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Drone News Roundup: Flamethrower Drone Torches Wasp Nest, Stunt School’s FPV Drone Video, and More!

BY Zacc Dukowitz
18 December 2020

This week we’re covering a video of a drone in China outfitted with a flamethrower being used to torch a huge hornet’s nest.

We’re also covering an impressive FPV video made by a stunt school in France showing some high-skilled stunt work and flying, a tiny drone that uses actual moth antennae to smell chemicals, new provisions the AMA has helped secure for educators working with drones, and the acquisition of Uber’s drone taxi program Uber Elevate by Joby Aviation.

Now on to the links!

Drone with a Flamethrower Used to Torch Hornet’s Nest

The video above shows a drone outfitted with a flamethrower being used to take out a huge wasp’s nest. The Blue Sky Rescue Team—an emergency responder outfit—made this drone so that they can destroy over 100 wasp nests in the area of Zhong County, China. Three years back a similar video made its rounds on the internet, with a flamethrower drone being used to burn a net off of a power line.

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FPV Video from French Stunt School Features Impressive Flying and Stunts

CUC stunt team - Welcome to our world

A video recently released by a stunt school in France called the Campus Univers Cascades showcases the extreme skill of the school’s students. But the students’ skills aren’t the only thing that’s impressive about the video—it also features high octane FPV drone flying, with continuous shots through ever-changing landscapes and stunts. If you’re looking for a diversion, watch the full 4 + minutes of the video. You won’t be disappointed.

Warning: This video features stunts that could be triggering to some viewers, including action scenes that depict realistic fighting and bloodshed.

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Tiny Drone Uses Moth Antenna to Sniff Out Chemicals

'Smellicopter' uses moth antenna to locate odor source

Researchers at the University of Washington have invented a tiny drone that uses repurposed moth antennae to detect the presence of specific chemicals. Called the Smellicopter, the drone uses the antenna from a common hawk moth to create a fast, reliable, and accurate way to detect target chemicals. The drone is currently just a prototype, but it presents a promising marriage of nature and technology for a myriad of industrial use cases.

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AMA Helps Secure Educational Provisions for Commercial Drone Use

ama-ndaa-education-drones
Photo credit: AMA

Thanks to lobbying done by the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA), the new NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) contains a provision that softens requirements for educational programs that want to teach students how to use drones. Under these new provisions, educational drone programs at primary and secondary educational institutions can be operated under a Community Based Organization (CBO), significantly reducing their regulatory burden and opening the path for more young people to learn about drones and get excited about STEM subjects and careers. In addition, the new provisions allow for Junior ROTC (JROTC) drone programs to operate for educational purposes so long as they follow educational guidelines, and removes the requirement for them to operate under a CBO.

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Joby Aviation Acquires Uber Elevate

uber-elevate-acquisition-drone-taxi
Photo credit: Uber Elevate

Wondering if drone taxis will ever be a thing? Uber’s recent sale of its drone taxi division, Uber Elevate, to Joby Aviation, may give us some answers. On the one hand, the acquisition signals that Uber may have bitten off more than it can chew when it comes to creating and scaling up passenger taxis. But on the other hand, Joby Aviation has raised an impressive $820 million from investors, and Uber itself has invested $75 million as part of the agreement made for Uber Elevate’s sale. This arrangement seems to imply not that drone taxis will never happen, but rather that they require more specialization than Uber can—or cares—to create at the moment.

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