The Seattle man who lost control of his drone and knocked a woman unconscious in the process has been sentenced to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine for his transgression.
We first shared this story with you in January, when photographer Paul Skinner was found guilty of reckless endangerment for an incident that took place during a Gay Pride Parade in Seattle in the summer of 2015. Skinner lost control of his drone, which careened into a building before dropping to the ground and knocking a young woman unconscious.
The maximum fine and jail time Skinner faced was $5,000 and 364 days, respectively; but while the $500 and 30 days he has been sentenced to might seem quaint in comparison, as the Seattle Times notes, this marks the first time the Seattle City Attorney’s Office has charged anyone with mishandling a drone in a public space.
Skinner’s attorney, Jeffrey Kradel, maintains that the fine was “too severe” for an incident that is clearly an accident, claiming that the Seattle Municipal Court and judge Willie Gregory are using his client as an example to scare other drone users. Kradel aims to appeal the verdict.
In the meantime, Skinner will have to take a class on drone safety and awaits yet another hearing on May 25th, when the court will decide on the amount of restitution the photographer owes the young woman for her medical bills.
We’ve gotten used to drones capturing cool, cinematic, sometimes never-before-seen images and video from the skies. But last night at the Super Bowl, Intel flipped the script, making the drones the subject of the spectacle instead of the machines capturing it.
Using 300 of their specially-designed “Shooting Star” drones, Intel kicked off the half time show by forming a massive American flag behind Lady Gaga—each drone a “pixel” in a 15×20-drone backdrop.
Each ultra-light drone is equipped with an LED that can produce “four billion color combinations” and the whole swarm of 300+ drones (Intel has actually managed to fly 500 at a time) can be operated by just two people.
Of course, flying 300 drones at a time is an FAA regulatory nightmare, so the American flag scene was actually filmed on a different night when there wasn’t a massive crowd of people below, but that doesn’t make the spectacle any less impressive. Here are two other “images” created using these Intel drones for an ad that aired during the game yesterday:
Some day, we’ll be using our fancy camera drones to shoot a crazy 1000-drone light show on July 4th… so meta. For our money though, it’ll never be quite as mind-blowing as this crazy (read: stupid) stunt was.
(via Wired via Engadget)
Image credits: All photographs courtesy of Intel.
How do you make drones safer? The answer to that question, if you’re this group of researchers from Virginia Tech, is on the other side of a few blunt crashes between commercial drones and a crash test dummy…’s face.
Current FAA regulations prohibit drone flights over people unless a special permit has been granted; the testing researchers at Virginia Tech are doing will help determine what risk drones pose to unsuspecting crash victims on the ground, and then design solutions that help mitigate that risk. If you ever want to receive your Amazon Prime order by drone or, more pertinent to PetaPixel readers, perform legal photojournalism from above, you ought to be rooting for this research.
“The majority of applications would be much more effective if they weren’t restricted from operating over people, but you have to demonstrate that it can be done safely,” Mark Blanks, the director of the Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, which runs Virginia Tech’s test site, tells VT News. “The risk of injury is very low, particularly with small aircraft. This research can mitigate those risks further. And we have the world’s best team doing it.”
Step one of this process: fly some drones into a crash test dummy’s face and record as much data as possible. Once you’ve collected data from both the drone and the crash test dummy’s sensors, you can begin to offer suggestions, make modifications, and establish standards that will make the drones safer in the event a pilot loses control and it comes crashing down on a person’s head.
For now, they’re flying the drones into the dummy, but future test will include drop tests and lab simulations; all together, this will give researchers the data they need to inform the drone engineers of tomorrow.
Of course, it also makes for an entertaining video you can watch today. Knock yourself out…
In a huge blow to the aerial photography and camera drone industry in Sweden, the country’s highest court has ruled that it is illegal to fly camera drones in public places because they qualify as surveillance cameras.
The Supreme Administrative Court of Sweden ruled yesterday that cameras mounted on drones require a permit under camera surveillance laws. At the same time, the justices decided that dash cams or cameras mounted on bicycle handlebars are not surveillance cameras (because they’re operated in the owner’s immediate vicinity) so they won’t require a permit.
If you wish to use a camera drone in a public place now, you’ll need to pay a hefty fee to apply for a permit. County administrators will then decide whether your use of the “surveillance camera” provides a legitimate benefit that outweighs public privacy. If not, your request to fly will be shot down.
Basically, aerial photographers will now need to go through the same process as someone wishing to set up a surveillance camera in a public location.
Drone photographers have taken to online channels to protest the decision.
“People [using] drones when they work […] won’t have any jobs on Monday,” one person writes on the DJI forums. “Recreational flyers like myself [are] robbed [of] a hobby. DJI and other manufacturers just lost a market.”
A lower district court in Sweden had previously ruled in May 2015 that camera drones do not constitute camera surveillance, but that decision has now been overruled.
The ruling is a big blow to the growing drone industry in Sweden: over 20,000 drones were sold in 2014, and over 1,000 permits have been issued by the government for using camera drones for commercial purposes. Those individuals and corporations now have yet another hurdle to clear if they wish to send their cameras back up into the skies for aerial photos or videos.
Image credits: Surveillance camera photo by Jonathan McIntosh (CC BY-SA 2.0).
The popularity of camera drones has been exploding in recent years, but so have drone-related injuries — spinning propeller blades can do serious damage if they come in contact with human flesh. Case in point: a starting baseball pitcher had to exit the biggest game of his baseball career yesterday after his finger started bleeding profusely from a drone-related injury.
Warning: There are videos and images below that show Bauer’s injuries.
Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Trevor Bauer was pitching Game 3 of his team’s playoff series against the Toronto Blue Jays yesterday when a serious cut on his right hand pinky finger began to drip blood like a leaky faucet.
Bauer had been scheduled to pitch in Game 2 on Saturday, but last week he suffered a freak drone accident that made him ineligible. The pitcher explained at a press conference that building and flying drones is a huge hobby of his, and that the injury occurred as he has making repairs on his homemade racing camera drone.
As he plugged the battery into his drone, one of the 4 propellers suddenly (and without explanation) began spinning up at full throttle. Bauer’s pinky was in the way and received a serious gash.
Apparently the team doctor’s felt that the injury had healed enough for Bauer to take the mound last night, but after just 3 batters in the first inning, TV cameras showed that Bauer’s swollen and bloody finger had begun bleeding uncontrollably.