Thursday, May 24, 2012

JournoDrone 2: Learning from the past, Looking to the future


JournoDrone One had an important mission: to be a drone journalism platfom that was "powerful, durable, transportable, affordable, upgradeable and supported by a community of experts." It became a pile of foam instead.

But that's OK. Drone development, especially at this state of technology, is a matter of trial-and-error. That's why myself and fellow DroneJournalism.org developer Acton Gorton are giving it another shot. We are taking all of the experience, knowledge, and goals from the JournoDrone One project and starting again with JournoDrone 2.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Big FAA announcement means quicker access to drones for law enforcement, "streamlined" authorization


Law enforcement agencies will be able to get drones off the ground more quickly, and also will be able to use larger drones, the Federal Aviation Administration announced yesterday.

A news release from the FAA yesterday said that those agencies will be able to enter into a two-step path to authorization, and thus speeding up the process for law enforcement to deploy drones.

"Initially, law enforcement organizations will receive a COA (Certificate of Authorization) for training and performance evaluation," the FAA said. "When the organization has shown proficiency in flying its UAS (Unmanned Aerial System), it will receive an operational COA."

A COA provides the agency with the authorization to fly drones in the national airspace. Currently it's the only way that a government agency can legally fly a drone, which the FAA calls a UAS, and the application process isn't open to commercial industry or private individuals.

The announcement doesn't specify what the requirements are for a law enforcement agency to show proficiency, and doesn't detail the differences between the two types of authorizations. But it does indicate that the FAA is following up on its federal obligation to expedite drone authorizatio

Monday, May 14, 2012

Flight of the JournoBalloon: An intro to balloon photography. Also, I lose the first JournoBalloon.


We almost had it. After months of research, development and heartache, DroneJournalism.org was about to have its very first aerial photographs. And while it wasn't going to be from a drone, these photos would be gathered easily and available instantly.

The balloon went up, the line went out, but something didn't seem right. And then... well, in short, on Wednesday, May 2, at approximately 4:00 p.m., we almost had it. What was it, exactly?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Partnerships unlock the real potential of drones, especially in drone journalism.

Yesterday, Salon ran a piece on the proliferation of drones at research universities. As Jefferson Morley wrote, universities are at the are at the forefront of developing the unmanned aerial systems that will be monitoring crops, assessing damage, and doing a number of other tasks at home.

That may not come as much of a surprise to anyone who's been following drones in the past couple of weeks. Recently, Electronic Frontier Foundation published the list of public institutions and government agencies who had current or expired authorization to fly drones.

Some applicants were obscure. Herrington, Kansas -- a town of 2,526 souls -- applied for authorization to fly drones. But 25 of the 62 agencies were institutes of higher learning, and many were surprised at how few agencies had applied for authorization.

However, there's a buried lede in this story: universities aren't just developing drones, they're developing these drones in partnerships with other entities. This isn't happening in an ivory-tower vacuum.