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Monthly Archives: July 2014

Private Drone Almost Blocks Plane Fighting Sierra Foothills Fire

SHINGLE SPRINGS (CBS/AP) — A private drone trying to record footage of a Northern California wildfire nearly hindered efforts to attack the flames from the air, but firefighters made enough progress to allow some of the 1,200 people under evacuation orders to return home Monday. An unmanned aircraft that aimed to get video of the blaze burning near vineyards in the Sierra Nevada foothills east of Sacramento was sighted Sunday, two days after the fire broke out, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection spokeswoman Lynne Tolmachoff said. Authorities told the man controlling the drone to stop it from flying because of the potential danger to firefighting planes. The man, whom Tolmachoff did not identify, was not cited. “This is the first one that I’m aware of,” she said. “These unmanned aircraft are becoming very popular with people, and there’s a possibility we will see more of them.” Crews held the fire to a little under 6 square miles overnight, increasing containment to 65 percent, state fire Battalion Chief Scott McLean said. Some of the evacuations were lifted Monday morning, but McLean did not immediately know how many people were allowed to return to their homes. “We’re not going to get complacent, but it’s looking very good,” he said. Amy Russell, 35, was among those given the OK to go home. The location of her home on the outskirts of the fire gave her hope it was still standing. “It’d be very hard to lose everything. It’s a fixer-upper house, so we could rebuild it if it burned down, but it would be a real emotional loss,” said Russell, who was at a Red Cross shelter set up at a high school with her two daughters, Abigail, 3, and Anneliese, 2. She managed to pack essentials, including a safe with legal documents, as well as sentimental items such as wedding photos and a wooden jewelry box her husband made. The fire has destroyed 13 homes and 38 other structures near wine-growing regions in Amador and El Dorado counties since it started Friday, as it burns in rugged grassland and timber. Some grapevines did burn, but crews were able to keep the fire from spreading to the main grape-growing area, Tolmachoff said. The Sierra foothills fire is one of two in California that has forced people from their homes, underscoring the state’s heightened fire danger this year after three years of drought created tinder-dry conditions. Read the rest here...

DJI DropSafe Automatic Ballistic Parachute

Drone photography is the next time-lapse (which, incidentally, was the next HDR), but it presents a challenge that the previous two styles never did: safety. In this particular case we don’t mean safety of the people around (or rather below) you, but rather the safety of your gear itself. As we’ve seen time and again, drones drop from the sky on occasion, and when they do, they rarely survive the journey south… Until now. A new product called DJI DropSafe aims to change all that. The DropSafe balistic parachute, which is still designated as “Coming Soon,” is a common sense addition to an expensive hexacopter: an automated, reusable parachute that can deploy in the event you lose control of your precious bit of flying metal. DJI DropSafe balistic parachute for drones Officially designated a ‘drop speed reduction system’ — because DJI’s lawyers are keen on making sure you know that this thing isn’t guaranteed to save your equipment from harm — you can see the system in action in the video above. It weighs less than 1.3lbs, mounts on top of your DJI S800 or S1000, and in case of emergency, deploys in less than 0.5 seconds. Thus far, this unlisted video and the little information in its description is all we have to go off of, but we wouldn’t be surprised if this sort of thing becomes standard on all those camera-toting UAVs that are causing so much concern. For the photographers/videographers, the parachute will offer some peace of mind that your gear will have a softer landing. For people on the ground, DropSafe might just save them a cracked skull. Source

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