Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Main Writer at DroneDJ, where he covers all drone-related news and writes product reviews. He also contributes to the other sites in the 9to5Mac group such as; 9to5Mac, 9to5Google, 9to5Toys, and Electrek.
In western Manitoba, Canada a train carrying crude oil derailed early Saturday morning and created an oil spill. CN Rail has not yet disclosed how much oil had leaked from the 37-car-wreckage. So two friends took it upon themselves to send a drone (Phantom) up in the air and have a look.
As the drone industry is still growing strong, more and more colleges are starting to offer drone classes. And the Grossmont Community College now offers a free course in drone piloting. The college received a $6M federal grant that enabled them to develop a roughly 100-hour drone class, teaching people how to become a drone pilot.
The police of the City of Fremont in California used a DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual equipped with a FLIR camera to find a missing teenager. The Fremont police dispatch received a call last Tuesday, February 5 at around 8:30 PM from the California Highway Patrol, requesting an outside assist to help find a student from the California School for the Deaf.
A Frenchman by the name of Arthur Desclaux has appeared in a Myanmar court on a drone flying charge after having been arrested two weeks ago. The French drone pilot has allegedly flown his unmanned aircraft too close to the country’s vast parliament complex.
Calls for robust drone legislation after Dublin Airport disruption
The recent drone incident at Dublin Airport has caused fresh calls for more robust drone legislation in Ireland. The current drone rules are not strong enough to stop people from flying drones over airports. Keep in mind though that we have not seen any evidence that drones were indeed to blame for the incidents at Gatwick, Heathrow, Newark or Dublin. Even DJI issued a statement urging people to not blame drone right away as the likely culprits.
Gatwick drone chaos ‘was an inside job.’ Really?
Ok, so here is the latest theory of what might have happened during the Gatwick Fiasco. The Gatwick drone chaos ‘was an inside job’, the British newspaper The Evening Standard reports. Can somebody please show us any evidence that a drone was indeed seen at Gatwick? Photos? Video?
It’s back! Phew! For a while, we weren’t quite sure if the FAA Symposium would be canceled altogether or not. Luckily, it hasn’t and the FAA just announced a new date for the 4th annual UAS Symposium that the FAA organizes together with AUVSI. The UAS Symposium will now take place from June 3rd through 5th at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, MD. You can register for the event here.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) launches a new Drone Safety Tips video on Facebook. The short clip starts off with the question: “Getting a drone? Before you fly, register it at faadronezone.faa.gov.” you can watch the entire clip here below as well as two videos from 51Drones, who did a great job explaining the registration process on YouTube.
In England, a judge orders the Severn bridge climbers drone to be destroyed. Alexandru Scutaru, 30 had climbed the M48 Severn bridge that connects England and Wales, in an attempt to fly his drone and capture footage for Instagram. The factory worker scaled the bridge despite his fear of heights after his GoPro Karma drone failed to take off from land. The incident took place on December 31st, 2018 and was covered here on DroneDJ
Sustained drone attack closed Gatwick, airport says
Talking about drone incidents, Gatwick Airport claims that a sustained drone attack was responsible for the severe travel disruption at the airport last year. In an article by BBC News, it is reported that over 100 drone sightings had been seen over three days and the majority of the sightings were made by police officers or airport workers. The main question remains though, where is the evidence that a drone was indeed the culprit?
Earlier this morning, Dublin Airport halted flights after “an absolute definite sighting of a drone.” The drone was seen around 11:30 am local time on Thursday. According to the airport, flights were suspended for about 30 minutes. Three inbound flights were diverted. Two of which were sent to Belfast.
Today DJI is making a huge step forward in the Enterprise drone market with the release of the DJI Matrice 200 V2 series and new DJI Flighthub Enterprise software. The combination of improved hardware and new software is meant to take enterprise drone operations to the next level. Yes, we’re talking beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) and night-time operations. But, also the ability for enterprise customers to deploy and large numbers of drones. The Matrice 200 Version 2 now offers Ocusync 2.0, encrypted data transmission (AES-256), top and bottom anti-collision beacons, DJI’s AirSense system using an ADS-B receiver and more. DJI’s Flighthub Enterprise offers many new customization options for commercial drone operators such as private cloud hosting, new DJI Pilot PE app designed for users with high data security requirements, centrally manage and deploy drone firmware updates, mission planning, and device maintenance information. FlightHub Enterprise and the Matrice 200 Series V2 drones are now available worldwide. Today’s announcement from DJI is a huge step forward and it will allow commercial drone operators to start using drones in ways we haven’t seen before and on a much larger scale than we have seen before. Exciting stuff!
Read DJI’s official announcement below.
Oklahoma drone bill needs careful review
A few days ago we reported on the proposed legislation against flying drones over private property in rural parts of Oklahoma. The rules would only apply to hobbyist drone pilots. Read that article here for more details. I just came across this post here in News OK by the Oklahoman Editorial Board that stressed that the Oklahoma drone bill needs careful review. Even though they raise some valid concerns, they do not mention that the sole authority to control airspace in the US falls with the FAA.
Drones and big data: the next frontier in the fight against wildlife extinction
Drones and big data. Unmanned aircraft can play a much bigger role in wildlife research and conservation. However, it turns out that most universities and researchers are not equipped or experienced to actually educate students and teach them the benefits that drones can offer. We have seen the Little Ripper, an Australian coastal patrol drone, that is already capable of distinguishing between swimmers, surfers, and sharks with the use of artificial intelligence. Similar technology can be used in wildlife research around the world. Read this story in the Guardian for more background.
Drone ‘no-fly zone’ around UK airports to be extended to 3 miles
In the wake of the ‘drone sightings’ at Gatwick and Heathrow Airports, the rules for flying unmanned aircraft in the UK are about to become quite a bit more strict in the near future. For instance, as of March 13th when the new rules will come into effect, no drones or model aircraft will be allowed to fly within 5km or 3 miles of an airfield perimeter. DJI recently welcomed the new UK rules, that includes the drone ‘no-fly zone’ around UK airports.
Less than a month after the previous update, DJI releases another firmware update for the DJI Phantom 4 RTK. The last update was quite a significant one and we had asked our drone mapping expert to weigh in. This latest update seems to emphasize DJI’s continued focus on the commercial and enterprise drone market with a number of improvements and enhancements for the DJI Phantom 4 RTK. The drone we believe will be a game changer for the mapping industry.
DJI just released a new firmware update for their DJI Osmo+. It is version v22.214.171.124. So, if you still have an Osmo+ laying around and are planning on using it, well you may want to update the firmware to DJI’s latest version. The main (and only) part of the update is the optimized compatibility with the HB01-522365 battery model for use in low-temperature environments. Do you use the Osmo+ for work or pleasure? Let us know your experience in the comments below.
Knowing when and where you can fly your drone is not always easy to determine. This is the case for hobbyists, but you can imagine that for enterprise drone operators with teams of drone pilots and fleets of drones this process becomes even more challenging. There are so many different aspects to take into consideration before you launch a number drones into the air. How close are you to airports, heliports, federal prisons, or other sensitive areas? Are there any TFRs in place that might prevent you from flying that day? What is the status of your LAANC authorizations? Especially for large commercial or enterprise drone operators it can be a challenge to stay on top of this and to manage the operations effectively. Well, this is where Kittyhawk’s new solution, Kittyhawk Dynamic Airspace comes in. Their operating system connects all the different data points and planned drone operations into a single system that provides a higher level of control and compliance for commercial drone operations. It also allows you to look at your locations, your annotations and any points of interest. You can read the company’s press release below.
More stories of drones doing good this week! On Monday afternoon, a 15-year-old girl who was stranded on the ice of Lake Michigan was rescued successfully after being located with the help of a drone. Members of the Park Township Fire Department deployed a drone (a DJI Mavic 2 it seems based on the photos) to locate the girl. She was found at the bottom of a ledge about 1,000 feet offshore west of the observation deck on the shore of the Idlewood Beach neighborhood.