Category Archives: News

Draft legislation from the Trump administration would allow the government to track, hack and destroy drones

The following is an excerpt of a piece originally written for MarketWatch.com. Read the entire story here.

A Trump administration proposal to allow the federal government to track, hack and destroy drones flying in the U.S. is raising eyebrows among some aviation experts.

The proposed new rules, according to a draft of a bill obtained by the New York Times this week, would enable the government to use “reasonable force to disable, disrupt, damage or destroy” drones that pose a threat, and any objects the drones are carrying.

 

In the past few years, companies specializing in drone countermeasures have begun popping up — and these companies would likely benefit from the proposed legislation. DroneShield, for instance, sells a Dronegun, which is a jammer that can disrupt a drone’s remote control, forcing it to land or return to its starting point. In some European countries there are companies training eagles to take down drones midair.

Dedrone has developed software that can detect drones in the vicinity before they even take off, and its software is already being used in a few prisons and for events, including during the 2016 presidential debate at Hofstra University. Continue reading Draft legislation from the Trump administration would allow the government to track, hack and destroy drones

DJI Spark drone is the stuff of Jedi-mind tricks with its gesture control features

DJI’s newest drone is the stuff of Jedi mind tricks.

The Chinese-based drone maker today announced a tiny, $499 drone called Spark, the company’s smallest drone to date. But the standout feature is that the Spark drone can be controlled purely by gesture control. The drone’s camera can detect its user’s body movements such as raising and lowering your hands or waving them. It then can interpret those gestures to follow commands such as flying up and down, or taking a picture.

The DJI Spark can even land in the palm of your hand — a seemingly impossible feature that hopeful competitors like Lily once promised — and failed to deliver. (The drone startup Lily filed for bankruptcy and never shipped a drone to any of the over 61,000 people who pre-ordered one.)

This is the first time that DJI has announced a product designed specifically for consumers, previously having left smaller drone-makers like Intel-funded Yuneec and French drone-maker Parrot to make drones at those lower price points.

Continue reading DJI Spark drone is the stuff of Jedi-mind tricks with its gesture control features

DJI Spark: Watch the news live

Update: the DJI Spark has been formally announced. Read all about it here.

DJI is expected to announce a new drone that could be called the Spark today at 11:30 a.m. ET.

Earlier this year, leaked images showed a drone that resembled a miniature version of the DJI Mavic. It is unclear what the Spark drone is intended to be used for, though it could fill one corner of the market where DJI is still lacking: low-cost, toy drones. DJI’s cheapest drone available is still about $400-$500.

Watch the entire announcement unfold live, right here:

Hobby drone pilots don’t have to register with FAA, court rules

The following is an excerpt of a piece originally written for MarketWatch.com. Read the entire story here.

The Federal Aviation Administration’s requirement that hobby drone users register their devices was struck down in an appeals court Friday.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in favor of John Taylor, a drone hobbyist who had challenged the legality of the FAA’s drone-registration program.

The program, which was instituted in December 2015, required hobby drone owners to register through an FAA website for a $5 fee. Drone hobbyists were then issued a unique identification, which they were required to mark on their drones. Within the first month, nearly 300,000 drone owners had registered.

The court struck down the FAA’s registration rule, referencing the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act, which was passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama. That rule stated that the FAA “may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft.” Continue reading Hobby drone pilots don’t have to register with FAA, court rules

NASA is using drones to explore volcanoes

Drones are so much more than a means of gathering pretty photos. They’ve gathered whale DNA and they’ve herded elephants.

And now, NASA is using drones to explore volcanoes to improve the accuracy of ashfall measurements.

Ashfall from volcanoes can be dangerous to aircraft; the microscopic particles of the ash cloud can erode metal and clog fuel systems, and in airspace where levels of volcanic ash exceeds 0.2 milligrams per cubic meter of air space, the area becomes a no-fly zone. After the April 2010 eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland, 95,000 flights were cancelled and $1.7 billion were lost.

But while areas of volcanic activity are too dangerous for manned aircraft to enter, scientists can send drones instead.

NASA is partnering with Boulder-based Black Swift Technologies to create a set of drones, called the SuperSwift XT, that can be sent around volcanoes with sensors that can measure gas and atmospheric parameters, gathering data about particle size-frequency distribution, vertical ash concetration and levels of sulfur dioxide.

NASA is paying Black Swift Technologies $124,849 to work on the project, according to public records. Continue reading NASA is using drones to explore volcanoes

The big DJI May 24 announcement: could DJI’s Spark arrive this month?

Update: the DJI Spark has been formally announced. Read all about it here.

DJI has a big announcement coming at the end of this month. Any thoughts on what it could be?

DJI is hosting an invitation-only event between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET on May 24 in New York City. The details are pretty limited except for the event’s incredibly vague titled, “Seize The Moment.”

DJI May 24 announcement
The invitation for DJI’s upcoming event

My bet is on the DJI Spark — a drone that resembled a miniature version of the DJI Mavic. It is unclear what the Spark drone is intended to be used for, though it could fill one corner of the market where DJI is still lacking: low-cost, toy drones. DJI’s cheapest drone available is still about $400-$500.

Others have suggested it could be DJI’s first racing-focused drone.A DJI spokesperson would not confirm or deny the existence of a “Spark” drone. But, a trademark for the name “Spark” was filed by DJI on March 6, 2017. Continue reading The big DJI May 24 announcement: could DJI’s Spark arrive this month?

You have to see this new drone museum exhibition in NYC

Drones aren’t THAT old, but they’re already becoming the stuff of museums.

The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum Complex in New York City this week opened an exhibit called “Drones: Is the sky the limit?” making it the U.S.’s first major museum exhibition on drones.

The exhibit is located in a 6,000 square foot pavilion on Pier 86 in New York City, and will showcase historical artifacts, model airplanes, actual drones, three-dimensional computer renderings and rare videos. Continue reading You have to see this new drone museum exhibition in NYC

Intel’s drone light show and other things you missed at AUVSI Xponential

AUVSI XPonential 2017– the conference put on by the Association for Unmanned vehicle System — is in full swing this week at the Dallas Convention Center in Texas.

Among the top draws of the show — an indoor presentation of its drones, flying live for audiences at AUVSI. During the keynote, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich announced the next version of the Intel Shooting Star drone for outdoor light shows, and said Intel will work with key partners to scale these performances globally. Audiences were then treated to a live demo of the drones.

The Shooting Star drones are a form of nighttime entertainment that could replace fireworks by making light shapes in the sky, and have performed at spots including Coachella, the Super Bowl and Walt Disney World.

The show was also an opportunity for companies to demo new products or announce new initiatives. Grpyon Sensors announced its plan for UTM involving sensors to detect drones. Drone detection company Gryphon Sensors this week announced that it had launched a system for drone traffic management which it calls Mobile Skylight. The system combines self-contained sensors with third-party sensor inputs to record flight data, using radar to detect low-flying drones at ranges of 10 kilometers. Grpyon Sensors is a non-profit research corporation chartered by the State of New York and has been contributing to the Federal Aviation Administration’s Pathfinder Program and NASA’s UAS Traffic Management (UTM) program

As for other things you missed, what’s a conference without a huge show floor? Here are some gems: