Google Tests Drones in Australia


Australian farmer Neil Parfitt recently became the first person in the world to receive a delivery from a Google drone. The candy bar that was delivered to Parfitt foreshadows a future in which small and medium sized items will be delivered in minutes. Reason TV took a look at the "drone boom" last year.

"Drone Boom: Why Drones Aren't Just for Dropping Bombs Anymore," produced by Paul Detrick. Approximately 7 minutes.

Original release date was August 20, 2013. The original writeup is below.

When you hear the word drone you may immediately think of bombs being dropped in the Middle East or the surveillance of citizens here in the United States, but engineers and aviation geeks have wondered for decades if unmanned flight might solve a few of our world's problems or just make our lives a little easier.

Over 30 years ago, science magazines wondered if drones would "sniff out pollution," or, "make pilots obsolete," and engineers are saying that those ideas may be possible now.

"The technology has reached a point where it can be very inexpensive to buy [unmanned aerial system technology]," says John Villasenor, an engineer at UCLA and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Villasenor says that advances in GPS, airframe design, and flight control methods have made unmanned flight available to pretty much anyone.

As a part of the FAA's re-authorization of funds in February 2012, Congress passed a bill that included the integration of unmanned aircraft into U.S. airspace. First for public entities like law enforcement or fire fighters and second for civilians like farmers or filmmakers with full integration by 2015. In July, the FAA approved two drones for commercial use which could fly as early as 2013.

The industry is growing so quickly worldwide that the intelligence research firm the Teal Group, said in June 2013 that unmanned aerial vehicle spending will more than double over the next ten years from current expenditures of $5.2 billion annually to $11.6 billion–totaling just over $89 billion in the next decade.

"The potential of UAVs benefiting mankind in firefighting, agriculture, pollution, stopping all sorts of loss of life because we were able to send a remote vehicle instead of a human life into that is amazing," said Alan Tratnor of the California Space Enterprise Center at an unmanned aerial vehicle policy symposium put on by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in March 2013.

The symposium is like a lot of public discussions going on around the world right now about drones.

Drone like this one are becoming cheaper and more available to civilians."It's a way to have a dialogue across the whole community to make sure we are all thinking of the right things and moving in the right direction together," said Sandra Magnus, executive director of AIAA.

Some companies have already hit the ground running with low level aerial film making. Drone Dudes is a two year old company of young filmmakers and engineers who shoot sporting events across the United States. Whether it's biking, surfing, driving or skateboarding, Drone Dudes is able to capture aerial shots that are considerably cheaper and more dynamic that using a crane or a helicopter.

Magnus, who is also a former astronaut, says that she is aware of the concerns people have about the new technology.

"Human beings, our very nature, we're a little scary about change because it's the unknown, but we're explorers too. And we are constantly balancing that tension between what's the unknown like and part of us yearn to go into the unknown and all the debate you hear about the use of unmanned vehicles on both sides, you're seeing that tension played out."

Villasenor points out that in the late 1800s, when cameras became cheap enough for many Americans to buy, there was tension over that new technology too. Some of that tension grew over privacy fears, a topic the unmanned aerial system community can't seem to escape.

Drone camera"I think civil libertarians have a right to be concerned about privacy," says Villasenor. "To deny that unmanned aircraft […] will in some cases be used in manner that violates privacy, that would be overly naive. It will happen."

Villasenor points out that when it comes to government drones with cameras the fourth amendment still should apply when it comes to civilians, there are invasion of privacy statues people must abide by.

"I also think it's important for people with an interest in civil liberties and everyone else to look at it on the other side […] We have, all of us, an affirmative first amendment right to gather information so unmanned aircraft in the hands of people who are gathering information which includes people in the news media and others can be very powerful tools just like cameras are today," says Villasenor.

"Technology is a tool and you have to be mindful how you use it," says Magnus. "But we can't let our fear keep us from reaping the benefits of our brains, which is where the technology comes from."

Written and produced by Paul Detrick. Camera by Detrick, Sharif Matar, Alex Manning and Tracy Oppenheimer.

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  1. Drone camera”I think civil libertarians have a right to be concerned about privacy,” says Villasenor. “To deny that unmanned aircraft […] will in some cases be used in manner that violates privacy, that would be overly naive. It will happen.”

    Looking forward to the day that police use a civilian’s drone camera to make a drug bust and the SCOTUS rules that not having an opaque dome over your house is a waiver of your right to privacy.

  2. Forget about drones, it’s almost too late! Again!

    Almost too late again

    So, when’s it going to finally be ‘too late’ so these wackos can STFU already?

    1. Someone posted a “it’s really too late” study link in a comments thread recently. That was pretty awesome. If I agree that it’s too late, will the GW cultists go away?*

      *No. No, they won’t.

      1. It’s too late.

        And no, they won’t go away. 🙁

    2. LA times had an article about antartic sea ice breaking records for GROWTH and how that’s CAUSED by GW. They say that, despite the GW psuedo scientist’s predictions of total meltdown, the ice sheet is growing at record rates. They say this is proof that climate predictions are “complicated” but we should still subscribe to all the other predictions, because…well…because,right? BTW, the new prediction is eventual total meltdown anyway. This time, they hope to be right, despite the complicated nature of nature.

      1. But this has got to be good news for the polar bears, right? They won’t be floating off to die on melting ice floes now?

        1. Wrong pole dude.

  3. “So, when’s it going to finally be ‘too late’ so these wackos can STFU already?”

    How about never? Is never good for you?

  4. “4 Ways to Be Gender Inclusive When Discussing Abortion

    “August 29, 2014 by Jack Qu’emi…

    “The “War on Women” is a war on me, but I’m not a woman.

    “I volunteer my time to further access to reproductive healthcare and education. I’ve spent over five years clinic escorting, canvassing, and tabling. I’ve attended speak-outs, protests, vigils, and repro rights conventions.

    “But it’s really difficult to be present in a movement that is so incredibly cissexist.

    “The fact of the matter is that trans men/ masculine people and nonbinary people (like myself) are severely underrepresented by the mainstream dialogue about reproductive rights, and this needs to change….

    “I was twenty when I had a medicinal abortion, and I have been on some form of birth control since that time….

    “Even the intake forms at my local Planned Parenthood are incredibly trans-exclusive! When I went to Planned Parenthood to get birth control I wasn’t given the option to state my preferred name or personal pronouns.”


    1. I would think this story generates conflicted feelings for you, Eddie.

      1. Oh, forgive me, I forget to post this summary of your remarks:


    2. When forms demand eye color, I’m never given the option to explain that I have the rare condition of heterochromia iridum. Maybe that’s why they call them forms!

      Hey, wha’ happened?

    3. “The “War on Women” is a war on me, but I’m not a woman.


      “I was twenty when I had a medicinal abortion, and I have been on some form of birth control since that time….

      wut? whet? when?

      How is that even possible?

      1. Your confusion indicates you also may be trans – exclusive

    4. When I went to Planned Parenthood to get birth control I wasn’t given the option to state my preferred name or personal pronouns.

      Help! Help! I’m being repressed!

    5. “The fact of the matter is that trans men/ masculine people and nonbinary people (like myself) are severely underrepresented by the mainstream dialogue about reproductive rights, and this needs to change….

      I dunno

      If you’re a ‘tans-man’ then doesn’t that mean you’re biologically female? And would have the same reproductive issues as females? I’m not sure how ‘gender’ affects anything here.

      Ultimately, you’re either male, female, or not – gender is irrelevant to this – and have the same ‘reproductive issues and rights’ as anyone else of the same sex.

      1. This seems exactly like that amphitheater scene in ‘Life of Brian’.

        I’m not going to fight for your right to have babies when you can’t have babies, Stan.



    6. Trans rights are going to be the first real civil rights movement which is spoken for almost exclusively by crybabies, internet feminists, victimologists, and leftist cultural revolutionaries.

      The left couldn’t be happier about this. The radfems are having to reverse their 2 decade smear campaign against transwomen and pretend it never happened, but they’ve erased worse crimes than that (maternalism, anyone?)

      What’s super convenient about the trans* community from the left’s point of view is that the average trans* person doesn’t want to identify as trans*. If they could be cis, they would be. That’s pretty much part of the experience. So when they play identity politics, they get the people who can’t/won’t pass or the people who are so angry about their experiences that it eats them alive. Those of us who just want to transition and move on with our lives can’t afford to speak out, and certainly not if it alienates us from the rest of the LGBT community. So the group naturally stratifies into mostly crazy and extreme people who can speak out, and the normalish trans people who can’t.

    1. Meant as a reply to the Mighty G.K.C., causer of famines.

  5. Looks like Ohio State and UCLA were overrated again.

    1. And ah, Clemson…I just hope GA was underrated

    2. The other fake OSU lost too leaving the one true OSU as a winner today.

    3. Right, because one game, on opening day, against a goofy offensive scheme you’ll not see again, is indicative of how steam will develop and progress through the season.

      By the way, Ohio State covered while Alabama didn’t, Florida State didn’t and UCLA didn’t. And I was at the game,and you could see that they didn’t want to open up the offensive,play book at all in the first half. Meyer was determined to let Barrett get a half under his belt to calm him, and it showed. But he did open it up in the second half and they managed 28 points with relative ease. Also, there was a Navy turnover on their own 3 that inexplicably got overturned because it got called a forward pass and the first Navy touchdown should not have counted as the runner never got the ball in the end zone. That would have blown it open earlier. So basically the game showed that Barrett is gonna be pretty damn good, that their defense has gaps that an option team will expose…and they won’t face an option team again this season.

      I’ll go ahead and add college football to the list of things you apparently know little about.

      1. Sloop, I watched the game on TV here but am not as optimistic as you are.

        OSU’s biggest problem last year was their pass defense, which was carpet-bombed by Mich, MSU, and Clemson. Navy was a poor test for this. But Navy was a good test for their run defense, and I was not impressed. Sure, Navy runs a strange system, but Urban Meyer knew that going into the game. They did adjust well at halftime, so that’s good.

        Barrett was only OK in my book. But it’s early days. I certainly didn’t pick up any serious issues and his passes were pretty accurate.

        The Navy fumble was in fact a forward pass as shown clearly on replay. In fact, many of Navy’s pitch-outs were forward passes. This is a good strategy since if the pitch is muffed there is no risk of a fumble. Why didn’t teams use this before? Maybe the running back is too close to the defenders?

        OSU got screwed on one call in the second half where they got a first down but the back was ruled down about 2 yds short. The announcers replayed it and pointed it out.

        Unfortunately OSU has a weak schedule – only MSU rated in the top 25 – so they probably need to go undefeated to make the playoff. We won’t know how good they are until Nov 8 when they play MIch St

        1. They cease to be forward passes if the line has gone beyond the line of scrimmage in a blocking scheme.

          As for their struggles on the D-line, I’m not,too,concerned. They probably,worked,on defending Navy’s scheme for,less than a full week,while,prepping for a spread or,pro-set the rest of the summer. We should,know,a lot more,about the defense after the Tech game.

  6. Australia would be pretty cool to visit.

    1. If you want to be murdered by some hideous poisonous animal, sure.

    2. Long ways to go from civilization…

  7. I’ll leave this here. The Reformation of Manners.

    I will skulk off depressed.

    1. Silly Brits who thought Red Riding was a fictional story.

      1. Where were the dads?

        I am surprised some of the rapists were not murdered.

        Then again the rapists were probably smart enough to only rape girls who were in homes with single moms.

        The articles talk about grooming where they befriended the girls and got tons of info about them over months or years before they started raping them.

        How good is 14 year old tail vs just paying an adult hooker or picking up women at a bar?

        The time and effort put into this seems excessive.

    2. It makes me appreciate America. For all of our flaws, warts, police thugs, etc, it could be a lot worse. Maybe it’ll get worse, but we are still in a position to also make it better. England, well, if they decided to start pulling their heads out of their asses today they might see daylight by 2050.

      It also makes me appreciate Daniel Hannan more. It takes guts to buck that kind of trend and not be destroyed.

      1. meh.

        I am sceptical that England has ever been a utopia of rule of law western civilization.

        I seem to recall quite a few people in America who are descended from Englishmen who felt the same way.

        Even leaving aside the class system which every book written in England before 1950 seems to be dripping with and how very important it is. England is not a unified county of people. Groups hate other groups who live less then few miles from each other and have been hating each other for 1000s of years. Despite the fact that they all look the same and speak the same and eat the same food for those thousands of years. A new group of raping Pakistani men and the larger group they belong to just seem like more of the same really. The authorities lack of enforcement for years probably has more to do with the classism and group hatred the elites have for the people they are to be protecting then it has to do with the evil shadow of cultural take over from Islam.

        1. Eh, It probably has a lot to do with all of it.

          I’m trying to think of a charitable reason that Reason has avoided it so far. I mean, given the variety of topics they cover and number of writers they publish it seems that someone might have gotten around to mentioning it by now.

          I hope that something or things are coming on it. I can think of a few right off the top, such as “hey feminists, this is what a rape culture actually looks like so maybe be careful tossing that term around” or something in answer to the PC problems that helped cover up the systematic rape of children for years, or perhaps an evenhanded look at the difficulties of immigration and assimilation and what might be done differently, cuz you know something like this will be a propaganda tool for the anti-immigration crowd; it’s just so sensational.

          I’d hate to think that they are ducking it because it hits them in all the wrong PC Feelz, because that would be pretty cowardly, and extremely ironic, given what happened.

          1. I don’t know how much English crime stories reason covers.

            It does not seem like a lot.

            One thing it could cover is the complete and utter break down of government and its inability to even do simple things like pursue and prosecute kidnapping child rapists.

            I went through some of the links of the link you provided (mostly BBC) and the authorities from police to city council to child protection services were just completely horrible. They had child rape victims literally handing over physical evidence like semen stained cloths to the police and the police telling them they can’t do anything.

            Islam did not do that. A bloated pointless bureaucracy did.

            1. opps i mean the link Headless Body of Agnew provided.

            2. A rape is a crime story, 1,400 rapes is a little different, ja?

              I think that is an excellent point about the breakdown of government. PC is only one part of that story (though not the least of it, either) and there is a target rich environment for a libertarian to attack.

  8. Sounds liek a solid plan to me dude.


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