California Smells Trouble, Bans Marijuana Drone Delivery

California lawmakers are working to beat a Jan. 1 deadline for the implementation of legal marijuana, and there are some very interesting inclusions in the Bureau of Cannabis Control’s newly-released licensing program regulations for businesses. While the legal cannabis industry is poised to create a plethora of new jobs in California, one sector that apparently […]

Drone hunt for Loch Ness Monster finds its film double

A high-tech marine drone scouring the depths of Scotland’s Loch Ness for one of nature’s most elusive beasts has found a “monster” – but not the one it was looking for.

Rather than the fabled Loch Ness Monster itself, the probe has discovered a 30-foot (9 meter) replica used in the 1970 film “The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes,” which sank nearly 50 years ago after its buoyant humps were removed.

Undeterred, the enthusiastic monster-hunters steering the drone are continuing their two-week search for any evidence that might prove the existence of “Nessie”.

The survey by Norwegian company Kongsberg Maritime has been the most detailed to date of the Loch’s icy depths.

The Munin drone is capable of mapping vast areas down to 1,500 feet and is often used to locate downed aircraft.

“The vehicle allows sonars to scan just a few meters from the loch floor, giving resolution several orders of magnitude greater than anything before,” said Kongsberg Maritime engineer Craig Wallace.

Along with the movie replica, it has also found a 27-foot shipwreck as it maps the Loch floor.

Far from being disappointed by the findings, Steve Feltham who has been hunting Nessie for 25 years, says the maps will help him in his quest.

“I think the findings are fantastic,” he said. “We now have a more detailed map of the rock bottom than ever before, which will show us the location of every lump and bump.

“We can send back cameras to look at anything of interest which could turn out to be the carcass of the animal,” he added. “It’s shown there’s a hell of a lot more to investigate.”

The first written record of a monster relates to the Irish monk St Columba, who is said to have banished a “water beast” to the depths of the River Ness in the 6th century.

The most famous picture of Nessie, known as the “surgeon’s photo”, was taken in 1934 and showed a head on a long neck emerging from the water.

It was revealed 60 years later to have been a hoax that used a sea monster model attached to a toy submarine.

Countless unsuccessful attempts to track down the monster have been made in the years since, notably in 2003 when the BBC funded an extensive scientific search that used 600 sonar beams and satellite tracking to sweep the full length of the loch.

It concluded there was probably nothing there.

(Reporting by Bethany Rielly; editing by Stephen Addison)

Reuters: Oddly Enough

Connecticut teen tests fire-breathing, turkey-roasting drone

A young Connecticut man has cooked up a flame-throwing drone that roasts turkeys, but his latest foray into unmanned flight has drawn the attention of the law – again.

Austin Haughwout, 19, made headlines last year when a young woman attacked him for using a drone to film her and earlier this year he got into trouble when he modified a drone to fire a handgun.

The Clinton, Connecticut man this week posted a YouTube video showing him using a drone equipped to shoot flames to roast a turkey in a wooded area of his family’s backyard.

Police said they were looking into the matter, but the man’s father said the aerial turkey roast was carried out safely.

“We had a lot of fun, it was something different to do and there was no danger at all,” said the father, Bret Haughwout. He said he and his son had fire extinguishers, hoses and buckets of water on hand for the flight.

“We didn’t break any laws,” the elder Haughwout said.

Clinton Deputy Police Chief John Carbone agreed with that assessment on Wednesday, but added, “The laws just haven’t caught up with this kind of technology yet.”

In July, the younger Haughwout was charged with two counts of assault on a police officer when he was summoned to the local police station for questioning about a video showing the drone he had modified to fire a handgun. He is still awaiting trial on that charge, which police said resulted from his driving away from officers who were trying to question him.

He also made headlines last year when police charged a woman with assault after she confronted him about flying a drone at a state beach and intruding on her privacy. He recorded the encounter with his cellphone camera as the two engaged in a scuffle that resulted in charges against the woman, but not him.

The head and founder of the state Drone Pilots Association said that Haughwout risked giving the aircraft, used by hobbyists and professionals, a bad name.

“Mr. Haughwout has once again displayed his willingness to use a drone to perform an? irresponsible and unsafe act,” said Peter Sachs. “Whatever talent he has in creating these dangerous contraptions is far surpassed by his immaturity and lack ?of sensibility. The only thing he has truly accomplished has been to fuel the public’s unwarranted fear of drones.”

(Editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis)

Reuters: Oddly Enough

Drone Delivery of Drugs to Ohio Prison Sparks Fight

An unexpected drone delivery (at least by some) at Ohio’s Mansfield Correctional Institution last week was carrying over two ounces a weed, more than six grams of heroin and a fistful of tobacco.

Drone Delivery of Drugs to Ohio Prison Sparks Fight

Drone Delivery of Drugs to Ohio Prison Sparks Fight

Unfortunately for the intended recipient, the attempted contraband delivery was an utter failure that initiated a fight and ended in some rather invasive strip searches for all.

According to online reports, “The package dropped contained 144.5 grams of tobacco, 65.4 grams of marijuana, and 6.6 grams of heroin.”

Per the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections, the July 27 flight was preceded by a fight on the prison’s recreation yard, causing corrections officers to call for backup in an attempt to restore order and help put down the inmate brawl. After scrutinizing the video surveillance, officials determined that prior to the delivery drone coming over the prison’s fence, inmates began to fight as a distraction. Once the package was retrieved, the contraband was then thrown over the fence to the south recreation yard.

The inmates that were out on the recreation yard at the time were taken the prison’s gym, where all were strip-searched, x-rayed, and subjected to a rather intrusive cavity inspection.


Not a vulture but a drone: South Africa police detain cameraman

A journalist reaches up to catch a remote aerial camera that flew above crowds gathered outside the hospital where former South African President Nelson Mandela is being treated in Pretoria June 28, 2013. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

A journalist reaches up to catch a remote aerial camera that flew above crowds gathered outside the hospital where former South African President Nelson Mandela is being treated in Pretoria June 28, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Dylan Martinez

PRETORIA | Fri Jun 28, 2013 3:08pm EDT

(Reuters) – South African police on Friday detained the owner of a radio-controlled helicopter drone carrying a camera that was filming scenes around the Pretoria hospital where ailing anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela is being treated.

F.C. Hamman, a South African freelance film-maker, was escorted away by police along with the helicopter camera he was flying with his 21-year-old son Timothy outside the clinic where Mandela, 94, has spent three weeks with a lung infection.

After nearly four hours of questioning by police, Hamman was released but the drone camera was confiscated.

“From a security point of view, they are concerned. They are inspecting our equipment to make sure it didn’t violate any security regulations,” Hamman told Reuters, adding police had not pressed any charges for the moment.

“We didn’t realize we were breaking any laws,” he said.

Hamman said he had intended to offer to media organizations the aerial shots of intense activity around the hospital, where crowds of jostling journalists have mingled with well-wishers paying tribute to South Africa’s former president.

“We were careful not to fly over the hospital,” he said.

The intense media scrutiny has angered some of Mandela’s family. Daughter Makaziwe on Thursday lambasted foreign media “vultures” for not respecting his privacy as he lay critically ill.

Hamman said he had already used the home-built flying camera in other film projects and had also assisted police with surveillance work in operations against suspected drug-dealers in the crime-plagued Johannesburg suburb of El Dorado.

“You can’t fly one of those things without a permit,” one police officer said at the hospital after Hamman was escorted away. Pretoria police declined to comment further.

The incident came just hours before U.S. President Barack Obama started an official visit to South Africa, which will include stops in Pretoria, Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Asked how he thought Obama’s huge security detail might react if he launched the flying “eye in the sky” in the vicinity of the president, Hamman chuckled: “That would be a mistake.”

(Reporting by Siphiwe Sibeko, Dylan Martinez and Jon Herskovitz in Pretoria and Pascal Fletcher in Johannesburg; Writing by Pascal Fletcher; Editing by Alistair Lyon)

Reuters: Oddly Enough

ZeitGeist: Flying drone spies on marijuana users

April 29: Police are patrolling neighborhoods with an unmanned flying drone that can “smell” marijuana. Willie Geist has the creepy story.
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