The Federal Aviation Administration has approved the use of a paper airplane drone. Forbes has an interview with the UAV advocate who filed the petition to get an exemption for the paper airplane drone.
As armed UAVs (don't call them drones!) proliferate, the Pentagon is working on how to shoot down UAVs in an exercise called Black Dart (YouTube)
Drone Survival Guide is a downloadable poster of robotic birds. It's also available on mirrored paper for those in harm's way.
Raphael Pirker, a.k.a. Trappy, is a FPV pilot who came to be well known after the video from his New York flight went viral. While most of the media coverage of Trappy's NYC exploits was positive, the incident prompted a heated debate in the hobbyist community, and the authorities took a dim view of it. Shortly afterwards, Trappy was hired by a PR firm to do an aerial video shoot over the University of Virginia. The FAA, having banned commercial use of UAVs in 2007, took the unusual step of issuing a $10,000 fine for the unauthorized flight. Earlier this month Trappy's attorneys filed a response(pdf) to the FAA's action which questions whether the FAA holds jurisdiction over "model aircraft" in the first place. According to Wired Magazine, he court's decision could determine the future of model aviation and miniature UAVs in the US. Once again, the response from the hobbyist/entrepreneur community has been spirited. [more inside]
How To Write Drone Fiction: "One can easily and self-righteously claim the merits of writing non-fiction about drones by asserting a primacy of fact over “false fiction”. The problem is that one does not write non-fiction about drones." [more inside]
Noah Shachtman of Wired has published Bing/Nokia satellite maps that shows what appears to be a previously unknown US drone airbase deep in the desert in Saudi Arabia. [more inside]
DARPA has developed a 1800 megapixel sensor array for use on UAVs. It is capable of spotting something as small as 6-inches while covering an area half the size of Manhattan. [more inside]
1. Mrs Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself. Pity. A signature strike leveled the florist’s. The Disposition Matrix. Anti-Drone Camouflage: What to Wear in Total Surveillance. Drone City. Books Not Bombs.
Pretty stunning cockpit perspective footage of unmanned aerial vehicles interacting in close quarters, flying with a range of flyers (Echelon FPV). [more inside]
Mavelous is an open-source web/HTML-based ground control station for amateur UAVs/DIY drones. It is the first open-source ground control station that lets you control your drone from your tablet or even your phone. (Related: 1 2 3) [via mefi projects] [more inside]
A harpsichord automaton. Malcolm Messiter: "After hours of struggling with a soldering iron, suddenly it all became worth it when the system just worked flawlessly. The sheer joy and satisfaction of seeing and hearing it work for the first time was extraordinary. It played Soler’s Fandango, Brandenburg 5, the Goldberg Variations, and even the Flight of the Bumble Bee, late into that first night!" [Project direct link (PDF, from p.27)].
If I Fly a UAV Over My Neighbor's House, Is It Trespassing? "The wide availability of UAV technology (combined with HD video) scrambles my sense of what is right. Specifically, it points out how much of our sense of privacy is intimately connected up with our expectations of our property rights. Drones - as flying, seeing objects - scramble our 2D sense of property boundaries, and along the way, make privacy much more complicated." [more inside]
Al Jazeera: 'US admits ops in Yemen and Somalia: White House formally acknowledges "direct action", believed to mean drone strikes, against al-Qaeda and its affiliates.' [more inside]
Surveillance from air is increasing from both military and DIY directions. Warsaw protester launches drone to spy on police [more inside]
Throughout time immemorial, songs of patriotism, such as Darryl Worley's "Have You Forgotten?" are a staple of countries at war. Our ballads root for our soldiers to come back safe and sound to families and sweethearts, but who sings the tale about the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, the autonomous drone that pines for the vending machine it left at home? Only the evil ghost of Johnny Cash does. [more inside]
The Sheriff's Office in Montgomery County, Texas near Houston has become the first law enforcement agency to buy a weaponizable Shadowhawk MK-III UAV. [more inside]
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism have been carrying out research into the extent of drone missile strikes carried out by the CIA. Today they published findings. See also: facts and figures, a timeline, and their Twitter feed where updates are ongoing.
A Tragedy of Errors. On Feb. 21, 2010, a convoy of vehicles carrying civilians headed down a mountain in central Afghanistan and American eyes in the sky were watching. "The Americans were using some of the most sophisticated tools in the history of war, technological marvels of surveillance and intelligence gathering that allowed them to see into once-inaccessible corners of the battlefield. But the high-tech wizardry would fail in its most elemental purpose: to tell the difference between friend and foe." FOIA-obtained transcripts of US cockpit and radio conversations and an interactive feature provide a more in-depth understanding of what happened.
Lasers 4, UAVs 0. It's easier to hit things at the speed of light. Raytheon tests a naval anti-aircraft laser, and you can watch it go at the link.
Feds under pressure to open US skies to drones. Last week, the FAA released a fact sheet, which states in part that "one of the most promising potential uses for small UASs is in law enforcement." They've already allowed the Border Patrol to use Predator drones as a "key force multiplier" along the Mexican border. Local law enforcement wants in on the game. Britons, you're next - or first? [more inside]
The ring wing or annular airfoil is an aircraft design which has been experimented with throughout the history of aviation with some interesting variations. It has served as the inspiration for several paper airplane designs, model airplanes of course, and a variety of children's toys. The capabilities imagined by the French coléoptère engineers of the 1950's and 1960's and the U.S. "flying tank" designers are available today at least in the form of unmanned vehicles (large PDF brochure, 6 minute video download, 1½ minute YT news clip). The technology has also been adapted to become the surfboard tunnel fin and there are underwater UAVs as well.
DARPA has announced the contractors for their "Vulture" UAV system. The plan is to build an aircraft that can stay aloft, uninterrupted, for five years. [more inside]
The U.S. Military's Assassination Problem: "Software like 'Bugsplat' is supposed to keep decapitation attacks precise. So why do we keep blowing up Iraqi wedding parties?" [more inside]
DIY Drones "a site for all things about amateur Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)"
Sub $1000 UAV. Wired editor, author and blogger Chris Anderson[wiki] built a sub $1000 UAV from a model airplane and a Lego mindstorms robotics kit. The drone flies itself, all you do is punch in a direction (and eventually, GPS coordinates). I don't know if it's technically Open Source, but you can definitely download instructions and code.
We've knelt on the altar of the Predator UAV and paid homage with tax dollars (see related MeFi thread) but the Army (and possibly Hollywood [PDF]) and others want to go smaller and more efficient. With massive budget increases for UAV/MAV technology over the last two years and increased use of UAVs for border surveillance, [PDF] one wonders when the tiniest of cool toys starts becoming a tool for surveillance as the legal arguments for and against will almost certainly heat up. Face it - cool RC toys aren't just for amusing/terrorizing your pets anymore.
One-page history of remote-controlled weapons. Includes some Tesla goodness.
US drone lost over Iraq - It seems it's only a matter of time before they shoot down a piloted plane (even if by accident). What are we still trying to accomplish over there and what would the reaction be if they succeed?