see AMA’s privacy policy).

What about commercial use?

Bottom line: You’re not allowed to fly a drone for profit in the US without special clearance from the FAA. It’s a little absurd: A farmer can make a detailed high-res map of her fields for “personal enjoyment,” but she can’t use that very same image to make an informed business decision. If you want to apply for a commercial exemption from the FAA, go here. Otherwise, be prepared to shell out some cash.

We hope this page is helpful to you today, but obsolete tomorrow. We can dream, right?

The post US Drone Laws: How the FAA Stacks Up appeared first on 3drobotics.com.

3DR Releases Tower Drone Control App, and 3DR Services, “The App Store for Drones”

We’re very excited to announce the release of our new open source flight control app, Tower. Tower not only extends the simple and feature-rich flight experience legacy of our DroidPlanner series, but it also gives anyone the ability to build new features into the app or customize existing ones. We’re the major contributor to Tower and will support the app and fix all critical issues, but we really want this release to encourage people around the world to use their creativity and programming talents to further the power, usability and fun of drones.

The beginning of a new era

Tower is an important waypoint on the trajectory of this industry. “By opening Tower to the public, we’re giving the global community of programmers, enthusiasts and entrepreneurs the ability to drive drone innovation in a very positive manner,” said Colin Guinn, 3DR’s chief revenue officer. “We’re excited to see how people use their talents to improve and innovate on Tower.”

“We envision a future where numerous providers out there will be building apps for drones,” added Brandon Basso, VP of software engineering. “They want 3DR to do the work of keeping the drone in the air so they can do the rest.”

A good analogy is the smartphone: In order to make a smartphone app, you don’t need to design and create a phone from scratch. The hard part (the platform, in other words) is already done. With our flight control software, we’ve made the phone, so to speak. Now everyone has the ability to create new functions.

To that end, we’re simultaneously launching 3DR Services, a new app that aggregates all of these third-party tools—think of this as the app store for drones. 3DR Services can guide you to Tower and other 3DR apps, as well as third-party drone apps. To kick off this exciting forum, we’ve already built an Android Wear and Pebble app that gives you the ability to control some flight modes directly from your wrist.


Tower is suited to first-time pilots as well as experts. As with DroidPlanner, you don’t need to know how to fly a drone in order to fly our drones: Create flights by simply drawing paths on your tablet or by dropping waypoints. The app also provides transmitter-free operation of all 3DR-powered copters and planes from any Android smartphone or tablet.

Tower itself is essentially the next iteration of DroidPlanner, with the addition of useful new features you’ve come to expect from our DP updates. For instance, you can use Tower to easily program autonomous flights, bend around waypoints with a spline editor and take hands-free photos and videos of yourself with 3PV™ Follow Me mode and automated “dronie” features. Tower also features a new Mission Editor for easier insertion or reordering of elements. For commercial and industrial users, the software includes a new building mapper for creating 3D scans of large structures or geographical features. We’ve also made planning missions a lot easier, especially when it comes to inserting new waypoints into existing missions. And next week we’ll integrate support for Droneshare, our social network for drones, so you can track and share flights and pilot rankings (until now only available in DroidPlanner beta).

Here’s a quick breakdown of new features:

Fly in smooth curves with spline waypoints Use Circle waypoints to orbit an object while keeping the camera pointed at it Region of Interest (ROI) points allow flyers to keep the camera centered on a subject regardless of flight path Survey will automatically generate the flight pattern needed to fully cover a region of the map 3PV™ Follow Me keeps the camera centered on the user while the drone follows the user’s movement; angles can also be adjusted as the drone follows you An Automated Building Mapper makes 3D scans of large structures Dronie function for creating one-of-a-kind selfies, revealing surrounding scenery as the drone flies back and away from the subject

How to get Tower

To download the free Tower drone control app, click here.

And click here to access 3DR Services.

The Tower open-source community is located on GitHub at https://github.com/DroidPlanner/droidplanner.

Tower works with most drones that use the MAVLink protocol.

The post 3DR Releases Tower Drone Control App, and 3DR Services, “The App Store for Drones” appeared first on 3drobotics.com.

Page 10 of 19« First...89101112...Last »