DJI Debuts New Drone Models and Produces Showcase Film

DJI, whose Phantom drones dominate the nascent market sector, just introduced Inspire 2, an upgrade to its flagship model, and Phantom 4 Pro, an upgrade from last year’s Phantom 4. To showcase its UAV tech, the company has produced a short film using the new Inspire 2. The Phantom 4 Pro introduces multiple crash-avoidance features, including rear and infrared sensors. It can now both fly fast (31 mph) and keep obstacle avoidance engaged; the previous Phantom 4 could only fly that fast in “Sport Mode,” with no obstacle avoidance. Continue reading DJI Debuts New Drone Models and Produces Showcase Film

Verizon Plans to Launch New Internet Data Service for Drones

After two years of working on the technology, Verizon will soon connect drones to its wireless network, with drone data plans starting at $25 a month for 1 gigabyte of data and $80 for 10 gigabytes, similar to what consumers are already paying for data. The company just demonstrated the technology with drone manufacturer American Aerospace Technologies at Cape May, New Jersey. The new drone data plan will allow consumers to connect their drones to the Internet, streaming videos and photos to earth. Continue reading Verizon Plans to Launch New Internet Data Service for Drones

Facebook in Talks with Foreign Nations to Begin Drone Trials

Several tech companies want to provide Internet access to developing nations via drones, satellites and balloons, but they all face obstacles, including getting approval to operate in foreign airspace and use radio spectrum to broadcast signals to the ground. Google already conducted its first tests of Project Loon, using high-altitude balloons, and OneWeb is at work on multiple satellites to deliver the Internet from space. Now Facebook is talking to several countries to create trial Internet broadcasts from drones. Continue reading Facebook in Talks with Foreign Nations to Begin Drone Trials

Drone Industry Is Under Rapid Change in Southern California

Drone operators are beginning to realize the commercial potential of UAVs. In Southern California, for example, drones are being used for film production, sports coverage, wedding photography, map-making and more. According to Los Angeles Daily News, drone operators are also making money with applications such as: “examining the health of agricultural crops,” “monitoring the progress of construction projects,” “documenting the installation of rooftop solar panels in order to claim federal tax credits,” “selling commercial, industrial and residential real estate” and “surveying electric wires, pipelines, railroad tracks, dams and canals for damage.” Meanwhile, companies including Amazon and Google are experimenting with drone delivery services. Continue reading Drone Industry Is Under Rapid Change in Southern California

FAA Issues Drone Operation Rules, Privacy Issues Unresolved

The operation of drones has sparked heated debate and industry angst regarding issues of safety, privacy and regulation. Now, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued its first detailed rules that clarify nationwide licensing requirements for pilots and bans operation of drones at nighttime. But it still hasn’t touched the hot button topics of privacy protections, high altitude flying, drones heavier than the currently-approved 55-pounds and other issues. In that vacuum, local governments are coming up with their own regulations. Continue reading FAA Issues Drone Operation Rules, Privacy Issues Unresolved

Drones Grow Up: More Use Cases, Capabilities, Regulations

With FAA drone regulations newly in place, industry pioneers gathered at CES to describe the issues roiling this growing category. Drones allow people to fulfill the fantasy of flying and thus in our DNA, says 3D Robotics CRO Colin Guinn. The use cases, however, from agriculture to movie making, are very real, generating more attention. That’s why Flytrex Aviation chief exec Yariv Bash predicts we’ll see many more consumer and pro versions, and Parrot chief exec Henri Seydoux notes the drone’s data collection as its key feature. Continue reading Drones Grow Up: More Use Cases, Capabilities, Regulations

DJI Unveils Software to Keep Drones Out of Restricted Areas

Drone manufacturer DJI launched a beta geofencing system last week called Geospatial Environment Online (GEO), designed to prevent drones from operating in areas restricted by the Federal Aviation Administration. While DJI’s current flight limitation software stops drones from flying in restricted areas such as airports, the more dynamic GEO also enables updates to maps and restrictions based on unfolding events, including scheduled sports competitions or hazardous conditions like wildfires. Upon an event’s conclusion, maps can be updated again so that restrictions can be lifted. Continue reading DJI Unveils Software to Keep Drones Out of Restricted Areas

FAA Releases New Drone Regulations in Time for Holidays

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) just announced its rules for drones, in advance of the holiday shopping season when consumers are expected to purchase 700,000 of them. The rules, which call for all owners to register their drones in a national database with their names, home and email addresses, is aimed at allaying safety fears and encourage responsible ownership. This is the first time that owners have been required to register what are also known as unmanned aircraft systems. Continue reading FAA Releases New Drone Regulations in Time for Holidays

CES: Conference Tracks Explore Breadth, Depth of Innovation

In addition to its 2.2 million square feet of exhibit space and product showcases, CES offers nearly 300 conference sessions covering the gamut of consumer technology. Its 36 different conference tracks explore industry sectors from Automotive to Wireless. These conference sessions leverage the presence of more than 48,000 senior-level executives and government officials, many of whom participate on panels or present as subject matter experts. ETC will cover the most relevant sessions from Las Vegas, January 5-9. Continue reading CES: Conference Tracks Explore Breadth, Depth of Innovation

FAA Task Force Releases Recommendations on Policing Drones

The Consumer Technology Association estimates there will be 400,000 drones under the Christmas tree this year. Just in time, a task force created by the Federal Aviation Administration has come out with a report detailing recommendations on how to regulate them. The task force, comprised of drone makers, technology companies, an airline pilots association and the government, says drone owners need to be entered into a federal database and should display a government-issued registration number on their drone. Continue reading FAA Task Force Releases Recommendations on Policing Drones

Drone Manufacturers Pursue Self-Regulation via Geofencing

Small-scale drone manufacturer DJI, a Chinese company that dominates the drone space, now offers a geofencing system built on flying restrictions it first introduced in 2013. The system already has built-in restrictions around airports and other locations such as prisons and power plants. The company plans to continually update airspace information, possibly including the ability to respond to an emergency request. The drone will not, however, be able to operate in areas deemed to be of national concern such as Washington DC. Continue reading Drone Manufacturers Pursue Self-Regulation via Geofencing

Leaked Documents Offer Details of U.S. Military’s Drone Wars

Two years after government contractor Edward Snowden famously leaked secret NSA documents, another release of classified information has occurred. This time, The Intercept — which is staffed by journalists who previously worked with Snowden — has published what it claims is a comprehensive breakdown of the U.S. government’s military drone program. The report, featuring documents provided by another whistleblower, offers details regarding U.S. strategy to kill foreign targets in Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen — and highlights the unintended consequences involved with drone wars. Continue reading Leaked Documents Offer Details of U.S. Military’s Drone Wars

Qualcomm Debuts Small, Light Drone with 4K Camera Support

Qualcomm has introduced Snapdragon Flight, a platform for consumer drones that has been under development for the last six months. Named after Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 801 processor, the platform supports a 4K video camera, two cameras for depth and a fourth for indoor stabilization. Snapdragon Flight supports Sony IMX camera sensors for video and Omnivision OV7251 sensors for computer vision. Companies that adopt the platform should be able to develop drones for sale within the first half of 2016. Continue reading Qualcomm Debuts Small, Light Drone with 4K Camera Support

Governor Brown Vetoes Legislation Restricting Use of Drones

California Governor Jerry Brown has vetoed California Senate Bill 142, proposed legislation that would require drone users to obtain permission to fly their unmanned aerial systems less than 350 feet over private property. “Drone technology certainly raises novel issues that merit careful examination,” wrote Brown. “This bill, however, while well-intentioned, could expose the occasional hobbyist and the FAA-approved commercial user alike to burdensome litigation and new causes of action.” Tech groups opposed the bill and the CEA applauded the Governor’s decision. Continue reading Governor Brown Vetoes Legislation Restricting Use of Drones

California Legislation Could Have Impact on Drone Deliveries

As numerous startups introduce drones for recreational and commercial use, and tech giants including Amazon and Google plan delivery projects based on UAVs, concerns have emerged regarding various safety, privacy and security issues. Now policy groups tied to tech firms are working to block new legislation in California that could impact the deployment and use of drones. Senate Bill 142, which passed the California Assembly on Monday, restricts operation of UAVs under 350 feet above properties without permission of the property owners. Continue reading California Legislation Could Have Impact on Drone Deliveries

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