Zacc Dukowitz

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Everything posted by Zacc Dukowitz

  1. Walmart recently announced an investment in DroneUp for on-demand drone delivery. The investment follows a year of trials in which Walmart partnered with DroneUp to deliver at-home COVID-19 self-collection kits. While the initial tests were limited to COVID-19 kits, Walmart has its eyes set on much bigger, broader drone delivery efforts. Read today's post to learn more about how DroneUp might be able to offer nationwide drone delivery and the ongoing delivery wars.
  2. A recent tweet shows a picture of a DJI drone on the shelves at a Walmart for $299. The drone is called a DJI Mini SE. The catch? DJI hasn’t released it yet. We’ve seen shelving blunders like this a few times before, most notably when the Mini 2 was stocked in a Best Buy ahead of its release and bought by a YouTuber who leaked everything about it. But unlike those instances, where it looked like a single Best Buy had just made a mistake, Walmart currently has the SE for sale on its website. (Granted, you can’t actually buy it yet, but the page is clear evidence that this drone will be hitting shelves soon.) Read today's post to learn everything we know about the forthcoming Mini SE and how it's (a little) different from the original DJI Mavic Mini.
  3. A report leaked to The Hill reveals that the Pentagon has found both DJI’s Government Edition Matrice 600 and DJI’s Government Edition Mavic Pro to be free of privacy concerns, and cleared for government use. According to the report, which was the product of an audit conducted by the Department of Defense, the two drones “show no malicious code or intent and are recommended for use by government entities and forces working with US services.” The report was written by Adam Prater, the second chief warrant officer with the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, who has declined to comment publicly on its findings. Only the section of the reporting pertaining to the two DJI drones was made public—the rest of the report remains classified. Read the post to learn about the report and to get some background on the U.S. government's ongoing privacy concerns about DJI drones.
  4. Skydio recently launched Skydio 3D Scan, a new 3D mapping software, with a big event at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The new software is made for both professional inspectors and first responders, allowing them to quickly—and autonomously—create 3D models of critical infrastructure, accident scenes, or whatever they might need to model for the work at hand. The software is available right now for the Skydio 2 at $2,999, and will be available soon for the Skydio X2 series. Read today's post to learn more about Skydio's new software, and how inspectors and first responders might use actually use it in the field.
  5. @Night001 I didn't know about these lawsuits, definitely makes the case even stronger. Thanks for sharing this info!
  6. With the rollout of vaccines in the U.S. and the corresponding drop in COVID-19 cases, several major drone conferences are returning to their customary in-person format this year. There are also some great virtual offerings coming up, and of course many conferences have gone hybrid, offering both virtual and in-person formats to attendees. To help you learn about all the great conferences happening in the second half of 2021, we made a roundup featuring all of them. Check out the post to see the full list, including dates, event locations, and all the other information we could dig up on the big North American drone events taking place this summer and fall.
  7. According to DJI insider @OsitaLV, the Mavic 2 Pro will soon be discontinued to make way for the Mavic Pro 3. Although the Mavic 2 Pro has been a mainstay of prosumers, it is more than time for the release of the 3 Pro. Read this week's post to get everything we know about the forthcoming Mavic 3 Pro, including possible specs and other rumors. What do you think—are you ready for the next generation in the Mavic Pro line?
  8. A drone being developed by researchers at the University of Rhode Island has the potential to replace dogs for detecting bombs. The drone itself is just an ordinary quadcopter—a DJI Phantom 3, to be exact. What makes the drone unique is a special sensor attached to it that allows the drone to “smell” different substances, such as the materials used in explosives. Leading the effort to create this drone-compatible sensor is Professor Otto Gregory of the University of Rhode Island’s College of Engineering. He’s been working on the smelling sensor—which he calls a digital dog nose—for 15 years, and it can now identify the particles associated with various explosive materials. Read this week's post to learn more about the digital dog nose drone and all the other ways it could be used to keep people safe.
  9. NASA recently announced partnerships with five different states to help push forward Advanced Air Mobility (AAM)—that is, to help make drone taxis and cargo drone delivery a reality. The partnerships will focus on testing and sharing best practices with state and local governments for implementing the use of big drones as air taxis and as cargo delivery vehicles. The five states NASA has partnered with are Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Ohio, and Texas. Read today's post to learn more about NASA's AAM program and the goals of these new partnerships for making drone taxis and cargo drone deliveries a reality in the U.S.
  10. North Dakota has been working for some time to create a statewide BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) network. The name of the North Dakota network is Vantis and it’s being developed in full partnership with the FAA. For the most part, that partnership work is being done under the aegis of the FAA’s BEYOND program, which has an explicit goal of making BVLOS operations mainstream. The partnership is significant, because it means that as the technology and infrastructure of the network is developed it is also being held to FAA safety standards, setting North Dakota up for fast-tracked approvals when the network is ready to go live. Read this post to learn more about how Vantis will work and why BVLOS operations could be a game changer for the drone industry at large.
  11. Police in Culver City, California recently used a drone to help apprehend a man who stole a puppy at gunpoint. The man was responding to an ad he’d seen on Craigslist about a grey, 10-month old French Bulldog. When the owner showed the man the puppy he took out a semi-automatic handgun, grabbed it, and ran. Detectives quickly narrowed their list of suspects down to one person, and Culver City detectives began surveilling his home. Four days later, the detectives saw the man leave his home holding a puppy that matched the description of the stolen one and getting into a car. When they tried to pull the man over shortly after he started driving he drove off, and they pursued him. Read this post to learn more about how police used a Phantom 4 to catch the man, why French Bulldog thefts are on the rise, and some thoughts on the police using drones for aerial surveillance.
  12. Several states are currently considering laws that could make commercial drone operations much more complicated—and expensive. These proposed laws are generally grouped under the term “avigation easement” laws. The word avigation is a combination of navigation and aviation, and the word easement refers to the need for crossing or using someone’s land for a specific purpose (like a photo shoot or a delivery). The proposed legislation varies from state to state. But the idea that connects them is to extend property rights for landowners into the airspace above their land, so that people who own land would also own the airspace over it. With this new airspace ownership, property owners could then charge drone pilots to fly over their land. So if you wanted to do an aerial photo shoot and had to enter the airspace above someone’s property, you’d have to pay the airspace owner. And if a drone delivery company wanted to fly through that person’s airspace to deliver a package, they would also have to pay. Further, large landowners, including state governments, could potentially institute aerial “tollroads,” charging a fee for each drone that enters the airspace in order to conduct business. Read today's post to learn more about avigation easements, the proposed laws around them, and a recent statement from AUVSI that strongly denounces them.
  13. Photographer and all around magic-image maker Reuben Wu has once again found a new way to use drones as a light source to create beautiful works of art. In his ongoing Lux Noctis series, Wu has again reinvented the use of drone lighting to capture incredible stills of nature. But he’s also doing something he’s never done before—using drones as a light source to create “motion pieces.” Check out this post to see what we're talking about—these things really are incredible. Also, here's a still image from the same series: The post has several more images as well as two of the 'motion pieces'—make sure to check it out if you are a fan of Reuben's work, he really has been making some amazing art lately.
  14. Researchers in Italy recently proposed a new way that drones can help fight fires: using them to drop water or other “extinguishing liquids” onto the flames. A few heavy-lift drone companies have experimented with using a single big drone to carry a firehose or a large bucket of water into the air for this purpose. But these applications haven’t really taken off, primarily because they’re just not that practical. The key distinction between these tests and the new idea is in the size and quantity of drones used. While a single, huge drone with a heavy payload may not make that much of a difference for a fire, a swarm of smaller drones might be able to make a big impact. Read today's article to learn more about how drone swarms could be used to fight fires, and why they may end up being one of the most effective approaches to combatting the fires of the future.
  15. There are currently only 63 Māui dolphins left in existence. These dolphins live off the west coast of New Zealand, and are in severe danger of going extinct. But a drone could help save them. The drone in question is being developed specifically to find and track these dolphins using visual drone data and A.I. technology. The project to create the drone has been underway for a few years now, with the first tests of the MĀUI63 drone starting back in 2019. Even at that early stage, the drone was able to use A.I. to tell the difference between Māui dolphins and other marine life with an impressive accuracy of 90%. Read this blog post to learn more about the program, and how it might help save dolphins as well as other marine life from extinction.
  16. UAV Coach celebrated a fun milestone this past weekend—delivering hands-on drone flight training to its 1,000th student. Since its first training class three years ago, UAV Coach’s drone flight training program has grown considerably to include 32 locations in 20 states throughout the U.S. And while UAV Coach trains folks to fly drones in a wide variety of industries like public safety, construction, filmmaking, real estate marketing, etc., its 1,000th student is a 10-year old who wanted to learn how to fly drones for fun with his grandfather. UAV Coach’s on-demand, one-on-one flight training sessions are tailored for each individual and led by expert FAA-certified drone pilots, allowing students with a range of experience to get exactly what they want out of their training session. Read today's post to learn more about UAV Coach's hands-on drone flight training program, including information on the 11 new locations that were recently added to the list.
  17. Drone imagery may provide crucial evidence in a case historians are making to preserve the ancient Octagon Earthworks in Newark, OH by making it a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The earthworks were built by Native Americans over 2,000 years ago as a way to measure the movements of the sun and moon. They are currently located on a golf course at the Moundbuilders Country Club. The club has leased the land for over 100 years, and preserving the mounds is a priority to its owners and to club members—but people are still permitted to walk on them if they need to make a shot. Aerial images help us more fully appreciate the brilliance of what the Hopewell people made, letting us see the Octagon Earthworks in all their glory and showcasing the engineering know-how and sheer creativity of perspective required for their creation. Read today's post to learn more about the Octagon Earthworks and the push to make it a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  18. The San Mateo Sheriff’s Office is testing the use of drones as lifeguards. Rather than diving into the water to rescue people in distress, the drones will be used to carry and drop life jackets into the water. In 2019 and 2020 the San Mateo sheriff’s office responded to double the amount of water rescues than it had in past years. And in the first month of 2021, two people drowned. The sheriff’s office launched its drone program about a year ago, but didn’t get the idea to use drones for water rescues until recently, when someone in the department learned of a volunteer firefighter who had been exploring the idea. Read today's post to learn more about the "drones as lifeguard" program, and for some other news about how drones are keeping people safe from sharks in the ocean.
  19. DJI recently shared phaseout plans for several different enterprise products, including five drone series, four Zenmuse cameras, and its Flight Simulator. For many, the biggest news will be that the Matrice 200 series and the Zenmuse XT thermal camera will no longer be serviced after this year. While these kinds of phaseouts are fairly common, the sheer size of the list of products seems remarkable. When taken in combination with DJI’s recent move to bypass resellers and sell enterprise drones directly—a controversial choice with implications for the entire drone industry—this large-scale phaseout could be seen as a move to tighten control over its enterprise sales by shortening the list of products available for enterprise applications. Read today's post for some speculation about what DJI might be up to, as well as a full breakout of all 22 products on the phaseout list, organized by type.
  20. Hyundai’s luxury line Genesis recently put on a massive drone light show in Shanghai to celebrate the company’s launch in China. Using 3,281 drones, the Genesis logo was formed on the night sky in impressive detail. In addition to the logo, the light show featured other formations, including a hand, a helix, and the names of two of Galaxy’s cars (the G80 and the GV80). Although the light show seems to be the biggest ever performed, it's not clear whether Genesis actually won a Guinness World Record for it. Read today's post to learn more, and to see videos of other record-breaking light shows going back to when the first Guinness World Record for The Most Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) airborne simultaneously was won by Intel back in 2015.
  21. Hey @Av8Chuck the Navy has denied that the drones sighted were theirs. Are you saying that the most likely explanation is they belonged to another branch of government and the Navy was unaware of that (or didn't want to disclose that)? Given that this took place almost two years ago, it seems like that information would now be available via a FOIA request, which The Drive made a bunch of for their reporting—what do you think?
  22. Back in July of 2019, U.S. naval ships off the coast of southern California were repeatedly swarmed at night by UAVs. Despite extensive investigations, the Navy still doesn’t know who they belong to or what the intentions were of those flying them. The first cluster of these drone incursions took place over two days in mid-July of 2019, with up to six drones at a time flying over and around the ships. The first hint that these incidents had taken place came from Dave Beaty, a documentary filmmaker, who mentioned a navy ship’s encounter with a possible UAV in a tweet last year. The tweet got the attention of reporters at The Drive, who began submitting Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the U.S. government to learn more about what had taken place. Read today's post to learn more about the incidents and why they seem so mysterious to investigators.
  23. Should commercial drone pilots obtain a surveyor’s license to sell aerial photos and videos of a piece of property? This question is at the heart of a lawsuit recently filed in North Carolina. And the outcome could have big implications about the future of commercial drone operations not just there, but throughout the U.S. The trouble started in late 2018, when commercial drone pilot Michael Jones received a letter from North Carolina’s Board of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors. A picture of Jones taken while flying The letter warned him that the commercial drone work he did was illegal because it constituted surveying without a license. The Board demanded that he stop immediately. Jones had been careful to say on his website and in other marketing materials that his aerial shots did not establish property lines and couldn’t be used for legal surveying needs because he was not a licensed surveyor. Read today's post to learn more about what Jones did next and the First Amendment lawsuit he's filed against the Board.
  24. The Port of Antwerp in Antwerpen, Belgium recently announced plans to implement its own Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) system. The big news is that its UTM system will be overseen by the port and not by the Belgian Civil Aviation Authority. In general, flying in the port’s airspace requires permission from the Belgian Civil Aviation Authority, since it is considered a no-fly zone (i.e., controlled airspace). But with the implementation of its new UTM system, the Port of Antwerp will be able to grant these permissions itself, making it the first non-aviation authority in the world to be what, under E.U. drone regulations, is called a geozone manager. Read today's post to learn more about what it means for the Port of Antwerp to be made a geozone manager, and how the port plans to use drones in its daily work.
  25. Feeling bogged down? Need some inspiration in your life? The videos and pictures in this post may be just the thing to lift your spirits. SkyPixel recently announced the winners of its 6th annual Aerial Photo & Video Contest—read the next section to learn about the contest, or scroll straight down to see the winning entries. Here is the Grand Prize aerial photo winner: Read today's post to see all the 1st place winners in the 6 video and 5 photo categories.