Drone activity over a raging wildfire in Los Angeles has prompted officials to issue a warning about impeding firefighters. As helicopters worked to drop water on the huge fire that has scorched about 52 square miles in Santa Clarita and destroyed 18 homes so far, several recreational drones were spotted flying into their airspace, which has the potential to impede their work and allow the fire to spread.
Valmie (VMRI) a publicly traded company, and maker of unmanned aerial vehicle software, hardware, and cloud services provider, is making a splash within the drone sector. Earlier this month, it was announced that Vertitek Racing, a division of Valmie’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Vertitek, is expected to get quite a bit of press coverage at the upcoming U.S. Drone Nationals. One of Vertitek Racing’s sponsored pilot has qualified for the event, which will be nationally televised on the highly popular sporting network, ESPN.
In the midst of the Southern California wildfire, the federal government has launched the first national system to keep drones away from firefighters. The US Department of Interior announced the kickoff of a pilot project that uses a smartphone app and real-time wildfire information to create virtual boundaries, or “geofences,” that drones can’t cross. Officials say drones colliding with firefighting planes and helicopters could be catastrophic, and they have been grounded numerous times this year because of drones, including the California fire
An 18-year-old wants his new invention to be the Swiss Army Knife of drones. Drone company Teal, founded by recent high school grad and “Battlebots” competitor George Matus, is developing a modular drone that does everything you want it to do — take camera footage, follow you around on their own, avoid obstacles — and reach speeds of 85 mph. Teal will also launch a software development kit so anyone can built apps to control the drone’s functions.
The use of drones for agriculture is taking off in China. A new market for drones in the agriculture industry — a sector actively encouraged by the Chinese government, unlike the more contentious consumer drones — is attracting business sectors from design and manufacturing to pilot training and testing. Drones can be used for efficiently applying pesticides and are well suited to China where parcels of land tend to be small.
The UK government is getting together with retail giant Amazon, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) to start test-flying drones that can deliver parcels to your door. Amazon is paying for the program, which will examine issues like how to operate drones beyond line of sight, how to keep them from bumping into things, and how to build a system where one pilot is responsible for many drones. The company claims this will eventually mean small parcels will arrive at your house within 30 minutes of ordering them online
Promotional footage from a tech startup shows how drones can be used to deliver emergency blood supplies. Difficult transport conditions mean rural health centers across Africa often lack supplies, and delivering emergency blood is particularly challenging. Silicon Valley startup Zipline who plans to make 50-150 blood deliveries a day by drone at its launch project in Rwanda. A “zip” drone can fly a 75-mile round-trip on a single charge.
Other companies that are currently developing drone-based technologies include GoPro (NASDAQ:GPRO), InvenSense (NYSE:INVN), Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL), Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT), Boeing (NYSE:BA), Ambarella (NASDAQ:AMBA).
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