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Drone News Roundup: Landmine-Detecting Drones, DJI Summer Sale, and a Quiet Skydio Pivot

BY Tres Crow
5 June 2020

As drones become more powerful and less expensive, enterprising pilots are finding novel ways to use the technology. From monitoring active volcanoes to accident reconstruction, drones are becoming indispensable tools in multiple industries. This week’s drone news roundup has several stories of drones being used in interesting ways, as well as an update on the DJI-Autel legal battle, and a link to the DJI Summer Sale featuring Osmo products.

Let’s get to the links!

DJI Summer Sale in Full Swing

DJI Summer Sale 2020 Background Image

Image credit DJI

DJI launched their 2020 Summer Sale a few weeks ago, but there’s still time to get loaded up with all the goodies you need. The sale is focused exclusively on the Osmo product and accessories, but 45% off is a heck of a steal for many of these items. Use the link below to start shopping!

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Latest Development in the DJI-Autel Disputes

Autel-DJI Dispute

Image credit Newegg Insider

Speaking of DJI, IP law firm, Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP, have a quick update on the DJI-Autel patent dispute. While Autel’s claim is currently under review by the International Trade Commission (ITC), Finnegan believes it is unlikely that the ITC will rule in Autel’s favor and halt sales of DJI drones in the U.S.

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COPS Releases New Report on the Use of Drones in Policing

Police Officer flies DJI M210

Image credit Los Angeles Daily News

The Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) division of the Department of Justice recently released their report on the use of drones in policing. There’s a lot of good information here for police departments, broken into 3 sections: Pre-Implementation Considerations; Establishing a Drone Program; and Malicious Use of Drones. In particular the report is geared toward helping departments maintain transparency and communication with the community about the use of drones. From the report:

Many community members have legitimate concerns about the use of drones by anyone, including the police, because of the privacy issues that occur when small, lightweight devices with video cameras can fly almost anywhere. Thus, some considerations for police agencies interested in using drones to advance public safety include undertaking a methodical process of explaining their plans publicly; holding public meetings and other forums in which community members can express their concerns; and working with the community to reach acceptable compromises or consensus approaches to issues such as defining the purposes of police drones, managing the use and possible storage of video or other data obtained by drones, and addressing the public’s legitimate concerns and questions.

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Drones Could Help Find Landmines

Butterfly Mine in an open hand

Image credit Caustic Soda

Researchers at Binghamton University in New York have identified a way to use drones equipped with thermal cameras to find butterfly landmines. Apparently, these mines have an identifiable heat signature in the morning compared to the surrounding rocks, making it easy to find them with a thermal camera. With millions of butterfly mines strewn across battlegrounds around the world, thermal drones could be a scalable way to begin to dispose of these dangerous remnants of wars past.

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Skydio Quietly Expands to Government Work

Skydio Evo in flight

Image credit Forbes

While Skydio has grown a reputation for building AI-powered consumer drones that are perfect for hobbyists, they have been quietly expanding their operations over the last 2 years to include government use cases, according to a recent article by Forbes.  With over $70m in venture funding, an estimated value of $220m, and millions in government contracts, Skydio has found a niche in the military and public safety industries. From the article:

In May, the DEA gave a $190,000 contract to Skydio, following a $16,000 order in August 2019. That same year, it also scored a $3 million contract with the U.S. Army and a $1.5 million deal with the Air Force, as it ramps up government work. Those awards built on work with local police departments that Skydio has been more vocal about. In December, it announced it was supplying the Chula Vista Police Department with drones, though the police agency told local reporters it wasn’t being used for anything other than emergency situations. Forbes also found the Ohio state government and L.A. County Department of Regional Planning were customers.

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