VIDEO: Daniel Suarez at DARC 2013

At DARC 2013, Daniel Suarez explored the consequences of lethal autonomy. Find the video of his keynote here.

We asked Daniel about what surprised him most about DARC. “I found Stuart Banner’s tour through the history of aviation law — and how it might presage the trajectory of drone regulation— very fascinating.” We’ll publish Stuart’s talk in the coming days—don’t forget to follow @droneconference on Twitter!

Daniel Suarez is an American information technology consultant turned author. A former systems consultant to Fortune 1000 companies, he has designed and developed mission-critical software for the defense, finance, and entertainment industries. In 2012, Suarez published “Kill Decision.” It deals with themes of espionage, artificial intelligence, and warfare using robots and drones. It describes a fictional scenario where insurgents have created automated drones that identify enemies and make the decision to kill them (the ‘Kill Decision’ ) without human intervention.

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DARC 2013 is a wrap!

It’s been just over a month since the first Drones & Aerial Robotics Conference, and we’d like to extend a deep and sincere thanks to everyone who made it possible. It was our distinct honor to host 700 of you last month in New York City.

As drones proliferate and become more accessible, there is a need for true public discourse; to influence policy in a way that protects the public, while continuing to promote innovation. The Engelberg Center on Innovation Law & Policy at NYU is an ideal place from which to stage this important work. The Center sponsors interdisciplinary work in the general area of innovation law and policy. It draws together legal scholars and practitioners, economists, historians, culturalists, social scientists, and representatives of the innovation industries to advance the public interest. Thanks to your participation in DARC, Engelberg has been able to extend its work into the UAS space. We hope you will join us in this ongoing effort.

DARC was a very big undertaking, and many thanks are in order. We’d like to especially thank the conference supporters—MacArthur Foundation, Yale ISP, Princeton CITP, Parrot S.A., DJI Innovations North America, the NYU Information Law Institute, the NYU Rudin Center, and Ocupop—as well as all our speakers, sessions leaders, and volunteers. And of course, thank you to everyone who attended the event and contributed to such a rich, multidisciplinary gathering.

DARC was the first multi-stakeholder conference on drones and society, and we think it was a huge success. It’s not everyday that hobbyists, roboticists, fighter pilots, officials, entrepreneurs, activists and hackers get together to talk about the future.

We hosted over 25 talks, 5 keynotes, two panels, and a live drone demo show. Then there was the core of the conference—over 20 cross-disciplinary roundtables and working groups on topics ranging from safety, privacy, civilian integration, and drone journalism.

That’s not an exhaustive description of the conference. It was much more: on Twitter, in the national discussion, and in the aftermath, we hope DARC has made a lasting contribution to the fields of UAS technical research, legal study and activism.

Continue reading

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Drone Social Impact Award announced at DARC

New York – The Drone User Group Network (DUGN) announced the creation of the Drone Social Impact Award at the Drones and Aerial Robotics Conference last weekend at New York University. DUGN will be providing a cash prize for the most socially beneficial, documented use of a drone costing less than three thousand dollars. Through this prize, the group hopes to spur innovation, investment, and attention to the positive role that civilian drone technology can play in society.

“We think drones are a revolutionary technology with tremendous potential to make the world a better place, and we wanted to focus our prize on low cost drones to highlight the fact that this technology is cheap and accessible enough that ordinary people and community groups can drive innovation and do new things with them,” said Timothy Reuter, Founder of DUGN and President of the DC Area Drone User Group. “Also, while the U.S. has decided to put a moratorium until 2015 on realizing the economic benefits of drones, now is a great time to think about services that you can give away to help people,” he noted, referring to current Federal Aviation Administration regulations that prohibit the private commercial use of unmanned aerial systems.

Submissions for the prize are being accepted through March 10 with the award being granted in May 2014. The group expects to receive entries in a number of fields including natural resource management, search and rescue, exposing government corruption, and delivery of vaccines in remote areas of developing countries. “We kept the definition of ‘socially beneficial’ intentionally broad because we didn’t want to limit people’s creativity,” Reuter explained. The competition is international with people and organizations from anywhere in the world being eligible to win the award. Participants are asked to submit short YouTube videos along with a brief write up of their work.

The Drone User Group Network is an association of community organizations dedicated to teaching people how to build and operate their own drones and that seeks to promote the use of civilian drone technology for the benefit of humanity. More information about the network and prize can be found at . This prize is being administered in cooperation with Nova Labs, an innovation hub in the Washington, DC area. More information about Nova Labs can be found at .

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See Data and His Human Heather Knight at AfterDARC

Photo by Kris KrugData, robo-comedian extraordinaire, will be appearing alongside his creator Heather Knight at AfterDARC tomorrow night!

Data has performed his automated brand of comedy on stages worldwide; now his act has landed him in New York. Data is the brainchild of Heather Knight, roboticist and researcher at Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute. Knight’s research covers human robot interaction, sensor fusion, and personal robots.

She also heads up Marilyn Monrobot Labs in NYC, a ground breaking project dedicated to creating socially intelligent robots and sensor-based electronic art.

Photo by Scott Beale

Knight’s past projects include “Star Dust,” an interactive exhibit for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and The Sensate Bear, a sensored teddy bear capable of measuring nonverbal communication, specifically, social touch.

Data is one of Knight’s latest and greatest creations.

“Data’s got talent, pretty funny for a robot that can’t fly,” says @DrunkenPredator Drone.

And the drones at GRASP Lab applauded in unison after seeing Data and Knight.

With people like Heather Knight and robots like Data, you know AfterDARC is going to be a phenomenal event.

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Meet Chris Kippenberger, Drone Cinematographer from Germany

Chris Kippenberger might not be the kind of guy you’d expect to meet at DARC.  True, he modifies and builds his own drones. But for Kippenberger, UAVs are “strictly tools [for] creating a certain look.” Kippenberger utilizes drones to capture the subjects he is most passionate about. In many cases his subjects are of the four-wheeled variety.

Nobody makes as many beautiful, affordable, consistently interesting car videos as Kippenberger.”

Kippenberger’s high-style car videos work because they convey his personal passion for automobiles, but his enthusiasm for speed and motion isn’t limited to four-wheeled machines. Check out his short video entitled “Machine for Riding”:

The bike film is a passion piece since I am an avid bike enthusiast. It is one of my favorite pieces so far. ‘Machine for Riding’ captures the deeply spiritual cyclist moments, when rider, landscape and bicycle merge to that just perfect unity.” – Kippenberger

Kippenberger and his partner Marcus Gelhard developed a modified X650 quadrotor UAS that lets them capture these evocative moments at a dramatic scale, for a fraction of what a helicopter film crew would cost. Their design requires two operators – a pilot,  and a gimbal operator to control the camera angles. Gelhard pilots the team’s drone from a remote location while Kippenberger controls the camera and directs the shot. It’s just one example of how talented photographers and videographers around the world are harnessing the potential of small drones to create beautiful works of art.

See and learn more about Chris and his drone work at the Aerial Photography Working Group at DARC.

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Meet Elevated Element, Husband and Wife Drone Team


[Editors Note: Terry and Belinda Kilby are the duo behind Elevated Element, a project dedicated to drone aerial photography. The Kilby's have spent the past few years capturing beautiful and iconic landscapes from an aerial perspective.

We'd like to present a few examples of their work and a few words from the Kilby's on how they achieved these spectacular shots. If you're interested in finding out more about the Kilby's, Elevated Element and aerial photography, come check out the Aerial Photography Working Group at DARC! The Kilby's will be debuting their first book, Drone Art: Baltimore, a photo collection capturing Charm City.]

Drone Art Cover.   In the early days of our aerial photography journey, we used to live near this monument positioned just outside our old home in Bolton Hill, Baltimore. The monument served as a type of proving ground for all our new camera platforms. The golden statue sits just over 30 feet high. We must have photographed it thousands of times while we honed our skills.

After leaving the neighborhood and starting on the book project, we knew that we had to return with our current camera platform to capture the image one last time for the cover of the book. We used a Sony NEX-5n camera on a custom hexacopter. I flew the copter via line of sight while Belinda framed the shot from her ground station and directed me where to fly based for the shots we wanted.

Bohtimore. This photo is one of our more popular ones around Baltimore due to the iconic Natty Boh logo prominently featured atop the building in the foreground. This image was captured after launching from an empty parking lot almost directly below where the shot was taken, just after sunrise on a Sunday. We flew the copter into position wearing FPV goggles and engaged position hold once we found the correct perspective. From there, Belinda was able to use her gimbal to fine tune the composition and direct me to make fine adjustments to the copter positioning in order to get the best shot. This was one of our earlier shots we captured with a GoPro HD camera.We actually wanted to go back and reshoot this, but the dirty gritty look is actually a characteristic that most people say they like most about the photo, and that would be lost if we captured it today with our better camera rig.

Patterson Park Pagoda. One of our oldest shots, the Patterson Park Pagoda has been used by many media outlets including National Geographic, CBS Sunday Morning and The Baltimore Sun. The image was captured with a custom Tricopter during an FPV flight using an early version of the GoPro HD camera.If you look closely, I am actually sitting on the steps with controller in hand and FPV goggles on my head. The image was captured early in the morning on the weekend while the park was empty. I think this is a perfect example of how knowing the limitations of your equipment and playing into it’s strengths can produce good results, no matter what gear you have.

Most people would never think of using that early generation of the GoPro for a photo that eventually landed in NatGeo, but by avoiding the weaknesses of the GoPro (fisheye lens distortion), we were still able to pull off a stunning photo.

CentennialPrideCentennial Pride. This is a shot that shows months of planning leading to minutes of execution. To help The Park School of Baltimore celebrate their 100th birthday, we came in to capture this photo. Their math department spent weeks figuring out the best way to line up 1,100 students and staff on the soccer field so that we could get this shot.This played into our viewing angle the best and allowed us to get the strongest shot possible. We used a Canon S90 on a custom hexacopter and framed the shot live with a video downlink feeding both FPV goggles and a 7 inch monitor.  We roped off the area under our flight path and had safety monitors on hand with whistles, walkie talkies bullhorns to direct the students. While there, we gave talks to the entire school discussing what we do, safety measures, and how we would get the shot.

The kids absolutely loved it and we have since done similar projects for other schools in the area.

We hope you have enjoyed this short exploration of our work. And we hope to see you all at DARC!

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Announcing DARC’s Newest Sponsor: DJI Innovations

The Drones & Aerial Robotics Conference is delighted to introduce our newest sponsor: DJI Innovations!


It is DJI’s ongoing mission to “make the dream of flying accessible to everyone.” Producing low-cost, easy to use small UAS is one way DJI is making that dream a reality – partnering with the Drones & Aerial Robotics Conference is another. Law, policy, and culture all impact the future accessibility of flight. By sponsoring DARC – the world’s first participatory think tank for drone law and policy – DJI demonstrates its commitment to achieving an open, peaceful future for unmanned flight.

Want to learn more? Colin Guinn, CEO of DJI (North America), will deliver a can’t-miss opening keynote on Saturday, October 12.

Time is short! Register for DARC today.


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Get a ticket to #AfterDARC drone show for just $15

If you can’t come to all of DARC (pdf), please keep Friday evening free; we have a live drone show that will blow your mind. The best part is that you can get tickets for just $15. You’ll see demonstrations of first-person flight, bird-style ornithopters, micro cameras for robobees, and lots more. Oh, and you might just hear the real story behind Tacocopter…


After DARC is at the Skirball Center near Washington Square Park this Friday night – doors open at 8:30p, show starts at 9!

Buy Tickets $15 >>

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