Toronto Star story?

Hi Canadian Drone Enthusiasts,

Hope I'm not treading on any site policies here -- I guess I'm not technically a DIY UAV enthusiast, but maybe I will be soon!

What I am is a science & technology reporter at the Toronto Star. We're doing a series on drones and I want to talk about all the cool uses that aren't military or law enforcement related. I want to show readers the uber-cool, uber-geeky, how-to side of UAVs. 

I've messaged some you individually if I could find your email addresses but that was getting difficult so I thought I'd post here. I would love to talk to anyone who wants to tell me how they got interested in building UAVs, why, and what they think the best, unreported stories are about them.

I'm also looking for kids who build their own or at least know how to fly them. Can anyone put me in touch with a kid?

Please do get in touch! Really looking forward to hearing from some of you -- I think this could be a really cool story.

Kate Allen


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  • Distributor

    The article was put online last Friday! (the day of the storm!)


    Great job Kate, we need more articles with more details and answer to common questions from average people.

  • Hi everybody,

    My story is running in the paper tomorrow, after two false starts! I'll post the link here when it goes up online, and I'd love to hear your thoughts (postive or, er, "constructive"!) if you do read it. That email address again: kallen(at)thestar(dot)ca.

    First of all, I want to apologize to all the people I didn't get to talk to -- I expected to get one or two responses from this post and there was a DELUGE. It was amazing for me, but it meant I only get to talk to a fraction of everyone who emailed me. Then, I only got to include a fraction of the people who talked to me in the story itself. So I'm very sorry if I didn't get back to you (I tried to write back to everyone who emailed but a few might have fallen through the cracks or ended up in my overflowing junk folder) or if you took the time to speak with me but didn't end up in the story itself. You're all doing super interesting stuff. 

    Also, a couple people have asked about the rest of the Star drone series. You can find it here, but I expect many of you won't like the stories there, especially the last one. I think my colleagues did a fantastic job covering other parts of the gigantic global drone conversation, but I know many of you are sensitive to the fact that drones are often portrayed in scary terms in the media. It might help to know that the reason my story -- on non-military uses for drones, and why people are excited about this technology -- is running last is because it raises a lot of interesting ideas about where drones might take us in the future. 

    Okay, phew, that's a lot of writing. Post if you have questions, or email me directly.

    And thank you again to everyone! It was a fascinating assignment for me.


  • Any news on when the story is going out?

  • Hi All, I just started a new thread, called:

    "Getting Started with the Parrot AR Drone 2.0  

    .....until something better comes along ;-/


  • I have a number of ideas that I roll through every time someone explains to me how easy it would be to spy with one of these, so here goes.

    • Using thermal imaging or thermopile arrays  I believe you could identify the thermal mass of active as well as inactive land mines. The difference in temps would be greatest probably first in the morn or as the temps drop in the evening.
    • At the edge of a flood zone you could deploy copters into the disaster area dropping everything from food and medical supplies to self deploying flotation devices for young and injured. All to an exact gps location.
    • Bird abatement at airports.
    • Less invasive means of tracking and studying wildlife communities.
    • Tracking the general size and direction of forest fires, as well as the autonomous search of fire prone areas to locate small fires. 
    • Oh, I almost forgot. Delivering tasty freshly made burritos to my doorstep,( or rooftop)

    These are a few of the ideas I have gotten more excited about the more I see that this amazing platform can do. 

    I am the designer and inventor of a new style of airframe that is geared towards industrial uses like these and hope to be involved in this direction of development as the platform becomes more capable.

  • We had Kate and her photographer over to watch a flight today. Things went well. Her photographer got lots of footage. Unfortunately we had some issues with XBee so could not show that aspect. We had some wind gusts and so did not do any autonomous flight. We gave the photographer some footage from the air, as well as a few interview questions.

    I think it went quite well and hope that we see a nice article that does not scare people quite shortly.

    I do not think that we need MAAC insurance because we are covered under the school's insurance. Also, do we need to get TC permission in order to take photos from the air for hobby purposes?


  • Developer


         It's probably clear from all the comments above (i haven't read them all) but Canadians are pretty well represented in DIYdrones.  The ones that immediately spring to my mind include Danny with the Canada Drones store and on the core dev team you've got Rob Lefebvre who is the owner of the Traditional Helicopter code and I do a lot of the ArduCopter code.  My slightly out-of-date profile is here (I started on tradheli but as mentioned Rob owns that now)...and I'm sure there are many others.

  • Thanks Dany. We will just do some flight on the field in stabilize and loiter as well as some auto missions. We can likely use the gym if we need to.

    We are always surprised at how accessible the technology has become. 

    We may do some higher altitude flight and pass along the onboard photos and video.

    Just to be clear we are not receiving any compensation from the Star. We are keeping this in the hobby department.

    Thanks again guys for all of the support

  • I am a grade 11 student. Last year a few of us founded an aeronautical robotics club at the school. Currently our main vehicle is a quadcopter. This weekend we are being interviewed and Kate will come out and watch a flight. We fly at the field of our school.

    We tend to stick to the school property and not above 50m of altitude. Does anyone know exactly what the regulations are for flying these and capturing photos/video?

    What do you guys think would be most useful for us to show? We were planing some stabilized flight, loiter flight, and a bit of automatic. Maybe we could pass along some photos or videos from the air for publication (we fly with a contour+ camera).



  • Distributor

    Well Kate did show up to day with a photographer and we had a nice discussion for about 2 hours on the technology, the amazing progress that this platform made in a bout 2-3 years only and were we are going.  

    I did show her an "old" APM 1.4 (don't tell him that he is old, he doesn't like that... still fly very good!)  :) 

    And were we are now with the APM2.5 and the PX4... Everyone is surprised to see the amount of parts that the APM1 has, because it's all exposed and not yet all embedded.  When you just present a piece of silicone with a bunch of chip on it to someone they don't have the same admiration, it looks too simple! :)  

    So we also covered the Mission Planner and what makes our Copters really Drones... because without the mission part of it they are just very fancy RC copters!  

    It was raining and cold so no real flight demo... But I am sure she already watched tons of YouTube videos of you guys! 

    So I may have my face in the newspaper... will see... not really super comfortable exposing myself like that but I like to help people understand what we do.  They took a ton of pictures, not sure what will be used... Chris/Jordi, if you read this, how do you deal with the fact that you give reporters a mountain of information but you don't control the output that they will produce?  


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