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Question of the Week

This week, the global “Drones for Good” competition, hosted by the UAE, announced it has started accepting applications for its second annual contest, the winner of which will receive a $1 million prize. Last year the competition drew 800 participants from 57 countries; the winner was a “crash proof” rescue drone from the Swiss company Flyability.

The drone industry definitely needs high-profile events like these to highlight the astounding potential that drone technology has for people and industries around the world. And we need to do our part to champion these use cases, ourselves.

I don’t have a million dollars for you, but last week I began soliciting leads for “Drones for Good” use cases that you may have heard of. I’m collecting these stories to aggregate in a living, public database that will showcase and help advocate for drone technology. I received a bunch of great suggestions last week, and I’d like to see more! Remember, no case is too small, too obvious or too strange — share anything you’ve read or heard of that you feel might fit. Submit your suggestions in the comments section of this page. Thanks in advance!

And now, the links that matter this week:

Headlines

Microsoft launched a drone program to help fight the spread of disease. “As envisioned, Project Premonition would use drones to catch and identify new diseases before they become a threat to humans, wildlife, or livestock…. The potential gains are tremendous: new diseases found and sequenced before they get a chance to become virulent outbreaks.” (Popular Science)

Google wants to save your life with a fleet of drone ambulances, a new patent reveals. These new drones could deliver emergency supplies of water, first aid kits, defibrillators or EpiPens. (International Business Times)

Our CEO Chris Anderson went on CBS This Morning to talk about Solo and the future of drones. Chris also discusses hot-button issues of safety, privacy and the inevitable “mass jackassery” concomitant to the proliferation of consumer drones.

NIMBY: A guy in Huntington Beach, CA, swatted a quadcopter out of the sky with his t-shirt. “We were just filming a little video about how to make some changes to the settings on the app for the drone,” said Mike Luzansky, an employee of Lucky 7 Drones. “Then this neighbor that I’ve never seen before just comes over and hits it.” The video the company posted on YouTube has attracted more than 140,000 views. (LA Times)

Analysis

Nine misconceptions about drones that serious engineers wish you’d shut up about. (Gizmodo)

3D Robotics features prominently in this great analysis of California’s burgeoning drone industry. (LA Times)

In this thoughtful piece on the effects of software and automation on jobs and the future global economy, the MIT Review asks, Who will own the robots? “For a long time the common understanding was that technology was destroying jobs but also creating new and better ones,” says Lipson. “Now the evidence is that technology is destroying jobs and indeed creating new and better ones but also fewer ones. It is something we as technologists need to start thinking about.”

Tech

The graffiti artist Katsu teaches you how to make a graffiti drone. The artist recently used a drone to tag NYC’s biggest billboard — a new era of vandalism? (Vice)

NASA has developed a somewhat surprising solution to that annoying “hornet’s nest” noise that drones make: More props. This new quiet drone has eight engines on the wings and another two on the tail; several small motors are quieter than a few large ones. (New Scientist)

On IndieGogo, MicroDrone 3.0: It fits in the palm of your hand, boasts the “world’s smallest gimbal,” and is designed to stream to live video to real time social media channels like Periscope and Meerkat.

NASA held its fourth annual International Space Apps Challenge, daring hackers and engineers to design a drone that could assist astronauts in zero gravity. A daunting task, but they did it. Read how here. (Memeburn)

Video

You may have seen that recent flash floods in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, killed as many as 12 people and ripped open many exhibits in the city zoo, leading dozens of animals to break out. Several of those animals, including lions and tigers, remain at large. This drone video shows an escaped crocodile looking right at home in the muck. (NBC)

And now a dangerous animal in its natural environment: It used to take lifeguards up to two hours to go on a jet ski and try to confirm shark sightings, but with drones this can be done in a matter of minutes. Watch these lifeguards launch a drone and within minutes discover about ten great white sharks just off the California coast. (ABC)