As El Nino hits California, drones are heading into the air — documenting the impacts of the rainfall on California’s coastline.
With El Nino comes surge in storms, coastal flooding and erosion. And the pace of shoreline change is rapidly speeding, meaning that the sea level rise and storms could destroy natural habitats and our own infrastructure. Drones can generate aerial data that documents those changes, allowing scientists to make decisions.
On Sunday, hours before Cyber Monday, Amazon.com Inc. published a video starring TV host Jeremy Clarkson purporting to be from “the not-too-distant future” that showed how its drones could deliver a child’s soccer shoe within 30 minutes. “In time, there will be a whole family of Amazon drones,” Clarkson intoned.
When companies such as Amazon and Alphabet Inc.’s Google X unit talk about drone delivery as the next iteration of consumer retail technology, the response is sometimes a combination of incredulity and skepticism. But it’s already happening in some parts of the world — and there’s nothing magical about it.
Menlo Park, Calif.-based startup Matternet has been running drone deliveries of medical supplies and specimens in countries around the world, including Switzerland, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, since it was founded in 2011.
1. Point of departure
A doctor needs to send a blood sample to a lab across the city for testing. Samples would be packed up and taken to a landing pad, possibly on the roof or courtyard of a hospital. Matternet’s landing pads need only a small yard or rooftop of clearance to take off.
Matternet’s drones can hold up to one kilogram (2.2 pounds) and transport items about 10 miles, traveling up to 40 mph, which is about standard for current drone technology. Including lift off and landing, a 10-mile journey should take about 18 minutes.
“The FAA has finally provided the first set of documents in response to a FOIA request I filed back in April 2013, requesting copies ‘of all records related to investigations and enforcement actions related to alleged violations of regulations, rules, policies, or advisory circulars by operators of unmanned aerial systems,’ McKay wrote. “After months of delays, excuses, and requesting extensions, they have provided copies of 17 cease and desist letters sent by various FAA regional offices to UAS operators in 2012 and 2013.” Continue reading FAA releases commercial drone cease and desist letters→
The FAA is now more than 7 months overdue on responding to requests for documentation regarding drone operators who have received cease and desist letters for commercial drone use.
Journalists at MuckRock.com submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the FAA requesting this information, which has been subject to numerous approved extensions. The FAA last requested an extension through Dec. 30, 2013. Since then, the FAA has not responded to MuckRock’s requests.
Above is the text exchange between MuckRock and the FAA.
Below is the last message from the FAA, in which they ask for an extension.
Since we have yet to receive public records from the FAA, in the meantime, Drone Girl has created an online Document Tracker to study where and to whom the letters of gone. Check out our document tracker here.
Under FOIA, the FAA is legally obligated to provide the general public with full or partial disclosure of previously unreleased documents, including the ones we requested regarding commercial drone operation cease and desist orders.
Stay with Drone Girl for the latest updates on this information.
The FAA has stated that they will release an updated law by Sept. 30, 2015 that would allow commercial drone use. Until then, commercial drone use is illegal.
Numerous drone operators have been issued Cease and Desist letters by the FAA. But it’s unclear exactly who has gotten letters. (All we’re aware of is what we’ve discovered online through forum, blog and web searches.) That’s why TheDroneGirl.com submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the FAA, requesting copies of all the letters that have been sent out.
Are you a drone operator who has received a cease and desist letter? Please get in contact with us, because we want to talk to you!
It is currently illegal to operate a drone for commercial purposes – that is until 2015, a date Congress declared for FAA to allow commercial drone use.
Until then, the FAA has delivered letters to select commercial drone pilots requiring they cease operations. It’s unclear which of the many commercial drone pilots out there have received letters. Some have been told to stop flying and have been to subject to fines for noncompliance. But the majority of commercial drone pilots continue to operate drones with no contact from the FAA. Those pilots include contractors for real estate agents who want fancy ways to demonstrate their properties, filmmakers and more.
Why is this?
We need your help to track down who all the letters have gone to. We’ve put in FOIA requests, to no avail. So our hope is you will send yours directly to us!