Monthly Archives: May 2016

Are Drones Taking The Fun And Skill Out Of Fishing?

One invention that anglers are starting to embrace is the Remote Piloted Aerial System (RPAS), better known as ‘drones’. John Bowie from Western Australia’s South West has been using drones for the last year or two to look for schools of fish or to discover the perfect lump of reef where fish might be hiding away.

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“We use them for two purposes — not including fun of course — we will send them along the beach 50 metres out and if you have got a bright sunny day you can look directly down and see some really incredible reef structure. “The obvious one, if you are chasing schools of tuna or salmon it is very easy to spot them from the air and it puts you straight on to the target,” he said.

Mr Bowie said using the technology had greatly improved his chances of catching a fish. “If you have got a patch of fish 200 metres south and you are fishing 200 metres north of that you are not going to get any fish, but if you know exactly where they are you are straight there.”

However, some fishing purists have lamented that the technology ruins the skill and enjoyment of fishing. “You still have to be good enough to catch the fish,” Mr Bowie said. “The old saying is that 10 per cent of the people catch 90 per cent of the fish and I do not think that has changed.”

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Scott Coghlan editor of Western Angler said while drones could help see if there are fish in the area, you still had to convince them to bite. “Spotting a fish on a drone is not going to catch you a fish. You have to know what to do then, but it can certainly help at times,” Mr Coghlan said.

“In a lot of ways it is no different to being able to find a better viewing point, like often when you are salmon fishing you will try and get up on a sand dune, a rise or a rock and have a look just so you can get a bit higher up to see the schools.” But despite the advantages that a drone can offer a fisherman, Mr Coghlan said he was not planning on using one any time soon.

“I am a bit old fashioned, I like to go sans technology and leave a bit to chance.” “I like to keep it fairly simple, but I also understand there are a lot of people who spend a lot on their boat, upwards of $100,000, so they want to get some decent electronics that are going to help them catch more fish.”

Safety Rules In Place

CASA spokesperson Peter Gibson said recreational fishers were able to fly drones without an unmanned aircraft operators certificate, provided they are not paid for the work. “The safety rules are pretty simple,” Mr Gibson said. He said users must keep their drone more than 30 metres away from other people and from boats.

In controlled air space a drone must not be flown over 400 feet. “If you are not in controlled air space it is good practice to keep your drone under 400 feet in case there is any aircraft in the area. “It is a requirement not to create a hazard to an aircraft, so if you are flying your drone to look for the fish and you see an aircraft flying nearby, flying low for some reason, bring your drone down.

“And keep the drone in your line of sight at all times, which means you should not navigate using the pictures you are getting from the camera.”

Drone Ballet Turns Mount Fuji Into Cyberpunk Lightscape

Drones are usually behind the camera. The unmanned flying machines are perhaps best known as filmographers and spy planes, mechanical beasts training unblinking eyes on the ground below. But there is more to the craft than their ability to spy: when outfitted with LED lights and set to a live band, drone swarms themselves become the spectacle–a new high art. Sky high art.

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This production comes from Sky Magic Drones, who put over 16,500 LED lights on over 20 drones, and then launched them into an orchestrated performance before Mt. Fuji.

The entire spectable is accompanied by a band playing Shamisens, traditional Japanese guitars, and despite the obvious modernity of the drones above, it feels timeless, as though a drone ballet could.

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These aren’t the first drone dances we’ve seen, and it’s more than likely the art will end as mere novelty, a half-remembered spectacle from the dawn of the drone age.

Yet there is so much mastery here, I think it has some staying power. Perhaps in some future, drone shows fill a similar niche to fireworks displays: charming, stunning lights in the sky, for no purpose besides sheer amusement. Watch and listen to the full show below below:

Selling Your Home With Drone Photography

Several years ago, my uncle got my younger brother a small remote control helicopter for Christmas. It was really cool, if certainly easy to crash. It continually surprised me how much that tiny helicopter could take a beating and come back for more.

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Now, just about six years later, these remote flying devices have transformed from novelty items into fairly efficient flying machines with tons of hobbyist pilots. In addition to these weekend flyers, there are now a growing number of drone users who are putting them to use in a variety of ways. These unmanned craft are making a particularly big impact in the areas of photography and videography.

When To Fly

When can a drone be most useful to show off a property’s attributes? We asked Brian Trudeau of Trudeau Consulting, a drone photography service, to share his thoughts.

“Properties that benefit the most from drone footage usually tend to be higher-end homes that have large amounts of property, or features that are hard to capture with regular photography (such as waterfront),” Trudeau said. “Aerial footage can also help show off the neighborhood a home is sitting in, which also is difficult to illustrate with words or ground-level photos.”

Selling the inside of your home is all about staging and appearance. You should put the same care into the aerial shots of the exterior. Which angles should we make sure the drone operator gets? Trudeau said real estate agents typically want to start with the approach moving up the street or the driveway before going into the front of the property. After that, it all depends.

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Do It Yourself Or Hire It Out?

So do you buy a drone and stick a camera on there or hire someone to do this? That probably depends on how often you plan to use your drone, but if you’re using the footage to sell your house, there are a couple of other things to consider.

Rules And Regulations

You can’t just go and attach your DSLR to the bottom of your drone and take pictures and video. The FAA would classify the pictures as being taken for a commercial purpose because they’re being used in connection with the sale of your property. If you’re looking at doing this yourself, there are a couple of different options you have for getting the permission you need.

You also need to register any drone over half a pound and not fly the drone over 400 feet high. There are other regulations, but these are two of the big ones. Always follow any local laws and ordinances.

Are You A Flying Ace?

Obviously, if you’re taking pictures of houses, you want the camera to be stable. Although the stabilizers in these things have made it easier to stay up in the air, taking footage and pics with precision is a different matter entirely. Getting the right footage may require multiple passes to make sure you have usable footage.

Trudeau also makes a compelling case that unless you’re very comfortable, you may want to leave it to a pro, who’ll have their own equipment and liability insurance. “If the prop[ellers]s catch one branch while flying, the whole thing will drop like a rock and your drone will just be an expensive paperweight,” he said. “And you wouldn’t want to accidentally fly one of these at a person or animal!”

Did You Get Authorization To Fly Your Drone?

The Federal Aviation Administration has slapped a camera-equipped quadrocopter operator with a $2,200 fine after he “endangered the safety of the national airspace system” with his three-pound aircraft last September. The fine comes just a few weeks after a federal administrative judge ruled in another case that the FAA has no jurisdiction over small remote-controlled aircraft—a ruling the FAA has appealed.

The fine was levied on David Zablidowsky, a 34-year old Brooklynite and bassist for the 1980s cover band Rubix Kube, who flew his camera-equipped DJI Phantom quadrocopter off of a building on East 38th Street in Manhattan on September 30, 2013. In the process, he crashed the aircraft into multiple nearby buildings before it plummeted more than 20 stories to a sidewalk below, crashing 20 feet from a pedestrian. The pedestrian then took the drone and reported the incident to police.

ablidowsky, who was tracked down by police a week later after being identified from video from the aircraft’s own camera, was charged with reckless endangerment. The case came to the attention of the FAA after the pedestrian, a 40-year old financial advisor, gave the video to WABC News.

In the past, the FAA has pursued only those operating “drones” for profit, basing its charges on violation of the ban on the use of radio-controlled aircraft for business activities. But in this case, the FAA is charging that Zablidowsky flew his aircraft in restricted airspace—Manhattan falls within an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) that carries special requirements for aircraft operations. In a letter to Zablidowsky, FAA officials stated that by not getting authorization to fly the drone, the “operation of the aircraft endangered the safety of the national airspace system.”

Local Company Uses Crop Scouting Drones To Help Farmers

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BYRON (WIFR) — According to the FAA, there are more people operating drones than registered planes. Now, new technology is helping farmers save time and money when it comes to their crops.

Fly Farm, a local company in Byron, is one of the first of its kind in the Stateline offering agriculture drone scouting. Drones like the ones used by Fly Farm are helping farmers determine if their crops are healthy.

“I had crop scouts and things out here before that were just walking every acre,” says Jeff Jackson, a farmer and owner of Agrithm, “With the drone, we can look at trouble spots in the field and just ground-truth what we see if we do see a plant health problem in the field, whether its bugs, disease, or flooding.”

The owner of Fly Farm, Trevor Hogan, says the pictures his drones take higher resolution images compared to a satellite or manned aircraft. He says the pictures are so clear, you can almost zoom in on an individual plant.

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The drones have sensors, along with a camera, taking pictures and stitching them together. Hogan says the pictures can then be turned into interactive maps using another software and the data can be analyzed for farmers.

“You can find problems a lot faster. Also with the sensor in the drone that I’m using, when you compare it with the NDVI algorithm, it shows you where problems are and it’s something you can’t see with your own two eyes,” says Hogan.

Jackson thinks the drone crop scouting technology can help revolutionize the farming industry, saying, “I think it’s going to be economically great from the farmer end, but environmentally I think there’s going to be some great things that we learn from that to minimize the things we’re using out here.”

The drone can scout entire fields in a matter of minutes and have results in one day.

Both Hogan and Jackson believe more farmers will start using drones for agricultural needs as more farmers learn about its benefits.

Using drones for crop scouting also helps monitor trends.

A Canadian Startup Wants To Replace Drone Batteries With A Gas Engine

Drones would be amazing if they weren’t so terrible. That is, they’re great at putting cameras and sensors in the sky, but they’re awful at keeping them there. The flight-time for high-end consumer drones generally tops out at 25 minutes, and commercial drones don’t fare much better.

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For drone hobbyists, the limited flight-time is an annoyance. But for companies that want to put their drones to hard use, constantly replacing and recharging batteries is more than frustrating. “It’s a brick wall,” said Matt McRoberts, one of the co-founders of Pegasus Aeronautics, a hardware startup based in Waterloo, Ontario. We were chatting in one of boardrooms at the University of Waterloo’s Velocity Garage, the largest free startup incubator in North America, where the company has been working to take the cap off drone flight-times.

The problem is batteries. Even high-end lithium-polymer (Li-Po) batteries—the kind most commonly used in drones—have low energy density. Which is to say, they are big and heavy relative to the amount of juice they contain. You can’t simply pile batteries on a drone to make it stay in the air longer, because it wouldn’t be able to lift itself off the ground.

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Pegasus has developed a solution: skip the batteries, and use gasoline instead. The company is currently beta-testing its GE-30 Range Extender system, a hybrid gas-electric engine that plugs into the battery terminal of most commercial drones and promises to extend flight-time on existing models of drones by two hours, with the possibility of going much further on bigger models in the future.

In terms of energy density, gasoline beats the hell out of batteries. According to the American Physical Society, “the gasoline in a fully fuelled car has the same energy content as a thousand sticks of dynamite.” For the purposes of drone operators, gasoline also has more than fifty times the energy density of the best batteries you can buy, said McRoberts.

Essentially, the Range Extender is a two-stroke internal combustion engine that fits on your drone, though it’s not as simple as it sounds. You can’t put rotors on a lawnmower and make it fly, or someone would have done that already. (You can, of course, make a drone that looks like a lawnmower, but that’s another story.)

Pegasus’s Range Extender is a hybrid gas-electric system, but unlike a hybrid car, which has both an electric and a gas engine that each transfer power directly to the wheels to varying degrees, the Range Extender doesn’t integrate mechanically with the drone at all, McRoberts said.

A Drone’s-Eye View Of Singapore

Better known as Idroneman, Chia Joel spends his free time capturing incredible aerial photos of places in Singapore and beyond. Here, he discusses his drones, his shoot planning process and his love of seeing Singapore from a different angle.

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I use and trust DJI camera drones and quadcopters. I own three DJI Phantom 3s (Advanced). These machines have been providing me with a high level of consistent quality and reliability throughout my aerial adventures. The process of my aerial adventures, or should I say, aerial photography sessions, consists of a number of important and well thought-out processes. Most of the time, the day before a flight, I have to plan out where and what I would like to capture and shoot, with some rough framing of the shots that I would like to capture in mind.

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Before heading out on the actual day, I check the weather conditions. If it’s all good, I head down to the location with my co-pilot – none other than my very understanding, patient and enthusiastic girlfriend – to recce the area to determine a good launching and landing spot. Most of the time, I choose an elevated area to allow for more battery to be reserved for shooting rather than trying to ascend into the sky. Once a good location is determined, setting up the drone takes about 10 minutes. This important process includes attaching the propellers and the prop guards, warming up the aircraft and ensuring that the signal strength is good with minimal radio interference. This is crucial as a safe and good flight is highly dependent not only on the natural weather conditions, but also the strong signal strength between the remote controller and the drone.

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Throughout this entire process, lots of focus has to be placed on framing the photo or video and keeping a close look out on both my iPad, which displays important information like the wind speed, velocity and signal strength, as well as the drone up in the sky. After my photos are captured to my liking, flying the drone back is usually a breeze as long as the battery consumption was well managed!

Army Of 100 Record-Breaking ‘Dancing’ Drones Illuminates The Night Sky Over California

A fleet of drones has taken to the night sky for the biggest aerial display of the gadgets over US soil. Sporting an array of LEDs, the aerial army of 100 drones twinkled in the twilight as they flashed red, blue and white over the Californian desert. The display took place in Palm Springs earlier this year and was organised by computer microchip giant Intel.

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Intel released a video of the impressive displays, which had musical accompaniment from an orchestra. ‘Our goal is to be able to do this over stadiums, to do this over events that have large populations,’ said Krzanich. To fly the synchronised robot army, Intel enlisted the help of Austrian firm Ars Electronica FutureLab, which developed its own ground control software so the drones could follow flight paths.

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Once a choreographed display was programmed from hand-drawn plans, the drones were able to follow the path in perfect sync.  As part of the German World Record display the drones spelled out Intel’s famous logo in the night sky in LED lights. For the Californian display, the firm had to gain special exemption from the US Federal Aviation Administration, after outlining the capabilities of the technology, as well as running a number of test flights, using a single operator to control the drones.

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But Intel has much bigger aspirations for the displays, potentially growing the display force to ten times the number of drones.  ‘That’s really what I see in future,’ said Krzanich. 1462551417-2136-903-image-a-60-1462449235296

Russia Stages Triumphant Concert In Palmyra’s Ruins

One of Russia’s leading conductors led a St Petersburg symphony orchestra in a concert in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra on Thursday, in a bold propaganda stunt celebrating Russia’s role in recapturing the city from Islamic State.  Valery Gergiev, a vocal supporter of Vladimir Putin, conducted the Mariinsky Symphony Orchestra in the ancient city’s famous amphitheatre for an audience of Syrian and Russian soldiers as well as journalists.

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Addressing the orchestra and audience by video link, Mr Putin said the concert stood as a memorial to victims of terrorism and a sign of hope that the ancient city might be revived. “This represents hope not only for the revival of Palmyra, as the heritage of all mankind, but also hope for ridding modern civilization of the terrible plague of international terrorism,” he said.

The concert was carefully coordinated with Russia’s annual Victory Day celebrations, the annual holiday on May 9 that marks the end of the Second World War but has also become a celebration of modern Russian military prowess.  Earlier on Thursday the body of a Russian soldier killed during thebattle for Palmyra was repatriated in a televised ceremony.

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Alexander Prokhorenko, a special forces officer, was killed while coordinating airstrikes on Isil positions near Palmyra in March.  Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) captured Palmyra from Syrian government forces in May 2015. During its ten month occupation of the city the terror group destroyed several of the ancient site’s monuments and used the amphitheatre for mass executions.

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Syrian government forces closely backed by Russian airstrikesrecaptured Palmyra from Isil in March, in a major symbolic victory.   Key Kremlin players, including culture minister Vladimir Medinsky, flew into  Syria for the event.  The concert also featured cellist Sergei Roldugin, a life-long friend of Vladimir Putin who was recently revealed as the owner of several off shore companies in the Panama Papers leaks.

Mr Gergeiv has a history of triumphant victory concerts. In August 2008 he conducted the Mariinsky in a performance outside the bombed out parliament building of the self proclaimed republic of South Ossetia, marking Russia’s crushing of Georgian forces there in a five day war.

Drones Could Soon Be Delivering Mail In The Land Down Under

Drones could soon be delivering letters, soap, and other small items in the land down under. The Australia Post, the Australian government-owned postal service, said on Friday that it will commence a two-week test of drone deliveries drones in the city of Melbourne.

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As part of the trial, the postal service will use drones built by a robotics company called ARI Labs. The goal of the tests are to determine how reliable are the flying robots, how far can they travel, what objects can it safely transport, and the best ways customers could receive packages, according to a report on the tests by The Australian. If the drones prove dependable during the field tests, the postal service said it would launch a larger consumer trial later in the year in which drones will be delivering goods to doorsteps.

For the larger consumer trial, the postal service plans to deploy the drones to rural areas outside of the urban city. The postal service has selected 50 locations where it will test drone deliveries twice a week, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

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For these rural locations, delivery drivers would drive to locations near homes and then send the drones on their way to recipients’ doorstops. This would benefit rural Australian residents in which their mailboxes may be distant from their houses, the Herald noted.

The drones can currently carry packages weighing a little over 2.5 pounds, and will be tested for short 15 to 20 minute flights, according to The Australian. If the drones happen to malfunction up in the sky, ARI Labs outfitted the flying robots with parachutes and alarms so people on the ground can stay clear of danger.

The drone delivery testing comes at a time when the Australia government has relaxed some rules governing businesses seeking regulatory approval to fly small drones for commercial purposes. Similarly, the United States Federal Aviation Administration is currently consideringwhether to make it easier for businesses to use small drones without being subject to lengthy approval procedures.