Posts Tagged ‘drone’

DJI AeroScope demo shows drone tracking tech in action

21 Nov

In October, DJI introduced a new technology called AeroScope that makes it possible for law enforcement and other officials to track drones that broadcast info. The system was launched to address growing concerns about drones being operated in forbidden locations, such as near airports or over wildfires. AeroScope works by picking up telemetry and ID data broadcast by DJI drone.

The Verge recently shared a video showing AeroScope in action.

The system, which is a box-shaped device that includes a touchscreen display, issues an alert when it detects a drone nearby. Officials can pull up the ID and telemetry info the drone is broadcasting and potentially use that to identify the operator. A explained in the video, AeroScope shows the operator’s email address, which officials can message for direct contact.

Speaking to DIY Photography, DJI said that email addresses were displayed to users in a beta version of the AeroScope software, and that such abilities won’t be included in the final version.

There are some limitations to the AeroScope system. For example, drones that aren’t registered won’t provide info that helps officials identify the operator. As well, the system is localized, meaning it can only detect drones within a couple miles of the device. DJI previously explained that it chose this localized tracking method to prevent drone data from being easily amassed in government databases.

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Stunning ‘orbital drone-lapse’ captured by flying a drone in huge circles

14 Nov

It’s difficult to stand out when creating a time-lapse these days—from the storm-lapses of Mike Oblinski, to the ‘flow-motion’ hyperlapses of Rob Whitworth, to the award-winning work of Michael Shainblum, it seems like it’s all been done. Until, that is, someone comes up with something like ‘Low Earth Orbit.’

This drone-lapse from Folegandros Island, Greece was captured by Hong Kong-based production company Visual Suspect using a simple ‘orbital’ technique; translation: they flew a drone in massive circles while recording time-lapse.

The results look like something out of Google Earth, but instead of static low-res images from orbit, you have living landscapes captured in HD. Here’s an explanation of the “how” and “why” by the creators themselves:

Orbital drone movements are the ones with power to convert two dimensional images into dancing focal layers escaping out of the frame. We wanted to further explore the technique, with high altitude long orbits, along with ones very close to the ground, we call them “Orbital drone-lapses”. These shots are a mix of automatic and manual flights.

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This animation shows the chaos a drone caused at a London airport

03 Nov

The sequence of diversions and re-routing caused when a drone was sighted close to one of London’s busiest airports has been turned into an amazing animated map by the UK’s National Air Traffic Service (NATS), to demonstrate the level of disruption even short airport closures can create.

The video map shows what happens to normal air traffic at Gatwick airport when the runway was closed in response to a drone in the vicinity. The closure lasted only nine minutes, but in that time two holding areas away from the airport became congested and some aircraft had to divert to alternative airports over fuel concerns.

The incident happened on a Sunday during the summer when the airport was particularly busy with summer holiday traffic. A drone was spotted close to the runway, but seemed to disappear before returning when the runway reopened, causing it to be closed again for another five minutes. In total, the runway was only closed for 14 minutes, but the level of disruption is easy to see on the map as aircraft circle and shift into safer holding areas with other planes waiting to use the airport.

In all, four holding areas had to be used, and four planes needed to land at different airports because it wasn’t clear how long the closure would last.

“The disruption was significant and took hours to clear; it was around midnight before everything was fully ‘back to normal’ and even then, hundreds of passengers had ended up away from their intended airport and thousands of passengers had been delayed,” reports the NATS blog. “All as a result of one drone pilot flouting the rules. “

NATS encourages all drone pilots to read the Civil Aviation Authorities’ Drone Code and to download the Drone Assist app to ensure they fly safely.

You can find out more about the incident and air traffic control on the NATS website.

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Make Sure You Know all the Drone Regulations Before You Fly

23 Oct

Everywhere you look, it seems like everyone has their hands on a drone. YouTube is crawling with aerial drone footage, and you can buy one at just about any electronics store. But just because drones are everywhere doesn’t mean you can (legally) fly them anywhere.

Here at dPS, we dove into topics such as tips to get started with drone photography and how to get stunning aerial photos with your drone. One thing we haven’t covered that’s worth talking about is where you can and can’t fly your drone. Read on for some tips on things to consider before you fly a drone.

Aerial Drone Photography Rules - Drone Regulations to Consider Before Traveling With One

Why Are There Drone Regulations?

On the surface, drones may seem like fun toys or new tools to add to your photography or videography kit. After all, they’re marketed as such and most of the time, they don’t do any visible harm. However, drones can be dangerous from the perspective of privacy and physical safety.

No one likes the idea of a drone spying on them, or worse yet, a drone that comes crashing down and damages property or hurts someone. But these very plausible scenarios are exactly why drone regulations exist – to protect drone pilots and the general public from accidents.

Aerial Drone Photography Rules

Who Makes Drone Regulations?

So who comes up with drone rules and regulations? That depends entirely on where you live. Generally speaking, drones are considered unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and as such, they are regulated by the national aviation authority of each country. Thus, most countries will have their own rules, and often each state or city within the country might have further regulations.

So it’s important to do extensive research about where specifically you plan to fly your drone. Punishment for violating drone regulations can be hefty fines or even imprisonment, so it is very important to follow drone rules, especially in foreign countries.

What Kind of Drone Regulations Are There?

Aerial Drone Photography Rules

Drone rules vary in every country, but here a few common ones:

Register Your Drone

Today, drones vary from fitting in the palm of your hand to requiring a large backpack to transport them. Generally speaking, drones weighing any more than 0.55 pounds must be registered with your national aviation association before flying.

Get Licensed to Fly

Some countries require drone operators to pass an exam to get a license before flying a drone, so be sure to get licensed if it’s necessary.

Aerial Drone Photography Rules Drone Regulations to Consider Before Traveling With One

Get Insurance for Your Drone

In some places, you must have insurance for your drone in order to fly. But drone insurance is something you should have any way to protect your investment.

Avoid Flying over People and Properties

Even the tiniest drone can be a hazard to someone or something if it comes crashing down from the sky or runs into an airplane. As a general rule, don’t fly your drone over crowds of people or near private or government property. You should also avoid flying near airports or helipads.

Sample Drone Regulations in the USA

Drone Regulations to Consider Before Traveling With One

In the United States, drones are considered unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). As such, they are regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). There are two sets of regulations: one for those flying drones for fun, and one for those flying for commercial (professional) reasons. A summary of the FAA rules is below, with more details available here.

  • Flying drones for recreational or educational use is okay without a permit. Drones must be registered if they weigh over 0.55 lbs (250g). Drones cannot be flown within five miles of an airport or helipad without prior notification to the airport and air traffic control.
  • If flying for commercial use, the drone pilot must be over 16 years of age, have a Remote Pilot Airman Certificate, and pass TSA vetting. The drone must fly under 400 feet and at or below 100 miles per hour. Drones can only fly during the daytime, and must not fly over people.

For More Information

  • Global Drone Regulations Database
  • Master List of Drone Laws


  • UAV Forecast
  • Hover

In Conclusion

If your head is spinning when you reach the end of this article, you’re not alone. There are many more drone rules and regulations than most people know about, which makes enforcement of them very patchy.

What’s more is that drone regulations are in a constant state of flux, so it’s hard to say exactly what rules exist and apply at a given time. But with that said, it’s better to know the rules and do your best to follow them, or risk getting arrested and potentially fined like this French tourist in Italy.

The post Make Sure You Know all the Drone Regulations Before You Fly by Suzi Pratt appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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New FAA drone rules restrict flying near 10 major US landmarks

30 Sep

The FAA has released a new set of drone rules that restrict UAV flight near 10 major Department of Interior landmarks in the United States, including the Statue of Liberty, Mount Rushmore, and the Hoover Dam.

According to the FAA, it has decided to exercise its authority under Code of Federal Regulations Title 14 § 99.7 to establish these new restrictions after receiving multiple requests from both law enforcement and national security agencies. Starting October 5th, when these new rules go live, drone owners will no longer be allowed to fly their drones within 400ft of the following 10 monuments:

  • Statue of Liberty National Monument, New York, NY
  • Boston National Historical Park (U.S.S. Constitution), Boston, MA
  • Independence National Historical Park, Philadelphia, PA
  • Folsom Dam; Folsom, CA
  • Glen Canyon Dam; Lake Powell, AZ
  • Grand Coulee Dam; Grand Coulee, WA
  • Hoover Dam; Boulder City, NV
  • Jefferson National Expansion Memorial; St. Louis, MO
  • Mount Rushmore National Memorial; Keystone, SD
  • Shasta Dam; Shasta Lake, CA

Anyone who violates these new rules could face criminal and/or civil penalties. The FAA says that there are “a few exceptions” to the restriction, though it doesn’t specify what they are, instead saying that the drone operator has to coordinate their plan with the FAA and/or the landmark site specifically if they wish to fly within 400ft of the above landmarks.

Drone operators can view a full list of restricted airspace on the FAA’s website.

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11 Quick Tips to Improve Your Drone Photography

30 Sep

In this short video from the people over at COOPH, they bring you 11 tips to help improve your drone photography,

If you enjoy drone photography check out these dPS articles as well:

  • Tips for Getting Started Doing Photography with Drones
  • How to Use Drones to do Stunning Aerial Photography
  • Side by Side Drone Comparison – DJI Mavic Pro Versus the Phantom Pro 4
  • Review of the Epson Moverio BT-300FPV Smart Glasses for Drones
  • Overview of the ThinkTank Airport Helipak V2.0: More Than Just a Drone Case

Drone photography?

So we’re curious here at dPS, how many of you are using drones now or getting one soon? Tell us in this quick poll.

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.

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Judge determines FAA drone rules take precedence over local regulations

27 Sep

A court has ruled that federal drone laws trump local drone regulations in instances where the two are in conflict, setting a new and very important precedent for commercial and recreational drone pilots alike. The ruling was passed down by US District Judge William G. Young during a legal case involving the city of Newton, Massachusetts, and its drone regulations that are even more restrictive than the FAA’s rules.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the lawsuit was brought by Newton resident Michael Singer, who challenged four Newton provisions including a requirement to get permission before flying a drone over private property. The city had argued that the FAA allows for the local co-regulation of civilian drones, but Judge Young ruled otherwise, in part because the local regulations were sometimes in direct conflict with the FAA’s.

For instance, whereas the FAA allows small drones to be operated below 400ft, the city of Newton’s provisions banned the operation of drones below that altitude if they were over private property. This left pilots only one legal option: get permission from each property owner over whose property the drone would pass. Otherwise you’d either be violating Newton’s laws or the FAA’s regulations.

Referring to this particular law, Judge Young stated, “This thwarts not only the FAA’s objectives, but also those of Congress for the FAA to integrate drones into the national airspace.”

Newton drone provisions that weren’t challenged by the lawsuit have been left in place, and the city has indicated that it may appeal the ruling.

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Review of the DJI Spark Drone

27 Sep

DJI doesn’t particularly need an introduction. Their Phantom series brought drone video to the average Joe, while the Mavic Pro brought it closer to the tech and vloggers communities. Now, the DJI Spark aims to bring it to everybody. This tiny wonder goes places no toy drone could hope to go and really packs the tech of its older siblings into a tiny package.

Review of the DJI Spark Drone

Specs of the DJI Spark

The DJI Spark is not much more than palm-sized, and I don’t have particularly big hands. Weighing in at 300 grams (little more than half a pound), you’d think it wouldn’t be up to much, but as I live close to the sea, most of my flights have been in high winds. The DJI Spark has coped admirably, especially considering its petite frame.

Review of the DJI Spark Drone

Aerial views are a breeze in the wind with the DJI Spark.

Toy drones for practice

Let me give you a little of my drone background. I’ve wanted a drone for ages, but with my history of new gear accidents, added to seeing some of my friends destroy really expensive drones, I avoided getting a good one. Instead, I bought loads of toy drones and learned to fly them. While my agenda was always to get a proper drone, flying toy drones is a lot of fun. Best of all, the price means you’re not afraid of crashing them. I found this a great way to get comfortable with flying.

Review of the DJI Spark Drone

A seascape frame from a DJI Spark video.

Let’s look at the rest of the DJI Spark’s specs. It has a 12MP JPEG only stills mode, with video capabilities limited to 1080p 30fps video. This camera sits on a 2-axis gimbal, which, while not in the league of the 3-axis capabilities of bigger drones, works quite well in practice.

The field of view is 25mm equivalent and looks great. The battery is an intelligent type and has its own firmware independent of the drone itself. Charge time is quick, and as well as the dedicated charger, there’s a micro USB port on the drone that can be used to charge the battery. That’s handy when you’re out and have a power bank at the ready.

DJI Spark Options

The DJI Spark comes as a standalone device, flown via the DJI Go 4 app for $ 499 and as the Fly More kit combo with a controller, spare battery, prop guards, 3 battery charger and a bag for $ 699. Don’t waste your money on the basic version. Get the kit. Why?

Well, flight time is quoted at 16 minutes, but it’s less in practice. You’ll need the extra battery after your first flight because you’ll want to fly more! But the main reason is the controller. With just the phone, you’re limited to using an ad hoc phone Wi-Fi network to control the Spark. This is a meager 30m radius. You’ll run out of fun really quickly.

Review of the DJI Spark Drone

In Flight

Now for the crucial question. How does it fly? After flying toy drones for a while, I’m well used to how the controls work. My left hand has throttle and spin, with the right doing forward/back and left/right. It becomes natural quickly. Because the DJI Spark uses GPS for positioning, as soon as you stop flying, the drone stops moving. It’s locked solidly in place.

Review of the DJI Spark Drone

I began using the Beginner mode from the phone only and moved to the controller once I was comfortable. Beginner mode reduces both the distance and speed the Spark can travel. It’s perfect for learning the ropes.

There’s one thing I will stress. Compared to toy drones, the Spark almost flies itself. It makes me regret not getting a proper drone sooner. However, those toy drones did give me more confidence in flying. If you’ve been holding out and just want a drone with a quality camera for basic photography, this is the one for you.


Are there any issues with the DJI Spark? Yes. I’m happy enough to use JPEG and there are exposure controls available, but there is one thing that I’m not happy about, sharpening issues. In-camera sharpening on the files is horrible. I’m sure they would print fine, but looking at the files at 100%, it’s just horrible. There’s no way to turn it down either. Obviously, DNG would be better, but that’s a selling point of the Mavic Pro.

Review of the DJI Spark Drone

Review of the DJI Spark Drone

100% view showing the weird sharpening and artifacts with the JPEG.

The flight time for the Spark is quite low in comparison to its older siblings. It’s quite long compared to toy drones though and comparing battery sizes, it’s not a wonder. For the size of the drone, the flight time is acceptable.

The App

The DJI Go 4 app is easy to use and contains all the information you need while flying. High wind warnings, along with information on the home point and general flying information show on the screen as you fly. Height, distance and velocity show on the bottom of the screen. There’s a compass in the bottom left. Always check the direction the drone is facing before take off so you can align the drone if it goes out of visual range.

Review of the DJI Spark Drone

Gesture Control

The big selling point in DJI’s advertising is Gesture Control. To use this, you power it on (single tap, then long hold on the power button), then tap twice. If the sensors pick you up, the props will start to rotate and the Spark will take off.

A series of gestures control the device and placing your hand under it will make it land on your palm. Does it work? Yes, it does. Is it a gimmick? Yep, it’s fun, but only up to a point. Flying with the controller is the only way to go. You get bored with the Jedi palm control rather quickly, though most people find it really impressive.

Sport Mode

In the center of the controller is a button marked sport. This removes the handbrake and turns the Spark into a fun monster. It isn’t immediately obvious that you don’t need the app to fly the Spark. Turn on the controller, then turn on the Spark. Once connected you can fly the Spark directly from the controller with Sport mode on.

I found that it wouldn’t fly for me without Sport mode on. Aim the two joysticks in and down to start the propellors, then throttle to take off. Enjoy! It’s fast and furious, but watch out with braking as it needs room to stop or reverse even.


The DJI Spark is a great starter drone with a usable camera. It’s fun to use and easy to fly. If you need 4K and DNG, don’t even look at it, go for the Mavic Pro. If these aren’t an issue, you’ll love the Spark, but save yourself some pain and get the kit version.


  • Small size.
  • Stable even in high winds.
  • Good mix of control options.
  • Beginner mode useful for learning to fly, as is the in-app Flight Academy.
  • Fun. It’s just loads of fun, especially in controller only Sport mode.
  • Controller flying is great.


  • JPEG only, with terrible sharpening.
  • 1080p with only 30fps. Obviously, a tactic to upsell to one of the big brothers.
  • Low flight time; acceptable, but still a con.
  • Needs controller for best use, but the kit is a great value.

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Master drone pilot captures video while flying around, inside, and under a moving train

25 Sep

Absolutely, positively never try this yourself. By all accounts, this flight was highly illegal and DPReview in no way condones this activity.

If you’re at all plugged into the world of drone news, you’ve probably seen this video floating around the past week. Captured by master First Person View (FPV) drone pilot Paul Nurkkala, it shows his “flight of the year” in which he flies around, inside, onto, and under a moving train… barrel rolls included.

Nurkkala captured the video using his custom built drone, which is equipped with a GoPro Hero5 Session and piloted from afar using special FPV goggles.

The video has split the internet into two predictably conflicted camps. The first thinks it’s just the coolest footage to ever come out of a drone, because Nurkkala is clearly such a talented pilot. The second is infuriated that he would do something so obviously illegal, post the results online, and receive so much praise and adulation (and so many views… at last count his 5-day old YouTube video had accrued nearly 850,000 views).

No judgement if you find yourself both entertained and a little bit annoyed/angry while watching the video.

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UN seeks worldwide drone registry to pave way for global standards

12 Sep

The United Nations has revealed a controversial proposal to create a worldwide drone registry that would require UAV owners around the globe to register their details in a single unified database. The registry would, in an ideal situation, serve as a single database through which government and law enforcement officials in many countries could access drone operator information from a central location.

The proposal was recently detailed by Reuters, which reports that the plan was put forth by the UN agency International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The agency intends to hold a symposium next week to discuss drone-related matters, though details about this proposal are still largely absent.

Central to the goal behind a single global registry is the ability to create standardized regulations that could be adopted by many countries. Such standardization would relieve the burden drone makers currently face over creating devices that meet the requirements of different markets. Whether the ICAO would operate the database isn’t clear.

Talking about this during an interview with Reuters last week, ICAO air navigation bureau director Stephen Creamer explained that drone manufacturers “are worried that Europe might create one set of standards, United States might do a second and China might do a third. And they’ve got to build a drone differently in these different environments.”

Whether any given country would be willing to adopt the proposed registry and accompanying global regulations is yet to be seen. Compounding potential problems may be backlash from some consumers who are resistant to drone registries, the personal information they require, and the associated fees. Earlier this year, for example, a legal case brought against the FAA resulted in its Registration Rule being struck down for model aircraft.

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