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What is that thing? Looks like a giant baseball hat!

Researchers at the University of Arizona will receive a second grant for some $750,000 US from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, or AFOSR. The work involves continued research into building an “integrated and autonomous” system that will keep an eye on the 1900-mile US-Mexico border from both the land and the air.

“Our goal is to devise a system to most effectively, efficiently and safely deploy border patrol resources,” said professor Young-Jun Son, an engineer who is also the lead of the project.

Professor Young-Jun Son leads the project. University of Arizona image
Professor Young-Jun Son leads the project. University of Arizona image

Those resources can include extremely costly aerial surveillance aircraft, such as the Predator, in conjunction with observation from the ground. Depending on terrain, weather and other factors, sometimes one method of surveillance is better than the other.

But making the decision which resources to deploy, and where, is something an autonomous system may eventually be able to do far better than a human being. It is this challenge…that has the UA team hard at work.

University of Arizona image
University of Arizona image

“The challenge for the UA researchers is to choose the right combination of aerial and ground vehicles, given different terrain and weather conditions, and activate them at just the right time.”

IOD – THE INTERNET OF DRONES

We’ve all heard of the Internet of Things by now, but trying to connect a bunch of drones to do useful things and control it all online can present some unique challenges. Now, a company is offering the tools to connect your fleet of drones to the cloud for whatever purpose you may need.

FlytBase is offering APIs that can provide access to payload data, telemetry, and much more. Intrigued? This video will give you a pretty quick overview:

THE HACKING CONTINUES

As we reported in a fairly lengthy report yesterday, hackers have been trying to disable the highly sophisticated DJI geofence system (known officially as GEO: Geospatial Environment Online). Our story was triggered by a well-researched Motherboard article that traced how the phenomenon began, and why some people are so determined to undermine the GEO system and liberate their drones from the perceived shackles of geofence restrictions.

So why are we raising this again, just one day later?

Because this is an important story – and there are important issues at stake. The GEO system plays an absolutely crucial role in keeping DJI drones out of manned airspace, away from sensitive facilities, and generally away from bad headlines. It exists to keep newbies from unintentionally breaking the law, to help keep commercial airspace free of consumer drones, and – above all – to help ensure that people can, within reason, continue to enjoy flying their drones.

Those who unlock their DJI products and knowingly violate restricted airspace are just *asking* for trouble (and we don’t simply mean potential fines or charges). Any increase in significant violations could easily lead to regulatory restrictions that will harm the entire industry and make it more difficult for people to responsibly enjoy their aircraft.

We’re planning to submit a few questions for official DJI reaction.

But we do know, already, that the company is moving decisively to prevent this from spreading. And while we haven’t read any of the very fine legal print that’s out there, we would not be surprised to discover that tampering with the software voids your warranty. In fact, DJI told Motherboard the company would take no responsibility whatsoever for malfunctions caused by the hack.

This isn’t an anti-hacking rant. There’s some hacking stuff we find super cool. This, however, isn’t one of them.

GET A HAT FOR YOUR GOGGLES

When we first got our hands on a set of DJI Goggles briefly one afternoon in Las Vegas the day before their official release, our minds were officially blown. Though we’d seen them in NYC last September at the Mavic Pro launch, this was our first chance to really wear them while someone was flying a drone outdoors.

If you don’t remember how excited we were, here are two more opportunities:

OUTSIDE LAS VEGAS

AND THEN BACK AT HOME

Later, back home, we got a chance to use a pair on a longer-term basis. Contained in that manual is a warning to be careful with dust, as apparently the lenses can scratch if you’re not careful.

But what if you’re out on day when there’s dust blowing everywhere? Well, third-party manufacturers have already thought of that. And, like everything else, have created a solution. Yes, you can now buy third-party cases for your Goggles. Facebook pal Joe Dawson just received his new set of DJI Goggles.

And he thought ahead.

 

What is that thing? Looks like a giant baseball hat!
What is that thing?

No, it’s not a giant baseball hat. It’s this!

Why, it's Joe Dawson's DJI Goggles case!
Why, it’s Joe Dawson’s DJI Goggles case!

Thanks for the tip, Joe!

BTW, Joe hasn’t been out flying with the goggles yet, but says he’s blown away by the quality. See – we really weren’t kidding.

 

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