drones

Going on vacation and want some extra security around your home? Someday you may be able to call Amazon's drones.

The Seattle tech giant is moving closer to making that scenario a real possibility after winning approval from federal officials this month for a patent for "home surveillance" drones.

In January, a group of high-level military commanders gathered at an air base in Yemen. It was far from the frontlines of the country's ongoing civil war.

Then, without warning, a small drone appeared out of the sky and exploded, spraying the group with shrapnel. According to news reports, the blast killed several, including the Yemeni government's head of military intelligence.

Drones have become an increasingly popular tool for industry and government.

Electric utilities use them to inspect transmission lines. Oil companies fly them over pipelines. The Interior Department even deployed them to track lava flows at Hawaii's Kilauea volcano.

But the Department of Homeland Security is warning that drones manufactured by Chinese companies could pose security risks, including that the data they gather could be stolen.

The Federal Aviation Administration has certified Alphabet's Wing Aviation to operate as an airline, in a first for U.S. drone delivery companies. Wing, which began as a Google X project, has been testing its autonomous drones in southwest Virginia and elsewhere.

Here's a hypothetical: How tolerant would you be of a drone flying over your head or zooming through your backyard, if it were carrying life-saving medicine to the scene of a hard-to-reach accident?

The U.S. Department of Transportation plans to collect the answers to questions like this, and a slew of other data, in a new test project called the Integration Pilot Program.

On a recent sunny afternoon at a solar farm outside Philadelphia, Pa., commercial drone pilots Tony Zimlich and Gunner Goldie are preparing for flight.

Dressed in hard hats and matching yellow vests, they run through a series of safety and equipment checks, and survey the surrounding terrain and airspace, before picking up what looks like a pair of oversized video game controllers. Then, with a streak of beeps and whirs, their drone — about the size of a milk crate — rises steadily into the sky above.

okstate.edu

A new way to collect weather data is being tested this week.

Dozens of researchers from four universities—Oklahoma State University, the University of Oklahoma, the University of Kentucky, and the University of Nebraska—are piloting unmanned aerial vehicles as part of a four-year, $6 million project with the National Science Foundation.

But Dr. Jamey Jacob of Oklahoma State University says they’ve been interested in this idea for some time.

The Federal Aviation Administration issued the first operational rules to govern the commercial use of drones on Tuesday.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said this was a "huge step for innovation."

The 600-plus pages of new regulations require drone operators to pass a written exam every two years, keep the unmanned aircraft within sight and avoid flying it over people and at night. The rules also require drones to stay at least 5 miles from airports.

Is a drone a toy or a (tiny) airplane?

To the Department of Transportation, the question is far from complicated.

"Unmanned aircraft operators are aviators and with that title comes a great deal of responsibility," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said on Monday while unveiling new drone registration rules.

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