Tag Archive | drones

Drones against illegal fishing

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Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

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Illegal fishing represents a major global problem. When you realize that the losses caused by this activity are worth US$23 billion per year, that one out of three bluefin tunas are caught illegally and that around 20% of all fish hauled around the world are caught illegally, you are beginning to grasp the scale of this issue. Proportions of the environmental impact, on the other hand, are even more dire, for the fact that even the legal fishing industry that complies with the maritime wildlife protection standards has the capacity to damage this fragile ecosystem. Illegal fishing can completely destroy it.

Efforts are being made on the global scale to tackle this problem, but the challenge persists because patrolling large stretches of coastline takes time and requires substantial number of people, boats and aircraft. Now, almost whenever a manned aircraft is required to perform a task, there is a potential to use unmanned aircraft, and at an increased rate, a UAV has been proved a viable substitution. It seems that there is a pattern emerging 🙂

Back to the topic, one of the countries hardest hit by illegal fishing is Belize, a small coastal country in Central America. It was so rampant, that in the March this year, the European Union suspended all seafood imports from Belize (as well as from Cambodia and Guinea, for the same reason).

Help comes from the ConservationDrones.org, a non-profit organization dedicated to sharing knowledge, building and using UAV for conservation-related applications with conservation workers and researchers worldwide, especially those in developing countries. The Belize Fisheries Department officials are being trained to use drones to monitor fishing areas, following the test phase that started in July 2013.

Fixed wing drones that are being used can fly for over an hour, have a range of 50km and are capable of capturing high-definition photos and videos. They will be used to patrol difficult to reach areas, such as coastal mangrove forests, at a fraction of the cost of a conventional, manned aircraft. Once the illegal activity is located, authorities can dispatch a vessel and perform a seagoing search, much more efficiently.

It will be interesting to see effects of this new tactics used against “pirate” fishers, and how soon will Belize start to reap the benefits of it (e.g. lifting of EU seafood import ban).

Last but not the least, drones provided by ConservationDrones.org should provide a much-needed, low-cost solution for the protection of one of the world’s most famous coral reefs, Glover’s Reef.

For further reading, check interesting articles on Gizmag, National Geographic and New York Times.

Video courtesy of ConservationDrones.org

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The Flying Donkey Challenge on hold

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Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

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One of the most interesting competitions, The Flying Donkey Challenge that was scheduled to happen in November 2014. has been put on hold.

Tragic terrorist attacks on Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi and more recent one that happened in the Kenyan coastal town of Lamu, made it clear that organizing a public drone event in Kenya is incompatible with immediate security concerns.

The full statement of the organizers:

“The Flying Donkey Challenge idea started almost two years ago and for the past year we have been planning the first edition in Kenya.

We have had tremendous support from Kenyan partners including: IBM Research, University of Nairobi – FabLab, Lewa & NRT Conservancy, SGS, Sandstorm, and many friends of the FDC. The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) and military air traffic controllers at Nanukyi have been very helpful in working with us to find solutions to organise a life changing event. We would like to thank all of them for their trust and commitment to the project.

Due to delays in obtaining final approvals from the Kenyan authorities, we took the difficult decision in April to postpone the first edition of the FDC. Beginning with the horrific Westgate attack last September in Nairobi and following the tragic terrorist attacks near Lamu this month, it has become clear that organising a high visibility drone event in Kenya is incompatible with immediate security concerns. To be clear, it is not that cargo drone testing presents any threat whatsoever to Kenya, or that international participants would be at risk from travelling to Kenya, but only that, for the coming months, the overseers of civil and military aviation in Kenya have made it clear they are unlikely to be able to sign off on legal precedents for autonomous flight.

Since April, we have been pursuing air space approvals and locations in other African locations. While these talks have been productive, our unfortunate conclusion is that we will not be able to confirm a new date and location in 2015. Without a clear time-scale, closing on the budget is not possible. Taking into account the speed with which research and commercial drone ventures are proceeding, we feel it unfair to leave the teams that have applied for the Challenge in limbo and prefer to put the Flying Donkey Challenge in its current format on hold.

We strongly believe in the future of cargo drones and are looking into ways to reposition some of the great ideas and projects presented. The goal is unchanged: a new transport industry of donkey-sized cargo drones in Africa and beyond that can safely and affordably move 20-50 kilo payloads on low-altitude routes, creating jobs and growing economies.

We look forward to a booming flying donkey future.”

Let’s hope that the new date will be set soon, and that 2015. will be a better year for the Flying Donkey Challenge.

Flying Donkey Challenge

Flying Donkey Challenge

Proudly South African Drones

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Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

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Couple of years ago, while I was living in Cape Town, I met a group of people so much into drones and aerial filming, that they managed to initiate me into the world of UAV. I didn’t even realize that (I was always slow-witted), but it turned out that South African soil is a very fertile ground for starting and growing of a UAV enthusiasm and business. Therefore, I will dedicate this post to the thriving drone community of the Republic of South Africa.

Let’s start with the legislation: there is none. SACAA, the South African Civil Aviation Authority created confusion some two months ago, when it firstly declared a ban on the use of drones for aerial filming, and then issued this statement. It basically says that SACAA doesn’t ban something that is illegal already (i.e. using drones for aerial filming). Only problem is that it is not illegal, since there is no legislation covering the issue. On the other hand, Cape Town Film Commission has been n discussion with the SACAA, the Ministry of Transport, the Department of Trade and Industry as well as the Deputy Mayor of Cape Town and has requested that the SACAA implement their model aircraft policy for use of the drones.

If approved, the policy will require adopting the below guidelines, which are similar to those used in Europe and Australia:

– Flying only under 120m
– No flying within 4.2 nautical miles of an airport
– Flying only in line of sight of the operator (500m)
– No auto pilot flying or night flying
– No flying over public property and roads without permission

Meanwhile, filmmakers are still flocking to Cape Town, taking advantage of breath-taking scenery and skilled local aerial filming production crews. One of them is Skylab Productions. This prolific company founded in 2012. produced aerial shots for National Geographic, and gave its contribution to Cape Town version of (in)famous Pharell Williams “Happy” video.

And if somewhere are guys that are using drones for filming, there would be someone catering for their needs and providing them with equipment. SteadiDrone is a proudly South African UAV manufacturer, founded in 2012. in a beautiful town of Knysna. Their flagship product is the QU4D, RTF quadcopter that uses the APM 2.5 autopilot from 3D Robotics and is able to carry a GoPro camera on board.

There are others, however, that are manufacturing a UAV with significantly less creative purpose. The Skunk Riot Control Drone is made by Desert Wolf, a South African company, and it has already been sold to mining companies, notorious for their problematic treatment of mine workers and frequent riots.

Luckily, there are more jesting endeavors. SA Beer Lift challenge, although tiny compared to the one organized by HobbyKing, still managed to produce some respectable results and some funny fails. I couldn’t find any information if it will happen this year as well, but it would be awesome. Where else could you find such cool drone fail videos?

Despite all the challenges that are present in today’s South African society, community that has been growing around Unmanned Aerial Vehicles seems very dynamic and healthy. Dronologista hopes that it will remain so in the future, and will be happy to bring the news to the world about individuals and companies that are using or producing proudly South African drones.

 

Human Side(s) of UAVs – Future Concepts

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Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

Enjoy!

Couple of days ago, I stumbled upon an article describing the potential future use of drones. It actually fits perfectly in the Human Side(S) of UAV topic, and after writing about demining and search&rescue application, here comes the post about possible applications in the years to come.

1. Firestorm

Dronologista already wrote about UAV used for firefighting. This drone would act literally like a scout wandering through the building on fire searching for victims. It could be fully equipped with different sensors in order to detect dangerous gases and possible threats. Also camera can be attached, giving the firefighters both conventional and thermal image in real-time so they can asses situation more precise and make relevant decisions.  LEDs could also be attached to the drone so it can act like a beacon for victims and guide them through perilous conditions to safety.

2. Snow Cyclops

One of the most interesting application of  UAV, is to search for potential avalanche risk zones. This is of tremendous interest for the ski resorts, remote mountain villages and roadways. Also, if needed, it could carry a small amount of explosives in order to trigger the „controlled avalanches“ where needed. Moreover if avalanche strikes before it could have been forecasted, drones could be sent in search and rescue mission, something already described here. Last but not the least, it could carry small first aid kit in order to assist at the very first moments after the undesirable event. All in all a couple of drones could easily replace helicopter with a crew of several men in this kind of situations. From the cost perspective there is not much to say since it heavily supports drone’s side. About the human life in whole story it is not necessary to say anything.

Snow Cyclops

Snow Cyclops

3. The Cyclodrone

This concept is bit far-fetched, but hey, it just might work. This drone flies in front of a solo bike rider at a predetermined distance from the rider and while maintaining the connection with the rider’s mobile device. Large LEDs should make a visible warning to other riders, cars and any object that might affect rider’s path and safety.

AirDog, the drone that has been successfully funded on Kickstarter is a similar concept, but it follows the object (bike in this case). These two concepts could be combined and provide enhanced traffic safety while making breathtaking shoots of the movable objects. Actually, just imagine the “Le Tour de France” with these flyers instead of bunch of guys on motorcycles with huge cameras. That could give someone an idea…

Some of above mentioned concepts could become reality sooner, some later, but they are all products of a vivid imagination, and as Albert Einstein noted „Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere“ . It would not be surprise to see some of these solutions a reality in near future, where dronologista will wait and give you the latest update.

Pictures property of DesignMind

5 attempts of drone food delivery

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Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

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Food delivery business can be very profitable, but not necessarily fun. Customer orders, meal gets prepared, courier guy fetches it, delivers it to your doorstep and walks away, tens of times a day (just think of Fry and Futurama).

Futurama style food delivery

Futurama style food delivery

It became so commonplace and glamorous almost as a public transport ride.  But, entrepreneurs keep on trying to reinvent the whole thing, and to bring something interesting in the mix. That is where drones kick in. Several attempts have been made so far, to deliver food using a UAV as a delivery platform. Some of them have been fake, some genuine, but all of them were cool enough to hit the headlines, and proved to be excellent marketing tool.

So, let’s see what airborne food delivery attempts we have so far:

1. Tacocopter

One of the first to play with the notion of aerial food delivery, was Tacocopter. Tacocopter idea is built around some of the most prominent touchstones of modern America: fast food, smartphone apps, robots and laziness. You use a smartphone app to order a taco, which is then delivered to you by a drone. There is ofcourse, a small issue of FAA prohibiting commercial use of UAV. Also, usual problems of drone delivery such as navigation, sense&avoid etc. are persistent, so no taco raining from the sky any time soon in US of A. Maybe in Mexico though…

2. Burrito Bomber

Early adopter of the Tacocopter idea was Darwin Aerospace with their Burrito Bomber project. They used a fixed wing UAV, a very unorthodox choice, and instead of handing the food to you it was parachuting it. The whole process worked something like this:

  1. You connect to the Burrito Bomber web-app and order a burrito. Your smartphone sends your current location to the server, which generates a waypoint file compatible with the drone’s autopilot.
  2. Waypoint file is then uploaded to the drone and burrito is loaded to custom made Burrito Delivery Tube
  3. The drone flies to your location and releases the Burrito Delivery Tube. The burrito parachutes down to you and the drone flies itself home

As you can guess, the concept of food bombing didn’t appeal to FAA, so no flying  carne asada either.

3. Sushi Flying Waiter

It is not actually called Sushi Flying Waiter but iTray. London restaurant Yo!Sushi introduced the iTray during summer 2013. In essence, a Parrot AR Drone 2.0 with an attached food tray was piloted by staff and delivering rice sushi burgers to customers sitting in front of the venue. Doesn’t look very stable though, and hopefully there will be no wasabi in customers laps. But with a lot of dedication, little bit of know-how and blade protection this could become a viable concept. Just like sushi conveyor belt did.

4. Pizza drone delivery

Where to start with this one? First it was UK based Domino’s  pizzeria with the DomiCopter, delivering two pepperoni pizzas in 2013. Then there was Francesco’s pizzeria in Mumbai doing the same thing (ok, not the same, it was not pepperoni pizza). This is rumored to be a fake, as the pizza crate was empty. And then there was this week’s entry, a Russian active sales guy, ordering drone pizza delivery in northern Russian city of Syktyvkar. This video will be featured here as it has coolest music by far.

5. Beer Chopper

Beer is food, alright. If you ever had a two pints of wheat ale, you know how filling that can be. If you haven’t, well, you should. Anyway, beer chopper was a brainchild of Lakemaid Brewery in Minnesota, as it wanted to provide ice fishermen with a fresh cold beer, while they are on the lake. Cool idea, but it will have to wait for a while, until FAA decides what to do with commercial drones. On the other end of the world, in South Africa, OppiKoppi festival goers had a chance to see OppiKoppi Beer Drone Tech parachuting the beer as ordered. No need to stand in the long queue to have your beer thirst quenched, just use your smartphone and watch your head.

 

Coke delivery in Singapore wasn’t included intentionally. Coke  is not food, though it does make you fat.

Bon Appétit

Riot Control Drone

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Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

Enjoy!

Initially, I wanted to write about an awesome graphical overview of the civilian drone landscape, created by SkyTrails, available at Scribd. Unfortunately, I had to change that plan, as I feel strong compulsion to write about this creation: Skunk Riot Control Drone.

Skunk Riot Control Drone

Skunk Riot Control Drone

Dronologista is a blog that covers non military drones only. That means drones that are being used for value creating things like aerial filming, precision agriculture, logistics, art etc. It explicitly excludes drones that are being used for military operations and whose purpose is to search & destroy, since I am of opinion that those UAV are getting enough media attention already.

However, someone figured that arming a drone, a multirotor, with non-lethal armament with an intention to use it on humans, could be a good, value creating, economically feasible idea. That someone is a South African company Desert Wolf, known for their camping and other specialized offroad trailers.

Their product, a UAV called Skunk, is a octocopter equipped with four high-capacity paint ball barrels, that could shoot protesters with dye markers, solid plastic pellets, or small capsules of pepper spray. It is controlled by two human operators, one controlling the flight of the UAV, and the other controlling the payload. Despite the price tag of around $46.000, already 25 of Skunks have been sold to mining companies in South Africa, notorious for their problematic treatment of mine workers and frequent riots. That is the scariest thing actually: apart from quite brilliant engineering, there is nothing good about this flyer, yet it seems to be a market success, confirming once more saying: guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

Knowing how crowds usually react to drones hovering over their heads (check the video below), it is not hard to imagine the outrage this drone would cause.

It seems that this step-by-step instruction on how to build the net gun, available on Instructibles, could soon become one of the most downloaded content on the net.

Anyway, dronologista thinks that much better application of this drone would be against poachers, and hopefully someone will get idea out of this post (e.g. applicants for the UAV Conservation Challenge)

If you want to find out more about this product, you can check Desert Wolf page.

Interesting articles about the Skunk could be found at BBC news, and Defenceweb.

Image courtesy of Desert Wolf.

Drone Startups – Announcement

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Two of the startups mentioned here, Easy Drone and AirDog, smashed their way through the Kickstarter in rather amazing fashion. Both projects successfully reached their goals in just a couple of days ,  and are now definitely becoming more than just a great idea.

And in case of Easy Drone, there is a stretch goal #1 that will be incorporated in the original product, giving some extraordinary capabilities to an already extraordinary drone.

Great job guys!