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Question of the week

Lots of stories this week about drone laws and those who break them.

The biggest headline: The federal task force assigned to developing registration guidelines for recreational drones has apparently reached some conclusions after the first few days of discussions. No final calls yet, and the talks continue this week. Here’s the best we know:

  • Registration will be free
  • It will be web- and app-based
  • You’ll probably need to put a registration number on your drone
  • Registration will be required of users, not manufacturers
  • Still unclear what the penalty would be for failure to comply

Registration will help law enforcement trace and properly attribute rogue drones, which today is next to impossible. 3DR supports registration in principle, but we don’t want it to intrude on people’s enjoyment of recreational droning. It’s also unclear what this will mean for the DIY crowd, who assemble their own kits.

So the question this week: How do you think these requirements stack up? Fair? Unfair? Suggestions of your own? Hit me up in the comments below.

And now the best links from last week.


The federal task force charged with creating rules for federal drone registration (3DR is an advisor) seems likely to make recreational drone registration free of charge, available over the web or through a mobile app. Recreational users would also be required to physically put a registration number on their drone. (Reuters)

The US Bureau of Prisons has been sufficiently alarmed by the many recent attempts to break into prisons with drones. They’re asking for technology that prisons can use to detect and deflect drones on their way to drop contraband into prison yards. (Forbes)

The US has called for other countries to join us in opening radio spectra for drones and global flight tracking systems. (Tech Radar)

The NYPD seems to be adding recreational drone users to its terrorist watch list. (CBS NY)

Culture and commentary

Talk about DroneCon: The incredible story of drone maker Prioria, who allegedly swindled the US Army out of millions of dollars by selling them a drone system that has the capabilities of many $1000 hobbyist drones. Prioria’s systems, called Maveric, cost the Army $240,000 a pop. (Motherboard)

Are you the Chuck Yeager of drones? If you’ve got the right stuff, Alphabet (née Google) is hiring expert RC pilots to test fly drones for its Project Wing delivery program. They’re also hiring pilots to test fly the Solara drones that they plan to use to deliver web access by radar to countries without a robust internet infrastructure. (Business Insider)

A drone allegedly crashed into a small plane in Costa Rica. However, here are six questions about that crash whose answers might complicate the narrative. Although the questions are pretty specific, they’re also important to keep in mind when investigating any similar reported incident. (Robotics Trends)


Facebook and Alphabet advance their rival plans to deliver internet via drone. (The Guardian)

A new drone video game called Drone n Bass (for some reason a reference to electronic music genre Drum & Bass) allows you to race and even battle small drones. Like Mario Kart, the game includes virtual rewards and traps that help or hurt you along the way. It’s still just a Kickstarter, having reached $22,000 of its $77,000 goal, and with 24 days to go the race is on. (GeekWire)

Transforming drones into holograms: Researchers at Queens University are developing augmented reality technology that would allow users to physically manipulate drones in flight. They offer the example of using the drones to manipulate the orientation of a holographic building displayed in front of you. (Tech Times)

The forever drone: A new surveillance drone uses a tether both to receive power and transmit data, theoretically allowing it to fly indefinitely. (Technology Review)