Raphael Pirker and his drone. Image: Team BlacksheepInternal Federal Aviation Administration documents show that the result of an agency investigation determined commercial drone pilot Raphael Pirker violated no regulations—then then the agency fined him $10,000 anyway.Whether there’s actually a regulation making commercial drones illegal is the question that has been debated for months in a landmark, precedent-setting court case that has, at least temporarily, opened the skies for commercial drone operators. The question of whether the FAA actually believes it can fine someone simply for earning money while flying a drone (and not, for say, violating some other regulation in addition) is a question the FAA has refrained from answering during the the entire proceedings. Now we know that, internally, the agency knows there is no regulation banning commercial drones

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On May 12, a strategic consulting firm called 32 Advisors announced the creation of a drone subsidiary it calls Measure. Rather than build or sell drones, the new company will offer what it calls “Drone as a Service.” Think Rent-a-Drone: Companies that believe they might have use for a drone — but don’t have the money, expertise, or interest to buy, run, and maintain their own drone or drone fleet — would hire Measure to do it for them.
Chief Executive Officer Brandon Torres Declet is a former legislative aide and lobbyist specializing in homeland security issues. Here’s what he says about it: Read more

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The Signs of the Near Future Tumblr forecasts a dark future.It’s easy to look at today’s technology through rose-colored glasses. The promises are tantalizing: Driverless cars are safer! Contact lenses could help diabetics! Drones deliver tacos!Read Full Story

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Image: International Governance of Autonomous Military RobotsToday at the United Nations in Geneva, dozens of nations from around the world and the top minds in robotics are trying to figure out what we should do about the specter of killer robots.In diplomatic parlance, that’s “lethal autonomous weapons systems”—intelligent machines that can decide on their own to take a person’s life without any human intervention. As militaries in the US, China, Russia, and Israel creep ever closer to developing these killing machines, the UN is holding its first convention to debate if we should ban the technology outright before it’s too late.The downside of creating machines that can kill us without our say-so is well-trodden territory; sci-fi stories have done a sufficient job depicting that particular dystopian future. So have activists from the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, Human Rights Watch, and the International Committee for Robot Arms Control, who are currently in Geneva lobbying for a preemptive ban

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It’s come to light that a small drone almost collided with a US Airways jetliner in Florida in March—and it’s enough to spur the FAA to further clamp down on the use of UAVs.Read more…

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