Category Archives: Privacy/Surveillance

Drones are Speeding Hurricane Harvey Response by 800%

All the commercial and residential properties that Hurricane Harvey has devastated will need to be rebuilt. A lot of the money needed for rebuilding will come out of the pockets of insurance companies.

The FAA has expedited approval for drone operators in Texas. By August 31st, the agency had provided clearance to 43 operators.

Insurance companies intend to take full advantage of drones. Over the next few weeks, hundreds of drones will make thousands of weekly trips to flooded areas to record the full extent of the damage done.

Read the full story here.


DJI Developing No-Internet Mode

DJI Technology, the maker of popular consumer drones including its Phantom line, is developing a new offline mode that it says will help it sell to privacy-conscious enterprise and government customers.

The move comes less than two weeks after the U.S. Army ordered its staff to stop using the Chinese manufacturer’s drones due to “cyber vulnerabilities.”

The company’s pilot app connects to its servers to do things like updating maps and real-time information about flight restrictions that exist in certain areas. However, this connection may put off buyers who have high security requirements around their drone usage.

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Tracking Icebergs. Drone places GPS tracking device on iceberg.

It was a tricky operation in heavy fog, but a company based in Holyrood, Edinburgh, Scotland recently used a drone to place a GPS tracker on an iceberg about two kilometres outside Petty Harbour.

Brian Lundrigan’s company, RPM Aerial Services, partnered with a GPS manufacturer in Nova Scotia for the pilot project, which aimed to find a safe way to place a tracker on an iceberg without getting too close to the often unpredictable masses of floating ice.

“It was fairly challenging. The biggest difficulty was depth perception when you’re a distance away from the iceberg, trying to see how close you are,”

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Drones Will Be Used To Find And Protect Koalas

Koala and Joey

The drone project will be a world first.

This world-first initiative is thanks to a Queensland state government boost in funding for koala conservation, which will allow for the use of drones and automated imaging technology.

The high-tech effort by QUT means the experts will be able to get more accurate estimates of the koala population, which will help the team to make effective conservation decisions.

Kalashnikov will officially reveal what it is describing as a noiseless reconnaissance and surveillance drone.

It has a four hour flying time and can be launched by hand as Vladimir Putin’s biggest weapons maker takes a step back from its AK-47 – a rifle that has killed more people than any other firearm on the planet.

The drone weighs 7.5 kilograms and also boasts vertical takeoff capability.

Reportedly, three types of noiseless drone to be released onto the market by the weapon manufacturing giant.

A zoom camera and thermal imaging module can be mounted on the unmanned aircraft.

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Drones help keep officers safe during Lake County standoff

During Wednesday’s hours-long standoff situation in Lake County, law enforcement used a special eye in the sky to keep officers on the ground safe.

“We needed to cover some more ground and get a better idea of what was going on with the situation yesterday,” Lake County Sheriff Tim Walburg said. “Law enforcement has used drones in the past, so we decided this was a good option for us to cover a lot of ground rather quickly.”

The Lincoln County emergency manager provided the first drone Wednesday morning; a second drone from a private company was also brought in Wednesday afternoon as law enforcement were closing in on the subject.

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A Lee County father says he caught a neighbor using a drone to spy on his young children. Even more troubling, the same neighbor was arrested last month for trying to lure a child into his car.

Jonathan Smiley said he first noticed a drone flying over his home in the Whiskey Creek neighborhood last week. “I heard the hum of it, basically. And looked up, and sure enough there it was.”

Smiley never thought much of it until he spotted another drone over his home Monday while his young kids were playing outside by the pool. “Definitely concerned. It was definitely an invasion of our privacy.”

Read the full story here.

Judge Tells FAA Rep: “You’re Just Making Stuff Up.”

Oral arguments in the case of Taylor vs. Huerta, a case that challenges the legality of the FAA’s drone registration program, began last week – and the FAA did not appear to emerge with victory at hand.

The case challenges the legality of the FAA’s drone registration program, instituted just before the holidays in 2015.  The drone registration program – Part 48 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) – requires all drone operators including recreational drone operators to register as pilots, paying a $5 fee and providing their contact information.

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How to combat an irrational fear of drones

As you can plainly tell from the included report, if a person’s entire body is not at least 1/3 of the frame height in an image, it becomes exceedingly difficult for them to be positively identified. This means one has to be, at a rough maximum distance, 30 feet from their target to identify him or her.

Even at 30 feet, a drone is not practical for spying. It’s noisy and obvious. Compare it to the iPhone 7 Plus, which has a 2x optical zoom and consider that someone standing 60 feet from you can aim their phone’s camera at you, take a picture and you will likely not even notice.

Read the full story here.