FAA

FAA threatens $25,000 fine for weaponizing drones

Posted by | drones, FAA, Federal Aviation Administration, Gadgets, Government, hardware | No Comments

It’s perfectly natural for a red-blooded American to, once they have procured their first real drone, experiment with attaching a flame thrower to it. But it turns out that this harmless hobby is frowned upon by the biggest buzzkills in the world… the feds.

Yes, the FAA has gone and published a notice that drones and weapons are “A Dangerous Mix.” Well, that’s arguable. But they’re the authority here, so we have to hear them out.

“Perhaps you’ve seen online photos and videos of drones with attached guns, bombs, fireworks, flamethrowers, and other dangerous items. Do not consider attaching any items such as these to a drone because operating a drone with such an item may result in significant harm to a person and to your bank account.”

They’re not joking around with the fines, either. You could be hit with one as big as $25,000 for violating the FAA rules. Especially if you put your attack drone on YouTube.

That’s the ThrowFlame TF-19, by the way. TechCrunch in no way recommends or endorses this extremely awesome device.

Of course, you may consider yourself an exception — perhaps you are a defense contractor working on hunter-killers, or a filmmaker who has to simulate a nightmare drone-dominated future. Or maybe you just promise to be extra careful.

If so, you can apply to the FAA through the proper channels to receive authorization for your drone-weaponizing operation. Of course, as with all other victimless crimes, if no one sees it, did a crime really occur? The FAA would no doubt say yes, absolutely, no question. So yeah, probably you shouldn’t do that.

wepdrone

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Alphabet’s Wing gets FAA permission to start delivering by drone

Posted by | Alphabet, artificial intelligence, drone delivery, drones, FAA, Federal Aviation Administration, Gadgets, Google, hardware, Project Wing, robotics, Transportation, wing, Wing Aviation | No Comments

Wing Aviation, the drone-based delivery startup born out of Google’s X labs, has received the first FAA certification in the country for commercial carriage of goods. It might not be long before you’re getting your burritos sent par avion.

The company has been performing tests for years, making thousands of flights and supervised deliveries to show that its drones are safe and effective. Many of those flights were in Australia, where in suburban Canberra the company recently began its first commercial operations. Finland and other countries are also in the works.

Wing’s first operations, starting later this year, will be in Blacksburg and Christiansburg, Va.; obviously an operation like this requires close coordination with municipal authorities as well as federal ones. You can’t just get a permission slip from the FAA and start flying over everyone’s houses.

“Wing plans to reach out to the local community before it begins food delivery, to gather feedback to inform its future operations,” the FAA writes in a press release. Here’s hoping that means you can choose whether or not these loud little aircraft will be able to pass through your airspace.

Although the obvious application is getting a meal delivered quickly even when traffic is bad, there are plenty of other applications. One imagines quick delivery of medications ahead of EMTs, or blood being transferred quickly between medical centers.

I’ve asked Wing for more details on its plans to roll this out elsewhere in the U.S. and will update this story if I hear back.

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Did you fly a drone over Fenway Park? The FAA would like a chat

Posted by | drones, FAA, Gadgets, hardware | No Comments

Drones are great. But they are also flying machines that can do lots of stupid and dangerous things. Like, for instance, fly over a major league baseball game packed with spectators. It happened at Fenway Park last night, and the FAA is not happy.

The illegal flight took place last night during a Red Sox-Blue Jays game at Fenway; the drone, a conspicuously white DJI Phantom, reportedly first showed up around 9:30 PM, coming and going over the next hour.

One of the many fans who shot a video of the drone, Chris O’Brien, told CBS Boston that “it would kind of drop fast then go back up then drop and spin. It was getting really low and close to the players. At one point it was getting really low and I was wondering are they going to pause the game and whatever, but they never did.

Places where flying is regularly prohibited, like airports and major landmarks like stadiums, often have no-fly rules baked into the GPS systems of drones — and that’s the case with DJI. In a statement, however, the company said that “whoever flew this drone over the stadium apparently overrode our geofencing system and deliberately violated the FAA temporary flight restriction in place over the game.”

The FAA said that it (and Boston PD) is investigating both to local news and in a tweet explaining why it is illegal.

FAA Statement: The FAA is investigating a report that a #drone flew over @fenwaypark during the baseball game last night. Flying drones in/around stadiums is prohibited starting 1hr before & ending 1hr after the scheduled game & prohibited within a radius of 3 nm of the stadium. pic.twitter.com/o6nOGVf8K2

— The FAA (@FAANews) April 12, 2019

That’s three nautical miles, which is quite a distance, covering much of central Boston. You don’t really take chances when there are tens of thousands of people all gathered in one spot on a regular basis like that. Drones open up some pretty ugly security scenarios.

Of course, this wasn’t a mile and a half from Fenway, which might have earned a slap on the wrist, but directly over the park, which as the FAA notes above could lead to hundreds of thousands in fines and actual prison time. It’s not hard to imagine why: If that drone had lost power or caught a gust (or been hit by a fly ball, at that altitude), it could have hurt or killed someone in the crowd.

It’s especially concerning when the FAA is working on establishing new rules for both hobby and professional drone use. You should leave a comment there if you feel strongly about this, by the way.

Here’s hoping they catch the idiot who did this. It just goes to show that you can’t trust people to follow the rules, even when they’re coded into a craft’s OS. It’s things like this that make mandatory registration of drones sound like a pretty good idea.

(Red Sox won, by the way. But the season’s off to a rough start.)

The Inning: Bottom 9
The Score: Tied
The Bases: Loaded
The Result: pic.twitter.com/lrRneiCGim

— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) April 12, 2019

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The entrepreneurs behind the new drone economy

Posted by | Column, drones, FAA, Gadgets, hardware, part 107, TC | No Comments

shutterstock-capitol-drones The FAA released some staggering numbers as it welcomed Part 107, otherwise known as the rules governing the commercial drone industry in the U.S.: Within one year, they estimate 600,000 drones will be active in commerce in the U.S. But where are the pilots coming from, and what are they going to do with those drones? Read More

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Regulating drone airspace using ‘smart markets’

Posted by | amazon drones, Column, drones, FAA, Gadgets, Google, TC, technology policy | No Comments

Commercial Drones Commercially operated autonomous drones may be on the horizon, especially since Google and Amazon have announced plans to start drone-based parcel delivery in 2017. A policy problem is likely to follow: allocation of scarce airspace and preferred flight paths — an issue complicated by the need to ensure that each drone’s flight is safe and that each flight-path segment stays… Read More

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FAA releases report detailing categories for drones flying over crowds

Posted by | Aircraft, drones, FAA, Gadgets, Government, regulation, TC, UAVs | No Comments

Game+of+Drones,+Battle+Quads On Monday, the Associated Press got early access to a report commissioned by the FAA on how drones flying over or near people should be categorized and restricted. Today, that report was officially released, with all the juicy (and boring) details you’ve come to expect from government task force briefings. Read More

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Get Ready To Register Your Drone With The FAA On December 21

Posted by | FAA, Gadgets, TC | No Comments

DJI Phantom 3 Pro Drone The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration today launched its long-expected drone registration program. Starting December 21, owners in the U.S. will have to register their drones with the government for a $5 fee (though the FAA is making registration free for the first 30 days). Those who already own drones today (or plan to buy one before the 21st) will have until February 19, 2016 to… Read More

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