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Category - Safety
Posted - 02/02/2017 04:22pm
Drone Captures Wildfire Devastation in Chile

Drone video taken on January 29 captured the destruction caused by wildfires on the town of Santa Olga in the Maule region of Chile.


Category - Security,Safety,Legal
Posted - 02/02/2017 04:02pm
FAA: Keep your drone far, far away from the Super Bowl

by @stshank

The government doesn't just want to avoid an errant drone falling on the crowd at the football championship. It's grounding the aircraft for miles around.

To nobody's surprise, Super Bowl 2017 is off limits to drones. But it's not just the stadium where your quadcopter will be grounded. (Tough luck if you had hopes of an aerial video of crowds swarming through the parking lot.)

The Federal Aviation Administration, which sets rules for aircraft, has barred drones for a 34.5-mile radius around NRG Stadium in Houston, the agency said Wednesday. Breaking the rules could land you in jail for up to a year and $100,000 poorer if fined.

Most folks who got a drone for kicks over the holidays won't be too perturbed, but drones are are big in business now, too. They offer an eye in the sky for lots of photo and video needs, including real estate agents selling property, builders monitoring construction products and oil companies checking their refineries. If you might be affected, the FAA's B4UFLY app offers details about where drones are and aren't allowed.

A circular area of more than 3,700 square miles is pretty hard to police, but local law enforcement officials are aware of the ban, and NORAD -- the North American Aerospace Defense command -- is enforcing the ban, FAA spokeswoman Laura J. Brown said. Yes, those are the same folks who intercept unauthorized fighter jets and keep an eye out for nuclear missile attacks.

The temporary flight restrictions, which also prohibit some more conventional aircraft, are in effect 4 p.m. to 11:59 p.m. local time on Sunday, Feb. 5.

Los Angeles Times

The air rescue of a victim who fell 100 feet down seaside cliffs in Pacifica was abandoned Friday night after authorities say a local man flew his drone into the area to watch what was happening, forcing a helicopter crew to withdraw.

The rescue played out about 10:15 p.m. on the rocky shoreline below 320 Esplanade Ave., Pacifica police said.

First responders determined the person could not make it up the cliff by foot and called in the California Highway Patrol to help, authorities said. The CHP helicopter crew lowered a medic to the victim and prepared him to be hoisted up when other rescuers spotted the drone.

“Once the helicopter crew found out there was a drone on scene, they had to suspend the rescue operation and gain altitude to avoid a collision,” police said in a statement. “The drone’s operation could cause the helicopter to crash.”

Instead of hoisting the victim by air, paramedics and firefighters with North County Fire Authorities rappelled down the cliff, put the victim in a basket and brought him up with ropes. The operation took about two hours, officials said.

In the meantime, police went looking for the drone’s operator.

Residents in the area mentioned knowing a neighbor who flew a drone, so officers knocked on the door of 55-year-old Gerald Destremps.

Destremps admitted to flying the drone and allowed officers to confiscate it, Pacifica Police Capt. Joseph Spanheimer said.

He was cited with a misdemeanor charge of impeding first responders at the scene of an emergency.

As drones have become more prevalent in recent years, the Federal Aviation Administration and public agencies have made a concerted effort to alert the public to laws surrounding their use.

Regulations dictate how high drones can fly, how close they can operate near airports and their use during emergency operations.

Read the full article here

Category - Safety,Security
Posted - 01/19/2017 04:15pm
Modern warfare: Death-dealing drones and ... illegal parking?

Military drones may not be the only autonomous weapons we have to fear in the future: Hacked self-driving cars could hurt us, too

Paris Bureau Chief, IDG News Service | Jan 18, 2017 12:40 PM PT

Credit: World Economic Forum/IDG News Service

A cloud of 3D-printed drones big enough to bring down the latest U.S. stealth fighter, the F35, was just one of the combat scenarios evoked in a discussion of the future of warfare at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Wednesday.

Much of the discussion focused on the changes computers are bringing to the battlefield, including artificial intelligence and autonomous systems—but also the way the battlefield is coming to computing, with cyberwar, and social media psyops an ever more real prospect.

Former U.S. Navy fighter pilot Mary Cummings, now director of the Humans and Autonomy Lab at Duke University, delivered the first strike.

"The barrier to entry to drone technology is so low that everyone can have one, and if the Chinese go out and print a million copies of a drone, a very small drone, and put those up against an F35 and they go into the engine, you basically obviate what is a very expensive platform," she said.

Read the full text of the article here

Category - Safety,Public Concern,Regulations
Posted - 01/18/2017 03:44pm
North Royalton considering banning drones from public areas

Posted 6:36 pm, January 17, 2017, by
Fox 8 Cleveland

NORTH ROYALTON, Ohio - There's a new push to keep drones grounded in public areas in North Royalton, much to the dismay of drone advocates. Opponents of the proposed legislation argue it makes flying drones anywhere other than front and back yards impossible.

"What's the point of that? What's the point of flying it around your house? You want to have it outside so you can explore the world around you. I think they're cool to have," said resident Cyle Gaffney.

Councilman Dan Langshaw is behind the ordinance discussed at a Tuesday safety committee meeting. The legislation would ban flying drones above or adjacent to public parks, schools, property owned by the city, school district, public utilities or other public entities.

Langshaw says he is pushing for the new rules because of surveillance concerns voiced by residents about drones getting too close for comfort.

"They thought somebody was flying a drone and they're like 'is there anything the city can do about it?' I looked into it and we have nothing on the books to regulate this," said Langshaw.

Some residents argue the Federal Aviation Administration already regulates drone use. Adding local rules only complicates an already confusing set of guidelines.

"I could see it flying over crowds and football stadiums but if you have a big open space like this [referencing a nearby park] and there's really nobody around I don't see the harm in that," said resident Gregory Loder who is considering buying a drone.

Langshaw says he wouldn't describe drone usage as problematic in the city. However he cautions additional rules only help police who are often caught in the middle of arguments about drone surveillance.

"To anyone that's a critic [arguing] 'oh the FAA can just handle it'. Well that's fine and dandy but when there are issues again people are not going to be calling the FAA. They're going to call local law enforcement then they're going to be wondering what are they going to do because we really don't have any guidance," said Langshaw.

Violators of the drone ban could be charged with a misdemeanor. Ordinance details are still being finalized.

Category - Safety,Security,Legal
Posted - 01/18/2017 03:40pm
US regulators hammer down on unauthorized drone use

The Federal Aviation Administration and SkyPan International in Chicago have settled a civil suit that was closely watched by the nascent commercial drone industry. The government agency said the privately held company flew its drones over New York City and Chicago from 2012 to 2014, violating its rules which barred drone operators from flying over densely populated areas without special government permission to do so. At the time, the FAA did not allow for commercial drone flights and didn't offer an exemption process yet.

The FAA originally sought a $1.9 million penalty from SkyPan in October 2015, representing the largest fine ever sought by the agency against a domestic drone operator. SkyPan, which was founded in 1988, provides aerial photography and data to real estate developers to help them with planning, sales presentations, and more.

The settlement has SkyPan agreeing to pay a much lower penalty of $200,000 to the FAA over three years, and creating public service announcements that promote safe use of drones and cooperation with the FAA within the industry this year. If SkyPan commits any violation of current FAA rules in the next year, it will pay $150,000 more. And if it fails to deliver those PSAs or adhere to other terms of the settlement, it will also pay $150,000 more.

SkyPan In a press statement, Skypan International did not admit to guilt but said it wanted to settle in order to avoid delays in other areas of its business. The company statement says SkyPan attained a so-called "333 exemption" from the FAA to fly drones for commercial purposes as soon as it could, in 2015.

The FAA-SkyPan settlement follows a case in Seattle  last week where the city charged and a jury convicted a man, Paul M. Skinner, of reckless endangerment after he crashed a 2 lb. drone into a building during the June 2015 Pride Parade there. The drone hit a woman in the head, and she suffered a concussion. Skinner is facing up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine with sentencing scheduled for Feb. 24th.