Showing posts with label citizen drone journalism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label citizen drone journalism. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Civilian whose drone was shot down over Turkey protests comes back for more video

Since May 28, citizens in Turkey have been protesting their government's plan to raze a park in the country's capital, and replace it with a commercial center and military barracks. Violence in Taksim Gezi Park has escalated much since then, with police hitting protesters with tear gas, rubber bullets, and water cannons.

On June 13, I reported on that a civilian had been filming clashes between police and demonstrators from the sky with an RC aircraft, and that the drone had been shot out of the sky by police.

The drone's pilot, who goes by the name Jenk, was able to capture dramatic footage of the violence from the sky before his aircraft went down on June 11. Video from his DJI Phantom showed billowing smoke, and demonstrators scrambling to find cover from high-pressure water hoses and lobbing back the gas canisters from the riot police.

Now, it appears that Jenk has either repaired his drone or found a new one, and has returned to the Gezi Park protests to capture more aerial footage.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

You can't always get the the drone you want, but if you try a laser you'll get what you need

 The "perfect" small unmanned aircraft, commonly called a drone, might still be several generations away. But like Moore's law, those generational cycles are getting shorter and shorter.

Chris Anderson of 3DRobotics suspects we're closing in on the drone equivalent of the Mac: a relatively affordable, accessible, and most importantly, practical piece of technology that can be deployed every day.

Tremendous headway has been made with multirotor technology (the heicopters, quadrotors, hexcopters, octocopters, and what have you). The market is quickly becoming flush with a variety of these aircraft, to the point where several options are available for each price bracket.

There's everything from $300 hobbyist rigs from big-name RC and electronics manufacturers, to $1,000 semipro setups from DJI and 3DRobotics, to $10,000 rigs that can loft, pan and tilt a DSLR or DV camera. The differences between each step may be as simple as stronger frames, larger motors and higher-capacity batteries.

A drone of your very own, from novice to pro. Sometimes no assembly required.

For the time being, however, it's still useful to have the technical know-how to put one together. It's even more useful to know how to fabricate a drone, or fabricate parts to suit your specific application.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Activists record 8N protest with drones, continue to take lead on drone coverage

Progress in covering large events with aerial drones, especially protests, has been led almost exclusively by political activists. The most recent effort by activists to use drones document the scale of anti-government demonstrations comes from Argentina, where the “8N” demonstration on Thursday, November 8.

That day, some 30,000 Argentinians protested economic conditions, government corruption and the fear that President Cristina Fernandez will attempt to end her term limit.

According to the group El Cipayo Argentino, the government had closed down the airspace ahead of the protest, and did not allow news helicopters to cover the event. So the group came up with a low-budget workaround: they built their own aerial drone to provide coverage from the sky.

As you can hear from the video, the camera attached to the drone picked up a great deal of propeller and motor noise. The fact that protestors can be heard above the din of the whirring motors speaks volumes.

Al Jazeera has a write up about the protest and the activists behind the drone here.

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.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Update on hunters shooting down activist drone: on-board footage, lawsuits and more

Yesterday I wrote that animal rights activists in Ehrhardt, S.C. who had been attempting to film a hunting event had their drone shot out of the sky. 

Michael Kobliska, an
activist associated with SHARK (SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness), said that the group had been operating its drone for about 18 months before their drone went down near the Broxton Bridge Plantation.

The drone, Mikrokopter Oktokopter, suffered damage to wiring to one of its motors, which caused an electrical fault. This forced the Mikrokopter into a semi-controlled fall, in which it sustained further damage.

In an email, Kobliska said his group was preparing to launch the drone when a sheriff's deputy arrived and threatened to arrest the activists.

He couldn't quote any statutes, but said we would be violating FAA rules and anyone from our group in the area when the machine flew would be detained until the FAA arrived and presumably took us into their custody. We took this as just nonsensical intimidation and decided to fly anyways."

The SHARK activists then proceeded to test-fly their drone. After everything on the drone seemed to be in working order, they took the drone up again for another flight. From Kobliska:

It was a very short flight. The shooters had hidden themselves in the woods and as soon as the machine was up to about 150' they started shooting. It should be noted they were shooting over a roadway, illegal in SC. As we observed later, the machine took a shot to some of the wiring for one of the motors. This caused the machine to lose some thrust, but we could still control it. Since the machine was basically overhead it came back down to where it launched from. It had a hard landing and bent the gear up a bit."

Kobliska said it wasn't the first time their Mikrocopter was shot down.

"About 13 months ago we had another drone shot down in Pennsylvania at another pigeon shoot - that machine is still residing in a tree and is the subject of an ongoing lawsuit. We've also been shot at on other occasions."

Activists posted on-board footage of that incident on Youtube as well, in which activists said that the property owner was told by local law enforcement officials to return the drone. In that video, the activists said the drone cost about $8,000.

Here's footage of the Broxton Bridge Plantation incident, both on-board and from the ground. Beginning at the 2-minute mark, five pops can be heard in the audio, presumably from small-arms fire. One of the microkopter's rotors appears to slow and then stop functioning, at which point the drone enters a semi-controlled descent and impacts the ground.

SHARK activists reported the incident to the Colleton County Sheriff's Office, who filed an incident report for malicious damage to property. A copy of that incident report, provided by Kobliska, is available here. From the incident report:

"The total damage in cost to the craft is around two to three hundred dollars. At the time of the report the plantation gates was closed and locked. I was unable to speak to anyone located at the plantation."

Google Earth view of the approximate site of the Broxton Bridge Plantation, which covers nearly 7,000 acres of hunting grounds.