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Federal government bans shipments of lithium metal batteries on passenger flights

Measure is among updates to the Transport of Dangerous Goods Regulations.

OTTAWA, ONDec. 30, 2014 /CNW/ - The Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport, today announced a suite of amendments to Canada's Transport of Dangerous Goods Regulations (TDGR). The updates include a ban on transporting lithium metal batteries as cargo on passenger flights in Canada, as well as new labelling and Emergency Response Assistance Plan (ERAP) requirements for certain dangerous goods.

In 2014, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) adopted a ban on the shipment of lithium metal batteries as cargo aboard passenger aircraft. The main concern is that if ignited, they can cause any nearby batteries to overheat and catch fire as well. Most passenger airlines in Canada have already voluntarily banned lithium metal batteries as cargo.

The prohibition comes into effect on January 1, 2015, to comply with the ICAO ban. It applies to all shipments of lithium metal batteries as cargo on passenger planes within Canada. It does not apply to batteries already contained in or packed with equipment, but only to those packaged and shipped separately. The ban will not affect travellers' personal devices such as laptops and smartphones, which use lithium ion batteries.

Other updates to the TDGR include:

  • Incorporating Protective Direction (PD) 33 into the TGDR. Introduced in April 2014, PD33 ordered rail shippers of ethanol, petroleum crude oil, gasoline, and other petroleum products to have an approved Emergency Response Assistance Plan (ERAP) in place to ensure proper emergency response in the event of an incident or release involving these flammable liquids.
  • Adding ERAP requirements for petroleum sour crude oil and Alcohols N.O.S. (typically used to classify ethanol in the US), which were not previously included under PD33.
  • New United Nations (UN) product numbers for petroleum sour crude oil and biomedical waste.


Transport Canada held extensive consultations on the amendments with stakeholders from across Canada. The updates will align the TDGR with UN recommendations and other international norms.

Quick Facts


  • The new ban under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations (TDGR) applies only to lithium metal batteries shipped as cargo on passenger aircraft.
  • It does not apply to batteries already contained in devices, therefore passengers with medical equipment are not affected by the ban.
  • The U.S. has already banned the transportation of lithium metal batteries as cargo on passenger flights.



"These updates are welcomed by stakeholders because they promote harmonization and the proper identification of dangerous goods. They will help improve public safety and reduce the risk of accidents while streamlining and clarifying regulatory requirements for shippers and carriers."
The Honourable Lisa Raitt
Minister of Transport


Related Products

  • Backgrounder: Lithium Metal Batteries
  • Backgrounder: ERAPs/PD33


Associated Links

Current federal acts and regulations governing the transport of dangerous goods:


Transport Canada is online at Subscribe to e-news or stay connected through RSSTwitterFacebook,YouTube and Flickr to keep up to date on the latest from Transport Canada.

This news release may be made available in alternative formats for persons living with visual disabilities.


Lithium Batteries

Lithium batteries are dangerous goods, much like gasoline, propane, and sulphuric acid. In Canada, the shipping and importing of lithium batteries are subject to the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, 1992 and its Regulations.

There are two main kinds of lithium batteries:

lithium metal battery is usually non-rechargeable, contains metallic lithium, and features a higher energy density than other non-rechargeable batteries. Lithium metal batteries are often used in calculators, pacemakers, hearing aids, remote car locks and watches.

lithium ion battery is rechargeable, does not contain metallic lithium, and features high energy density. A lithium polymer battery is considered a type of lithium ion battery. Lithium ion batteries are used in consumer products such as cell phones, electric vehicles, laptop computers, power tools, and tablets.

While most lithium batteries are safe, some have overheated and caught fire. Once ignited, they can cause any nearby batteries to overheat and catch fire as well. These fires are difficult to put out and produce toxic fumes.

The new ban under the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Regulations (TDGR) applies only to lithium metal batteries shipped as cargo on passenger aircraft. It does not apply to batteries already contained in devices, therefore passengers with medical equipment are not affected by the ban.

Air carriers that service remote communities, particularly in the North, will be able to apply to Transport Canada for an Equivalency Certificate, subject to strict safety precautions, in cases where cargo-only flights are not available or feasible.

All designs and types of lithium batteries must meet the requirements of the UN Manual of Tests and Criteria to be shipped safely. Shippers and importers must meet the requirements set out in the TDGR for the handling, offering for transport, transporting and importing of lithium batteries in Canada. The requirements vary by mode of transport.

December 2014


Emergency Response Assistance Plans (ERAPs)

On April 23, 2014, the Minister of Transport issued Protective Direction (PD) 33 requiring anyone transporting certain flammable liquids by rail tank car in Canada to submit an Emergency Response Assistance Plan (ERAP) to Transport Canada. PD33 applies to substances such as petroleum crude oil, gasoline, and other petroleum products that did not previously require an ERAP.  An ERAP must be in place if even a single tank car is transporting one of these substances. Shippers and importers had until September 20, 2014, to comply.

ERAPs help local emergency responders at an accident site by providing them with 24-hour access to technical experts and timely assistance by industry response teams with specialized equipment. The ERAP must include a detailed description of the actions a shipper or importer will take in the event of the actual or imminent release of a dangerous substance.

Prior to approving an ERAP, Transport Canada must assess its effectiveness. Among other criteria, applicants must demonstrate their ability to provide technical advice; the response capabilities they can bring to the scene of a flammable liquids emergency; and their knowledge of firefighting and access to equipment to support first responders. 

The updates to the Transport of Dangerous Goods Regulations (TDGR) incorporate PD33 into the TDGR. They also add two additional shipping names to the ERAP requirement, to capture sour petroleum crude oil and ethanol transported under the name "Alcohols, N.O.S".

The TDG Emergency Response Task Force was also announced by the Minister on April 23, 2014. Its role is to conduct further research, assess, evaluate, and make recommendations to advance and make improvements to the ERAP program, with a primary focus on the transportation of flammable liquids by rail.

December 2014


SOURCE Transport Canada

 For further information: Ashley Kelahear, Director of Communications, Office of the Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport, Ottawa, 613-991-0700; Media Relations, Transport Canada, Ottawa, 613-993-0055

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Privacy is going to be more difficult to protect than ever in the drone-filled age.

Competitors, thieves, or even just your neighbours could be spying on your every move using a remote-controlled flying camera.

That's the kind of paranoia Domestic Drone Countermeasures (DDC) is hoping to tap into with its new personal drone detection system Kickstarter project - a black box that promises to go beep when a drone flies within 15 metres of its sensors.

"Drones are becoming more capable all the time and this is why it's alarming. They fly with payloads like still cameras, video cameras, infrared detectors, thermal detectors, among other things, and they are already being used for surveillance," DDC founder Amy Ciesielka said.

"Though there are legitimate uses for domestic drones, there is still concern about invasion of privacy and surveillance by various entities."

In the UK it is illegal to fly a drone within 50 metres of a structure even for recreation, while commercial use of drones has to be cleared by the Civil Aviation Authority.

But in the US personal drones are not regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration and can be flown around buildings and built-up areas.

In Hong Kong, all drone flights require approval from the Civil Aviation Department, but enthusiasts have been known to skirt laws with small hobby drones.

DDC has been working on the technology for more than a year and promises to warn users of personal drone snooping before it's too late. The kit cannot detect military drones as "they fly too high and are too sophisticated", according to the company.

The kit consists of three boxes - a primary command and control unit that connects via Wi-fi to the internet, and two sensors that are placed about the home.

If a drone is detected, the command and control unit sends a notification to the user's smartphone, tablet or computer, even while the user is away from home. The kit does not promise to actually block the drone's invasion of privacy, yet.

In April, Robert Knowles became the first person convicted in the UK for "dangerously" flying a drone.

A starter kit costs US$499 on Kickstarter, but as ever with crowd-funded projects, the system may not come to fruition.

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I decided to build a new DIY drone, after my previous $10 balsa quad was flying (still fly) successfuly for me. And is still doing her job for aerial panoramas as you can see on AerialTasks. That will be converted into an X8, by adding another 4 motors on the samed frame, for a bigger camera.

This time I decided to go with am existent shell body frame and I optioned to use the QR X350 which is $30. It is the same size as Phantom.

You can see below step by step the progress with this quad.

It is designated to load a Hero3 with Tarot for FPV also (new pictures will follow soon with FPV gimbal).

Hope this is job which could inspire some other guys.

I am in the process of tuning this new quad.














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Students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are at work on a device that would, if approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, give unmanned aerial vehicles the ability to land on power lines to recharge their batteries.

Joseph Moore, a PhD candidate at the prestigious Ivy League university, told Business Insider he is at work on a magnetometer that would help steer a UAV, better known as a drone, toward a power line, attach itself to that wire, and recharge its system. The drone would use that already existing power source then continue on to its next destination.

Moore said that, because power lines already give off an electromagnetic field, it would be easy for a drone to fly into that source, perching on it as a pigeon or crow might. Such technology could be a major tipping for drones in the future, hypothetically giving them the ability to fly non-stop around the US or even the world.

Moore put on a demonstration for Business Insider and while the young man still has yet to master the technique, the prototype flew “within centimeters” of a mock wire.

Not only would the magnetometer give drone pilots the ability to travel without worrying when their flight is coming to an end, it could also revolutionize how much weight a fixed wing aircraft is able to carry. Quadrotor UAVs, drones that resemble helicopters more than planes, are currently better equipped to haul heavier loads than their jet-like counterparts.

Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, famously promised last year that he hopes his company will be able to subvert traditional delivery methods and send packages to online shoppers via drone as soon as 2017. Such a bold pronouncement created a wave of headlines, many of them focused on how Bezos’ idea may be inevitable but for now remain incredibly difficult.

Drones are currently technologically limited, at least when we’re talking about the non-weapon enabled variety,” wrote Kashmir Hill of Forbes magazine. “The Octocopter-type drone favored by amazon can usually only fly for about 30 minutes to an hour with a limited distance. Forget about the ‘neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night’ postman creed.”

Yet the FAA currently prohibits essentially anyone who is not a hobbyist from operating a UAV. The aircraft must remain under 400 feet and within the pilot’s line of sight, among other restrictions.

That is poised to change after Congress reauthorized the FAA’s budget in 2012 with the stipulation that the regulatory agency make room in the airways for commercial drones no later than 2015. Loosened restrictions could permit Amazon, Google, and other technology leaders to deploy their own fleet of drones for any number of conceivable purposes, possibly even with help from Joseph Moore’s perching technology.

Others at MIT do not have to wait for the laws to change. Researchers at the schools Senseable Lab are developing a small fleet of test UAVs to help lost students find their way through campus, with the aim of eventually using them in emergency situations.

Drones have had quite bad press because of the military implications. But this project is about helping people,” Carlo Ratti, director of the Senseable City Lab project, told CNN last year. “We are trying to look at the positive side of drones – people controlling drones, rather than the skepticism around drones controlling people."

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First ever UK prosecution for dangerous driving of a DRONE: Man fined £800 for illegal flying of unmanned aircraft

  • Robert Knowles, 46, was found to have flown his homemade aircraft into restricted airspace over a nuclear submarine facility
  • He also flew his drone, which was equipped with a video camera, too close to a vehicle bridge in an illegal manoeuvre
  • Both offences breached the UK’s Air Navigation Order and he was found guilty on April 1 and fined £800 at Furness and District Magistrate Court
  • The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said the conviction sends a message to recreational users of drones that they are subject to aviation safety rules

A man has become the first person in Britain to be successfully prosecuted for the dangerous and illegal flying of an unmanned aircraft (UAV).

Robert Knowles, 46, was found to have flown his homemade aircraft into restricted airspace over a nuclear submarine facility, as well as flying the drone too close to a vehicle bridge.

Both offences breached the UK’s Air Navigation Order.

Beware incoming: A man from Cumbria has become the first person in the UK to be successfully prosecuted for the dangerous and illegal flying of an unmanned aircraft (UAV). A stock image of a quadcopter drone is pictured, but Robert Knowles' UAV was homemade

Beware incoming: A man from Cumbria has become the first person in the UK to be successfully prosecuted for the dangerous and illegal flying of an unmanned aircraft (UAV). A stock image of a quadcopter drone is pictured, but Robert Knowles' UAV was homemade

Mr Knowles, of Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, was found guilty on 1 April and fined £800 at Furness and District Magistrate Court following the prosecution by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), who said the case raised important safety issues concerning recreational flying of unmanned aircraft.


  • A drone must never be flown beyond the normal unaided ‘line of sight’ of the person operating it. This is generally measured as 1,640ft (500m) horizontally or 400ft (121m) vertically.
  • A UAV fitted with a camera must always be flown at least 164ft (50m) distance away from a person, vehicle, building or structure.
  • A UAV fitted with a camera must not be flown within 492ft (150metres) of a congested area or large group of people, such as a sporting event or concert.
  • Consideration must be shown to other airspace users. Therefore unmanned aircraft should not be used in the vicinity of airports or within restricted airspace.

The court heard that on 25 August, a UAV was recovered from water near to a submarine testing facility in Barrow-in-Furness, operated by the defence company, BAE Systems.


The aircraft is said to have flown through restricted airspace around the nuclear submarine facility before it crashed.

A spokesman for the CAA told MailOnline that the UAV was more like a model airplane than a helicopter-style aircraft and was built from scratch, with a small video camera attached to its body.

The police were called to investigate whether the video footage was a security concern and while they decided the flight was not a significant security breach, analysis of the video footage taken from a camera fitted to the device subsequently revealed that during its flight the drone had skimmed over the busy Jubilee Bridge over Walney Channel.

The UAC was well within the legally permitted 164ft (50metres) separation distance required, according to the CAA.

After it was recovered, the UAV was traced to Mr Knowles who admitted to building the device himself and operating it on the day in question.

He was charged with flying a small unmanned surveillance aircraft within 164ft (50metres) of a structure and flying over a nuclear installation.

The CAA said the conviction sent a message to recreational users of UAVs that the devices are subject to aviation safety rules.

Punished: Mr Knowles, of Barrow-in-Furness, was found guilty on April 1 and fined £800 at Furness and District Magistrate Court. The court heard that on August 25, a UAV was recovered from water near to a submarine testing facility in Barrow-in-Furness (pictured) operated by the defence company, BAE Systems

Punished: Mr Knowles, of Barrow-in-Furness, was found guilty on April 1 and fined £800 at Furness and District Magistrate Court. The court heard that on August 25, a UAV was recovered from water near to a submarine testing facility in Barrow-in-Furness (pictured) operated by the defence company, BAE Systems

A spokesman for the authority said: ‘Anyone operating an unmanned aircraft for their own private use should be aware that they have to abide by certain rules.

'These rules are in place to protect the safety of the public, and simply require operators to maintain a safe set distance between their unmanned aircraft and any people, buildings or vehicles in the vicinity. Followed correctly, these rules will not interfere with the ability of an individual to fly an unmanned aircraft recreationally.’

The conviction of Robert Knowles follows the recent case of a photographer from Lancashire accepting a caution for using a UAV for commercial gain without permission.

Lawrence Clift had sold footage of a school fire taken from his quadcopter to media organisations, even though he did not have authority from the CAA to operate the device commercially.

Anyone using unmanned aircraft for ‘aerial work’ requires special permission from the CAA, which the body claims ensures safety standards are being adhered to and that the operator  of the UAV is fully insured.

Found: The drone was reportedly found crashed in water near to BAE Systems' submarines testing facility in Barrow-in-Furness (pictured). After it was recovered, the UAV was traced to Mr Knowles who admitted to building the device himself and operating it on the day in question

Found: The drone was reportedly found crashed in water near to BAE Systems' submarines testing facility in Barrow-in-Furness (pictured). After it was recovered, the UAV was traced to Mr Knowles who admitted to building the device himself and operating it on the day in question

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Accident opens eyes to future


While riding a bike about 15 months ago, spatial analyst Neill Glover was hit by a car and seriously injured. While recovering, he had plenty of time to think about work. That is where his drone came in.
He bought a SkyJib-X4 unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), from Aeronavics, of Raglan, and started Geo and Spatial Information Systems Ltd about three weeks ago.

''I prefer to call them UAVs or rotary robotics because the word `drone' had spying and military connotations,'' Mr Glover said.

He learned how to use the drone, added some features, and now offers a farm mapping, photogrammetry (the science of taking measurements from photographs) service and egg and bird-nest counting.

He said the UAV took images in much finer detail than planes or satellites. While he keeps the UAV to a maximum height of about 400ft (low-flying aircraft are not allowed to go below 500ft), it can detect a piece of wire on the grass.

As the UAV has a gimbal, it stays upright in reasonably windy conditions. It can travel up to about 45kmh and can fly 3km to 4km away, although he prefers to operate it within sight.

The UAV has an infra-red camera and may be used to find faults on pylons or wind turbines. The infra-red system could be used for search and rescue, to pick up a missing or injured person's body heat.

''There are huge area of untapped potential,'' he said.

- by Yvonne O'Hara

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As our future robotic overlords come to enslave us, they'll be dancing the Electric Boogaloo.

Some may consider flying drones to be the pilotless perverters of privacy. Or, worse, they're heartless harbingers of death.

But one Philadelphia filmmaker has cast the small scale aircraft in a very different sort of role. Kurtis Sensenig envisions them as a graceful, agile and even comedic troupe of dancers.

In a stunning video that debuted this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Sensenig choreographs an aerial swarm of robot quadrotors to an electronic dance track. The automated chorus line flies in precise formations as individual drones break into flips and loops.

"It was one of the most challenging things I've ever done," said Sensenig, a Temple grad who once interned as a video producer at "I don't have any background in dance. I can barely step out on a dance floor."

It's not the first time Sensenig has worked with the troupe. As a video producer at the University of Pennsylvania, Sensenig was behind the camera when a similar swarm of drones - created by Penn's General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Lab - performed a James Bond theme on quirkily modified instruments. (See that video below.)

The Bond video went viral. It garnered more than 3.6 million views on YouTube and earned a standing ovation when Penn faculty member Vijay Kumar at the 2012 TED conference in Long Beach, Calif. The video, which made Penn's YouTube channel one of the most popular in the world, was also featured on CNN, the websites of the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and, among scores of other outlets.

The flying robots creators, Alex Kushleyev and Daniel Mellinger, have since graduated from Penn and founded KMel Robotics.

Sensenig hadn't worked with Kushleyev and Mellinger since the Bond video. Wanting to make a big splash at this year's CES, they called Sensenig and gave him free rein to design, produce and shoot.

"I had choreographed the robots in James Bond, but this wasn't anything like it," he said. "The James Bond video was purely mechanical. This needed to be art."

Sensenig spent hours listening to the dance track, playing it over and over, "trying to think how I could make it all look as cool as possible."

The collaborators met often, with Sensenig's suggestions pushing Kushleyev and Mellinger into new territory.

"They're geniuses," he said. "They can make these things do moves no one else has been able to do."

Last week, they shot the video in quarter-hour increments inside a rented warehouse in West Philadelphia. Those short bursts of filming don't bode well for schemes to use drones as Amazon delivery devices.

"They can only fly 15 minutes," Sensenig said. "The engineers have solved most of the issues with sensors and computing. But no one has been able to crack the problem of extending battery life."

Sensenig had planned to be at CES for his film's debut, but his flight was cancelled due to the polar vortex.

His plans for future films, however, are just heating up.

At Penn last week, Sensenig submitted his resignation to devote all his energies to his own projects at Kurtis Films.

 "I really like this niche of artistic robotic films," Sensenig said. "I'd love to do as many as possible. But I'm not banking on my success on these robotic films because I don't know if there'd be enough to pay the bills.

"But it will be the secret sauce of the company."

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Three men assemble a drone in Tianjin. (Photo/Xinhua)

Three men assemble a drone in Tianjin. (Photo/Xinhua)

Four people have been detained by police in Beijing for navigating an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) into the airspace of Beijing Capital International Airport, which caused delays for more than 10 passenger flights, reports the local Beijing News.

The drone was detected on Dec. 29 by the Civil Aviation Administration over the international airport at 11:00 am. The UAV was seen flying at 700 feet at a speed of more than 100 kilometers an hour.

Two civilian airplanes were forced to alter their flight courses to maneuver away from one another and the drone, while the local authority dispatched a helicopter to intercept the UAV.

Four people involved in the case have since been detained and charged with "endangering public security" and "seriously interrupting flight order."

Local police said the drone was modified from a model airplane to conduct surveying and mapping operations to the east of the airport. The investigation found that the four suspects were employees working for a local company, and they had failed to apply for approval to conduct such an operation, according to the Civilian Use of Drones Regulations.

"All unmanned aircraft are banned from entering the 15 kilometer range of airports and from flying higher than 100 meters on flight courses elsewhere," said Feng Chang, co-founder of the Beijing FlyCam, during an interview with the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post on Dec. 31

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What If They Try to Hack Amazon's Drones?

Parrot AR.Drone Quadricopter
Not everyone is thrilled with the rise of civilian drones in American skies. Last week, after Amazon hyped its plan to deliver packages in half an hour via UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle), we wondered about the drone backlash happening in many part of the U.S. And while an angry few threatened to shoot down these delivery drones, a more pressing concern seems to be: What if people try to hack them?

Just last week, security researcher Samy Kamkar made news after announcing he had modified his Parrot AR.Drone quadcopter to hunt and hijack other drones. Employing simple hardware including a Raspberry Pi computer and a wireless transmitter, plus software tools such as aircrack-ng and Kamkar's own Skyjack, the pirate drone scans for nearby Parrot IP addresses. If it locates one, the drone will then hack the unencrypted Wi-Fi controls of its target and place the bot under Kamkar's control.

Kamkar says he designed Skyjack to "get people to pay a little attention to the potential security implications of drones flying around and becoming more ubiquitous in daily use."

Patrick Egan, drone advocate and editor of sUAS News, is not especially worried about Skyjack. Hackers can target Parrot drones, yes, but that's because those French recreational quadcopters run on Wi-Fi, not on radio frequencies. "The Parrot is something a father and [child] would play with in the yard."

Kamkar readily admits that there are limits to his hack. The Skyjack drone can stay in the air for only 10 minutes. Its strike range extends as far as its own Wi-Fi network, and it detects only those IP addresses associated with Parrot. But that's not the point. The drones that would be used for package delivery or other commercial uses in the future would be much harder to bring down, he says. But it's not impossible—and that's his point.

For example, high-tech pirates could target the unmanned aerial vehicle's GPS navigation system by jamming weak satellite signals, says Todd Humphreys, an aerospace engineering professor at University of Texas at Austin. "You can just get on the Internet and buy a so-called personal privacy device, and you can jam GPS receivers from about 10 meters to up to a mile away," Humphreys says. The more heavy-duty jammers cost only a few hundred dollars.

A drone with disrupted GPS navigation would be in trouble. In the best-case scenario, the vehicle could limp home by relying on its inertial measurement unit to provide a basic dead reckoning. A human operator could also help by remotely steering the drone with visual cues coming from onboard cameras.

But things get really dicey if an attacker jammed the communication link with the ground operator. Indeed, some of the "personal privacy devices" Humphreys mentions sport multiple antennas and are powerful enough to disrupt cellphone signals—which is what an Amazon drone probably would use for flying beyond line of sight, he says.

Even more insidious is spoofing GPS coordinates, whereby the drone is tricked into landing at (or crashing into) a location chosen by the attacker. "It is orders of magnitude more sophisticated, more complicated than jamming," Humphreys says, "but it has a bigger payoff in that the attack can go undetected."

The threat is not theoretical. In June 2012, Todd Humphreys and his research team spoofed and grounded an $80,000 drone during a demonstration for the Department of Homeland Security.

For now, the threats are being addressed incrementally. Georgia Tech, for example, has been conducting studies into autonomous vision-based navigation, while the Los Alamos National Laboratory wants to make robot movement less predictable.

"The advantage of acting unpredictably is that people who might want to exploit the robot cannot as easily anticipate where the robot might go next," says Los Alamos National Laboratory research engineer David Mascarenas.

Still, Humphreys is concerned about the proliferation of software-defined radios. Whereas GPS spoofing is still the purview of highly skilled ham radio operators, these new devices give computer hackers easy entrance into the field. One day, will teen hackers be able to just download a GPS spoofing program and hijack a drone as they would a computer?

"That's my worst fear," he says

Read more: What If They Try to Hack Amazon's Drones? - Popular Mechanics
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Researchers at Vancouver’s Simon Frasier University have developed a fleet of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) that accept group voice commands or can be controlled silently through hand gestures. In addition, individual drones recognize which of them their controller is speaking to via on-board face recognition cameras.

Once a drone recognizes it is being singled out, it can be commanded to join or remove itself from the group. Packs of drones can then be given group commands such as take off, land or perform a pre-set mission.

To determine which of the drones is being commanded, each UAV rates the angle of the controller’s face relative to the camera. After comparing each other’s “Face Rank”, the drone with the highest score is then deemed to be the one targeted.

The controller can then tell the targeted drone to join the group by saying “And you” or remove one from the group with “not you”. Alternately, a controller can add drones by waving their right hand. Once grouped, sets of drones can be commanded with “You two” or “You three” to perform the same action simultaneously.

Presented at the the IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) in Japan this month, the researchers’ paper (pdf link) says work still needs to be done on the robotic drones face recognition system. In addition, they hope to expand voice commands so groups of drones can be given names (e.g. “You all are team red” etc.)

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News release from the organizers:

Alma, QC – May 3-5, 2013 – Ten university student teams from across Canada competed in the Operational Phase of the 5thUnmanned Systems Canada UAV Student Competition hosted by Ville d’Alma at the Centre d’excellence sur les drones (UAS CE). The teams were challenged to use unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) in support of forest fire fighting.  They were tasked with automatically locating targets that would represent points of interest in an actual forest fire fighting scenario in the remote Canadian wilderness, using their own experimental unmanned aircraft flying under the control of autopilots.


Winning Teams:


Phase 1 Design Phase


1stPlace          Team COBRA, University of New Brunswick

2ndPlace          UTA Team, University of Toronto

3rdPlace          Team VAMUdeS, Université de Sherbrooke


Phase 2 Operational Phase


1stPlace          Team VAMUdeS, Université de Sherbrooke

2ndPlace          UTA Team, University of Toronto

3rd  Place         Team COBRA, University of New Brunswick


All teams who participated in the operational phase of the competition received a cash award; overall $12,000.00 of prize money was awarded to the teams.


“It’s incredibly satisfying to see the rapid growth in capability that these teams bring to our annual competition,” said Eric Edwards, Chairman of Unmanned Systems Canada.  “We provide a safe environment where the students can fully exercise their technical creativity, and the results are just stunning.  They are self-motivated, and they are the best of the best from their respective faculties.  The corporate sponsors of this event thoroughly enjoyed meeting each of them and seeing their potential future employees at the top of their game, under a bit of competitive stress and dealing with real-life complications.”


Participating Teams:


University of New Brunswick – Team Cobra

Université de Sherbrooke – Team VAMUdeS

École Polytechnique Montréal – Team Smartbird

École de Technologie Supérieure (ÉTS) – Team Dronolab

Université du Québec à Chicoutimi – Team UQAC

University of Alberta – Team UAARG

University of Toronto – UTA Team

University of British Columbia – Team Thunderbird

Simon Fraser University – Team GUARDIAN

Carleton University – Team Blackbird


Unmanned Systems Canada – Systèmes télécommandés Canada (USC-STC) is the not-for-profit association representing the interests of the Canadian unmanned systems sector – industry, academia, government, military, and other interested persons. It provides a single voice for advocacy and representation to government and international bodies, and jointly leads Canada’s regulatory development efforts for UVS. The organization promotes and facilitates the growth of the Canadian unmanned vehicle systems community through education, engagement of new market sectors, and exchange of ideas and technologies.


The Unmanned Aerial System Center of Excellence is a non-profit organization whose mission is to develop an international center of expertise and innovations focused on the development, applications and operations of UAS. Services are available to both private and public companies. The UASCE collaborates withTransport Canada towards the integration of unmanned aerial vehicles in the Canadian airspace. UAV flights have been conducted since March 2012 in the Alma region and the future looks promising for the Centre.

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Alma, Québec – April 22nd, 2013 - The municipal Council of Alma, Unmanned Systems Canada, the Alma Airport authorities and the Unmanned Aerial System Center of Excellence are proud to invite you to the 2013 Unmanned Systems Canada Student UAV Competition.

Close to a hundred students from across Canada will attend the competition from May 3rd to 5th. They will fly their own UAVs and complete various tasks such as detecting and decoding targets. Colonel Paul Prévost, Commander of the 2 and 3WING Bagotville, has graciously accepted the honorary presidency of this year’s event.

This 5thedition of the competition and is the first to be opened to the public. Anyone fascinated by the world of aviation and willing to learn more about UAVs are welcomed to attend on Saturday May 4th and Sunday May 5th between 9am and 5pm. The public is invited to tune their radios to the regional stations of RNC Media, Planète and Radio X stations, to hear capsules throughout the weekend. The admission is free for the children under 12 years old and of 3$ for the people 12 years old and over. Various activities have been organized for the public. One of the highlights of the weekend will be the Fly-by of a CF-18 Saturday at noon. Many booths and aircraft on static display will be set up for the spectators. UAVs will also be on display, including the MISKAM UAV that has been flying and tested in Alma for over a year. Other businesses interested in the UAV development will also be on display and presenting their services to the public.

“This year, the Unmanned Aerial Center of Excellence and the city of Alma have graciously agreed to host the event. The fifth edition is shaping up to be the best event to date; we are looking forward to it. The continuous success of our Student Competition is directly linked to the support of our sponsors and the host city” states Paul Drover, executive director of Unmanned Systems Canada.

“The City of Alma is proud to host the Competition. For the first time in Canada, the event will be open to public. The whole region of Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean will benefit from the competition” adds the Mayor of Alma, Mr. Marc Asselin. “The Unmanned Aerial System Center of Excellence is constantly evolving and, by hosting the competition, the UASCE is demonstrating its leadership role in the UAV development at the national and international level”, states Pascal Pilote, president of UASCE.

The Unmanned Aerial System Center of Excellence has recruited over 60 volunteers to deliver this major event, which will attract many new companies and sponsors from across Canada and the United States. The sponsors, as well as all team members, their coaches and the organizing committee will be staying in Alma during the competition. Many local businesses generously agreed to sponsor the event and they hope to benefit from the national visibility. The competition will likely provide an important economic impact to the city of Alma.

 Canadian student UAV competition

Unmanned Systems Canada (USCSTC)has been organizing the competition since 2007. The main objective of this competition is to promote and develop the Canadian expertise in the UAV sector at the colleges and universities level.

The Unmanned Aerial System Center of Excellence (UASCE) works toward becoming an international center of expertise and to offer innovative services such as manufacturing, research and development, testing and training. The student competition being held in Alma is a great opportunity to promote our services and to inform the public on the purpose and uses of UAVs.

Let the Competition Begin - A Hundred Students Set To Fly Their Own UAVs

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