TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: August 13

1. True rehabilitation: We can reform prisons and reduce recidivism if we treat prison labor less like modern-day slavery and more like on-the-job training.

By Beth Schwartzapfel in American Prospect

2. Drones are a powerful military and civilian tool. Reforms are desperately needed if the U.S. wants to stay at the top of the drone food chain.

By Missy Cummings in Wired

3. Liberia’s fragile democracy may fall victim to the Ebola virus outbreak.

By Ashoka Mukpo in Al-Jazeera America

4. Mayors need the partnership and protection of a UN for big cities to test new solutions and spread innovation.

By Richard Florida in Citylab

5. The biggest barrier to nonprofit innovation isn’t the lack of money. It’s knowing the right way to scale up and spend big infusions of cash.

By Mathu Jeyaloganathan Ivey Business Review

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Law

Somebody Crashed a Drone Into Yellowstone’s Biggest Hot Spring

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Grand Prismatic Spring Quan Yuan—Getty Images/Flickr RM

Drones aren't allowed in the area, but one hit Grand Prismatic Spring on Saturday and sank, potentially damaging the geothermal feature, the largest hot spring in the park and third largest in the world, said a park official

An influx of camera-equipped drones illegally flying over national parks reached a new level this week when one crashed into—and possibly damaged—a famed hot spring at Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park.

A park official told Reuters on Wednesday that the unmanned aerial vehicle crashed into the Grand Prismatic Spring on Saturday and sank, potentially damaging the geothermal feature, the largest hot spring in the park and third largest in the world.

The National Parks Service banned drone flights in June as parks are reporting a spike in drones, which are annoying some visitors and, at times, crashing. Earlier this summer, according to Reuters, a drone crashed into a marina at Yellowstone Lake.

Yellowstone National Park now has to decide whether–and how–to extract the doomed drone from the hot spring, which is more than 121 feet deep.

“What we have to determine is whether the presence of this radio-controlled recreational aircraft poses a threat to that unique resource,” park spokesperson Al Nash told Reuters.

[Reuters]

 

TIME India

In Unpredictable India, Security Services Embrace the Drone Revolution

Members of Sikh community stage a protest demonstration in Jammu against Uttar Pradesh government
Members of the Sikh community shout slogans as they burn tires during a protest in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh on July 27, 2014. Jaipal Singh—EPA

South Asia's diverse topography, chaotic overpopulation and vast, unplanned cities make drones especially useful

Late last month, a land dispute in Saharanpur, in north India’s Uttar Pradesh state, snowballed into a riot between the local Sikh and Muslim communities, leaving three people dead and injuring over a dozen. Sadly, such clashes are nothing new in this highly polarized state of 200 million. Just last year, communal violence in nearby Muzaffarnagar district claimed 62 lives.

Nevertheless, there was something novel about how this latest bout of violence was addressed. The state’s police called upon a young entrepreneur to help monitor and advise security operations using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), more popularly known as drones.

Within hours, drone cameras were up and running in Saharanpur town, keeping close tabs on the volatile and unfolding situation, even in areas security personnel couldn’t reach by car or foot. This helped direct resources to where they were needed most.

“Some of the roads and streets in Saharanpur — and this is pretty typical of most Indian towns — are so narrow that the forces cannot enter there,” says Ankit Mehta, co-founder and CEO of IdeaForge, which manufactures UAVs in India. “But a drone-assisted camera can easily fly in and monitor the situation for the cops.”

In India, drone entrepreneurs like Mehta have been quick to realize that the nation’s diverse topography, chaotic overpopulation and vast, unplanned cities severely hobble traditional security operations, making airborne technology particularly advantageous.

Drones are now being used for monitoring large public gatherings — such as Ramadan processions in Lucknow, also in Uttar Pradesh, where sectarian clashes last year claimed three lives — which frequently spiral out of control due to large, unwieldy crowds. (India regularly suffers stampede-related tragedies.)

More conventionally, drones have also been used in disaster management. Last year, they played a low-key but invaluable role in relief operations in Uttarakhand, a hilly and inhospitable terrain where flash floods killed thousands and displaced many more.

Another Mumbai-based drone company called Airpix partnered with NGOs to carry out aerial surveillance of the flood-hit areas for rebuilding purposes, better planning and enhanced communications. Airpix also helps the Mumbai police monitor major gatherings including Ganesh Chaturthi, an Indian festival that culminates with hundreds of thousands of devotees ferrying idols to be immersed in the sea, creating traffic gridlock all over the city.

But despite a bevy of humanitarian and public-safety work, the image of drones as instruments of war remains hard to shake off. “The misconception that drones are meant more for destructive purposes seems to still linger around,” says Shinil Shekar, head of sales and marketing at Airpix. “And it is important that people be more educated about their potential civilian applications.”

Even so, India is tipped to be “booming” for micro and mini-unmanned aerial vehicles for both civilian and military use by the U.S.-based Advanced Defense Technologies Inc., which calls the market a “multimillion-dollar business that will grow steadily.”

Certainly, Mehta is confident about the future; IdeaForge currently boasts an annual turnover in excess of $1 million, and Mehta expects this to increase by five or six times this year. “It is a scalable opportunity for indigenous entrepreneurs,” he says.

TIME Media

Martha Stewart: Why I Love My Drone

Martha Stewart attends the "Get On Up" premiere at The Apollo Theater on July 21, 2014 in New York City.
Martha Stewart attends the "Get On Up" premiere at The Apollo Theater on July 21, 2014 in New York City. Jemal Countess—Getty Images

Because it's a useful tool. And imagine what Louis XIV could have accomplished at Versailles if he'd had one

There’s been a lot of discussion and a tremendous amount of speculation lately about the nature of drones and their role in our society as useful tools and hobbyist toys.

Last year, while celebrating my birthday in Maine, I was given a drone fitted with a high-definition camera. After a quick introduction to the mechanics of operating the contraption and a few words about its idiosyncrasies, I loaded the appropriate app on my iPad and went down to the beach.

In just a few minutes I was hooked. In near silence, the drone rose, hovered, and dove, silently and surreptitiously photographing us and the landscape around us. The photos and video were stunning. By assuming unusual vantage points, the drone allowed me to “see” so much more of my surroundings than usual. The view I was “seeing” on my iPad with the help of the drone would have otherwise been impossible without the use of a private plane, helicopter, or balloon. With any of those vehicles, I would have needed a telephoto lens, and all of them would have made an unacceptable commotion on the beach. What’s more, I would not have been in the photos!

So much has been done in the past without drones, airplanes, hot air balloons, or even extension ladders. It is hard to imagine André Le Nôtre laying out the exquisite landscape designs for Vaux-le-Vicomte, and later the magnificent Château de Versailles, with no high hill to stand on, no helicopter to fly in, and no drone to show him the complexities of the terrain. Yet he did, and with extreme precision, accuracy, and high style.

Earlier, Henri IV drew up complicated plans for the immense and elegant redesign of Paris, capital of France. In England, Capability Brown somehow had the innate vision and perspicacity to reconfigure thousands of acres into country estates fit for royalty. He and Sir Humphry Repton invented an entirely new style of landscape design that had little to do with the grand châteaux of France. It became all about the “axis of vision” — relaxed, looming views of the distance that, without an aerial view, required the utmost in fertile imagination.

In the late 1800s, more people wanted the bird’s eye view of city and country and went to extreme lengths to rig up guy-wired telescoping towers, build extension ladders of dangerous lengths, and man hot air balloons, from which intrepid photographers could capture remarkable images—such as those of the Chicago Union Stock Yards and the U.S. Steel Corporation—from heights of 2,000 feet.

What about the Great Wall of China, or the Nazca Lines in southern Peru? I began reflecting on how the engineers and architects of the past accomplished so much without the modern tools we have at our disposal.

My mind started racing and I imagined all the different applications for my drone. I knew that every type of use had already been thought of by others (governmental agencies, businesses, Amazon.com, Google Maps), and I knew I could not even begin to fathom even a fraction of the social, ethical, and political challenges the widespread use of drones would create.

Do they raise legitimate privacy concerns? Should they be regulated? Should we have a national debate?

I don’t have all the answers. But I forged ahead, using a Parrot AR Drone 2.0, photographing my properties, a party, a hike in the mountains, and a day at the beach. I did my best to master the moves and angles that would result in most arresting pictures and video.

An aerial photo of Martha Stewart’s farm in Bedford, New York, taken with her drone. Martha Stewart

One of my farm workers used his drone, a DJI Phantom flying camera, to capture amazing images of my 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York. Suddenly we could see with astonishing clarity the layout of the open fields, the horse paddocks, the chicken coops, the greenhouses, the hay barn, the cutting gardens and henhouses, the clematis pergola, and the long allée of boxwood. The photos were so good I posted them to my blog on Marthastewart.com. The response was phenomenal!

Henry Alford wrote a satirical essay about me and my drones in The New Yorker that was really funny but missed the point about why I love my drone. Drones can be useful tools, and I am all about useful tools. One of my mottos is “the right tool for the right job.”

A few facts:

The hobbyist drones we can all purchase online or in stores are technically known as UAS: unmanned aerial systems. Many can fly up to 900 feet. With practice, a novice photographer can take really great photos.

The shots of my farm were breathtaking and showed not only a very good landscape design — thanks to the surveyors and landscapers who worked with me on the overall vision, much as le Notre worked with Louis XIV — they also showed me what more I can do in the future, and revealed unexpected beauty.

An aerial shot of the vegetable garden looked very much like my Peter Rabbit marzipan embellished Easter cake, which was designed without the help of a drone.

Martha Stewart, founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and Emmy Award-winning television show host, entrepreneur and bestselling author, is America’s most trusted lifestyle expert and teacher.

TIME cities

This Drone Video Reveals Downtown LA’s Hidden Architectural Gems

See the City of Angels from a whole new perspective

+ READ ARTICLE

Downtown Los Angeles has been undergoing a visible revitalization for years, but this aerial video from a downtown resident shows that many of the city’s gems have been hiding in plain sight.

“One of the things you’re told growing up in New York City is that only the tourists look up,” said Ian Wood, who used a GoPro camera attached to a drone to capture the city. “Now with this project in mind I was looking up and seeing all these amazing things.”

Among the sights in the video are the colorfully-designed tiled tower atop the Los Angeles Public Library, breathtaking murals and street art, and a whole lot of art deco architecture.

Sit back and enjoy.

TIME Drones

Space Needle Guests Say Drone Crashed Into Window

Drone Enthusiasts
Similar drone design to that involved in the Space Needle incident. Ryan Lusher—Moment Editorial/Getty Images

There is no evidence to suggest Amazon’s drone delivery program has become sentient and gone rogue

Seattle’s iconic Space Needle looks to be completely undamaged after a small, white quadcopter drone operated by an Amazon employee may have crashed into an observation deck window Tuesday evening, police say.

Witnesses reported seeing an unmanned aerial vehicle buzzing around the Space Needle before “possibly” colliding with the structure, then zipping over to a nearby hotel room, they told police. The Seattle Police Department then contacted the resident of the room, who admitted to piloting the drone but said he merely approached, and did not collide with, the Space Needle.

The Amazon employee showed the police video of his drone flight, none of which suggested the drone actually hit the building. The video has been taken down from YouTube, but a few Vines posted by BuzzFeed have survived:

Commercial use of drones is generally prohibited in the United States while the Federal Aviation Administration works out how to integrate them into the national airspace. Flying drones recreationally, however, is allowed, though certain FAA rules and local laws apply. FAA guidance, for example, says recreational pilots should keep their aircraft below 400 feet above ground level and away from populated areas.

The Space Needle incident does not appear to have had anything to do with Amazon’s in-development drone delivery program.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: July 24

1. Ten years after the 9/11 commission urged Congress to simplify oversight of the Department of Homeland Security, the problem is worse. Today, the department deals with 92 Congressional committees. That must change.

By the Sunnylands-Aspen Task Force

2. Operation Lifeline Syria: The International Community must tackle this humanitarian crisis head-on. Here’s how to do it.

By Madeleine Albright and David Miliband in Foreign Policy

3. When enforcement of the Clean Water Act becomes a political football, our communities and the nation’s economy will suffer.

By Naveena Sadasivam in Pro Publica

4. It’s easier to move people than jobs: How better public transport can solve the jobs crisis.

By Danielle Kurtzleben in Vox

5. Drones will change – and monitor – the way food gets from farm to table.

By Mary Beth Albright in National Geographic

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME

Americans Support Drone Strikes, Rest of World Begs to Differ

PAKISTAN-US-MISSILE-ATTACK
Activists shout slogans as they protest against a US drone attack in Multan, Pakistan on December 26, 2103. S S MIRZA—AFP/Getty Images

A global opinion poll finds majorities in 39 countries disapprove of U.S. drone strikes

Americans support drone strikes by a slim majority, even if the rest of the world begs to differ by a wide margin, according to a new poll released by Pew Research Center on Monday.

The survey found that a majority of respondents in 39 countries opposed U.S. drone strikes, compared with only three countries, Israel, Kenya and the U.S., where more than half of respondents supported the tactic. Nowhere did the support match the lopsided opposition in countries such as Venezuela and Jordan, where disapproval topped 90%.
Widespread Opposition to Drones

Despite these misgivings about signature American policies, global opinion of the U.S. remains unchanged according to Pew, with a median of 65% of respondents across 43 nations expressing positive views.

TIME technology

8 of the Weirdest Ways People Are Using Drones

Note: Most women don't want to be proposed to via drone

A New York private eye told the New York Post that drones are essentially being used in the one way everyone thought they would: to spy on people. While this use of the unmanned aircraft sounds… just about right… there are many surprising ways that drones have become incorporated into everyday life. Here are some of our favorites:

1. Dronies
Like selfies. But with a drone.

2. High-Tech Alcohol Consumption
Las Vegas’ Cosmopolitan Marquee Dayclub offers a poolside bottle service delivered by drones.

3. Laundry Service
A Philadelphia dry cleaner used drones to deliver clean clothing to customers. Beware of strong gusts of wind wrinkling newly pressed button downs.

4. Burritos
And a company called Burrito Bomber has outlined plans to become the world’s first airborne Mexican food delivery service.

5. Modern Love
FlowerDeliveryExpress.com tried to use a drone flower delivery service for Valentine’s Day. The love hating FAA shut the operation down.

6. Proposing
A man delivered his now-wife a diamond ring via drone. “It’s like a little alien,” she said as the drone descended. How romantic.

7. Carbo-Loading
The Chinese government shut down a bakery’s operation to have drones deliver baked goods.

8. Drug Dealing
A San Francisco startup called QuiQui (pronounce “quickie”) plans to start delivering prescription drugs in under 15-seconds. Sorry—no medical marijuana.

TIME technology

Amazon Wants to Test-Fly Its New Delivery Drones

The online retail giant is moving toward its planned “Prime Air” drone delivery system

+ READ ARTICLE

Amazon has formally asked regulators permission to test its controversial and much-hyped delivery drones in outdoor areas near Seattle. The move, made in a letter posted to the Federal Aviation Administration’s website Thursday, escalates an ongoing debate about the safety of commercial drones and privacy concerns associated with the technology. In its July 9 letter from Amazon’s head of global public policy Paul Misener, the company said drone delivery will one day be “as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today,” Reuters reports. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled the company’s still-in-development “Prime Air” drone delivery service on the 60 Minutes television program last year but said it was still about five years away from actual implementation. The company has been conducting delivery drone test flights indoors and in other countries, but now Bezos wants to conduct tests in the open air, according to the letter. “Of course, Amazon would prefer to keep the focus, jobs and investment of this important research and development initiative in the United States,” the company said in its letter. The U.S. government has designated six sites where tests can be conducted for commercial drone applications—in Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia—but such tests are currently prohibited in the Seattle area, where Amazon is based.

[Reuters]

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