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Operators will avoid flying during the Temple burn.
August 20, 2013 9:01 PM   Subscribe

New Policy on Drones. Black Rock City Drones that is.
And a very cheery and relaxation-inducing 5-minute video shot with such an UAV (Unmanned aerial Vehicle). Floating around the Burning Man playa.

From the Youtube video description,

FPV is "first person view" flying of a radio controlled aircraft using a video image from the plane transmitted wirelessly to a viewing station on the ground, using video goggles in my case...I flew at about 50kph (30mph) at an altitude of of 30m (100ft) over the playa and the city to obtain video for this production, then landed safely right on the inner playa. The plane was operated using a long-range UHF system which gives highly-secure control for up to 10 miles range.
posted by fantodstic (59 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ugh, the paranoia from knowing there is a drone up there might give me a bad trip.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:10 PM on August 20, 2013


There was a nice story in the Washington Post last Sunday about the DC Area Drone User Group.
PBS Newshour ran a story on the group a few months ago as well - I'm in that one, flying with my video goggles on. Apparently we're the biggest "drone club" in the country now.
posted by smoothvirus at 9:15 PM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Cute video, despite the twee music and the rather warpy image stabilization. I've always wanted to do Burning Sky, but this is likely the closest I'll get.

It does bring to mind that viral video that went around of the amateur aerial vehicle flying around Hollywood with the close shot of the rooftop pool at the Standard. Although this video is shot too high up to make any difference in this regard, it does cross my mind that a less scrupulous filmmaker could easily violate the social (and, actually, written) contract around not filming people without their permission on Playa.

(But it mostly just makes me sad I'm not going this year. Have fun out there, kids!)
posted by mykescipark at 9:26 PM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I do not need a drone. I do not need a drone. I just need to keep telling myself that until the almost overwhelming urge to buy a drone passes.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:28 PM on August 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


I do not need a drone. I do not need a drone. I just need to keep telling myself that until the almost overwhelming urge to buy a drone passes.

Life's short, and the technology keeps getting cheaper. Why not?
posted by heathkit at 9:46 PM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Official Guidelines from the excellent blog, neat crane photos.
posted by hortense at 9:48 PM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


They should light the Man with flaming drones.
posted by planetesimal at 9:53 PM on August 20, 2013 [9 favorites]


Life's short, and the technology keeps getting cheaper. Why not?

You are right.I'd be a fool not to get one really. I'm putting it on the list after MAME cabinet and bumper pool table so it might be a while though. Now to obsessively research personal drones.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:01 PM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Incidentally, "The Flaming Drones" is the name of my new band.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:10 PM on August 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm sure they have a plan for enforcing these rules. Which will require some bigger faster drones.

Begun the drone wars have.
posted by surplus at 10:19 PM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sorry to be pedantic but it's Black Rock City.
posted by scalefree at 10:34 PM on August 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


it does cross my mind that a less scrupulous filmmaker could easily violate the social (and, actually, written) contract around not filming people without their permission on Playa.

This is true whether or not the camera is mounted to a drone, and this is why the terms and conditions of the Burning Man ticket require you to assign copyright of any published images or videos over to the BMOrg, enabling them to use DMCA takedowns and other legal means to prevent people from producing "girls gone wild" type videos or otherwise exploiting the event.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:37 PM on August 20, 2013


Sorry to be pedantic but it's Black Rock City.

Noooooooooo! I thought I'd read it multiple times after posting and that's (to me) a big error. Thanks for catching it.
posted by fantodstic at 10:51 PM on August 20, 2013


They should light the Man with flaming drones.

There was some concern that the radio control signals might prematurely trigger some pyrotechnics.
posted by jjwiseman at 10:56 PM on August 20, 2013


[Fixed Black Rock City.]
posted by taz at 10:59 PM on August 20, 2013


Muchisimas gracias Taz :)
posted by fantodstic at 11:02 PM on August 20, 2013


What we need is flying 3d printers, if only to trigger a WIRED implosion.
posted by benzenedream at 11:02 PM on August 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


One of the most-talked about topics in the small-drone world is the coming FAA guidelines--when will they be issued, what will they say, how restrictive will they be? You could say that Burning Man is ahead of the U.S. government in coming up with a set of guidelines that allows reasonably free use of small drones on a somewhat large scale.
posted by jjwiseman at 11:07 PM on August 20, 2013


Sorry to be pedantic but it's Black Rock City.

Also sorry, but it's pendantic, not pedantic. F your spellchecker.
posted by treepour at 12:08 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also sorry, but it's pendantic, not pedantic.

wat
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 12:10 AM on August 21, 2013


wat

Urban Dictionary defines "peNdantic".

posted by fantodstic at 12:15 AM on August 21, 2013


Urban Dictionary defines, "Alex's Mom." which is funny to no one. Most particularly, my friend Alex.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 12:20 AM on August 21, 2013


mykescipark, you can go up in the planes that drop off and just not jump out. I've done it before, and I'm planning on doing it again this year. Super fun.
posted by flaterik at 12:44 AM on August 21, 2013


You get a really good view of the hippie-ocrisy from up there.
posted by humboldt32 at 1:28 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is cute footage from an quadcopter drone that flew around BRC too, arguably more fun because you see individuals interact with it and it took nighttime footage. Also, there were ultralights that flew folks over BRC, again probably more fun that the drop off plane because it's lower down. Sorry but packing now, no time for links!

IRL : To the Cuddledome!
posted by jeffburdges at 3:39 AM on August 21, 2013


Last week, Rifftrax did an event where they live broadcasted their riff of "Starship Troopers"

During the scene where they return to Klendathuu and do an aerial strike on the stampeding bugs in the desert, Mike Nelson quipped "Is it wrong that I have a fantasy about doing this at Burning Man?"

And now I'm watching this happy video of an aerial flyby of BRC with lighthearted music, and now I simultaneously can't stop laughing and feeling really bad.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 5:36 AM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Man I miss the Playa. Have fun, those of you who are going!
posted by nevercalm at 5:37 AM on August 21, 2013


I do not need a drone. I do not need a drone. I just need to keep telling myself that until the almost overwhelming urge to buy a drone passes.

You should just forward your credit card to Ready Made RC and get it over with already.
posted by smoothvirus at 5:57 AM on August 21, 2013


You could say that Burning Man is ahead of the U.S. government in coming up with a set of guidelines that allows reasonably free use of small drones on a somewhat large scale.

The differences are that Black Rock City is out in the middle of nowhere and these R/C "drones" are flying at really low altitudes. There's basically no risk of colliding with other craft - in fact, Black Rock Desert is often used for high altitude rocket testing because of its remote location.

Airspace in that area is all "Class G", which means that there are no ATC services provided - strictly "see and avoid". Flying a remote-piloted vehicle out there is only marginally more risky, in my opinion, than some guy out in his Super Cub that has no radios, no transponder, and no lights (which is perfectly legal in that airspace).

The FAA needs to come up with a comprehensive drone policy that encompasses not only remote areas like this, but also busy and complicated airspace over populated areas. They also need to deal with autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicles that fly at altitudes much higher than these R/C toys with cameras strapped to them. Much different problem.

Incidentally, Black Rock City airport is actually recognized by the FAA and has its own airport identifier (here).
posted by backseatpilot at 7:17 AM on August 21, 2013


The differences are that Black Rock City is out in the middle of nowhere

Yeah, but these rules are a pretty sensible way to regulate tiny drone operators so they pose little risk to people and structures on the ground. I think that's what most DIY drone enthusiasts care about; buzzing your neighborhood at 200', not playing with the Global Hawks at 16,500'.
posted by Nelson at 8:20 AM on August 21, 2013


That was great. I was surprised at how tiny everything was from an altitude of only a hundred feet.
posted by bukvich at 8:37 AM on August 21, 2013


Official Guidelines from the excellent blog, neat crane photos.

Should have been in the original post ... then add the Atlantic via (which contributes nothing new).

You could say that Burning Man is ahead of the U.S. government in coming up with a set of guidelines ...

The guidelines are pretty sparse:

* register your cameras (enforcement being fairly lax)
* don't fly near the airport
* don't fly too close to people
* try not to fly during the burn

I'm not sure they are breaking any ground here, other than reminding participants and press that they need to register their recording devices ... of which 20-30% do.

Cool video. Now I want one from Friday night.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:48 AM on August 21, 2013


My comment about BRC being ahead of the FAA was mostly in jest, I realize the FAA is dealing with a larger challenge.

The FAA currently has an almost bimodal set of requirements for drones:

UNREGULATED
* If it's recreational flying there aren't regulations, there is just a set of safety guidelines that you are encouraged to comply with: Advisory Circular 91-57, which says stay below 400', keep away from people and airplanes. Most drone fliers treat these as laws because they live in fear of the FAA shutting down the hobby.

STRICTLY REGULATED
* The "Federal Register Notice - Clarification of FAA Policy" lays out the regulations on use of drones for commercial purposes or by public agencies.

* If it's a drone flown by a public agency, you will spend a lot of money and up to a year going through the process of getting a Certificate of Authorization. This is what your local police department needs to do before it can begin flying drones, and it's the requirement that the FAA used last month when it grounded the Drone Journalism Lab's experiments. (Note that if Matt Waite takes the same drone he flies legally for fun and flies it for the lab, it becomes illegal.)

* If you want to fly a $300 hobby drone to take aerial imagery for your real estate business, that falls under the commercial use regulations and you need to get a Special Airworthiness Certificate. Good luck getting that unless you're General Atomics or Blackwater.

Even just the BRC's requirement that all drones carry registration puts it in between the two FAA extremes. We're all waiting for the FAA to come up with a middle way that will allow for reasonable commercial use, and that's what put me in mind of Burning Man being ahead of the drone curve.
posted by jjwiseman at 9:36 AM on August 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


From a post to the BRC UAV mailing list by Jim Graham, Burning Man Communications Director:
Folks, To clarify our desire to have you register with Media Mecca and create our own best practices. The BLM took note of UAVs last year and noted in some instances they were flying over people, particularly at the Man burn.

It is highly likely if we don't regulate ourselves and develop our own best practices, the BLM will come to us with their own rules for using them at the event.
posted by jjwiseman at 9:45 AM on August 21, 2013


Tune into BMIR if ya like.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:12 PM on August 21, 2013


I appreciate Burning Man for what it is and all, but if you 52,000 trampling feet etc. think you're "leaving no trace" you're fucking insane.
posted by RedEmma at 3:24 PM on August 21, 2013


I appreciate Burning Man for what it is and all, but if you 52,000 trampling feet etc. think you're "leaving no trace" you're fucking insane.

Wanna go next year though?
posted by fantodstic at 4:26 PM on August 21, 2013


LNT is often stated as Leave Nothing But Footprints, Emma.

They're pretty hard core about it. You might want to look into the reality instead of just assuming.
posted by flaterik at 4:50 PM on August 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


"At least two DPW workers were cited for peeing
on the playa (which carries a $275 fine, plus the threat that the offense could, at the officer’s discretion, be elevated into an indecent exposure rap, which would make you a sex offender and screw you for life)."
posted by hortense at 5:26 PM on August 21, 2013


What LNT manual has ever told anyone to carry out their pee?

Shitting on the playa is highly discouraged.

The citations seem likely to be in retaliation for a lawsuit that BORG won recently. They are unusual.
posted by flaterik at 5:45 PM on August 21, 2013


I'd camp mates argue against peeing on the playa, which I interpreted as prudishness.

Leave No Trace is take extremely seriously, RedEmma. In theory, it impacts your camp's placement the next year, but really it's just people respecting the fact that cleanup is done by volunteers.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:11 PM on August 22, 2013


but if you 52,000 trampling feet

Double that, really, give or take the odd peg leg.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:02 PM on August 23, 2013 [2 favorites]


I appreciate Burning Man for what it is and all, but if you 52,000 trampling feet etc. think you're "leaving no trace" you're fucking insane.

Would you believe a 330 page Environmental Impact Report (PDF) put together by the Bureau of Land Management that says the same thing?
posted by scalefree at 5:54 PM on August 24, 2013


For me, it was the cops who were the last straw, but cell phones with service will certainly change the experience quite a bit as well.

I'd camp mates argue against peeing on the playa, which I interpreted as prudishness.

For some it's prudishness, for others it's fanatical LNTism. Some say the alkaline nature of your pee will change the chemical makeup of the playa.

However, I wonder what burning 2,000,000 lbs of fuel does to the local environment. Burners do an amazing job with LNT, but c'mon. Air pollution is only one of many uncontrolled factors. (not even considering the obvious light and noise pollution during the event.)

Would you believe a 330 page Environmental Impact Report (PDF) put together by the Bureau of Land Management that says the same thing?

Are you claiming that report says that the Burning Man event leaves NO IMPACT on the black rock desert and surrounding communities?! I think you need to read it again. Just look at the emissions alone.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:24 AM on August 26, 2013


Burning Man Is The New Davos
posted by homunculus at 2:58 PM on September 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Forget Larry Harvey and Gen. Wesley Clark, whoever that is. I wish I'd met John Perry Barlow on the playa!
posted by jeffburdges at 10:41 AM on September 2, 2013


Jim Graham, Burning Man Communications Director, posted this to the Burning Man drone discussion list today:
I saw one flying over the crowd at the Mir burn. I spoke with the operator and he claimed a remarkable amount of ignorance for someone so jnowlegeable about the Summit. I saw 2 flying over crowds at the man burn. I got one report if a UAV flying through / under the Church trap when it was on fire. BLM's aviation person will be joining our discussion list post-event to plan for 2014
Unfortunately, it sounds like their attempt to make their own rules and forestall government intervention may not have been successful.
posted by jjwiseman at 7:59 PM on September 2, 2013


I've honestly no clue what's wrong with flying during the burn(s). If you flew too near the burn then flaming debris might hit your drone, which might injure someone, but that's only relevant for flying in close, and not too likely.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:22 PM on September 2, 2013


Apparently some manned aircraft were seen flying below the 1500 foot altitude limit over BRC--a reminder that drone pilots don't have a monopoly on breaking the rules.
posted by jjwiseman at 10:53 AM on September 3, 2013


I've honestly no clue what's wrong with flying during the burn(s)
posted by hortense at 1:32 PM on September 6, 2013


And that's the second person killed by an RC helicopter this year: A Swiss man was killed in July. Recently there was also the highly publicized crash of a multirotor into a crowd at a bull run in Virginia.

"Traditional" RC helicopters are typically bigger, have more energy, and are more dangerous than multicopters, but it's still frightening to think of what kind of damage could be caused by a relatively small vehicle. I'm sure my 2.5 lb aluminum Arducopter frame could kill someone if it fell on them from high enough.

Another frightening angle is the reliability of the avionics software. Both the commercial systems and the open source platforms popular among hobbyists have experienced flyaways, where your drone suddenly stops responding to input and flies off into the sky. Like a bullet fired into the air, eventually it will come back down... somewhere.
posted by jjwiseman at 2:15 PM on September 6, 2013


Very interesting, but afaik we'd two or three drones in BRC this year, so odd remain well within safety third. I'm happy if they institute a drone policy that requires drone experience, drone photography experience, competitively limits number, and makes them swear not to use the drone on substances, but I personally feel arial footage of the burn appearing on youtube warrants the minuscule risks.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:32 PM on September 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Drone's eye view of Burning Man 2013.
posted by Nelson at 7:46 AM on September 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Welcome to the Burning Man Media Frenzy. Here’s how we win it. - Caveat Magister

Radical Inclusion, Plug-And-Play, & P.Diddy - John "Halcyon" Styn
posted by jeffburdges at 7:13 PM on September 10, 2013


And that's the second person killed by an RC helicopter this year: A Swiss man was killed in July.

Actually it's the third this year. But it is important to note that all three deaths invovled 700 size RC helicopters. These models are really in a different class than the multirotors and fixed wing foamies that most drone hobbyists are flying.

700 size helis are big. Just one blade of the rotor is two feet long. When someone flies one I get back because those things scare me. My little quadrotor does not scare me. If the blades hit someone it could cut them very badly but there's no way it could take someone's head off. A 700 size rotor blade can (and has) decapitate someone easily.
posted by smoothvirus at 8:00 AM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Interesting commentary on John Perry Barlow's tweet that he “spent much of the afternoon in conversation with Larry Harvey, Mayor of #BurningMan & Gen. Wesley Clark, who is here.”

Inspirational reading : Blondtron had more fun at Burning Man than anyone in the entire world
posted by jeffburdges at 11:59 AM on September 13, 2013


Tribes That May Be is an online text adventure set in a virtual Burning Man.
via burners.me's Throw Water at Sparkle Pony
posted by jeffburdges at 4:04 PM on September 13, 2013


In other drone news: Drone Club For Kids With Autism Is Really, Really Awesome
posted by homunculus at 11:02 AM on September 15, 2013


On the brc-uav-drones-list mailing list (they sure fit a lot of redundancy in that name), there's been post-burn discussion of incidents that occurred and whether or not the guidelines worked. Some themes: Jim Graham, Burning Man communications director said "I can assure you with 100% certainty that any flying over crowds will be a non-starter for BM 2014."
posted by jjwiseman at 8:10 AM on September 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


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