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Google Is Serious About Drones

Google’s skunkworks Google X team has spent the last two years working on a secret program. Google appears to be serious about delivery in the air—getting products from the warehouse to their destination in about two minutes.

Alexis Madrigal of the Atlantic has a scoop about the secretive Project Wing, a Sergey Brin concept that’s been fleshed out by top engineers recruited specifically for the task. Madrigal reports that Google developed a special kind of unmanned arial vehicle called a “tail sitter” with a few tweaks that make it specially designed for delivery.

This Youtube video which has been viewed almost 400,000 times shows a real aircraft delivering products to customers through the use of GeoMapping software. This is a hybrid plane/copter device that was specifically designed for delivery. Google believes it is years…but not decades away from becoming a reality.

Peeping Drone Raises Privacy Concerns

A Vancouver man’s video of a face-to-camera encounter with a drone while he ate dinner on his high-rise apartment patio is raising privacy concerns.

Conner Galway was enjoying the summer evening on his 36th-floor balcony when he heard what sounded like a swarm of bees.

The drone, with green and red flashing lights, hovered a few feet from him with the camera pointed directly at him. It then moved to the windows and balconies of his neighbours, spending about 30 minutes moving from apartment to apartment. He called police and, apparently, the local media.

Some followup by the Vancouver press revealed that Galway was among 10 residents who had complained about peeping drones this year.

“Since May of this year , we’ve had a number of complaints [including Galway’s] where it appears that somebody is using this aircraft to fly around apartment buildings,” Vancouver Police Department spokesman Randy Fincham told the CBC. “At this point we don’t know if that craft is being used to videotape or view inside those apartments.”

Until now much of the focus on drone operations has been potential interference with manned aircraft.

Drone Video Stirs Controversy

An unidentified person who goes by the YouTube name of Quadrotor Dragonfly is stirring some angry controversy after a clearly illegal and potentially dangerous drone flight resulted in a bird’s eye view of a 737 on final to Vancouver International Airport.

The camera-equipped drone appears to be shooting the video from at least 500 feet AGL and within about a kilometre from the centreline. Quadrotor Dragonfly routinely flies his drone at these sorts of altitudes in Vancouver and several cities in Asia according to his YouTube channel but it was the proximity to the airport that caught the attention of the Vancouver Sun (limited free views) and Transport Canada.

TC spokesman Rod Nelson told the Sun his department is “very concerned about the operations of this UAV and we have been working with the RCMP to determine the operator’s identity.”

The feds might be the least of Quadrotor Dragonfly’s problems if someone in the RC model community finds him first.

RC flyers are getting increasingly impatient with rogue UAV operators causing trouble like this and potentially threatening their hobby.

“This is a totally unacceptable use of such equipment, something we’re trying to prevent,” Steve Hughes, president of the Model Aircraft Association of Canada told the Sun. “It’s pilots like these who can give the hobby a black eye. YouTube is going to be the death of us.”

Transport Canada will issue special permits for drone flights but would never authorize this kind of use. Anyone with information on the identity of this UAV pilot is asked to call TC at 1-877-992-6853.

The Art of RC

If you haven’t been to an RC model meet in recent years, the technology might surprise you. This video was shot at the Ogopogo Radio Controllers Club meet a few years ago and shows the amazing control and power of the modern systems. The club recently won the right to continue flying from land it leases in Lake Country, B.C.