The following piece is a guest post by Janet Pywell, author of the book “Book of Hours,” a crime thriller in which one of the ‘characters’ is a drone.
I knew nothing about drones until I was walking on the beach near my home and a man was using a drone to photograph the coast. As a writer, I’m naturally curious and I stopped to speak to him. I was surprised when he told me you don’t need a license to fly a drone, that they weren’t expensive and that they were pretty easy to use.
I came across drones again after watching Helen Mirren’s film, “Eye in the Sky.” It’s contemporary, controversial and exciting. I thought they would add a thrilling dimension to my novel but I needed to understand their capabilities in order to work them into my narrative – and find out how and where I could use them in the relative scenes.
The following piece is a guest post by telecommunications specialist George Smith.
By now it’s pretty clear that Amazon’s master plan to take their delivery services to the skies via drone isn’t going to be easy. There are issues around flying beyond line of site, implementing obstacle sensors to avoid collisions, and getting regulatory approval. But there’s a completely different issue that no one is talking about: connectivity.
Maintaining a strong and stable internet connection
Since delivery drones would fly autonomously rather than have a designated pilot, each drone needs to have the ability to send and receive information to air traffic control instantaneously so they know which parts of the air to avoid. To do that, Amazon’s drones will likely utilize a mixture of Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity.
Cellular connectivity will likely be delivered using roamingM2M SIM cards. M2M (machine to machine) means the communication between two or more devices without need for human interaction; in most cases this communication is in the form of data exchanges over a cellular network. These SIM cards allow technologies like drones to monitor networks for the best connection wherever they are in the country.
Battery life of drones
But with M2M SIM cards comes another obstacle: battery power. Although M2M can provide drones with connectivity, they can also be power-thirsty if exchanging large amounts of data. A potential solution? Low-powered wide-area networks, also known as LPWAN. LPWAN is a type of wireless telecommunication network designed to allow long range communications at a low bit rate, meaning they are extremely power efficient.
Although LPWAN services such as SigFox and LoRa are becoming more widely available, they aren’t yet being implemented in technology that flies — but that doesn’t mean they never will.
The following piece is a guest post by FPV drone pilot BMac. Check out his YouTube Channel BMac FPV or his website FPV Drone Pro.
FPV drone racing is blazing a path to becoming the next big E-sport of the world.
While drone racing has been happening for years, some say drone racing became an official sport in 2016 when the Drone Racing League pitted the world’s best drone pilots against each other in high speed obstacle courses and hosted a Drone Nationals event. DRL recently received sponsorship from Allianz insurance to solidify a new 6 race series in major venues across the globe called “The Allianz World Championships.”
But before flying through extravagant obstacle courses, the people who are now professional drone racing pilots started out doing tricks and maneuvers in places they thought looked cool or offered challenging architecture. This is the heart and soul of FPV Freestyle.
While drone racing simply involves completing an obstacle race course in the fastest possible time, FPV freestyle involves navigating tight corners, under trees, around obstacles and through small openings all while doing tricks. Pilots must do all that while having an understanding of their spatial positioning to avoid hitting the ground while doing a power loop or clip a race gate.
FPV stands for “First Person Flying,” which is when you see what your drone’s camera sees in real time. Imagine it like a first-person video game, except you’re interacting with the real world.
What Are the Benefits to FPV Flying?
Traditionally, people would fly drones by line-of-sight. But this has some drawbacks. First, you’re limited to flying within a relatively short distance. When you fly via FPV, you can fly very far away (sometimes up to several miles). With a model like the Syma X8C, you can only fly as far as your eyes will let you.
Secondly, FPV flying is much more immersive. It’s a great feeling being able to see what your drone’s camera sees as you fly. For maximum impressiveness, it’s recommended that you go with FPV goggles over a standard FPV transmitter display. Trust me- it’s way better. Continue reading The complete starter’s guide to FPV flying→
At January’s Consumer Electronics Show, interactive home security company “Alarm” announced it is working on a smart drone that monitors your house. No, it’s not something straight out of the movie flubber where that little yellow flying drone called “ weebo “ flies around and monitors the house.
The idea behind this smart drone is that if an indoor motion sensor picks up movement while the homeowner is sleeping, the drone takes off and flies to that location, while you stay in bed and monitor the whole thing from your smartphone.
Alarm is not alone in using drones for home security. Other startups including Sunflower Labs, Secom Co and Eighty Nine Robotics from Chicago are starting to develop these automated security drones, though none of those are able to function indoors.
Alarm’s system is tailored to both indoors and outdoors, according to Dan Kerzner which is the Chief Product Officer. The drone is based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Flight platform. The drone also doesn’t fly around the property 24/7 (as that would be costly and potentially dangerous and annoying), but instead is only enabled to fly after the hours the user designates.
Once triggered, it flies to the location and starts recording and live streaming back to your phone. Of course, the sight of a loud, flying object coming closer might be enough to scare off intruders.
When it comes to fires, smoldering logs and debris can create hot spots and reignite fires. Now, firefighters are using drones to find smoldering hot spots.
Last month, a fire in western North Carolina raged out of control, sending 7,100 acres of forest up in smoke. After firefighters successfully battled to control the wildfire, a team of drone pilots stepped in.
Drone pilots from Go Unmanned took a Matrice 600 with a Flir XT infrared camera and overflew the entire area, noticing many smoldering points remained in the burned out area. (The image below shows how an entire hillside looked like when it was lit with campfires in the “White-Hot” color schema, one of several color options offered by the Zenmuse XT).
The little white spots on the forested hillside in this photo are all areas of significant increased heat, most of them left over smoldering debris. For firefighters, it was surprising to see this many problem areas left over after the fire, pilots at Go Unmanned said.
Drone operators with existing Part 61 pilot certificates can bypass the in-person, written exam and instead take an online course. But for drone operators without that, they’ll have to take the test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center.
And that test is definitely something you’ll need to study for.