New task force to take on rogue drone pilots flying near airports

While the vast majority of drone owners fly their machines responsibly, it only takes a few bozos to tarnish the reputation of the wider drone community.

As the popularity of quadcopters and similar devices continues to grow, we hear increasingly of rogue pilots flying their drones close to airports, whether as a deliberate act or because they failed to properly check the surrounding area before launching their machine.

Such actions pose a serious safety risk to the passengers and crew of planes flying overhead, a situation that has prompted the formation of a new task force to tackle the issue.

Comprising relevant experts such as Michael Huerta, the former head of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the lengthily named Blue Ribbon Task Force on Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Mitigation at Airports has been set up by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) and the Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA).

Its mission, in its own words, is to “address the timely and critical issue of incursions by unauthorized UAS at our nation’s airports and how best to mitigate this threat.”

Brian Wynne, president and CEO of AUVSI, said this week: “UAS interfering with manned aviation is a serious issue, and it requires serious solutions. That is why we are bringing together the best and brightest minds to recommend a plan to keep our skies safe for the flying public.”

Wynne added: “While UAS hold tremendous societal and economic benefits, occasional bad actors threaten to undermine the great progress we have made and even put responsible, legal UAS operations in a negative light.”

Task force members, as well as experts in UAS technology, national security and defense, and those working in the National Air Space System, will work together to design effective airport procedures for responding to drone incursions, and examine new technologies aimed at dealing with such events. The group will also establish a policy framework for dealing with illegal drone flights, which could later be applied to national landmarks, stadiums, prisons, and military bases, as many of these experience similar drone-related challenges.

Kevin Burke, president and CEO of ACI-NA, said there is currently “no clear playbook” on how to deal with the threat to safety posed by rogue drones. “By bringing together this exceptional group of experts, we are hopeful we can make significant progress in developing best practices that will help airports respond better,” Burke said.

The FAA says on its website that reports of drone sightings close to planes and airports in U.S. airspace have increased dramatically over the past two years, with as many as 100 cases coming to its attention monthly. Unauthorized drone pilots can face big fines and criminal charges, including possible jail time.

In January 2019, reports of drones flying close to Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey caused the temporary closure of the facility, while further afield, in the United Kingdom, multiple drone sightings over the runway of Gatwick Airport — one of the nation’s busiest transportation hubs — caused it to suspend all operations for more than a day.

News

UPS partners with TuSimple to test self-driving semi-trucks

UPS has been carrying truckloads of goods in self-driving semi-trucks since May. The vehicles are being tested in Arizona routes between Phoenix and Tucson for better service and efficiency for UPS delivery.
Movies & TV

Skip the sunshine this summer and watch the best shows on Hulu

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Movies & TV

Who needs sunshine? Stay inside and watch the best movies on Netflix instead

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Movies & TV

Obi-Wan Kenobi series is the latest Star Wars project headed to Disney+

Disney's direct-to-consumer streaming video service Disney+ will launch with an impressive catalog of classic content, new projects, and original shows and movies. Here is everything confirmed and rumored to be coming to the platform.
Gaming

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Emerging Tech

Astro the dog-inspired quadruped robot can sit, lie down, and… learn?

Move over Spot! Researchers from Florida Atlantic University have built a new dog robot called Astro. Thanks to deep learning technology, it promises to be able to learn just like a real dog.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Racing drones and robotic ping pong trainers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Health & Fitness

We spit in a ton of test tubes to find the best and most unique DNA tests

DNA tests aren’t just limited to ancestry. You can test for your risks for certain diseases, the best workouts and diets for your health and fitness, and more.
Emerging Tech

Artificial tree promises to suck up as much air pollution as a small forest

Startup Biomitech has developed an artificial tree that it claims is capable of sucking up as much air pollution as 368 real trees. It could be a game-changer for cities with limited free space.
Emerging Tech

Mars 2020 rover now has a rotating array of drill bits for sampling Martian rock

Most the key components in the Mars 2020 rover are installed and ready to go. The next phase of construction was to install the bit carousel, an important mechanism for the gathering and sorting of samples from the Martian surface.
Emerging Tech

NASA selects landing site candidates for OSIRIS-Rex to sample asteroid Bennu

Last year, the OSIRIS-REx craft arrived at asteroid Bennu, from which it will collect a sample from the asteroid to be brought back to Earth. Now, the NASA team has selected four potential sites to choose from for the sampling mission.
Emerging Tech

NASA wants to send two more missions to Mars to collect rock samples

With its Mars 2020 mission, NASA hopes to collect samples from the surface of the planet. The challenge is how to get those samples back to Earth. Now, NASA has revealed its plans for two followup missions to Mars.
Emerging Tech

Eric Geusz: Apple engineer by day, spaceship designer by night

An Apple software engineer by day, artist Eric Geusz spends his nights drawing everyday household objects as amazing, science fiction-style spaceships. Check out the impressive results.
Emerging Tech

The black hole at the center of our galaxy is flaring and no one knows why

At the heart of our galaxy lies a supermassive black hole, Sagittarius A*. Normally this giant monster is relatively docile, but recently it's been a hotbed of unexpected activity, rapidly glowing 75 times brighter than normal.