Apr 15, 2014 fbook icon twitter icon rss icon


11Drone Falls 10m from the Air, Injures Australian Triathlete in Last Stretch of Race

Athlete Raija Ogden was only meters away from finishing a western Australia triathlon when she was injured by a falling drone.

Ogden was treated at the scene before she was taken to a hospital, where she had to get three stitches to treat a head wound.

“Basically we should all just thank our lucky stars that there [were] no injuries to a child or nobody’s eye got taken out,” Ogden said after the incident.

The drone’s operator, local photographer Warren Abrams, had set the drone up to hover about 10 meters above the race. His intention was to capture images of the triathletes in the final 10km stretch of the run portion of western Australia’s Geraldton Endure Batavia triathalon.

In the initial investigation, Abrams suggested that someone else had briefly taken over flying the drone, causing him to lose control of it. However, because such an attack could easily be carried out with a smartphone, Abrams said that it would be extremely difficult to determine who was responsible for the attack.

Conflicting reports about the incident have surfaced in local media. While some say that the drone fell directly onto Ogden, others say that she tripped and fell after being startled by the falling drone.

Abrams maintains that video footage clearly demonstrates that the drone did not, in fact, fall onto Ogden; it fell directly behind her.

Ogden disputed this version of events, noting that she sat down after the drone hit her because she thought she was going to faint.

Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority is looking into the reports. The authority’s rules state that unmanned aircraft, such as a drone, must fly at least 30 meters away from people. Furthermore, drone operators must be certified by the agency; news reports raised questions as to whether Abrams was legally certified to operate the drone.

Geraldton Triathlon club has apologized to Ogden.

Sources: http://www.bbc.com, http://bleacherreport.com

Photo Sources: http://bleacherreport.com, http://everythinggeraldton.com.au

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11Army Drone Crashes Near Pennsylvania Elementary School

A military drone crashed near a Lebanon County, Penn. elementary school last week, raising concerns over the increased use of the unmanned vehicles within the United States. 

The drone was a 400-pound, 11-foot-long RQ-7 Shadow, most likely operating out of Fort Indiantown Gap, a nearby Army post. Major Ed Shank, public affairs officer for the Pennsylvania National Guard, explained that the drone was being used as part of a training exercise.

“Here at Fort Indiantown Gap, that’s the first time something like this has happened,” said Shank. "When it does happen, we investigate it very thoroughly to figure out what happened and then let the public know and let our own aviators know so that it doesn’t happen again."

No one was injured in the crash, although the $150,000 drone was completely destroyed after suffering a “hard landing” on the ground and being run over by a civilian vehicle, RT reports. According to Fox News, there were no students present near the school at the time of the crash. The incident is currently under investigation.

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11FAA Investigates Drone Spotted At Deadly Car Crash In Connecticut

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the use of a drone at the scene of a fatal car crash in Connecticut on Saturday.

The Hartford Police Department released a report Thursday stating that officers spotted a drone with an attached camera flying over the car crash, while bodies were still in the vehicles.

The drone could pose a threat to officer safety and public privacy, Police Lt. Brian Foley told WTIC FOX CT.

“Drones, not being helicopters, they’re much smaller, can have access to aerial places that traditional helicopters and airplanes do not,” said Hartford Attorney Corey Brinson.

“How do we balance this new technology? Do we allow more of an intrusion into more traditional private moments like a tragic car accident?" Brinson added. "Or do we say, ‘Well, this is a new technology and the public is going to have to adapt?’”

Officers said they questioned the man operating the drone, but no arrest was made.

The incident is of special interest to the FAA because the drone might have been illegal. The HPD says it is against FAA regulations for a drone to be operated for commercial use.

“The presence of a drone at a crime scene for journalistic purposes is in violation of FAA regulations,” the report said.

Police said the bodies were not visible to the drone’s camera, but that won’t always be the case. There are also very sensitive police matters that could be captured by drones.

“These drones will be able to broadcast live from active shooters or SWAT team tactical units. … (It’s) very, very concerning to law enforcement because it could give the bad guys an upper hand,” said Brinson.

The FAA investigation is ongoing.

“We are not making a statement today. We are investigating,” FAA spokeswoman Alison Duquette told TheBlaze in a statement Friday.

Sources: WTIC FOX CT, TheBlaze

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11Congress Passes Top Secret Law Regarding Drones

One of the hard-learned lessons of 9/11 was that governmental agencies work better when they work together. Although, rather than developing a fellowship or a joint strategy of cooperation, what many U.S. agencies have done is become redundant. Case in point, the much-embattled U.S. drone program is the child of both the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency, and will be for some time if Congress has anything to say about it.

President Obama recently proposed consolidating the drone program within the Pentagon, but according to The Atlantic, Congress has inserted a measure into a top secret annex to the recently-passed federal budget that would block this move. CIA director John Brennan also supports moving the drone program to the Pentagon as part of his plan to reduce the CIA’s increased involvement in paramilitary operations post-9/11 and back into the realm of intelligence-gathering and analysis.

Drones have been a source of controversy, especially as of late, because with this technology the U.S. can attack someone anywhere in the world at any time risking no blood and only some treasure. The main criticism—one that can be levied at any war effort—is the collateral damage of these attacks, i.e. civilian casualties. The exact numbers are unclear. A study released by the British Bureau of Investigative Journalism says that U.S. drones killed less than five civilians in Pakistan in 2013, although critics suggest the U.S. is not being truthful with its numbers.

As of March 7, 2013 there had been between 410-519 drone strikes since September 11, 2001, which had killed an estimated 2,500-3,000 people. The total number of civilians killed in drone strikes is just north of ten percent, somewhere between 276-368. Considering the high civilian casualty rate in Iraq and Afghanistan where ground troops are involved drones may actually be the kinder option. So the question remains who best sits at the joystick: the CIA or the Pentagon? If Congress gets its way, it may be both.

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Damage incurred upon the USS Chancellorsville when a drone crashed into it

11Drone Crashes into USS Chancellorsville, Injures 2 and Causes $30 Million in Damages

During a military exercise last November, a drone crashed into a US Navy battleship carrying 300 crewmen, injuring two sailors and causing $30 million in damages.

The USS Chancellorsville was stationed near Point Mugu, California at the time of the incident.

The initial Navy Times report specified that the incident occurred during a training exercise involving a routine radar test. The 13-foot drone, a Northrop Grumman BQM-74, crashed into the port side of the Chancellorsville, which “was heavily damaged by the impact of a test target.”

The drone “crippled a key computer center integral to the ship’s cutting-edge combat systems.”

Although BQM-74 drones usually have a feature intended to keep the machine from colliding with a naval vessel, even when control is lost, it remains unclear whether or not this particular capability had been activated.

Sailors were given a mere four-second warning before drone operators realized they had lost control over the drone. As an unnamed crewman told the Navy Times, “There was just a breakdown in communications…and the ship had no time to react.”

The two injured sailors were treated for minor burns, although the Navy did not specify as to how the individuals were injured.

Despite the damage, the Chancellorsville was able to make it back to its home port of San Diego in the days following the crash.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation. Recent reports indicate that the Navy will need about six months to repair the ship.


Sources: The Malibu Times, RT.com

Photo Source: http://www.informationdissemination.net

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11Amazon Announces The Development of Drone Delivery System (Video)

Amazon has just revealed plans for a drone delivery system that can deliver items to customers in 30 minutes, and CEO Jeff Bezos said that it could realistically take off within the next five years.

The automatic delivery drone known as the octocopter will be guided by a GPS navigation system and will be able to take a package from one of the Amazon fulfillment centers and fly it directly to the customer’s front porch in just 30 minutes. Amazon hopes that they can provide this service to customers within a certain radius of a fulfillment center to improve delivery capabilities.

“It looks like science fiction, but it's real," said Amazon in a statement.

The drone delivery service is being called Prime Air, and early prototypes have already proved successful. The company says that its biggest hurdle will be getting approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, to allow an unmanned aerial vehicle to do what Amazon needs it to do.

"The FAA is actively working on rules and an approach for unmanned aerial vehicles that will prioritize public safety," said Amazon. "Safety will be our top priority, and our vehicles will be built with multiple redundancies and designed to commercial aviation standards."

Amazon says that the FAA could have the regulations in place by 2015, which would allow them to move forward to the final stages of launching Prime Air. The company believes that one day, drone delivery will be a normal part of life.

"One day, Prime Air vehicles will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road today," said Amazon.

Check out the Amazon Prime Air video demonstration below. 

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11Unmanned Drone Crash Lands Onto New York City Sidewalk (Video)

A small camera-equipped drone crashed onto a Manhattan sidewalk Monday evening, narrowly missing a financial analyst who gutted the drone and submitted the footage to the local news.

The unmanned aircraft was identified as a Phantom Quadcopter, which should not have been flying through congested pedestrian areas, according to Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson Laura Brown.

The video shows the drone taking off from a high rise in Midtown Manhattan, and focuses momentarily on the operator. Then, the drone moves over the city during rush hour, flying 20 to 30 stories above ground.

The drone recorded some of the city’s most iconic buildings, including the Chrysler, MetLife and Grand Central.

The driver, who is clearly inexperienced, slams the drone into several buildings until it finally falls to the ground only feet away from the businessman.

“Someone’s done something very reckless,” the anonymous financial analyst said, “choosing something for their personal enjoyment over any of the consequences.”

When the businessman reported the drone to police, they did nothing.

“I got the sense that they knew that it was something out of the ordinary,” he said, “but didn’t know how to handle it.”

The NYPD is now investigating the incident to see whether reckless endangerment was involved.

Sources: The Huffington Post, ABC News

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11Evidence Surfaces Of CIA Drone Strikes On Rescuers In Pakistan

A field investigation conducted in tribal areas of Pakistan by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has found evidence that suggests that the CIA deliberately targeted drone attacks on rescuers of previous strikes.

As noted by Salon ,the tactic, known as “double-tap” strikes, had been previously labeled as a possible war crime by UN investigators, and was supposedly discontinued after a Bureau investigation published evidence of 11 attacks on rescuers in rural Pakistan between 2009 and 2011, some of which resulted in large numbers of casualties. But evidence from the investigation apparently confirms that the tactic was revived in an attempt by the CIA to kill Yahya al-Libi, a senior figure in the al Qaeda organization. Al-Libi was eventually killed by a CIA drone strike on June 4 of last year.

Congressional aides had previously reported viewing a CIA video that showed the drone strike that killed al-Libi. In the video, al-Libi alone was shown to have been killed by the attack. The recent field investigation suggests, however, that the strike that resulted in al-Libi’s death was in fact part of a sequence of “double-tap” strikes against the same location, in which up to 16 people were killed. If the evidence is correct, it would indicate that the video material shown to the congressional aides was purposely edited, leaving out crucial information.

The CIA vehemently denies the Bureau’s charges.

“The CIA takes its commitment to Congressional oversight with the utmost seriousness,” CIA spokesman Edward Price told the Bureau. “The agency provides accurate and timely information consistent with our obligation to the oversight Committees. Any accusation alleging otherwise is baseless.”

Sources: Salon, Press TV

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11Leaked Pakistani Memo Reveals High Civilian Casualty Rate from Drone Strikes

Earlier today, London’s Bureau of Investigative Journalism released an official Pakistani investigation into the civilian casualties of the 75 U.S. and five NATO drone strikes. The 12-page dossier suggests that between 2006 and 2009, 746 people were killed, 147 of whom were civilians and 94 of whom were children.

The document does not resemble other investigations and casualty numbers released by the media. There is reason to be skeptical. Although the investigation was local to the areas afflicted, certain information was omitted like the names of casualties.

Since Sen. Rand Paul’s much publicized 13-hour filibuster of John Brennan’s nomination as CIA director in early March, debate over the administration’s use of drone strikes has died down. It has largely been overshadowed by Edward Snowden’s disclosure of the administration’s acquisition of private communication metadata.

However, since the filibuster in March, seven separate drone strikes have killed 47 people without much publication according to an interactive info graphic of collected news stories. The site estimates that roughly 3,146 people have been killed in drone strikes since 2004, 535 oh whom were civilians and 175 were children. The site, unlike the Pakistani report, includes drone strikes in surrounding areas.

The leaked Pakistani report largely focuses on casualties under the Bush administration. Since assuming office in 2009, President Obama has greatly increased the number of drone strikes. A staunch defender of the tactic, Obama said in May of this year, "Let us remember that the terrorists we are after target civilians, and the death toll from their acts of terrorism against Muslims dwarfs any estimate of civilian casualties from drone strikes."

Sources: Huffington Post, Bureau of Investigative Journalism, Drones.PitchIneractive

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11Realistic Robotic Bird Drone to be Used by U.S. Army

A convincing robotic bird designed by the U.S. Army might be used as a spy drone. How realistic is it? Well, attacks from hawks and eagles during test flights answered any questions.

The Robo-Raven, a solar powered and remotely driven surveillance aircraft built at the University of Maryland, has attracted attention from other birds like seagulls and songbirds. Some crows have even tried to fly in formation with the drone.

Birds of prey, such as falcons and hawks, typically dive and attack the aircraft. Once their talons hit the metal drone, they typically fly away.

John Gerdes, a mechanical engineer at the U.S. Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, said that attracting other birds will help disguise the device.

The Robo-Raven’s wings flap independently of each other and can be programmed to perform any motion. Its ability to perform rolling and diving simulations, which has not previously been possible, distinguishes the drone from previous models.

The bird is made of carbon fiber and silvery Mylar foil. It also has a layer of 3-D printed, lightweight, thermal-resistant plastic. It spans about 2 feet and weighs less than a can of soda.

Engineers at the Maryland Robotics Center said many of their designs were inspired by nature, including the hollow frame structure that mimics the hollow skeletal system of a real bird.

Sources: The Washington Times, Live Science

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