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FAA Taking a Look At News Corp's Use of Drone

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the they-have-a-drone? dept.

Government 252

nonprofiteer writes "The News Corp iPad newspaper has a drone they've been using for news gathering — mainly flying it over disaster zones in N. Dakota and Alabama. However, FAA regulations on drones are very restrictive at the moment, and they're not supposed to be used for commercial purposes (law enforcement is free to use them). The FAA is now examining The Daily's use of its drone. Could this set a precedent for how private businesses can use drones?"

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252 comments

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Cock (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36979798)

Suck it, Trebek!

Re:Cock (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | more than 3 years ago | (#36981352)

DAMN! I was RIGHT! [slashdot.org]

FAA Shutdown (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 3 years ago | (#36979806)

Hold on, I thought News Corp has effectively shut down the FAA and they were running just essential safety services.

Re:FAA Shutdown (2)

faedle (114018) | more than 3 years ago | (#36979912)

Yes. And what do you think investigating the safety of unlicensed aircraft falls under?

Re:FAA Shutdown (5, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980144)

Yes. And what do you think investigating the safety of unlicensed aircraft falls under?

Not only that, but the FAA employees who are still on the job keeping the public safe in the air, are doing so at their own expense. As in, "not getting paid".

Interesting how public employees are often characterized as "mooches" and "leeches". I wonder how many members of the Tea Party (at least the few who are not on Social Security or disability) would ever put in a day's work for free.

These FAA employees are what's known as "public servants" and they are apparently more honorable than the Republican senators who ran out of town on vacation rather than fund the agency whose job is regulating air traffic and air safety.

Re:FAA Shutdown (4, Insightful)

OverkillTASF (670675) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980286)

I'm a fan of the Tea Party (I won't go so far as to call myself a member, since it's kind of like Anonymous in that regard... It is what you want it to be) and I've done more free work at my current job than I care to think about. I've also volunteered quite a bit of my time to causes slightly more important than my job. I have a feeling that if I thought my job was keeping planes from falling out of the sky, I'd probably keep doing it through a "blip" in my paycheck. Also, if I thought I would be potentially fired on the resumption of my pay. Would you really be comfortable walking away from your job just because the pay stopped temporarily? Don't pretend that wouldn't be held against you...

Re:FAA Shutdown (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36980772)

I have a feeling that if I thought my job was keeping planes from falling out of the sky, I'd probably keep doing it through a "blip" in my paycheck.

And this is where people get you.

"Your job is important and saves lives. We're gonna cut your pay."
"Well I'll quit then."
"You don't consider saving lives more important than money?"
"I do. I guess I'll keep working for lower pay."
"Alright, we'll see you in a few months when we cut your pay again."

If a job is so important that it would cost lives if people went on strike or quit, why are you messing with their pay in the first place? Why aren't they being paid an INCREDIBLE amount, equivalent to at least, I dunno, an entertainer?

I'm pretty sure the work that any competent FAA employee is worth more than a vast majority of sports stars, popular movie/television stars, popular musicians, and other celebrity figures. And yet they get paid a pittance in comparison.

Re:FAA Shutdown (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36981048)

Of course you're confusing a short-term "blip" with long-term pay and job conditions.

Re:FAA Shutdown (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36980818)

"I'm a fan of the Tea Party ..."

So, you are an idiot.

McDonald's is hiring, just thought you ought to know.

Re:FAA Shutdown (4, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#36981008)

Would you really be comfortable walking away from your job just because the pay stopped temporarily?

Yes. I can't speak for other industries, but as a programmer, if a company can't pay me, I take it as a bad sign and immediately start looking for another job. Employers like that just abuse you and take advantage.

Re:FAA Shutdown (3, Insightful)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 3 years ago | (#36981162)

Ah, so you like it when the employer has so much power over you that you wouldnt chance being fired. Instead, working long late night hours at the expense of your sanity, your family, and your friends?
While they get to go home, enjoy their friends, family, and insanity of having a fully stocked fridge of Grey Goose.
GG sir, you have been sold the "american dream", except you arent living it, you are just dreaming it...

Re:FAA Shutdown (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36981204)

I wouldn't worry about it being held against me, but I would definitely hold it against them. The first time a job didn't pay me on time, I would walk away and not go back until they paid me, and seriously look for other employment ASAP. I've been down the other road before, and it will just be the first time they don't pay you, until they finally don't pay you at all, and then you'll get fired anyway and never see the money for the work you did. If a company can't make payroll, they are in serious trouble and you will be the one screwed in the end.

Been there, done that twice, couldn't afford the t-shirt afterwords. It will never happen a third time.

Re:FAA Shutdown (3, Informative)

utkonos (2104836) | more than 3 years ago | (#36981318)

You're all really funny people! Obviously you have only worked in the US or in the west. Go to Russia or Ukraine or anywhere in the former soviet bloc. You won't find any employers who pay on time every time. You only option is to go to a different employer who will also be iffy on paying on time. The problem is that most of your salary is "chyorny" meaning black: not taxed and not reported in the company's clean books (every company in Russia has two sets of books, one for the government and the other with the true numbers in it). Often because of the nature of black salary it is handed to you in an envelope filled with cash. So, therefore there is not always enough cold hard cash to pay everyone on time. It is not uncommon for the accountant to go to the local Sberbank and even though her account has more than enough money, the bank does not have the cash for the withdrawal.

Americans are spoiled by being paid on time more times than not.

Re:FAA Shutdown (2)

utkonos (2104836) | more than 3 years ago | (#36981336)

Not to mention Ukraine, where the Hrivnya (local currency) is so unstable that your employer pays you in $100 bills. Yes, that's USD. Ukraine effectively runs on the USD, only Benjamins, BTW. So, when you get paid, you have to take your money to an exchange to get it turned into Hryvnya, and guess what? On Fridays there is no money in the exchange.

Re:FAA Shutdown (5, Insightful)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#36981258)

'm a fan of the Tea Party

That's fine, but could you please try not to fuck things up for the majority of the country while you're at it?

Would you really be comfortable walking away from your job just because the pay stopped temporarily?

You might feel differently if you had a family to support.

And you might feel differently if you were ever asked to work without a paycheck for a month or more, as the employees of the FAA are doing. I'm not talking about going into the office a few weekends to finish a project and still getting you check every two weeks on schedule, I'm talking about "You're not getting paid at all, and by the way, you no longer have the right to bargain collectively, which is the very thing that made the United States into a 20th century superpower and created a growing (at the time) middle class and brought prosperity and upward mobility to hundreds of millions of people in the last 75 years of the twentieth century before Ronald Reagan decided to treat air traffic controllers the same way he later treated his diapers.

By the way, this was only 18 months after Ronald Reagan had asked for the support of the air traffic controller union, promising to fight for their rights to collectively bargain and to give them what they were fighting for in their contract dispute. He told them that in writing, too. Not surprisingly, the letter to PATCO (the air traffic controller union) did not make it into the Reagan Library, though a copy exists (or maybe the original) at the Labor & Industry Museum.

Re:FAA Shutdown (5, Informative)

Ceiynt (993620) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980416)

I'm an air traffic controller in the US. We're getting paid. It's our support and design engineer people that got hosed, as they are paid out of the unfunded trust fund thing, not controllers. Controllers and admin are paid under the regular payroll budget. About 7000 or so FAA employees are on unpaid furlough, and about 10000 contractors are without contract. It basically affects projects to expand or renovate airports. As to the "not getting paid" part, when the federal government almost went on furlough earlier this year, we(controllers) would have been working without pay.

Re:FAA Shutdown (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36980698)

I wonder how many members of the Tea Party (at least the few who are not on Social Security or disability)

Wow, just wow. Generalize much?

Most of the people I know that are on disability and social security are 100% not tea party members. It is kind of sad when a drug dealer makes more than someone who works their ass off... Also you have apparently *never* stepped foot in a ghetto or trailer park in the US. You would realize what a f-ng retarded comment you just said is. Trust me they vote democratic because they know where their bread is buttered. They are *very* open about it.

I have talked to some 'poor' people who laugh while they say 'you are so f-ng getting ripped off so I can sit around and watch tv' (exact quote btw). I have also know genuinely poor people. You know what the real poor and the mooches have in common? They both get paid by the gov. The big difference the real poor want a job they *want* to work. They do not want handouts.

The fact of the matter is the gov grew by nearly 40% while the economy went down by an equal amount. If you can not see a problem in that you are off your rocker. When you are in your mid 30s with maxed out credit cards and own nothing and creditors blowing up your phone you will see what I am talking about.

I have been there. I am *NOT* going back. So you will excuse me for being fiscally conservative.

If you think all that arguing was about republicans vs democrats you are *wrong*. It was about jockeying for position for the next set of elections. If they were serious about fixing the issue they would have raised taxes and had sweeping cuts across the board. Then not talking about a 150 billion per year decrease like they pulled something major off. Notice how they keep talking in 10 year increments? They are trying to make the number seem much bigger than it is. They were selling something. Both sides were. The democrats wanted to show they still have power. The republicans wanted to bully their way around (much like another party did last year). Think about this they take in 2.1 trillion a year and its not enough. They spend 3.6 per year now.

Also if you knew you would be out of a check for a couple of weeks but still have a job and would get the 2-3 weeks money anyway would you keep working? Many would. Especially when depending on where you live unemployment is 5-15%.

Your tea party bashing was just silly and made you look more so.

http://www.usdebtclock.org/ [usdebtclock.org]

Re:FAA Shutdown (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36980570)

How did News Corp shutdown the FAA? It is the politicians refusing to come to a vote on an FAA budget that has part of the FAA shutdown.

Easy solution (2, Funny)

Penguinoflight (517245) | more than 3 years ago | (#36979808)

Get Johnny 5 to drive it.

Re:Easy solution (1)

bejiitas_wrath (825021) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980522)

Johnny cab was the funniest part of that movie, if we had real cab drivers like that city life would be quite different...

Re:Easy solution (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980656)

"No Disassemble!"

Drone vs. RC (1, Insightful)

Dynedain (141758) | more than 3 years ago | (#36979812)

How is it different from an RC plane or helicopter? Those are used all the time for commercial arial photography and videography.

Oh, right, it's News Corp.... so it must be evil.

Re:Drone vs. RC (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36979878)

It's not really different from an RC plane or helicopter. There's currently no legal way to use any of them for commercial purposes. RC aircraft may be used only for recreational purposes, as spelled out in FAA Advisory Circular 91-57. A UAV for commercial purposes would have to be certified, and the pilot would have to have a commercial certificate and whatever ratings the UAV required.

Re:Drone vs. RC (1, Insightful)

JBMcB (73720) | more than 3 years ago | (#36979896)

Precisely. Because piloting a small RC aircraft for fun is entirely safe. Piloting one for commercial gain turns them into unstoppable killing machines.

Re:Drone vs. RC (5, Interesting)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980010)

When it remains a toy, it has certain market size, R&D effort, usage numbers. When it becomes commercial, the market size and the development takes a completely different path. Basic assumption is that as long as they are toys, the numbers and sizes will remain small. If and when toys get out of hand, they come under regulation. When the jet-skis came in first, they were toys and were not regulated. Once they became really big, fast and powerful and started running a few swimmers over, they come under regulation.

Of course, it can't be explained in a 30 second sound bite. Sorry if I have exceeded your attention span.

Re:Drone vs. RC (1)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980110)

Basic assumption is that as long as they are toys, the numbers and sizes will remain small...Of course, it can't be explained in a 30 second sound bite. Sorry if I have exceeded your attention span.

Try going 31 seconds and you might find a few toys like this:

http://www.rc-diecast.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/lanc.jpg [rc-diecast.com]

rj

Re:Drone vs. RC (3, Informative)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980352)

That aircraft requires a special waiver to be legally flown anywhere in the US. Both the pilot and the aircraft have to be certified. It is not allowed to be flown anywhere near a populated area without special exception waivers for things like air shows at airports too close to a city.

'Giant Scale' aircraft have a different set of rules specifically because of things like size and energy they contain in flight. They require all sorts of special features of the radio (which aren't really all that non-standard anymore, all my radios have the features even though I have no flyable aircraft that large) to ensure that if something goes wrong the aircraft becomes the least dangerous flying object it can be.

Its not a toy, its an experimental aircraft, and is regulated as such.

Its easier to fly an ultralight class aircraft carrying yourself than it is to fly that aircraft, and could actually be cheaper. I've got a a turbine powered F-16 that'll be a little larger than that when completed that will cost upwards of 7k USD (The turbine itself costs roughly 5k and will probably be the reason it never gets finished) to finish it and fit it out properly. You can buy a used ultralight for 6500, if you're crazy enough to do so.

Re:Drone vs. RC (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980162)

RC aircraft are also restricted to ceiling height, location of use, and size/weight as I recall. The idea being to keep them small enough not to do much damage when they crash, EVEN if they crash into an airplane.

Commercial use of these things would quickly escalate such that you couldn't pick your nose in public with out 3 news drones recording the fact, and they would start posing a serious threat to safety around news worth events as a couple dozen news organizations rush camer drones to the site, all jockeying for the best camera angle.

These regs were in place BEFORE 9/11 and I can't imagine them getting any looser.

Re:Drone vs. RC (1)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980258)

RC aircraft are also restricted to ceiling height, location of use, and size/weight

http://www.rcuniverse.com/magazine/reviews/868/Mac-Hodges-B-29.jpg [rcuniverse.com]

Re:Drone vs. RC (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980414)

I'll see your WWII bomber and raise you a turbine-powered gunship...

Mi-24 Hind [youtube.com]

Re:Drone vs. RC (2)

dougmc (70836) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980276)

RC aircraft are also restricted to ceiling height, location of use, and size/weight as I recall.

You recall incorrectly.

FAA Advisory Circular 91-57 gives some suggestions, but they are only suggestions. The AMA has restrictions on weight and locations of use, but it's restrictions only apply to it's members.

There are no restrictions on altitude -- glider pilots regularly go up to thousands of feet. (You might run into some problems with the FAA if you went over 18,000 feet or so -- but that's way, way beyond the norm.) but As for location of use, there may be some laws and locations here and there (for example, FAA no-fly zones generally apply to model airplanes too), but in general there aren't any restrictions there either.

There is talk of the FAA giving regulations (rather than advisories) ... but it hasn't happened yet.

Re:Drone vs. RC (2)

plover (150551) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980246)

No, piloting one for commercial purposes means a whole new set of rules. What hours are you permitted to fly them? What kind of lights do they need? Who radios the tower? What radio spectrum is reserved for their safe control? Who regulates collisions in that band? Are NOTAMs required when they're operating in an area? What are the altitude limits? How many can you operate in an area? How many can one operator own? How many can one operator control? Are they allowed to be autonomous? What kind of safety equipment is required?

Hobbyists can get away without many of those answers because their enjoyment is "interruptible" without loss, and they're operated in spaces that are open to avoid loss or damage to their expensive craft, and to avoid endangering others. A commercial news operator would need to be where the newsworthy events are, and at the time they are occurring, which is generally crowded populated areas. A drone buzzing 10 feet over traffic on the I-5 is likely to cause several accidents just by its presence. A drone flying three feet from a Senator might be carrying a weapon (or with a sharpened prop might BE the weapon.)

Opening them up to commercial use would quickly lead to a host of problems. And once you've allowed them, it's very hard to prohibit them again.

Re:Drone vs. RC (1)

jd2112 (1535857) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980672)

Precisely. Because piloting a small RC aircraft for fun is entirely safe. Piloting one for commercial gain turns them into unstoppable killing machines.

Next on FOX; "When Drones Attack"

Re:Drone vs. RC (1)

morethanapapercert (749527) | more than 3 years ago | (#36981170)

As far as I know, the vast majority of R/C aircraft are small machines, usually light enough to pick up in one hand (albeit awkwardly in some cases.) I've seen a few very large scale R/C (a 1:16 scale Lanc with working bomb bay doors and servo driven turrets is cool) but they are decidedly in the minority since they are expensive to build, almost always home-built by someone who loves the hobby and the aircraft and so is very very careful with it when it's flown.

R/C flying is almost always done in open fields where the hobbyist can keep a line of sight on the craft in flight, mainly because that is the only way you can see what the plane is actually doing. The radios are also not really trustworthy beyond line of sight either. It's my opinion that any R/C hobbyist who was in a disaster zone would have much more important things to worry about that getting his or her bird up in the air to take a look around. Even if one was lunatic enough to operate in an air space where SAR choppers are going to be working, his field of view would make him very aware of any potential collision and if even that fails, his little toy is light enough to be swatted out of the air by the rotor wash long before it becomes a threat. Almost any ROV/RPV/UAV however, is designed from the get-go to be operated out of the operators line of sight, guided mainly by the cameras view as displayed on the monitor at the operators station. Much harder to anticipate air to air collisions that way.

The Observer claims and pictures a Parrot A.R. as the model the Daily is using, but Forbes describes The Daily as using the microdrone md4-1000. (and submitted an inquiry to the FAA regarding it.) The Parrot A.R. Drone website actually bills it's product as "The Flying Video Game" which strongly implies that the operator will be looking down at the screen and not up to see where the craft actually is in relation to other objects in the air. Thankfully, the Parrot A.R. is a comparatively tiny thing, so it to would be swatted out of the sky by rotor wash and according to the Parrot site, it only has a 12 minute battery life in which to present any threat. Nonetheless, I don't think any SAR pilot would appreciate having this thing cluttering up his airspace when he's trying to work. The microdrone md4-1000 on the other hand, is a more sizable proposition, so it might be able to handle a bit of rotor wash, at least long enough for a boom or tail rotor strike anyway. It is also a lot more plausible as a platform for a network news broadcast worthy camera system then the Parrot A.R. is. It can stooge around for over an hour and carry over 2.5 lbs (1200 grams technically) of camera equipment or possibly extra batteries to extend the range. Honestly? concern for air space safety over disaster or crime scenes will probably be the reason these things get regulated, but my real concern is privacy. I have no doubt the paparazzi will jump on these things in a hot second, but as celebrities, the targets will be well able to take steps to protect their privacy when they wish. The only time I am ever going to get on the news though is if I am in a natural disaster or crime/accident scene. If I am busy trying to save my family and home from a flood, the last thing I want is some news agency putting my distress on the nightly news for the whole world to see. Unfortunately, I don't have much of a leg to stand on since a flood is a legitimate news item and as one of those affected by it, I am a legitimate subject for photography or video imaging. (I just believe that any ethical news agency will have a reporter who will make eye contact and and at least say "Sir, do you mind if we put you and your family on camera?" something that can't be done with a drone)

FAA: You're Not Allowed to Have Fun At Work! (1)

billstewart (78916) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980218)

So there's essentially no technical difference between the RC planes/copters you're allowed to fly for fun and the ones you're not allowed to fly for money (except that businesses are more likely to pay for bigger drones than hobbyists.)

But what if you're having fun playing with model airplanes at work? Sure, most people don't get paid to play with toys, but they also say that about jobs in the computer game industry....

And what if your job is developing RC drone aircraft? Do you have to get them certified before you can fly them, and can you get them certified without flying them first?

Somebody else's post suggests that the difference between hobbyist and commercial use is that there are presumably very few hobbyists and lots of commercial users, so the commercial ones need licensing. I'd suggest that that's backwards - there are lots of hobbyists using RC planes they bought at the toy store, and fewer businesses using them commercially (though the businesses may put in more flight hours.)

And if the FAA is saying that News Corp can't use drone aircraft to perv on vacationing celebrities at the beach, but everybody else can, that seems to have serious First Amendment issues.

The press can not ignore laws and regulations (2)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980620)

So there's essentially no technical difference between the RC planes/copters you're allowed to fly for fun and the ones you're not allowed to fly for money

Just as there is no difference between the plane you are allowed to fly for fun with a private pilot's license and the plane you are allowed to fly for money with a commercial pilot's license. It may be the exact same plane. Seriously, its all about money changing hands. Say you are a private pilot. A buddy asks for a favor, fly him from point A to point B. No problem with a private pilots license. It he offers money, then its no go until you get a commercial license.

And if the FAA is saying that News Corp can't use drone aircraft to perv on vacationing celebrities at the beach, but everybody else can, that seems to have serious First Amendment issues.

The first amendment allows the press to print anything they want. It does not give the press immunity from laws and regulations in their search for information to print. If the news van is speeding it gets pulled over, if the driver does not have a license he is not allowed to continue driving. Now extend this concept to aviation.

Re:Drone vs. RC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36979882)

Oh, right, it's News Corp.... so it must be evil.

You said a mouthful.

Re:Drone vs. RC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36979906)

Name a News Corp act that wasnt evil and then we MIGHT give the shitheads some benefit of doubt.

Re:Drone vs. RC (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36980012)

They drove MySpace into the ground?

Re:Drone vs. RC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36980142)

They drove it into the ground due to trying to wring money out of the beast. Their intent was undoubtedly evil. Money is the root of all evil after all.

Re:Drone vs. RC (4, Funny)

plover (150551) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980310)

Be nice. Rupert Murdoch has a kind heart. I heard he was listening to some of the tribute messages that the fans were leaving Amy Winehouse on her voice mail after she passed, and apparently he was moved to tears.

Re:Drone vs. RC (0)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980632)

Name a News Corp act that wasnt evil and then we MIGHT give the shitheads some benefit of doubt.

They shut down one of their newspapers for misconduct.

Re:Drone vs. RC (4, Funny)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 3 years ago | (#36979984)

"Oh, right, it's News Corp.... so it must be evil."

Yeah, I guess all that spying, hacking, manipulation of global politics, extortion, bribery... isn't really a big problem. They're fair and balanced!

Re:Drone vs. RC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36980346)

"Oh, right, it's News Corp.... so it must be evil."

Yeah, I guess all that spying, hacking, manipulation of global politics, extortion, bribery... isn't really a big problem. They're fair and balanced!

fair and balanced? can you say FOX? Most of the talking heads on FOX are drones and they are not regulated.
but they should as most of what is said would only be uttered by someone who is high as a kite, so there you go...

Re:Drone vs. RC (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980070)

Drones can fly significantly higher than RC planes or helicopters, and have a greater likelihood of interfering with air traffic.

Re:Drone vs. RC (5, Informative)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980200)

Drones can fly significantly higher than RC planes or helicopters, and have a greater likelihood of interfering with air traffic.

Drones ARE RC planes.
Don't confuse military drones with those used by newscorp. They used the md4-1000.
http://www.microdrones.com/produkt-md4-1000-industrie-en.php [microdrones.com]

climb rate 7,5m/s *
cruising speed 15.0m/s *
Peak thrust 118N
empty weight 2650g
recommended payload 800g
maximum payload 1200g
maximum take-off weight 5550g
portability arms foldable
dimensions 1030 mm from rotor shaft to rotor shaft
flight time up to 70 minutes (dep. on load/wind/battery) *
battery 22.2V, 6S2P 12.2Ah or 6S3P 18.3Ah LiPo

Re:Drone vs. RC (2, Informative)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980524)

I hope someone rates you up. This is not a "drone". The 49 foot, 2,250 lbs Predator is a drone [wikipedia.org] . This is a 5 lbs, 3 foot wide R/C quad-rotor toy helicopter with a video camera attached. [microdrones.com]

This isn't even newsworthy, in fact I think this article is a lie. The title is "FAA Looks Into News Corp’s Daily Drone, Raising Questions About Who Gets To Fly Drones in The U.S.", but there is no mention of the FAA proactively going after News Corp, in fact the only mention of the FAA doing anything is an email after the reporter asked if they heard of this "drone": “We are examining The Daily’s use of a small unmanned aircraft to see if it was in accordance with FAA policies.” and the Daily didn't even reply to emails.

Sounds like the FAA weren't all that concerned until this reporter started sending out emails asking questions.

Re:Drone vs. RC (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980376)

The only difference between the two would be the radio, my radio will function perfectly for a good couple of miles if you have line of sight to the object (i.e. its in the air and not obstructed by the ground curvature or trees/buildings). At 10k, pretty much the only way you're going to go from the ground to 10k feet is with an EFI that can deal with the barometric pressure change. Thats the only reason you're not going to fly an RC sport aircraft as high as a drone, and only because the drone was designed to deal with 10k+ feet altitude changes.

Re:Drone vs. RC (1)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980534)

The only difference between the two would be the radio, my radio will function perfectly for a good couple of miles if you have line of sight to the object (i.e. its in the air and not obstructed by the ground curvature or trees/buildings). At 10k, pretty much the only way you're going to go from the ground to 10k feet is with an EFI that can deal with the barometric pressure change. Thats the only reason you're not going to fly an RC sport aircraft as high as a drone, and only because the drone was designed to deal with 10k+ feet altitude changes.

this "drone" has a operating altitude of up to 1000m and a flight radius up to 1000m on RC, far less than a mile. [microdrones.com]

Re:Drone vs. RC (1)

neonv (803374) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980164)

RC planes and helicoptors have pilots. Pilots can do intelligent things at such as avoid obstacles, not fly to low, and stay away from other aircraft.

Drones have no pilot, and often suffer from doing incredibly stupid things, such as running into things, flying too low, and coming close to other aircraft. The FAA keeps them away from manned aircraft and populated areas because they often do these things. For example, there was an instance where the military lost control of a drone near Washington DC and it started flying towards the White House. Incredibly stupid thing to do. It had to be shot down. If UAV's were in populated areas regularly, there would regularly be instances of them crashing into, houses, people, and businesses. They just aren't reliable enough yet to fly in populated areas, or around other aircraft.

Re:Drone vs. RC (1)

dbc (135354) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980280)

From RTFA, it is hard to tell if News Corp was using a remote controlled vehicle or an Autonomous Arial Vehicle (UAV). The regulations regarding UAV's are *extremely* tight right now. People doing UAV robotics research outside of enclosed spaces are under some very restrictive regulations. Remotely Piloted Vehicles (RPV), not so much.

If I was a robotics researcher that had to travel half way across the country to the Nevada desert to do my research, and found out that News Corp had deployed UAV paparazzi, I'd be annoyed.

Re:Drone vs. RC (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980576)

Autonomous Arial Vehicle (UAV)

I think you meant Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.

Re:Drone vs. RC (1)

dbc (135354) | more than 3 years ago | (#36981036)

Good point. I'm having a bug-prone day today. It's a good day to avoid 'git commit'.

Re:Drone vs. RC (1)

brusk (135896) | more than 3 years ago | (#36981304)

Autonomous Arial Vehicle (UAV).

Psssht. It's just a knockoff of the UHV (Autonomous Helvetica Vehicle).

Re:Drone vs. RC (3, Interesting)

dougmc (70836) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980308)

Drones have no pilot, and often suffer from doing incredibly stupid things, such as running into things, flying too low, and coming close to other aircraft.

Your point is a good one, but drones may or may not have a pilot. Predator drones for example do have a pilot -- he's just hundreds or thousands of miles away.

Ultimately, the only practical distinction between drones and R/C planes is that R/C planes are flown by pilots who always have line of sight to the plane itself (and when they lose this, the planes typically crash.) Drones often do not. And yes, people do put FPV (first person view) gear onto R/C planes and fly them like drones -- which basically turns them into drones.

The FAA is expected to clarify the distinctions between the two further soon. The R/C community is hoping that they don't get caught up in any regulations the FAA puts down, but we'll see how it goes.

Re:Drone vs. RC (3, Informative)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980288)

How is it different from an RC plane or helicopter? Those are used all the time for commercial arial photography and videography.

Using an RC plane or helicopter for commercial purposes requires a license to do so, its in a subsection for experimental aircraft in the FARs (Federal Aviation Regulations).

If you're not doing it commercially, its not illegal to do in certain areas. Pretty much anywhere thats populated is not one of those areas unless you get a waiver, which is what flying clubs do, with the assistance of the AMA who provides the club insurance, and thus has it in their best interest to make sure the club follows the rules. Its an actual functional self policing system.

Any serious RC pilot is an AMA member. Its cheap ($60 bucks this year for an individual, a little more for an entire family) and comes with a couple million in insurance for when you put your tricked out heli through some beamers front windshield ... which I've done. You won't find too many RC pilots that will even talk to you about RC without an AMA membership as its one of the few organizations that fight for RC pilots (Think of them as the EFF for RC pilots, though they are a for-profit organization).

With that said, the AMA will help you get waivers, and they'll help you get the permits to do commercial work, but that requires a massive amount of FAA ass kissing cause frankly, its far too easy to do bad things or hurt someone fucking around with an RC aircraft, for instance:

My all electric seaplane weighs about 1.5 pounds, and will do roughly 70mph before it becomes dangerous for the aircraft. That'll take your head off if it hits you at full speed, and if the motor is throttled back, you won't even hear it happen, which is generally how it sounds when its out of control on its way towards the ground.

My Raptor 50 heli, which has a camera attachment of my own making weighs about 7 pounds when fully loaded, will do somewhere between 45-60mph, haven't clocked it to be sure. It doesn't even have to hit you to kill you, I've seen a rotor strike the ground, break off and hospitalize a guy standing 10 feet away. Fortunatly the blade 'flew' into him like a wing in stable flight rather than end on like a knife. The bruise left behind stretched from his crotch to his nipples. Internal bruising of organs, but nothing permanent. He got lucky. Those blade tips when the rotor is at speed like its supposed to be (1800-2100 RPMs depending on your setup), the blade tips are moving at well over 300mph. When they break off, you don't want to be close by.

The real killer is the bird I'll never finish.

Its a turbine powered F-16. Will weigh about 29 pounds dry with no extra equipment when completed, between 33-35 will fully equipped and fueled. While I don't know how fast it will go once completed, others flying the same bird have broken 170 and there are some unofficial speeds of over 200mph reported. I'll never finish this aircraft because the turbine is about 3 times the price of everything else combined, and to be honest, my vision isn't good enough to see this plane at the distances you have to deal with when the aircraft is doing 150+ miles an hour, and well, why the hell build it if you're not going to fly it like its meant! This aircraft requires a special AMA waiver to be legal, which I probably couldn't qualify for due to the vision problems either.

The point to that however is that 29 pounds at 150-200 mph is enough energy to total a small house, and as such, it gets treated specially.

If you want to fly a little airplane away from people, its legal.

Flying that same aircraft in a populated area, or an area without a waiver is illegal.

Flying commercially is possible with a waiver, which is rather difficult to get especially if you're trying to do some shit thats not kosher. Its almost as difficult as getting a pilots license for commercial flight (which isn't really hard, but does take time and money and requires certification). Its almost easier and cheaper to just fly a small plane to do this as a non-government entity.

I highly doubt News Corp got a waiver, otherwise this wouldn't even be a story.

Re:Drone vs. RC (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980484)

Its almost easier and cheaper to just fly a small plane to do this as a non-government entity.

And this is the most coherent statement so far. Looking at the video in TFA (would that be TFV?) you could do a better job chartering a small high wing plane and using a half decent camera. While cool (I want one), the video quality is pretty shaky, it doesn't go very high and it's not all that interesting as a news story.

I guess the big deal for the journalists is that you can keep one in a box in your trunk, pop it up when you see something reportable and there you are. Not that it's all that hard to charter a small plane ...

Re:Drone vs. RC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36980402)

They have to be licensed and used under very tight restrictions.

It sounds like fox isn't following those, hence the story.

Re:Drone vs. RC (1)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980518)

How is it different from an RC plane or helicopter?

IIRC the difference between regulated activity and unregulated activity is sometimes a matter of altitude. And of course what's on the ground underneath it all (dense population), and what is nearby (airport), can also cause regulations to come into play. A declared emergency zone (local police and fire) can also cause an otherwise unregulated environment to become regulated, even at extremely low altitudes.

Re:Drone vs. RC (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980556)

How is it different from an RC plane or helicopter? Those are used all the time for commercial arial photography and videography.

Oh, right, it's News Corp.... so it must be evil.

Yes. Precisely. Now you're getting it. Fact is, Newscorp poses a much greater threat to the general public than any number of camera drones.

Re:Drone vs. RC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36980682)

You're not serious right? News Corp SUCKS. They spread right wing propaganda and massive amounts of misinformation such as the only people that are "Job Creators" are billionaires. My boss is not a millionaire or billionaire. Please don't tell us that's where you get your news.

Drone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36979840)

So, if you put a dwarf inside the drone and let him hold the remote control and fly the thing, it'd be ok?

Re:Drone (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980126)

So, if you put a dwarf inside the drone and let him hold the remote control and fly the thing, it'd be ok?

That's Johnny Quest you insensitive clod.

Re:Drone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36980304)

Yep, and if it meet the ultralight requirements then he doesn't even need to be a licensed pilot.

scary (3, Interesting)

sunfly (1248694) | more than 3 years ago | (#36979854)

As a private pilot, drones scare the #$%@ out of me. Planes are hard enough to see at over 200mph closing speed.

Re:scary (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36980318)

As a private pilot, drones scare the #$%@ out of me. Planes are hard enough to see at over 200mph closing speed.

It was worse in Iraq. More than one A-10 flying ground attack missions struck loitering drones. Thankfully the Warthog is a lot tougher than a drone. I'd hate to think of a 737 engine swallowing a small commercial drone and shelling a turbine. Very scary.

Re:scary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36980400)

As a drone flyer (quads), the FAA has no real regs against aircraft flying under 400ft and commerical uses can fly under the AMA rules as along as they aren't being paid for it (video/photos supplied as a free service).

The AMA rules work (no major incidents in the last 15yrs), so they are within limits if they are flying under 400ft and not near airports...

Re:scary (1)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980958)

The only problem with drones is knowing that they're there. They're inevitable, and why I watch the rollout of ADS-B with interest.

That's why I ALWAYS am on approach control in Echo airspace and up. Here in North Cali, Beale AFB has "temporary" flight restrictions going at least half the time for UAVs in the area, and the only real restriction is that you have to have a VFR flight following or be under IFR.

Having learned on the "steam guage panel" and now flying with a Garmin 496, I can declare with confidence that GPS technologies combined with good visual display and information technologies make a night vs day difference in flying!

I suspect that drones will simply be required to be ADS-B compliant, and that pretty much everybody will have the receivers installed on their aircraft.

The FAA has done nothing. (2)

matthewlw (1351307) | more than 3 years ago | (#36979894)

If you read the story they simply responded and said they would investigate the use of drones based upon what was basically a complaint about the situation. This could have just as easily been their brush off move, making this at this stage, a non story. The company that sells the relevant Microdrone markets it as for use by real estate and many other purposes which I am sure is the case. The drone in question was: http://www.microdrones.com/produkt-md4-1000-behoerden-en.php [microdrones.com]

Re:The FAA has done nothing. (1)

plover (150551) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980140)

And Microdrones is safely in Deutschland, far away from the rules of the FAA. They can market them for whatever purposes are allowable in Germany. So I can only assume commercial use by real estate agents is legal there.

Re:The FAA has done nothing. (1)

matthewlw (1351307) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980212)

A very good point. I don't really feel as though the FAA would know or care in 99% of situations where people would operate such equipment in any case. No more than as many have said operating an RC plane. I would readily use one in daily operations. Let us hope the stink of a Newscorp type exposure leads to needless regulation. FAA drone regulation belong with larger drone aircraft which they will hopefully balance out with a weight regulation or some other common definition.

Terrible summary (2)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#36979968)

The "News Corp iPad newspaper" is The Daily - http://www.thedaily.com/ [thedaily.com]

Re:Terrible summary (2)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980078)

Terrible, but not unexpected; N.I. are the bad guy of the moment. The sad part is that it will only be for the moment.

Re:Terrible summary (3, Interesting)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980232)

They are jackasses, but the summary could have at least used the title of the magazine rather than "News Corp iPad Newspaper", when further down in the bit taken from the Forbes blog named the Daily, but didn't have a URL to it.

That said, the Daily is pretty good, not much News Corp bias in it, a far-left coworker who hates everything Fox News/NI turned me onto the Daily after trying it out when it launched in March.

Re:Terrible summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36980390)

And so we have the answer! Apple fanboyism trumps Fox Newsness.

If Hannity gets an Apple logo tattoo on his forehead, even the most liberal iDiot will follow and trust him religiously.

Re:Terrible summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36980716)

If Hannity gets an Apple logo tattoo on his forehead, even the most liberal iDiot will follow and trust him religiously.

Nope. As the Apple ads used to say, "been there, done that". Rush Limbaugh has been a vocal Mac user and fan for decades.

Frustrating (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36979978)

I was looking into a side business of surveying with aerial drones. There are several companies with systems for doing aerial photography and even 3D modeling that make use of way points. It's a cool technology and I was looking at it for my own use for surveying a hilltop I'd like to build a house and gardens on that would be tricky to survey. The problem is will I get run out of business if I get into this since it appears to fall firmly under their commercial rules. I can ironically use it for my own personal surveying but it's a pricey purchase for a single use. The resolution is hardly adequate for spying on people since they'd appear as little more than blobs. The systems are designed for ground and building reference not photographing people.

And it hasn't been shot down? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36980020)

News corp is flying a drone over Mississippi and Alabama and the locals haven't shot it down?!?!

"Hey Elroy! Watch me take down that big mech-ane-hickal birdee!"

Unless, they have a big PARENT OF FOX NEWS painted on the side. Then they won't touch it because it ain't a "libe-er-all fly'in thinging a bob".

Re:And it hasn't been shot down? (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980388)

Sorry you got modded down, this is pretty fucking funny.

Re:And it hasn't been shot down? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980598)

Sorry you got modded down, this is pretty fucking funny.

Yeah. Well, at least we know that residents of Mississippi and Alabama read Slashdot.

Re:And it hasn't been shot down? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36981246)

I live in Mississippi. If the locals wanted it down, it would be down. We are, after all, very well armed.

Murdoch you will not like a fox news free lockup (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36980056)

and in fed you they have group tv's and most of time it's BET or sports.

Agreed (-1, Troll)

Aimeng Jewelry (2397790) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980098)

However, FAA regulations on drones are very restrictive at the moment, and they're not supposed to be used for commercial purposes... Nice news, aimengcrystal.com specializes in providing Swarovski Crystal Jewelry [aimengcrystal.com] , Natural Crystal Jewelry and Pure Silver Jewelry [aimengcrystal.com] - Cheap, Professional and High Quality! http://www.aimengcrystal.com/ [aimengcrystal.com]

Re:Agreed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36980138)

and adamandeve.com sells buttplugs...what's your point?

Re:Agreed (1)

plover (150551) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980326)

and adamandeve.com sells buttplugs...what's your point?

He sells "bedazzled butt plugs".

Re:Agreed (2)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980410)

Dear slashdot,

Where the fuck is the 'report blatant spammer' button so we can weed out accounts like this douche ourselves without having to mod them down on every story they post too?

Re:Agreed (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980616)

Dear slashdot,

Where the fuck is the 'report blatant spammer' button so we can weed out accounts like this douche ourselves without having to mod them down on every story they post too?

For all we know, he's paying Slashdot for some extra ad space.

People of Pakistan (0)

hey (83763) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980412)

The People of Pakistan probably don't like the drones overhead either. Especially when they rain down death.

"free" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36980490)

Yes, I am a UAV pilot. No, law enforcement is not free to use them. The restrictions are arcane and hard to manage, and are interfering with the safe use of them. Let's just go ahead and decide what's safe, instead of trying to hit an impossible, moving set of non-targets for safety.

I wonder about FAA rules on my hobby "drones" ... (0)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980506)

I've got a (kit-built, open-source) tricopter that I've fitted with a camera, gps and so is basically a drone (I guess) . I fly it well beyond visual range using the GPS and the cameras as guidance. For now it's all remote control plus some very rudimentary instructions on what to do if connectivity drops suddenly (i.e. climb a bit and fly back towards where you last saw the signal, if that fails, hover, if you are out of battery soon, descend slowly) but a long-term project was going to be to develop and program some basic autonomous behavior.

Now I've got to worry about some suit banging on my door?

Re:I wonder about FAA rules on my hobby "drones" . (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980636)

Now I've got to worry about some suit banging on my door?

Not if the drone gets him first.

Re:I wonder about FAA rules on my hobby "drones" . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36981092)

Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter

Re:I wonder about FAA rules on my hobby "drones" . (1)

andydread (758754) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980762)

Are you doing it for commercial purposes? Did you RTFA? There are regulations against commercial drones.

Re:I wonder about FAA rules on my hobby "drones" . (1)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | more than 3 years ago | (#36981298)

Are you doing it for commercial purposes? Did you RTFA? There are regulations against commercial drones.

I did. The reference to the suit knocking on my door was that he might not have the same idea I had about my hobby or might, in general, start making my life a PITA.

DIY Drones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36980528)

The real losers here are hobbyists, especially if these commercial drones are generating complaints.

Model aviation has been self-regulated by the community, and commercial activities have been frowned upon unless you're taking a few one-off pictures for somebody.

Unfortunately, greedy commercial interests have to spoil it for us again.

How? (1)

waddgodd (34934) | more than 3 years ago | (#36980568)

I'd like to know how the FAA is investigating this, they've been closed down the last month because their funding bill's become a political football and they ran out of budget the first week in July

Over regulation yet again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36981070)

Off hand this looks like yet another intrusion with regulations into situations the government has no standing at all. It's regulation "because we can."

Bleah!
{+_+}

It's not a toy (1)

fructose (948996) | more than 3 years ago | (#36981194)

As a drone pilot, I feel the scare factor of drones are way over rated. Yes, there are issues, but nothing that can't be handled with the proper procedures. People don't bat an eye at flying in clouds with other planes, but put a plane without a person on it in the sky and all of a sudden we have a flight risk. But scary is what sells on the news (and in APOA).

This little thing is the same thing as a hobby RC plane. I doubt any pilot out there is seriously concerned about RC planes, and this fits in that scale. The problem is this is used for commercial purposes, so it falls under different rules. News Corp fell into the trap that may other commercial entities fall into. They think it's just a big toy, so as long as they follow the RC planes rules, they are fine. The FAA treats commercial flying differently from noncommercial flying, and the hobbyist who suggested this idea to management probably didn't know that. This isn't a precedent, its just par for the course right now.

The FAA is very interested in including drones in their big plan to restructure their systems, and I think in the near future we may see things like this happening legally. But for now, The Daily's is probably going to be grounded.

Lesson learned! (1)

Barkenna (1856704) | more than 3 years ago | (#36981198)

Anonymity says: You -don't- get a gold star! *rimshot*
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