The Week In Drones: Flying Into A Volcano, Delivering Drugs, And More

Keeping up with the droneses

A Panorama Filmed By A Drone

This panorama was captured by a DJI Phantom, which is increasingly the Model T of home drones.Chensiyuan via Wikimedia Commons

Here's a roundup of the week's top drone news, designed to capture the military, commercial, non-profit, and recreational applications of unmanned aircraft.

Into a Vanuatu Volcano

Drone pilot Shaun O'Callaghan flew his DJI Phantom quadcopter over a volcano in Vanuatu, an island nation in the South Pacific. "Amazingly," O'Callaghan says, "no Phantoms were harmed while filming!"

(Almost) Into an Aussie Prison

Authorities in Melbourne, Australia, arrested two individuals found with drugs and a drone outside of a prison. This isn't the first time people have tried to fly contraband over prison walls with a drone. As drug-smuggling innovations go, it ranks somewhere above a catapult but below a submarine for ingenuity.

Victoria Police released this statement:

Police have arrested a man following an alleged incident where a drone was hovering in the vicinity of a prison in Ravenhall yesterday afternoon. A man and a woman were located in a car on Middle Road around 4.30pm with what was believed to be a drone with four engines and a small quantity of drugs. The 28-year-old Lalor man was charged with possess a drug of dependence and attempt to commit an indictable offence.

Filming Sports

This week, Popular Science spoke with Ryan Baker, founder of Houston-based drone manufacturer Arch Aerial. Baker spoke about the future of legal drone use:

PS: Let’s talk about the legal issues. This week, a judge ruled that the FAA doesn’t necessarily have jurisdiction over commercial use of drones. Are people that you’re going to and seeing about this concerned that they don’t know what the status of this will be in a year? RB: I don’t know if they’re concerned they won’t be able to use it, I think they’re waiting to see how they can use it. The industry is booming. It’s gone from something very small to a noticeable component to the tech marketplace. It will certainly be addressed. People aren’t worried about if it will be used, but using it properly—and they want to see other companies and organizations using it before they do. As the technology progress, it’ll be safer. Not that it isn’t safe already, but there’s a lot of room for operator error. The industry has to keep progressing, but it’ll add more clients and add more components to the safety aspect as time goes on. That decision, I’m sure everyone in the industry was happy about that, but it’ll have to be addressed. There’s no getting around that. And I’m all for some sort of training or certification. Nobody wants to see someone get hurt.

Check out the full interview.

Mexico To Survey The Seas

Mexico's National Fisheries Institute plans to use drones for finding out where in the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific ocean is suitable for aquaculture. People have already used drones for better farming; this aquatic survey will apply the same principles to raising fish at sea.

Hovering Over Harlem

On Wednesday, an explosion caused by a gas leak ripped apart two buildings in New York City. One of the spectators who rushed to the scene was a man named Brian Wilson, who brought a small quadcopter with him.

Watch a video of the drone at the scene:

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