Category Archives: News

Don’t fly drones through fireworks, FAA warns

You know those sweet Fourth of July videos of drones flying near fireworks? Don’t do it, the Federal Aviation Administration warns.

The FAA on Friday issued a reminder of “general guidelines for people flying drones.” Here’s what the FAA said:

  • Don’t fly your drone in or near fireworks
  • Don’t fly over people
  • Don’t fly near airports

Continue reading Don’t fly drones through fireworks, FAA warns

Canada eases formerly strict rules on hobby drone use

The drone industry can breathe a sigh of relief: Canada has eased its rules around recreational drone use.

Canada in March released a new set of rules for recreational drone users, which would have prevented drones from flying higher than 90 meters (295 feet), at night, within 75 meters (246 feet) of buildings, vehicles or people and within 9 kilometers  (5.6 miles) from airports. The rules had caused outrage among many drone users, who feared they wouldn’t be able to use their drones for the reasons they bought them.

It prevented drones from flying in places like parks, where people might be within 246, or over piers and parking lots, places where drones have commonly shot images.

The rules apply to drones weighing over 250 g and up to 35 kg.

DJI, the world’s largest drone manufacturer, said in a prepared statement that the rules “had effectively barred drones from flying in most settled parts of Canada.”

But Transport Canada has since revised those Canadian drone rules that heavily restricted hobby drone flight. See all the revisions here. Continue reading Canada eases formerly strict rules on hobby drone use

It’s Drone Girl’s 4th birthday!

Four years ago today, I wrote my first ever blog post for TheDroneGirl.com, which — I think — makes today the 4th birthday of The Drone Girl.

What started out as a simple blog to post my videos from my DJI Phantom 1 and writ about my experiences has grown into an awesome community of people who can share opinions, ask questions and generate ideas.

In these past four years, I’ve talked to scientists who have used drones to gather whale DNA, celebrity drone racers,  and brilliant drone makers. I’ve traveled around the world, including to Oman, Harvard Stadium, EAA Airventure and Abu Dhabi, and Austin, Texas for South by Southwest. I’ve operated underwater drones, Lego drones and Star Wars drones.

In 4 years, we’ve seen regulations change. Drone registration became a thing, and then un-became a thing. Section 333 was announced, and then Part 107 was announced. Drone operators got certified by the FAA.

It’s been a whirlwind. But most importantly, I’ve made amazing friends both in person and online — and I’m talking about you! Thank you so much for giving me these 4 years — they wouldn’t have been possible without you. Here’s to 4 more!

And what the heck, here is that first ever blog post. It’s not much of a read, but maybe you’ll get a kick out of it. 😉

4 ways Alberta, Canada is becoming more like the new Silicon Valley of drones

Think major players in the drone industry are contained to just the U.S. and China? Calgary, Alberta, Canada is positioning itself as the new hotbed of drone technology.

Aerium Analytics
Courtesy of Aerium Analytics

Here are four major strides in the drone industry, happening in Canada:

1. Building drones that look like birds: It’s a bird, it’s a…bird? Well, it’s actually a drone, and Calgary-based Aerium Analytics is working to build robots that look like falcons, called “robirds.” The robirds, which fly at Edmonton International Airport, are intended to scare real birds, keeping them away from flying in the path of incoming flight traffic.

Edmonton is the first airport in the world to fully integrate drones into its daily operations.

2. Flying drones beyond line of site: Ventus Geospatial in February became the first company in Canada to fly a drone beyond visual line of sight. The flight actually consisted of two drones — the Aeryon Skyranger quadcopter and the UAS C-Astral Bramor  fixed-wing plane. The Southern Alberta-based company is using drones that fly beyond line of site for pipeline, power line and large area mapping.

Canada, like the U.S., prevents drones from flying beyond visual line of site.

In the U.S., only four companies have waivers of approval to fly beyond visual line of site: thermal camera maker FLIR, high -end cinema company Astraeus Aerial, BNSF Railway and PrecisionHawk.

3.  Improvements in autonomous navigation technology for drones: Dr. Mozhdeh Shahbazi, a professor at the University of Calgary, is developing new technologies that allow drones to fly without reliance on GPS.

Drones flying in areas such as major cities with highrise buildings or in caves often cannot depend on GPS, which loses signals in cavernous areas. Her technology uses optical, laser and infrared sensors to scan the environment from different angles and complete tasks without human control or programming. The tech could be used for a variety of purposes, with one of the standout use-cases being search and rescue.

Courtesy of SAIT’s Centre for Innovative Information Technology Solutions

4. Using drones to monitor cows: Researchers at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology are putting unique radio frequency identification tags on cow’s ears. Drones can then fly overhead, allowing farmers to track where their cows are, even in remote locations.

The technology is capable of reading up to 500 tags a second.

Trump pledges to ease drone regulation, but some companies want more

This is an excerpt from a story originally written for MarketWatch.com. Read the entire story here.

President Donald Trump turned his attention to drones on Thursday as drone company executives met at the White House to discuss government involvement in the drone industry.

The common theme at Thursday’s meeting? Regulation.

“[We’ve had] too many years of excessive government regulation,” Trump said at the meeting with drone executives. “We’ve had regulation that’s been so bad, so out of line, that it’s really hurt our country. On a daily basis, we’re getting rid of regulation.”

But that wasn’t necessarily the message the drone CEOs wanted to hear.

“This is actually one industry where we need a little more regulation,” said PrecisionHawk Chief Executive Officer Michael Chasen during Thursday’s meeting. “The default is actually limiting what drone technology can do, and we need the FAA and the other regulatory bodies to have a little bit more power in opening up those opportunities.” Continue reading Trump pledges to ease drone regulation, but some companies want more

Alleged drone grounded fire crews over Cajete Fire in New Mexico

Firefighters battling the Cajete Fire near Los Alamos, New Mexico this weekend say they spotted what they called an illegal drone flying over the fire.

Drones flying over wildfires violate restricted airspace rules and forced all aerial firefighting to be stopped. Drones can interfere with wildland fire air traffic, such as air tankers, helicopters, and other firefighting aircraft that are necessary to suppress wildland fires. One of the most notable incidents was in 2015, when drones grounded crews trying to fight a massive blaze in San Bernardino, Calif.

Air Attack Supervisor Craig Campbell recorded the alleged drone on his cell phone camera, according to KRQE News 13, which you can watch below:

But after watching the footage, some in the drone community are skeptical that what firefighters called a drone was actually that.

“That’s a balloon,” one poster said in a Facebook group, whose name is not being disclosed because the group is private. Others said that the flapping motion indicated it was actually a bird.

“Party balloons have been mistaken for drones in the past,” another user posted. “I don’t think this was a quad. The fact that this was blamed on drones is suspect.”

Campbell himself described to KRQE what he saw as nothing like the typically DJI, Autel or Yuneec drones that consumers buy off the shelf (and which have been to blame for some high-profile accidents, including a crash onto the White House grounds and during a bike race).

“I would have expected it to look like a drone with four propellers that kind of flies like that,” Campbell told KRQE. “What you saw was a bright red, somewhat cylindrical object moving through the air.”

Some drone users have pointed out that the drone may resemble something like the Ascent AeroSystems Sprite drone, which originally launched on Kickstarter.

Ascent AeroSystems Sprite drone
The Ascent AeroSystems Sprite drone

It is relatively common for reports of drone sightings to in reality be referencing any flying object — whether it’s a balloon, trash bag or a bird.

The Federal Aviation Administration recorded 1,274 possible drone sightings between February and September 2016. But the FAA has yet to verify any collision between a civil aircraft and a civil drone.

“Every investigation has found the reported collisions were either birds, impact with other items such as wires and posts, or structural failure not related to colliding with an unmanned aircraft,” according to an FAA news release.

 

Was that a drone flying over the fire?

It wasn’t a quadcopter, but it did look like some sort of drone, perhaps the Sprite drone.
Yes, definitely looked like an orange Autel X-Star or other colored quadcopter.
No way! It was balloons or a bird.
I’m not sure, but I DO know never to fly a drone over a wildfire!

Quotes 2 Know

“Back in the 70s and 80s, everything pilots saw was a UFO. Now everything they see is a drone,” Richard Hanson, President of the Academy of Model Aeronautics, told Popular Science. “Drones are the new UFOs.”

In 2016, a drone reportedly hit a British Airways flight as it approached London Heathrow airport. But UK’s Minister of State for Transport Robert Goodwill later said the reported drone strike was not confirmed it was actually a drone.

“There’s indeed some speculation that it may have even been a plastic bag or something,” Goodwill said.

It is worth noting that it is illegal to fly a drone over a wildfire. Per the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, 43 CFR 9212.1(f), it is illegal to resist or interfere with the efforts of firefighters to extinguish a fire. In the eyes of the law, drones flying over a fire do interfere with firefighting efforts.

So please, for the sake of the rest of the drone community, never fly a drone in or around a wildfire.

Intel drones are coming to the next Olympics

You’ve seen those Intel light drones making shapes in the sky at Coachella, the Super Bowl and Walt Disney World. And now, they’re headed to the Olympics.

Intel announced on Wednesday that it would partner with the International Olympic Committee through 2024. Intel is bringing a variety of its new technology to the Olympics, including its virtual reality and 360-degree technology, and of course, drones.

“Intel drone light show technology will create never-seen-before images in the sky,” according to a statement issued Wednesday by Intel. Continue reading Intel drones are coming to the next Olympics

Season 2 of the Drone Racing League premieres tonight on ESPN

Drone racing is coming to your TV once again.

The premiere of season 2 of the Drone Racing League Allianz World Championship airs tonight at 8 p.m. on ESPN 2. The season will include a total of 16 one-hour episodes.

Tonight’s racers will fly at the Hard Rock Stadium, home to the Miami Dolphins (Miami Dolphin’s owner Stephen Ross’s venture-capital firm RSE Ventures has invested in The Drone Racing League).  Following Miami, the 2017 season moves to Atlanta, New Orleans, Boston, and Munich, culminating in the World Championship in London, set in the historic Alexandra Palace.  Continue reading Season 2 of the Drone Racing League premieres tonight on ESPN