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Question of the week

The winning sensationalist headline from last week came through SUASNews (h/t Gary Mortimer): “Four planes have been involved in fatal near misses with drones at major British airports including Heathrow in the last month.” The actual article and headline are from The Daily Mail.

“Fatal near misses.” Might be the best one yet.

At any rate, I’m always on the lookout for writing like this; so if you find any, please share with me:

But as you may have already seen, this week we dropped a trailer for an original 3DR sci-fi series — it’s called Life After Gravity and it’s shot entirely on Solo and GoPro. The whole point is to show that with Solo’s automation, anyone can now start using drones as professional storytelling devices, video production units in a backpack — not just for shooting sexy scenery or action sports. It’s an ambitious and epic effort on the part of our video team. Click here to watch the trailer and learn more.

And as it happens there was a ton of great drone video out there this week, which you can find, as you can every week, just by jumping down to the last section of the Download. So the question of the week: What are your favorite drone videos of the year? Not only that, but why are they your favorites? Share the links with us in the comments section below.

And now, the stories that mattered last week…


The NFL has become the first pro sports league to receive the FAA’s permission to fly drones. However, they can’t yet fly drones over games, just empty stadiums. The league’s technology adoption once again lags way behind Bill Belichik, who has in all likelihood been flying drones over NFL practice fields for nearly a decade now. (The Verge)

A Baltimore grand jury has indicted three men who were accused of attempting to fly a drone carrying tobacco, synthetic marijuana (known to kidz these days as “spice”) and pornographic DVDs into a prison. The men face over three dozen charges. (CBS)

The Taiwanese government has proposed new drone regulations. “Under the revisions proposed by the Civil Aeronautics Administration, unless otherwise permitted, UAVs and drones can only be operated by those aged 18 and above during daylight hours. The maximum altitude is 400 feet and they must be within visual sight of the pilots at all times…. In addition, models weighing 15 kilograms and above require operator’s licenses, insurance and registration. Those weighing less than 15 kilograms do not need licensing or registration, but are subject to the authority of respective local governments.” (Taiwan Today)

This December the UK will host its first-ever FPV drone racing championship. (AV Interactive)

Drone legally tows election ad across highway. People get upset. (Times Colonist)

“Four planes have been involved in fatal near misses with drones at major British airports including Heathrow in the last month.” (The Daily Mail, via our friends at SUASNews)

Culture and commentary

Check out “The Drone Age” from The Economist, an accurate and concise overview of where the global drone industry is today, and where it looks to be headed.

Graham Phillips, a journalist from the UK, has been publishing some incredibly compelling drone footage of war zones in the Ukraine. “If you have a war in Syria or Iraq that’s one thing, but these people in Pervomaisk were living a life recognizable to any Westerner just 18 months ago — going to supermarkets, cafes, etc…. Journalists hardly go there, it hardly gets covered. To my knowledge this is the first drone footage of the town.… I started using a drone in [the eastern Ukraine region of] Donbass about five months ago and immediately noticed a huge boost in retweets, reaction, hits, response as compared to standard footage. It really allows people, at a visceral level, to see the real scene. It conveys what other cameras can’t.” (Inverse)

Following up on a piece from last week’s Download: The Department of the Interior’s testing of a drone over an Idaho wildfire was a “wild” (!!) success: “The unmanned aircraft, or drone, was used to take videos, locate hot spots, and even measure the intensity of the flames. That information was then immediately sent back to the command center, and the agencies involved say it was a huge success.” (Fox News Radio)

High tech

Hydroswarm, a project created and led by an MIT PhD student, is an underwater drone network that could help us more efficiently explore that 95% of our oceans (!!!) we for some reason haven’t quite looked into yet. (TechCrunch)

And why not? Because we clearly have species-wide ADHD: In the same week, news breaks that we’re also going to use an underwater drone to start exploring the oceans of Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons, in the 2020s. Europa has an estimated three times the amount of water that Earth does. That water is under a planet-wide sheet of ice, but NASA has already shown through research in the Arctic that their drone can attach to the underside of the ice and record images and data about its movements underwater. (International Business Times)

NASA has completed phase three of a sense-and-avoid-based air traffic control system for drones. In this phase, an Ikhana drone made 11 flights with over 200 scripted encounters with other aircraft. “Depending on the specific scenario, either Ikhana detected one or more approaching aircraft and sent an alert to its remote pilot to take action, or Ikhana itself took action on its own by flying a programmed maneuver to avoid a collision.” (Unmanned Systems)

Prominent high-end camera maker RED has announced a new lightweight camera, called RAVEN, designed for drone use. It weighs 3.5 lbs. More specs: “4K recording at up to 120fps, 2K at up to 240fps, and 2K ProRes up to 60fps. On board is an 8.8 megapixel RED DRAGON image sensor measuring 20.48 mm x 10.8 mm, which is smaller than APS-C, but bigger than micro four-thirds.” (Dive)


Def watch this: Drone footage of Russian calligraphers painting a rooftop. According to the article, at 17,000 square feet this is only “one of” Russia’s biggest calligraphy projects. The biggest? Vladimir Putin’s signature written in a perpetual oil fire on the surface of the Caspian Sea. (The “i”s are dotted with hearts, which are also on fire.) (Digg)

Red pill/blue pill scenario: Do you want to know the horrible truth? Drone footage shows hundreds of man-sized black-tip sharks in the waters just off the coast of Destin, Florida. The sharks are just hanging out there, like it’s no big deal that there are hundreds of man-sized black-tip sharks in the water literally only feet away from them. (Orlando Weekly)

Meanwhile, in decidedly friendlier waters, a pair of whales pays a visit to an Australian paddleboarder. (Yahoo)

The Tesla lightning tower and hidden cities: Five abandoned Soviet-era architectural sites from above. (RT)

Don’t click if you’re afraid of heights, like I am. That said, this is pretty stunning: A bridge spanning a gorge in China, made of rope and glass. (MSN)