TIME Drones

Mysterious Drones Spotted Over Paris

Earth Hour In Paris
Antoine Antoniol—Getty Images The Eiffel Tower is seen before the lights are switched off for Earth Hour 2012, on March 31, 2012 in Paris, France.

Flights over U.S. embassy and landmarks raise surveillance concerns

French police are searching for the pilots behind several mysterious drones that were seen cruising over Paris landmarks and secured compounds on Monday and Tuesday nights.

Unmanned aerial vehicles are already prohibited across the French capital, the Wall Street Journal reports, but the flights spotted this week have raised surveillance concerns in a city that is on high alert after the January terrorist attacks. The drones were seen flying near the Eiffel Tower, the U.S. Embassy and the Interior Ministry.

Police have not yet established how many drones were involved, or whether there was any connection between the flights.

Read more in the WSJ

Read next: Watch This Stunning Drone’s Eye View of Frozen Niagara Falls

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TIME Gadgets

This Startup Is Basically Making Ultimate Frisbee With Drones

Exploring Santa Barbara's Coastal Charms
George Rose—Getty Images A Phantom drone buzzes above Gaviota State Beach at sunset on November 26, 2014, in Santa Barbara, California.

Drone tennis, drone pong, drone soccer, drone everything

A new “drone game” that allows players to pilot a drone across the sky in friendly competition has launched on Kickstarter. Players use a wand to control a drone’s flight and play games like pong, soccer or race through an obstacle course.

Made by the startup Zyro, the specially-designed drone used in the games is better protected than some other drones. It’s built to swing and spin with the wave of a wand, almost like hitting a ball with a tennis racquet. Players can choose whether to swing or pass Zyro based on the game they’re playing.

Zyro wants to open up its API to allow developers to work on new games.

So far Zyro has raised just over $650 out of the total $50,000 the project needs to be funded, with 18 days left.

TIME Drones

Watch This Stunning Drone’s Eye View of Frozen Niagara Falls

It looks real cold

This week’s frigid temperatures have caused Niagara Falls to partially freeze, resulting in a pretty cool-looking formation even as water continues to fall. Canadian videographer Brent Foster took a drone over the falls for NBC Nightly News to get a bird’s eye view of the frozen formation. “I personally have never seen Niagara Falls frozen like that before. It was spectacular to capture,” Foster told Slate.

Read next: The Big Freeze Shatters Records on the East Coast

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Drones

U.S. Will Allow Export of Armed Drones

Export requests will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis

The State Department announced new policies Tuesday stipulating that U.S. drones can only be exported through government programs and that the receiving country needs to agree to certain conditions about what the drone will be used for.

Under the new rules, exports of armed military drones must be made through government entities and the nations receiving the devices must agree to “end-use assurances,” according to the State Department.

“The new U.S. UAS [unmanned aerial systems] export policy provides a disciplined and rigorous framework within which the United States will exercise restraint in sales and transfers and advance its national security and foreign policy interests,” says a State Department fact sheet.

These new proposals come amid increasing controversy and uncertainty over the use of drones, after one crashed onto the White House lawn last month.

TIME Drones

Know Right Now: How the FAA Plans to Regulate Drones

Drone operators would need to be at least 17 years of age

The FAA has proposed new regulations for small, unmanned aircraft. Watch the Know Right Now video above to find out more.

TIME Drones

Amazon Says FAA Proposals Won’t Ground Drone Delivery Plans

Amazone Drone Delivery
AP This undated image provided by Amazon.com shows the so-called Prime Air unmanned aircraft project that Amazon is working on in its research and development labs.

"We are committed to realizing our vision."

Amazon said Monday it remains committed to developing unmanned aerial devices to deliver products to customers, even as proposed federal regulations seemed to rule out the possibility of a drone delivery service.

The proposed rules governing small drones, released by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Sunday, would require that operators pilot the vehicles with “unaided vision” and would prohibit them from flying over people. Both seem to conflict with Prime Air, Amazon’s vision of flying automated drones to the homes of customers.

But Amazon said it would continue to work on drone deliveries while the FAA proposals were under consideration. “The FAA needs to begin and expeditiously complete the formal process to address the needs of our business, and ultimately our customers,” said Amazon executive for public policy Paul Misener. “We are committed to realizing our vision.”

A press release from the FAA announcing the regulations stressed that the agency “tried to be flexible in writing these rules.” The agency said it still seeking comment on the proposals, which are expected to take up to two years to become law, particularly the potential requirement that operators be able to see the craft they are operating.

“We want to maintain today’s outstanding level of aviation safety without placing an undue regulatory burden on an emerging industry,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

Amazon suggested that it would fight a regulation that effectively banned the service.”[We] are committed to realizing our vision for Prime Air and are prepared to deploy where we have the regulatory support we need,” said Misener.

 

TIME Drones

New Rules Would Let Drones Rule the Sky

A Federal Aviation Administration analysis of the impact of commercial drones proposes a world in which the remote-controlled devices become a common sight

Small drones could take to the skies in droves, if the government adopts proposals widely favorable to commercial use of remote-controlled aircraft.

An Federal Aviation Administration analysis envisions small drones—flying machines which weigh 55 pounds or less— performing tasks ranging from mapping to monitoring crops and aerial photography.

The FAA plans to release draft rules, which have been in the works for years and were submitted to the White House budget office in October for review, on Sunday. The rules partially revealed Saturday when the economic analysis describing them was posted online by mistake, the Associated Press reports.

The report does not offer a total estimate on the annual economic benefit of new drone-friendly rules, though it claims they would exceed $100 million. Industry trade group the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International believes small, commercial drones will create some 70,000 jobs and have an economic impact of over $13.6 billion in the first three years.

[AP]

TIME Drones

How to Defend Against Drones

The U.S. is unprepared to deal with the proliferation of unmanned aircraft now filling the skies.

  • Regulation

    There are many drone no-fly zones around the world, and most operators respect them—but not always. After a drone strayed into White House airspace recently, its maker modified its flight software to ground its products in and around Washington. Experts concede that a determined intruder can get around such precautions.
    Illustration By Jameson Simpson For TIME

    There are many drone no-fly zones around the world, and most operators respect them—but not always. After a drone strayed into White House airspace recently, its maker modified its flight software to ground its products in and around Washington. Experts concede that a determined intruder can get around such precautions.

  • Detection

    To stop a drone, you have to know it's there. A growing number of companies are installing acoustic sensors that listen for the sound of a drone. They are found at sensitive government locations and the estates of celebrities who are leery of airborne paparazzi, but the sensors are confused by other contraptions, like Weedwackers. And they can't do anything to stop intrusions.
    Illustration By Jameson Simpson For TIME

    To stop a drone, you have to know it’s there. A growing number of companies are installing acoustic sensors that listen for the sound of a drone. They are found at sensitive government locations and the estates of celebrities who are leery of airborne paparazzi, but the sensors can be confused by other contraptions, like Weedwackers. And they can’t do anything to stop intrusions.

  • Jamming

    A drone on a nefarious mission needs to be guided, either by GPS signlas or radioed commands from its operator. Electronic jamming can serve those links and doom the mission or even give authorieis control of the drone. But such jamming is usually illegal because it ingerferes with communications ranging from cell phones to airlines.
    Illustration By Jameson Simpson For TIME

    A drone on a nefarious mission needs to be guided, either by GPS signals or radioed commands from its operator. Electronic jamming can serve those links and doom the mission or even give authorities control of the drone. But such jamming is usually illegal because it interferes with communications ranging from cell phones to airlines.

  • Destruction

    Drones tend to be slow-flying and unarmed, which makes them relatively easy to shoot down. But experts fear that future unmanned aircraft could be armed and nimble, like the military's fast, low-flying cruise missiles, making them much harder to detect and destroy.
    Illustration By Jameson Simpson For TIME

    Drones tend to be slow-flying and unarmed, which makes them relatively easy to shoot down. But experts fear that future unmanned aircraft could be armed and nimble, like the military’s fast, low-flying cruise missiles, making them much harder to detect and destroy.

TIME Drones

3 Out of 4 Americans Want Drones to Be Regulated

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Richard Newstead—Getty Images/Moment RF Beneath a Drone

42% said they didn't support any kind of private ownership of drones at all

Nearly three quarters of respondents said they want lightweight, remote control planes to be regulated according to a new poll that suggests widespread unease with the private and commercial use of drones.

According to the online poll conducted by Reuters/Ipsos, 73% of respondents supported regulation for drones. Forty-six percent of respondents said they don’t want the media using drones for newsgathering, and 42% said they oppose private ownership altogether.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is expected to soon publish draft regulations covering commercial drone use that will be open for review and won’t go into effect for at least several months.

(See more: My Drone Landed in Someone’s Yard—Is it Theirs Now?)

Private drone users have faced criticism for their vehicles’ potential to breach individuals’ privacy as well as for a series of near misses with aircraft and people. Last month–while the poll was being conducted–a private drone operated by a man who admitted he had been drinking landed inside the White House grounds, triggering a lockdown at the White House.

“In regular peoples’ hands, it’s easy for them to get misused,” one respondent said in the poll.

But the poll found strong support for the use of drones in law enforcement. Over two-thirds (68%) of respondents said they support using drones to solve crimes, and 62% approved of their use to deter crime.

TIME Drones

Watch This Awesome Millennium Falcon Drone Take to the Skies

This *is* the drone you're looking for

This story was originally published at the Daily Dot.

Drones have many practical uses, from surveying crop fields to filming movies to documenting climate change. But the best technology is part practical, part recreational. That’s where the Millennium Falcon comes in.

Han Solo’s heavily modified YT-1300 light freighter from the original Star Wars trilogy is one of the most iconic spaceships in pop culture. It’s no wonder, then, that a drone enthusiast named Olivier sought to combine the affordable power and speed of today’s drones with the irresistible shape and design of the Millennium Falcon.

In a Reddit thread on the site’s DIY forum, Olivier explained that he built the Falcon around a powerful quadcopter model. The quadcopter “is an overpowered little beast,” he wrote, adding that it was “easily capable of 90km/h [56 miles per hour] horizontal speed.” With his special customizations, however, that dropped to “probably about 30km/h,” or 19 mph…

Read the rest of the story at the Daily Dot.

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