Tag: Law

30C3 talk on history and future of private drones

30C3 talk on history and future of private drones

December 30, 2013 16:35 | By | Add a Comment

The 30C3 Congress is in full swing, and there’s an amazing talk about the history and future of hacker-driven drone innovations by Piotr Esden-Tempski on Youtube.

Though many challenges have been overcome, we are only at the very beginning of the private UAV revolution. Consider a comparison with the personal computer, which has evolved in ways that could not be foreseen in the beginning. Those working on this platform need space and time to discover the beneficial possibilities. There are many challenges that we are still facing and they are as exciting and basic as the technology itself.

30c3shot

Definitely worth watching. Check out the full video after the break.

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Trappy’s lawyer responds to FAA allegations

Trappy’s lawyer responds to FAA allegations

December 12, 2013 12:08 | By | Add a Comment

The lawyer of Team Blacksheep founder “Trappy” has filed a “memorandum of law supporting his motion to dismiss” in response to the complaint by the FAA. In case you have not been following this legal fight, the FAA wants to fine Trappy for flying a RC foam wing on a university campus for money. They can’t seem to make up their minds whether it was the “reckless flying” or the fact that Trappy was financially compensated by the land owner – operating an RC model aircraft for any kind of financial gain is a hot topic in the US right now.

As a substitute for the unenforceable policy statement, the FAA retreats to last-resort arguments granting itself the extraordinary power to regulate and penalize the operation of any device found in the air, at any location, and without prior notice to the public. This overextension is based on two seemingly simple but completely flawed premises: first, that the definition of “aircraft” in 14 C.F.R. § 1.1 is so broad that it has always included model aircraft, and, second, that the FAA’s jurisdiction extends to activity conducted even an inch above the ground and inside tunnels — locations outside the navigable airspace.

Both of these propositions fail as a matter of law. The definition of “aircraft” is expressly stated in section 1.1 to rely upon context, and that context is unquestionably manned operations.

The full text of the reply can be read here

One of the core arguments right now is whether or not the FAA is responsible for airspace below 700 feet, a question that was raised on Gigaom.com a few days ago.

Whether or not this will end up saving Trappy the $10.000 fine the FAA demands him to pay remains to be seen.

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Editorial: hobby FPV pilots, FAA and Amazon, oh my

Editorial: hobby FPV pilots, FAA and Amazon, oh my

December 4, 2013 13:00 | By | 1 Comment

This week was abuzz with the news about Amazon supposedly giving serious thought to using multicopters as delivery tools. Aside from the obvious fact that this was an extremely well-executed advertisement, with amazon getting as much as a full page in every major newspaper for free, there are so many unanswered questions surrounding this proposed delivery method that one might question the seriousness of this whole idea.

And the FAA, finally waking up from their ten-year slumber, struggles to cope with the sudden onslaught of news stories about farmers using small UAS for monitoring crops, checking up on their cattle, etc. – something sparked off by recent movies perhaps. And interestingly enough, the FAA now timidly endorses the use of said agricultural drones.

With other countries such as Canada now also contemplating on how to regulate civilian drone use, private commercial and non-commercial FPV is far from saved. In fact, many countries have now enacted rules that either heavily regulate commercial RC and FPV flights, enact restrictive altitude and range limits for non-commercial RC vehicles, or both. One thing is clear: Nobody wants to endanger any lives. The problem is that heavyhanded regulation is not an answer to such safety concerns, as there are already plenty of laws and regulations regarding civilian air traffic control. Nor do we need new laws to solve “privacy issues”. In most countries it’s already illegal to film people in their home without their consent, or similar things that politicians are adamant about trying to protect us from.

You’ll notice that the state always tries to reserve the right to invade your privacy, to keep us all safe of course. And yet serious privacy transgressions almost always are the result of misuse of such authority. Perhaps it’s time to tell people to stop worrying about a RC model pilot “filming your bedroom”, but instead start worrying about the future police and state-owned UAVs recording details of your private life to, say, use against you if the government deems it useful to their current goal.

To that end, why is it that so many countries make a difference between private RC flight, and commercial RC flight? What difference does it make if the pilot of an RC airplane or helicopter earns money with his flight or not? Why does it stop being a “model aircraft” as soon as money is involved?

Back when the printing press made it possible to break the monopoly of a select few on producing books and spreading information, their reaction was one of agressive counter-attack. Printing presses were something that needed to be “regulated”. When the internet made it possible for people to instantly share information and directly communicate, this too became a tool of power – and like any such tool, once its potential was realized by the people in power, they sought control over it.

RC model aircraft, with or without cameras, are much the same. They were regarded as toys for over 50 years, but now that we know how to use them as the empowering information-gathering and utility tools they are, the powers-that-be seek to control and regulate. But make no mistake: This is not something that will be limited to multicopters and RC vehicles with cameras. RC flight as a whole runs the risk of being the victim of severe restrictions, none of which having anything to do with the safety of manned flight or the privacy of individuals.

RC flight should not be limited any more than necessary, which means line of sight and within visual range. Conversely, the use of police and state operated drones should be heavily regulated and under constant public scrutiny. In the whole private/commercial FPV and UAV debate, we may well run the risk of compromising too much.

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FPV pilots in the UK get legal weight and height increases.

FPV pilots in the UK get legal weight and height increases.

November 27, 2013 10:37 | By | 1 Comment

FPV flight in the UK is heavily regulated. It’s in large parts thanks to the FPV UK Association that they have been operating under an FPV exemption that allowed FPV flights of up to 400 ft altitude, with a weight limit of 1.8kg for fixed wing, and 2.5kg for rotorcraft.

This exemption has now been extended to allow flights up to 1000 feet with drones of up to 3.5kg. Of course, that’s not the only restriction and FPV pilots in the UK are urged to read up on the regulations to be exempt from the otherwise-restrictive Order 66 Air Navigation Order 166(3).

Full text of the news after the break.

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