Drone may have caused helicopter crash in South Carolina

Officials are investigating whether a recent helicopter crash near Charleston, South Carolina, was caused by a civilian drone operated nearby. The accident, which happened last Wednesday, involved a Robinson Helicopter Co. R22 helicopter carrying an instructor pilot and student.

The two are reporting that a small UAV flew directly in their path, forcing the instructor to perform evasive action. That evasive action, unfortunately, caused the helicopter’s tail to hit a tree, which sent the helicopter into a crash landing, according to Bloomberg. Sources speaking to the publication report that the helicopter’s tail was severely damaged; fortunately, neither person was injured.

A National Transportation Safety Board spokesman confirmed to Bloomberg that it is looking into initial reports claiming a drone contributed to the crash. Assuming that’s true, this would be the first time that a drone has caused an aircraft crash in the US. The FAA hasn’t commented on the possibly of a drone’s involvement.

Reports of drones being operated illegally, near-misses with aircraft, and even possible collisions are increasing. In recent days, a video surfaced of a drone being operated directly above a commercial passenger jet in Las Vegas. Following that, more recent reports claim a drone struck a tour helicopter in Hawaii. Canadian officials also recently released a report detailing a collision between a drone and a small plane.

Though the drone model hasn’t been stated (and may not be known), Chinese drone maker DJI has preemptively released a statement on the matter, saying:

DJI is trying to learn more about this incident and stands ready to assist investigators. While we cannot comment on what may have happened here, DJI is the industry leader in developing educational and technological solutions to help drone pilots steer clear of traditional aircraft.

Last year, DJI introduced a → continue…

From:: DPreview

Skydio R1 4K camera drone boasts game-changing autonomous tech

California-based company Skydio has announced the R1, a drone described as a “self-flying camera” that autonomously follows and records a subject. Unlike some competing models, R1 was built specifically for autonomous flight; it is able to fly itself at up to 25mph / 40kph while maneuvering around obstacles thanks in part to Skydio’s Autonomy Engine.

While many drones depend on GPS for autonomous flight, Skydio’s R1 is different—it features 13 cameras that work with the Autonomy Engine to perceive and map the world around the UAV. Skydio packed an NVIDIA Jetson AI supercomputer into R1, and the little drone is using it to power intelligent features like real-time movement planning and complex environment navigation.

Here’s a quick intro video that explains how it’s all done:

Users launch the drone in either Side, Follow, or Orbit modes using the companion mobile app. No manual operation is necessary, and in fact, Skydio claims that users can move through complex environments, such as dense woods, without interrupting the R1’s tracking and recording abilities. Skydio goes so far as to claim R1 is “the most advanced autonomous device—of any kind—available today.”

Skydio goes so far as to claim R1 is “the most advanced autonomous device—of any kind—available today.”

The R1, which is small enough to fit in a backpack, is made with carbon fiber and lightweight aluminum. The drone’s primary camera can record subjects at Full HD/30/60fps and 4K/30fps with a 150-degree FOV. The primary camera is isolated from vibrations, stabilized with a 3-axis gimbal, and joined by 64GB of onboard storage. The remaining 12 cameras provide omnidirectional vision for navigation.

Skydio R1 is available now in the United States and Canada through the company’s website for $2,500 USD. Buyers are currently limited to one unit → continue…

From:: DPreview

Reckless drone video under investigation for flying directly above passenger jet

A drone pilot has enraged the entire UAV community after sharing a video in which he flew his drone directly above a passenger jet flying out of Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport. The stunt was captured in a video by the camera drone, which shows it facing the jet before turning to fly in the same direction and quickly dropping altitude to get closer to the aircraft. The drone then chases after the plane but quickly falls behind.

The video was first shared privately on the Facebook group 1% FPV by someone posting under the name “James Jayo Older.” Some concerned members took a screen capture of the video and shared it outside of the Facebook group to bring attention to the dangerous stunt.

The FCC has since confirmed that it is investigating the flight, which has been heavily condemned by drone enthusiasts and the general public alike. Federal regulations prohibit drones from being operated above 400ft, near airports, and around aircraft—this pilot seems to have blatantly violated all three rules. Operating a UAV at such a close distance to an aircraft could put the entire flight at risk.

According to the FCC’s website, recreational drone pilots are required to alert air traffic control towers (when present) and airport operators ahead of time about flights happening within a 5 mile radius of an airport. “However,” the FCC notes, “recreational operations are not permitted in Class B airspace around most major airports without specific air traffic permission and coordination.”

The FCC has an online system where anyone can report a drone violation.

→ continue…

From:: DPreview