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Question of the week

The big news this week came out of Congress: The FAA testified that drone regulations “will be in place within a year.” This means that, even though the FAA will have missed their initial deadline of September of this year, American skies will be open for commercial drone operations much sooner than anticipated — many thought legislation wouldn’t be in place until 2017.

So, after ramping up slowly, the FAA seems to have felt and responded to the pressure from lobbying groups like the Small UAV Coalition (3DR is a member) and corporate interests like Amazon. It also means that the American public will have a little less time to get accustomed to drones in the skies — and this week’s Download has some stories that indicate there’s a lot of education still to be done.

We have to enough true and positive information out there to combat the hype, fear-mongering and misinformation like this fake video, which just came out today.

So, to help us at 3DR be better educators, communicators and role models here’s my question:

What made you come around to drones?

What messages do you think would resonate most with the public, so that when the skies do open, their minds will be open, too? Help us tell the best stories we possibly can! Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

And now, the links that matter:


“The rule will be in place within a year.” FAA Deputy Administrator Michael Whitaker testified this week before the U.S. House of Representatives Oversight and Government Reform Committee, promising the FAA will integrate commercial drones into the national airspace sooner than anticipated. (Reuters)

Amazon’s waiting for the FAA to deliver: Amazon vice president of global policy Paul Misener said during that same Congressional hearing, “We’d like to begin delivering to our customers as soon as it’s approved.” (Popular Science)

In this same hearing, Congress was warned that drones present “a nightmare scenario for civil liberties” (note the scare quotes): “Here is a nightmare scenario for civil liberties: a network of law enforcement UAS with sensors capable of identifying and tracking individuals monitors populated outdoor areas on a constant, pervasive basis for generalized public safety purposes.” (The Guardian)

Diane Feinstein introduced legislation that would direct the FAA to require certain safety features for newly manufactured consumer drones, such as geo-fencing, collision-avoidance software, air traffic control compliance and educational materials to be provided to the consumer. The legislation would allow the FAA to exempt some consumer drones from meeting certain “technologically infeasible or cost-prohibitive” requirements. (Sen. Diane Feinstein)

The New York Times, the Associated Press, the Washington Post, Reuters, ABC and Getty Images , among others, will begin testing news-gathering drones today at a range in Virginia. I’d like to note that in a telling reversal VICE isn’t participating in a cutting-edge activity, but is instead reporting on it here. (Motherboard)

Culture and analysis

Check out the Department of Homeland Security’s test site for drone use in urban environs. The site’s name, Liberty City, should sound familiar to fans of the video game Grand Theft Auto — but this fake city is designed for crime prevention: “The broad objective is to determine whether drones can play a practical role in a broad range of public safety deployments…. Reviewers compile their findings into a database for first responders nationwide to use when weighing a drone purchase.” (Motherboard)

A look at the women behind the “abortion drone.” The drone is being sent by not-for-profit organization Women on Waves, which provides medical abortion pills around the world. On Saturday, the drone will drop a number of packages of World Health Organization-approved abortion pills over a Polish town on the border of Germany, where it will be met by women’s groups who will hand the pills to individual women who need them. Poland, with a large Roman-Catholic population, has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe. (The Telegraph)

Antonio Brown led the NFL in receptions last year, though he didn’t break the all-time record. In the off-season, though, he’s used a drone to set the world record for a catch from the highest point — the drone dropped the ball from 360 feet, and it was moving at about 80 mph when Brown sucked it in. (CBS)

A frustrated Phil Mickelson chases down and kicks one of the drones that Fox Sports used to cover this year’s US Open. (It was a rover, not a copter.) Mickelson finished the tournament tied for 69th. (CBS)

Why send humans to space when we can send robots? Well worth checking out this exchange about autonomy between intellectual giants Noam Chomsky and Lawrence Krauss. (Motherboard)

High tech

Check out this multicopter made from bamboo, “the ultimate hipster material, and fabricated with a laser cutter, the ultimate hipster CNC fabricator.” (?!) (boingboing)

But come on — this drone has far more street cred: An IRIS+ spray paint mod on Adafruit, developed in collaboration with the graffiti artist KATSU.

And this one has far more street tread! (Sorry.) A tank quadcopter — useful for… something, I’m sure. (Uncrate)

New world record for longest multirotor flight: EnergyOr Technologies Inc. flew a hydrogen-powered drone for a record 3 hours, 43 minutes and 48 seconds, improving upon its previous world record of 2 hours, 12 minutes and 46 seconds, set this March. (EnergyOr)


It’s fake! And it’s just what the drone industry needs these days. Check out this video posted to LiveLeaks just today, purporting to show a drone striking the wing of a commercial plane over New York City. Then check out the name on the wingtip — the studio that handled the VFX here. And if you want, Google the incident. Please, if you see someone spreading this nonsense, shine a little light: It’s just an ad.