Category Archives: drone

FAA Makes Major Drone ID Marking Change



The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) posted a rule in the Federal Register requiring small drone owners to display the FAA-issued registration number on an outside surface of the aircraft. Owner and operators may no longer place or write registration numbers in an interior compartment. The rule is effective on February 25, 2019. The markings must be in place for any flight after that date.

When the FAA first required registration of small drones in 2015, the agency mandated that the registration marking be readily accessible and maintained in readable condition. The rule granted some flexibility by permitting the marking to be placed on an enclosed compartment, such as a battery case, if it could be accessed without the use of tools.

Subsequently, law enforcement officials and the FAA’s interagency security partners have expressed concerns about the risk of a concealed explosive device might pose to first responders upon opening a compartment to find a drone’s registration number. The FAA believes this action will enhance safety and security by allowing a person to view the unique identifier without handling the drone.

This interim final rule does not change the original acceptable methods of external marking, nor does it specify a particular external surface on which the registration number must be placed. The requirement is that it can be seen upon visual inspection of the aircraft’s exterior.

The FAA has issued this requirement as a Interim Final Rule – a rule that takes effect while also inviting public comment. The FAA issues final rules when delaying implementation of the rule would be impractical, unnecessary, or contrary to public interest. In this case, the agency has determined the importance of mitigating the risk to first responders outweighs the minimal inconvenience this change may impose on small drone owners, and justifies implementation without a prior public comment period.

The FAA will consider comments from the public on this Interim Final Rule, and then will review any submissions to determine if the provisions of the ultimate Final Rule should be changed. The 30-day comment period will end on March 15, 2019. To submit comments, go to http://www.regulations.gov and search for “RIN 2120-AL32”.

As Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao promised last month, the FAA also posted proposed new rules to let drones fly routinely at night and over people and to further integrate them safely into the nation’s airspace. The comment period for these proposals is now open and ends on April 15.


Indemnis Nexus Parachute for DJI Drones Meets Stringent Safety Standard



The Indemnis Nexus parachute system for the DJI Inspire 2 drone has been validated as compliant with the new international standard for drone parachutes, following a strenuous testing procedure at the New York UAS Test Site in Rome, N.Y., managed by NUAIR.

This breakthrough in reliable parachute technology for small drones opens a wide range of new possibilities for professional drone operators intending to demonstrate that they can safely and reliably fly over people as well as sensitive locations.

Indemnis, based in Anchorage, Alaska, joined DJI in a safety partnership in 2017 to develop industry parachute standards as well as a parachute system that can deploy instantly if a drone encounters flight anomalies, reducing the potential energy of any impact on the ground.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prohibits most drone operations directly over people as a safety precaution. Professional drone operators can apply for a waiver from that restriction if they can demonstrate they have robust safety mitigations in place.

The Indemnis system is intended to be the core of a parachute-based safety migration plan for a waiver, and can also help provide one path forward for advanced operations as the FAA considers how to allow routine flights directly over people.

Nexus is a ballistic parachute launcher, triggered automatically if the drone suddenly begins tilting abnormally or falling. It deploys the parachute within 30 milliseconds at 90 mph, through a tube that rapidly inflates to keep the parachute lines away form the drone body and propellers.

Indemnis offers the Nexus package for the Inspire 2, and tends to offer it for Matrice 200 series and Matrice 600 series drones by late 2019.

NUAIR Alliance, which manages one of the FAA-designated test sites for drone technologies at Griffiss International Airport in Rome, New York, put the Indemnis Nexus through 45 functionality tests across five different failure scenarios last month during four days of testing. Those tests validated that the Nexus on the Inspire 2 complies with the ASTM International F3322-18 Standard Specification For Small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS) Parachutes. DJI, Indemnis, the FAA and other industry stakeholders collaborated on developing the ASTM consensus standard, which was finalized late last year after more than a year of work.


DJI Introduces Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom



DJI introduced a new era for camera drones with two additions to its iconic Mavic series: Mavic 2 Pro, the world’s first drone with an integrated Hasslblad camera, and Mavic 2 Zoom, the world’s first foldable consumer drone with optical zoom capability.

Co-engineered in partnership with Hasselblad, the leading manufacturer in medium format photography, the Mavic 2 Pro is the world’s first drone with superior light and color performance. Housing a 1-inch CMOS sensor with a 10-bit Dlog-M color profile, the camera captures four times as many levels of color per channel compared to Mavic Pro to provide maximum flexibility for photo and video editing.

The Mavic 2 Pro can capture 20-megapixel aerial shots with utmost color accuracy using Hasselblad’s unique Hasselblad Natural Color Solution (HNCS) technology, while an adjustable aperture from f/2.8-f/11 provides more control across a wide variety of lighting conditions. With 4K 10-bit HDR support, the Mavic 2 Pro can be plugged into a 4K TV with HLG and will play back footage with the right color tones.

Powered by a 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor, the Mavic 2 Zoom is DJI’s first foldable consumer drone with zoom, providing a dynamic perspective that ushers in a new era of creative storytelling. With the Mavic 2 Zoom, you can get closer to your subject at a moment’s notice by combining two-times optical zoom (24-48mm) with two-times digital zoom to simulate a 96mm telephoto lens that captures lossless video in full HD resolution.

Hybrid auto-focus on the Mavic 2 Zoom combines phase and contrast detection for higher focus accuracy with an increased focus speed of up to 40% faster than before. Shoot vivid 12-megapixel photos or take advantage of the new Super Resolution feature that uses optical zoom to automatically capture and stitch nine photos together for a highly detailed 48-megapixel image, making it an ideal option for landscape photography.

The US retail price of a Mavic 2 Pro, including the drone, battery, remote controller, charger and four pairs of propellers, is $1,449 USD. The US retail price of a Mavic 2 Zoom, including the drone, battery, charger, remote controller and four pairs of propellers, is $1,249 USD.

Starting today, the Mavic 2 is available for purchase at store.dji.com and the four DJI Flagship Stores.


Pond5 and DJI Create Online Marketplace for Aerial Footage



Global content marketplace Pond5 and DJI, the world’s leading manufacturer of civilian drones and aerial imaging technology, today launched an innovative collaboration to develop a premium collection of licensable aerial footage.

By applying to this program, pilots operating with a Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which is required for commercial use, will be eligible to have their footage included in a series of collections shot exclusively with DJI drones.

Pond5 will showcase these collections to its millions of users, while denoting video clips shot by licensed pilots in searchers for customers who need to ensure their video assets comply with Part 107. Pilots will be able to leverage Pond5’s industry knowledge to identify their most in-demand shots and obtain assistance in preparing their footage for licensing in the Pond5 marketplace.

DJI will be working closely with the team of video experts and curators at Pond5 to ensure that the most compelling and award-worthy aerial footage shot with DJI products is made easily accessible to customers searching for studio-quality shots to use in their productions.

Select participants will also have access to Pond5’s premium clipping and tagging services, allowing them to save time by simply submitting raw footage, rather than having to do the work of editing, formatting, tilting, and keywording the footage themselves. Footage receiving these services will then be made available exclusively through Pond5 for a limited time.


Azur Drones Spy in the Sky at CES 2018



Up to now, drones have been little more than toys and camera platforms, promising much but delivering little. Working with Directorate General for Civil Aviation, Azure DronesSkeyetech provides “100% autonomous and 24/7 operational drones” as a “security drone solution“. Antoine and Todd talk about the new security guard.

A market leader in France, Azur Drones has developed an airborne surveillance system for the remote monitoring of industrial properties. The system, called Skeyetech, is composed of a smart drone equipped with HD and thermal cameras, and a smart (weather) station which recharges the drones, monitors the weather and provides protection for the craft. Skeyetech drones can be programmed and undertake automated flights, before accurately landing on their docking stations to be recharged.

The docking stations aren’t just power outlets but relay instructions and information from the drones. Consequently, the drones can be controlled remotely making them capable of operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, without any human intervention. It comes at a fraction of a cost of traditional video surveillance.

Technically, the drones can fly for 35 minutes before needing recharged for 30 minutes. Top speed is 50 mph and they’re waterproof to IP56. The drones can be configured to patrol premises on a regular basis, or respond to alerts generated by motion sensors.

This isn’t the kind of drone found on the shelves of Best Buy or Fry’s. Interested parties will need upwards of US$100,000.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com.

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DJI Introduces Mavic Air Foldable Camera Drone



DJI, the world leader in civilian drones and aerial imaging technology, introduced the Mavic Air. It is an ultra-portable, foldable camera drone that delivers high performance, more intelligent features and greater creative possibilities than any other consumer drone.

Mavic Air was developed with the traveler and enthusiast in mind. It inherits the best features of DJI’s iconic Mavic series with a 4K camera for superior image quality, new QuickShot modes and SmartCapture for easier, more intelligent photo and video capturing, and FlightAutonomy 2.0 with Advanced Pilot Assistance Systems for smarter, safer, flight.

Weighing just 430 grams, Mavic Air is the most portable DJI drone ever created. Its folding arms and propellers sit flush against its slender aerodynamic frame, making it so compact that its footprint is nearly the size of a modern smartphone when folded.

Every aspect of Mavic Air’s camera has been designed for maximum performance. Its recessed three-axis mechanical gimbal is suspended from dampeners to further reduce vibration providing superior protection and steadier shot. A powerful camera housing a 1/ 2.3” CMOS sensor and the equivalent of a 24mm F2.8 lens (on a 35mm full frame sensor) captures high-quality photos and videos.

Mavic Air photographs crisp 12-megapixel still images utilizing new HDR algorithms that preserve more highlight and low light details, allowing you to capture stunning aerial pictures from sunrise to sunset.

It also shoots smooth stabilized 4K video at 30 fps, capturing the highest quality video of any DJI consumer drone with a maximum bitrate of 100 Mbps. Preserving the action in dramatic fast-paced scenes is now possible through its ability to shoot 1080p slow-motion video at 120 fps.

Mavic Air’s DJI’s first drone with 8 GB of onboard storage letting you save photos and videos directly to the aircraft on the go, plus a microSD card slot for additional storage capacity. The newly added USB-C port makes exporting captured footage easy and fast.


Skeyetech Autonomous Surveillance Drones at CES 2018



As predicted by sci-fi, the autonomous drone is now a reality. Capable of taking off, patrolling and returning to recharge, Azure DronesSkeyetech provides “100% autonomous and 24/7 operational drones” as a “security drone solution“.

A market leader in France, Azur Drones has developed an airborne surveillance system for the remote monitoring of industrial properties. The system, called Skeyetech, is composed of a smart drone equipped with HD and thermal cameras, and a smart (weather) station which recharges the drones, monitors the weather and provides protection for the craft. Skeyetech drones can be programmed and undertake automated flights, before accurately landing on their docking stations to be recharged.

The docking stations aren’t just power outlets but relay instructions and information from the drones. Consequently, the drones can be controlled remotely making them capable of operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, without any human intervention. It comes at a fraction of a cost of traditional video surveillance.

Technically, the drones can fly for 35 minutes before needing recharged for 30 minutes. Top speed is 50 mph and they’re waterproof to IP56. The drones can be configured to patrol premises on a regular basis, or respond to alerts generated by motion sensors.

It was inevitable that somebody somewhere would develop this kind of technology, but is anyone else as uneasy about these as I am? Will we be seeing tasers on the drones next?

You can learn more about the rise of the machines at CES 2018 at Sands, Eureka Park Marketplace, Booth #50862.