When I first got my original DJI Phantom 1, I was the only person I knew on the planet who was interested in drones.
I did something highly NOT recommended — message random strangers on the Internet who I could tell lived near me and ask if they could give me a drone tutorial. (It worked out for me, and I made some lifelong friends this way, but don’t try this at home!)
Google X’s delivery drones probably won’t be bringing you champagne anytime soon.
A patent filed in June 2013 and awarded to Google on Tuesday indicates that the company is more interested in using drones for transporting medical equipment.
The patent states that the drone would have a control system configured to provide medical support, such as delivering a defibrillator.
Automated External Defibrillators can cost $2,000 to $3,000 to install, and some laws require multiple AEDs to be placed in a building. AEDs also require periodic maintenance, thus can continue to add up in cost.
But with a number of AED-carrying drones on standby, in a downtown area for example, Google anticipates it would often be able to respond to an emergency much more quickly than it would take for someone to retrieve an AED from the far reaches of a building, according to the patent.
And AEDs maintained by Google would be able to be inspected with greater ease than if they were left in the building.
Commercial drones are prohibited currently from flying over populated areas out of safety concerns. But that’s about to change.
The Federal Aviation Administration released recommendations Wednesday from a government-sponsored committee that would make it legal for drones adhering to certain safety standards to fly over crowds for commercial purposes.
Such a move would clear the way for drones to film events and deliver packages — two of the main potential commercial use cases for drones. (It’s currently legal for noncommercial drone owners to fly over people.) And it would come as a big win for drone manufacturers like DJI, who have been increasingly trying to capture the enterprise market with higher-end drones.
The report “recommends common-sense ways to ensure drones used for commercial and organizational purposes can safely fly over people,” according to DJI spokesperson Adam Lisberg.
But not everyone is thrilled.
The Academy of Model Aeronautics, a community group for model aircraft users, says more drones over people’s heads is going to contribute to a culture of drone hysteria.
Chinese drone manufacturer Yuneec wowed audiences at the International CES in 2015 with the debut of its Yuneec Typhoon H, a $1,300 drone that can detect objects in its proximity to prevent collisions and track subjects.
And rival Chinese company DJI, the world’s largest drone maker known for its iconic white ‘Phantom’ drones, is not having it.
DJI on Friday filed a patent infringement lawsuit in federal court against Yuneec International Co. Ltd. and Yuneec USA, Inc., saying its drones infringe on two DJI patents, including one for target tracking.
The DJI Phantom 4, which hit shelves in March, calls this feature “Active Track,” allowing the drone to follow a subject, selected by tapping that subject on their smartphone screen. Even if the subject moves, the drone will follow it, keeping it in the center of the camera’s frame.
The Yuneec Typhoon H markets its similar feature as “Watch Me,” which allows the drone to follow you while always pointing the camera at you.
Last August, a drone was spotted flying over a gas station in Inglewood, a city just south of downtown Los Angeles. The drone was operated by the Inglewood Police Department to gather aerial data over a crime scene, a practice not uncommon lately with law enforcement or emergency response crews.
In a bizarre turn of events, officers of the Los Angeles Police Department also were dispatched to the scene, but not to assist with the crime investigation. According to a report released by the Federal Aviation Administration, LAPD arrived on the scene and requested their Inglewood counterparts to bring down the drone, which was flying about 2 miles from a runway at the Los Angeles International Airport and could have posed a threat to incoming planes.
The FAA in November of 2014 began tracking “drone sightings,” in which a person or entity reports a drone in flight to the police or directly to the FAA, usually because they believe the drone is doing something illegal. Since then, the number of drone sightings has been on the rise. The FAA received reports of 1,303 drone sightings in 2015.
DJI, Ford and the United Nations Development Program want you to build the next application system for search and rescue drones. The three entities are partnering up to create the 2016 DJI Developer Challenge, and at stake is an $100,000 prize.