Drones fly over Final Four events, raising security concerns— 7 April 2015

According to Homeland Security, drones were spotted flying over crowds on at least three separate occasions during the Final Four events of March Madness. On one occasion, police spotted a drone flying over a packed crowd in White River State Park in Indianapolis, Indiana for a free Rihanna concert in celebration of the Final Four. Police consequently searched for the operator and landed the vehicle. Police said those who were caught were apparently hobbyists who were unaware of the rules. Indianapolis police gave drone operators warnings and notified the FAA. In similar news, a drone was also spotted over a crowd at a Rand Paul speech in South Carolina Thursday.

FAA grants Amazon and AIG Section 333 Exemption— 8 April 2015

The FAA announced Thursday that it had granted Amazon Section 333 Exemption on Wednesday to test its drones, following Amazon’s complaints that it’s last drone had became outdated before being approved for use. Amazon was included in 30 exemptions announced Wednesday by the FAA, increasing the total number of Section 333 Exemptions to 128. Amazon will be able to fly up to 100 miles an hour over private property and up to altitudes of 400 feet. The FAA also requires that drones remain in visual line of sight of either the remote-control pilot or a designated observer, which may complicate Amazon’s delivery testing. The FAA also approved insurance giant AIG Wednesday to use drones to conduct inspections of property damage, after previously having approved State Farm and USAA.

DJI announces Phantom 3— 8 April 2015

DJI announced two new models of the Phantom Wednesday. The Phantom 3 Advanced costs only $999, while the Phantom 3 Professional costs $1259. Both have an improved camera and more sophisticated flight controls. The main difference is camera quality— the Advanced shoots at 1080p at 60 frames per second, and the Professional shoots video at 4k at 30 frames per second. Both models have a remote control with an attached tablet, allowing pilots to view a live stream of the camera from up to a mile away. Video can be streamed to Youtube directly with a delay of 20 minutes, or edited through the accompanying app. Flight time is estimated at 23 minutes, with ascending speeds up to 13 mph and horizontal flight speeds up to 35 mph. DJI will begin shipping Phantom 3 models in a few weeks, allowing amateur drone-operators the equipment to shoot commercial-quality video.