TIME cities

This Drone Video Reveals Downtown LA’s Hidden Architectural Gems

See the City of Angels from a whole new perspective

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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

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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]

TIME Drones

Martha Stewart Let a Drone Take Pictures of Her Huge Farm

Martha Stewart
Martha Stewart attends Health Fest 2014 at The Palace At Somerset Park on June 30, 2014 in Somerset, New Jersey. Bobby Bank—WireImage

She's a big fan of drones

Martha Stewart seems to have a love-hate relationship with technology. She went on a Twitter rant last year when Apple didn’t send a rep to her house to fix her broken iPad. But the homemaking queen loves drones, in case you didn’t know. Earlier this year she gushed to Vanity Fair about how she could control the devices with her iPhone to take “wonderful aerial photographs” of her massive farm in Bedford, New York.

Stewart’s now showing off her drones’ handiwork, publishing more than 30 pictures taken with a DJI Phantom drone. A vibrant sunrise, rolling pastures and rows and rows of crops are all featured in the gallery.

“Controversial but fabulous, drones do a good job,” Stewart wrote on Twitter.

See the drone pictures for yourself on Stewart’s personal blog.

TIME Tech

Good Drone, Bad Drone: How to Fix the Drone PR Problem

Military drone flying over the clouds.
Military drone flying over the clouds. Erik Simonsen—Getty Images

Just saying the word makes people shudder, but there are plenty of good drones already in use. And as to future possibilities, the sky’s the limit.

It’s no wonder the drone industry doesn’t like the word “drone.” Thanks to the work of human rights activists in exposing the ugly side of how Predator and Reaper drones kill innocent people overseas, “drones” can evoke a one-word reaction similar to the word “sweatshops”: yuck! Then there’s the transnational campaign to ban fully autonomous drones, a campaign that’s instilling public fear about a brave, new world where kill decisions are increasingly made by machines. Add to the mix the specter of drones being used by government agencies here at home to increase Big Brother’s ability to invade our privacy, and you have a reaction to drones that isn’t just disgust and fear, but defiance.

After Congress passed legislation in 2012 calling for the opening of U.S. airspace to drones by 2015, dozens of states began cobbling together legislation. Some bills restrict law enforcement agencies from gathering information on the public without a court order; others prohibit the weaponization of domestic drones. Cities began passing “no-drone resolutions” restricting the use of their airspace. The small town of Deer Trail, Colo., garnered national attention when it contemplated providing a bounty for shooting down a drone. Fox News commentator Judge Andrew Napolitano pronounced that the first American who shoots down a drone that comes too close to his children in his backyard will be an American hero. Matt Rosendale, a Montana state senator running for Congress, unveiled an ad where he points his rifle at a hovering drone and declares that he is ready to “stand tall for freedom.”

The drone industry reacted to its image problem with a disastrous campaign to simply drop the hot-potato term “drone” and instead use cumbersome names like “unmanned aerial systems,” “unmanned aerial vehicles,” “remotely piloted aircraft” or, worse yet, their acronyms (UASs, UAVs, RPAs). At the 2013 annual D.C. gathering of the drone lobby, the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), presenters continually pleaded with attendees to drop the term “drone.” The wireless password for the attending journalists was a not-so-subtle “dontsaydrones.”

AUVSI President Michael Toscano got in trouble during a March 2013 Senate hearing when he lectured the senators that they shouldn’t use the term “drone” because of its hostile connotation. Senator Leahy fired back, “I appreciate you telling us what we should call them, but why don’t you leave that decision to us. We’ll decide what we’ll call them and you call them whatever you like to call them.”

Recognizing defeat, the industry began a much more successful PR campaign touting the positive uses of drones. Indeed, there are plenty of good drones already in use, and as to future possibilities, the sky’s the limit. Drones can battle wildfires, track endangered species, predict weather patterns, provide farmers with crop analysis, deliver humanitarian aid and, yes, perhaps drones might one day deliver your Amazon packages or your take-out tacos.

And let’s face it: some drones are fun. There are tens of thousands of DIY hobbyists around the world who are crafting home-built drones to film themselves on the ski slopes or take aerial photos of their weddings. Even Martha Stewart has her own drone, gushing on Twitter that it takes amazing photos of her farm: “We love the possibilities and opportunities drones offer. Do you?”

But not even Martha Stewart can sweep aside the important ethical and legal issues that have arisen with President Obama’s killer drones, or the deployment of autonomous drones or the coming use of domestic spy drones. My organization, CODEPINK, has protested these issues at many a drone convention and Congressional hearing. We have tried to get the industry to work with us by supporting international and national regulations to make drone use compliant with international law and our moral values. But the industry has not wanted to alienate weapons companies like General Atomics, whose bread and butter come from lethal drones or powerful government agencies like the CIA.

Rather than ignoring or white-washing the problematic nature of killer drones, spy drones and autonomous killer robots, the industry—and drone enthusiasts—should work with the human rights and peace communities to distinguish between good, the bad and the ugly.

Medea Benjamin, the cofounder of the peace group www.codepink.org, is author of Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control.

TIME Drones

Here’s Why So Many Drone Pilots Are Getting in Trouble

Flying itself isn't the point of remote-controlled aircraft anymore

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If you want to see some spectacular video footage, do a quick YouTube search for images captured by drones and marvel at the one-of-a-kind perspective they can deliver. But keep in mind that whoever captured that footage currently blowing your mind could be in serious trouble for breaking aviation laws.

After a series of videos showing what it looks like to fly through a fireworks display vent viral this Fourth of July weekend, the Federal Aviation Administration said Monday that flying drones for fun doesn’t require the government’s go-ahead, but cautioned that “hobbyists must operate according to … the law.”

Many enthusiasts have so-far ignored such warnings, evidenced by Monday’s arrest of two New Yorkers who allegedly flew their $1,000 drone too close to the George Washington Bridge — so close, in fact, that a police helicopter pilot felt the drone endangered his full-size chopper, according to the New York Daily News. The police pilot said the drone was flying at an altitude of 2,000 feet– well above the FAA’s 400-foot ceiling for drones.

Stories about drone pilot arrests and fines have become almost commonplace. What’s not new is flying radio-controlled model aircraft — probably a better term for the “drones” most of these hobbyists are flying. That has been a popular hobby for decades. Why, then, does it seem like so many R/C pilots are suddenly brushing up against the edges of the law?

Learning to build and fly R/C aircraft was once a time-consuming, arduous process, factors that kept the hobby from spreading. Now, new technology like user-friendly quadcopter designs, equipped with smaller, high-powered motors and batteries, means that pilots can have their aircraft ready to go in minutes instead of days, greatly enhancing the appeal of the hobby. And while the old-school pilots often met in clubs, which enforced flight rules as a social norm, the newbies are buying their gear off Amazon and heading out solo.

But the real issue here is that many of the new designs come with cameras attached, a feature that has fundamentally changed why people fly model aircraft. Though some old-school R/C aircraft hobbyists experimented with DIY digital camera hookups, they mostly viewed building and flying their aircraft as the endgame of their project. They generally avoided risky flying, as that could cost their club permission to use the local park, or could damage their expensive, intricate model aircraft that took hours to build.

The new wave of hobbyists see their GoPro-equipped drones less as remote-controlled aircraft and more as flying cameras, set to embark on a cinematic adventure. Flying for the sake of flying is no longer the point — the point is getting awesome YouTube footage, which leads to riskier behavior.

After all, the FAA’s rules ban, for example, flying a drone higher than 400 feet — but wouldn’t that 500-foot bridge make for a killer shot? There’s an economic incentive at play here, too — get popular enough on YouTube and you can make millions or get hired to shoot big-budget Hollywood films.

So while the FAA’s rules may have been fine for the old-school flyers, the new class has a lot to learn about what’s safe and what’s not. Adding to the confusion is the fact that what the FAA permits is in a state of flux. Without a doubt, there may always be a segment of rebellious flyers who will keep buying camera-equipped drones and flying them outside the bounds of the law, criminal charges be damned. Still, the new wave of drone-cinematographers would do well to look at the recent arrests, investigations and near-accidents as proof that flying legally while advocating for their preferred rules is better than breaking the law and flying dangerously to rack up the YouTube views.

TIME Drones

The Best Drone Videos From Around the Web

Flying footage from unmanned aerial vehicles

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Drones can act as flying cameras — they can go where we can’t, get footage we can’t. Here, TIME has collected some of the coolest drone videos from around the web. Enjoy!

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