"The world thinks I faked a drone crashing through my office window and into my head"

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On April 7 David Perel posted a video to YouTube, writing: "Drone Smashes Through My 5th Floor Window and Into My Head! While sitting at my desk I heard what sounded like a missile followed by a huge bang and glass all over me. Turns out someone lost control of their drone. Lucky to be uninjured!"

A lot of people didn't believe Perel. On Medium, he wrote about the angry deniers who posted mean comments on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram about the video:

It’s incredible how many glass experts, drone experts, head trauma experts, video experts, psychological experts and experts of any kind exist when the troll nation descends. Experts abound but they all missed a single key fact: I was actually hit in the head by a drone!

The pinnacle of these accusations was a very personal attack from a guy with a ponytail who clearly loves his drones, but not the facts.

It’s now been four days since the incident and I am still fielding calls from news websites, radio stations and Twitter commenters.

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See this drone that draws

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The MIT Media Lab's "Flying Pantograph" is a pen-wielding tele-robot controlled by a drawing interface. From MIT's Fluid Interfaces research group:

A drone becomes an “expression agent” - modified to carry a pen and be controlled by human motions, then carries out the actual process of drawing on a vertical wall. Not only mechanically extending a human artist, the drone plays a crucial part of the expression as its own motion dynamics and software intelligence add new visual language to the art. This agency forms a strong link between a human artist and the canvas, however, in the same time, is a deliberate programmatic disconnect that offers space for exploiting machine aesthetics as a core expression medium.

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Children in Uganda watch a hobbyist's drone fly for the first time, and totally flip out

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The way these schoolchildren in rural Uganda react to a hobbyist's drone flight demo is so delightful. Honestly, my reaction when I first saw a friend navigate his UAV into the air was about the same.

Mark Brandon Smith shot this wonderful video, and tells the tale behind it.

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Killing people with drones is working out great for America, says ex CIA chief

Michael Hayden (Larry Downing/Reuters)

Michael Hayden sure does love him some drone-killing.

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NSA and GCHQ's crappy Big Data techniques may be killing thousands of innocents

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Researchers have taken a second look at the NSA SKYNET leaks, as well as the GCHQ data-mining problem book first published on Boing Boing, and concluded that the spy agencies have made elementary errors in their machine-learning techniques, which are used to identify candidates for remote assassination by drone. Read the rest

Watch this beautiful ballet of drones (also, Disneyland Drones!)

"Working with Daito Manabe, Motoi Ishibashi and their team at Rhizomatiks Research in Tokyo, the goal is to create an intimate and artistic interaction between man and machine," says Marco Tempest of MagicLab.

Related, Disney recently filed a patent for what they call "Flixels" (floating pixels), drones that will be used in performances at their theme parks. (NBC News)

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Domestic surveillance the old-fashioned way: cameras installed on utility poles, watching your home

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Rocky Houston was a felon in possession of a gun, and is headed to jail for years for that crime. How did they catch him? They installed a video camera on a utility pole near a family-owned property until useful footage was captured.

A federal appeals court upheld his conviction this week, with Judge John Rogers writing that "no reasonable expectation of privacy [exists] in video footage recorded by a camera that was located on top of a public utility pole and that captured the same views enjoyed by passersby on public roads," even if there was no warrant.

David Kravets:

"John Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute, said the ruling is bad news for privacy.

"Obviously, the new era of technology, one that was completely unimaginable to the men who drafted the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, requires an updated legal code to enshrine the right to privacy. New technologies which enable the radical expansion of police surveillance operations require correspondingly robust legal frameworks in order to maintain the scope of freedom from authoritarian oversight envisioned by the Framers," he said.

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Turn drone footage into 3D terrain models, which you can 3D print

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Drone Deploy is an analytics and automation package that uses drones to create accurate 3D terrain and architectural models. Read the rest

NYPD arrest man for crashing drone into the Empire State Building

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Seems the charges are "reckless endangerment and aviation in and over the city."

Via Philly.com

A New Jersey man was arrested on Thursday after a drone he was flying crashed into the 40th floor of the Empire State Building in New York City, police said.

The 29-year-old man was taken into custody after a small aircraft he was piloting struck the iconic building before coming to rest on the 35th floor on Thursday evening, the New York City Police Department said.

The man asked building security personnel for his drone back after they retrieved it, but instead they called authorities, a police spokesman said.

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Drone video of Homs, Syria shows a city destroyed by war

Homs, Syria (2014, Reuters)

Making the rounds online this week: this footage shot by a camera-equipped drone of the Syrian city of Homs. After 5 years of civil war, the city is largely reduced to abandoned rubble.

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Police training eagles to take down drones

The Dutch National Police are attempting to train eagles to take down drones. (Here's an unintentional example of an eagle doing just that!) From IEEE Spectrum:

The Dutch police have partnered with Guard From Above, a raptor training company based in Denmark, to determine whether eagles could be used as intelligent, adaptive anti-drone weapon systems. The eagles are specially trained to identify and capture drones, although from the way most birds of prey react to drones, my guess is that not a lot of training was necessary. After snatching the drone out of the sky, the eagles instinctively find a safe area away from people to land and try take a couple confused bites out of their mechanical prey before their handlers can reward them with something a little less plastic-y. The advantage here is that with the eagles, you don’t have to worry about the drone taking off out of control or falling on people, since the birds are very good at mid-air intercepts as well as bringing the drone to the ground without endangering anyone.

Except maybe the eagles?

"Dutch Police Training Eagles to Take Down Drones" (IEEE Spectrum)

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Area 51: new "no drone" warning signs

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Amateur Radio Club visited the border of Area 51 and noticed some new "no drone" signage added to the classic warnings signs around the infamous US Air Force facility. I assume that policy also applies to extraterrestrial spacecraft and Alien Reproduction Vehicles. Yours anyway.

(Foxtrot Alpha via Mysterious Universe)

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Video: cliffside apartment buildings near San Francisco are about to fall

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The apartments at 310, 320, and 330 Esplanade in Pacifica, California are literally hanging over the edge of a cliff. Rain, storms, and rising ocean levels are steadily eroding the sandy bluffs on which the apartments are built. After the El Nino storms of 2009 and 2010, tons of rock were piled on the beach and the cliffs were covered with fiber-reinforced concrete, but the erosion-prevention measures have failed in the recent storms.

Duncan Sinfield posted drone video of the cliff collapsing under the apartments on Esplanade.

Coverage: SF Gate | SF Chronicle Read the rest

Disney's prized theme-park no-fly zone means it can't use drones in its firework shows

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Disney won its war on overflights by planes towing advertising banners in 2003, winning the only no-fly zone over a theme-park in the USA. Read the rest

Tiny NanoDrone gets a camera

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Our friends at TRNDlabs, who sponsored our Weekend of Wonder, have announced the new SKEYE Nano Drone with Camera.

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Amazon's serious about drones: Prime Air UAVs will carry 5-lb. packages 10 miles in 30 minutes

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Amazon is advancing its drone program with great speed. This is not a joke. Say goodbye to the brown trucks.

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Drone footage of insanely huge "sinkhole" outside of IHOP restaurant

Did you hear about the International Hole of Pancakes, the massive drainage structure collapse that swallowed a at least a dozen cars in an IHOP parking lot in Meridian, MS just a few days after the restaurant opened? Here is Jason Hartwig's drone footage of the site.

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