The U.S. government uses them to bomb alleged terrorists in far-away places. Tech companies such as Amazon, Google and Facebook are all toying with the idea of incorporating them into their businesses, and now they’re a photographer’s secret weapon.
Drones are a big part of our lives, whether we see them or not. Drone Beat collects the best and most important stories every week.
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Last update: August 22, 11:45 a.m. ET
Will India be the launchpad for Amazon’s drones?
The cities of Mumbai and Bagalore in India might become the test sites for Amazon’s much hyped drone delivery program, known as Prime Air, according to a report by India’s newspaper the Economic Times.
In the United States, drone regulations are thorny and not business friendly for now. In late June, the Federal Aviation Administration specifically called out delivery by flying robot as something that is not allowed. India, on the other hand, would be an ideal candidate for Amazon because the country has no rules regarding the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.
“Amazon will not be breaking any laws in India,” Bharat Malkani, an aviation expert and CEO of Mumbai-based Max Aerospace, told Quartz.
Amazon could be planning to start delivering packages via drone as early as October, taking advantage of the days ahead of the shopping-friendly festivity of Diwali.
More U.S. national parks ban drones
In June, the National Park Service issued a memorandum to ban drones from parks across the U.S. But that was just the first step, each park then needed to issue its own ban for it to be effective. Zion National Park in Utah and Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona were the first ones to do so.
This week, more have joined in. The National Park Service’s office in Moab, Utah, officially banned drones in the Arches and Canyonlands national parks and in the Hovenweep and Natural Bridges national monuments.
The National Park Service also banned drones from flying over the entire Appalachian Trail.
Yosemite National Park was the first to attempt to ban the flying robots, even before the rule was issued by the National Park Service.
It seems it’s just a matter of time before others join in. As a result, we might miss out on videos like these.
Rescuers use drones in aftermath of earthquake in China
First responders used drones to survey the areas hit by a 6.1-magnitude earthquake earlier this month in China’s Yunnan province.
After the quake, rescuers from the China Association for Disaster and Emergency Response Medicine got some help from a team of pilots at DJI, a large manufacturer of commercial unmanned aerial vehicles based in Hong Kong, as Motherboard reported.
“Aerial images captured by the team were used by workers in the epicenter area of Longtoushan, where most of the traditional buildings in the area collapsed,” the company told Motherboard. “The dense rubble and vegetation have made ground surveying extremely difficult, so using aerial images has helped identify where relief teams can focus on searching for survivors.”
Australian football team uses drones to film trainings
A team in the Australian Football League (AFL) has bought two small drones to film its training from above, according to local newspaper The Age.
The Hawthorn Football Club, also known as the Hawks, bought the drones in an attempt “to find an edge in technology to improve its on-field performance.”
There aren’t a lot of details on how the team plans to use its drones, but the newspaper said they’ll use them to analyze their strategies and plays from a better vantage point.
How will drone photography change society? A look into the past can help predict the future
In a fascinating, must-read article, author Clive Thompson opined that drones — with their high-resolution photo and video cameras — might change photography and society just as much as the first personal camera and the rise of the so-called “snapshot” in the late 19th century.
Drones “allow for entirely new forms of voyeurism: peering into windows, over fences or zooming above public crowds to pick out individuals,” but they are also “creating new aesthetics for picture-taking by everyday people — some of which are strikingly lovely and useful,” Thompson wrote in the Smithsonian article.
“For good and ill, photography is being born anew,” he said.
Read the full article here.