Drone taxis may be here in 5 years says Uber boss

Uber Technologies Inc Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi said on Tuesday he can see commercialization of the Uber Air flying taxi service happening within five to 10 years.

The U.S. ride-hailing app maker has said it expects flying vehicles to eventually become an affordable method of mass transportation.

Khosrowshahi was speaking at an investor forum in Tokyo on his first visit to Asia as Uber CEO.

Ride-hailing firms such as Uber see populous Japan as a potentially lucrative market and are pressing regulators to ease stringent rules governing the taxi industry.

Intel cancels Olympic drone show, still claims record

Intel Olympic drone show cancelled; still claims record

“Impromptu logistical changes” were blamed by Intel for the cancellation of the Intel drone show at the Winter Olympics in Seoul.

For US TV audiences a video of a previous show was broadcast.

A trifle cheekily Intel tweeted ‘See how our drone team pulled off a Guinness World Record title for the Opening Ceremony’.

The Olympic organising committee stated: “During the Ceremony, POCOG (PyeongChang Olympic Games) made the decision to not go ahead with the show because there were too many spectators standing in the area where the live drone show was supposed to take place.”

European Aviation Safety Agency has published plans for a new regulatory environment for drones in Europe

The European Aviation Safety Agency has published plans for a new regulatory environment for drones in Europe

An agency of the European Union

Introduction of a regulatory framework for the operation of unmanned aircraft systems in the ‘open’ and ‘specific’ categories

In accordance with the proposed new Basic Regulation, for which a political agreement between the Council, the European Commission and the European Parliament was reached on 22 December 2017, the competence of the EU has been extended to cover the regulation of all civil unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), regardless of their maximum take-off masses(MTOMs). The objective of this Opinion is to create a new regulatory framework that defines measures to mitigate the risk of operations in the: — ‘open’ category, through a combination of limitations, operational rules, requirements for the competency of the remote pilot, as well as technical requirements for UAS, such that the UAS operator may conduct the operation without prior authorisation by the competent authority, or without submitting a declaration; and — ‘specific’ category, through a system that includes a risk assessment being conducted by the UAS operator before starting an operation, or an operator complying with a standard scenario, or an operator holding a certificate with privileges. Moreover, this Opinion is intended to: — implement an operation-centric, proportionate, risk- and performance-based regulatory framework for all UAS operations conducted in the ‘open’ and ‘specific’ categories; — ensure a high and uniform level of safety for UAS operations; — foster the development of the UAS market; and — contribute to addressing citizens’ concerns regarding security, privacy, data protection, and environmental protection. The proposed regulations will provide flexibility to Member States (MSs), mainly by allowing them to create zones within their territories where the use of UAS would be prohibited, limited or, in contrast, facilitated. Pursuant to the new Basic Regulation, market product legislation (CE marking) ensures compliance with the technical requirements for mass-produced UAS operated in the ‘open’ category. Two acts are proposed that follow different adoption procedures, as defined by the new Basic Regulation: a delegated act that defines the conditions for making UAS available on the market and the conditions for UAS operations conducted by a third-country operator, and an implementing rule that definesthe conditions to operate UAS and the conditions for registration. The proposed regulatory framework is expected to increase the level of safety of UAS operations, to harmonise legislation among the EU MSs, and to create an EU market that will reduce the cost of UAS and allow cross-border operations. Action area: Civil drones (unmanned aircraft systems (UAS)) Affected rules: n/a Affected stakeholders: Operators (private and commercial); competent authorities; MSs; flight crews; remote pilots; maintenance staff; UAS manufacturers; other airspace users (manned aircraft); service providers of air traffic management (ATM)/air navigation services (ANS) and other ATM network functions; air traffic services (ATS) personnel; aerodromes; general public; model aircraft associations and clubs Driver: Efficiency/proportionality; safety Rulemaking group: No, but expert group Impact assessment:

DJI Mavic Air announced

Last week some details emerged about the upcoming DJI Mavic Air drone. We now have the leaked pictures and specs – the official announcement is tomorrow:

  • 32MP camera with a panorama mode (I’m guessing the drone spins, not the camera).
  • 4K video (Drone DJ believes at up to 60fps)
  • 3-axis gimbal
  • Folding legs for a teeny tiny package in transport
  • Obstacle avoidance front, rear and below
  • Visual Positioning System (VPS) for better hovering and indoor flying
  • Gesture control
  • 21 minute flight time
  • Compatible with DJI Goggles
  • Available in multiple colors (at least white, “Black” and red, so far).

Additional pictures:

Via DiyphotographyDronedj

Read more: https://photorumors.com/2018/01/22/the-new-dji-mavic-air-drone-leaked-ahead-of-announcement/#ixzz550Piho3a

Spy drones could be used for the first time in the UK by Police Scotland with covert surveillance

Spy drones could be used to help Police Scotland with covert surveillance.

The force are planning to spend £100,000 on two unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to primarily assist in operations such as missing person searches and officer support.

But Deputy Chief Constable Johnny Gwynne also admitted it would be “ridiculous” if they were not used when tracking suspects.

Speaking at the Scottish Police Authority meeting in Dundee, he said: “Our position around the use of UAV’s is ordinarily they would be used for overt police work.

“But it would seem ridiculous if our attempts to save a life would be precluded because we said we won’t use them for covert work.

“My commitment to you as an authority is that if this becomes regular, sustained use, we will bring that back to you and make that visible.”

The two spy drones are to be based in Aberdeen and Inverness respectively by March and hope to be made available to road units and armed response teams to increase the force’s air support ability and reduce costs.

Any use of covert drone surveillance must adhere to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Scotland) Act 2000 as well as aviation law.

Police Scotland are working with Glasgow University and the University of West of Scotland to develop a custom model.

Are DJI drones spying for China

DJI camera drones are likely spying on the United States for China. At least, that’s what a newly uncovered US government memo claims. DJI has responded by calling the allegations “insane.”

Fast Company reports that the unclassified memo was issued back in August by the U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) in Los Angeles.

In the memo, the ICE agent writes that he or she “assesses with moderate confidence that Chinese-based company DJI Science and Technology is providing U.S. critical infrastructure and law enforcement data to the Chinese government.”

The memo further “assesses with high confidence the company is selectively targeting government and privately owned entities within these sectors to expand its ability to collect and exploit sensitive U.S. data.”

The list of sensitive data being gathered by DJI is extensive, the agent claims:

The UAS operate on two Android smartphone applications called DJI GO and Sky Pixels that automatically tag GPS imagery and locations, register facial recognition data even when the system is off, and access users’ phone data. Additionally, the applications capture user identification, e-mail addresses, full names, phone numbers, images, videos, and computer credentials. Much of the information collected includes proprietary and sensitive critical infrastructure data, such as detailed imagery of power control panels, security measures for critical infrastructure sites, or materials used in bridge construction.

What’s more, the agent says the info collected could be used to launch an attack against the US, writing with “high confidence” that “the critical infrastructure and law enforcement entities using DJI systems are collecting sensitive intelligence that the Chinese government could use to conduct physical or cyber attacks against the United States and its population.”

These conclusions were made after the agent looked into “information derived from open source reporting and a reliable source within the unmanned aerial systems (UAS) industry with first and secondhand access.”

Here’s the full memo:

In an email to Fast Company, DJI spokesperson Adam Lisberg called the memo “utterly insane.” After the memo was published on the Internet, DJI also quickly published a statement on its website refuting the allegations and saying that the memo was “based on clearly false and misleading claims from an unidentified source.

“[T]he allegations in the bulletin are so profoundly wrong as a factual matter that ICE should consider withdrawing it.”

Many of the allegations in the ICE report are obviously false. The claims that DJI systems can register facial recognition data even while powered off, that Parrot and Yuneec have stopped manufacturing competitive products, and that DJI products have substantial price differentials between the U.S. and China can be easily disproven with a basic knowledge of technology and the drone industry, or even a simple internet search.

DJI has also asked ICE to look into whether the agent may have “had a competitive or improper motive to interfere with DJI’s legitimate business by making false allegations about DJI.”

DJI, based in Shenzhen, China, is a dominant force globally in the camera drone industry — DJI reportedly owns a 70%+ market share of all non-hobbyist drones in the US, according to a recent survey. But the company has been the subject of cybersecurity scrutiny as of late.

In August, the US Army abruptly ended its use of DJI products, citing cyber vulnerabilities. DJI responded less than 2 months later by launching a Local Data privacy mode that allows drones to fly completely offline.

“DJI has built its reputation on developing the best products for consumer and professional drone users across a wide variety of fields, including those who fly sensitive missions and need strong data security,” DJI concludes in its statement. “We will continue working to provide our customers the security they require.”

(via Fast Company via DPReview)

Pilots call for early legislation on drones

Pilots union BALPA has welcomed the UK Government’s decision to take action to reduce the risk of drones colliding with aircraft, but says it needs to move fast.

The Government has promised to introduce a drone registration and regulation package, along with greater police powers to deal with users who break the law.

BALPA, which has also called for no-fly zones and geofencing around airports, said these are also now very much on the agenda.

BALPA general secretary Brian Strutton said: “BALPA recognised the potential of drone technology long ago. But it soon became clear that without the right rules and regulations in place to enable them to share airspace safely, these devices could pose a huge threat to commercial aircraft.

“This is evidenced by the sharp rise in reported near misses with drones last year, up from 29 to 71. And we have exceeded that already this year with the UK Airprox Board already noting 81 reported near misses in 2017 so far.

“These proposals are a step towards the safe integration of drones, but until the new rules are in place the threat of a serious collision remains.

“It would be a tragedy if such an incident were to occur and lives were lost while we await these measures.

“That’s why BALPA continues to push for this programme of legislation to be adopted quickly; pilots would prefer to see it implemented in 2018 rather than at a later date.”

New law for safety awareness tests for all drone users

Drone users in the UK may have to take safety awareness tests under legislation planned by the government.
Drones weighing more than 250g could also be banned from flying near airports, or above 400 ft, in a crackdown on unsafe flying.
Police will also be given new powers to seize and ground drones which may have been used in criminal activity.
The bill has been welcomed by the pilots’ union, which has warned of near misses involving drones and aircraft.
Balpa said there had been 81 incidents so far this year – up from 71 in 2016 and 29 in 2015.
The union’s general secretary, Brian Strutton, said: “These proposals are a step towards the safe integration of drones, but until the new rules are in place the threat of a serious collision remains.”
In July a drone flew directly over the wing of a large passenger jet as it came into land at London’s Gatwick Airport, which a report said had put 130 lives at risk.
Drones scatter mosquitoes to fight diseases
The flying drones that can scan packages night and day
Drone detects heartbeat and breathing rates
The proposed bill – to be published in spring 2018 – would ensure that owners of drones weighing more than 250g would need to register and sit a test.
Drone pilot and trainer Elliott Corke, director of HexCam, said most recreationally and commercially-used drones in use weighed more than 250g, apart from the cheap toy versions.
He told BBC News that many new users were surprised by how many rules around drone usage already exist, under the Civil Aviation Authority’s Drone Code.
He said there was a “degree of frustration” however that the rules were not being enforced effectively, allowing criminal activity to take place.

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Drone strikes commercial jet in Canada

A drone had a direct hit with a commercial plane as it came in to land at Quebec’s Jean Lesage International Airport, Canada’s transport minister Marc Garneau said.

There were no injuries and the small Skyjet plane landed safely shortly after.

The UAV collision took place about 3km from the airport and at a height of about 450km, which is within the exclusion zones surrounding the nation’s airports.

Under Canadian law, drones are forbidden to fly within 5.5km of an airport or landing strip.

“Although the vast majority of drone operators fly responsibly, it was our concern for incidents like this that prompted me to take action and issue interim safety measures restricting where recreational drones could be flown,” Garneau said.

“This is the first time a drone has hit a commercial aircraft in Canada and I am extremely relieved that the aircraft only sustained minor damage and was able to land safely.”

The small plane was carrying six passengers and two crew and was struck on one of its wings.

“This should not have happened, that drone should not have been there,” Garneau said, adding it could have been ‘catastrophic’ if it had hit the cockpit or an engine.

Although this is the first direct hit, Garneau said there have been 131 drone incidents so far this year ‘of aviation safety concern.’