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It’s that time of year again here in Austin: SXSW meets St. Patrick’s Day meets March Madness. (Please forgive typos.) Drones again are high on the media agenda, and we’ve got a solid keg full of mind bending stories and videos that came over the web wires last week. Cheers.

The bleeding edge

An Israeli startup called Percepto is raising funds on Indiegogo to manufacture an open source drone camera that can interact with apps on your mobile phone. The company already has a few apps of their own, including a follow app, but Percepto wants to invite others to build on their machine vision platform. We applaud this thinking — after all, moving fast means moving together. (Wired)

Worried about dronestrike? To get an idea of how a jet engine would handle a drone, IEEE takes a look at how companies test an airplane’s capacity to withstand birdstrike. Two awesome words: chicken cannon.

While SXSW may have banned drones this year (due to bandwidth concerns), they sure can’t ground the ideas. At one panel, a company called Frog Design presented 16 wearable drones they imagine might become everyday devices in the future. The thought? Wearable drones could not only perform the tasks of a smartphone, they could go above and beyond what we expect from our handsets today. “The drone that may replace your smartphone is already evolving from it.” (Wareable)

Also at SXSW, drone policy maven Lisa Ellman gave a talk on “privacy in the age of drone fever.” I was there. It was great. However, for basically the same experience, plus a drone football handoff, you can check out her TED Talk here.

These drones can weave three-dimensional architectural structures in minutes. “We can fly drones through and around existing objects, which a person or crane can’t do.” (Dezeen)

Drones for good: Helping lifeguards save people on busy beaches in Chile. (ABC)


We were thrilled to announce last week that the FAA granted two companies exemptions to use 3DR drones for commercial purposes, in railroad inspection and construction. (3DR)

Following the now infamous White House drone crash, the Secret Service is currently training to knock drones out of the sky. Chicken cannon? (The Verge)

Aerospace company Excelis announced that their air traffic control system for drones — called Symphony — is now ready for testing at FAA sites. Excelis already feeds data on manned aircraft to the FAA, so the idea is that this new system would simply have to integrate drone data into their existing framework. They’ve been developing Symphony in partnership with NASA over the past six months. (Gizmag)

FAA update

The FAA also granted the Michigan State Police an exemption for drone use. The MSP is the first law enforcement agency to receive an FAA exemption. (Freep)

Motherboard looks deeper into the FAA’s crackdown of seemingly disproportionate force on a YouTube user for posting his drone videos. The reason? His videos are technically monetized on YouTube; however, he’s never received a payment, and the revenue he’s “earned” from Google’s ads is less than a dollar.

But should FAA inspectors really be spending their time watching drone videos on YouTube? (Forbes)

This is an interesting and forward-thinking analysis of the long-term impact of Facebook’s play to deliver the internet via drones. (Wired)

Great read for anyone who wants an objective look at the FAA’s footdragging: Why is Canada winning the drone race? (But who’s winning the chicken cannon arms race? America, that’s who.) (Popular Science)


Gorgeous drone footage of the largest cave on (in?) Earth — Han Son Doong in Vietnam. (Digg)

Drones defy gravity — but does gravity even exist? The answer: Maybe. Crazy article here — and it comes with a very cool drone tour of Lousiana’s massive gravitational wave detector. (Motherboard)

Paranoid Androids

The rock band Muse will release a new record in June called “Drones.” Out of all of the articles this week, this quote from the band rules the day: “The world is run by Drones utilizing Drones to turn us all into Drones.” (Rolling Stone)