Will Drones Replace Fireworks?

After months of lockdown, people are starved for entertainment. They’ve apparently binge-watched everything they ever wanted to see on Netflix, HBO and Disney+, played video games until their eyes bled, and became bored enough to even manage to read a book or two.

So with the 4th of July rapidly approaching, many Americans are looking for something different to occupy their time and to empty their wallets, and fireworks fit the bill. But fireworks come with their own list of issues, including the fact that they terrify birds and wildlife as well as pets (more here, here, and here); they add toxic chemical pollutants to the air, water and land (more here); litter the landscape with spent plastic casings; create inescapable explosions that can trigger terror in veterans and others suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (more here); and increase the risk of fires at a time when the wildfire risk in many places is already high. Further, the private use of fireworks is accompanied by the ever-present danger of damaging one’s hearing and losing body parts.

Drone light shows differ from fireworks displays because drones are reusable, and do not produce chemical and noise pollution. However, there are only a few dozen companies in the world that have the proper permits, training, technical skills and supplies to plan and carry out a large-scale drone light show. One such company is Intel, which is at the forefront of this technology. It specializes in creating dynamic 3D light shows using autonomous swarms of drones that they designed especially for light shows; the Shooting Star.

Read the rest of this story by Grrlscientist at Forbes.com.

Drone Rescues Around the World

DJI would like to keep this map as up-to-date as possible, and they need your help to do it. If you know of a drone rescue not included on this map, please report the rescue information on this form and DJI will work with you to validate the submission.

Each incident must include basic information such as the date and location of the rescue, backed up by links to news stories or authoritative social media posts from the rescuers. If you want to report a rescue that was not featured in news coverage, please provide an official public safety agency report or other documentation of the incident.

Must Watch! Programming Precision Aerobatics [VIDEO]

The drone gurus from the Robotics and Perception Group at the University of Zurich are at it again! This time the lab–founded in 2012 and led by Prof. Davide Scaramuzza–has created a drone that can fly incredibly graceful aerobatics. Watch the video, then read below to see how they did it!

From the Robotics and Perception Group: “Performing acrobatic maneuvers with quadrotors is extremely challenging. Acrobatic flight requires high thrust and extreme angular accelerations that push the platform to its physical limits. Professional drone pilots often measure their level of mastery by flying such maneuvers in competitions. In this work, we propose to learn a sensorimotor policy that enables an autonomous quadrotor to fly extreme acrobatic maneuvers with only onboard sensing and computation. We train the policy entirely in simulation by leveraging demonstrations from an optimal controller that has access to privileged information. We use appropriate abstractions of the visual input to enable transfer to a real quadrotor. We show that the resulting policy can be directly deployed in the physical world without any fine-tuning on real data. Our methodology has several favorable properties: it does not require a human expert to provide demonstrations, it cannot harm the physical system during training, and it can be used to learn maneuvers that are challenging even for the best human pilots. Our approach enables a physical quadrotor to fly maneuvers such as the Power Loop, the Barrel Roll, and the Matty Flip, during which it incurs accelerations of up to 3g.”

Shell’s Drone Aerial Response Team [VIDEO]

In the Oil and Gas industry, safety is always the number one priority. From inspecting vast tank farms to the soaring tops of flare stacks, safety measures are paramount and necessary to safeguard workers against potential hazards. Shell leads the way in deploying new drone technologies to provide smarter insights and safer operations. Shell’s Drone Aerial Response Team (D.A.R.T) shares their drone story, from starting their program to thoughts on how DJI’s new Matrice 300 RTK and Zenmuse H20 Series will improve their operations.

Shell Partners with DJI for Smarter and Safer Operations

In the oil and gas industry, safety is the number one priority. From inspecting vast tank farms to the soaring tops of flare stacks, safety measures are paramount and necessary to safeguard workers against potential hazards.

Shell is just one company implementing new drone technology to provide smarter insights and safer operations. Shell’s very own Drone Aerial Response Team (D.A.R.T) share their drone story, from starting their program to thoughts on how DJI’s new Matrice 300 RTK and Zenmuse H20 Series will improve their operations.

“For our teams working in the oil & gas industry, performance and safety are not optional. We cannot compromise on our pursuit of utilizing the best and most efficient tools available,” said Adam Serblowski, Robotics Theme Lead at Shell.

The Art of a Drone Selfie

Generally speaking, I always thought of selfies as being harmless fun. However, the idea of people becoming obsessed with the manufacturing of their own self-portraits came across as somewhat narcissistic. Because of that I always steered away from taking pictures of myself, and never in a million years would I have imagined writing a feature on taking selfies—yet alone this one. So if you’re wondering what inspired this article, it emerged from a moment I flicked through a web link featuring some of the world’s most powerful drone pictures. There were a couple of images exhibited there that lured me into exploring this avenue. A common theme among these images was that they were not just top-down aerial pictures taken with a drone; they managed to incorporate the photographer into the picture as well.

After looking at these images a little more closely, I found that the key element to achieving this dynamic was in the way the photographers had crafted themselves into the frame. This provided the image with an immense sense of intrigue as well.

I finally decided to take my DJI Mavic Pro out to a few locations that I thought would have great potential for taking drone selfies. All shots on display here were taken with the Mavic in auto mode. It was also fitted with a PolarPro Circular Polarizing Filter to help reduce any harsh reflections and highlights.

Drone Selfie Fig.1

Western Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

f2.2—1/150s—ISO 100

With this lake and wharf, my intention was to capture a bold and contemporary composition, so I elevated the drone to about 80 to 90 feet. This enabled me to fill the frame, with approximately a third of its surface area being taken up by the wharf, which I though provided a nice visual balance.

I also decided to stand in this picture to provide a focal point. The late-afternoon sunset provided some beautiful light and shadows, which assisted in breaking up the bold composition by adding some finer detail.

Drone Selfie Fig.2

Northern Beaches, New South Wales, Australia

f2.2—1/25s—ISO 255

The chance to capture an abstract and somewhat bold composition here only required me to elevate the drone to approximately 30 feet high. Keeping the drone relatively close to the ground helped me keep out parts of the scene that I did not want to incorporate. I framed it in a way to capture two sides of water and enough of the concrete slab to exhibit the numbers that would help the viewer identify the subject. The numbers also play a part in providing secondary focal points.

Benefits of Including Yourself

When it comes to composition, including yourself won’t just assist in providing the viewer with a sense of scale and dimension. It will also build more points of interest and add substance to images that are typically only composed of sparse geometric masses. Another benefit is that it could act as a primary focal point or allow you to tell a story using an image.

Top Five Selfie Drone Tips

• Scout your location. Use maps to scout your location before hiking out.

• Look for contrasting colors and textures. Combine interesting colors and textures in the landscape to create interest.

• Seek out focal points. Look for spots in the landscape where you can position yourself and other people.

• Start low. Keep the drone flying low and gradually elevate its height.

• Take shots at multiple heights. Capture numerous photos, and pick the best later.

Northern Beaches, New South Wales, Australia

f2.2—1/50s—ISO 190

To achieve a sleek and contemporary composition here, I flew the drone to a height of approximately 130 feet and positioned the horizontal axis of the concrete plinth a little off center and more toward the top part of the frame. I also took the drone to this particular height so that I could capture all the color tones in seawater below. Lying down was the preferred option as the viewer is more easily able to identify me here. Having captured the swimmers about to jump into the water also assists in providing an interesting secondary focal point.

Western Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

f2.2—1/13s—ISO 547

Shown here are the training nets from my junior sporting cricket days. Until now, my only views of this were from ground level during my training days 30 years ago. I took the drone up to about 30 to 45 feet high and decided to explore the site from an aerial perspective, mainly because of the interesting layers it contained. I also kept the drone at this low height to reveal the interesting textures of the steel mesh fence, concrete slab, dirt, and grass on the sides.

I positioned the drone in such a way that the stumps were revealed in the far right corner. Making the stumps visible not only enabled a secondary focal point but also helped the viewer identify the scene as being a cricket training pitch.

Western Sydney,

New South Wales, Australia

f2.2—1/370s—ISO 100

This scene presented me an opportunity to capture the geometric, stark white lines against a lush green football field in a unique way. Taking the drone up to about 150 feet high was ideal in capturing enough of the radial and rectilinear geometry of the chalked sidelines.

I also limited the drone to that height so that my presence wasn’t too small and diluted within the overall scene. Turning the drone so that the two football fields were approximately 45 degrees to the horizontal frame added a much stronger sense of movement as well.



When and How to Include Yourself


Given the fact that most of top-down aerial photos are abstract in nature to begin with, it makes perfect sense to add in a focal point as well. Remember that you don’t just need the one focal point. If you decide to shoot in a similar style to what I have, try to strategically seek out more focal points where people could be incorporated.

Seeking a place to locate yourself within a composition is quite simple; you only need to find that primary focal point in which to add yourself. Once you’ve found that, think about how you would like position yourself (whether to sit, stand, or lie down, for example). Lying on the ground gives the viewer an unusual perspective that dramatically adds to the subject’s sense of scale.

Start flying the drone at the lowest level and then slowly move upward. Always check your image display, and carefully observe how increasing the height affects your composition.

Don’t become obsessed with getting too much elevation as this can somewhat diminish the selfie-style image you are trying to create. Just to be safe, I usually shoot at three different heights and then choose the most suitable composition when I am editing my RAW files into JPEGs

Skyfire Aims to ‘Navigate New Skies’ with Expanded Focus to Better Serve Critical Sectors

Skyfire Consulting Logo

ATLANTA – Skyfire Consulting, the most trusted and experienced public safety UAS consulting group, this week announced it has expanded its suite of solutions in order to better serve customers within critical sectors. In addition to this updated focus, Skyfire has launched an all-new interactive website, www.skyfireconsulting.com, with updated branding that more closely aligns with its mission of propelling public safety and critical infrastructure forward through aerial solutions.

Over the past six years, Skyfire has helped hundreds of public safety departments across the United States launch successful drone programs and become the premier UAS consulting group in the country.

Skyfire has continued to evolve within this ever-changing industry and has recently reimagined its offerings so that it can provide customized solutions to meet the needs of each of its customers.

Solutions:

Federal, State & Local Public Safety

Oil, Gas & Engineering

Disaster Response

Global Public Health

Private Security & Event Overwatch

Specialized FAA Waivers

Skyfire Academy

Design & Manufacturing

Film & TV

“By defining the sectors we serve, providing innovative custom solutions and leveraging the expertise across our business, we’ve now become the first and last call for all things drone,” said Matt Sloane, CEO of Skyfire and its parent company, Atlanta Drone Group Inc. “Each critical sector we serve offers a unique set of challenges and we welcome the opportunity to tackle the most complex demands.”

In addition to Skyfire’s robust suite of drone services, it has worked tirelessly over the past few months towards its all-new website and simplified messaging. The new site features a streamlined, modern design, improved functionality, and easy access to essential information to help current and potential partners make well-informed decisions about their drone needs.

“We’ve come a long way in six years, and we needed a website and brand message that was worthy of our best in class reputation. I feel that Skyfire’s new website properly aligns with our company vision for growth and expansion in the future,” said Sloane.

Skyfire’s new website will be updated on a regular basis with news of product launches, regulatory changes, essential partner information, and corporate milestones. Visitors are encouraged to explore the website and sign up for Skyfire’s monthly educational newsletter,

Propeller Heads.

To celebrate the launch of its new website, Skyfire is giving visitors a chance to win a full drone program, valued at over $13,000! This includes a program development manual, blanket COA, and training for 4.

To enter, simply head over to the new website www.skyfireconsulting.com and enter to win.

About Skyfire:

Skyfire Consulting is the most trusted and experienced public safety UAV consulting company in the United States. Specializing in pilot training, FAA consulting, SOP development, drone sales and service and repairs for public safety agencies, Skyfire is focused on providing solutions to the most complex needs.

Join SwissDrones Representatives

What if you could change the way things are done?

What if you were able to be part of a disruptive innovation?

What if you could provide your customer with front-running solutions?

SwissDrones has launched a new Reps program to keep up with the international expansion pace of its SDO50 V2 platform.

We are looking for established and professional companies keen to expand their solution portfolio with a high endurance, heavy payload capable rotary wing UAV for BVLOS applications in Powerline inspection, Oil&Gas pipeline inspection, S&R and aerial surveillance.

Feel free to get in touch with us, we will be happy to discuss the collaboration options with you.

Civil Aviation Authority Drone Lead joins Crowded Space Drones

Belfast, UK: Andrew Hamilton, Civil Aviation Authority Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) lead is to leave the CAA to become Director of Operations at leading drone company Crowded Space Drones.

Andrew has been involved in drones for nearly 10 years and whilst an Inspector with Devon & Cornwall Constabulary, founding the first ever 24 hour UK Police Drone Unit which now has over 50 Police Officers trained as pilots.

Following this, Andrew joined the Civil Aviation Authority, transforming their systems and processes to the benefit of the wider drone industry.

Under his leadership at the Civil Aviation Authority, Andrew has overseen the approval of drone delivery programs, such as the delivery of medical equipment to the Isle of Wight to assist with the Coronavirus response. He also assisted in the roll out of Drone & Model Aircraft Registration and Education Scheme (DMARES) and significant improvements to the process of applying and renewing commercial drone permissions.

Crowded Space Drones are a specialist drone services company who hold a unique special permission from the Civil Aviation Authority to safely fly as close as five metres from uncontrolled persons.


Working in specialist areas such as inspections, major events, counter terrorism, television filming and surveying, with clients includes Walmart, Live Nation, Metropolitan Police, Wimbledon, BBC, Arsenal FC and the Ministry of Defence. The company also had a role in the UK response to the Gatwick & Heathrow drone attacks, remaining onsite for nearly 5 months.

Andrew McQuillan, Director of Crowded Space Drones, commented: “Our entire team is absolutely thrilled to have Andrew Hamilton join us to lead our flight operations, there is simply no one in the United Kingdom who has more knowledge, experience and know how in all aspects of the drone industry. This will be a massive benefit to our clients and also help us ensure we are the safest drone operator.

Andrew joins the team as part of our ongoing growth plan, which includes capital investment and the creation of approximately 20 new jobs for Pilots, Flight Crew and other support roles involved in Surveying and Inspection over the next 12 months.”

Crowded Space Drones will be developing new services to assist further develop the drone industry in the United Kingdom. Andrew Hamilton explained this further: “The existing UK drone regulations will soon change when the new EU regulations come into force towards the end of the year. This will see some fundamental changes as to how drones can be used both as a hobbyist and a commercial user.

I am looking forward to using Crowded Space Drone’s experience and resources to build programs for drone operators on how they can understand and meet the new requirements to ensure they operate safely and within the law. I believe this is a great opportunity to work with operators who want to learn a more advanced level of drone operations and look to achieve enhanced permissions from the CAA.”

Parrot launches ANAFI USA: A drone designed for first responders and enterprise professionals

Parrot’s next-generation drone offers 32x zoom, thermal imaging, a ruggedized airframe, and advanced data security

Paris – June 30, 2020: Parrot, a leading European drone group, is pleased to announce ANAFI USA: a unique drone that combines enterprise-class data security with the easy-to-use features that have driven consumer drone adoption in recent years. ANAFI USA is a powerful drone built to meet the demands of first responders, firefighters, search-and-rescue teams, security agencies, surveying and inspection professionals.

Featuring an industry-first 32x zoom, 4K HDR video and FLIR thermal imaging capabilities, ANAFI USA is an ultraportable, secure and durable aerial camera platform.

Manufactured in the U.S., ANAFI USA offers the same high-end security, durability and imaging capabilities as Parrot’s Short-Range Reconnaissance (SRR) drone designed for the U.S. Army. ANAFI USA’s data encryption and privacy features are compliant with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), delivering best-in-class privacy and security for sensitive missions.

Henri kindly showed us ANAFI USA last week.

32x zoom

When firefighters arrive on the scene of a fire, the most important need is to view hot spots while also being able to assess the entire visual scene. ANAFI USA’s gimbal and advanced optics were designed with this challenge in mind. The 32x zoom is designed around two 21-megapixel cameras, allowing operators to see details clearly from up to 5 km (3.1 mi) away.

The zoom image is coupled (blended) with images from ANAFI USA’s FLIR camera. This enables operators to detect hot spots with the thermal camera, while the visual camera allows them to view people and other important details from up to 2 km (1.2 mi) away.

In the example image below, the drone is flying over solar panels at an altitude of 40 m (44 yds). With ANAFI USA’s powerful zoom, the pilot can detect centimetric hot spots on the solar panels.

Solar panel anomalies detected with the thermal camera, before and after the 32x zoom.

Ensuring excellent image stabilization on 32x zoom images with a light drone (500 g/1.1 lbs) is a particularly delicate technological achievement. Parrot accomplished this feat by coupling the stabilization of the gimbal with full 3-axis digital stabilization via image processing.

Easy to operate

For first responders and the most demanding professional users, rapid drone deployment is a necessity during missions. ANAFI USA is operational in less than 55 seconds: it takes less than 55 seconds to unfold the drone, turn it on, establish the secure radio link and take off.

ANAFI USA works indoors without GPS, allowing operators to take off inside a house, pilot the drone through a window to fly outside, and then come back.

ANAFI USA can also launch from the palm of the hand like a paper plane, further expanding its ease of use.

With no built-in limitations for no-fly zones, ANAFI USA gives first responders the freedom to fly responsibly at a moment’s notice and wherever their missions may take them.

ANAFI USA is the quietest drone in its class, with a sound level of just 79 dB when it is at 50cm off the ground.

It uses a standard USB-C type charger for hassle-free convenience.

Weighing in at just 500 g (1.1 lbs), the compact ANAFI USA folds easily for maximum portability. Despite its compact design, ANAFI USA boasts a 32-minute flight time — also best in class for a drone of its size.

Trusted and secure

ANAFI USA puts security first for professional users.

Photos and videos are encrypted on its SD card, using an AES-XTS algorithm with a 512-bit key length. ANAFI USA’s Secure Digital (SD) card encryption feature ensures that saved data cannot be read if the drone or SD card is lost or stolen. Once encrypted, data can only be read with the decryption key.

ANAFI USA also includes a secure WPA2 Wi-Fi connection. WPA2 provides authentication and encryption of the link between the remote controller and ANAFI USA.

Signed firmware prevents any malicious modification of the drone software.

Parrot uses trusted standards and open protocols (such as Wi-Fi, WPA2, RTP/RTSP, H.264, and GUTMA) to ensure the utmost interoperability and security for all recorded data.

Users can choose to share data by opting in via the FreeFlight 6 app. No data is shared by default without the consent of the user. After opting-in to the feature, flight data and logs are stored on secure servers in Europe in addition to local copies of the data on the drone. The drone’s features are fully compliant with the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Ruggedized

ANAFI USA has passed the IP53 qualification, making it suitable to fly in rainy conditions. It’s built for missions in the toughest flight conditions, offering weatherproofing with water and dust resistance.

ANAFI USA’s stabilized imaging ensures high-quality footage even at 15 m/s wind conditions.

New flight features

ANAFI USA’s advanced flight features are designed to meet the unique needs of enterprise drone users. Powered by Parrot’s acclaimed FreeFlight 6 piloting software, pilots have multiple easy-to-use flight options. ANAFI USA’s flight routes can be set by coordinates in assisted framing or executed autonomously.

The ability to create a flight plan with pre-set automatic flights and target-tracking make it easy for the entire team to carry out missions.

Featuring an editable “Return to Home” (RTH) feature, the drone allows users to program a specified “home” location for easy mission wrap-up. This RTH feature automatically occurs when the drone disconnects or is running low on battery to help protect your organization’s investment.

ANAFI USA captures the precise GPS coordinates of the drone and the point of interest, offering detailed location information to help operation leaders on the ground quickly locate targets such as missing persons or hazardous materials.

FreeFlight 6, a valuable assistant for pilots and their teams

Software ecosystem

Compatible with the industry-leading mapping software Pix4Dreact, ANAFI USA allows first responders to quickly transform images into precise 2D maps on a laptop.

Through its open-source SDK and use of industry-standard protocols, ANAFI USA supports a growing ecosystem of professional applications and services, such as Survae (smart searching and visualization platform connecting video, images, and sensor data to interactive maps and timelines), DroneLogbook (compliance and fleet management), Kittyhawk (compliance and security for enterprise UAS fleet and airspace management.), DroneSense (comprehensive drone management platform enabling public safety organizations to build, manage, and scale their unmanned aircraft programs), Planck AeroSystems (autonomous landing on a moving vehicle), and Skyward, A Verizon company (aviation management platform, including airspace, LAANC access, as well as training, hardware, and connectivity for enterprise drone fleet deployments).

Other partners are working hard to join the ecosystem in the coming months, making ANAFI USA a reference platform for professional use.

Pricing and availability

ANAFI USA will be available for pre-order starting July 27th. Priced at $7,000, availability will begin in August through the following Parrot Drone Enterprise Partners: Drone Nerds, RMUS and leading Enterprise Drone Resellers.

For more information visit www.parrot.com