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EETE JUN 2014

executive interview Who owns the space above your garden? By Julien Happich Folowing the European Comision’s recent announcement that it would harmonize legislation regarding unmanned drones, EETimes Europe caught up with Yannick Levy, Parrot’s Vice President of Corporate Business Development with a close eye on both professional and hobbyist drones. There have been several lawsuits against hobbyist drone flyers, including a recent one in France where an 18-year-old boy from Nancy filmed a video of his hometown using a GoPro camera mounted onto a small drone. Nans Thomas was eventually fined 400 Euros for violating the DGAC’s sky rules (Direction Générale de l’Aviation Civile) and endangering the lives of others, a fairly light sentence if you consider the maximal sentence could have been one year of imprisonment and a 15,000 Euros fine (violating flying safety rules bear a maximal fine of 75,000 euros but this charge was not taken into account). In the USA, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) tried to fine an aerial photographer for “reckless flying”, but the court found that the FAA had no authority over small unmanned aircraft when it imposed the first-ever such fine on a drone operator. In fact the FAA has yet to come with dedicated rules for lightweight drones (under 25 kilograms). But in both cases, the general rules that would apply are that recreational drones should stay away from populated areas. So how are these lawsuits affecting the hobbyist market and what sort of new recommendations Drone manufacturers will put forward to avoid a consumer backlash? The first promotional AR. Drone Youtube videos posted by French manufacturer Parrot were showing a quadcopter drone remotely piloted via a tablet, hovering over the Parisian cityscape. That makes for an attractive proposition, but wasn’t it misleading? We asked Levy. “The greatest impact that the Nancy case had for the drone industry was a clarification of French law with regards to drones, with numerous media trying to figure out and explain in simple terms what the DGAC regulations meant” said Levy. “In fact, in its 2012 update of the sky regulations, the DGAC had already anticipated the use of drones for commercial activities, “The greatest impact that the Nancy case had for the drone industry was a clarification of French law with regards to but it was not meant to affect the consumer and hobbyist market when the photos and videos are solely recorded for private purposes”, Levy continued. Some media interpreted the guidelines roughly as: you can’t fly over 50m high or further than 100m away from the remote control without any authorisation, and never over a populated area. But only two weeks ago, the DGCA published a new note to clarify the distinction it makes between commercial and hobbyist activities. Hobbyists are now allowed to fly their drones (under 25kg) below the 150m altitude limit, but never over populated areas, neither near airport routes or other specific flying zones as described in aeronautical charts. In effect, this restricts the use of these consumer drones in the confined space of your private home or garden, or in remote places. It also implies that users should be made aware of their local aeronautical charts. “This is why our latest promotional videos only feature groups of friends in wide natural landscapes rather than in a city”, emphasized Levy, putting forward Parrot’s latest consumer drone announcement, the Bebob featuring a HD video camera and a 300m range, extensible to 2km using the company’s Skycontroller pack. “We are also encouraging users to consult the local regulations that apply, and that’s why the DGCA is also looking at how to communicate better on the topic”. The notion of “putting the lives of others at risk” is not a specificity of flying drones and didn’t require any particular amendments in French law. As for the embarked camera, the issue is whether you use the drones”. recorded media for commercial purpose or not, with consent or not from the people being filmed. The European Commission issued a statement last month saying it aims to set tough new standards to regulate the operations of civil drones, covering safety, security, privacy, data protection, insurance and liability. In this statement, Vice- President Siim Kallas, Commissioner for mobility and transport, said: “Civil drones can check for damage on road and rail bridges, monitor natural disasters such as flooding and spray crops with pinpoint accuracy. They come in all shapes and sizes. In the future they may even deliver books from your favourite online retailer. But many people, including myself, have concerns about the safety, security and privacy issues relating to these devices.” Parrot’s soon to be launched Bebop drone, features HD resolution and a 300m range, extensible to 2km using the company’s Skycontroller pack (compatible with Oculus Rift for a first-person view flight immersion). 14 Electronic Engineering Times Europe June 2014 www.electronics-eetimes.com


EETE JUN 2014
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