3D Robotics


Silly political gestures (banning model airplanes with cameras!) are par for the course in Berkeley, where I live and the 3D Robotics Bay Area offices are located. Thankfully, they usually don't pass or aren't enforced.

From Patch


Even as the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department considers buying an unmanned aerial vehicle, Berkeley City Council will discuss declaring the city a No Drone Zone

Arguing that drones are unsafe and pose a threat to civil liberties, Berkeley’s Peace and Justice Commission is recommending that the city council adopt a resolution this month proclaiming: 

"1. Berkeley a No Drone Zone and instructing the City Attorney to perform the necessary legal tasks to transform this declaration of a No Drone Zone into an Ordinance for the City of Berkeley wherein drones are hereby banned from airspace. 

2. That drones will not be purchased, leased, borrowed, tested or otherwise used by any agency of the City of Berkeley over the City of Berkeley, including drones in transit.

3. That exemptions will be made for hobbyists to continue to fly remote controlled model aircraft in specified areas, away from dwellings and the urban cityscape of people and buildings as long as those devices are not equipped with any kind of camera or audio surveillance equipment."

It’s not clear what the “legal tasks” establishing Berkeley as a No Drone Zone would be, of if such an ordinance could be enforced. While the Federal Aviation Administration is still drafting the rules that would regulate what the agency calls unmanned aircraft systems, local law enforcement agencies and other institutions across the country are taking steps to acquire and deploy drones

Earlier this month, Alameda County supervisors opted to examine the merits of a cop-operated drone in more depth before approving the purchase of the $31,000 laptop-sized flying machine the sheriff said he needs.


(image from No Drones Illinois)

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  • While the SF Chronicle seemed to skip us entirely, It seems that in Berkeley there considering a broader range of uses (Thanks Chris)

  • 3D Robotics

    A couple good articles out today about this:


    SF Chronicle

  • How about a hemp powered Drone?

  • @Jake, you really should have worked a Prius comment into that, they always give me a good chuckle.

    (to play into the stereotype) We could argue that unlike military drones, our are mostly electric or Hybrid. Hell we might even get some solar powered "Drone Charging Stations" out of the whole thing!

    On a more serious note, Berkley could well be an early indicator for us on how these laws are going to pan out. If we could get some people in there to show the hobbyist and the conservation /photography end of things.......it could be a proving ground of sorts. They have a well educated populous that I think would be very open to a conversation on the positive side of drones. Maybe even set up some kind of event where people could come and test fly an FPV drone (maybe a simulation) where they could fly a virtual drone wearing FPV goggles and snapping pics of Wildlife and other "positive" and targeted scenarios. It could be a really positive thing, and step in the right direction

  • lolololol. I can hear it now,"Dude, that's like a invasion of my privacy and stuff. What if life they see what I'm growing and stuff. That's just not right man. I'm gonna talk to my professor about this tomorrow and we're gonna make some flyers for sure." Sorry to stereo type Berkley. but, bhaaaaaaaaa. This is awesome.

  • @John, I have that same Pic on the Signature of all my emails!

    I can see why they feel this way, Used Improperly drones can be used (and were in fact partly developed for) to spy on private citizens. I know that I certainly have some strong feelings on keeping my privacy intact... and we have already seen instances of people using drones to look in (AKA Spy) on what other people are doing on private property......And when you add in that those being spied on are doing something distasteful, The ends are somehow seen to be justifying the means.

    IT should be noted that they did add in a provision for hobbyist, Although I would like to see a rewording to allow for FPV.....But that is a slippery slope as well.

    I think what we need to do is change the picture that people think of when they think about drones from the one used from this article to something more benign.  I think that  one tactic that would work especially well in Berkley would be to Bring the role of drones in conservation efforts into the picture.

    A balance might must be struck that would allow Hobbyist, people using them for commercial purposes such as real estate photography, Conservation, first response,  But that would disallow Invasion of privacy, unlawful surveillance by Government agency's and the like.

    We already have a number of laws on the books that cover invasion of privacy, unlawful surveillance and the like. That if we can just get a simple framework allowing drones to be used in areas that we can mostly agree are benign, That  will allow the application of existing laws to that framework, and then we can all take a breath and see if that on it's own is sufficient. And then patch the areas that create loopholes between the two.

  • Firstly Crashpilot hit the nail on the head here. Google earth and other similar sat viewers are way beyond what we UAV hobbits can do. Then the fact nearly everyone now days has a mobile camera and recording device is really no different either. Its all what perspective you view it in really. For example what are they worried about mostly. apart from safety of course? Invasion of privacy? I have eyes but I don't go looking into peoples bedroom windows and this is also illegal. So why not just outlines some sensible laws much the same for UAVs.

  • Bill they have already done this, its called the AMA guidelines focused on FPV/UAVs. So below 400ft - VLOS only and best to be done at a sanctioned AMA site or Park rated for park flying. Our drones are RC aircraft, pretty simple right, we use RC radios the spectrum of which is designated for RC aircraft use unless you are using Ham or LRS which depends then on where you use it i.e. what country and whether they allow for it. The bottom line is our UAVs are RC Aircraft - so we should use and fly based on the existing guidelines in place and try to work with in the system. If we fly where ever we want, as high as we want, as far as we want and do not adhere to the rules, well then we know what will happen to our lovely hobby. So I think the way to work this is to continue to push forward with AMA and try to continue the advocation of our hobby through proper means. Berkeley is concerned because these aircraft have all kinds of add-ons that allow for video recording, tracking, autopilot flight and whether they lump us in with the global hawks doesn't matter, we are in fact as capable in a small platform as our counter parts in the DoD side. So to think we are not a possible problem is not realistic. If flown by the wrong people, the wrong way with the wrong stuff these drones are in fact dangerous. That is a fact. So they are not thinking of the good citizens, they are thinking of what could be done by the bad people, and or those interested in thwarting the right to privacy and using these to further observe people against the rule of law. So as much as I love drones, I can see from a third person view their concerns. This is a growing concern across USA right now, not just in Berkeley.  Also let us not think we are not a capable drone platform. I have seen videos of FPVers flying well over 4000ft ASL and more then 10km away from launch. That my friends is quite a capable UAS not a UAV. Again perspective is important here, don't just look at it from our side as the lovers of DIY UAVs look at it from their point of view. 

  • Oops. Can't edit.

    Replace "terminologically" with "terminology".

    Thanks Spell checker. 

  • A bunch of our perceived issues stem from the fact that my/our little Homemade Quad is getting lumped in with the Global Hawks and LEMV's we build at work, in many of these discussions/proposals. 

    As a society, we've not developed the linguistics yet to clearly delineate between a surveillance drone with a 3 week loiter and a 100 ton lift capacity, and a 900 gram 10 minute flight toy (toy used for dramatic effect, no offence to quad owners). 

    The FAA knows the difference and set forth the standards for "Operating as a Model". But so far as I can see, they are the only ones who "Get It". 

    Perhaps the best thing we could do, would be to advocate a new terminologically to separate hobbyists Air Craft from the Big Boys. Stop calling anything under 5lbs a UAV for example. Maybe if "Micro-Drone" were commonly used?

    IE: "No, it's not a UAV, it's a Micro-Drone". "If it were an UAV, it would be large enough to carry a man, hence the designation Un-Manned Arial Vehicle". 

    If we can develop a separation or delineation like this, distance the hobby, or "Micro-Drone community" from the fear of Predator and X47 Drones in our Air Space, that would be a good thing. We need to be able to say, that a law  that bans a LEMV over the Superbowl, isn't applicable to a quad orbiting a fishing contest or Motocross race. 

    Does that make sense? I know it's a big ego boost to claim that you fly a Drone, or UAV, and I've said it myself. But maybe that's not so self-serving. Maybe we need to start advocating a separate classification? 

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