The news per se is sad but not particularly spectacular, consisting of a report of a huge blaze in an heritage village in southern Norway, known for it’s unique wooden buildings.
The interesting bit for us was a relevant presence, in the story, of drones. Specifically multirotors possibly equipped with video cameras, deployed by journalists to follow and document the event and the firefighters operations. Imagine the scene, can you visualize them, the big multirotors flying and filming over the disaster area?
On December 29, 2013, the flight of an UAV drone was detected over the International Airport of Beijing at 11:00 AM. The drone, an RC model airplane equipped with video camera, was flying at 100 Km/h.
An helicopter was sent to intercept the UAV, which tuned out to be a drone owned by a local company that was performing mapping operations of the airport. Although the operation was legal, the flight of the UAV was done without the proper authorizations and without warning the airport operators. Hence the alarm when the drone was spotted flying over the airport.
The departure of 10 civilian flights was delayed because of this accident.
The 4 man operating the drone are detained by the local police and have been charged with “endangering public security” and “seriously interrupting flight order”.
The drones – quadcopters in the available videos – are provided by the Italian/Swiss company Aerial View.
Click on the image below for the full story and the video on the Euronews website:
Here’s a statement from Omar Morando, Aerial View pilot:
“All the drones have a transmitter that sends in real time the video signal from the camera to a ground station, where there is a HD monitor that can visualise what the camera is recording. Besides you can see the same pictures with special glasses which have inside a micro-monitor. When you wear these glasses, you have the same sensation as you would watch a 42-inch monitor”
A Greenland resident alerted police that he suddenly lost control of his DJI Phantom quadcopter. The personal drone flew away carrying, you had guesses it, a GoPro camera attached. Should the quadcopter be recovered it would be nice to see the full flyaway video recorded by the Phantom, finally free from the chains of the owner’s radio commands.
The police asked residents to be on the lookout of the flown away quad. Flying the quad was not done illegally, so possibly it could be returned to the owner after rescue. Indeed Police Chief Tara Laurent said Thursday that “He can’t locate it, so we’re trying to help him get it back”.
Staff member from the Calhoun State prison in Georgia spotted a suspicious “helicopter” flying over the prison.
Rather than an helicopter, it looks like something visitors of this site are very familiar with: a DJI F500 hexacopter with a NAZA flight board, controlled by a Spectrum DX radio:
This unusual visit prompted a search on the premises surroundings, and after an hour Deputies noticed a suspicious Dodge car with 4 people onboard, two males and two females, and the multirotor.
“Everybody had several cell phones with different contacts. People try different things but the helicopter was something new. It is a surprise I’ve never seen a helicopter. They were in the woods flying it they had binoculars evidently so they could watch it,” Hilton said.
This had to happen sooner or later. Quadcopters and multirotors are an obvious easy way to bypass any kind of wall, perimeter, country border et-cetera, and maybe deliver illegal items such as drugs for example.
During a flight training session the drone apparently looses battery power and crashes into a river. Officers responsible for the crash were “given advice” (a dressing down in police slang). The costs of the incident were covered by insurance. Interestingly
“during its use officers recognised certain technical and operational issues including staff training costs and the inability to use the UAV in all weather conditions.
“These issues in conjunction with the current financial climate resulted in the decision being made by chief officers not to replace the unit.”
October 2011: Merseyside police drone ceases operations
This story is very interesting as it is an example of trying to put to work an idea that in principle seems potentially productive, and then coming in touch with all the hidden problems involved and the technical and, not least, budget limitations. I think the idea was good but the technology was still too young in 2009 to make drone law enforcement become a reality on a limited budget. I would guess that if the very same program was started today, it would probably have more chances of success as there was so much research and development done from 2009 to today in multirotors technological development, navigation systems, better and lighter frames with higher payloads, longer flight times, better resistance to variable weather conditions etc.. We can see this as an early, brave experiment that failed. We’ll probably see other similar program succeed more and more in the future, as technology evolves and equipment prices drop steadily.
If you live in Arizona beware: Sheriff Arpaio may soon be watching you from the sky. If you don’t live in Arizona don’t feel excluded. Somebody else will soon be watching you from the sky anyway. If it’s not happening already.
A small drone, apparently a quadcopter “no more that 3 feet wide” came close, within 200 feet of a a commercial jet over NYC. The FBI and FAA are investigating the accident and are trying to locate the drone and the operator.
“The FBI is asking anyone with information about the unmanned aircraft or the operator to contact us,” said Special Agent in Charge John Giacalone. “Our paramount concern is the safety of aircraft passengers and crew.”