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The Inside Team
Today in drone news: environmental conservation, "Attack of the Drones" with new Star Wars toys, FAA moves forward on regulations and drones take over quality inspections.
Drones could help save endangered ferrets by dropping peanut butter flavored vaccine pellets. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are considering an ambitious plan to use drones to scatter the tasty oral bait (not actually M&Ms but roughly the same size and shape) in a Montana wildlife refuge. The vaccine would protect the local prairie dog population, which the ferrets rely on for food, from Sylvatic plague. - FOX NEWS
These amazing new battling drones will let you dogfight with iconic Star Wars vehicles. Propel RC has released a line of Star Wars “Battling Quad” drones, including the Millennium Falcon, the 74-Z Speeder Bike, a Tie fighter and an X-Wing. Each model can go up to 25 mph and comes equipped with lasers to battle it out against other drones. - GIZMAG.COM
Satellites may help Canada surveil the Arctic using drones. A number of countries are eager to explore the Arctic for valuable resources, and drones could provide real-time information about what’s going on up there. The Canadian Armed Forces is hoping for an upgraded satellite network in the north that would enhance the video information that drones send back to us. - MOTHERBOARD
AT&T is deploying drones for cell tower inspections, and eventually plans to use them to beef up its wireless network. Chief strategy officer John Donovan writes in a blog post that in addition to aerial inspections, drones might be used as a “Flying Cell on Wings” to boost LTE coverage, or provide wireless coverage in a disaster situation when a vehicle can’t reach an area hit by a storm or other catastrophe. - COMPUTERWORLD
Amazon plans to build drone “birdhouses” to allow their drones to rest during long deliveries. A new patent from the company shows a design for drone docking stations to be placed on light poles, cell phone towers and church steeples. Once Amazon Prime Air is launched, drones will be able to recharge at these stations or take refuge from bad weather while they’re delivering products to customers. - THE NEXT WEB
Airbus is making an exception to the “no drones around airplanes” rule, testing how drones can be used for quality inspection. Previously, inspectors had to go up in telescopic handler vehicles to examine aircraft for defects, scrapes or dents. In a recent demonstration, the company showed that by using drones instead, they could reduce the process from two hours to ten minutes. - GIZMAG
The Feds just put the U.S. back in the global drone race. The Federal Aviation Administration finally released its final rule on small drones, taking an important step toward establishing comprehensive regulations for flying small unmanned drones in national airspace. Industry experts have argued for years that the U.S. risked falling behind in the drone market without these regulations. - WIRED
Watch this drone drop a tennis ball from 250 meters. YouTube user kAmMaCz filmed their DJI Phantom 3 drone carrying the ball on a tether far above the tennis court and the surrounding residential area, before triggering a controlled release device and letting the ball plummet back to earth. - YOUTUBE
FROM THE FORUMS
On the drones subreddit, one poster finds himself still figuring out federal regulations after he used a drone to capture some amazing footage in several state and national parks for a friend’s music video, before he realized that flying in the parks is off limits without a permit. “I was reading that what I did was technically not ‘authorized’ but I didn’t breach any FAA regs so will I be okay to post this footage?” he asks. So far, nobody seems entirely sure. “Are you allowed to fly in parks? No,” another user replied. “Will someone come after you like the kids who were vandalizing national parks? I can’t answer how mad or angry they will be for them, you will have to find out on your own.”
This article about a scientist commanding a swarm of drones with his mind is also getting some attention on Reddit. Panagiotis Artemiadis, director of the Human-Oriented Robotics and Control Lab at Arizona State University, developed drone swarms that are controlled by tracking electrical activity in the brain through a specialized cap. One person can control up to four drones so far. “I’ve seen this movie,” Redditor xanatos451 joked, “it doesn’t end well for the scientist.”