A drone’s role in natural disasters w/ Airobotics’ Eitan Rotberg

Earlier this week, we spoke with Eitan Rotberg, Senior Vice President of Product Management at Airobotics, about the role drones are playing in natural disasters and what more they can do. Airobotics currently has its autonomous drone system deployed in Deer Park, Houston, Texas.

Is there is a real-world example of Airobotics products being used during a disaster?

Hurricanes and storms, which affect Texas every year, are unpredictable in their path and the kind of devastation they cause. As part of an ongoing pilot, aerial footage collected by Airobotics’ automated system at a leading industrial facility in Deer Park, Houston, Texas enabled and assisted site personnel to adequately prepare for the upcoming storm, as well as execute on disaster response following the storm.

Once the storm has passed, the drone is sent up to capture video and stream it back to site personnel, who then look over it to see if there are any issues with assets or maintenance that might be required. The drone also means the personnel doesn’t need to inspect assets at the site themselves as they could pose a safety risk.

Leaks and spills are a major concern for any facility owner since they can pose a significant risk to the team working on-site as well as contaminate the environment. Live aerial video was streamed to identify and locate potential leaks and spills, assess road quality, inspect dock areas & transport barges, oversee the integrity of loading tank trucks, and identify earth shifts. Additionally, aerial data was collected to perform volumetric measurements of bund walls across all facility assets to ensure that spill volumes would not result in an overflow in the event of a flood.

How have drones changed the way we respond to disasters?

Drones show immense promise in disaster management and are playing an increasing role in natural disaster recovery and preparedness efforts. Drones allow for real-time aerial video and photos to be delivered directly to personnel on the ground, enabling more informed decision making in times of emergencies.

Hurricane Harvey was the event that helped drones get into the public eye when it comes to disaster recovery. Six days after Harvey, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) handed out over 40 authorizations for emergency drones.

This was an example of and testament to why drone technology has and is to continue moving forward at a much faster speed. Drones, particularly multi-rotor drones, provide important and diverse contributions for first responders by enhancing their response capabilities and the speed in which first responders execute on their missions. Additionally, drones provide professionals is in enabling professionals to remotely access land that have been impacted by disasters, and which may not be accessible by foot. This move is definitely welcomed by the industry which holds safety in the highest regard.

Eitan Rotberg, Senior Vice President of Product Management at Airobotics
Why is an autonomous solution better than a manned solution?
A conversation starter that has come up a lot recently in the drone world is autonomous versus manned drones. Both have their benefits but let’s hear from Rotberg why autonomy is the way to go when it comes to natural disasters.

Typically, first responders managing piloted drone operations are tasked with hiring and training drone operators which oftentimes proves to be costly and lacks the precision of robotics.

Our automated system is comprised of three components – we have the airbase, a durable, industrial-grade docking station that shelters the drone. Inside the docking station is a robotic arm that replaces payloads and batteries automatically. We have the drone itself that can carry different sensors and cameras. We have the data platform that operates the entire system and also analyzes the data captured. We have completely removed the human element. The drone operates completely automatically. Fly, land, repeat.

Automated drones have revolutionized fields, such as oil & gas and seaports, and they’ve greatly improved productivity, efficiency, and safety. No other technology can provide all of the benefits of fully-automated drone solutions nor can they collect the amount of high-quality aerial data drones can secure.

How does Airobotics’ solution make disaster response and management more efficient?

Pre-programmed flights throughout sites provide dynamic sensing, previously unavailable with static sensor systems. With Airobotics’ ability to deliver regular aerial visuals and data, physical risks to employees can be minimized without the need for them to climb up the tanks. Activities do not have to be halted as personnel is not physically required to inspect and take measurements of critical assets. The frequency of measurements and inspections can be significantly increased whilst human risks are minimized to the absolute lowest possible rate.

Our drone system has the unique capability of swapping its own batteries and payloads. It’s also rugged and can fit adverse weather conditions and finally, it’s able to self-launch as well as land automatically every time – which is the hardest hurdle to overcome from a technological perspective. Airobotics’ solution allows larger teams and several stakeholders to control the drone flight path and sensors to engage with aerial data, and reach decisions in real-time through Airobotics’ automated system. 

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What is different about Airobotics’ products from competitors?

Airobotics provides an end-to-end, fully automatic solution for collecting aerial data and gaining invaluable insights. Airobotics is the most advanced and commercially available UAV solution. Airobotics is the only solution that automates the entire operation. Airobotics’ automation extends from pre-flight checks all the way area to an automatic download and transmission of the data that’s being gathered. More than that, it extends across the entire operation, from when the drone is on the ground to when it’s in the air and back on the ground.

Airobotics is also the most advanced from a safety perspective – it is approved for operations remotely in BVLOS, in populated areas such as cities. Also, the Airobotics’ Platform has an integrated parachute. This serves as a failsafe response to unexpected events and situations.

Although the market is trending towards increased levels of automation, Airobotics has not yet identified a true competitor, which provides the same caliber of regulatory achievements, operational methods, and automation offered by Airobotics.

A little off-topic: Do you fly drones, if so which ones?
A question that we always ask during an interview is of course, do you fly drones?

Although Airobotics is a pilotless drone solution, we do enjoy flying toy drones from time to time.

Photo: Airobotics

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5G on drones could fix poor network connection at events

Estonian company Hepta Airborne Group has the answer to a slow network connection at busy events: 5G-equipped drones that beam the signal down to the crowd. Using drones allows the network to scale to demand as it’s required.

Earlier this week, Hepta Airborne tested out 5G drones at a stadium in Athens, Greece, to see how network connectivity could be improved at events such as concerts, football games, and public demonstrations.
Using 5G drones allows the network to support more people just by sending up an extra drone to handle the bandwidth needed. Current solutions used by telecom companies require a 90-day period to set everything up and make sure it’s working. This test aims to see drones in the air within 90 minutes, saving time and money in the long run.
Henri Klemmer, CEO of Hepta Airborne said:

For Hepta Airborne, the conducted trials in the 5G!Drones Project promotes open innovation among industry top players and improves the implementation of novel technologies to our day-to-day power line inspection projects for potential and existing customers.

Looking at previous tests conducted under the 5G!Drones Project, it looks like the plan is to send up drones along the perimeter of the stadium where the majority of the crowd will be sitting, and more drones are added in spots with degraded connectivity. On a side note, the drones would be perfect to provide extra aerial surveillance in and around events.
5G!Drones project
The test is a part of a larger $13 million European project named 5G!Drones and includes other companies such as Thales, Nokia, Airbus, NCSR Demokritos, and Cosmote. Improved connectivity during events is only one of the use cases 5G and drones have, according to the European project. The others include UAV traffic management, public safety, and improved situational awareness.
Photo: Hepta Airborne

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Ohio Drone, T-Mobile to bring live-streaming tech to drones

Ohio Drone has partnered with T-Mobile under AMITOLA LLC to bring live-streaming capabilities to drones via T-Mobile’s 5G network. Before the T-Mobile partnership, Ohio Drone partnered with SaaS company Rawhide Intel Services to commercialize a live-streaming platform for drone operators called Streaming Revolution.

The company hopes to have 100,000 accounts running within the first year of business once it goes live in January 2021. The live-streaming platform will first be available to government and enterprise users, with consumers gaining access by Q4 2021.
Ohio Drone’s CEO, Rob Charvat shared:

“We started using live-streaming technology to optimize our field operations in 2018. With the evolution of the industry, we’ve seen how in-demand a solution like ours is for field operators and anyone needing a live-streaming system capable of high data performance. Streaming Revolution is that system and we are so excited to partner with T-Mobile as the connectivity provider for their incredible network and reliability and Hyperion as the technology partner for all our IoT needs.”

Hyperion Partners has also been working with the two companies, providing support for integrating technology that will make the newest series of Ohio Drones’ Avarii and Versa drones SIM compatible with satellite back-up for ‘out-of-the-box’ BVLOS lost-link mitigation, Remote ID, and live-streaming.
Hyperion’s Director of Channel Sales, John Morgantini followed with:

“Hyperion has seen an explosion of private and public sector need in the drone industry. We are excited to help bring Ohio Drone’s secure, turn-key drone streaming solutions (Streaming Revolution through AMITOLA, LLC) to market on the T-Mobile network.”

Along with being a live-streaming platform for drones, an internally developed asset management platform is scheduled to launch in November 2021, allowing operators to fly within the Remote ID and BVLOS requirements. A drone equipped with Ohio Drones’ live-streaming system is capable of outputting a Remote ID signal via a satellite and advanced router technology.
The system will also allow beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flights to be made safer with risk mitigation, networking connectivity, and remote tower capabilities that know where all active drones are.
Photo: Ohio Drone

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Drone Rescue launches parachute system for DJI Matrice 300

Today, Drone Rescue launched its parachute system for the DJI Matrice 300 RTK enterprise drone, making operations even safer. The DRS-M300 parachute adds an extra layer of peace of mind for drone pilots in case the drone goes down for some reason.

The parachute also allows you to fly over crowds in some countries, which is illegal for drones to do. Another big benefit of equipping your drone with a parachute is being able to fly it beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) and more complex missions.
The parachute system weighs 490 grams with a height of 160 mm and a diameter of 75 mm. The parachute can support the maximum take-off weight of the DJI Matrice 300, which is 9 kg.
Along with the DRS-M300 parachute, Drone Rescue will be launching a smaller system for the DJI Matrice 300, DRS-M300-S2, with a smaller parachute. It also cuts down on the weight by 50 grams from 490 to 440 grams.
The DRS autonomous parachute solution provides you with the following advantages:
Very light-weighted, because we are not using a pyrotechnical, spring, or servo-approach to eject the parachute, but a very light-weighted internationally patented catapult mechanism
Completely autonomous due to own developed and from the flight controller independent electronics
Easy to reuse within minutes
Independently successfully tested parachute solution
LED + acoustical status signal before take-off and when the parachute gets ejected
No explosive component to eject the parachute
Simply to attach and detach due to a bayonet mechanism
Andreas Ploier, CEO and co-founder of Drone Rescue Systems GmbH shared:

“Based on the technical performance of the DJI M300, we expect this flight system to match the success of the other DJI models. So it was obvious to us to develop a parachute system for this new model as well. Similar to the DJI models already established on the market, the DJI M300 enables a wide range of industry-specific applications. As with other flight systems, the aim here is to protect the drone with the sometimes cost-intensive cameras and sensor systems in the event of a malfunction. We want to ensure that the drone can be safely recaptured even in an emergency, including Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS). With our parachute system, this is always possible due to the electronics being completely independent of the flight controller.”

Photo: Drone Rescue

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IN-FLIGHT Data relocates offices to Calgary-Okotoks Air Park

Canadian drone company IN-FLIGHT Data has relocated its offices to the Calgary-Okotoks Air Park as a part of the company’s next logical step in its evolution. The company has now moved into a 2,000 square foot office with more room for RPAS students to learn.

The new office location means it will now be sharing the skies with manned aircraft and be able to use a massive 86,000 plus square feet of outdoor training space. The students learning in the classroom will be located in a temperature-controlled hanger right on the airport’s grounds.
Chris Healy, IN-FLIGHT Founder, and CEO shared:

“That airport already has a manned aviation school that is training private and commercial pilots. The Foothills Helicopter Training Academy is also one of our neighbors. With IN•FLIGHT now on-board, we are building Canada’s first full-circle aviation training campus. This also gives us a training location where we can live stream our elite training across Canada and the world from our professional studio.”

The move into an active airfield marks the turning point for the drone industry. Drones are now seen as useful tools that can work with manned aircraft rather than just being seen as gimmicks.
The new location will also allow IN-FLIGHT Data to better train pilots through the DJI Academy training course created by tech giant DJI itself.
Okotoks Air Park manager Tim Ulmer followed with:

“As we go into the future, the unmanned aircraft sector is going to just be growing. Whether it’s drone deliveries, drone inspections, or perhaps even passenger drones in the future. With IN•FLIGHT Data, it’s a natural evolution of the two sectors getting along, cooperating, and growing together. From my perspective, this is a perfect fit and we’re thrilled.”

IN-FLIGHT Data isn’t just an average drone company, it currently holds one Guinness World Record for the longest beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) flight, with a drone at 414 kilometers back in 2018. The company also holds two more world records for urban and rural BVLOS drone missions.
Photo: Droto Photography

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Everything we know about the DJI Mavic Mini 2: pricing, battery, more

The next drone rumored to be coming from DJI is the Mavic Mini 2, a refresh of the Mavic Mini to bring 4k to the tiny drone. We have already seen images of what looks to be the Mavic Mini on the FCC database along with a price leak.

What we know
Yesterday we got a good look at the price of the upcoming Mavic Mini 2, which appeared to leak on Adorama. The Mavic Mini 2 was a suggested alternative when looking at the alpine white version of the original DJI Mavic Pro.
The Mavic Mini 2 will start at $449, a $50 premium over the $399 Mavic Mini. The Mavic Mini 2 fly more combo looks like it will get a $100 increase from $499 to $599.
Battery capacity
Earlier this month, a new drone hit the FCC database, with the model being MT2PD. From the image, we can see that the drone appears to look like the original Mavic Mini released last year. Looking at the image and the FCC label, we can see the position of it has changed along with the capacity of the battery. The Mavic Mini 2 looks to have a 2250mAh battery compared to the 2400mAh battery of the Mavic Mini. Let’s hope it doesn’t affect battery life.
Model name
As mentioned above, the drone that appeared on the FCC database goes by the model name MT2PD, the original Mavic Mini has the model name of MT1SS5. Looking at the first three digits of the model, we can see that they are the same except for the number, which goes up from one to two suggesting this is the successor to the Mavic Mini.
What we aren’t so sure of
4k camera
The Mavic Mini 2 is rumored to improve the camera with a bump up to 4k from the Mavic Mini’s 2.7k. There was a rumor going around that the Mavic Mini 2 has come so quickly after DJI’s CEO said he wasn’t a fan of the picture quality of the original Mavic Mini. Instead of just upping the Mavic Mini to 4k, DJI might sneak in a larger sensor, which weighs a little more. This could be why the battery has a smaller capacity so it can make way for a larger sensor.
To differentiate the Mavic Mini 2, DJI will likely go along the same route it has with the DJI Pocket 2. DJI has added a red ring around the camera lens as a way to show it is an upgraded version of the original Osmo Pocket. So, expect to see a similar marking on the DJI Mavic Mini 2.
Release date
Since we saw the drone hit the FCC earlier this month and have now seen it on a seller’s website, it will likely be released in early to mid-November. The original Mavic Mini was released on October 30th last year, meaning DJI is preparing to get the Mavic Mini 2 ready for sale around the same time. I think DJI will release it sometime next month to help get more units produced in time for the launch. DJI probably doesn’t want to face the same stock issues it had with the recent Ronin launch.
New controller
DJI released a new controller with the Mavic Air 2, moving the phone mount to the top and giving your hands more plastic to grip onto. It would make sense for DJI to use the same controller for the Mavic Mini 2 but leave a few of the buttons off to differentiate it from the Mavic Air 2. Since the controller is also larger than the original Mavic controllers, this could result in the end price being higher.
Photo: Josh Spires (edited)

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Parrot to work with FoxFury to equip ANAFI drones with lights

French drone maker Parrot has announced its latest partnership with FoxFury to equip its ANAFI line of drones with lights for nighttime missions. The strategic partnership allows up to three D10 lights to be equipped to the drone.

As drones become more popular in the commercial and public safety space, there’s a great need for them to be able to fly in all conditions, night and day. For drones to safely fly at night, they must be equipped with lights so other aircraft can see them.
Jerome Bouvard, director of strategic partnerships, said:

The power of our ecosystem relies on both state-of-the-art software and deep hardware integration. The compatibility of FoxFury solutions with ANAFI’s range will make of our drones the most efficient and customizable tools for all professionals.

FoxFury’s lighting system allows Parrot’s ANAFI USA and ANAFI Thermal drones to meet these safety requirements and adds value to the drones as well. The lights can also be used to light up dark areas, and the IR LEDs allow the ANAFI Thermal to get a brighter image during night operations.
Chris Roberts, VP & chief sales and marketing officer at Parrot, said:

Based on our vast reach into professional verticals in recent years and listening to real users’ feedbacks from all around the world, we recognize the important and urgent need for more tailored solutions for professionals. These latest integrations of key complementary hardware are another milestone for Parrot as the company further extends the professional usability of its drones.

All the lighting systems on offer put out 200 lumens and allow the light to be used as a strobe or the standard beam. The light has a 40-minute battery life when using the standard beam and 80 minutes when using the strobe mode.
The lights start at $199.999 and range up to $229.99 depending on if you are wanting standard white LEDs or need the IR LEDs for the thermal operations. You can pre-order them right now via the FoxFury website.
Mario Cugini, CEO of FoxFury Lighting Solutions, said:

With more industries using drones, we saw an opportunity with Parrot to provide a one-of-a-kind option for professionals looking to brighten their surroundings. Our new lights on an ANAFI drone will provide a unique and crucial resource for professionals like first responders in high-risk environments.

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Photo: Parrot

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Fotokite partners with Desautel Group to aid firefighters

Tethered drone maker Fotokite has partnered with French Desautel Group to aid firefighters on the front line with a set of eyes in the sky. The Fotokite drone will be directly integrated into future fire trucks with the ability to add it to current ones as well.

The newly integrated drone system will allow firefighters to get a view of the fire from above in full color and use thermal imaging to get a better understanding of it. The Fotokite will also allow firefighters to see if there is anyone stuck in the building as well as possible entry points or dangerous areas.
All of the Desautel Group’s Gimaex FireTrucks have the option to be equipped with the tethered drone from the factory, either on top of the fire truck or in one of the tray compartments on the side.
Since the drone is on a tether, a drone pilot’s license isn’t required, which means any firefighter with some basic training can deploy the drone. That breaks down the two major barriers when it comes to implementing drone technology: time and cost.
As the drone is built-in to the fire truck, it also means set up time is faster than standard drones that need to be set up, calibrated, and piloted. The Fotokite can be deployed much faster, as it can launch at the press of a button, with the height adjustable with a slider on a mobile app.
Fotokite Sigma
The Fotokite Sigma has a flight time of 24 hours when plugged into a power source on the ground and supports a dual vision camera system consisting of a 256p 30fps thermal camera and a 720p 30fps RGB camera. The drone can fly itself using a built-in autopilot system allowing the firefighters to focus on the fire rather than a drone.
The drone’s ground station weighs around 19 pounds, is 9.85 x 13.85 x 9.05 inches in size, and allows the drone to ascend to 150 meters into the air. All the data from the camera and control link runs through the tether into the ground station and is transferred to the Fotokite Live app. Video can also be streamed via the integrated LTE modem for remote operations.

Photo: Fotokite

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Tasmanian government splurges on drone tech to fight crime

Tasmanian police in Australia are getting the latest drone tech to fight crime in the state, thanks to the government’s AUD$400,000, (US$283,640) drone program. Over the next four years, drones will slowly become an everyday tool for Tasmanian police.

Earlier this week, a range of drones were added to the Tasmanian police’s fleet as the start of a four-year state government commitment to drone technology. For now, the drones will be used to help out in investigations before becoming day-to-day tools.
Police can now cover the whole of Tasmania with drones, thanks to the 20 trained drone pilots on the force, with five more to be trained in the near future.
Drone usage around the state has grown over the last few weeks, with burglaries and suspects trying to evade officers. You can watch the drones in action here.

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen the drones used really effectively, particularly in relation to officer safety and solving crime.

There was recently a burglary where the drones were able to identify and find the vehicles on a large farming property, which led to finding stolen firearms. The drones are also useful for police when a car refuses to stop or drives off. The drone can be quickly deployed and follow the suspect giving police on the ground an accurate location.

The drones save a lot of manpower out walking and help in going to locations that are difficult to attend on foot. The larger drones can drop items at scenes, including a mobile telephone, transporting rope, as well as food and water and first aid equipment. It can even take an inflatable life vest if someone is in a water situation.

When it comes to crash scenes, a drone can quickly be sent up, take photos, and create a 3D model of the scene, all within a fraction of the time it would take officers on the ground to do. It allows the road to open back up quicker and reduce the amount of traffic.
Photo: Tasmanian police

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American Marines to guide Air Force bombers with drones

American Marines are training to guide Air Force bombers with drones in preparation for a possible war in the Pacific Ocean. The American troops trained in northern Australia at various military test ranges to simulate islands hundreds of miles apart.

Back in August, US Marines flew Boeing Insitu RQ-21 Blackjack drones as a part of the Loobye exercise. The exercise is “focused on a small naval expeditionary force’s ability to rapidly deploy, integrate with foreign partners, coordinate airstrikes, and call for close air support on targets within contested environments.”
As the training revolved around island-to-island combat, Capt. Benjamin Hovies shared that they were training to operate in an “amphibious, austere environment.”
The bombing simulation consisted of RQ-21 Blackjack drones flying above the strike zone before and after the strike to get better intel on enemies in the area, the exact spot to drop the bombs, and if anyone survived after. The bombers used were the US B-1 and B-2s that flew out of Guam and Diego Garcia respectively to simulate long-distance bombing runs.

“We were able to watch the live feed [and] determined yes, that’s the target. The commander was able to come across the net [and] say, ‘that is the target I want to hit. There was no controller on the ground.”

The bomb strikes were coordinated by a joint US and Australian team from the ground and Australian ARH Tiger helicopters.
Insitu RQ-21 Blackjack
A Boeing company, Insitu, is behind the popular RQ-21 Blackjack drone that has a wingspan of 15.7 feet and a length of 8.2 feet. The drone weighs 81 pounds and has a maximum take-off weight of 135 pounds. The RQ-21 Blackjack can fly for over 16 hours at a maximum height of 20,000 feet and a cruising speed of 60 knots. The standard payload configuration consists of an electro-optic imager with 4x digital zoom, a mid-wave infrared imager, a laser rangefinder, an IR maker, and a communications relay system.
Photo: Cpl. Harrison Rakhshani

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DJI Mavic Mini 2 drone and bundle prices leak ahead of second-gen everyday flycam launch

It’s no secret that DJI has been spinning up an all-new Mavic Mini 2 this year after the successful launch of their cheapest drone in 2019. Now DroneDJ has a solid preview of how much you should expect to pay for the successor to the affordable everyday flycam. DJI’s Mavic Mini 2 appears to cost a little more than the original, but the upgraded hardware will still be competitive with mid-range model prices.

DJI launched the original Mavic Mini and Fly More bundle for $399 and $499, respectively, last year on October 30. A feature-packed flycam from a drone maker with DJI’s reputation is hard to resist, of course, so the Mavic Mini has been a go-to recommendation for amateurs and beginners.
Now DJI is expected to crank up the camera resolution to ultra high definition with the DJI Mavic Mini 2, and that upgrade to your flight footage will likely come with a slight price bump. Based on early price leaks spotted on Adorama’s online store, DJI appears to be retailing the upcoming Mavic Mini 2 drone at these prices:
Mavic Mini 2 prices
$449 DJI Mavic Mini 2
$599 DJI Mavic Mini 2 Fly More Combo
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Will the $50 price increase still make DJI’s Mavic Mini line a natural starting place for new drone pilots? DJI’s Mavic Air 2 retails for $350 more, and the higher-end Mavic 2 costs about $1,000 more. It’s probably safe to assume the $449 price tag will fit the 4K drone just fine.
The price leak also suggests the launch of DJI’s Mavic Mini 2 is extremely imminent as retailers are already preparing to sell the unannounced drone.

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Netherlands air traffic control chooses Altitude Angel for GoDrone

The Air traffic control agency Luchtverkeersleiding Nederland (LVNL) in the Netherlands is working with Altitude Angel to power its GoDrone platform. The partnership will allow Dutch pilots to create an account and submit flight applications. It’s a process that was previously done over the phone or via email.

Drone pilots in the Netherlands have been able to commercially fly drones with ease since GoDrone was upgraded in April 2020.
The GoDrone app and website now allow pilots to plan out future flights with built-in tools, which provides information about the airspace and obstacles on the ground.
The upgraded app will also allow companies to create profiles with drone pilots and observers from within the app. Once a pilot submits their flight request, LVNL looks over it and gives it the go-ahead or doesn’t approve the flight. For now, pilots must still submit the flight plan on the LVNL website one hour before the flight.
Once a flight is approved and is in the system, other drone pilots can see the flight area on the map to make sure they stay away from the area or lookout for another drone while flying. The data will also be used to inform manned aircraft in the future.
Jurgen van Avermaete, general manager procedures at LVNL, said:

We’re excited by this upgrade in the GoDrone app and web portal. Certified drone pilots and organizations can register and create an account for free and in doing so are able to submit preliminary applications for drone flights in controlled airspace in the Netherlands. It is an important step in safely integrating drones in Dutch airspace.

GoDrone is free to download from the Apple Store and Google Play Store and can be accessed via www.godrone.nl.
Altitude Angel
The news comes after Altitude Angel announced its Drone Zone, which will be around 8 kilometers (5 miles) in length and 500 meters (0.3 miles) wide with enhanced detect-and-avoid capabilities. The drone zone will be operated and managed by Altitude Angel and have the ability to support fully automated drone flights beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS) from any drone manufacturer that complies with a few technical integrations without the need for specialist hardware.
The company also announced a partnership with Sky-Drones that allows its unmanned traffic management (UTM) platform, Pop-Up UTM, to be quickly set up when and where required, removing the need for building ground-based infrastructure. A few months ago, Altitude Angel welcomed its first partner to the program, Spark Mobility, and later added Sugu Drones.
The system will specifically be deployed where a Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone flight is taking place and removes the need for infrastructure on the ground to be built. Pop-Up UTM also utilizes Inmarsat’s global network of satellites, meaning the system can be deployed around the world.
GuardianUTM allows software developers and drone manufacturers to access tools and data that are accurate, up-to-date, and relevant to better understand active and past drone missions. The platform helps drone pilots follow local flight rules and avoid mid-air collisions with a dynamic alert system. GuardianUTM also includes data from local air authorities such as altitude restrictions, No-Fly Zones, and NOTAMs to ensure the operation is as safe as possible.
Photo: Altitude Angel

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Airbus, IAI to track migrants coming into Europe with drones

Aviation giant Airbus and two Israeli companies have been tasked with tracking down migrants trying to enter Europe via the Mediterranean with drones. The companies will be paid €100 million or about $118 million.

The drone flights are scheduled to begin next year after the drone systems have been tested on the Greek island of Crete. Joining Airbus, Israeli company Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) will help in getting the drones in the air and operating them for €100 million.
Europe is also working with Israeli company Elbit Systems for €50 million to provide the same services.
The drones will not be equipped with any missiles or bombs and will solely be used to conduct surveillance operations in the Mediterranean Sea.
Moshe Levy, IAI’s general manager shared:

“Flying in Europe’s civilian airspace is important progress for IAI and solid proof for the RPAS’s ability to fly in civilian routes. I believe this contract will open the door to more civilian markets.”

The drones flying above the Mediterranean Sea will be based in Greece, Italy, or Malta and will be ready at a moment’s notice. Airbus, IAI, and Elbit Systems will all be required to provide their own pilots, who will be controlling the drones from a remote location via satellite uplinks.
The IAI Heron drone has a wingspan of 54 feet 6 inches and a capacity of 551 pounds. The drone uses a Rotax 914 four-cylinder engine producing 115 horsepower. Heron has a maximum speed of 129 miles per hour and can stay in the air for up to 52 hours at a time. Fourteen countries, including the US and Australia, have used the Heron drones.
IAI has since shown off its Super Heron drone, which includes a 200 horsepower diesel engine that improves the climb rate and performance. It has a top speed of 170 miles per hour and cruises at around 69 to 92 miles per hour. The Super Heron is capable of flying up 160 miles away when flown in line of sight or 620 miles by satellite control. Still, it’s less than the Long Runner operating system now allows.
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West Haven Fire Department to receive an Autel EVO 2 drone

West Haven, Connecticut’s fire department will receive a new Autel EVO 2 drone, thanks to the National Public Safety Drone Donation Program (NPS-DDP) and PropelUAS. The fire department will receive a new Autel EVO 2 drone, which will be delivered in person.

The West Haven Fire Department sent out a request in March 2019, outlining a few reasons why the department needs a drone to streamline its operations.
West Haven already has an outdated Phantom that was donated by another department. This drone has been used for both fire and police operations during daylight.
The Fire Department already has three certified pilots that will be able to fly the new drone once it arrives.
Earlier this week, NPS-DDP delivered an original Autel EVO drone to the Norwich Fire Department after applying for the drone in November 2018.
Chief James O’Brien of West Haven Fire Department said the following in his request email to the National Public Safety Drone Donation Program (NPS-DDP).

The City of West Haven consists of three Fire Districts that work as one on an operational level. The city is 10 sq. miles located on Long Island Sound with a population of 55,000. Running through the city of West Haven are major transportation arteries. These include the stretch of Interstate 95 between New York and Boston runs through West Haven has been identified as one of the busiest sections of this road in the state with an average of 200,000 vehicles daily. Rail lines serving Metro-North and Amtrak run through the city, carrying thousands of commuters daily between New Haven, New York, and Boston.

The donation was made by a partner of the NPS-DDP, PropelUAS, which helps organizations successfully launch drone programs through strategic planning, communications, and training. It also provides grant writing and research services to the NPS-DDP, which will help with future donations to more agencies around the country.
James Felton, division lead for PropelUAS added:

PropelUAS is proud to partner with the NPS-DDP. PropelUAS offers grant writing assistance and incorporation of grant writing into drone programs to help public safety departments in obtaining federal funding. Although federal grant dollars are widely available to help launch drone programs, many public safety entities are unaware of their existence or unsure how to access funding.

Marc Langley, founder of NPS-DDP and owner of Airborne Works, said that the National Public Safety Drone Donation Program has delivered a total of 22 drones since 2019, with a focus being on the volunteer fire departments who don’t have the money to purchase drones.
Marc Langley said:

We hoped to help alleviate the shortfall in drone funding and founded NPS-DDP, is the first of its kind drone donation program globally, whereby public safety departments may apply to receive a drone at no cost to the department. We are dedicated to supporting the nation’s underfunded public safety agencies with much-needed drone technology. Our mission is to help put “eyes in the sky for every department in need.

Photo: Autel Robotics

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Airwards – championing groundbreaking drone work worldwide

Earlier this week, Airwards launched a digital awards scheme that recognizes some of the best drone work around the world. Airwards is the brainchild of Richard Nichols to show off everything good drones have to offer in the world.

Airwards has been created to shed light on some of the best drone work currently being done in the world.
The digital awards will recognize more than 20 disciplines in the drone world and will recognize the very best UAV projects, companies, and individuals leading the way in innovation, responsibility, and real-world solutions.
Airwards founder, Richard Nichols said:

“The drone industry is doing incredible work but much of it flies under the radar and deserves recognition. Having been involved with UAV companies for a number of years, I felt it was time to do something that brought the drone industry together and recognized the positive ways this technology is improving the world we live in. The Airwards vision is to have drones recognized for leading the way in every industry.” 

Submissions for the awards open December 1st and will cover a wide range of companies, including technology, operations, support services, and specific industries.
To be considered for the awards, entrants must meet the criteria set out by Airward:
Innovative: Promoting pioneering ideas that are successfully challenging the perception of what a drone is and can be.
Responsible: Recognising the key aspect of safety in every drone flight to advocate legitimate behavior as a standard best practice.
Real-world: Asking the question: ‘How are drones making a difference?’ by demonstrating quantifiable outcomes and tangible solutions.
ARPAS-UK CEO, Graham Brown followed with:

“Airwards is a great initiative to promote the positive impact of drones. Drones help multiple industries and provide many solutions to businesses that are safer, faster, cheaper, and greener than current methods or alternatives. We are delighted to support an awards system that recognizes the work of the drone industry and the talented people who work in it. With the launch of Airwards, we hope to see examples of the safe, professional operation of drones, innovative uses, and projects which continue to break new ground and deliver significant benefits to the industry and the wider public.”

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NBA champion Chris Bosh joins DRL Academy as dean

The Drone Racing League (DRL) has announced its latest member of staff being NBA champion Chris Bosh as dean for the DRL Academy. The two-time NBA Champion and 11-time NBA All-Star will join DRL for the 2020 racing season starting tomorrow at 9 pm ET.

DRL Dean Bosh and 2-time DRL Allianz World Champion Pilot JET will join forces to teach kids about the science behind the sport through a fun educational content series.
Those that watch the lessons will be able to test their newly gained knowledge in the DRL SIM, which is available on Steam and Xbox.
Before taking to the basketball court, Bosh studied at Georgia Tech and will use this along with his passion for technology and sports to bring the two together.
DRL President Rachel Jacobson said:

“Our sport is for infinite learners — and as parents continue to navigate the new playing field of education, we’re excited to offer dynamic STEM programming to supplement remote learning. DRL Dean Bosh had a championship career in the NBA, and he is bringing that same enthusiasm, intensity, and dedication that he showed on the court to our DRL Academy. We look forward to inspiring kids together about science and technology on the fly.”

The 2020 DRL Championship season will begin on October 21st at 7 pm ET on NBCSN, Twitter, and Facebook Watch. The 2020 season takes place on the DRL SIM, with the pilots flying the custom-built Racer4 drones. The season will be broadcast to 50 countries on NBC, NBCSN, Twitter, Facebook Watch, Sky Sports, ProSieben, Groupe AB, Youku, and Weibo this fall.
Dean of DRL Academy Chris Bosh followed with:

“I love engineering and technology and believe every kid should be given access to STEM education. With this year’s school closures, I became Principal Bosh for my five kids at home — and now, I’m thrilled to announce my promotion to Dean Bosh, and help kids around the world learn about science through the fun, high-tech, family-friendly sport of the Drone Racing League.”

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DJI unveils Pocket 2 at $349 with a larger sensor, wireless mic

DJI’s latest product, the DJI Pocket 2, is here. It has a larger sensor, improved and wireless audio, and a range of modes that make it easier to capture the moment. The Pocket 2 forgoes the old Osmo branding but receives a nice spec bump. You can pick up the Pocket 2 from November 1st for just $349 from DJI’s online store and authorized retailers.

Pocket 2 has managed to pack in an improved camera and microphone array while only adding one gram to the total weight bringing it to just 117 grams. DJI has also managed to keep the battery life the same at 140 minutes, even with the new power-hungry components.
Camera spec bump
The biggest change with the Pocket 2 is the larger 1/1.7″ sensor that improves image quality and performance in low-light settings. The P2 has a 20 mm f/1.8 lens, making it even better in low light situations. The standard image captured is now 16 MP with added support for 64 MP stills while in high-resolution mode.
The Pocket 2 can record video in 4k 60 fps at 100Mbps with the addition of HDR video to improve the colors in the video. Taking photos in the high-resolution mode allows you to zoom in up to 8x and up to 4x when recording in 1080p or taking the standard 16 MP photos. HDR video support will be added at a later date.
DJI has also gone back to the drawing board to improve the autofocus of the Pocket 2. The new stabilized camera uses Hybrid 2.0 AF, which blends phase and contrast detection to improve the speed and accuracy of the autofocus.
A jump in quality
The other major hardware DJI has focused on with the Pocket 2 is the microphone setup. The Pocket 2’s audio system was created from scratch to improve the experience with DJI calling it Matrix Stereo. The P2 features an array of four microphones on each face of the device to make sure the audio you capture is clear and crisp.
The microphone array also has directional audio built-in to automatically switch to the microphone that will make you sound the best. Audio Zoom is back with the Pocket 2, narrowing the microphone’s field along with wind noise reduction.

DJI Pocket 2. Credit: DJI
A mode for everything
DJI’s products always come with a range of modes to make it even easier to capture complex moves. The Pocket 2 features a pro mode that allows you to take control of advanced camera settings, such as the ISO, shutter speed, EV, and focus mode. The camera also features ActiveTrack 3.0 to keep the object in the frame automatically.
The Pocket 2 is capable of 8x or 240 fps slow motion at 1080p along with the standard timelapse, hyperlapse, and motionlapse modes. Hyperlapse automatically stabilizes the footage with the ability to save each image as RAW for all three modes. A 180-degree panorama can be captured with the automated mode as well as a 3×3 panorama for a much larger field of view.
DJI has made it easier than ever to share your life with the world as it happens with the ability to live-stream to Facebook, YouTube, or via RTMP. If you would rather create a story and upload it later, you can do it with Story mode. It allows you to capture shots with automatic movements and adds color profiles, music, and transitions to make you footage share-ready. All the modes are accessible via the DJI Mimo app.

Credit: DJI
A range of accessories
Along with improved on-board audio, the Pocket 2 comes with a new wireless microphone accessory that allows you to capture high-quality audio without a cable or using the built-in microphone. Along with the new wireless microphone module, DJI has released some other great accessories to enhance your experience further.
The base of the Pocket 2 is now removable and allows for several accessories to attach directly to the stabilized camera including, the Do-It-All Handle, a Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth module, a speaker, a 3.5 mm audio jack, and the wireless microphone system.
The Pocket 2 can also be used with a new charging case. waterproof housing, a smaller control wheel, an extension rod, a wide-angle lens, and a smartphone mounting system.
DJI Pocket 2 will be available from November 1st from DJI’s online store and authorized retailers starting at $349, which gets you the Pocket 2, a mini control stick, and tripod mount. DJI Care Refresh is also available for the Pocket 2 and will set you back $29.
If you are wanting more, you can pick up the Creator Combo for $499, which gets you the Pocket 2, a mini control stick, tripod mount, wide-angle lens, wireless microphone and windscreen, Do-It-All Handle, and the micro tripod.

Standard Pocket 2 on the left, Creator Combo on the right. Credit: DJI
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Insta360 teases its next 360-degree camera for October 28th

Camera company Insta360 has teased its latest pocket-size 360-degree camera in a short 30-second video uploaded to its YouTube channel yesterday. Insta360 has shared that its next pocket-size camera will launch on October 28th.

Insta360 ONE X 2?
The title of the video is “Impossible in Your Pocket,” which tells us the upcoming 360-degree camera will be able to fit into a pocket with a similar form factor to the ONE X.
At around the 15-second mark, we get our first looks at the camera as a woman places it into her pocket. In this scene, we can tell the rough size of the device in comparison with her hand and the fact that we can see the outline of the camera through the pocket. From the video, we can see a tiny bit of the lens suggesting the new camera will follow the same tall form factor of the ONE X 360-camera.
From the above information, I think it will be the next iteration of the ONE X 360-camera line. The original ONE X was released back in October 2018, making the camera around two years old at this point, with the specs slowly beginning to become dated.
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While looking further into the teaser on the Insta360 website, I noticed an image shaped in a similar way to the camera we can see in the video with three glowing rings, one at the top, middle, and bottom. Straight away, the positioning of the three circles points me at the Insta360 ONE X, which follows the same design. The camera lens at the top, display in the middle, and a smaller button at the bottom.
As I’m pretty certain it will be the successor to the ONE X 360-degree camera, let’s dig into the possible specs of the camera. The current ONE X is capable of 5.7k 30 fps video and 18 MP photos. It would be great to see the next camera be capable of recording at 5.7k 60 fps and capture 20+ MP stills.
It is also likely that Insta360 would add a resolution higher than 5.7k, but it would be limited to just 30 fps. The slow-motion video would also get a spec bump with the 3k mode being capable of 240 fps.

Credit: Insta360
Your chance to win one
If you are excited about the new camera and want to get one on the announcement date, Insta360 has you covered. Insta360 is giving you the chance to win the new camera, with the only entry criteria being that you have to subscribe to its channel and comment on the teaser video. The winner will be announced by Insta360 in a comment on the video on October 28th.
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Volansi begins medicine delivery by drone in North Carolina

Volansi has launched its commercial drone delivery program in rural North Carolina by delivering cold chain medicine to the Vidant Healthplex in Wilson from the Merck manufacturing facility. The delivery drones will allow for rapid and flexible delivery of temperature-sensitive medicines to be delivered to patients.

For now, the Volansi drones will be delivering medicine to patients at the Vidant Healthplex in Wilson in a larger three-phase approach to learn more about the benefits of drone technology and the ability for it to improve access to healthcare.
Hannan Parvizian, CEO and Co-Founder of Volansi said:

“We’ve seen the world’s supply chain strained like never before from the impact of Coronavirus. There’s now an accelerated need for rapid advancements in supply chain technology, especially in healthcare. Drone delivery is one solution to getting critical supplies where they are needed, at the moment they are needed most.”

Volansi is working with the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Unmanned Aircraft System Integration Pilot Program and the North Carolina Department of Transportation to make its delivery drone even safer and within the law. Volansi hopes to seek additional approval from the FAA to begin drone deliveries in other locations as a part of phase two and phase three of the project.
Craig Kennedy, Senior Vice President, Global Supply Chain Management, Merck added:

“As a healthcare leader, Merck is very supportive of collaborations using new technologies to explore how one day we could help better serve the healthcare community. Our existing distribution system is strong, and this pilot helps us explore new innovative delivery options that would complement our existing supply chain capabilities.” 

The VOLY C10 delivery drone is capable of flying up to a distance of more than 50 miles with a maximum payload of 10 pounds. The C10 was chosen as it allows for various technologies to be installed with ease, such as Command and Control (C2) links or onboard Detect and Avoid (DAA). The drone can also be equipped with temperature sensors to ensure the medicine is staying cool during the flight.
Brian Floyd, CEO, Vidant finished off with:

“At Vidant Health, innovation and collaboration help us increase access to care and meet our mission to improve health and well-being across eastern North Carolina. This project with Merck and Volansi is the beginning of an exciting endeavor to explore additional ways we can meet the unique needs of those we serve.” 

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DroneSec, DroneALERT to provide threat intelligence reporting

DroneSec has partnered with DroneALERT to provide customers with advanced threat intelligence reporting and case management tools. The partnership will allow for more accurate reports on malicious drones with the hope to reduce restrictions on drone innovation and adoption.

The partnership will see DroneALERT’s real-time community reporting and case management platform integrated with the Notify Threat Intelligence Platform from DroneSec.
DroneSec is a cyber-UAV security and threat intelligence company based out of Melbourne, Australia, with a focus on  drone, counter-drone, and UTM system security.
DroneALERT is a global drone reporting system that allows anyone to report drones being used in no-fly zones or any other dangerous ways. The company works locally out of Europe and Australia with officials to access data on illegal or suspicious drone flights.
Mike Monnik, chief technology officer, DroneSec said:

Many of our customers use the DroneSec Notify platform to stay aware of the threats around them or cross-reference the data with their counter-drone products. Now, our clients will be able to log their own reports to a framework that can work hand-in-hand with ours, offering a variety of insights and opportunities we did not have previously. DroneALERT has the industry’s most well-known first-responder reporting tool, it follows INTERPOL guidelines and gives us the near real-time reports we need to match with other indicators.

The DroneSec platform allows users to track and monitor drone incidents, threat actors, and trends around and shares the data with ports, prison, law enforcement, and counter-drone companies. With a large database of past drone incidents, customers can compare and calibrate their systems to match real-world threats and methods.
Brooke Tapsall, chief executive officer of DroneALERT, followed up with:

During a drone incident, being able to collect and integrate local and global intelligence into one consolidated report, sent in near real-time to clients, is a powerful tool for authorities and first responders involved in or investigating drone incursions. Partnering with DroneSec enriches both Notify and DroneALERT platforms by increasing the global intelligence knowledge exchange, thus improving incident reporting capabilities. Each system brings to the table a valuable and complementary element benefiting our end users, the public, and the drone industry.

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Skydio expands enterprise operations into Japan with new office

US drone company Skydio has announced its newest office today in Tokyo, Japan, to better support local enterprise and public sector customers. The move into Japan is the first step into the company’s international expansion strategy after it recently received $100 million in Series C funding.

Skydio has made the move into Japan as a part of its international expansion strategy. Along with the move, Skydio announced Tom Moss, previously the COO, as the Skydio Japan CEO.
Moss has been with the company from the beginning and was the first investor in it. In his new role, Moss will oversee operations in the broader Asia-Pacific region.
Previously, Moss worked at Razer as the Vice President of Mobile and has worked at Google as the Head of Android Business Development General Manager of Android for the Japan and Asia Pacific market.
Tom Moss, CEO of Skydio Japan said:

“I’m pleased to be able to bring Skydio’s world-leading autonomous drone technology to Japan. Our focus in the Japanese market will be to create a safer and more productive society, building upon the early success we have already had in Japan in supporting the safe, reliable, and scalable inspection and maintenance of infrastructures such as bridges, skyscrapers, and power plants, as well as in post-disaster response and more.”

The new office is located at Roppongi 3-1-1, Minato-Ku, Tokyo, which also happens to be occupied by joint venture company Fuji Xerox. The office has been open since mid-November.
Adam Bry, CEO of Skydio finished with:

“We are excited to bring our autonomous drone technology to Japan, which we believe is on the path to becoming a model for the world with respect to the successful integration of drones into the broader economy and society at scale.”

Earlier this year, Skydio entered the commercial drone market with its US-made X2 family of drones. The Skydio X2D has been built for short-range reconnaissance missions for the US Army and will be used in search and rescue, and security patrol missions.
The Skdyio X2E will be used in the enterprise world by first responders and civilian agencies. The X2E is built to obtain situational awareness, inspect infrastructure, search and rescue operations, and other First Responder use.
If you’re interested in Skydio and would love to learn more about the company and the CEO Adam Bry, be sure to listen to the latest edition of The Buzz podcast hosted by Scott Simmie. The podcast talks about artificial intelligence, automation, and Blue sUAS.
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Drone flies into restricted airspace above the Red Slamon Fire

On Saturday, a drone was spotted flying in the restricted airspace above the Red Salmon Fire in California, slowing firefighting efforts. The incident marks the 21st time a drone has flown into firefighting airspace this year alone in the U.S.

Yesterday, a press release came out with information suggesting a drone flew into restricted airspace above the Red Salmon Fire. There is no confirmation that the drone shutdown any firefighting efforts but likely kept firefighting aircraft on the ground.

“Yesterday, there was an intrusion into the restricted airspace over the fire by a drone. Temporary Flight Restrictions remain over the entire Red Salmon fire area until further notice. This includes drones. Remember: If you fly, we can’t.”

The Red Salmon Fire is estimated to have burned around 142,000 acres but is 63% contained as of October 18th.
In response to the drone, the Shasta-Trinity National Forest released graphics reminding people not to fly. In this case, the first graphic said, “It’s Not Worth The View,” with the other being more of an infographic of drone incidents over the last six years.
NIFC drone reminder and infographic
Drones and wildfires
Although we often see drones getting in the way of wildfire operations, they are now beginning to play an important role when used correctly. Many fire agencies are sending drones up to get a better view of the fire and the direction it’s traveling in. The aerial view also allows firefighters to see any areas that could be a starting point for a future fire.
Here in the United States, the reaper military drone has been used for the last few years to map out wildfires in California automatically with the help of AI and specially designed algorithms. The drone has been able to cut down real-time map creation times to just around 30 minutes.
If you are interested in drones stopping firefighting efforts, take a look at the posts below:
Photo: NIFC

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Drone flies into restricted airspace above the Red Salmon Fire

On Saturday, a drone was spotted flying in the restricted airspace above the Red Salmon Fire in California, slowing firefighting efforts. The incident marks the 21st time a drone has flown into firefighting airspace this year alone in the U.S.

Yesterday, a press release came out with information suggesting a drone flew into restricted airspace above the Red Salmon Fire. There is no confirmation that the drone shutdown any firefighting efforts but likely kept firefighting aircraft on the ground.

“Yesterday, there was an intrusion into the restricted airspace over the fire by a drone. Temporary Flight Restrictions remain over the entire Red Salmon fire area until further notice. This includes drones. Remember: If you fly, we can’t.”

The Red Salmon Fire is estimated to have burned around 142,000 acres but is 63% contained as of October 18th.
In response to the drone, the Shasta-Trinity National Forest released graphics reminding people not to fly. In this case, the first graphic said, “It’s Not Worth The View,” with the other being more of an infographic of drone incidents over the last six years.
NIFC drone reminder and infographic
Drones and wildfires
Although we often see drones getting in the way of wildfire operations, they are now beginning to play an important role when used correctly. Many fire agencies are sending drones up to get a better view of the fire and the direction it’s traveling in. The aerial view also allows firefighters to see any areas that could be a starting point for a future fire.
Here in the United States, the reaper military drone has been used for the last few years to map out wildfires in California automatically with the help of AI and specially designed algorithms. The drone has been able to cut down real-time map creation times to just around 30 minutes.
If you are interested in drones stopping firefighting efforts, take a look at the posts below:
Photo: NIFC

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Drone incursions in firefighting airspace are on the decline

According to a graphic released by the National Interagency Fire Center, known drone incursions into firefighting airspace are on the decline. Despite more drones being in the air than ever before, people seem to be better educated.

Late last month, the National Interagency Fire Center (NFIC) released an updated infographic for drone incursions on active firefighting airspace.
Looking at the infographic, we can see a decline in known drone incursions, with 2016 being the most with 41 drones spotted. There’s no way to know why 2016 had so many incursions, but DJI’s original Mavic Pro and Phantom 4 were released during the year likely popularising consumer drones.
Since 2016, the numbers have slowly decreased to around 21 for 2020 so far. 2017 saw 36 drone incursions, 2018 had 28, and 2019 had 21. The official number for 2020 on the graphic is 20, but a drone was recently spotted at the Red Salmon fire, taking the known count to 21.
California has had 10 of the 21 drone incursions for 2020 with Utah coming in second with four incursions. Both Colorado and Arizona saw two drone incursions this year and Alaska, New Mexico, and North Carolina all saw one.
In 2020 so far, aerial firefighting efforts were put on hold at least 16 times as a result of drones in the airspace with the actual number likely higher.

Remember, it is against the law to interfere with firefighting efforts and can result in a large fine or jail time in accordance with the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, 43 CFR 9212.1(f).

“Even a tiny drone can cause a serious or fatal accident if it collides with firefighting aircraft. In most situations, if drones are spotted near a wildfire, firefighting aircraft must land due to safety concerns. This prolongs firefighting operations; in many cases, wildfires become larger when aircraft are not able to drop fire retardant, water, monitor wildfires from above, or provide tactical information to firefighters. Homes and other values at risk could burn needlessly, firefighters or others could be injured, or worst of all, a fatal accident could occur.”

Photo: Maxim Tajer & Clem Onojeghuo

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Futuristic ambulance concept uses a drone to clear the way

A futuristic ambulance design concept by a design duo at the Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts uses a drone to clear the way of anyone or thing. The ambulance forgoes the usual design for a futuristic autonomous design with a built-in drone.

The futuristic ambulance was created by Roman Ignatowski and Maja Bryniarska back in 2018 for the pair’s second-year summer semester project.
The pair wanted to create an ambulance that enhances comfort and safety for patients. The ambulance was created to seamlessly fit into busy cities and narrow streets. The drone is used to clear the path for the ambulance in traffic jams.
Ignatowski and Bryniarska found some of the problems current ambulances faced by looking over an ambulance and watched how they are dispatched. This is what they found:
Too loud inside
Current ambulances are converted from small-transport vans, compromising on price and comfortability
Current ambulances are too long, around six meters
The driver is separated from the patient
Issues connecting with the dispatcher
Patients can only be accessed from one side and the rear.

Sketch of the futuristic ambulance
The ambulance features a solar panel on the top with a compartment for the drone. It has a hydraulic suspension system that makes the ride much smoother and avoids sharp movements that could unsettle the patient. The wheels can rotate 90 degrees to maneuver better in tight spots and act as a signal for pedestrians when crossing the road.
The team even went to the effort of creating a scaled-down version of the ambulance with the help of clay, along with a person made out of foam. The ambulance features a modular design that can fit up to two patient beds with the surrounding walls and doors covered in screens that show the patient’s information and vitals. Up to three paramedics can fit into the ambulance with two looking over the patient and one looking over the ambulance and making sure it’s driving correctly.
Photo: Roman Ignatowski & Maja Bryniarska

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Norwich Fire Department begins using Autel EVO 2 drone

The Norwich Fire Department in Connecticut has begun using a drone to get a set of eyes in the sky when firefighting and responding to accidents. The volunteer fire department got its latest piece of high tech equipment today, thanks to the National Public Safety Drone Donation Program (NPS-DDP).

The drone has been funded by the NPS-DDP after the fire department applied for the device back in November of 2018. The drone will be delivered by the founder Marc Langley today, who also happens to be the owner of Airborne Works.
Chief Keith Milton told the Norwich Bulletin that the drone will mainly be used to see what direction the fire is going in as well as checking for any other hazards in the area, such as gas bottles.

“We’ve also got a marina in the city that we protect. That’s a spot where there’ve been boating accidents where the drone would have allowed the fire department to be able to see exactly what’s going on and better assist responders. And we’ve had a couple of mill fires where having a drone would see behind those big structures.”

Chief Milton came across the donation program through a notice put up by the Connecticut Fire Academy. The fire department currently has two certified pilots who are ready to fly, who will also help out other fire departments and police if a drone is needed.

“This is a drone we can get started with and later outfit with things like thermal imaging capabilities. It’ll be housed at our department, but it’s really for use for the whole city.”

Along with the NPS-DDP funding the drone, Autel Robotics, and FoxFury helped out by supplying the drone and the lighting system that attaches to the drone.
Langley shared that the National Public Safety Drone Donation Program has delivered a total of 21 drones since 2019, with a focus being on the volunteer fire departments who don’t have the money to purchase drones.

“About 72% of all fire departments in the country are all-volunteer, which means they’re holding bake sales and bingo nights to buy everything from trucks to (oxygen packs). The LAPD and the New York City fire departments have the budgets for this kind of equipment, so we’re focusing on volunteer departments without drone programs and without funding.”

Photo: Norwich Bulletin

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U.S. 5GAT drone ready for first test flight after COVID delay

The Fifth Generation Aerial Target or 5GAT drone will take off for the first time later this month during a test flight at the Dugway Proving Ground, Utah. The drone will take to the sky after it completed ground-based tests back in September.

The 5GAT drone is a full-scale low-observable aerial vehicle that accurately represents the fifth-generation fighter aircraft threats U.S. forces could face.
Due to the COVID pandemic, the drone has been delayed for a few months before the team could finally start working on the project again.
The purpose of the drone is to enable air-to-air and surface-to-air platform and weapons test and evaluation, pilot and ground-force training, and the development of tactics, techniques, and procedures against a fifth-generation threat.
Robert Behler, the director, operational test and evaluation said:

“To determine whether a system really is combat-credible, we must test it under realistic conditions. That includes putting it up against a realistic threat. Right now, we lack a test platform that truly represents fifth-generation air capabilities. Filling that gap as soon as possible is absolutely essential to both testing and training.” 

The drone uses used parts from decommissioned Department of Defense (DoD) military aircraft along with other ground-based control systems to keep costs down.
The production of the drone is being done by contractor Sierra Technical Services and is being built from composites using soft tooling which also helps to lower the price. Fast Optimal created the flight control actuation, electrical power, hydraulics, landing gear, and steering system, with subcontractor 5D Systems creating the software used to keep the drone in the air.
Michael Crisp, a retired naval aviator and DOT&E’s deputy director for air warfare followed with:

“With 5GAT, we’ve reinvented the typical acquisition process, and have aggressively used innovative program management and contracting processes to accelerate new capability development and ensure cost savings. We pulled in expertise from ‘greybeards,’ both industry and military, and the vision of our next generation of pilots, U.S. Air Force Academy cadets. We gave STS the freedom to explore cutting-edge design and manufacturing techniques, and got an even bigger bang for the taxpayer buck by recycling government-owned assets.”

The test flight set is to begin around the end of this month with the primary objective to demonstrate the 5GAT’s flight characteristics, various subsystems’ performance, and the aircraft’s auto-takeoff and auto-landing functionality. Follow up tests will also take place with incremental speed, altitude, and G-force increase with each flight.
Crisp later added:

“When this unique prototype takes to the air in a few days, we will have gone from a basic concept to first flight in less than three-and-a-half years. That includes periods when the program slowed dramatically due to funding issues and the recent COVID-related delays,” Crisp said. “I think 5GAT shows the power, creativity, and flexibility that a small but diverse team with few constraints can produce — all to the benefit of the warfighter.” 

Photo: Department of Defense

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Absolutely AMAZING arrest video captured by drone

Yeah, we know you’ve seen arrest videos before. Maybe a suspect, running away while police close in. But, trust us on this, you have never seen a video like this one. Until now.

Drones can be amazing tools for law enforcement. And they can be used in so many different ways. Aerial photography and videography can quickly document the scene at a serious auto accident, for example, so that the road can be cleared in a much shorter period of time. They can be used in search and rescue operations, including night-time searches using thermal imaging. (These now happen so often the footage almost seems routine.) Monitoring or crowds during demonstrations or riots? A drone can do it. Assessing damage following a natural disaster? Delivering medications? Monitoring a suspect’s location before officers on the ground move in? Use a drone.
There are more examples, or course. But that last one – using a drone during apprehension of a suspect – is the subject of this story.
A murder suspect
In this case, the Atlanta Police Department wanted to apprehend a suspect wanted for murder. In cases like this, officers want to minimize risk. Does the suspect have a weapon? Will he resist? Those are frequently possibilities. In a scenario like this, a drone can be the first ‘officer’ on the scene. The drone’s video feed gives police a real-time view without placing anyone at risk. In this case, the drone is a Mavic 2 Enterprise. It is equipped with lights and a speaker. Instructions from police can be given over the speaker.
In the case we’re about to see, the Atlanta Police Department had deployed its Fugitive, SWAT and Homicide units. We’ll let the APD pick it up from here:

Wow – unbelievable use of a drone…
Antonio Demetrice Rhynes was arrested without resistance. He is charged with the October 3 murder of Thomas Jefferson Byrd.
And the use of the drone – and the release of this footage – illustrates just how important drones can be to law enforcement. One of the people who took great interest in this footage is Romeo Durscher, DJI’s Director of Public Safety Integration, and a person who was deeply involved in the development of the Mavic 2 Enterprise.

The real advantage is that this drone was able to easily enter the room, clear it and then keep eyes on the surrendering suspect in the hallway. That is huge mitigation of risk and increases transparency. That night everyone went home safely – except one person didn’t go home but to jail. This is really what I had envisioned when I pushed for the M2E.
Romeo Durscher, DJI

There’s something else about the release of that footage, says Durscher, that goes beyond the gripping nature of the scene.

It’s great footage. More importantly, – it’s footage that has gotten released. Which also shows that data collected by law enforcement by drone is not always so sensitive.
Romeo Durscher, DJI

Justice served
Of course, suspects are always innocent until proven guilty. But for the daughter of the murder victim, this step brings the family potentially a step further to closure.

So grateful to APD for making this arrest for our beloved father and friend❤️
— C DuCongeMorgan (@duconge) October 17, 2020

Kudos to the Atlanta Police Department – and the drone pilot.

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DJI Osmo Pocket 2 appears to leak with improved camera

Over the last few days, we have begun seeing images of what looks to be the upcoming DJI Osmo Pocket 2 with an improved design and camera. The new DJI Pocket 2 looks to carry over the same overall design with a few changes here and there.

What the images show
Joystick accessory
Looking at the images, we can see the new Pocket 2 appears to come with a joystick accessory that replaces the old control wheel from the original Osmo Pocket. Along with a new joystick to easily control the gimbal, there is also an extra button, likely programmable to suit your needs.
Larger lens
Looking at the lens in the leaked images, it appears to be a little larger than the original Osmo Pocket’s. This could mean DJI has upgraded the camera with a larger sensor, going from the 1/2.3 inch to the 1/2 inch sensor found on the Mavic Air 2. If DJI does decide to go with a larger sensor, which would be great, it will mean a few improvements for your footage, better zoom quality, improved low-light photos, better dynamic range, and more background blur.
Updated design
The design of the Pocket 2 has been changed slightly with a red accent on the camera lens itself, likely added to differentiate it from the original Osmo Pocket and an extra line near the bottom of the Pocket 2. It’s hard to see in the image, but it looks like the DJI logo has gotten a little smaller while the sharp edges have been smoothed out as well.
Pocket 2 also appears to have a new lanyard attachment hole that will stop you from dropping the tiny gimbal when using it. Sticking with the side of the new gimbal, it also appears to add an on-board microphone near the top with what looks to be another customizable button.
On the other side, the Micro-SD card slot is still in the same position but looks to be joined by another microphone near the top and a possible indicator light just above the memory card slot. The display looks to be the same size as the one found on the Osmo Pocket.

Leaked images of the Pocket 2
In the box
The leaked images also show us what will be in the box of the upcoming Pocket 2 and tell us there will be a standard and pro package. In the standard package, you get the Pocket 2, carrying case, the new joystick module, USB-C adapters, charging cable, lanyard, and what looks to be the Do-It-All-Handle.
The pro combo comes with everything in the standard package but replaces the charging cable with a dual charging cable. The upgrade kit also comes with a tripod stand, which looks to be the wireless microphone module with a deadcat and adhesive. It also comes with another accessory that looks similar in size to the wireless microphone but has a latch and a light on the front.

Standard pack on the left, pro combo on the right
What we already know
A few days ago, accessories for Pocket 2 became public on the FCC database giving is a glimpse into the future. We already know the upcoming Osmo Pocket will drop the Osmo branding and be called the DJI Pocket 2, a trend we are seeing with other new DJI products.
Do-It-All Handle
We also knew that there will be a base station, named the Do-It-All Handle, similar to the one for the current Osmo Pocket, which will allow you to charge it and stand it up on a table in a secure manner. The Do-It-All Handle also has a tripod mount on it, allowing you to place it on a tripod and anything else with the screw mount.
Wireless microphone transmitter
Something that we didn’t see coming was the wireless microphone adapter that appeared on the database alongside the Do-It-All Handle. The Pocket 2 likely has a microphone receiver built into it to allow you to capture clear audio without much effort at all. The wireless microphone clips onto your clothes similar to the wireless microphone from Rode and has a 320mAh battery.
Photo: OsitaLV & Scott Campbell

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Awesome startup Beagle Drones teases new sub-250g CineWhoop

Why do we call these guys “Awesome?” Because we’re big fans of the Beagle Drones business model, which we’ll explore later in the story. We’re also huge fans of what this startup is about to do: Launch a very well-thought-out CineWhoop on Kickstarter later this month. And we have some deets… right now.

We became aware of Dwight Neptune and his New Jersey-based Beagle Drones just last month. A colleague spotted a slick video about the startup life, featuring Dwight Neptune. He’s the CEO and co-founder of Beagle Drones. And Dwight and his team are on a mission: To supply creators with reliable FPV flying machines that represent a solid value. More than that, Beagle Drones creates products that do not require an engineering degree, or watching 643 hours of YouTube videos, to be able to program and fly. In other words, you can take a Beagle Drones product out of the box and get an excellent flying experience without having to learn all that stuff.
If you’ve flown FPV, you know what I’m talking about. It’s learning about the inner menus of radios that can be pretty daunting. Flashing firmware and noodling with endless settings using BetaFlight configurator. Staring bleary-eyed at your laptop because Open-TX companion doesn’t feel like recognizing your radio tonight. Inadvertently inhaling more solder smoke and wondering if this might have health implications down the road.
We know… it’s a hobby
Listen, we get it. For many, all of that tinkering is part of the broader hobby that some absolutely embrace when entering the FPV world. And yay – serious kudos to all those people (and there are many) who doggedly slog their way through and learn stuff and become pretty proficient at all this. (On a personal note, I’m part of the way there. But it’s been more than a little frustrating at times.)
But what about people who simply want to get into the hobby of flying FPVs instead of building them from scratch? The people who don’t have an extra $400 to plunk down on a GoPro? The people who simply want to capture great footage at a reasonable price without injuring their brain trying to assimilate all of this knowledge.
If you’re one of those people… Beagle Drones has something special coming.
It’s called Nova, which refers to a star that shows a sudden increase in brightness before again returning its original state. And the sudden brightness will come on or about October 27, when Beagle Drones will launch a Kickstarter campaign to put the new drone into as many hands as possible. Now, it’s teasing what is to come:

Beagle Drones released this teaser image October 16
No degree required
And like Beagle’s popular Drone Kit 2X before it, you don’t have to invest a significant amount of your life learning how to make the thing work. Says Neptune: “Our products, although technically an FPV product, it’s geared toward a content creator. That’s really who we build for. With the NOVA, you take it out of the box and you go.”
Sneak preview
Because we’d interviewed Dwight Neptune previously for DroneDJ, we knew he was planning to launch a new drone in late October. So we simply asked him if they’d consider giving us some details ahead of the pack. So we sat down for 30 minutes, virtually, with Neptune and cofounder Luis Guzman. There were some details we cannot share, but some things we can. And the things we can? They’re pretty awesome.
For starters, this machine comes with a seriously upgraded FPV camera. In fact, the FPV camera is 4K, 60 FPS and has been designed so that it can be used as your main camera. Yes, you can pilot your drone in FPV mode, while it’s recording exactly what you are seeing. Neptune explains that it’s a Caddx module that they identified, then worked with Caddx to further optimize making it the eye of the Nova.
Sub-250, baby
And the best news? All-in, with battery, the Nova weighs less than 250 grams. This has advantages when it comes to legislation and registration requirements. That’s because regulators believe that drones below this cut-off weight are very unlikely to cause injury or damage in the event of a mishap. It’s made this the Holy Grail weight class, especially for beginners, and is the reason DJI’s Mavic Mini comes in at 249 grams. The Nova is also, Beagle Drones, a very special product.

This is actually the first product where we’ve pretty much gone and designed it from complete scratch. We’ve got a new frame, custom motors, custom flight controller, custom camera from Caddx. We’ve probably been working on all of this since last January.
Dwight Neptune, Beagle Drones CEO

Do you Dare to Explore..?
Three flight modes
Another key feature that CTO and cofounder Luis Guzman is particularly pleased with are the Nova’s multiple flight modes. Beagle Drones has three different flight modes that can be activated by switches on the controller. One of those modes is specifically tuned for those who wish to place a GoPro on top as the main cinematic camera (the Nova ships with a GoPro mount). Those modes are:
Cinematography mode
Stealth mode (more power for acrobatics)
Thrust mode (to compensate for GoPro weight)
Cinematography mode is tuned to be easy to control while keeping jarring movements to a bare minimum. The relatively small battery mounts on the top of the Nova and provides six minutes of flight time – well above the CineWhoop average times of 3-4 minutes.
And what does CTO Guzman like most about this product?

Just the way, how smooth it flies. How simple it will be to get started. Getting into FPV you really have to know how to do a lot of stuff. With this, you can just start flying. Plus, with the support that’s around this, it’s really going to be game-changer in FPV. 
Luis Guzman, Beagle Drones CTO and cofounder

How much????
The prices haven’t been completely nailed down yet. But Neptune believes the Nova will go on Kickstarter for somewhere around the $300 range for Nova and controller (awesome buy). If you want FPV goggles with the kit, it will be about $100 more. Either way, it’s a lot for the money.
And if you’re jonesing for something now? Consider their Drone Kit 2x. Same philosophy around ease of flight, same great support, and this product already has tons of fans out there. Plus, Dwight Neptune has generally offered a $50 discount if you use the code “DroneDJ” at checkout.

The Beagle Drones 2X. Lots of people love this FPV drone…
Happy flying!

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Skydio CEO Adam Bry on the China ban and Blue sUAS

Skydio CEO Adam Bry is the latest guest on The Buzz podcast. He offered his opinions on the recent developments that are shaking up the drone industry in the US. Specifically, the government ban against Chinese-made drones and the creation of an approved “Blue sUAS” list of US-made products.

These are truly dynamic times in the drone industry. Recently, the US administration banned Chinese-made drones, or drones carrying Chinese-made parts, from being purchased by government departments and related agencies. There are other countries affected as well, but the measure seems to be directed, some say punitively, at DJI. The Chinese drone maker is the global giant, responsible for in excess of 70 percent of all drone sales on the planet. It has done this by producing excellent products at reasonable prices, especially when compared to some of the competition.
For those reasons, DJI’s higher-end Enterprise drones have frequently been the product of choice when it comes to government departments and First Responders. And, as we’ve seen, the growth of this sector and demand from these clients has only grown in recent years.
Skydio’s X2 is one of the five drones on that government list. And CEO Adam Bry was happy to talk about the US-China dynamic, which he agrees is a “hot topic” in the industry right now.

Forgetting about Skydio, I think that as a citizen of the US there are a lot of reasons to believe that having a strong domestic supply base for drones is really important. These products that started out looking like consumer toys have just turned out to be incredibly useful for a bunch of different industries – including DoD and National Security use-cases. And I think being dependent on China for these products, or being solely dependent, is generally just not healthy.
Adam Bry, Skydio CEO

Skydio’s X2 – An Enterprise/Military drone on the Blue sUAS list..
The country, not the company
Bry went on to make a careful differentiation. The issue is not really about DJI as a company, he says. The concern, rather, is about broad powers available to the Chinese government:

The second thing I would say here is: People talk about cybersecurity and the integrity of the device quite a bit. And I think there’s an attempt to sort of deflect the conversation towards like, making sure you can’t hack into it, or making sure that things are properly encrypted. Which is not really the point. The question is not ‘Can you build a drone that passes a cybersecurity test?’ The question is: ‘Do you trust the drone to never have a backdoor to do something that it shouldn’t do?’ And that’s something that you can’t validate with a cybersecurity test. That comes down to: Do you trust the source? And it’s not a question or particular companies. It’s a question of policies of the Chinese government, which grant them extremely broad IT access to companies in China. Which, I think, should make people a little bit uneasy and question what that actually means. I don’t want to steer clear of this issue because it’s something that we’re in, as now the leading US drone company.”
Adam Bry, Skydio CEO

Wait, there’s more…
But you don’t have to read it – and I don’t have to write it. You can get pick up the rest of Adam’s thoughts by tuning in to the latest edition of The Buzz.
And hey – if you like the podcast, please subscribe.

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The Buzz: Skydio CEO Adam Bry on AI, automation, and Blue sUAS

On our latest edition of The Buzz podcast, we’re delighted to spend some time with Skydio CEO Adam Bry. Despite the pandemic, it’s been a great year for Skydio. Listen as DroneDJ senior editor and chief writer Scott Simmie takes a deep dive with Adam about his US-based drone company. It’s a great discussion and includes a look at the recently announced Blue sUAS list that recommends Skydio’s X2 drone for government and military purchasers.
Join Skydio CEO Adam Bry in conversation with DroneDJ’s Scott Simmie
Deets for subscribing after the break — you know you want to…

Connect with Scott:
Subscribe to The Buzz
If you’d like to subscribe, you can connect with your preferred Podcast provider here:
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Who would you like us to invite as a guest? Feel free to make suggestions in the comments below!

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DJI teases product for October 20 release

DJI is at it again. The company is teasing a new product launch, barely two days after releasing its new Ronin gimbals. We have some theories.

DJI always has something cooking. Whether it’s a drone, a gimbal, an action camera, or something else…the Shenzhen company is constantly developing new products. And, as always, it loves to tease. DJI is generally not one to say: “Our next Mavic will be released next week.” Instead, it would be likely to hint at the product with some clever graphic or turn of phrase. The company is very good at this, and debating what the product might be briefly dominates certain quirky corners of the internet. As a result, it’s always kinda fun when DJI decides to simply hint.
And it’s doing that again now.
This time, it’s with a video. A whole FIVE SECONDS LONG:

“Capture Magic at Hand…”
A closer look
Clearly, this product makes everyone happy. And young women, clearly, are part of the target market:

Hey there – this product makes us super happy…
“Reach into my purse…”
One of the shots features hands reaching into, well, something. A screen grab reveals it’s a purse, complete with a tube of sunscreen on the left:

50 SPF sunscreen is a hint this object fits in a purse…
When is it?

Got it.
What is it?
Well, it fits in a purse. And it fits in a hand:

Reach for it…
And that makes us think…
That it’s not a drone. That it’s not a gimbal. That it’s not sunscreen.
The logical conclusion? That it’s a new version of the Osmo Pocket, which we’d already reported was on the way. And we’re not the only ones with this thought:

OSMO Pocket 2 imminentrelease date: Oct 20th 21:00 CSTNo announcement this time.
— OsitaLV (@OsitaLV) October 16, 2020

We’ll have it…
Curious? Check back with us in a few days. We’ll know everything.
(Well, maybe not everything. But everything about this announcement.)

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DJI named top commercial drone maker with 70% market share

Earlier this month, Drone Industry Insights (DII) released its drone industry report, revealing Chinese drone giant DJI to be the top commercial drone manufacturer. The company is closely followed by Chinese company Yuneec and France-headquartered Parrot Drones.

The report stated that DJI is no doubt the leader when it comes to commercial drone manufacturing even with the recent attacks on the company from countries and other manufacturers. It’s estimated that DJI owns between 70% and 80% of the worldwide commercial sector.
In second place is Yuneec, which started by creating consumer-focused drones and then transitioned into the commercial market when it saw the value of doing so. Although you don’t see the company in the news often, its H520 and Typhoon H are some of the best-selling drones in the world.
Finishing off the top three positions is French drone manufacturer Parrot Drones. Parrot started by making more consumer-level drones, with its mini-drones being some of the most popular. The company then transitioned into the commercial space with its Bebop drone and later the ANAFI lineup. Despite facing a few difficult years, the company has been able to come back with additional reinforcement after announcing the “Made in USA” ANAFI USA drone.
When it comes to commercial drone hardware, Chinese companies are in the lead by a substantial margin, with US companies taking over the dual-use drone market. AeroVironment is the top of the list, with Boeing’s Insitu, and Israeli Aeronautics following closely behind. DJI, Yuneec, and Parrot could all enter the dual-use list depending on the number of sales the companies see.
Although many companies have popped up all over the world, DJI remains undefeated when it comes to the market share and large range of products it produces every year. If you need a drone for photography, filmmaking, mapping, surveying, inspections, agricultural spraying, or search-and-rescue, DJI has you covered. It’s something that other newer companies will struggle with for years to come.
Photo: DJI

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NSW, Australia uses drones after bushfires to collect data

During the DroneDeploy conference, remote pilot Gareth Pickford from the NSW National Parks and Wildlife shared how drones were used to assess the damage caused by the devastating bushfires, known as the Black Summer, earlier this year in Australia.

Pickford shared that turning to drones to collect data has been a cost-effective and efficient way to collect data.
The drones undertook ecology assessments, multispectral mapping, and thermal scanning to measure the destruction caused, the severity of the burnt areas, and the estimate of animals in the affected areas. Pickford continued:

“The types of data that we actually were planning on getting out in the field was around fire severity areas that were affected by fires, not just in local parks that are open to tourism, but also wilderness areas, which are natural habitats to certain species that may have been affected by the fire. We wanted to understand how much they were going to be affected by the fire, and its post-effects.”

The drones are perfect for the job as the majority of the terrain is too dangerous for people to enter on the ground. Most trees that haven’t fallen over yet are still going to with the strong winds that fly through the affected areas. The drones are also being used to track down pests so they can be removed.

“A lot of feral animals will come out and start destroying the regrowth ability in certain vegetated areas. For example, wild pigs would come out and destroy the chances of certain forests rehabilitating themselves.”

The drones are being used in a larger rehabilitation operation that spans over 80 million hectares and is also being used in other roles around New South Wales including land management, environmental science, water, marine research, compliance, and enforcement.
Take a look at the other ways drones have been helping out in repairing the damage caused by the bushfires in Australia:
Photo: Ricardo Gomez Angel

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SkySkopes named the No. 1 US drone operator

Drone services provider SkySkopes has just been announced as the No. 1 US drone operator by market analyst Drone Industry Insights. The company was also named as being one of the best drone companies in the world.

SkyScopes was excited about the announcement that came earlier this month and sharing it all over its social media accounts. SkySkopes CEO Matt Dunlevy was also excited by the news and said:

I’m truly delighted by Drone Industry Insights’ stratification of SkySkopes as the top DSP in the US. It validates our safety-based approach to the UAS business model and stands as a testament to the incredible professionalism demonstrated by our pilots and staff every day. I’d have to say this ranking is also born out of the extremely rich UAS ecosystem in North Dakota.

Being based out of North Dakota, SkyScopes has been able to benefit from the Northern Plains UAS Test Site (NPUASTS) specifically designed to test out various drone systems and create safety rules and regulations for use in the future. The test site aims to introduce drones into the airspace without negatively impacting other manned aircraft.
Drone Industry Insights CEO Kay Wackwitz said:

North America is the second-largest drone market today and will grow to nearly $12 billion USDin 2025. This being said, we congratulate SkySkopes to be the leading drone service provider in the USA, constantly pushing the envelope and therewith the entire market forward.

SkySkopes is a drone services provider headquartered out of Grand Forks, with five other offices spread over the United States. SkyScopes focuses on servicing energy clients.
The company performs optical gas imaging (OGI) inspections to monitor and track gas emissions. LiDAR mapping and asset inspections are the other two major services the company offers, allowing customers to map assets and inspect them faster and at a cheaper rate than manned aircraft.
Photo: SkySkopes

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China tests its latest kamikaze drone swarm technology

China tested its latest suicide drone swarm technology during a test in September, with a video and information being released earlier this week. China Electronics Technology Group (CETC) is the state-owned company behind the test.

The test of the system showed the rate at which the kamikaze drones can be deployed, either from a ground or aerial vehicle, and in this case, a helicopter.
Local media in China reported that the drones are capable of hovering and maneuvering into a swarm formation shortly after launch. The drones can be used for surveillance purposes or to attack unknowing targets.
The drones carry explosive warheads that are capable of destroying tanks and other heavy armor vehicles.
The launching system reportedly uses compressed air to force the drones into the air. Once the drones leave the barrel, their wings unfold and lock onto a target. The drones are fitted with a camera that can rotate to focus on the target before attacking.
In the video below, six drones form a pentagon shape while all flying toward a target before being joined by another five drones. The video then switches to the feed from one of the drones flying toward a target.
From the video, we can also see a tablet-type controller that looks to allow the operator to tap a spot on the map, and a drone will either conduct surveillance of the area or destroy the target.
[embedded content]
Drone swarms
While most think of drone swarms and drones that blow themselves up upon impact when it comes to the army, we have actually been using them in the entertainment business for the last few years in the form of drone light shows. These friendly drone swarms have lit up the Super Bowl, Britain’s Got Talent, and have even thanked the front-line workers in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Photo: Eurasian Times

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Scottsdale Fire Department using drones to improve safety

Scottsdale Fire Department in Arizona has begun to use drones in its day-to-day operations to improve the safety of firefighters. The drones allow firefighters to get an aerial view over fires and crash scenes to better understand them.

The fire department has had its newly purchased drones for around a month, in a testing capacity, where they attended six structure fires. Earlier this week, the drones were officially taken off probation and will now be used when required.
To get the drones in the air, 14 of its firefighters obtained drone licenses. With this many pilots, there is sure to be one on scene at all times if the drone is required.
In an interview with Azcentral, Scottsdale fire captain Dave Folio said:

The biggest thing is it’s about safety for the citizens and safety for our firefighters. We’re going to start using them on most of the calls that we have. If we can get there quickly enough to put a drone up for the safety of our crews to get a quick 360, we will.

Along with structure fires, the drones will be sent up at a crash scene to get a full view of the accident and to see if there is anything dangerous firefighters need to look out for. A good example is getting the drone to read the symbol on a dangerous goods truck that has crashed to figure out the next move.
The drones will also be deployed during wildfires to get an aerial view of the inferno and the direction it’s moving in, allowing firefighters to proactively back burn an area and evacuate people in the line of fire.

The technology is here, and we’re excited about it. We’re gonna use them as often as we can. If it provides one ounce of safety for the public or for us, we need to use them.

In more of a search-and-rescue role, the drones will be used to find a person that is lost or stranded using the thermal camera of the DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual and then deliver water, food, and emergency medicine to them.
Photo: Thomas Hawthorne

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Israeli company sets sights on medical drone deliveries

An Israeli startup hopes to one day be flying missions in Africa, delivering on-demand medical supplies to remote areas. And it has a unique drone to carry out that work.

One has to only look at Zipline to realize just how great the need is in some African nations for the timely delivery of blood, medication and other medical supplies. That company has proven it with regular flights in Rwanda and now Ghana. Zipline, as you may know, relies on a fixed-wing solution that requires a pneumatic launcher to get airborne and a capture device for coming back to earth. Now, an Israeli company hopes to do similar work in developing nations but with a different aircraft design. The Israeli drone is a Vertical Take-off and Landing design, or VTOL. Trust us, this drone is very different from most you’ve seen.
Why is that? It has folding wings.
The company’s name is Gadfin. That word means “wings” in Aramaic. And in simplest terms, this drone takes off and lands like a multi-rotor but flies like an airplane. We’ve all seen designs like that.
But Gadfin’s drone is different. Its wings fold back for the takeoff and landing portions of flight, and extend outwards for forward, fixed-wing flight. Here you see it in hovering mode, with the wings folded back. Four propellers deal with the vertical aspects of flight. You can see a single pusher prop at the tail. It’s used for forward flight.

Gadfin’s drone. Those wings extend outwards for forward flight
Big plans
A recent article in the Jewish News Syndicate takes a closer look at the company. The pandemic, it says, slowed down progress at a time when Gadfin had just started testing drone deliveries. But Israel has launched an official program called “Na-ama” that prioritizes hospital deliveries. Under that vision, most hospitals will be connected by UAS within two years. Gadfin has applied for a tender, hoping to service the corridors between four hospitals in northern Israel.

We hope that within two years, we can connect Israeli hospitals. This could speed up deliveries of sensitive medical supplies like bone marrow transplants. These are highly complex and expensive deliveries on land. Instead of having doctors or nurses accompany the delivery to make sure the taxi doesn’t stop in the sun, our aircraft whisks them to the lab or hospital in minutes.
Gadfin CEO Eyal Regev, quoted by Jewish News Syndicate

In action…
Gadfin has a video of its “Spirit One” in flight. Pretty cool concept:
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The company’s vision is laid out in kind of a mission statement on its website.

Imagine medical facilities in every corner of the globe connected, all the time, with medical supply always there when you need it; at remote locations exactly like in city centers, bridging between islands, crossing countries, and mountains, re-defining the old ways of logistics, saving lives, on a daily basis. Imagine railways in the sky delivering daily, thousands of goods from peer to peer, day and night, rain or shine, safely, quietly and reliably like never seen before. We are here, now, equipped with the best technology, which is developed in-house by our unmanned systems experts, creating solid IP, and determined to really make it happen!

We like the look of this drone, including how its fuselage looks very much like a slippery airfoil. We’ll be keeping an eye on their progress, and wish Gadfin the best.

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DJI Fly update reportedly increases Mavic Mini’s flight range

According to a Chinese website, the latest DJI Fly app update has improved the range of the smaller Mavic Mini drone by almost double. The official release notes from DJI don’t say anything about the improved range.

Chinese website Kanzhaji has shared a post that suggests the latest version of the DJI Fly app improves the range of the smaller Mavic Mini drone. Version 1.1.10 is said to be the update behind the magic but only “fixes app crashing issues and improves overall stability,” according to DJI.
A few users have stated the update has allowed the Mavic Mini to fly up to 2.5 km with loss of the video feed, up from the original 1.5 km. Before, the drone would lose connection to the controller at around 1.7 km, that now only happens at around 2.8 km.
We have asked DJI if the update has given the Mavic Mini an improved range, we are waiting for a reply. If this is the case, it’s great to see that Mavic Mini users can now fly with more peace of mind and fly further out.
The updated is only available on iOS for now with Android expected to get the update in the following days.
DJI Fly app
Over the lifetime of the Fly app, DJI has updated it, bringing new features, putting it in a similar playing field to the more established DJI GO 4 app. The fact that DJI has been consistent with the updates makes me believe they are getting the app ready for the upcoming Mavic 3 series expected to come out later this year or early next year.
You can keep up with the update history below:
Photo: DJI

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