There’s a drone scholarship for high school students. Here’s how you can win it

High school students who love drones — here’s a drone scholarship you need to take advantage of.

*Pssst!* Scroll down to the bottom of this post to get $50 off any Drone Pilot Ground School course!

Drone Pilot Ground School launched the High School STEM Scholarship for Aspiring Commercial Drone Pilots. The scholarship provides free access to Drone Pilot Ground School for eligible high school students who are at least 16 years old. The scholarship will also pay for Part 107 test fees for the first 100 students to take the test. The Part 107 test fee is typically $150.

The Part 107 test is issued by the Federal Aviation Administration, and every pilot who operates a drone commercially needs to have passed it in order to obtain a license.

“We know the drone industry has the potential for creating new jobs for young people, and can help students get excited about STEM subjects,” said Perlman. “Providing a scholarship to interested, qualified high school students just seemed like a natural outgrowth of the support we’ve given the students at Taft High.” Continue reading There’s a drone scholarship for high school students. Here’s how you can win it

Boeing will pay you $2 million if you can build a human-carrying drone or jetpack

Know how to build a human-carrying drone or jetpack? Boeing will pay you $2 million to make it happen.

Boeing is the primary sponsor in GoFly, a two-year, international contest to build a “personal flying device” capable of Vertical Takeoff and Landing that can fly twenty miles and carry a person.

In other words: a drone or a jetpack.

“What we are seeking is an “everyone” personal flying device, capable of being flown by ANYONE, ANYWHERE. It should be a device for ALL: young and old, city-dweller and country-dweller, expert and novice,” according to the rules. Continue reading Boeing will pay you $2 million if you can build a human-carrying drone or jetpack

Stop flying drones over the California fires. It’s probably illegal

Stop flying your drones over the California fires and subsequent devastation. Why?

Here’s the short answer: the U.S. government says so.

And here’s the long answer:

A large amount of space in the Napa area is currently under a NOTAM, including airspace over NapaSanta Rosa and Petaluma. A NOTAM is short for notice to airmen, and is something filed by the FAA to alert pilots of hazards in areas they are flying in.

Under the restrictions of those NOTAMs, “no pilots may operate an aircraft in the areas covered by this NOTAM.”

The NOTAMS are effective through Nov. 13 “to provide a safe environment for fire fighting aircraft operations,” according to the text of the NOTAMs. Continue reading Stop flying drones over the California fires. It’s probably illegal

This AED doubles as a drone — in hopes to get faster support to stroke victims

Add this to your list of “Drones for Good.”

Swedish-based company FlyPulse has developed a drone it calls LifeDrone AED. It is exactly what it sounds like — a drone that transports defibrillators, which is an electronic device seen in gyms, offices and classrooms that can  automatically diagnose cardiac arrhythmias and treat them through defibrillation, the application of electrical therapy.

The idea behind building a drone to transport them? The drone can get the defibrillator to the stroke victim in a short amount of time — time being often the crucial factor in survival rates.

Other companies are using drones for good in the health industry, such as strapping life jackets to drones, which can be flown over drowning victims to drop a life jacket near them. And a range of drone companies such as Zipline and Matternet are using drones for medical deliveries including blood and medicine.

FlyPulse develops the drones, but they recently partnered with Silicon Valley based company, FlytBase to create a network of drones outfitted with AEDs. FlyBase’s software is intended to help drones navigate through the skies, and also manage computer vision, payload management and security, machine learning.

Each year in the U.S. there are about 359,4000 cardiac arrests outside of a hospital. Less than 10% of victims survive, according to the American Heart Association. In communities with comprehensive AED programs, survival rates are closer to 40%.

Here’s what’s wrong with a centralized control center to manage drone traffic, according to DJI

As drone sales continue to spike and their use becomes more ubiquitous, drone traffic management continues to ascend to the forefront of conversation around drones.

And the first step in traffic management? Creating a system to identify which drones are in the year.

The Federal Aviation Administration in June created a UAS Identification and Tracking Aviation Rulemaking Committee (sometimes referred to as ARC) to propose details of a drone identification and tracking system.

Among the proposals being thrown around? A centralized control center that would establish flight paths for drones to help them avoid other obstacles including other drones.

But one company that really doesn’t like that idea? It’s the one that perhaps has the most at stake: drone manufacturer DJI.

DJI in July released an updated version of a white paper outlining its intention for a way to manage and monitor drone traffic. And one thing it wants to make clear: it should not be a network-based approach.

Remote identification

The primary aspect of DJI’s vision for drone traffic management centers around a type of remote drone identification, according to a white paper released by the company in July.

DJI has proposed creating an identification mechanism that provides localized identification without an permanent recording or logging, but like a more advanced version of a license plate on a car.

“An identifier, such as a registration number, together with position information about the drone, and perhaps some voluntary information if the operator wishes, is transmitted from the drone, and is available to all receivers that are within range,” according to DJI’s white paper. “Authorized receivers of the transmission who believe the drone’s operator is violating a regulation or engaged in unlawful acts can record and investigate, similar to how a license plate might be recorded by someone who is cut offroad.”

If radio-based identification were used, it would be able to work through walls and at much greater distances than what a police officer would be able to see on a car’s license plate.

The argument against a network approach

DJI is advocating against a network approach, which would require the drone to be connected to a network.

The problem? A lack of network signals means it simply wouldn’t work. For privacy reasons, a network-based approach would like be opposed by drone operators who don’t want their flights tracked and recorded — or even hacked.

DJI’s white paper refers to such an approach as an “Orwellian model” that provides “more information than needed to people who don’t require it, and exposes confidential business information in the process.”

How DJI plans to implement its remote identification approach

DJI is proposing using protocols within the existing C2 or video link to transmit information to ground receivers, which most often use 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz bands, done at the manufacturer’s level.

For people building their own drones DJI proposes that builders include an add-on RF module.

So how do we solve drones not crashing into each other?

Some have suggested that a centralized network would ensure remotely piloted drones don’t crash into each other. DJI says that’s not a problem.

“We envision a future in which drones will be smart enough to navigate safely through the airspace, avoiding obstacles, each other, and manned traffic, all on their own, in most locations,”  according to the white paper. “Instead, drones can directly coordinate their flight paths and avoid obstacles by using On-board Anti-collision Technologies (OATs) already found on many civil drones, such as obstacle sensing systems and radio transmitters and receivers communicating with other drones.”

Tanzania is using drones to protect the Serengeti from poaching

Private drones may be banned from flying over Tanzania’s National Parks, but that doesn’t mean you won’t see any drones there.

The Tanzania National Parks Authority commonly known as TANAPA has officially signed on to use drones as a form of anti-poaching surveillance.

Tanzania’s National Parks Authority is working with drone anti-poaching service Bathawk Recon to operate the drones.

A number of groups have used drones as a form of anti-poaching, though the efficacy of those efforts has been sometimes questionable and difficult to prove. The Kenya Wildlife Service is using drones at Tsavo National Park, and San Francisco-based startup Airware tested drones at Kenya’s Ol Pejeta Conservancy.

Anti-poaching drones are particularly prevalent in a number of countries in Africa. In South Africa, 1,215 rhinos were killed in 2014 alone due to demand for rhino horn. Continue reading Tanzania is using drones to protect the Serengeti from poaching

What qualities to look for when buying a toy drone

Buying a low-cost, toy drone is going to be a different animal than shopping for a fancy camera drone.

When sorting through product descriptions, it’s easy to be fooled by words like “HD video” or “easy to fly” — essentially meaningless terms. HD (high definition) can be meaningless if the camera is only one megapixel, and easy to fly — well that’s relative.

Buying a drone from an established company like DJI guarantees high quality video and a relatively easy flight experience. But when you are spending less than $200 on a drone, you lose that guarantee.

Here are the things you should look for when purchasing a toy drone from an unknown manufacturer, according to Best Drones For Kids: Continue reading What qualities to look for when buying a toy drone

The U.S. Marines may 3D-print drones to use for surveillance

The U.S. Marine Corps uses small, fixed drones for surveillance.

They’re primarily using AeroVironment’s RQ-11 Raven and the RQ-12 Wasp III, which cost $35,000 to $50,000 (plus $100,000 ground control systems).

But it turns out, similar drones can be made simply via a 3D-printer.

marines 3d-printed drone
Courtesy Autodesk

26 year-old Corporal Rhet McNeal developed a 3D-printed version of the drone called Scout. The design consists of four 3D-printed parts, which can snap together in less than three minutes. The whole thing can be built for $613, consisting of off-the-shelf electronics, 3D printer resin and controlled from the iPhone app Q Ground Control — a fraction of the cost of AeroVironment’s drones.

Though, it does not have all the features of AeroVironment’s drones.

“We have these drones that do a hundred things that make them cost between $35,000 and $50,000, but the soldiers normally only use the two or three big capabilities,” said McNeal in a prepared statement. “I wanted to strip it down to what we actually use so that our drone does not cost so much we are afraid to use it – if you break it, not a big deal.”

McNeal spent time developing the prototype at Autodesk’s Pier 9, and is now back on base in Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina.

McNeal’s 3D design files and build specifications for the Scout have been handed off to The MITRE Corporation, which supplies and tests many of the Marines’ drones and will carry the Scout through  wider-scale manufacturing.


Drone Girl

Reporting on drones, sometimes with drones