Recent Articles

Why drone registration solves nothing

Why drone registration solves nothing

December 22, 2015 11:50 | By | 2 Comments

“Drone registration”, as the FAA calls it, makes a lot of sense. That is, until you start thinking about it beyond the usual talking points. Here’s why it actually does not solve any problems whatsoever.

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Germany follows US, proposes strict new laws

Germany follows US, proposes strict new laws

December 18, 2015 17:22 | By | Add a Comment

As reported in our previous news, UAS regulations have been the subject of multilateral harmonization between the US and the EU. Today, german ministry of transportation announced plans for a new regulation affecting both drones and hobby RC craft.

The max. allowed flight ceiling will be 100 meters above ground. All RC aircraft are required to be registered. All flights with unregistered RC planes or copters above 500 grams are forbidden and pilots ignoring these new regulations will face extreme fines.

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FAA Drone Registration going online December 21st, up to $270.000 penalty for unregistered pilots after February

FAA Drone Registration going online December 21st, up to $270.000 penalty for unregistered pilots after February

December 14, 2015 21:40 | By | Add a Comment

We told you it would come. We just had no idea things would move so quickly.

Starting December 21st, you will be able and required to register your RC model. All of them. Anything weighing more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams) and less than 55 pounds (25 kg) has to be registered. Registrations will be free until January 20th, after which they will cost $5. You are required to complete registration by February 2016.

Registration will get you a three-year license, after which you have to renew your registration – and pay again.

Failure to comply may result in civil fines of up to $27.000, and/or criminal penalties of up to $250.000

This does apply to hobbyists, and this does apply to anything that flies, not just multirotor craft.

The AMA has responded to this new regulation, and predictably they are not happy. Trouble is, their objection is unlikely to find many supporters, and if you think we’re safe in Europe, I can tell you right now that these regulations have been harmonized between FAA, EASA, Eurocontrol as well as between the US Government and the EU. Similar rules will be enacted all across Europe soon.

Needless to say, registration will not prevent bad things from happening, and it will not prevent people with bad intentions from doing bad things.

Edit: Watch Bruce fume on youtube about this after the break.

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One Punch Man, Jeremy Clarkson have one thing in common

One Punch Man, Jeremy Clarkson have one thing in common

November 30, 2015 12:28 | By | Add a Comment

Jeremy Clarkson is now working for Amazon, creating a new show with his unique brand of humor. And when he’s not bashing electric vehicles he’s busy announcing things for his new employer. This time it’s Amazon’s new hybrid delivery drone prototype, which combines VTOL capabilities of multicopters with the long range of winged airframes.

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This comes to no surprise for industry experts due to the fact that powered hover flight using a quad rotor system is 10 times less efficient than a single motor pushing a winged aircraft. Thus it makes sense to combine the two in a hybrid approach. This in itself is not new, though it’s the first time we see Amazon go for this approach. Check out the video after the break.

In other news, “One Punch Man” is a japanese anime about a superhero with the unique dilemma that he’s too powerful and thus able to kill any opponent with a single punch. The writers of this manga jumped on the bandwagon, and depict a possible scenario for delivering low-value mail like fan letters. In the anime adaptation, it looks like this:

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Now that delivery drones have made it into popular culture, when do you think this or something like it will become the norm?

Minor nitpick: The cargo and main electronics appear to be located forward of the CG, which doesn’t look like an optimal design 😉

 

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FAA wants registration of all flying things heavier than 250 grams

FAA wants registration of all flying things heavier than 250 grams

November 24, 2015 14:48 | By | Add a Comment

The final report by the Aviation Rulemaking Comittee Taskforce on UAS has been released, and it doesn’t look good.

As previously reported, the ARC recommends not just the central registration of commercial UAS, but actually ALL UAS, including RC models and toys, over a take-off weight of 250 grams. This is in stark contrast to some of the “corrections” issued by non-involved persons and organisations, that registration would not apply to RC models, or only RC models weighing more than 5, 10 or 15 kilograms.

The good news is that the recommendation mentions that high compliance rates can only be achieved with no or a very low fee. Furthermore, the requirement of registration does not give the FAA a free pass on restrictions of operations. However, the minimum age requirement for the owner/pilot is 13 years. Registration is owner-based, so you don’t have to register each and every model you own. If this recommendation comes to pass, you will however be required by law to affix your registration number to the model.

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US plans mandatory registration of private multicopters

US plans mandatory registration of private multicopters

October 17, 2015 21:59 | By | 3 Comments

According to NBC News, the US Federal Government plans to enact mandatory registration of “drones”. Contrary to what you might think, they really mean privately purchased and owned Multicopters and other RC models. This registration is to be done with the US Department of Transportation, allegedly to curb incursions of such models into busy airspace.

(Source)

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DYS X160 Micro FPV Racer

DYS X160 Micro FPV Racer

October 6, 2015 14:27 | By | 1 Comment

FPV Racing is getting bigger and bigger, and in addition to 250-size RTF and ARF products, we are beginning to see highly integrated and lightweight 160-size ones as well, like this DYS X160 Micro FPV Racer from Banggood.

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It features an integrated CC3D flight controller, 10A ESCs, a 200mW 5.8GHz video transmitter, CMOS Camera with 127 degree lens and a circular polarized antenna. You supply your own RC receiver as well as a 3S 1300mAh LiPo. Not too bad for $170, though a fully loaded 250-size racer can be had for $150.

DYS X160 purchase link.

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Awesome photos of the CIA’s animal UAVs from the 1970s

Awesome photos of the CIA’s animal UAVs from the 1970s

May 5, 2015 14:06 | By | 1 Comment

The CIA started building tiny UAVs for intelligence gathering purposes as early as the 1970s, as can be seen on the official CIA Flickr gallery. Yes, they have a Flickr. And for the time period we’re talking about, the robotic fish is already quite advanced: Allowing for remote audio recording and retransmission, this water dweller even features depth control and autonomy, presumably to make it appear like a regular, living fish instead of sitting perfectly still.

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Even more astounding is the prototype for a robotic dragonfly which was powered by a tiny gas engine, and was able to carry a microphone and even a laser. However, controlled flight was made difficult by even the slightest of crosswind, and the 60 second flight time further decreased operational feasability. What remains is a peculiar entry in the CIA museum.

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Buyer beware: FPVStyle.com

Buyer beware: FPVStyle.com

April 14, 2015 9:45 | By | Add a Comment

You may recall some of the recent product news that involved fpvstyle.com. Well, as “recent” as the end of 2014. Since then, we received word from one of their business partners that they are “no longer associated” with fpvstyle.com, and in addition to that the website has been completely redone with all existing accounts and orders vanishing from their system.

That would not be a problem, were it not for the fact that apparently a number of customers never received their orders. Among them is a test purchase done by ourselves, dating back as far as December 2014. Our communications with FPVStyle were telling us that a delivery would surely take place soon, eventually passing the maximum time allowed by Paypal to reverse a charge. That time window has been shortened recently by Paypal, and may vary depending on where you live.

Interestingly, in all cases, once this happened FPVStyle stopped responding.

Since we not only got complaints about fpvstyle.com from other sources, but experienced the issues ourselves first-hand, we are posting a public notice about their current state of services.

Other retailers like Goodluckbuy or even HobbyKing have experienced problems in the past. However in both cases their support worked hard to get the products delivered to the customer amidst problems like shipping companies no longer transporting LiPo batteries or general IT system failures. What is not acceptable is for a support line to go silent.

If you are also still waiting for an order from fpvstyle.com to arrive, let us know.

Update: More links with customer complaints [1], [2]

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3DRobotics Solo with video-centric features announced

3DRobotics Solo with video-centric features announced

April 13, 2015 17:00 | By | Add a Comment

3DR has just announced the Solo Quadcopter, a new camera drone with 1GHz CPU both inside the copter as well as the remote, and several unique features aimed at aerial videographers.

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The Solo comes with a 5200mAh LiPo battery pack as well as full GoPro remote control capability. In addition to the usual GPS position hold and waypoint features, the Solo not only features HD video streaming but also an intuitive way to set waypoints, with the capability to “play back” camera flights at the touch of a button. The idea obviously is for the pilot to be able to set up a camera flight and then be able to recall the performance, including gimbal orientation and panning, simply by pressing “play”.

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The remote comes with a built-in color OLET screen for telemetry data and setup as well as a tablet/phone mount. The price? $999 for the Solo itself, and another $399 for the gimbal. Not exactly a steal, but 3DR emphasizes the open nature of the product and its extensibility. These are the same guys who brought you the excellent PixHawk flight controller. Sales start in May in the US, and June/July in the rest of the world.

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DJI Phantom 3 announced

DJI Phantom 3 announced

April 9, 2015 9:59 | By | Add a Comment

DJI just announced the release of their next update in the successful Phantom line, the Phantom 3.

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It comes in two flavors, one with 4k video recording, the other with normal 1080p resolution. Both feature a new optical sensor that allows position hold indoors without GPS, as well as a faster charger and a bigger battery. Along with upgraded app support that includes livestreaming to youtube, this further solidifies DJI’s ambition to create the perfect flying camera.

The 4k version costs $1250, the 1080p can be yours for $999.

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FAA issues legal notice to FPV pilot putting footage onto Youtube

FAA issues legal notice to FPV pilot putting footage onto Youtube

March 16, 2015 11:45 | By | Add a Comment

The FAA has begun going after RC flight videos on Youtube showing onboard camera footage. Jayson Hanes has recently received a notification ordering him to cease his “unauthorized commercial flights”. Failure to do so could result in fines as much as USD $10.000,-

This office has received a complaint regarding your use of an unmanned aerial vehicle (aka drone) for commercial purposes referencing your video on the website youtube.com as evidence. After a review of your website, it does appear that the complaint is valid.

Hanes insists that while his videos on Youtube are technically monetized, he has not received a payment from Google yet.

This does raise all sorts of important questions: When exactly does a flight become “commercial” in nature. It’s even worse in countries like Austria, where the law states that as soon as the intent of flight goes beyond the “mere flight itself” (i.e. you fly because you want to photograph a sunset from the air), you’re not an RC hobbyist anymore but must register and pay for your vehicle as a UAV.

That the FAA would not be going after Youtube videos was an assumption that is still maintained by a large number of enthusiasts. Once established, it will be very difficult to reverse such a legal interpretation.

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Mysterious drone sightings over Paris

Mysterious drone sightings over Paris

February 25, 2015 14:32 | By | Add a Comment

For the second night in a row, a number of small UAVs have been sighted over Paris. Police are working to track down whoever is controlling the small unmanned aircraft that have been seen in the vicinity of the Elysee Palace, the Eiffel Tower, Place de Concorde as well as the American Embassy.

Reports indicate that the first drone was operating near the US Embassy, with at least four others popping up at the other mentioned locations. According to the police, it is as of yet unknown whether this was a coordinated action or not, as well as who is behind it.

Needless to say, after the recent terrorist attacks, French police and investigators are on high alert and are “treating this seriously”.

In other news, it’s dumb to fly your multicopter in areas where you simply should not be flying it, which in most countries includes big cities.

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Ad companies want to track you with drones for “consumer insights and targeting”

Ad companies want to track you with drones for “consumer insights and targeting”

February 24, 2015 16:57 | By | Add a Comment

Aren’t ads amazing? Don’t you love watching those clips on youtube, you know, the ones that come before the actual video unless you employ an adblocker?

No? Things will get worse for you then, if AdNear has their way. They plan to use drones to track wireless devices to build customer profiles. Flying over cities and other populated areas, they want to collect everything from WiFi access points to mobile phones, including their location and movement patterns. So essentially, they want to do mass surveillance without your consent.

AdNear is quick to state that, “Privacy and legal compliance are of highest importance to us. Just to keep the record straight; we only collect signals passively and do not record videos or photos.

Trouble is, that statement doesn’t mean a thing, and doesn’t change the fact that both the legality and morality of this endeavour are questionable at best. AdNear has already conducted tests, according to their own statements, and it would be interesting to know whether these tests were already observing all the applicable laws. They’re not having that discussion in their cheerful press release however.

For brands, this would mean more data points for accurate audiences and more location points for consumer insights and targeting. For us, this means a ton of fun!

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NoFlyZone.org lets you blacklist your home from consumer UAV traffic

NoFlyZone.org lets you blacklist your home from consumer UAV traffic

February 24, 2015 11:16 | By | Add a Comment

The private website noflyzone.org allows private property owners to put their house and garden onto a blacklist, which will then be used by several multicopter manufacturers in their firmware to establish no-fly zones and prevent their products from being operated within, or fly over, the blacklisted areas.

This is a lot like what DJI is doing with their hardcoded airport locations and certain locations like the white house now being off-limits and blocked on a firmware level.

Listing your property on noflyzone.org is free, however you have to re-confirm your entry once per year. Strangely enough, the website does not require you to provide proof of your claim unless you submit more than one. However, you can also whitelist your property and prevent others from blacklisting it again.

Among the manufacturers using the blacklist data are Horizon Hobby, Hexo+ and PixiePath.

It remains to be seen how useful such a list is. Not only are there ways to circumvent the blacklist, but not all vendors and open source projects are on board with this. And to make matters worse, a lot of fly-away situations happen because of sensor issues (like GPS glitches or the DJI Phantom magnetometer design flaw). During such malfunctions, the craft can and will violate pre-programmed no-fly zones because its navigation is malfunctioning. It feels a lot like “gun free zones”. Knowing that this blacklist won’t prevent malfunctioning drones, nor drones flown with the intent of violating privacy, nor any government UAVs from hovering over your lawn, we have to ask: What’s the point?

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