DRONE WEEK - February 27th

I used to write a fairly regular series of posts here called "Drone Week" that would 

Anyways, with a ton of interesting news in this space, I thought I'd bring it back. 

First up...

What is a drone? 

I've been pretty loose with the term drone, and and I figured it would be good to dig into the etymology of it a bit. Based on the dictionary definition, a drone is specifically "remote-controlled pilotless aircraft or missile." I suppose that the usage comes from the drone in a bee colony, which is one that doesn't have stingers, doesn't gather nectar and pollen and whose job seems to be to fertilize the queen. So, basically a lazy, pacifist. Which is the exact opposite of the original drones used by the military. 

So why did the military call them drones in the first place? Apparently it's because the first unmanned aircraft used for target practice was called "Queen Bee."...all the way back in 1935. Later versions were called drones...out of respect, I guess? 

Still, that definition should work for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and Quadcopters. 

But what about our autonomous cars and bipedal robots? Is a quadcopter that makes use of Artificial Intelligence (rather than being remote controlled) still a drone? Is a remote controlled  (or RC) airplane still a drone? 

I guess I might have to rename this category of posts on my site to ensure I can cover it all. 

The Latest Boston Dynamics Monstrosity

Boston Dynamics has a long history of unveiling new robotic servants that fit pretty squarely in the "creepy" section of the uncanny valley, and their latest one, called "Handle" follows the same trend. Based on our definition above, it might not be considered 

via the description on their video: 

"Handle is a research robot that stands 6.5 ft tall, travels at 9 mph and jumps eet vertically. t uses electric power to operate both electric and hydraulic actuators, with a range of about 15 miles on one battery charge. andle uses many of the same dynamics, balance and mobile manipulation principle found in the quadruped and biped robots we build, but with only about 10 actuated joints, it is significantly less complex. Wheels are efficient on flat surfaces while legs can go almost anywhere: by combining wheels and legs Handle can have the best of both worlds."

Drones At The Movies

It will be interesting to see how drones will be portrayed in the media and movies over the next few years. Good Kill is apparently very good, and on my must-watch list, but I'm also very interested in the potential of Skywatch. It's currently in the process of being crowdfunded.  

Robo Racing

Self-driving cars have been in the news a lot lately. So much so that it's all starting to feel a bit boring, and that most of the news is about regulations rather than technological innovation. 

And that's why RoboRace is so exciting - it feels like that big, next step. It feels like the video-game future I've been looking forward to. The gist of it is that RoboRace will develop a chasis, and that it will be up to teams to optimize software to make it race faster/driver better. With human lives no longer at risk during high-speed rashes (and the ensuing crashes), this might take the thrill out of watching it. 

This post was written by me, Parker Mason. I'm a digital strategist who is fascinated by technology but also worried about the singularity . Get in touch with me at ParkerMason.net

DRONE WEEK - September 14

It's been a little while since I've written a Drone Week post here, but I want to get back into it. I'll ease back into it with a mix of fact and fiction. 

Glitch Noir is a short video about privately-built weaponised drones gone rogue. It's done in an a pretty interesting style, but I'm not sure I could watch an entire movie like that. See if you can pick up the Neuromancer, Blade Runner and Gundam references (and I'm sure there are a few others in there that I'm missing). 

Have you or someone you know been injured in a drone or quadcopter accident? Maybe it's time to check out Drone Injuries Lawyer (as Tweeted by William Gibson, who probably couldn't have even made this up if he tried). 


I know I wrote about Surfing Drones a few weeks or months ago, but the World Surf League just posted this footage from the Lowers contest and it's absolutely beautiful: 


If you want to keep digging in to drone-related news, it looks like Bruce Schneier and Techdirt have a couple of link roundups of their own: 

Bruce Schneier - Animals vs Drones

Techdirt - Our Crazy Drone Filled World

Check out other drone-related posts on BlogCampaigning here. 

Drone Week - January 12 | Injuries! Ethan Hawke! Trends! Swarms!

Welcome back to another edition of Drone Week, my (occasionally) weekly recap of all news drone related. How many people got drones for Christmas? 

As I mentioned in a previous posts, it looks like interest in a drones is at an all-time high. There were quite a few new consumer-friendly models released over the past few months and based on these Google trends for "Drone Instructions" and "How To Fly A Drone", with interest skyrocketing in January, I bet they sold well this holiday season.

Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 4.18.11 pm

How many of those people got injured? 

There was a great Reddit thread this week about a user who had very nearly crashed their drone into water on the first day of flying it. While many had a good laugh at the "pilot's" expense, many others rightly pointed out that this guy shouldn't have been flying the drone so high or without a clue how it worked (in a populated area, and over water!) on his first day.

One of the comments there linked to a gallery of images people sustained from drones. Click through at your own risk.

Good Kill looks like a Good Movie 

Lastly, the trailer for the movie Good Kill starring Ethan Hawke looks like it will be pretty good, dealing with the emotions of the US military drone operators. Will we see  drones as a plot device in more movies over the next year?

That's it for Drone Week this week!

Send me a Tweet at @ParkerNow if you see any other drone-related news stories that are worth sharing.

Drone Week - October 20th

Man, it's been a while since I wrote one of these "Drone Week" posts, but there's been some good stuff lately. First up is a comment that that was made by a TechDirt reader on the "Have Drone, Will Travel" post from this week: 

Quadcopters are easy to make and cheap because they move the complicated aspects of proper helicopters out of the mechanics and into the elctronice. Usually this is a good strategy - but not here because the side effects of doing this mean that they are unflyable in anything but perfect weather because of the lack of control authority. Since a proper collective pitch micro-helicopter can be purchased for around $100 nowadays ther is no reason to use a quadcopter. For many applications a fixed wing aircraft will be better.

It puzzles me that calling a model aircraft a "drone" somehow makes it a new piece of technology. It isn't - it's just a model aircraft = and in the case of a quadcopter a pretty badly designed one at that!

The author makes a good point, in that the technology being used isn't really that new or innovative. However, I think he misses out that the development of the flight stabilising electronics, as well as the decreased costs of some of the components, have made this hobby much more accessible to the greater public. This in turn has helped drive further innovation and interest in the field, which is never a bad thing.


Next up is the use of drones to track the health of killer whales. 

The footage is beautiful, but more important is the reason why they're doing it. Read more here. 


Lastly, the Audi Car Drone.

I suppose that as a car, it's not really a drone in the way we might normally think about them, but as a self-driving vehicle on a race track, it's pretty neat. I'd like to see this entered into an actual competition at some point to see how it does against human drivers.

That's it for Drone Week. 


Drone Week - Have we reached "peak drone"?

Another week, and and drones continue to show up in the news and the blogs. What follows is another of my regular round-ups on the topic of drones.   

Firstly, have we reached Peak Drone? I plugged the word "drone" into Google trends, and it spat out the following chart (along with a bit of a forecast). It's not necessarily the best indicator in the topic, but it looks public interest in drones peaked a few months ago, in December 2013. Either that, or they're becoming so commonplace that people don't need to search for them anymore.


Next up is a cyberpunk-ish video by M.I.A. feature not only drones, but also 3D-printed guns and a glitchy vibe. The whole thing feels like a 90s dream of what the future should have been, but it's still pretty cool. Watch it here.

If you want to terrify your dog and annoy your neighbours, then getting a drone to take your pets out to poo is probably the way to go. 

And apparently the Lithuanian mob has gotten into the drone business, using a gigantic specimen of one to smuggle cigarettes into Russia, 22 pounds at a time. 

And finally, a team is working on creating a type of aquatic drone that will gradually clean the world's oceans of all that plastic. Good luck, guys.

That's it for Drone Week on BlogCampaigning for now.

Drone Week April 4: Tom Cruise, Phones and Fukushima

If you've been reading BlogCampaigning for the past month or so, you'll have noticed that I'm doing weekly recaps of drone-related news. You can find the previous posts here. 

First up is a cool post on RoboHub about an organization named Drone Adventures who have done an aerial survey of Fukushima, site of the Tsunami/Nuclear disaster three years ago. It has some interesting observations on the state of the area, but what I liked most is that it seems they are using the same type of drone that ReRoll is using the map the earth for their open-world game. Maybe we'll see Fukushima as the first level?



Next up is Flone, a drone created by a group of artists and computer engineers which uses a smartphone as the control mechanism. Read more about it here. 


And lastly: It sounds like there's going to be a sequel to Top Gun but this time it will be Tom Cruise vs Drones. I'll watch it, but only for the drones.


If you've got any other drone-related news, leave me a comment or Tweet me. Otherwise, check out the other weekly drone posts I've done here.

Drone Week - March 28

Another week on planet Earth, and another set of interesting news about drones. First up, Foreign Policy magazine is reporting that the Pentagon might use a fleet of "underwater drones" to help find Malaysian Airlines flight 370.


Also in the news is Drone Hire, who have recently posted that they'll be accepting Bitcoins for payment. The company appears to be a loose organization of drone operators willing to rent out their machines and services.


And lastly. DDB Canada/Tribal Worldwide recently released a new spot for Subaru Canada for the WRX. Read more about it on Slashgear.


DroneWeek: Friday, March 21

I've always thought drones are interesting, so I'm going to start doing a weekly recap of any good drone or quadcopter related news. First up, there's a great video of  an (in)famous Sydney surf break called Ours. It really takes a drone's-eye view to understand how little water is left in front of the wave:


Next up is a beautiful few pieces of video of some ice caves, shot by a drone:



And lastly, there's an interesting article on the Guardian's site about how China is going to start using drones to investigate pollution in the country. Apparently, it's possible to tell if an industrial building is polluting by the colour of smoke they're putting out.

That's it