Urban Drone photography is still a relatively new style of photography and comes with its own set of challenges. Here in the The UK, The Civil Aviation Authority lay down a set of air navigation laws that apply to the use of drones with an emphasis on protecting unlawful flights in congested areas. The purpose of these laws is there to protect not only members of public but also to protect licensed drone operators who operate within the law when carrying out Urban Drone Photography. Following recent arrests by climate change demonstrators at London’s Heathrow Airport and major disruption at Gatwick Airport during December 2018 the Civil Aviation Authority implemented new strict regulations for drones that carry a camera on board and record data.
The Congested Area – Urban Drone Photography
A congested area is defined as ‘any area of a city, town or settlement which is substantially used for residential, industrial, commercial or recreational purposes.’ This covers a multitude of locations including housing estates, retail parks, theme parks, shopping centres, industrial areas, football grounds and city centre areas. It means that urban Drone Photography can be difficult to capture “LEGALLY” as the requirements to fly mean that many areas are off completely off limits and finding an area in an urban environment that ticks all the boxes for safe lawful flights are often limited.
St Annes Quarter Norwich
Undertaking “Legal”Flying in the Centre of the City of Norwich falls completely into the realms of the Congested Area. However, working with Orbit Homes to document the building of an exciting new community of prestigious residential and commercial properties in Norwich, we opened up the ideal opportunity to capture Urban Drone Photography and scenes of the vibrant, history filled city. Congested Area flights prohibit flying near a congested area at any distance closer than 150m. This is just one rule of many that dictate where a drone can be flown, alongside restrictions such as flying over 50m away from another person and keeping the drone within 500m of the pilot horizontally at all times. In order to acquire such permission, it is important that you are able to demonstrate the safety measures you plan to put in place to ensure that you fly responsibly in this risky area in a way that put no person, property or fellow aircraft in danger.
Professional commercial Drone Photography in a congested area requires extensive planning, risk assessment, insurance and a permission from the Civil Aviation Authority to allow for commercial operation. There are literally thousands of unlicensed drone operators currently flying within the UK and as recently as September 2019, reports of a near miss involving an Air Ambulance narrowly missing a Drone flying at three times the legal height were reported to the Civil Aviation Authority. Why You Should Only Hire a Licensed Drone Pilot?
Putting an unlicensed pilot to work, particularly when filming Urban Drone Photography, breaches CAA regulations if there is any form of payment either in terms of money, goods or services in return for flying for a client. While the pilot ay be prosecuted, you may also be held responsible. In addition to these fees, you could find yourself liable for damages that result from operating the drone. Providing aerial photography and videography, drones are capable of capturing a huge amount of detail including things that shouldn’t end up on film. If these devices violate a person’s privacy rights in any way, you and the unlicensed pilot could be held accountable. Licensed Operators understand the limits of privacy laws and how to direct the drone in a way that won’t violate these rights. UK Drone Licensing requires an individual to show they understand how to not only operate a drone, but also how to fly in a variety various conditions such as avoiding obstacles or considerations of bad weather. Without this knowledge, the risk of an accident increases, putting you and others in danger.
Flying Drones is possibly one of the most contentious, talked about subjects on film-makers, photographers and radio control enthusiasts throughout the UK. Once again we see the SUAV (Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicle), better known as a drone, literally sky rocket onto the front pages of the press this week. Flying drones is one thing, but doing so in dangerous, potentially life threatening environments is another. Police are investigating a mid-air collision with a passenger airliner travelling from Geneva on Sunday 17th April 2016 as it prepared for landing while approaching London’s Heathrow Airport. British Airways stated the Airbus A320 was not damaged when the object hit the nose of the plane, but the potential consequences could have been devastating and caused a huge loss of life. In the past twelve months, there have been 25 reported near misses with twelve making the “Class A” serious risk of collision category. The UK Air Proximity Board, the body responsible for investigating near-miss incidents in UK airspace have evidence of numerous near misses and potentially catastrophic incidents which include a drone flying over a Boeing 737 by about 16 feet. Live television has captured near misses as recently ad December where world champion skier Marcel Hirscher narrowly missed severe injury when a heavyweight, professional drone smashed into pieces only inches away from the athlete at the Alpine Skiing World Cup in Italy.
The British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) campaigned for drones to be programmed not to enter certain airspace – known as geo-fencing. Dji, maker of the The Phantom drone, has geo-fencing already programmed into Firmware of key locations, royal residences and literally thousands of international airports across all continents. DJI is a global leader in developing and manufacturing innovative drone and camera technology for commercial and recreational use. DJI was founded and is run by people with a passion for remote-controlled helicopters and experts in flight-control technology and camera stabilisation. The company is dedicated to making aerial photography and filmmaking equipment and platforms more reliable and easier to use for creators and innovators around the world. DJI’s global operations currently span North America, Europe and Asia, and its revolutionary products and solutions have been chosen by customers in over 100 countries; for applications in film, advertising, construction, fire fighting, farming, and many other industries.
DJI Launches Public Beta of New Geofencing System
System Enables Authorized Users to Unlock Certain Areas
Shenzhen, China (Dec. 31, 2015)–DJI, the world’s leading drone maker, Thursday launched a public beta version of its new geofencing system in North America and Europe.
Geospatial Environment Online (GEO) will provide drone users with up-to-date guidance on locations where flight may be restricted by regulation or raise safety or security concerns. With this major upgrade to DJI’s existing geofencing system, users will have access to live information about areas temporarily restricted from flight due to forest fires, major stadium events, VIP travel and other changing circumstances. The GEO system will also show restricted areas around locations like prisons, power plants and other sensitive areas where drone flight would raise non-aviation security concerns. To accommodate the large variety of authorized applications, GEO will allow drone operators with verified DJI accounts to self-authorize and temporarily unlock flight in some locations. Certain areas where drone flight is not allowed, such as Washington D.C., will remain as unlockable no-fly zones. Unlocking requires a DJI account verified with a credit card, debit card or mobile phone number. DJI will neither collect nor store the information, and the service is free.
To read more about the Dji Geo-fencing and how it impacts on flying drones, click the link HERE
Flying Drones may seem a simple enough procedure. In fact, recreational flying is something that can be managed by a child. The following video shows an eight & nine year old child taking control a Phantom V2 SUAV. In a controlled environment, at low altitude and calm weather conditions pending, basic GPS flying is possible even for a child, but it’s not that cut and dry in reality. The consequences of flying drones without any form of official certification and training is another story and parents need to be aware of their responsibilities if they choose to let an unsupervised child out into airspace with a Drone.
With Drone sales in 2015 exceeding a staggering one million units, the steady stream of near misses raises serious questions about flying drones in an unregulated capacity. The absolute breakneck speed at which the Drone Flying culture has escalated both in the UK must allow for some kind of future proofing. Without legislation, the skies will literally be filled with hobbyists breaching privacy laws and endangering property and people going about their everyday lives. There needs to be a balance and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is constantly developing it’s framework, but realistically, this is still in the very early stages.
We are beginning to see the drip feed of pro-active prosecutions as the CAA set a precedent as to where and how Flying Drones can be undertaken. In the UK, two people have been prosecuted for the “dangerous and illegal” flying of a drones. A drone enthusiast,Nigel Wilson, a security guard from Nottingham was prosecuted by the Crown Prosecution Service for using drones after a police-led operation relating to incidents including flight within 100 metres of Premier League, Champions League and Championship football matches, parliament and Buckingham Palace. In one incident Wilson was flying drones so close to mounted Police Officers, that he startled horse at the Liverpool FC, Anfield Stadium. Wilson was fined £1,800 for nine offences, had equipment confiscated and banned from purchasing, borrowing or using for any purpose a drone or encouraging anyone else to do so.was banned from flying or keeping drones for district judge Quentin Purdy told Wilson he showed “flagrant disregard” for people’s safety by flying his three drones over busy, built-up areas.
Meanwhile A TV-repair shop was the first person convicted in the UK for “dangerously” flying a drone.Robert Knowles was fined £800 and ordered to pay costs of £3,500 costs after flying a small drone within 50 metres of The Jubilee Bridge on the Walney channel and flying over a nuclear submarine-testing facility, where he crashed the Drone into the sea channel. He was prosecuted by the Civil Aviation Authority and claimed the fine and legal costs would bankrupt him.
Tim Johnson, CAA Director of Policy said, “We want to embrace and enable the innovation that arises from the development of drone technology, but we must ensure that this is done safely, with all airspace users in mind. It is imperative that people observe the rules when operating a drone. Drone users must understand that when taking to the skies they are entering one of the busiest areas of airspace in the world – a complex system that brings together all manner of aircraft including passenger aeroplanes, military jets, helicopters, gliders, light aircraft and now drones. When doing so, they must be aware of the rules and regulations for flying drones that are designed to keep all air users safe.” The ‘Drone Safety Awareness Day’ will see the launch of a dedicated online resource where existing and potential users can access advice on safe drone operation, along with the ‘Dronecode’, a list of tips that will ensure recreational users can enjoy their drone without posing any risk to aircraft and other airspace users.
Flying Drones – The Uk Law Explained.
The CAA has set-up a As part of the drone safety awareness initiative and an online resource including some plain speaking tips as to flying drones safely. The site includes a no frills guide to the rules for recreational drone usage.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) sets the rules on drones in the UK under what is called an air navigation order.
An unmanned aircraft must never be flown beyond the normal unaided “line of sight” of the person operating it – this is generally measured as 500m (1,640ft)horizontally or 400ft (122m) vertically
An unmanned aircraft fitted with a camera must always be flown at least 50m (164ft) distance away from a person, vehicle, building or structure
An unmanned aircraft fitted with a camera must not be flown within 150m (492ft) of a congested area or large group of people, such as a sporting event or concert
For commercial purposes, operators must have permission to fly a drone from the CAA
When flying Drones in the UK it is your responsibility to be aware of the rules that are in place to keep everyone safe. Follow these simple steps to make sure you are flying safely and legally.
For full guidance on unmanned aircraft systems in UK airspace, Please refer to the air navigation order on the CAA site for specific details.please read CAP 722.
Blanc Creative saw Airdog and simply thought this is awesome and could not resist backing the project. Blanc Creative are extremely pleased to be adding this awesome piece of technology to their growing list of video production equipment. The first international shipment of Airdog will include a Blanc Creative unit when Airdog literally launches at the end of 2014.
AirDog is a small, agile, foldable quadcopter, especially designed for filmmakers and action sports enthusiasts who use GoPro cameras.
Like its canine namesake, AirDog automatically follows you wherever you go, whatever you do. It’s not bothered by pelting rain, freezing temps, massive waves, or freaking insane places. AirDog doesn’t say “no.” It just follows, flying right along.
AirDog is your sidekick, just in case you can’t rent a helicopter plus professional photographer to take a video of your black diamond run. AirDog is your personal training assistant, allowing you to review what you’re doing right, and where you need to improve. AirDog can transport you to views that you never thought possible. AirDog can persuade others to join you in your extremes.
Just strap the AirLeash (tracker device) on your wrist or helmet, and the AirDog is ready to follow you
Inside, AirDog is really complex technology. But using and controlling AirDog is really simple.
Here’s the basic idea
AirDog follows a signal from the programmable tracker – AirLeash. We could use a smartphone, but you need more precise tracking for actions sports. So we designed AirLeash.
The AirLeash is a small waterproof computerized tracker with clever software and sensors inside. It sends signals to the AirDog, indicating exact movement trajectory.
It may look bulky now, but as soon as we start production it will be half the size and with multiple attachment opportunities (helmet, snow-googles, wrist, bike handle-bar, etc)
The drone performs inflight calculations to correct its flying pattern, and points the camera at the user wearing AirLeash.
Takeoff and landing is completely autonomous, freeing you to focus on your performance. It will land at the end of your track, or return to the takeoff spot when the battery begins to run low.An alarm on the AirLeash tells you when AirDog’s battery is too low to continue.
We spent countless caffeine-fueled hours, hacking intelligent flight code algorithms. The result is functionality that allows AirDog to follow you while you’re riding down the slope or flipping around on a halfpipe. You don’t have to worry about controlling the camera.
Strap it on, cue it up, and do epic things.
There are six Follow modes that you can configure and control with your AirLeash and smartphone app. Each one is a great choice and will deliver stunning results, regardless of your sport. You’ll probably want to use all six.
1. Auto-follow. Will work with almost any sports. In this mode AirDog will follow you repeating exactly your movement trajectory while maintaining its position in preset distance and altitude from you. It will follow you at speeds up to 40 mph.
2. Relative position follow. In this mode AirDog will maintain constant offset relative to magnetic north from the rider. For example, you can set it to keep a 10 meter distance at 4 meters high to the east from your position. Even when you change your direction, the AirDog will stay at the same preset angle from you. We suggest this mode for straight line wakeboard cable parks, surfing, and some other sports.
3. Follow track. This is the safest way to operate AirDog. Simply go for one lap with AirLeash and it will record your track. Then adjust AirDogs trajectory to your liking in smartphone app. AirDog will repeatedly fly over the exact set trajectory and the camera will be continually adjusted to aim at the rider.This is the most creative mode where you can become a true director of your movie. Adjust AirDog’s trajectory to avoid obstacles like buildings or trees. You can even make it to shoot you from different angle on different spots/kickers in the track. It might sound complicated, but its a simple few tap process in AirDog smartphone app.
4. Hover and Aim. The Hover and Aim setting allows AirDog to stay in one position above the ground, but constantly directing the camera at the AirLeash. This setting is perfect for tight places such as smaller skateparks, narrow forest trails, or for activities such as bungee jumping or base jumping, where clearance from equipment is important.
5. Circle. In this setting, AirDog makes circular rotations on a set radius and altitude, keeping the camera aimed at the AirLeash. This for slow speed or static shots to show impressive view around you.
6. Look down. The most simple mode but can produce very stunning results. Simply “walk” your AirDog above a ramp or kicker where you are about to throw some epic tricks and with push of a button it will freeze its position and aim camera straight down. Now make sure you don’t go too high.
Not satisfied with all these amazing options? No worries.
We’ll always be adding new flight modes through firmware and app updates. We depend on user feedback to continually develop Airdog into something that’s jaw-dropping and awe-inspiring.
The AirDog is designed to go farther and higher than you thought possible. If you’ve ever wanted to shoot an edgy music video from off a cliff, the AirDog is your solution. If you’re shooting an indie movie, and want some clutch aerial shots for the car chase scene, the AirDog is happy to oblige.
Here is little longer story about why we created “AirLeash”
The AirDog uses a unique dedicated tracker called “AirLeash” that guides and controls the AirDog in flight. Why did we invent a new device? Why not just use a smartphone app?
A year ago when we started developing the AirDog, we thought it would be a great idea to make AirDog follow a smartphone. We abandoned this idea really quickly.
1. Smarphone’s Poor Usability in Many Sports Have you ever tried to use your smartphone while surfing a huge wave? Yeah, the water might be a problem. How about using it while executing a cab 5 double grab? Those gloves would kind of get in the way. What about emergency situations, where terminating flight and landing the AirDog is important?
A smartphone was simply not an option if we wanted to maintain safety or efficiency.
2. Lack of Vital Sensors for Precise Auto-follow In testing, we discovered that average smartphone GPS accuracy in a horizontal plane is about 5-10 meters. The margin of error doubles when measuring altitude.
We realized that if we wanted a precise flight tracker, we needed extremely high level sensors. In addition, we would have to develop complicated sensor fusion algorithms to calculate and predict movement trajectory while keeping the camera aimed at rider all the time.
Technologically, no smartphone has such capabilities.
3. Limited WiFi and Bluetooth range Different smartphones have different ranges, but it was clear that anything beyond 30-50 meters was not possible. This can be problem when you’re surfing out in the ocean 350 meters from the drone, and want it to launch and come to you. Or, let’s say you’re riding downhill at 30 mph, and the drone just loses signal. You could potentially lose your drone forever! The stringent standards of AirDog required something with long range power.
As amazing as smartphones are, they simply can’t meet the high demands of many action sports. In true innovation style, we ditched our idea, went back to the drawing board, and created a solution.
The result is better than we hoped. It’s an easy-to-use, sturdy, reliable, long range wireless transmission and custom-developed tracker. It’s called AirLeash.
What do you get when you throw aviation experts, entrepreneurs, programmers, developers, and extreme sports fanatics into a box, and shake it up?
You get us. We’re kind of a quirky group.
We love doing something fanatical like MX, wakeboarding, snowboarding, kitesurfing, skating, surfing, or other daredevil stunts. But when we get sort of serious, we’re cooking up technology that’s just as extreme as the action sports we love.
AirDog is the product of years of development, the pinnacle of drone technology, the apex of sports videography. (And it took a heck of a lot of coffee.)
Now, we’re ready to introduce this mind-blowing technology to extreme sports fans all over the world.
This invention is a dream come true.
If you’re already an experienced remote control (RC) pilot, you’ll love Airdog’s manual flight features. Although AirDog boasts fully autonomous flight modes, you can also use it for FPV (First Person View) or indoor video shooting with your RC transmitter. Simply connect any TX module that supports PPM mode and has more than 6 channels, and fly AirDog completely manually.
But there’s more! You can combine AirDog’s auto-follow feature with manual control. Simply attach the AirLeash tracker to the object you want to shoot — car, boat, animal, whatever — and manually turn follow mode on or off whenever you want to switch to or from manual mode. This way, you can use the auto-follow tracker with enhanced RC maneuvers to make circular fly-around moves at the precise radius and speed.
With this amazing combination of auto-follow and manual control, AirDog is a total game changer in aerial video shooting. You won’t believe the creative possibilities.
So you want to make videos that look drop dead awesome, professional, and really top-notch. We get that.
We designed AirDog, while chanting the mantra “stable, stable, stable.” Okay, maybe it wasn’t exactly like that, but you get the idea. We think stability is important, and we obsessed over it.
AirDog uses 2 axis gyro-stabilized gimbal with the following features to make sure that your aerial videos are as stable as a tripod on a granite slab. Here’s what we engineered:
– Auto pitch and yaw – camera will always be pointed to the tracker;
– Horizon alignment (roll stabilization);
– Vibration isolation;
– AirDog is the only drone that carries GoPro in its protective casing, your camera will be happy for that.
In other words, your GoPro footage is stable as anything, even while airborne, even while flying at 40 mph, and even while tracking your progress on the slalom.
To use AirDog, simply attach your GoPro to the drone’s gimbal and you’re ready for stable action shots.
Early gimbal prototype test demonstrates camera stability.