Drones gain in popularity. Before, they were used in military surveillances but today, they are used in entertainment and business purposes. Drones are great to conduct surveys and filming, can be employed to transport goods, and can even act as a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Take Amazon Prime Air, Amazon drone delivery system. The first video was published in the end of 2016, but since then there wasn’t too much progress. There are three reasons for that: air traffic, delivery difficulties (the recipient has to have a landing pad) and safety complications. The last one is especially important as unapt drone use can cause severe harm, and that’s why drones have to be regulated legislatively.
How Are Drones Regulated in Russia
In Russia, drones are regulated by The Air Code of the Russian Federation. An amendment was introduced on 5 July of 2017, stating that UAVs weighing over 30kg are to be considered aerial vehicles. In you want to get a heavy UAV license, you’d need to provide personal information and technical specs of your drone. Rosaviatsiya will oversee the registration.
Registration of drones weighing less than 30kg are regulated by a federal state unitary enterprise “ZashitaInformTrans”. When buying a drone in Russia or moving it from abroad, the owner has to provide the drone’s technical specs and their personal information (a drone’s owner can fill a form on the company’s website). After the registration is complete, you’ll be sent a RFID marker which you’ll be required to apply to your drone.
Right now website states that at the moment the company is not registering drones, therefore, legal actions can’t be taken against those who do not comply with the rules as there is no legal instrument.
Still, undergoing registration doesn’t mean that you can fly your drone wherever you please. To fly your drone, you will need a license from a local government body, and an aerial work certificate will be required for those who plan to shoot or stream videos. Rosaviatsiya stated this on their website.
In 2016, the internet users reported GPS signal alterations in Moscow. Smartphones near Kremlin misidentified their location as Vnukovo Airport. Russian blogger Bobulk has conducted an investigation and came to conclusion that there’s a device on Kremlin grounds that alters GPS signals for civilians. Later in 2017, NFZ signs were installed around Kremlin.
DJI started to release drones with Geofencing and NFZ features, as the company was warned and even fined on numerous occasions because their drone users often ignored No Fly Zones restrictions. The new function allows drones to identify zone status and gives warning depending on zone type. The company has also provided a geo map on their website marking all the zones by type.
However, not everyone liked the new limitations. Coptersafe, an online business from Russia, began to offer unlocking software and hardware upgrades for your drones.
“Yes, we get very good feedback from our customers,” says a Coptersafe representative. “They are very happy because our mods allow them to use the product they bought from DJI as they want.”
DJI acted against third-party software stating that disabling implemented features may inadvertently disable others and cause unpredictable behavior.
You can’t say that DJI fears have no grounds. In 2015, a drone crashed on the field during US Open match, in 2016, a drone hit an airplane over Canada, and a drone hit powerlines in Mountain View causing blackout.
Not every pilot understands what an improper drone handling may cause, that’s why many startups and companies began developing solutions aiming to protect society from the rising drone threat.
Fortem Technologies Inc., a Utah-based startup, raised $5,5 million last year for their DroneHunter — an automated system that tracks and hunts down drones. DroneHunter uses radar for monitoring the designated area and identifying potential threats. When a threat is identified, the system sends a drone of their own that intercepts the trespasser and shoots a net at it.
Airspace Systems experts developed their own interceptor drone. Using machine learning, they created a program that is similar to the pilot training simulations. Their drone is packed with sensors, and equipped with a Kevlar net for carrying rogue drones and a parachute for unforeseeable circumstances.
DroneShield made DroneGun, a portable drone scrambler capable. DroneGun has 2km coverage, 2hr battery and can function in environmental conditions with temperatures ranging from -10 °C to +55 °C.
Chinese police debuted their own anti-drone gun. On the debut day, police managed to safely down six active drones from up to 1 kilometer away. The police has ordered more guns, each new toy costing around $36,200 a piece.
Kalashnikov showcased their drone killer, a radio electronic gun REX-1. The gun emits microware impulses to land drones safely and is capable of scrambling GPS and mobile signals. The company’s representatives think that police forces, Spetsnaz and private security companies should find their gun useful.
Dedrone Inc had come up with a different defense solution. They raised $15 million for DroneTracker, a surveillance system for identifying UAVs within or near the designated area. Cameras turn on when a drone crosses the zone border, and as long as the drone is within or near the area, the system will collect and stream data, including drone model, length and speed of the flight, approach angle and the drone’s frequency.
Boeing, Near Earth Autonomy и Liquid Robotics
Boeing invested in Near Earth Autonomy, a self-guided drone startup, and later in November of 2017 acquired Aurora Flight Sciences, an unmanned systems and aerospace vehicles company. Earlier in April that year, Aurora Flight Sciences partnered with Uber to design flying taxis.
In 2016 Boeing acquired Liquid Robotics, a water unmanned vehicle developer. Their Wave Glider is a drone designed for completing tasks at high seas. The drone uses ocean waves for passive movement and can accelerate by turning on its engine that runs on solar batteries. The company reports that Wave Glider had already crossed the ocean and survived storms and shark attacks.
Snap and Ctrl Me Robotics
Known for its messaging app Snapchat, Snap acquired Ctrl Me Robotics, a drone manufacturer. Earlier there were rumors about Snap working on their own drone. The company widened its reach once before, when they developed Spectacles, smart glasses with cameras.
PrecisionHawk, Droners and AirVid
PrecisionHawk acquired Droners and AirVid earlier in February this year. The company is known in the US as an UAV supplier for different industries, like construction and insurance. Droners and AirVid are platforms where you can hire specialists for photo and video shooting with drones. PrecisionHawk hopes that this deal will help company create the biggest network of drone pilots.
Verizon and Skyward
Verizon acquired Skyward, a drone management startup, in February last year. Drones help test devices, can shoot videos and are capable of connecting with each other. Verizon plans to use UAVs as wireless hotspots, and hopes that this deal will help simplify the drone industry and help support the adoption of IoT.
Tower is an open-source app from 3D Robotics, one of the largest drone manufacturers in USA. In reality, Tower is an upgrade from their earlier DroidPlanner. The new app allows to program flights and create 3D scans of buildings and other geographical objects. The developers think that the openness of Tower will help develop the app through user-implemented functions.
DJI Go 4
This official DJI app is packed with functions and can strike as overwhelming at first. However, there are many guides on the internet that can help even a novice user conquer DJI Go 4. The app provides deep customization, allowing to change settings for camera or drone sensitivity, edit and stream video, to name a few. In one of the latest updates, the app gained a new function Find My Drone that allows the user to track their drone location even if the signal was lost.
Kittyhawk is an app that should be loaded before the flight, and can help during the flight as well. The app provides weather data, checks for air traffic, identifies NFZs — pretty much does everything that Hover, B4UFly and Airmap do but better.
DronePrix AR is an AR racing game where you can fly your drone over virtual tracks, collecting coins and items to increase your score.
The game is compatible with DJI Go, which is advised to be used to set your drone before the game.