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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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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Drone carrying cellphones, drugs, hacksaw blades crashes at Oklahoma prison


Officials in Oklahoma claim to have halted the first attempt in the state to smuggle contraband into a prison with an unmanned aerial vehicle. Read the rest

Obama's coming for your Christmas drones


Amid growing fears about safety and security risks from unauthorized drone flights, federal regulators say they plan to require pretty much all recreational drones in the U.S. to be registered. Read the rest

Long distance jammer knocks drones from the sky


Point this gernsbeckian invisible ray gun at a drone, and it will drop from the sky, according to Battelle, the non-profit company that made it. The DroneDefender doesn't make a cool sound when you pull the trigger, though, so I don't like it. From Make:

In a press release from Battelle, the gun is stated to use “radio control frequency disruption technologies to safely stop drones in the air, before they can pose a threat to military or civilian safety.” A video accompanying the post describes that it operates on standard GPS and ISM radio bands, allowing for it to interference with commercial UAV signals.

Reportedly, the DroneDefender can hit objects up to 400 meters with an effective cone diameter of 30°. This is about as far as Battelle goes with the technical details, so the actual frequency ranges of the rifle still remain unknown.

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Drone flyover of Shanghai Disneyland construction site


It's a third-party clip, not sanctioned by Disney, so it's pretty remote/long-lens, but there's still some tantalyzing stuff in this video. From what I know about the Shanghai park, it's going to be pretty bad-ass. Don't miss the brown/yellow smog on the horizon! Read the rest

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