People are flying around in these jumbo personal drones in China [VIDEO]

Between this and Starman's Tesla in space, it's a weird week.

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Flybrix: "rebuildable, crash-friendly drones" made from Lego

Flybrix kits allow you to turn a variety of Lego builds into little copter-drones that you can fly with an app or a Bluetooth joystick. Read the rest

Drunk droning is now against the law in New Jersey

As of Monday, there is a new kind of "DUI" in New Jersey: Droning Under the Influence. On his final day of being New Jersey's (incredibly unpopular) governor, Chris Christie signed a law making it illegal to fly an unmanned drone aircraft drunk or under the influence of drugs.

Reuters reports:

The law prohibits flying a drone with a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher, the same as for driving a vehicle, or while drugged. Violators face up to six months in jail, a $1,000 fine or both. The measure, which passed the Democratic-controlled state legislature earlier this month, also bars flying a drone near a prison or in pursuit of wildlife. The drone measure was among 109 bills that Christie signed into law on his last full day in office, spokesman Brian Murray said by email. Christie’s successor, Democrat Phil Murphy, is to be sworn in on Tuesday.

photo by Andrew Turner Read the rest

Drone footage of huge fissure opening behind imminent landslide

The Yakima Herald posted this video, shot by Steven Mack, of a growing fissue on Rattlesnake Ridge near Yakima, Wa.

I-82, seen in the footage, is only threatened in "less likely scenarios." The county has pre-emptively declared an official disaster.

The city of Union Gap also declared a disaster, allowing officials to request the help they'll need when the hillside comes down.

The big question remains "When will the slide happen?" State geologists now say they don't expect a landslide event until sometime between late January and early March.

"The honest answer is no one knows for certain. There are a number of possibilities. The most likely scenario is that the landslide will continue to slowly move to the south, where the landslide mass will fall into the quarry pit and accumulate. Monitoring data suggests most of the mass will remain in the pit and on the hillside," the Washington state Department of Natural Resources said on its website.

I've roughly marked the hill that's coming down on this google maps image. Most of it will just fill the quarry you see to the bottom right, apparently.

At least 20 people were killed over the weekend after landslides and flooding in California. Read the rest

Watch this FPV drone pilot have fun buzzing around a train

This dizzying display of drone-piloting skills is not only impressive, but the locale is simply gorgeous. Watch as NURK FPV takes a sunset flight through a scenic river valley as a train passes through. Read the rest

Otherworldly nightscapes shot with spotlight-equipped drone

The Dying Of The Light is a project shot by sfdrones.tv in the nighttime desert, but with a spotlight so bright that it reaches the intensity of daylight. Read the rest

Drones to airdrop hundreds of thousands of mosquitos to fight disease

One approach to fight mosquito-borne diseases is to introduce huge numbers of sterilized male mosquitos to beat out the wild males in competition for female mosquitos. The challenge is that it's expensive to airdrop the mosquitos from airplanes and often difficult to traverse developing nations by ground. Now, WeRobotics has prototyped a drone that carries hundreds of thousands of mosquitos and releases them at just the right moment. The first experiments in South or Central America will take place in the next few months. From IEEE Spectrum:

The goal is to pack as many mosquitoes as possible into the drone. However, clumping is a problem because the insects form “a big collection of legs and wings,” he says. The trick, according to Klaptocz, is to keep them inside a precooled container: “Between 4 °C and 8 °C, they’ll fall asleep, and you can pack them up fairly densely.”

It’s also important to control the release of the mosquitoes, rather than dumping them out all at once. “We tried different systems to get the mosquitoes out of the holding canister, including vibrations and a treadmill,” he says. “Right now, we’re using a rotating element with holes through which individual mosquitoes can fall.” Once the mosquitoes fall out of the canister, they spend a few seconds in a secondary chamber warming up to the outside air temperature before exiting the drone, to make sure they’re awake and ready to fly.

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StratoEnergetics introduces new Slaughterbot autonomous weapon

Looking like an iPhone rollout or creepy TED Talk, this sci-fi PSA from the group Stop Autonomous Weapons looks at a possible near future of autonomous drones trained to kill a specific human target. Read the rest

Animation of an elegant air traffic nightmare caused by a drone

A drone, spotted over Gatwick Airport, led to an abundance of caution among air traffic controllers. The result: a growing armada of inbound flights redirected into increasingly-chaotic epicycles over southern England, a crap solar system of annoyed travelers. [via] Read the rest

Chris Anderson: Drone mogul and former bass player for REM (no, not *that* REM).

(Photo: Joi Ito, CC-BY)

He’s not the only major figure in the world of tech and ideas who goes by Chris Anderson. His namesake runs the TED conference - whereas the Chris Anderson of this article was Editor-in-Chief of Wired for twelve years. During that stint, he co-founded a company that helped launch the consumer drone industry, which he now runs (the company - not the industry).

There are those who think these guys are one solitary, mega overachiever, but no. They could settle who has rights to the name through some kind of brainy public smackdown - the nerd equivalent of a battle of the bands, say. But not a chance. This Chris Anderson has been through that once already. With his band. They were called REM.

No - not that REM. That REM clobbered Team Chris in musical combat back in 1991 (at the storied 9:30 club in Washington), winning rights to the name. Chris’s band then took Mike Mills’ suggestion that they rebrand as Egoslavia – a clever-ish name back when Yugoslavia wasn’t just a fading memory and a handful of spinoffs.

Chris and I cover this, plus the story of his impressively misspent youth in an hour-plus interview you can listen to right here (or by typing the name of the podcast series – “After On” – into the search bar of your favorite podcast app):

But we mainly talk about drones, his company (3D Robotics, or 3DR), and how he launched and grew it to millions in revenues in partnership with a Tijuana teen, while winning awards for running the world’s most influential tech magazine as a day job. Read the rest

Drone footage mirrored to create surreal kaleidoscopic landscapes

Parker Paul posted this video, in which the term "quadcopter" refers both to the drone (piloted by Alban Roinard) and the simple but effective mirror symmetry applied to the footage. The music is Zorch, by Oroboros. Read the rest

This VR-ready drone is over 30% off right now

The Micro Drone 3.0 streams live 3D footage to VR headsets, and is available in our Boing Boing store for $145.

Company's dystopian promotional video for drone armed with machine gun

What a time to be alive.

Duke Robotics brings a fully robotic weaponry system to an airborne platform. TIKAD, which is a proprietary development of Duke, uses the delivery of a unique suppression firing and stabilization solution. TIKAD allows governments to utilize completely new capabilities against terrorist groups and reduce the number of deployed ground troops, and therefore, the number of casualties.

(via Daily Grail) Read the rest

West coast jurisdictions advance community oversight of police surveillance

This summer, two of the west coast’s largest metropolitan areas—Seattle and California—took major steps to curtail secret, unilateral surveillance by local police. These victories for transparency and community control lend momentum toward sweeping reforms pending across California, as well as congressional efforts to curtail unchecked surveillance by federal authorities. Read the rest

US Navy lab tests "disposable" microdrones that glide down from the sky

The US Naval Research Labs's CICADA (Close-In Covert Autonomous Disposable Aircraft) microdrones are designed to be dropped in bulk from a flying aircraft. Once airborne, the drones use autopilot to stabilize and then GPS and fins to steer to the intended location. Apparently they can glide into a safe landing within 15 feet of their targets. From IEEE Spectrum:

On landing, they transmit data from embedded sensors (a meteorological payload at the moment) back up to their launch aircraft through an antenna embedded in their wings, and each robot will continue to operate and send back data from the ground until its battery runs out...

“Every time I show up at a trade show, or talk with people about CICADA, it’s ‘oh, could you do this?’,” he said. “Chemical and biological sensing is a very interesting idea. There are other electronics you could put in it for seismic sensing along a road. Really, the sky is the limit. It’s just a flying circuit board, so anything you can integrate at the component level is fair game...”

“Right now, [CICADAs] would be ready to go drop into a hurricane or tornado,” he said. “I really would love to fly an airplane over, and each of these could sample in the tornado. That’s ready now. We’d just need a ride. And [FAA] approval.”

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Amazing drone photography contest winners

Dronestagram's fourth annual International Drone Photography Contest had to be tough to judge, given how many great shots made the finals. Above: "Waterlilly" by helios1412. Below: "Two Moo" by LukeMaximoBell. Read the rest

Trump meets with military drone makers and VCs

President Donald Trump today “offered support for emerging technologies including unmanned aerial vehicles and next-generation wireless networks in a meeting on Thursday with the chiefs of AT&T Inc and General Electric Co and other business leaders,” reports Reuters.

At the White House today, Trump met with venture capitalists, and with telcom and drone executives, and they talked about how the federal government can speed technologies to market.

U.S. President Donald Trump (C) holds an event highlighting emerging technologies, in the East Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The meeting, which lasted more than three hours including breakout sessions, is part of Trump's effort to tap industry experts on how to boost U.S. competitiveness in various fields and create jobs. On Monday, Trump met with the heads of 18 U.S. technology companies including Apple Inc, Amazon.com Inc and Microsoft Corp, seeking their help to make the government's computing systems more efficient. He will meet with energy industry leaders next week.

"We want them to create new companies and lots of jobs," Trump told the executives on Thursday. "We're going to give you the competitive advantage that you need."

In attendance were chief executives of several drone companies including Kespry Inc, AirMap, Airspace Inc, Measure UAS Inc, Trumbull Unmanned, and PrecisionHawk Inc.

Drone makers argued that the administration should move faster to approve broader commercial use of drones and noted that the Transportation Department does not require automakers to win pre-approval of self-driving vehicle technologies.

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