DRONEWZ: April 2018…

The first of what, I hope, will be a regular feature of The Drone Diaries.

And, I’ll try to focus as much as possible on the good news. The media seem to go out of their way to highlight what they think is bad news, branding us Dronistas as dangerous unthinking maniacs.

Case in point was a wild story last year about a drone hitting a helicopter causing a dent in the fuselage. But what was not widely publicized was the Air Accident Investigation Report that stated there were feathers in the dent. Hmmm. A drone with feathers? Must have been a Parrot.

On with the good stuff…

  • Medical Cargo Could Be The Gateway For Routine Drone Deliveries
    The HQ-40 drone, made by Tuscon, Ariz.-based Latitude Engineering, can carry samples for medical testing in a refrigerated container. (Johns Hopkins School of Medicine)

    One shred of solace that surfaced as hurricanes and tropical storms pummeled Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico last fall was the opportunity to see drones realize some of their life-saving potential.

    During those disasters unmanned aircraft surveyed wrecked roads, bridges and rail lines. They spotted oil and gas leaks. They inspected damaged cell towers that had left thousands unable to call for help.

    In late 2016 Zipline, a San Francisco Bay Area-based robotics startup, set up distribution centers in Rwanda, where its drones had made more than 1400 flights carrying on-demand blood and emergency supplies over 62,000 miles as of last fall. This year the company will expand its medical delivery operations by launching a second base in Rwanda and new service in a larger neighboring country, Tanzania.

    (Full article here: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/03/10/592059175/medical-cargo-could-be-the-gateway-for-routine-drone-deliveries)

  • Massive Ancient Drawings Found in Peruvian Desert
    Photograph courtesy Luis Jaime Castillo, Palpa Nasca Project

    A National Geographic exclusive article reports that…

    Etched into the high desert of southern Peru more than a millennium ago, the enigmatic Nasca lines continue to capture our imagination. More than a thousand of these geoglyphs (literally, ‘ground drawings’) sprawl across the sandy soil of Nasca province, the remains of little-understood ritual practices that may have been connected to life-giving rain.

    Now, Peruvian archaeologists armed with drones have discovered more than 50 new examples of these mysterious desert monuments in adjacent Palpa province, traced onto the earth’s surface in lines almost too fine to see with the human eye. In addition, archaeologists surveyed locally known geoglyphs with drones for the first time—mapping them in never-before-seen detail.

    (Full article here: https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/04/new-nasca-nazca-lines-discovery-peru-archaeology/)

  • Future of Drones Lies in Data, Not Delivery

    Camera technology is rapidly improving and so is the ability of computer programs to recognize objects and changes in landscapes. This is creating opportunities for drones to replace humans in doing repetitive, dirty or dangerous jobs.

    For example, farmers are using drones to monitor crop growth and plant health. Drones are also excellent tools for monitoring large facilities such as oil refineries, pipelines and electric power transmission cables.

    (Full article here: https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2018/03/19/future_of_drones_lies_in_data_not_delivery_136566.html)

  • In Puerto Rico’s Mountains, These Drones Helped Restore Power

    In the mountains near Ponce, Puerto Rico, after Hurricane Maria hit, the terrain made it incredibly difficult to repair power lines that used to stretch from peak to peak. For four months, people in the area lived in the dark. In January, Duke Energy started using a new approach to cross 1,000-feet-plus wide ravines: drones.

    A drone, carrying a lightweight nylon cord, can quickly fly over dense, jungle-like vegetation to a pole on the opposite side of a ravine. A 3D-printed electromagnet attached to the drone makes it possible to drop the cord in the right position. Next, workers can attach a larger, stronger cord, and then pull the conductor wire into place, making it possible to restore power.

    (Full article here: https://www.fastcompany.com/40533791/in-puerto-ricos-mountains-these-drones-helped-restore-power)

  • Drones Are Spying on Caribou—for Science

    Flying cameras are giving biologists an all-encompassing view of migration that reveals how social interactions motivate the animals’ every move.

    Ecologists Andrew Berdahl, a Santa Fe Institute fellow, Colin Torney of the University of Glasgow, and colleagues flew drones to capture footage of Dolphin and Union caribou, a Canadian herd, as the animals crossed from Victoria Island to the Canadian mainland in the last stage of their fall migration.

    (Full article here: https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2018/03/caribou-herd-migration-drone-footage/)

  • Dolce & Gabbana used drones to carry handbags down the runway instead of models

    I don’t think they meant the drones carried handbags instead of carrying models… but despite that, I have a problem with this concept. I’m all in favor of not employing skinny models, but drones can be dangerous. I don’t think they’re a suitable substitute.

    In fact, it occurred to me this morning that flying a drone is a bit like owning a well-trained dog. 99% of the time you know exactly what they’re going to do, but they do have a mind of their own, and it’s the other 1% you need to worry about.

    (Full article here: https://www.theverge.com/tldr/2018/2/26/17052896/dolce-gabbana-drones-handbags)


... is fascinated by flying, having worked in the airline industry for many years, and having flown almost two million kilometers. Flying and learning about drones is a natural extension of this interest.

If drones fascinate you too, and you don't know where to start, then come along for the ride, because Paul doesn't know what he's doing either!

Making top quality videos is the ultimate objective, but that will take a while.

In the meantime, mistakes will be made and written about. Drones will crash. Drones will be lost. Foul language will ensue. But eventually everything will work out fine.

If you're also interested in travel, you may like to read Paul's other blog - Twitterings.

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