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Martha Stewart’s farm via DJI Phantom, UAS competitions, Amazon.com petitions the FAA, and a utility company to start drone testing.
One of Martha Stewart’s security employees took a tour of Martha’s farm with his new DJI Phantom. On her blog, she posted photos taken by the quadcopter, much to the delight of her fans. Is that commercial use by Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Martha’s company?
The Electrolux Design Lab is a design competition where students submit innovative ideas for households of the future. Among the 35 finalists this year, we see one that carries either hot or cold beverages to thirsty bar patrons, and dispenses the drinks into cups. Control is intended to be by voice or mobile app.
There was another recent contest for students, this one specifically for UAVs that track hurricanes. NASA was looking for a lower cost high endurance UAS, and they chose the twin-fuselage Gobble Hawk design concept from Virginia Tech.
The second place OQ451-5 Trident from Purdue would be powered by hydrogen engines, with an endurance of 7 days. Third place was the University of Virginia Big WAHOO (Worldwide Autonomous Hurricane and Oceanic Observer), also hydrogen-powered..
Amazon.com has been operating its package delivery drones in an indoor test facility in Seattle. On July 9, they sent a Petition for Exemption to the FAA asking to move outside.
Amazon is serious about package delivery by drone. In part, their petition says:
Amazon Prime Air, a new delivery system that will get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less using aerial vehicles, is one invention we are incredibly passionate about. We believe customers will love it, and we are committed to making Prime Air available to customers worldwide as soon as we are permitted to do so.
We also see that Amazon has made significant progress:
In the past five months, we have made advancements toward the development of highly-automated aerial vehicles for Prime Air, including:
- Testing a range of capabilities for our eighth- and ninth-generation aerial vehicles, including agility, flight duration, redundancy, and sense-and-avoid sensors and algorithms;
- Developing aerial vehicles that travel over 50 miles per hour, and will carry 5-pound payloads, which cover 86% of products sold on Amazon; and
- Attracting a growing team of world-renowned roboticists, scientists, aeronautical engineers, remote sensing experts, and a former NASA astronaut.
Finally, Amazon summarizes:
One day, seeing Amazon Prime Air will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today, resulting in enormous benefits for consumers across the nation. We respectfully submit this petition for exemption so that Prime Air can be ready to launch commercial operations as soon as eventually permitted by subsequent FAA action.
A competition for drone photographs recently concluded and the winning photo is a birdseye view of an eagle in flight over Bali Barat National Park in Indonesia. You can see the contest winners at Dronestagram, a website dedicated to aerial photographs. Sponsorship was provided by National Geographic, Go Pro, Picanova, Droneshop and Parrot.
The San Diego Gas & Electric Co. says the FAA has given them permission to conduct test flights of a small camera-equipped quadcopter. Ultimately, the utility wants to use the UAVs for infrastructure inspection. Test flights are limited to rural areas away from houses.
DroneLive.com reports that MultiRotorForums.com created a petition on WhiteHouse.gov asking that the Obama Administration compel the FAA to adopt the UK’s commercial sUAS standards immediately. 100,000 signatures are needed by August 3, 2014.
In this concept from RTS, multicopters are fitted with life preservers, a FLIR camera, and the ability to detect swimmers in distress. They fly to the person and drop a life preserver faster than a human lifeguard could arrive.
Video of the Week
Flying Down Low Around Las Vegas Back Alleys with my RC UAV Drone for Aerial Photography
Drone Operators Arrested After Close Call with NYPD Helicopter
Two men were arrested and charged with reckless endangerment after flying a drone within 800 feet of a police helicopter at 2,000 feet near the George Washington Bridge.
Stronger privacy laws needed to protect public from drones, parliamentary committee says
An Australian federal government committee is recommending stronger privacy laws, particularly related to drones. Their report is called Eyes in the Sky: Inquiry into drones and the regulation of air safety & privacy. [PDF]
Eye in the sky keeps close watch on livestock
Kiwi ranchers use a hexacopter and GoPro.
Amazon.com links to two good books for those just getting started:
The Beginner’s Guide to FPV
Getting Started with Hobby Quadcopters and Drones: Learn about, buy and fly these amazing aerial vehicles