July 2014

Wall Street “gets it” now

I noticed a significant rise in the stock price of Amazon.com today (over 4% increase in today’s trading). That’s a serious one-day move, and I looked at the news articles trending in the Wall Street Journal and other publications.

What’s happening? Drones, baby. It seems to be all about the news that Amazon’s gone to the FAA to get permission to test their drones outside of the six designated test areas in the USA. The now-infamous November 2013 “news” story from 60 minutes about the drone ambitions featured a video they made imagining how they might do this. And of note, the video had to be made in Canada (Vancouver, I think) because they would be technically violating FAA regulations even to make a fake video on US soil.

The news stories indicate that their current machines (apparently being developed in-house by a well-funded technical staff) are capable of 50mph flight, among other things. This is bound to get more and more interesting as things unfold.

Amazon seeks OK for testing of 50-mph drones (USA TODAY)
Amazon lifts drone project to next level with 50mph prototype (The Times UK)
Amazon Is Serious About Drones, Asks FAA For Permission … (Forbes)

Everybody Loves A Parade

I was given permission to fly over* my town’s annual July Fourth parade by the parade organizers. A local shopkeeper gave me permission to use his building’s roof as a base of operations so I could avoid the complications of taking off and landing around people. I should say that I observed myriad safety precautions (extensive preflight, route testing, LoS flying only, separate camera op, many safe landing zones ID’d) to get these.

My X8 octo performed flawlessly, and the crowd that gathered around us after I brought the copter down from the rooftop kept me there for 1.5 hours peppering me with questions (all curious, polite and positive).

Colin Snow (who was camera op’ing for me) and I had to climb two ladders (basically fire escapes) with eight 10000mAh LiPos, my ground station, and other paraphernalia. I was trying to figure out how to get the copter up onto the roof, but I realized the easiest way was to fly it up there. I resisted the temptation to have it fly my gear up there, too, but maybe I’ll try that next time! 😎

Getting it down was harder…it’s tricky to land on the ground 35’ or so below where you’re standing! So I did it in two stages by landing on the lower roof first, climbing down to that roof, then landing down in the parking lot (with Colin forming a human barricade).

Shot 30+ minutes of video on the GH4, and it’s awesome. What a day! Here are some screen caps from the video, including one that shows where we were standing.

* I should clarify that of the 30+ minutes in the air, I was only “over” the crowd for less than one minute (as I was flying across the street). I was careful to remain over rooftops and trees the entire time.