Lenticular cloud
Lenticular cloud

Hi all –

Another week and ever more to marvel at.

The FAA said maybe yes, oh wait, maybe no is better and quickly walked back their plans for an online database where people could report “suspicious or illegal” drone activity. Tough thing to do when no one knows what the law is…

That done, and responding to pressure brought under the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act), the FAA published the registration database. Sort of. To protect individual privacy and minors we now have data on 461,433 registrants (people not drones) by country, state, city and zip code. I downloaded the .xlsx file and ran a sort. Turns out that five of the top ten are in Texas. Don’t ask because I certainly don’t know.

Privacy turned out to the theme of the week with the publication of voluntary Best Practices For Drone Use, an assignment that was given to the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) by the Obama administration in February 2015 shortly after the drone landed on the lawn. I did an analysis and you can read why I am not much impressed. The recommendations are incredibly one-sided. In my opinion, they will do nothing to quiet the call for strict privacy rules or the continued development of state and local privacy legislation.

Coincidentally there is a very good think piece from Slate on how drones change the privacy equation by breaking down traditional barriers imposed by things like fences and windows. If you put the two articles together it becomes very clear where the task force fell short.

Lots of good stuff for dronepreneurs this week. Sassy article by Mark Colborn writing in Rotor&Wing about trying to make a buck with a drone. He brings up the point that the complete lack of maintenance standards and time-life parts lists means that everyone out there is a test pilot. Not sure it qualifies as the Right Stuff but…

Skyward is out with a beautiful 32-page Essential Guide to Launching Commercial Drone Operations that breaks down the details in a very systematic, highly professional way. Also along those lines, the NBAA (National Business Aviation Association) has released a new resource – Integrated Operational Management and Oversight for sUAS – providing background information on the subject matter, as well as a detailed guide to vetting DaaS providers.

Both articles talk about the need for insurance which leads us effortlessly to a provocative article by Tony Cid, the global head of commercial insurance for Intellect SEEC. It’s an interesting website that offers the chance to try “the first ever virtual underwriting assistant.” The article explores the need to incorporate technology into underwriting. A lot of food for thought and certainly foundational for the kind of UAV specific offerings Terry Miller described last week.

Bunch of cool technology stories this week. The US Navy will be equipping the sub fleet with 150 Blackwing drones to support various missions. The neat thing is that the drone can be controlled by the sub, SEAL teams or airborne assets. This is exactly the kind of comm system that a lot of complex civilian operations need so maybe there will be some trickle down. And the guys at Stanford have developed a way for a drone to attach itself somewhere handy where it can power down and just let the sensors transmit… Think about that in combination with the idea of a disposable drone that doesn’t need to come home.

Meanwhile the Swiss are thinking hard about how to combine mobile eyes in the sky with terrestrial systems in what is called terrestrial/flying robot collaboration. Ford is on to this as well, envisioning scenarios where a drone scouts for autonomous trucks.

Extending the idea of autonomous to the logical end, Cape Productions CTO Thomas Finsterbusch envisions a brave new world where his company can deliver autonomous end-to-end service for their customers – which in his case would include creating edited videos of people skiing and snowboarding untouched by human hands. Strong interview.

The Rockefeller Foundation has just awarded WeRobotics a start-up grant to take Humanitarian Robotics to the next level. WeRobotics is headed by Dr. Patrick Meier, the widely acclaimed author of Digital Humanitarians who writes at iRevolutions.org. Congratulations.

And finally, all that glitters is not necessarily gold. Missy Cummings and her Duke team report back from safari that elephants hate drones. No surprise, there is ample evidence that wild animals don’t like drones anymore than many people do.

Thanks for reading and for sharing.


Christopher Korody


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