Deja Flew: Drone disrupts another Major League Baseball game

It’s happened again. A little more than one week after another illegal drone flight caused a delay at an MLB game, a nearly identical scenario happened this evening in Boston. Out of the blue and over Fenway Park came a drone, bringing the game to an abrupt halt.

Who are these people? Eight days ago, someone flew a drone over Target Stadium in Minnesota. The Twins and the Pirates were in the middle of a game, and play had to be suspended for about 10 minutes. We wrote about that episode here, and hoped that would be the last we’d see of such behaviour this season. We were, unfortunately, wrong. It has happened again, this time at Boston’s Fenway Park. Once again, a drone has illegally flown in and disrupted a game – and tarnished the rep of drones in the process.
Here’s what happened tonight.

Deja View: We saw this elsewhere just last week!
Illegal
The FAA is pretty particular about flying drones over these kinds of locations: Don’t do it. The FAA is also pretty clear about flying drones over people: Don’t do it, unless you have special safety precautions in place and have obtained permission to do so.

Time out – because there’s a drone overhead…
There was no permission obtained for the Boston flight, nor for the flight in Minnesota. At the Minneapolis game, team members even tried to bring down the drone with baseballs. No luck – and the drone flew away:

In Boston, police find pilot
In the case of Boston drone, which appeared to be a DJI Mavic 2 Zoom, police were able to track down the pilot. According to the Boston Globe:

 A search of the area revealed there was a 16-year-old male and a friend who appeared to be operating the drone while at 82 Brookline Avenue. The friend left the scene, but the police spoke with the individual who had been flying the drone, and notified him that the game had to be paused because of his actions. The individual was informed as to how to register his drone, and his parents were contacted about the situation. The incident in question was referred to the FAA.
Boston Globe

The DJI connection
In both cases, the drones were DJI products from the Mavic line. It’s not DJI’s fault, of course, that these two pilots ignored (or were possibly unaware) of the law. It’s in these situations where DJI is something of a victim of its own success: Because it sells vastly more drones than any other manufacturer on earth, the odds are that even a rogue drone will have been manufactured by DJI.
We contacted DJI’s corporate communications director in North America, Adam Lisberg, late Thursday evening. He had not yet seen the Fenway footage, but was kind enough to respond.

 I don’t need to see it to note that DJI expects all drone pilots to fly safely and responsibly, including following all applicable laws and regulations. Please note that the last time someone flew a DJI drone over a game at Fenway, they were very quickly located and arrested. That should be a good warning to anyone thinking about doing the same thing. 
Adam Lisberg, Corporate Communications Director, DJI North America

One possibility?
A faint possibility is that one (or both) pilots may have mistakenly believed that because the stadiums were empty except for the players that they could overfly these locations. That’s not the case. And, after these incidents, you can bet that stadiums not already equipped with drone detection gear will be investigating their options.
As always, ensure that the location you’re planning to fly in is legal, that you keep your drone within your visual line of sight, and that you follow all rules.
Now, let’s Play Ball! But without the drones.

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Battle of the skies: Eagle takes on DJI Phantom 4 Advanced

Eagles have been flying since, well, a very long time ago. DJI Phantoms have been flying since roughly 2012-2013. So, in a battle for supremacy of the air, who might win? Wait, as we walk you through aerial combat where there can be but one winner.

This all happened last month in the skies above Lake Michigan. A government of Michigan post reveals that there was some high-flying combat between a drone and a bald eagle. What’s even more remarkable is that the drone was being operated by a pilot with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy. The acronym for that depart? EGLE. So the stage has been set for an eagle vs EGLE showdown in the great state of Michigan.

RIP, Phantom 4 Advanced
The drone was a Phantom 4 Advanced, on a mission mapping shoreline erosion. Drone pilot Hunter King, who is also an environmental quality analyst, when the connection between the remote and the drone started to get spotty. King was about seven minutes into the flight when the anomaly surfaced. He pushed the Return to Home button.
Signal improves
As the drone started to return to base, the signal improved. But, as King monitored the screen, suddenly the flight started to fall badly apart. The drone was spinning in the air for reasons unknown. Spinning, falling, spinning, falling — splash. The drone was in the drink.
“It was like a really bad rollercoaster ride,” said King.
What had happened?
Eagle vs. EGLE
Bald eagles, and many other birds, are tremendously territorial. If a drone appears to be a threat, many birds will not hesitate to attack it. And that’s what happened with this eagle. Well, not the eagle in this photo — but the same type of eagle.

You don’t want to mess with this bird – especially if you’re a drone
The clash apparently caused a propeller to come off the Phantom 4 Advanced quite quickly, sending it into a death spiral to the water below.

When he looked up, the drone was gone, and an eagle was flying away. A nearby couple, whose pastimes include watching the local eagles attack seagulls and other birds, later confirmed they saw the eagle strike something but were surprised to learn it was a drone. Both King and the couple said the eagle appeared uninjured as it flew from the scene of the crime.
Michigan government post

Telemetry
Data from the flight showed that the drone had splash-landed about 150′ offshore and in about 4 feet of water. King returned and went scouring for it with a boat but had zero luck.

End of the line.
If you’ve got time on your hands and feel like paddling, there’s a Phantom 4 Advanced, somewhat soggy, sitting on the bottom of Lake Michigan. Go get it.
But watch out for eagles.
Photo by Lewis Hulbert, via Wikimedia Commons

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A belated impression of DJI’s Mavic Air 2: Fantastic

Yes, I realize I’m a little behind the curve to be writing about the Mavic Air 2. But, truth is, I received a loaner just recently, not long after joining DroneDJ. I’d done some indoor flying, but I finally got a chance to get out into the great outdoors. So this will be a relatively brief, “first impressions’” kind of review.
more…
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Awesome mechanical hexacopter drone built by 80-year old

80-year old YouTuber, Motores Patelo is known for making some cool miniature mechanical engines and other goodies and has posted a video of a flightless drone with fully functional propellers. The mechanical drone took 1560 hours to build.

Before the video starts, a message shows up on-screen that tells us Patelo began recording the video in late December of last year. On March 14 this year, the COVID lockdown was enforced in Spain and meant much of the making of the drone couldn’t be filmed. However, Patelo was working on it every day throughout that time.
The drone of choice is a hexacopter that is equipped with pneumatic motors that can run due to the changing air pressure in the chamber of each motor. The video shows Patelo starting off by shaping and filing down the squared edges to better resemble a propeller. He then moves onto building the base and the six individual engines and the components that make them work.
The drone is made up of a total of 265 handmade parts and a whopping 362 screws holding it all together. Before shooting the video and building the mechanical creation, Patelo produced drawings and blueprints to reference off when building the final product.
Watch the full video below to see the awesome little drone being made and running for the first time. Be sure to have a look around his channel for some of the other cool projects he has built in the past including a W-32 engine, a V12 engine, and even a recreation of an ocean liner’s engine room with propellers in water.
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Have you watched his videos before? Have you ever tried to build something similar after watching one of his videos? I’d love to know in the comments below.
Photo: Motores Patelo

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CyberHawk drones will help prevent California wildfires for utility Edison

CyberHawk has won a drone inspection contract with a major California utility provider after a long competitive process. CyberHawk will provide inspection services to maintain and detect any issues with the state’s electrical infrastructure.

The contract with Edison was awarded to CyberHawk earlier this year and will mainly focus on supporting the critical wildfire prevention and reliability campaign. The drones will be inspecting thousands of lattice steel towers and wood electricity poles that deliver power to much of California’s residents and buildings.
CyberHawk will deploy its highly skilled drone pilots to inspect the infrastructure and provide the clients with high-quality data to better understand if there are any issues with the equipment, which will then be fixed or replaced if needed. The drones will also collect data around bushes and shrubs that could potentially catch fire if they were to meet the electricity cables.
The drones will also allow for a substantial cut in inspection costs using current methods such as helicopters and improve efficiency as the drones can be deployed within minutes, do the job, and then land, all within a short timeframe. The drones also cut down on the amount of manpower needed to complete inspections.
Using the drones also gives the utility an extra benefit of being able to get in closer for a better look at issues that could be hard to find. The drones will be equipped with a zoom camera and thermal camera, making all faults almost impossible to not detect.
Cyberhawk CEO Chris Fleming, said:

Protecting customers and property during wildfire season is a top priority for US utilities. To prevent deadly fires, and prevent power outages, mitigation is key. We’re seeing more and more utilities turn to trusted drone-based inspection services to bolster their wildfire prevention and reliability programs. Securing this contract reinforces the high level of trust we have fostered within the utilities sector and highlights the strong performance of our people and technology. We have proven that we can successfully deliver drone services to the very highest standards time and time again in challenging conditions, and across a number of safety-critical project scopes. We are looking forward to building on this relationship and continuing to provide US utilities with innovative drone solutions, and highly skilled pilots, to shore up their inspection and maintenance programs and ensure operations are as safe and resilient as possible.

Photo: CyberHawk

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Local Connecticut business training unemployed pilots to fly drones

A local business in Hartford, Connecticut is training pilots unemployed by COVID-19 to fly drones to bring in a new income source and possible future career. The new ‘Flight to the Future’ program was founded by Aquiline Drones.

The students of the program founded by Aquiline Drones founder and CEO Barry Alexander will have access to a cloud-based drone services market to anyone older than 18 who are looking for a new career path. The students will also be able to get drones in a similar way you are able to catch a ride with an Uber.
Taking part in the program will set you back less than $1,000 and is going to launch sometime next month using an online curriculum to teach various ideas to build a business within the drone industry.
The program has become a thing due to the large amount pilots that have gone jobless due to the coronavirus pandemic along with more expecting to be laid off in the near future. To put it in perspective major airlines hired 4,977 pilots in 2019 with only 1,955 being hired in 2020 so far.
The program has two options: one for pilots which costs $799 and one for non-pilots that will set you back $999 and averages around six weeks to complete. The non-pilot program will obviously cost more as more training and certifications are required in comparison to pilots who already have an extensive amount of training from flying manned aircraft.
Ann Ryan has been working in aviation for 20 years and was recently made jobless by the COVID pandemic. She shared that she will be taking the course as it’s still flying even though it’s not a manned plane.
If you are interested in a career in drones, pilots and non-pilots can sign up for the program via this link. You can learn more about the program via the video below.
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Photo: Kassi Jackson

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DJI Mavic 3 Fly More Combo: What it’ll likely include

Mavic 3 is the next drone to come out from DJI, and it’s expected to have a Fly More Combo as well. But what will be in it? All DJI drones for the last few years have come with a Fly More option with additional accessories to keep you in the air longer and enhance your experience.

The DJI Fly More Combo has been an extra option that allows you to save money on accessories and improve your footage and experience when you take your first flight. It’s a no-brainer that DJI will offer a Fly More Combo option for the DJI Mavic 3 series and possibly throw in something we’ve never seen before.
What will be included?
There is a lot that we do know will be included in the DJI Mavic 3 Fly More Combo by taking a look at previous combos to see what the main accessories are. The first one we know is two extra batteries, an extra three pairs of propellers, a battery charging hub, and a case of some sort.
As DJI got rid of the car charger with the Mavic Air 2, I would like to see that come back, as it’s especially useful to have when on the road. I’d also like to see the ND filters make another appearance, along with a hard shell case that is able to fit the content of the combo, an extra battery, and a few other accessories.
Here’s a list of what we expect to see:
2 batteries
Battery charging hub
3 pairs of propellers
Battery to power bank adapter
ND filter set (ND16/64/256)
Hard shell case
What do you want to see?
The Mavic Air 2 DJI included ND filters for the first time in the Fly More Combo, allowing customers to get better footage right off the bat. What would you like to see DJI include with the Mavic 3? What new accessories would you like to see? Be sure to answer the poll below to have your say.

Take Our Poll

Photo: DJI (edited) & LEKUFEE

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Aerial paintings with DJI Mavic 2

Painting can be done in many unique ways. Here, the concept of “Spin Art” was done with the aid of a drone.

The past few months have been quite different from previous years, to say the least. However, a massive amount of creativity has come from that. New platforms like TikTok seem to thrive during these times with content that can bring a smile to your face.
Artists on these new platforms provide inspiration by sharing the things they do and love in a creative way. That inspiration can come in the form of an idea, or them going out and taking action. In this case, there has been a real spread of creativity taking place in 2020.
Meet the artist
Martin Sanchez is a leader in the creative space. He’s always coming up with new, unique ideas that he executes with his drone. With a background in design and a love for photography, he produces clean and minimal work.
During the past few months, Sanchez has been busy experimenting with some new work. Painting… while using the drone to capture the creative process. This new form of “Spin Art” is explained more below. Essentially, his idea was to show a top-down perspective of the paint patterns as the canvas was being spun on the drill.
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The concept: painting with Mavic 2
The concept was to attach a canvas to a drill bit, then use the drill to spin the canvas. While the canvas is spinning, Sanchez would drip paint on top. As the paint hits the fast-spinning canvas, unique designs are created. By layering multiple colors and applying new patterns, he achieved some pretty cool results.
For one of the paintings, he wanted to actually use the drone to create the image on the canvas. By mounting the paint bottle upside down to the drone and uncapping it, he was able to achieve that. At the end, Sanchez topped it off with a custom pattern and continued to spin away (bottom right.)

DroneDJ’s Take
This was a fun concept to share with the drone community. Drone photography and video is an art in itself. However, creating a painting with the drone is also pretty cool! I personally look forward to seeing what else Sanchez will be up to in the future. He may very well master showing the behind-the-scenes of the creative process.

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Use this pre-flight checklist to help ensure safe drone flying

Ensuring that everything is A-OK prior to taking off for a drone flight is important. But it’s not that easy to remember all the various things that you should really be marking methodically off a checklist. That’s why we recommend using and personalizing a standard pre-flight checklist.

We just finished writing a fairly exhaustive piece about why it’s worth checking your drone carefully prior to flight – and what mishaps might befall you when you don’t. I learned this from personal experience, and it was a powerful lesson. I now routinely check my gear super thoroughly prior to a flight. And while we can’t tell you what to do, we can certainly let you know that it’s an undisputed best practice to carefully check out everything from the weather forecast to the condition of each and every propeller prior to a flight. Failure to do so could lead to something very nasty during flight – and none of us wants that to happen.
Some of this is obvious
Because we went into fairly extensive detail about some of the issues you might face in this post, we’re going to keep this story relatively bite-sized. Obviously, there are some things you need to check that should be very obvious for each and every flight. These include:
Are the batteries fully charged
Are the physical batteries in good shape? No cracks, swelling, or puffiness?
Are the propellors all properly affixed and in good shape with no chips or cracks?
Is the fuselage in good shape?
Is the firmware up-to-date for your app and your drone?
How about the weather forecast? Is it favorable?
And some of this is less obvious
Do I have the permissions or certification required for flights in this airspace?
Do I require a visual observer and/or security for this location?
Am I familiar with NOTAMS that may have been issued for this area?
Has there been a recall or other recent notice the might affect the airworthiness of my drone?
How would I rate my own physical and mental well-being on flight day? Is there a medication I might have taken that could interfere with my performance? Did I get enough sleep last night? How’s my mood?
Not ‘One Size Fits All’
Of course, the precise checklist you use will depend on the mission at hand, the payload you are flying – and even the specific drone you’re putting to use. So you will want to take an existing template and modify it to fully cover your own circumstances and equipment. What we offer here, therefore, is simply a starter to get you going.
Before leaving home:
Firmware up to date?
Batteries fully charged?
Batteries inspected for damage?
Phone or tablet/screen device fully charged?
Micro SD or SSD in UAV?
Check for NOTAMS
Research flight area
Plan mission
Check forecast to ensure weather compatible with your drone
Are you feeling physically and mentally capable of the flight?
When on-site
Inspect site for obstacles etc.
Inspect drone thoroughly for any potential problems
Calibrate compass and home point
Enable RTH and check altitude as been set
Check GPS lock and ensure adequate satellites
Ensure you’re flying where it’s safe to fly (doesn’t hurt to double-check)
Immediately after takeoff…
There’s no rush. After you’ve popped it off the ground let it hover and observe for stable flight and solid Command & Control connection
Test all controls with slight motion and ensure outputs match inputs
Monitor GPS satellite connectivity and watch for any signs of interference
Do all of the above while drone remains within Line of Sight
After your mission…
Power off your drone
Inspect thoroughly for any damage
Wipe fuselage, if necessary, with slightly damp cloth
Pack drone properly in case, ensuring all parts are undamaged before stowing
And a special present…
We know that’s a lot to remember. So we’ve prepared a special DroneDJ checklist that you can download here. Feel free to modify this, of course, but we hope it’s a good start.
And yeah, I’m not a graphic artist. But hey – it’s a decent list. Hope you find it useful!

There’s some good information here – and it’s free!

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SPH Engineering and Eye4Software partner to survey underwater

SPH Engineering a software developer for the UgCS app has partnered with the app’s creator Eye4Software to advance bathymetric and hydrological surveying. The system would allow drone operators to capture contour maps, depth maps, and 3D models.

Earlier in the year, the SPH Engineering team announced the launch of a drone with an integrated echo sounder allowing surveys of coastal and inland waters to be completed. The real-time data collected allows for mapping, measuring, inspections, and environmental monitoring.
The system will consist of a drone equipped with a single or dual-frequency echo sounder and is controlled automatically via a pre-planned flight route and the use of the UgCS software and accompanying app.
SPH Engineering and Eye4Software worked together to ensure the files created onboard the drone are compatible and to ensure the data is not corrupted in the process. The system generates NMEA 0183 with the bathymetric data and a full color SEG-Y file for the echo sounder data.
Alexey Dobrovolskiy, CTO of SPH Engineering said the following:

“Thanks to our professional partnership with Eye4Software we can provide complete solutions and support from a single source – everything from bathymetric data collection using drones to data processing with a state-of-the-art software package. I am proud to see that our brand new drone-based solution with an integrated echo sounder for bathymetric surveys has been well-received by the market and we have already made our first product shipments to meet clients’ demands.”

Leon Steijger, CEO at Eye4Software B.V. followed up with:

“With the improved SEG-Y import function in our Hydromagic Survey package, SPH Engineering’s customers can now use our hydrographic processing software which has been in use by many USV operators for years. Combining our and SPH Engineering’s technologies, it is now even possible to survey areas even an USV can’t operate.”

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Photo: Eye4Software

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A regular pre-flight check could save you grief in the air

Battery semi-charged? Check. Propellers attached? Check. Then let’s power up and fly! Well, not so fast. Today we’ll make the case — and from personal experience — that it pays to give your gear a routine but deliberate inspection before each and every flight.

Pilots of manned aircraft — whether it’s a Cessna or a Boeing 787 Dreamliner — go through detailed, specific checklists before every single flight. The checklists vary between aircraft, but there are some common themes: A walk around the aircraft with a thorough visual inspection, looking for any signs of damage, wear or tear, loose connectors, etc. There’s also a fuel check: Does this aircraft have enough fuel on board for the planned flight, along with some pad? How much is the weight of fuel, cargo, and passengers combined? Does it exceed our maximum takeoff weight? What about the weather? Might this flight run into poor conditions between now and the destination?
Those, of course, are just the very basics. But some of those checklist items have, as they say, been “Written in Blood.” That means the protocol for that particular check was likely a recommendation resulting from a preventable accident. When it comes to manned aviation, there are very specific reasons why each and every checklist item is there.
What about drones?
For some drone pilots, particularly occasional recreational flyers, the pre-flight check is minimal: Battery charged and props on. Commercial pilots and service providers all tend to have training and licensing like the FAA’s Part 107. For those who took a bona fide training course, the practice of a pre-flight checklist would have or should have been burned in.
Stuff happens
Plus, things can happen. And that’s where a little lesson we were recently exposed to comes to mind.
Literally a few days ago, I went to charge the batteries on my trusty but dusty Mavic Pro. It had been sitting in its case for a bit, but an opportunity had come up to go flying with a friend. Plus, I wanted to finally get a loaner Mavic Air 2 up for some extended time.
I hadn’t flown the Mavic Pro in quite some time – certainly not since pre-pandemic. And it had been many, many months since I’d charged all three of its batteries. And so, one after the other, they were attached to the charger. I plunked one of the charged batteries back in the body. The drone was sitting in my back sunroom at the time, with early morning light spilling at an angle across the top of the Mavic Pro. It was the kind of light that really highlights shadows.
What’s that?
It was slight, but something looked off. “What’s that?” I thought. I looked closer. I realized I was looking at a small jagged line of a shadow, tracing irregularly across the top of the fully charged battery in the machine. You’d never see it if you just glanced at it. But now, upon closer inspection, a fault was revealing itself: A tiny but significant crack in the casing. And, based on the fact that part of the casing seemed to be lifting, it was a possible bulge from a battery problem. WTH?
I looked again. There it was, plain as day.
Ouch
The crack was very thin. But it was also very much there:

It wasn’t readily apparent, but there it was.
Don’t mess with batteries
I’m not holding myself out as a battery expert. But I do know this: Don’t mess around with LiPos. When in doubt, dispose of it safely. It’s not worth flying – let alone charging inside your home – a battery that might have an issue. And so — sigh — I will be safely disposing of this one. But it reminded me of an incident that had occurred with my Phantom 4 Professional.
In the case of the Phantom, I had loaned it to a good friend – who is both an excellent drone pilot and a tech geek. He owns a property in Florida. He had asked at one point to borrow my P4P. I didn’t realize until he came back, and discovered an FAA registration in the drone, that it had been taken to the US. I was a bit rankled, but c’est la vie.
But when I took a closer look at the P4P, some other issues came to light:
Always look closely
And again, the operative words with inspections are: Look closely. Once I started going over the P4P with a fine-toothed comb, some other issues came to my attention.
The battery (part one)

Look closely, there’s a crack in the plastic above the LED closest to the power button… Again, an indicator the battery may be unsafe.
The battery (part two)
See this battery? Same one. And the little lip surrounding the release button is cracked. That’s because it had bulged. :/

Arghhhh…
The battery (part three)
See that little black “X” mark on the batter? I hadn’t put it there. (This was on the battery with the crack, btw.)

Hmmm… A “do not use” symbol… Someone (not me) put this here…
And then the sand
I had powered up the P4P when I heard an unusual sound during the gimbal checkout. It was a sound I’d never heard before: A grinding sound. Arrrrghhhhh! I started looking even more closely and saw there were tiny bits of sand. I recognized that sand, as I’d previously visited this location. Once I started seeing the sand, I couldn’t unsee it. It appeared to be everywhere.
Near the joystick

See those impossibly small white specks around the stick? Florida sand.
In the seams

It’s in there, too…
And around the lens

Look closely around the end of the lens. More white specks. They’d also invaded the gimbal mechanism…
So I called my friend
I sent him the pictures you’d just seen. Of course he was horrified and said he’d replace the battery if there was an issue. He came over soon after with a charged air compressor and carefully blew out all of the sand. The gimbal sounded fine again. But he couldn’t recall what happened with the battery and didn’t raise the offer of replacing it again. Sadly, I had to retire that battery from service for safety reasons. Again: Arrrrrgggghhhhh.
Three morals to the story
The first lesson here is – at least for me – never loan your gear. Or, if you do loan your gear, inspect it together with the person you loaned it to before and immediately after the loan. Trust is important in friendships, but it’s just common sense to do this together and address any issues. If you do loan your gear, be prepared to accept losses. It’s a personal decision, to be sure. And my decision now is: Don’t lend gear unless you’re fine with it coming back damaged or you reallllllly trust the person.
Moral number two: Don’t mess with batteries. If there’s something that looks like your battery might be off, play it safe. I’ve seen photos of very expensive drones that have caught fire in mid-air because of a battery issue that might have been detected with a thorough inspection. I’ve also seen YouTube vids of cars on fire from charging a defective battery on the front seat.
Moral number three: Have a checklist and follow it thoroughly. It’s not enough to ensure your battery is charged and your props are on. Before you even power on your drone, it’s critical to have a very thorough physical inspection. That means the batteries, fuselage, arms, motors, propellers, camera (or payload) and gimbal. Look for anything that is out of the ordinary. If you find something, try to address on-site. If it looks like it could interfere with safety, postpone your flight.
Post flight
And after every flight, check out your machine. Are all the props in good shape? Battery fine? What about the body?
I ask this because, again, I have some experience here. When I pulled out that Mavic Pro a few days ago, I noticed a large amount of grassy guts against the back its body. Some of those bits and pieces of plant material had been stuck on that drone for more than half a year. PLUS, they appeared to have been slightly caustic, leaving some unsightly marks when I cleaned them off. That would have all been avoided, had I simply taken a moment to do a post-flight inspection and clean off the gunk.
But I didn’t – and that one’s on me.
I’ll also tell you two other things:
Lesson learned.
A full suggested pre-flight Checklist is coming soon!
Follow author Scott Simmie on Twitter here. And let us know in the comments below if you follow a checklist. If so, what’s your number one thing to check?

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PrecisionHawk awarded US patents for its UTM technology

Yesterday PrecisionHawk was awarded two US patents for technology it developed for its unmanned traffic management (UTM) system. The two patents allow drones and manned aircraft to avoid each other while in flight.

The patents enable collision avoidance to be in place between drones and manned aircraft by transmitting real-time flight data from drones in the air to a UTM server before and during the flight.
The first patent is for the technology that takes care of sending the real-time data to the flight servers to avoid collisions. The second patent helps drone operators avoid manned aircraft by transmitting their flight plan to traffic management before the flight to see if there are potential conflicts.
The traffic management server receives similar data about other drones and manned aircraft in the area, and if there is, it will send the drone pilot an alert to adjust the flight plan to avoid the collision.
Dr. Allison Ferguson, PrecisionHawk Director, Airspace Research said:

It’s clear that the more you know about the real-time environment you’re operating in, the more safely and efficiently you can operate. The more important question is, How does a drone operator reliably get that situational awareness? What information is needed and when? LATAS was a key enabling technology for the Pathfinder efforts, which were aimed at determining answers to precisely those questions.

Tyler Collins, PrecisionHawk vice president, enterprise accounts, and inventor of the technology, said:

The use of drones is becoming more ubiquitous across a number of enterprise industries. UTM is a critical piece of infrastructure that will enable more types of drone operations as the industry continues to grow and more complex operations, such as broad BVLOS, become needed. We see UTM being born out of necessity just as the current air traffic control system was in the 1930s. UTM is a natural next step to ensure safety of the airspace and those who share it.

Photo: PrecisionHawk

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Could drones disguised as birds of prey be used to scare birds?

One of the peskiest birds in the suburbs of Perth, Australia, is the Corella. They rip up irrigation systems, cables, and destroys trees, but can drones scare them off? Perth doctor Jean-Paul Orsini thinks they could be a possible solution to the problem.

The idea behind the high-tech plan is to disguise drones as birds of prey and fly them into an area where the Corella birds are destroying property. The pests should then get scared of the “bird of prey” and fly off and eventually not return to the spot.
The current way to get rid of the birds is by culling them to control the population throughout the suburbs. This obviously isn’t the most humane way to do it, prompting Orsini to find an alternative.

A cull would basically mean you put down some seed, net a flock, then put them under plastic and gas them. But Corellas are very intelligent so you could not say they would not know what is going on.

The drones are only be a possible solution. It’s known that the Corellas hate eagles and falcons and could even be smart enough to remember what they look like.
Orsini also shared his research that suggests culling the birds doesn’t have an affect on their overall population, as they just breed somewhere else and invade again. One issue with this is that the areas with the largest problem with the birds is around 30 meters from a military barracks, which has a strict no-fly zone around it.
BirdlifeWA president Viv Read has joined in on the conversation, saying drones shouldn’t be the solution as they will scare off other birds species that are either wanted or needed in the areas, due to their noise. She said we can manage the Corella population by removing weeds the birds are known to like.
Do you think drones should be used to scare off the birds? Or should the weeds be removed from the area? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Photo: Community News

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20% of drone pilots are flying illegally in New Zealand

In a recent report, New Zealand‘s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) found that 1 in 5 drone pilots are flying illegally in no-fly zones throughout the country. The report also found an increase in drone usage without an increase in the knowledge of drone laws.

The report
Recreational pilots
The first group to look at in the report is the largest, with 271,121 recreational drone users and 156,610 drones being flown recreationally. The most common reason for flying is fun or entertainment. 2.5 out of 10 have little to no knowledge of the drone rules, and 1 in 5 flights may occur in restricted airspace. That’s about 67,780 drone users that do not know or are not aware of the rules. WOW.
Commercial pilots
Now let’s take a look at commercial pilots, who should know the rules better than any other group. There are 7,939 businesses using drones in New Zealand, with most of them being flown for scientific, professional, and technical services, the majority being photographers.
10% of commercial users have little understanding of the rules surrounding drones, with the same 1 in 5 flights possibly occurring in a restricted airspace without permission. 44% of businesses who are currently using drones plan on using more drones in the future, and 31% of businesses plan to use drones in the future.
Non-drone users
The last group mentioned in the report are non-drone users, with most of them being comfortable with drones beings used in public safety jobs such as fire fighting. The group is mostly uncomfortable with drones being used for transporting both goods and people. Non-drone users are also concerned about the risks drones cause to their safety and property.
Around the world
While the report only includes data from New Zealand, it is highly likely that other countries would see the same data or even worse depending on the number of drones in the air. Many pilots do not seem to realize the many rules that are in place to keep their drones and other aircraft safe while in flight. This type of drone usage will continue until countries start deploying anti-drone tech around key airspace as it is obvious that some drone pilots aren’t using drone safety apps or are just ignoring them all together.
What this means
This report will see New Zealand looking to better educate drone fliers and possibly even force all recreational pilots to pass a mandatory test before getting into the sky for the first time. While many people are doing the right thing and flying within the rules, the 1 in 5 that aren’t will force the CAA to improve the safety of the skies, and an easy way to do it is via education and testing knowledge.
What do you think of the amount of people flying drones illegally? Do you think there are more? Should governments be doing more to regulate drone usage? We’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below.
Photo: Maksim Tarasov

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How to make your drone fly circles around your wedding proposal

A clever drone pilot recently put his drone to use in a very new way: To document his marriage proposal. Using a DJI Mavic Air, the plan worked perfectly, capturing a picture-perfect proposal from the air. Regardless of the occasion, we’ll show you how to do the same.

If you’re married, you’ll undoubtedly remember the moment your significant other made the big ask. I can tell you that in my case, I proposed on the flat playa of Burning Man in 2005 (we’re still together, so I guess that worked out). Some friends were with us when this happened, and there’s a photo or two. But there is no video of the event, which did take place in very special surroundings. Woulda been nice to have some video of that — and it would have been incredible to have some footage from the air.
Well, the owner of a Mavic Air managed to capture the occasion recently by using one of the drone’s many specialized pre-programmed shots. That allowed the hopeful groom to focus on making the ask, rather than trying to fly the drone.
A seamless orbit
Of course, many of DJI’s drones can be set to fly preprogrammed intelligent routes. And that’s what makes this so simple. Many people, however, don’t get around to fully exploring the DJI Fly app, so we’ll put this down in order:
Select the Photo icon

See that rectangle in the circle? Tap that…
Select Quickshot
On the right-hand column, three down, select “QuickShot.” You’ll see a list of pre-programmed shots pop up, along with a very helpful little video that shows precisely what each mode does. There are plenty to choose from.

Getting warmer…
Select “Circle”
You’re going to want to select “Circle” – unless one of the other modes really appeals to you more. (Again, you can preview these shot styles by simply touching them and watching the onscreen videos.) Depending on the mode, you can also select distance, but not with Circle.

You’re nearly there!
Press “Start”
Yup. Press that green “Start” button and you’re there! The drone will begin circling and recording at a constant altitude.
And, if you’re lucky, you’ll capture a wonderful scene like this one:

Will she accept? If she does, he’ll have it captured by drone.
Very sweet. We wish the happy couple all the best!

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Drone delivers critical medicine in flooded area of South Korea

It’s always great to see the #DronesForGood hashtag out there. Generally, it flags a story where a drone has been used to help a person, or for some other positive reason. And this case? Well, no arguments about that. A DJI Mavic 2 drone was used in South Korea to get asthma medicine to a 7-year-old boy in a flood zone.

The story appeared on KBS News. And it was gripping: A father in a flooded village in South Korea needed medicine for his 7-year-old child. The boy suffers from asthma, and his medication had run out. What’s worse, the flood prevented anyone from delivering the prescription by ground. Without the critical meds, this child could soon be in distress. And then came relief from above: A DJI Mavic 2 Pro delivered the asthma inhaler to the grateful father. As he told KBS News:

I couldn’t even imagine. I thought they were going to come with a helicopter or something like that and take my [child] out…
Father of boy with asthma

The parent awaits the meds delivery
Paramedic’s idea
It was a paramedic who thought of attaching the medication to the drone. Then the package was flown about 1.5 kilometers, across the rapidly rising Geum River.

I have a drone, so [I thought] let’s try it. So I put a bronchodilator drug on it [and sent it].
Park Kook-jin/Chungbuk Yeongdong Fire Station Paramedic

The delivery
KBS included some footage of the delivery, which was shot by the Mavic 2 Pro. You can see the father anxiously awaiting the delivery of the package:

#DronesForGood, indeed
Not the only drone rescue
The story went on to point out that drones have been used to help out in other situations during the flooding, including delivering heart medication.
Increasingly, drones are being used for rescue missions like this following natural disasters. Not only can drones deliver critical medication, but they can also be used to scan infrastructure for damage. Following major hurricanes in Texas and Florida in recent years, drones have been immediately put to work for situational awareness, providing a bird’s eye view of the damage. This has been particularly useful for planning emergency supply routes, as well as assessing overall damage in a fraction of the time it used to take.

A paramedic flies a drone in an area of South Korea hit by floods
In addition to everything else, 2020 has been a bad year for flooding in Southeast Asia. There has been widespread flooding through many parts of southern China — and now this latest flooding in South Korea.

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UK drone crash leads to safety recommendations for pilots

A report by the UK’s Air Accident Board has investigated the December 2019 crash of a DJI Matrice M600 Pro into a residential neighborhood. The report makes some recommendations to help avoid a future mishap like this one, which investigators say had the potential to cause serious injury to a person on the ground.

The report outlines the basic facts of the incident. A DJI Matrice M600 Pro was about to start a construction site survey. The drone was in an automated flight mode, with specific way points programmed for the job. Takeoff was normal. But at about 65 feet above ground level things turned sour. A GPS-compass error suddenly caused the aircraft to return to ATTI mode, which requires manual flight. The pilot and observer began frantically trying to initiate Return To Home, but the drone was drifting away with the wind. Soon it was out of sight and heading toward residential homes.
The aircraft was hidden behind a line of trees and beyond the visual line-of-sight of the pilot or observer. And because they couldn’t see their aircraft, they didn’t want to try to take over manual control. As they continued trying to initiate RTH, the aircraft moved on a path toward a home. This image is from the Air Accident Board report:

UK Air Accident Board graphic
That sinking feeling
If you’ve ever had a flyaway, you’ll know that the pilot and observer must have been absolutely sickened by what was taking place. An expensive drone, drifting away, and not following the RTH command. What’s even worse is that it was moving into a residential area. The intended survey area, seen mid-right in the above image, was not populated. And as you can see, the error began early in the mission.
And then the drone just kept going and going. Although it was maintaining its altitude based on barometric pressure, the land below it was rising. And so it was just a matter of time before the Matrice would hit something.

The final flight path
A synopsis
Here’s how the report described the incident:

The takeoff was normal but, as the aircraft approached 100 ft amsl (a height of about65 ft agl), the pilot noticed that a gps-compass error was displayed on the controller.The aircraft stopped climbing and proceeded to fly in an east-north-easterly directionat a ground speed of about 13 kt, whilst maintaining an altitude of about 100 ft amsl (Figure 1). The pilot and observer reported that they were initially taken by surprise. The pilot then selected the return-to-home (RTH)4 function on the controller several times, but the aircraft did not respond. Within about ten seconds, the pilot and observer lost visualline of sight (VLOS) with the aircraft when it travelled beyond a line of trees located at the boundary of the construction site. No manual flight control inputs were made using the controller.
UK Air Accident Board

And then what happened?
According to the report, this:

The aircraft proceeded to fly overhead a large industrial area before approaching a housing estate located 300 m from where it had taken off. The aircraft had continued to maintain its altitude; however, its relative height above the ground reduced as it approached the housing estate due to the rising terrain. The recorded logs from the aircraft showed that, at 1521:07 hrs, the aircraft collided with the roof of a house before falling into the rear garden of the property (Figures 2 and 3). There were no persons in the garden at the time. The aircraft’s propellers, arms, landing gear, gimbal, and camera lens were damaged. The flight time from when the GPS-compass error had occurred and the aircraft colliding with the house was 75 seconds. The controller had remained in radio contact throughout the flight.
UK Air Accident Board

Pay attention
It’s worth noting the final sentences from both those preceding paragraphs: “No manual flight control inputs were made using the controller” and “The controller had remained in radio contact throughout the flight.” These will come back later.
But there are a couple of other things worth noting here. The first is that the Air Accident Review Board considered that the weight of the M600 Pro was heavy enough to have caused serious injury or even death had it fallen on a person on the ground. Here’s how the report reached that conclusion:

The AAIB is not aware of any research relating to the potential for injury from a falling UAS. However, in the 1990’s, a dropped object prevention scheme (DROPS)7 was introduced as part of a safety initiative by the UK Oil and Gas industry. The program has since expanded to include about 200 organizations, with the development of a DROPS analysis calculator8. This provides an indication as to the possible outcome9 of a blunt object in free fall striking a person wearing personal protective equipment (i.e., hard hat, eye protection).
UK Air Accident Board Report

The M600 Pro weighed in at 12.8 Kg for this flight:

Analysis using the DROPS calculator indicated that a blunt object with a mass of more than 2 kg (the mass of the accident aircraft was 12.8 kg) falling from a height of 6 m (~20 ft) agl (the approximate height that the aircraft fell from the roof of the house) could result in a fatal injury to someone wearing a hard hat.
UK Air Accident Board Report

The accident scene
Here’s what the Matrice looked like after falling into the person’s back yard:

Ouch.
EMF?
The report notes that the M600 Pro logs were uploaded to the manufacturer for analysis. The report states “the reversion to ATTI mode had been caused due to a mismatch between the aircraft’s GPS derived heading and its magnetic compass heading data. This was attributed by the manufacturer to have been caused by signal interference that had affected the magnetic compass. The error had continued throughout the flight. The manufacturer advised that if the error had subsequently cleared, the automated flight modes would have been re-established.”
That raises the question: What caused the EMF? Was it proximity to other homes with their own Wi-Fi networks and other gadgets? Or was it possibly from a GPS jammer? These devices are legal to sell (and illegal to use) in the UK. Often they are used by commercial truck drivers who wish to disable GPS tracking on their vehicle. Could one have been operating in the area?
That’s tough to say. But when the drone operators realized their machine had crashed, they sent up a second drone to look for it. And that drone was quickly messed up by interference. (They were able to get this one back on the ground).
Conclusions?
Well, the first one is that electro-magnetic interference can really ruin a drone pilot’s day. Many professionals use EMF detectors to scan an area prior to a flight. Given that they’re relatively inexpensive devices vs. the cost of a drone, it’s probably worth considering this.
But the report also suggests that the pilot perhaps should have attempted to take over and fly the drone manually. It doesn’t address the complications of doing this when the drone is Beyond Visual Line of Sight, but presumably the pilot could have simply gained altitude until it was back within sight, and then brought it home manually.
Pilot training
Here’s what the report recommended in its two-paragraph conclusion:
The pilot was required to take manual control of the aircraft following the loss of its automated flight modes due to signal interference. However, no manual control inputs were made, and the aircraft subsequently drifted with the wind until it collided with a house roof and fell to the ground. No persons were injured.

Operators holding a PfCO issued by the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) are not currently required to practise routinely for emergencies or demonstrate the ability to fly their aircraft in a degraded flight mode. These skills are perishable, but as this accident shows, they may be needed at any time; it is important that they are maintained to prevent a risk of injury to people or damage to property.
UK Air Accident Board

And the pilot?
As a result of this incident, the pilot refreshed their skills flying manually. As per the report: “The operator’s pilots have undergone refresher training on responding to emergency situations and operating their multi-rotor UASs in the ATTI flight mode.”
The lesson of the day? Keep your manual chops up, know the emergency procedures for your particular type of drone – and be prepared if RTH fails. Also, consider picking up an EMF detector. You have nothing to lose.
You can download the full report here.
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Historic buildings in Brasília to get controversial anti-drone tech

Brazil’s National Historical and Artistic Heritage Institute (Iphan) has not accepted plans to install anti-drone tech on famous architect Oscar Niemeyer’s buildings throughout Brazil‘s capital city, Brasília. On the other hand, the Brazilian Institutional Security Office (GSI) has said they will go ahead with the installation of 1.5-meter antenna on the buildings.

The plan was originally to have a 20-meter antenna on the Planalto Palace’s roof, a 10-meter antenna on the president’s residence, and a six-meter antenna on the roof of Jaburu, but all three were denied by Iphan.
The government push
The Brazilian government is pressuring Iphan, who received the proposal in June, to give it the go-ahead. The government has already contracted a company to install the anti-drone antennas with the hope that they will protect the following areas, Planalto, Alvorada, and Jaburu, from rogue drones.
Secretary of Security General Luiz Fernando Estorilho Baganha shared that the antennas are necessary due to the increased drone usage and possible malicious uses they can be used for:

One must consider the urgency that the matter requires, in addition to the presidential security subject being an act provided for by law, the use of drones is no longer just for leisure and as a work tool, but is now used in acts of threat and hostile actions, bringing risks and being increasingly applied for different shady purposes. The appearance of drones is becoming commonplace and demonstrating a vulnerability to the security activity of the highest authorities in the executive branch.

Visual pushback
On the other side there is continued pushback on the installation of the antennas due to the altered visual appearance it would have on the buildings. These buildings are historic heritage sites that are internationally recognized for their modern architecture. Iphan stipulated the following rules if the antenna were to go up on the buildings:

If they are elements integrated into the architecture of the palaces, the new equipment cannot be visible from the point of view of the observer, so as not to impair the reading of the volumetry of the palaces.

Photo: Ugkoeln & Flaviohmg

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Drone deployed in police standoff to find the gunman sleeping

A drone was brought in during a police standoff in Hayward, California, after a gunman refused to come out and surrender to police. That’s because he was asleep in his bed while the police remained outside.

The standoff took place sometime last week after midnight when a 911 dispatcher received a call from a woman saying her son was in his room with a gun and wanted to kill himself. The 911 dispatcher shared that there are times the calls cause the hair on the back of your neck to stand up. This was one of those times.
During the call, the woman and other family members were able to hear him playing around with the gun before the operator told them all to leave the house and wait for the police to arrive. Officers showed up shortly after and attempted to contact the man via a speakerphone with no luck.

It was a difficult situation. We wanted to help him immediately but sending officers into a home with a potentially armed man could be very dangerous.

Not too long after several shots could be heard firing rapidly. This is when the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office was asked to help with its drones. The drones were sent in as it was too dangerous for officers to enter with a man that appeared to be unstable and the presence of officers, could cause him to shoot himself or the officers.
The drone was swiftly sent up and approached the home to look through the windows without any luck of spotting the man. The police also sent up smaller drones inside the home along with a ground-based robot to look from inside the house.
Eventually the drones were able to spot the man who had fallen asleep in his bed without any injuries. The police were able to communicate with the man and get him out of the house. It was a successful ending to a potentially deadly situation.
Photo: inside unmanned systems

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India to arm its Israeli-built drones with laser-guided missiles

The Indian armed forces are pushing for the government to arm its Israeli-built Heron drones with laser-guided missiles amid the rising tensions with China. The drones would be equipped with anti-tank missiles and guided rockets to hit specific targets.

If the push goes ahead, the conversion project is expected to cost 35 million rupees ($465,000). Around 90 of the country’s drones will be converted to carry the laser-guided missiles, costing around $5,000 per drone. Defense Secretary Ajay Kumar has been put in charge of the decision.
Along with equipping the drones with missiles, the army also wants more powerful reconnaissance capabilities, giving them a better view of what other countries are doing, i.e., China. The drones have already been deployed along the India-China border after 20 of its troops were shot down by Chinese troops in June.
The army has also stated that the drones can be used to further India’s aerial capabilities for various situations including counterterrorism, military operations, surveillance, and search and rescue operations.
India
The IAI Heron drone, which is used by India, has a wingspan of 54 feet 6 inches and 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.
The Indian army also uses a smaller drone from IAI, the Searcher. It has a payload capacity of 150 pounds and wingspan of 28 feet. The drone uses a less powerful Limbach L 550 engine that only produces 47 horsepower. Searcher is able to fly at a maximum speed of 125 miles per hour for 18 hours at a time.
China
China is currently using its own custom-built drones to monitor the borders: the CAIG Wing Loong II or GJ-2 drone. The GJ-2 has a wingspan of 67 feet 3 inches and has a maximum takeoff weight of 9,259 pounds. The drone has a maximum speed of 230 miles per hour and can stay in the air for 32 hours at a time.
It is also believed that China is using its own CH-4 drone and the BZK-005C with a payload capacity of 331 pounds, a cruise speed of 93-112 miles per hour, and flight duration of 40 hours.
Photo: SSGT Reynoldo Ramon

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Dedrone announces new CEO, Aaditya Devarakonda

Late last week Dedrone announced its new CEO, Aaditya Devarakonda (AD) after the company’s co-founder switched roles in becoming the executive chairman. AD hopes to further the company’s reach in airspace security with a focus on drone technology.

Aaditya Devarakonda isn’t new to the company having joined the advisory team back in 2019 before becoming the president and CBO (chief business officer) at the beginning of 2020. Now he is taking over for co-founder Joerg Lamprecht in the CEO role.
Reflecting on his appointment, AD said:

“I am proud to lead this accomplished team. On behalf of myself and Dedrone, we wish to express our appreciation and gratitude to Mr. Lamprecht, for his support and leadership. Joerg established and built our remarkable company with his co-founders, Rene Seeber and Ingo Seebach, and I am excited to continue their vision of airspace security. Dedrone’s future is bright and we are thankful Joerg will remain close at hand to support this next chapter in our company’s success.” 

Dedrone executive chairman and co-founder Joerg Lamprecht followed up with:

“AD is the ideal leader for Dedrone as the company looks to scale and remain the top global provider of airspace security technology. I am especially proud of how well AD has led Dedrone during his first few months at the company, through an unprecedented global crisis. AD’s focus, energy and exceptional business acumen will serve our company and customers. I am proud of what our team has built since Dedrone’s establishment in 2014 and look forward to the future of Dedrone.” 

What does Dedrone do?
Dedrone is an airspace security company producing counter-drone systems for use by critical infrastructure, government operations, military assets, prisons, and enterprises. Dedrone’s solution allows users to host the system in the cloud and uses machine learning to provide accurate alerts that are always improving.
Photo: Dedrone

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Drone footage captures horror of major oil spill in Mauritius

Aerial footage has emerged of the oil spill in Mauritius. Already, it appears to have caused extensive damage. The country has declared an environmental emergency as a result of the spill – and it’s easy to see why.

The new footage was taken by drone. And it’s heartbreaking. The water and sand along once-pristine beaches is now an oily black slick. Video showing those trying to clean the beaches prove how difficult this effort is. Scraping the beach sand with a shovel barely makes a dent. And some of the spill, from the ship MV Wakashio, is threatening environmentally sensitive wetlands. The ship ran aground on a reef on July 25. It was carrying nearly 4,000 tonnes of fuel. Now, much of that fuel is either floating on the water or on the beaches and shorelines of Mauritius.

Frame grab from done video shows contaminated beach
France offers help
Mauritius is about 1,200 miles (19,200 km) off the southeast tip of the African continent. It spans about 790 square miles (2040 square kilometres). Its known for its rich biodiversity, and is the only known home of the Dodo bird, which went extinct after humans started living on the island. Not too far away is the French island of Réunion – and the French government has now announced it will help the island with its cleanup efforts. Mauritius has also appealed to the United Nations for assistance.

Oil from the Japanese-owned ship is overwhelming Mauritius
Delay?
It’s been suggested that Mauritius could have done more, earlier, once the ship became stranded on the reef. But the island nation has never had an oil spill before – and doesn’t have the resources to tackle this kind of disaster. Plus, things apparently appeared somewhat stable initially. It was only after the ship had been battered by waves that part of its hull cracked and the oil began to ooze out.
Volunteers worked to relocate turtles and some other sensitive wildlife out of harm’s way. But many birds have nonetheless been coated in the oil. People on Mauritius are trying to clean and save these birds.
And the spill? Well, drone footage in both of these stories makes it clear that Mauritius will need help.
[embedded content]
Drone footage provides a more comprehensive picture
[embedded content]
Oil is threatening the beaches of Mauritius
1,000 tonnes and counting
Already, it’s been estimated that one-quarter of the fuel, or some 1,000 tonnes, has been spilled. Even with assistance from France and Japan – and, hopefully elsewhere – Mauritius is up against a formidable foe.

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Drones keep huge rig safe during ocean journey

Ever wonder how you safely transport a huge rig over a long distance on water? The team transporting the drilling rig used a drone to ensure everything went well.

While watching a documentary on the Free Documentary YouTube channel that looked interesting, a drone appeared out of nowhere and I thought it would make for a cool article exploring the use of drones for these unique transportations.
A new drilling rig worth $500 million was built in South Korea in the world’s largest shipyard. The rig now needs to be moved halfway around the globe to Europe, and it must be done within 90 days. The way this is done is by using an open sea tugboat, a 2,000-meter towline, and a drone.
How the drone is used
When hooking up the rig to the tugboat, there are two sets of lines connected, the main ones and backup if anything goes wrong. During the journey, large waves can tangle the backup lines with various points on the frame of the rig. Instead of the team going close to the rig with a boat that can be dangerous in rough water, the captain checks the lines with his DJI Phantom 4 drone.
If the drone is flown the two-kilometer towline distance to reach the rig, the captain then flies near the rig to look for an issue with the lines and the connections. This is a critical step in case anything gets tangled or a line looks to be damaged or even about to come loose. After the flight, the data is downloaded and inspected further to see if a response is required.
You can watch the full documentary below to watch the full transport happen. The video starts where the drone first appears, so you will have to start the video from the beginning again to watch the full footage.
[embedded content]
Have you recently watched anything that has shown an interesting use for a drone? Do you use a drone in an interesting way? We’d love to know what or how in the comments below.
Photo: Free Documentary

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CASA needs help to find a rogue drone near Sydney Airport

CASA has put out a message looking to the community for help to find a drone that was spotted by pilots coming in to land at Sydney airport. The drone appeared to be blue in color and one meter by one meter in size.

CASA posted to social media asking for the public’s help to find a drone that was flying near to an airplane.
According to the report by CASA, pilots spotted the drone as they were on approach to Sydney airport. The drone appeared to be flying in the Granville/North Parramatta at around 4000 feet on Monday, July 20 between two and three o’clock in the afternoon. That suggested the drone was flying in a commercial operation of some sort.
The drone is believed to be blue in color and one meter squared, suggesting its a quadcopter-style drone but larger than a consumer Phantom-like drone.
CASA has shared the message with the public as it is concerned that the drone will fly in the area again putting planes and people in danger of an accident occurring. It is unknown if the drone was being flown recreationally or commercially but it appears the drone was flying in a caution zone that requires you to land if a plane flies nearby.
If you have any information on the incident send over an email to CASA at investigations@casa.gov.au.

Safety reminder
CASA wants drone pilots to remember to test your knowledge on the Know Your Drone website to ensure you know the rules and are flying within them. They have also shared information on the drone safety apps you can download which include pre-flight checklists and interactive live maps to know if you can fly in a specific area, including Wing Aviation’s OpenSky app.
Photo: Troy Mortier

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DJI Fly update improves battery display and gimbal controls

Last week, the DJI Fly app received an update that gives an improved battery display and more control over the DJI Mavic Air 2‘s gimbal, allowing cinematic footage to be captured. This new update truly allows you to take control over your Mavic Air 2 and adjust it to suit your needs.

New gimbal settings
Pitch control
Clicking on the new advanced gimbal settings menu option opens another page with various settings to adjust your gimbal. The first setting that you can adjust is the pitch speed, which will change the speed of the gimbal when moving up and down. The next setting is pitch smoothness, which will adjust the rate at which the gimbal begins moving up or down.
Yaw control
Yaw rotation speed will allow you to adjust the speed at which the drone will rotate left and right while pushing on the stick. The second is yaw smoothness, which adjusts the rate the drone begins to start moving and stop moving, removing jolty footage.
Both the yaw and pitch control can be adjusted in normal, sport, and tripod mode, essentially allowing you to create custom modes for different shooting scenarios. It’s a great feature if you fly commercially for different operations.

The new gimbal settings
Take a look at the video below from 51 Drones explaining the new settings and how they affect the Mavic Air 2 in flight. The maximum and minimum values are different for each of the modes, but you should be able to customize it to suit your needs within the values.
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Battery icon
The new battery icon takes on the shape of a ring around the battery percentage instead of the length of your phone’s display. The new icon still shows you the low battery state and return to home state. Clicking on the icon will show you three things: time left before return to home is activated, time until a force landing is activated, and the time until the battery is fully depleted. You are still able to access battery cell voltages in the battery info settings.

The new battery indicator
The new update is available right now to download via the App Store and the Play Store.
Photo: DJI & Josh Spires

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DJI Mavic Air 2 update improves safety and camera settings

Along with a DJI Fly update, the DJI Mavic Air 2 has seen its own update improving the Advanced Pilot Assistance System (APAS) safety settings and the camera settings. The new update allows for easier control over safety settings and introduces new zoom modes.

The new version for the Mavic Air 2 firmware is 01.00.0340 and requires the DJI Fly app to be updated to version 1.1.6 to access all the new settings. The update is available right now in the DJI Fly app. You can learn more about the DJI Fly update here.
APAS safety settings
Obstacle avoidance
Under the safety tab on the settings page of the DJI Fly app, DJI has added a new section called Flight Assistance. The new section allows you to control the way the drone acts when flying toward an object. You can choose bypass which allows the drone to fly around the obstacle, brake where the drone stops in front of it, or off which means the drone will fly right into the obstacle.
Disable sideways flight
This option allows you to disable the Mavic Air 2 from flying left or right if it detects an object with the front or rear obstacle avoidance cameras. A nice option if you are flying in a tight space.

The new safety settings
Camera settings
Along with the improved safety controls you are now able to digitally zoom while shooting in 4K NARROW, 2.7K, and 1080p. Shooting in 4K NARROW will allow you to zoom in digitally 1x and 2x at 30 fps. Shooting in 2.7K will also allow you to zoom in up to 2x at 60 fps. If you are shooting in 1080p you can zoom in up to 4x at 60 fps.

The new zoom control next to the record button

The new zoom options in the video settings
It’s great to see DJI’s continued efforts to update the DJI Fly app and Mavic Air 2 to bring new and more advanced features. Are you flying with the new update? What else should DJI add to the DJI Fly app? We’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below.
Photo: Digital Camera World

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Parrot Anafi Drone bundle drops to $535 (Refurb, Orig. $900), more from $64

Today only, Woot is discounting a selection of Parrot Drones with prices starting at $64 Prime shipped. Delivery will run you an extra $6 otherwise. One standout is on the Parrot Anafi Drone Extended Bundle at $534.99 in certified refurbished condition. Down from its origional $900 going rate, and still typically fetching that much in new condition, today’s offer is $65 under our previous mention and a new all-time low. Complete with 2-hours of flight time per charge, Parrot Anafi has a 4-kilometer range for getting those scenic aerial shots. And to really help with its photography and videography capabilities, there’s a 4K HDR camera that’s supplemented with a 180° vertical swivel gondola. There’s also two extra batteries, a carrying case included, and extra accessories. Includes a 90-day warranty. Rated 4.2/5 stars from over 145 customers and you can learn more over at DroneDJ.

Woot also has several other discounted drones today from Parrot to consider if the lead bundle isn’t quite what you’re looking for. Alternatives start at $64, providing some more entry-level ways to earn your wings. There’s also additional bundles included in the sale, among everything else which you can find right here.
Parrot Anafi Drone features:

Take in the scenery with this Parrot ANAFI drone. The robust, compact design lets you carry it wherever the trail takes you, and the drone unfolds easily when it’s time for flight. The camera captures beautiful 4K images and video, and this Parrot ANAFI drone keeps your footage smooth with its three-axis image stabilization.

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Drone footage from Beirut shows scale of explosion devastation

Some drone footage has emerged from Beirut. It provides a glimpse of the pervasive devastation caused by the explosion earlier this week.

It’s difficult to imagine the damage that this week’s explosion has wrought on Beirut. A massive shock and explosion decimated the Lebanese capital. It killed more than 150 people and injured more than 4,000. Many other people are still missing, and presumed dead. And the city itself? Pummeled. The shock wave did far more than take out windows — it caused extensive structural damage. It tore off roofs, destroyed balconies, and forced an estimated 300,000 people from their homes.
Ammonium nitrate – 2,750 tons of it – caused the devastating explosion. And, if you haven’t seen the moment it all happened, this is what it looked like:
Shockwave
The shockwave is what caused most of the damage.

Everything changed in an instant
Assessing the damage
That blast caused a nearly inconceivable amount of damage — all in an instant. People who saw the blast coming had barely a second to react (even less, for those closest to ground zero).
Now, drone video posted by ABC News gives us an even more intimate look at the damage. And, as expected, it’s extensive. Some 300,000 people cannot return to their homes at the moment. Here’s why:

An apocalyptic scene, captured by drone
Long rebuilding process
The headlines are already starting to fade. And in the days and weeks to come, the world’s news media will move on from this disaster. But this tragedy will continue for many people.

The scene, as captured by drone
Lucky
It’s kind of hard to imagine saying anyone is “lucky” when this has just happened. But video continues to emerge from cellphones and security cameras showing incredible moments immediately before, after and during the blast. This one shows people scrambling to get back inside a store. Thankfully, none of these people were injured, though they were all undoubtedly traumatized:

That was a very close call
The ammonium nitrate had been stored at the dock for years. Information is now surfacing that fireworks were stored in the very same building, which truly was a recipe for disaster. Lebanese authorities have pledged to punish those responsible, and several people have already been questioned or taken into custody.
Many charitable organizations are raising funds for the recovery and rebuilding effort. We encourage you to consider donating to a trusted charity.

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Leaked photo: Is this a new DJI FPV racing drone?

A leaked picture emerged August 7 that has the internet abuzz. It’s a heavily pixelated image of a DJI-branded drone that appears to be a marked departure. But that is it?

The picture surfaced on the Twitter account of @OsitaLV — who has previously been a solid source with DJI leaks. This post shows what’s clearly a quad-style drone, but features have been electronically obscured and there’s not a whole lot left to look at. What is visible, however, is pretty intriguing. It has features that are already leading to speculation online that this could be an FPV-style racing drone. Let’s examine what we can see, starting with a nice big image:

Is this a DJI FPV Racing Drone?
Let’s break it down. First, this thing is dirty.
Mud
Ha! It’s not what we’d usually point to in a leaked photograph, but we think it’s a first. It really does appear that there is mud or dirt on this drone. Why? Well, it was either picked up during a crash or put there deliberately. The latter seems unlikely, especially when you examine the black feature on top of the drone. It looks very much like rubber, which would be a handy thing to put on a drone that you expect might be crashing a lot. Score one for a ruggedized machine.

This is one dirty drone. Note the DJI logo…
Camera
That’s clearly not a standard gimbal setup — which, of course, would be way too fragile for an FPV setup. Instead, this looks more along the lines of a protected action camera. The Osmo would be a good fit here, we think. Have a look for yourself — this doeshave a slightly FPV feel.

We suspect there’s an action cam tucked in there…
Vroom, vroom
And then there’s just that tiny, tantalizing glimpse of a motor. We can see that it’s inverted — mounted upside-down compared with the Mavic line. It’s also beefier — you can tell from the diameter. It would make sense that a manufacturer might invert the motor for added protection during a crash.

Show us more!
Logo
And then, of course, there’s the DJI logo underneath some of that dirt.

It appears to be DJI…
Our $0.02
We’ve previously written that it didn’t make a whole lot of sense for DJI to manufacture an FPV-style racing drone. Crashing and constant upgrading is part of the game, and it’s difficult to imagine that DJI would want to pursue a style of drone where warranty claims could potentially be a nightmare.
On the other hand, if it’s a specific type of FPV racer — intended more as an introduction to the sport — that would seem more likely. DJI has the engineering chops to make something fairly bulletproof, and there’s clearly a lucrative FPV drone market out there that DJI likely wouldn’t mind tapping into. There’s likely a substantial customer base that just wants a Ready-to-Fly racer. Those people are unlikely to want to dissemble and tweak every component in their drone and would be quite happy to simply don goggles and race.
And of course, DJI’s amazing FPV goggles are the bomb. Selling a drone like this would lead to more goggle sales, assuming the systems are compatible. (And cmon — would DJI make it non-compatible? Unlikely.)
We contacted one of our friends who’s an authority on the racing scene. His take?
“Looks like a racer.”
Timing
The leaked photo comes at an interesting time. DJI was in the news this week because there was an allegation of problems with the Android version of its Pilot software. We covered that and DJI’s fairly thorough refutation. But undoubtedly a leak that takes attention away from that issue would not be unwelcome.
In fact, the same thing happened fairly recently when there were allegations against the Android version of the DJI GO 4 app. What happened? Well, a Mavic 3 image leaked.
Lucky timing, I guess.
Would you buy a racing drone from DJI? Even if you couldn’t modify it? Let us know in the comments below.

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Robot sensor market estimated to surpass $4 billion by 2026

A recent study performed by market research firm Global Market Insights found that the robotic sensor market is expected to be worth over $4 billion by 2026. This is in part thanks to the cost reductions we have seen over the recent years of components and products.

AI and IoT has taken off like never before in recent years, forcing more of these sensors to be manufactured to support the ever-growing demand. The current sensor market is split into force/torque, tactile, ultrasonic, laser range, vision, and proximity sensors.
In the future
Over the next few years, it is estimated that ultrasonic sensors will grow at 11% compound annual growth (CAGR). This will lower the cost of the sensors compared to other and will see wider adoption in smart factories for sensing and pre-sensing purposes.
While AI and IoT have added to the market share of these sensors, the big users are expected to be factories that are converting into smart factories. These smart factories are using sensors on robotics to replace humans and do repetitive jobs more efficiently than their human counterparts. The highest user of these sensors will likely continue to be the manufacturing sector that currently makes up around 35% of it.

Key players
The study has also outlined the key players who build and offer the sensors. This includes Keyence, Rockwell Automation, FANUC, Honeywell International Inc., EPSON, ifm electronic GmbH, OptoForce, FUTEK Advanced Sensor Technology, OMRON, and Infineon Technologies.
These companies all have a focus on developing new products within the sensor world. An example of this is ATI Industrial Automation. In September 2019, they announced the development for force/torque sensing systems for robots, allowing them to know the amount of force applied at a high accuracy and resolution so the computers know more about the surroundings.
You can read the full report via this link, which takes a deeper look at the sensor market and what the main drivers of growth are and will be in the coming years.
Photo: Global Market Insights

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How drones speed up surveys for engineering firm Cardno

Amy Steiger is a drone operator for mining company Cardno who has been using drones to improve the efficiency and safety of their surveys over the last five or so years. Steiger spoke to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s (CASA) Flight Safety magazine.

Back in time
The company first began using drones around five years ago when surveyors she worked with bought a SenseFly eBee fixed-wing mapping drone. From this purchase, Steiger was able to get funding from Cardno to put towards professional training which she eventually spent on getting her Remote Pilots’ License (RePL).
Amy Steiger is one of nine pilots who work for Cardno with over 100 flight hours and vast experience in flight planning, risk analysis, and reading aviation maps and charts.
The original eBee was an impressive drone for mapping and surveying with autonomous flight range of 4.6 square miles and was able to take photos with a ground sampling distance of down to 0.6 inches per pixel.
After Steiger started out with the SenseFly eBee she moved on to the DJI Matrice and Inspire lines which she still uses to this day. She shared that she also owns one of the drones in the famous Mavic line but doesn’t find time to fly it anymore, keeping busy with work and mothering her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter.
A normal workday
On a normal workday, Steiger heads out with geotechnical engineers, surveyors, or environmental scientists to complete site assessments, mapping tasks or building and utility inspections using the Matrice or Inspire equipped with a thermal camera.

“The beauty of using drones in my line of work is that it cuts down the time onsite. We completed a project for the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning in Victoria, surveying 15 beaches in Port Phillip Bay and by using a drone we knocked the job over in under two weeks. Surveyors on the ground would take months to do that, whereas we can do it with the drone in less time and we get the data and results back to them straight away.”

A safety reminder
While out flying on a job along a coastal cliff line and bridge trying to identify any geotechnical hazards, Steiger looked up from her controller and saw two Inspires flying, one of them was hers and one was not. This is a great reminder to always look up while flying as well as at your controller to ensure you don’t fly into other drones that could be nearby.
Photo: CASA

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Western Australia police to purchase more than 40 drones

The Western Australia (WA) police force have shared its plans to train 60 drone pilots and purchase more than 40 drones over the next 12 months. The police drones will be used to patrol metropolitan and regional areas in emergencies such as land or marine searches.

The Western Australia police ministry announced that that the more than 40 drones will be used to patrol the state from above. The state government had previously shared that it had purchased 35 drones in November of last year.
Assistant Commissioner for Specialist and Support Services Paul Zanetti said in a statement that the drones will be used to assist frontline police officers and improve the overall efficiency of many tasks undertaken by the police force.
Paul Wimsett, chief remote pilot for the WA police, shared that the first phase of the drones will be deployed to the major crash unit. The drones first to be deployed will be the DJI Phantom 4 RTK and the Matrice 210 RTK. They will assist the unit to get a better understanding of the crash scene and map it out for further examination.
The police posted a statement to Facebook earlier this week:

Over the next 12 months 60 drone pilots will be trained and 40 DJI Australia and New Zealand drones deployed across metropolitan and regional areas. These drones will be used for emergencies such as land or marine searches — but also to help with complex investigations into serious incidents, including serious and fatal crashes.

The police deployed drones during the coronavirus pandemic to blast messages out using a loudspeaker to ensure people are social distancing in public areas.
COVID and drones in Australia
Many states in Australia have used drones to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, with Western Australia police using drones to ensure the public are following social distancing laws. Drones were also considered as a possible method to disinfect streets and Australian malls. Australian company Swoop Aero have come up with a plan to use its medical drones to deliver COVID tests around the country.
Photo: Western Australia Police Force

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FlytBase, Firnas Aero to provide aerial security in Saudi Arabia

FlytBase has announced that it will partner with Firnas Aero to provide aerial security services to commercial clients in Saudi Arabia. The two will provide 24/7 autonomous aerial security to protect assets and large facilities.

FlytBase has shared that many companies are currently seeing the benefits of using drones firsthand and even more so during the coronavirus pandemic. For this reason, assets and facilities don’t have as many people staffing them anymore, creating the perfect use case for drones that are able to lower costs and improve efficiency, only needing to come down when a new battery is required.
The news comes a few days after the company announced its partnership with RAWview to provide aerial security services to customers in the UK.
The aerial solutions provided by both companies will allow for drone operators to access real-time data and video feeds. The FlytNow software will allow for drone fleets to be used in the surveillance and security operations via an easy-to-use dashboard that allows operators to plan flights, access data, and ensure everything is running smoothly.
As Tariq Nasraldeen, Founder CEO of Firnas Aero said:

“We remain focused on utilizing the power of aviation technology, especially Unmanned Aviation Vehicles (UAVs), to solve pressing business challenges. Connecting people to each other is the idea at the heart of all aviation, and this partnership with FlytBase empowers our users to access real-time video feeds over the cloud, and even control their drones remotely – with the intent of 24×7 security.”

Nitin Gupta, FlytBase CEO followed up with:

“This partnership with Firnas Aero leverages our expertise in drone automation software with their world-class services to support security enterprises in the Middle East. Given the recent events, and the urgent need to minimize human exposure to unfriendly environments, we are witnessing a rapid adoption of drone solutions for aerial security and surveillance. We expect this partnership to help customers automate and scale their operations, save time and costs, improve safety, and ensure security.”

Photo: FlytBase

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Police drone catches suspect on the run

Police in the UK really love to use their drones. And when those drones happen to help them in dramatic fashion, they love to post videos. We’re happy they do, because this drone video of a hapless suspect trying to evade capture is priceless.

It begins with a large number of police officers converging on a home. That home belongs to Thomas Stones, and the Derbyshire Constabulary wanted a word with him. But it seems Mr. Stones wasn’t exactly eager to comply with that warrant and thought instead he’d make a run for it. And so he tried to jump from the second-story window of his flat. Actually, he did more than try: He jumped straight out and then began what looks like a not very fun run. I mean, we’ll give him an E for Effort…but when a drone is locked onto your whereabouts, and the operator is radioing your every move to other officers, it’s not likely to end well.
Let’s break it down. But remember, this is a police chase – nor parkour. First, there’s the window jump:

There goes Mr. Stone
Then came the fence, which collapsed as he tried to scale it:

Ouch as he falls through the fence
With a valiant effort, he crosses the street and into someone’s backyard. There he jumps a smaller fence, knocking over some bicycles. All the while, the police are moving in – including an officer with a dog (not seen in this image):

Run, run, run, Mr. Stones…
It was inevitable
When you’re running from police who have a drone locked on you, just stop. They will catch you. And, if you’re like Mr. Stones, you’ll just fall down a bunch of times and wear yourself out before they put the handcuffs on. Not only will they catch you, they’ll Tweet about it, which will add insult to injury.

You can try to run, and you can try to hide, but not from our #EyeInTheSky.
Our drones were used to capture the moment Thomas Stones jumped from the upstairs window and ran away from officers executing a warrant.
He managed to evade officers, a police dog but not our drone. pic.twitter.com/IANSy5KNZt
— Derbyshire Constabulary Drone Unit (@DerPolDroneUnit) August 5, 2020

The whole chase, as captured by drone
Good day/bad day
For the Derbyshire Constabulary’s Drone Unit, this was a very good day.
For Thomas Stones it was a decidedly bad day. Though, for the record, he did get some exercise.

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Debunked: This chimp is not flying a drone

I’ve seen this video pop up multiple times, most recently in my Twitter feed. And every time I see it, I think: There’s no way that chimpanzee is flying that drone. And so I started to drill down to the source to see what I could learn.

I can’t remember if I first saw this via Instagram or Twitter. But there was no forgetting it: A chimpanzee, appearing to operate a remote control. An Autel drone was hovering nearby. The drone began the video with its front-facing camera recording the scene. And then slowly, expertly, it rotated until it was facing the chimpanzee. A brief cutaway showed the chimpanzee holding the controller, with a thumb on each joystick. The impression overall was that this chimp was flying a drone — and it didn’t take the internet long to embrace the story. In fact, we even covered it here at DroneDJ — along with everybody else. (And hey, you can’t blame us. We’re always looking for drone news, and this definitely seemed like news.)
But was it? Was this chimp really flying a drone? I don’t think so. And, until it’s proven otherwise, I’m going to state that it’s a flat-out, “No.”
Monkey business
First of all, it’s worth looking at the source. Back in October of 2019, the video was posted to the Instagram account of @kodyantle. Kody is an integral part of Myrtle Beach Safari and a bit of a rock star on Instagram. In fact, he’s got 2.1 million followers and counting.

This guy is very popular on Instagram
You might know his dad
Kody’s father is Doc Antle, who owns Myrtle Beach Safari in South Carolina. When his picture popped up, we realized we’d seen him make an appearance during the Netflix series Tiger King. Bhagavan (Doc) Antle also runs The Institute for Greatly Endangered and Rare Species (T.I.G.E.R.S.), a 50-acre wildlife preserve. The Safari runs tours through that preserve. (We seem to recall that Doc Antle was perhaps the most normal, rational person on that series.)

Perhaps because Tiger King portrayed aspects of these safari-like experiences in the southern US in a negative light, Myrtle Beach Safari has made efforts to distance itself.

The staff at @SafariMyrtleWe,are very disappointed that our facility was mentioned in the new Netflix series. We can only assume it is because Doc Antle has been such a high profile wildlife personality for so many… https://t.co/gQkaqaVkSP
— Doc Antle (@DocAntle) March 25, 2020

Back to the post…
So, Kody Antle makes the post to Instagram, and it takes off. But let’s look at the wording of that post. Does it say that the chimps are flying the drones? Have a close look:

Vali and Sugriva the chimp brothers checking out new drones that will soon be on their way to Africa on our annual safari trip for wildlife conservation. The Rare Species Fund has provided the first anti-poaching drones for use in the national parks by the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). These drones are used in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest which is home to the largest population of the world’s 900 remaining mountain gorillas. The Impenetrable Forest was aptly named because the steep, mountainous terrain and the dense equatorial foliage make the park tricky to access. While this provides a modicum of safety for animals living within the park, it also makes it difficult for rangers to monitor illegal activities within the park.
@kodyantle Instagram post

Note the language there. Specifically, “checking out new drones…” Does it say flying the drones? No. Now, assuming you fly, think back to the first time you were in control of a drone. Sure, the flight controller made things stable, but you likely found out that harsh stick inputs lead to rapid movements. It requires concentration and thought.

It might look like this chimp is a pilot – it is not
The cutaways, however, clearly show some fairly dramatic stick inputs. The fact there’s no phone attached isn’t a big deal, as the Autel controller does have a built-in LCD screen. However, we really doubt that a chimpanzee would be able to understand anything displayed on that screen.
Plus…
Even a human being takes time to learn the basics of flying a drone. A chimpanzee, regardless of how smart, is unlikely to be able to do this (and the kinds of stick movement seen in the cutaway would send that drone on a very uncontrolled flight). Beyond that, how likely is it that someone in charge of an exotic and valuable animal is going to leave it in control of a drone — especially when one slip-up could cause injury to that animal? Highly unlikely. And how would the FAA react if a drone flown by a chimp flew into controlled airspace and caused an issue? Really… does any of it make sense? No.
With all this in mind, have a skeptical look at the video. In fact, we just noted that someone else shares our concerns about its veracity:

Someone else out there shares our viewThe Myrtle Beach Safari position…
We contacted the Myrtle Beach Safari one day ago and asked for an interview. We explained we simply wanted to confirm or deny whether the chimpanzee had flown the drone. PR person Susan took the question to Doc Antle, but we didn’t hear an answer. We asked again shortly before publication. This was the response:

Scott, it’s our busy season of the year and it’s often difficult to get a response this quickly.
Susan: Myrtle Beach Safari PR

We pointed out that we weren’t really asking for much: a simple “Yes” or “No.”
Embed disabled
We wanted to embed the original post that started this all, but it’s been disabled. But here is a link so you can have a look for yourself. The quality is better than the Twitter version.
Thanks to DroneDJ writer @joshspires, however, we learned a little more backstory. A company called Influential Drones contacted Autel and was able to obtain three Autel Robotics EVO drones on a charitable basis. It then donated those to the Rare Species Fund, an organization flagged in the original Instagram post. The drones were handed to Dr. Robert Johnson, the Fund’s COO.

Drones are an invaluable resource for spotting illegal activity taking place within national parks. In mountainous areas, the EVO will allow rangers to take a preliminary glance of an area and will allow rangers to determine where best to focus their attention. Climbing to the top of a mountain may take rangers hours, where the EVO can accomplish the same task in just minutes. Having a photographic or video record of illegal activities allows authorities to successfully prosecute wildlife poachers
Dr. Robert Johnson, Rare Species Fund

Influential Drones also has the full version of the video up here:
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Influential Drones
We contacted Dave Kraus, the co-founder of Influential Drones. Kraus is a conservationist himself and says he’s visited the Myrtle Beach Safari about eight times during the past decade.

They’re a fantastic group that really is trying to conserve wildiles. That’s something I believe in and that’s why I support them. Their non-profit gives close to a million dollars a year away.
Dave Kraus, Influential Drones

Kraus is very familiar with the video. And while he’s pleased that it has been so popular, he worries that many who view it miss the message about the Rare Species Fund and the role drones can play in conservation. The whole point of the video was to raise awareness.
Safety First, chimps second
Dave is also a member of the FAA Safety Team — also known as the FAASTeam. He’s involved in spreading the gospel of safety. And safe drone flying means humans flying the drones. He confirms that the chimps were not flying drones in the video.

The chimpanzees are sitting on two empty boxes and they’re holding the controllers – neither one of them for the drone that’s in the air. It’s being flown off-site by a professional. For the matters of safety, everything was done properly.
Dave Kraus, Influential Drones

And does it surprise Kraus that people have gone, well, bananas over that video?

No. We’re living in a world right now where people are looking for something different, something exciting, something that makes them smile. That’s what this video does.
Dave Kraus, Influential Drones

So there you have it. Chimps did not fly the Autel
It’s good marketing
For Myrtle Beach Safari, Instagram is another marketing tool. And the hallmark of good marketing is getting engagement from people. With more than a million views of that video on Instagram alone, that’s solid marketing. The impression may be left that a chimp is piloting the drone, but nowhere does the Kody Antle post state that’s what’s happening.
The moral of the story? If you see something you can scarcely believe, maybe it’s worth a second look.
What do you think? Do you still believe a chimp is flying this drone? Did you ever believe it? Let us know in the comments below.

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Parrot and Dronisos join forces to explore drone automation

Over the years, Parrot and Dronisos have worked on various projects together, and today they announced they will be exploring drone automation with Parrot’s ANAFI drone platform. The two have previously created record-breaking light shows and drone dances.

The announcement focuses on Parrot’s ANAFI drones, including the newly released ANAFI USA. The focus is on flight automation, suggesting parrot drones will soon feature a higher level of automation for uses in agriculture and surveying, and on the battlefield in the case of the ANAFI USA.
Dronisos is known for its drone swarms that use sophisticated technology combined with artistic expression to provide audiences with the unique experience of dancing drones and light shows. The company’s drones have flown for Peugeot, FIFA, and Oreo, to name a few.
Jean-Dominique Lauwereins, CTO and cofounder of Dronisos, said:

Parrot is a dream partner to help us bring to life spectacular displays of imagination through both their technology and appreciation for artistry. Now, Parrot’s ANAFI drone platform has both inspired and equipped our team to push the boundaries and take our drone swarm capabilities to new heights and new industries. In particular, the small size of the ANAFI prevents any physical harm, and the highly secure connection ensures the safety and integrity of autonomous flights from potential hackers.

In the past, Parrot and Dronisos worked together to bring the dancing drone show during CES 2016 in its booth. This new way of controlling multiple drones showed the world a new level of automation and fine control over many drones at once. You can watch that here.
Jerome Bouvard, director of strategic partnerships at Parrot, said:

Dronisos has broken barriers and world records with their vision and engineering and our drone technology. We see the ways in which our professional and enterprise customers are using our drones and believe that through this next phase of our partnership, we can showcase what else can be achieved to solve new challenges for inspections, surveying and mapping, security, and defense industries.

Below is a video of the two companies working together to send up 200 Parrot Bebop 2 drones into the night sky equipped with LED bulbs to create a drone light show during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Photo: Parrot

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Why the Mavic 3 will use the DJI Fly app and not DJI GO 4

The DJI Mavic 3 is the next drone for DJI to release, but which companion app will it use? The new DJI Fly app, or last generation’s DJI GO 4 app? I’m leaning toward the newer DJI Fly app for a few reasons mentioned below.

Two of DJI’s largest apps would have to be the heavily used DJI GO 4 app and the newer DJI Fly app made for the Mavic Mini and the Mavic Air 2. Both apps have slowly improved and added features over various releases. The GO 4 app has been able to do this more so far.
DJI is set to release the DJI Mavic 3 next. Given what appears to be waning interest in the DJI GO 4 app, it seems likely the Mavic 3 will use the DJI Fly app.
Slow and steady improvements
Over the last few months DJI has improved the Fly app with various updates by adding new features, getting the app closer to the GO 4 app. To me, this suggests that DJI could do the same with the Mavic 3 once it’s released. DJI will likely update the app to bring in the features you can find in the DJI GO 4 app and those specifically created for the Mavic 3.
Under the hood
Looking at DJI Fly under the hood uncovers that the app file is titled dji.go.v5, suggesting that the Fly app is in fact DJI GO 5 with a shorter and logical name for those just getting into the hobby with the Mavic line of drones. Looking at the images below, you can see the main file is dji.go.v5, and within the folder the DJI FLY folder can be found.

DJI GO 5 file

DJI Fly file found within the DJI GO 5 file
DJI GO 6
It’s unlikely that DJI would release a DJI GO 6 app for the Mavic 3 for a few reasons. Firstly, I don’t see DJI releasing another new app after they have just built one that is meant to simplify the interface and make it easier to use. Secondly, it looks like DJI is working on separating apps, possibly to focus on improving the product experience. When you look at the overall DJI product lineup, a lot of apps are involved:
Mavic line – DJI Fly app
Matrice line – DJI Pilot app
Osmo line – DJI Mimo app
Ronin line – DJI Ronin app
RoboMaster line – RoboMaster app
Tello line — Tello app
The Phantom and Inspire both use DJI’s GO 4 app.
Last-generation app?
Would DJI go back to using a last-generation app? DJI recently launched the Matrice 300 RTK drone that is not featured in the GO 4 app, unlike the Matrice 200 series. DJI also states on its website that the Smart Controller that launched with the Matrice 300 RTK supports the DJI Pilot app and third-party apps. No mention of DJI GO 4.

Take Our Poll

Take a look at the rest of our Mavic 3 coverage:
Which app do you think the DJI Mavic 3 will use? Do you think DJI will stick with its GO 4 app or make the switch to the new DJI Fly app? We’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below.
Photo: DJI (edited)

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Drone wireless/autonomous charging coming to US via WiBotic

WiBotic has just announced that it has received FCC approval for its drone wireless charging tech providing up to 300 watts of power to equipped devices. The approval is the first of its kind, allowing mobile robots and drones to be charged wirelessly.

WiBotic has announced it received FCC approval for its wireless charging tech that enables drones and other robots to charge from several centimeters away from the transmitter. The system also monitors battery levels to ensure they are charged without causing damage, keeping the drones in the sky for longer and reducing maintenance times.
Last month, WiBotic was able to secure $5.7 million in Series A funding which it is using it to expand its wireless charging technology. The funding round included investors Junson Capital, SV Tech Ventures, Rolling Bay Ventures, Aves Capital, The W Fund, and WRF Capital.
Ben Waters, WiBotic CEO had the following to share:

“FCC approval is not only an accomplishment for our team but also for our customers and the industry. Previously only low power cell phone and small electronics chargers or very high power electric vehicle chargers were approved for widespread use. WiBotic is now providing a solution that lets the entire automation industry take advantage of the wireless power revolution. As the industry continues to grow, robots and automation in general are facing more regulation and stricter safety and emissions requirements. We’re excited to help businesses solve some of these problems as they rapidly deploy larger autonomous fleets.”

WiBotic’s wireless solution entails a fleet of drones being equipped with wireless charging coils that receive power when landed on a base station. It removes the need for the drone to be equipped with charging contacts or a person to replace the batteries. As the drone lands, it also shares battery information and allows for a slow or fast charge to begin.

WiBotic wireless charging system in action with a ground-based robot
WiBotic is targeting the construction, inspection, agriculture, security, delivery, and mining industries to use its technology to enable drones to be in the air for longer, and allowing them to be charged in any conditions the drones can fly in.
Waters followed, saying this:

“FCC approval is a major achievement, representing thousands of hours of product development and testing. The engineering of WiBotic designs to comply with FCC requirements was a non-trivial task. I am extremely proud of our team and grateful to have achieved this milestone alongside everyone at WiBotic.”

Photo: WiBotic

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DJI updates Fly app: Advanced gimbal settings, improved stability

Today we received a new update to the DJI Fly app, used to manage and control the DJI Mavic Mini and the DJI Mavic Air 2. The update is on the smaller side but still fixes crashing issues, adds advanced gimbal controls for the Mavic Air 2, and improves the in-app battery indicator and flight time alerts.

What’s new
The first improvement made is the updated display logic for the battery status in the top left along with updated flight time alerts. The update has also added bug fixes for crashing issues faced with previous versions and improves the overall stability of the app for a better user experience.
The last and more major update is the inclusion of more advanced gimbal settings for the Mavic Air 2. Once we play around in the updated app we will share what the new gimbal settings are.
The new update is available right now to download via the App Store, it doesn’t look like DJI has pushed it out to the Play Store just yet. We will update this post accordingly.
DJI Mavic Air 2
The DJI Mavic Air 2 is the latest drone to be released by DJI, with features that include 4k 60fps video, 48MP photos, ActiveTrack 3.0, and HDR photos and video. The DJI Mavic Air 2 has a maximum flight time of 34 minutes and can fly up to 10km away. Be sure to take a look at our Mavic Air 2 coverage below:
Have you bought a Mavic Air 2? Or are you waiting to get your hands on the Mavic 3? Let us know in the comments below.
Photo: DJI & Josh Spires

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Illegal drone flight delays MLB game

So, we have barely just started to get professional sports back on track. And then, in the midst of a Major League Baseball game between the Twins and the Pirates, in comes a drone. It seems someone thought it would be a good idea to fly a DJI Mavic 2 over the field in Minneapolis during the game — and that caused a drone delay.

Someone, somewhere, knows who did this. That’s because someone, somewhere outside of Target Field decided it would be a good idea to fly a drone into the area a little more than halfway through the game. The incident happened at the top of the fifth inning when the Twins were ahead 5-1. Out of the blue — and we mean literally out of the blue — in came a drone flying over the action. Officials quickly called for a postponement of play until any risk posed by the drone flying over people was gone (to say nothing of the distraction factor).
While the DJI Mavic 2 went buzzing around, some of the players tried to take it down with baseballs. But smacking a drone in the air is tougher than nailing a strike. And so the drone kept flying, delaying the game for about nine minutes. The Pirates even took to social media:

We are in a…drone delay.
We don’t know. AL baseball is weird.
— Pirates (@Pirates) August 4, 2020

And that sparked…
A couple of witty responses, including this one from the Colorado Rockies:

The Colorado Rockies weighed in on the incident
And that wasn’t all.

lol
But seriously…
As we all know, this just wasn’t cool. It’s against the rules, it messes up play, and is just not cool. Here’s the actual incident:

Nice drone, but a foul flightAnti-drone tech…
We’re unlikely to ever know what the pilot was thinking. It’s possible they thought this might be okay because there was no one in the stands. While that would have mitigated risk, it does not negate the fact this was an illegal flight.

It’s a bird, a plane…a drone
Facilities that want to protect themselves against drones are increasingly going with technology that can either detect or disable a UAV. DJI’s Aeroscope system, for example, has been put into use at airports and during air shows. It’s capable of detecting not only the make, position, and trajectory of any DJI model drone, but also pinpoint the location of the pilot. When this system was used temporarily at an international air show in Canada, organizers and law enforcement were very impressed with the results. (FYI, if you interested, the person at DJI to contact is Jeremy Gulley.)
Take ’em down…
There are, of course, other options.

The home page of Bravo Zulu Secure. Love that photo
For those who prefer jamming with the electronic signals, companies like Bravo Zulu Secure have products that can be dispatched — on land or at sea — to detect and disable drones from a distance.

Some of the Bravo Zulu offerings…
Tools like these are becoming a standard deterrent for cargo ships navigating parts of the high seas known for non-baseball playing pirates. Plenty of ocean-going bandits have taken to using drones to scope out potential targets from several kilometers away to determine the defense capabilities of these ships. Disruptive weapons like those above can simply bring those drones down before they send back data to criminals.
The pilot outside Target Park wasn’t in the same league as high-seas pirates, but they have one thing in common: They were definitely breaking the law.

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