Powered by guardian.co.ukTen artykuł zatytułowany “prezent na Boże Narodzenie: Atak z dronów” został napisany przez Alex Renton, dla obserwatora na niedzielę, 23 listopada 2014 08.30 UTC

Grzebie wśród gadżetów i gadżetów w Marionville modele, ostatnie zakupy w Edynburgu przed lotniskiem, znajdziesz ogólny typ człowieka. W średnim wieku, roztarty na krawędziach, siwowłosy, anoraked - ale z dzieciństwa żyjący w jego oczach w tej jaskini skarbów. Jest dość dużo mnie.

Jak chłopaków w "książek dla dorosłych" sklepach, kiedy ci wciąż istniał, staramy się ignorować nawzajem. Rozpoznajesz skazy samotnego obsesji. Ale rozmowa zaczyna, głównie o kardanie i odchylenie. Po tym, jak przyznać się do awarii mój pożyczony DJI Phantom 2 dwóch sekund w swój dziewiczy lot, pozostałe droners (tak, które to słowo) otworzyć. Wyraźnie stwarzają bardzo mało wyzwanie stanu.

Jeśli kiedykolwiek dostał zestaw samolot balsa drewna w pończochę i gojenie jej gumy-band napędzany śmigłem aż złamał będzie zrozumieć, jak ludzie - i zazwyczaj są mężczyźni - może skończyć się Richard Branson czy Howarda Hughesa. Możemy po prostu wydawać więcej pieniędzy w sklepie modelu. W tym roku to się dzieje Bezzałogowe statki powietrzne (UAV), Nazwa poważnych droners 'do drona.

W Marionville Models, asystent Kevin kalibruje kompas moim komputerze, jednocześnie odpowiadając nonstop połączeń telefonicznych. Są to wszystko od ludzi, którzy chcą kupić drony. Dwie kobiety nie są w, zapytać, czy mogą kupić coś, co ich ojciec może wykorzystać latać swój aparat. Wkrótce Kevin jest w połowie drogi do ich sprzedaży £ 2700 Wings DJI rozprzestrzenienia, octocopter lub ośmiu silnikiem Drone z wyglądu toksycznym latający pająk. Jest zdolny do przenoszenia lustrzanki cyfrowej. Jeden taki jest używany przez klienta Marionville który jest także pod sokolnictwa. Drone Folie te ptaki w akcji podczas lotu drapieżne do nich, zawieszone na sznurku.

Tylko niebo Cię ogranicza: bestsellerowej DJI Phantom 2 może przenosić kamerę GoPro z napędem silnikowym. To kosztuje od £ 700.
Tylko niebo Cię ogranicza: bestsellerowej DJI Phantom 2 może przenosić kamerę GoPro z napędem silnikowym. To kosztuje od £ 700. Fotografia: Martin Hunter / Obserwator

Keith pokazuje mi swoją hexcopter, która jest właśnie dostrojone przez Riccardo, Właściciel Marionville za. Z sześcioma wirnikami i zdalnie sterowane kamery GoPro to kosztowało go niecałe 2000 £. "Mam zamiar używać go w celach biznesowych,"Keith mówi. "Pracuję na platformy, za pomocą ROV [zdalnie sterowany pojazd] Podwodny, więc jest to dość dużo tego samego rodzaju rzeczy. Takie same kontrole. "Jaki interes? "Oh, materiał budowlany handlu - inspekcji rynny, dachy, kominy. Dużo taniej jest zatrudnić mnie i đi niż trzech mężczyzn i rusztowań. "

"Ale, masz zamiar mieć trochę zabawy z nim, także?"" Oh Aye,"Mówi Keith. "Będę o nim bawić." Światło dzieciństwa jest w jego oczach, zbyt.

Drony - zdalnie sterowane latające obiekty z kamer - mogą być to Boże Narodzenie za duży prezent dla chłopców, duży i mały, A w przyszłym roku największy kłopot podmiejskich. Za £ 50 można teraz kupić stosunkowo stabilny i efektywny unosić latającą maszynę, która odbędzie film z sąsiadami w ogrodzie - albo przez ich okna sypialni. Są na tyle małe, że mieszczą się w dłoni.

Są wady, oczywiście. Kiedy moja córka i ja pierwszy raz uruchomił HubSan X4 (£ 48, od RC Geeks) W naszej kuchni to ciekawy zadane rany na palcu, a następnie poleciał za zlewozmywakiem. Nie wielu 10-latków może iść do szkoły i pochwalić się, że zostały one uszkadzana przez quadcopter, choć liczby są z pewnością rośnie. Bardziej niepokojące było godziny musieliśmy spędzić wiercąc otwór w tylnej części mebla, aby pobrać maleńką rzecz.

Nie ulega wątpliwości, armia brytyjska ma podobne problemy z "nano-drony", jakie stosuje się w walce. Są takie same wymiary jak HubSan i robią prawie takie same rzeczy - latać okrągłe narożniki, rzeczy filmowe, upaść i się zgubić, jeśli istnieje jakikolwiek wiatr. The big difference is that the army’s Black Hornets cost £125,000 each. They should have tried Maplin.

Drones exercising Alex Renton’s Jack Russell and Daughter

A few hours later, my daughter was exercising the dog with the HubSan, flying it backwards and forwards across an Edinburgh park. The drone’s eye view of the Jack Russell attacking it – other park-users will sympathise – is hilarious stuff, like a shark coming up to grab a swimmer. The daughter is convinced it can make it on Harry Hill’s You’ve Been Framed. There it may join such treasures as the drone that got into trouble while filming a wedding and gave the bride a black eye.

With a bigger budget, droning may get more grown-up. For under £300, you can buy an AR Parrot that will fly further and higher, and stream video footage by Wi-Fi to a smartphone or tablet. You download an app that shows you the drone’s view and a couple of on-screen joy sticks that you control with your thumbs. I was given one last Christmas, it also comes with a useful polystyrene propeller guard that the dog can bite. For about £650 there is the DJI Phantom Vision, with a 14-megapixel still and video camera: nearly broadcast quality.

It will stay in the air for 25 protokół, tolerating wind that would confound all but the sturdiest umbrella. It uses in-built GPS to fly around and over, powiedzieć, the Queen’s palace at Holyrood. (At this point the Civil Aviation Authority starts to take an interest – more on that later.) Most important, if it goes out of range it will return home by itself. YouTube is full of cheeky and eye-popping footage taken by Phantoms. The most impressive yet to appear features film from inside an erupting volcano in Iceland. The drone survived but the GoPro camera attached to it melted.

An IS video image of Kabane, taken by a drone.
An IS video image of Kobane, taken by a drone. Fotografia: AFP

The GoPro, a matchbox-sized HD video camera used by extreme-sports people, was carried into the volcano by a DJI Phantom 2. These sturdy Japanese quadcopters are doing for drone-flying what the Amstrad 8256 and Apple II did for home computing. Starting at £700, Phantom 2s are top of the Christmas- present want-lists of most of the outdoor photographers and aeronautics geeks in the land. China-based DJI won’t release sales figures, though it says it has gone from 50 staff to 2,500 in the past five years. W listopadzie, Marionville was selling 10 of its quad or hexcopters a week and Riccardo says the rise of the drones has all but saved his business.

The DJI Phantoms are currently the most popular recreational drone in the world – so big in the United States that this summer the National Parks Service (NPS) issued a temporary ban on them and all unmanned aircraft at the parks and monuments it polices. In the States there’s a fad for “dronies” – aerial shots of yourself, posed somewhere cool. So many Phantom 2s have been videoing the great presidential faces of Mount Rushmore that one droner said a queueing system had to be started, to prevent collisions.

In an editorial, the New York Times welcomed the NPS’s stop to the “gnatlike advance of aeronautics” quoting John Muir, the “great evangelist” of America’s wilderness: “The gross heathenism of civilisation has generally destroyed nature.” The ban is only temporary because the freedom to pester nature and the wilderness by remote control is something no legislator can see a way of outlawing.

W 2006 Frank Wang, a 26-year-old Chinese electronics engineer, started DJI. A remote-controlled helicopter enthusiast since childhood, Wang thought he could do better than make toys “that were hard to control and easy to crash”. At the same time the key component, a lithium rechargeable battery, was getting cheaper – the price has dropped 40% this decade. From his Hangzhou apartment, Wang designed parts and kits for UAVs and then, in early 2013, launched the first Phantom. This would not only carry a camera capable of professional-quality images, it would also survive a crash and, if it lost its owner’s signal, return to where it had started. Before this, camera-carrying drones were the stuff of electronics home-build projects and military surveillance.

Miami Athletics, using drones to capture scenes from their workouts.
Miami Athletics, using drones to capture scenes from their workouts. Fotografia: ty

I came across drones for non-geeks first in 2011. Journalist friends in Asia and the Middle East reported photographers using them during urban rioting in the Arab Spring and in Thailand – as much to find out what was going on behind police lines and in no-go zones as for getting footage. That seemed a good idea. The same year I worked in Beirut for an NGO trying to help doctors and journalists operate in Syria’s civil war. During the bitter fighting in Homs, I spent time on the phone to military attachés in different embassies, trying to find out whose surveillance drones were hovering over the Baba Amr suburb.

It was an important question. The humanitarian workers on the ground wanted to know if the eyes in the sky were friendly, or likely to be directing fire at attempts to move casualties. The answer I got was that nearly everyone – the Israelis, Americans, Syrians, Russians and Iranians – was flying unmanned aerial-surveillance aircraft over the city.

It seems a good principle that when governments have machinery that can gather information, journalists should have it, zbyt. (Though as early as 2010 a $25,000 drone was used to get images of a Paris Hilton beach party in the south of France.) Faine Greenwood, a journalist based in Phnom Penh, uses a Phantom 2 for her work. She has also helped assess different drones for the Humanitarian UAV Network, a group that wants to develop the machines for emergency aid work, including delivery of supplies and medicines.

Greenwood, whose Masters thesis was on “drone culture”, has likened the ever-dropping price of UAV tech to “the peace dividend of the mobile phone wars”. Ona mówi: “They will provide us with a cheap, easy-to-use and incredibly versatile way of gathering data, from perspectives humans have rarely had much access to before.” The extraordinary drone footage of nighttime Hong Kong, giving a unique idea of the scale of October’s democracy protests, shows how technology can challenge a state that doesn’t allow freedom of speech or reporting.

Many, oczywiście, don’t see a human-rights benefit around drones. They are just another hi-tech pest. But drones are so useful that cracks in this stance are inevitable. The RSPB has already used one to check whether a marsh harrier had laid eggs in its remote nest. Dotychczas, talk of non-military drone delivery systems has not gone further than Amazon’s joke that it might start with UAVs if the traffic gets worse, and the Las Vegas hotel that delivers cocktails from bar to poolside by Phantom. But that is going to change. Drones are taking off, like it or not.

As with internet misbehaviour and legal highs, legislation is not keeping up with the advance of technology. I can’t fly my rebooted DJI Phantom 2 from the pavement outside Marionville Models because we’re within the four-mile exclusion zone around Edinburgh airport. Local wisdom says the police will spot any incursion. But I can do pretty much anything else I like with it, because there’s not really anyone to stop me. Last winter a sperm whale was stranded, nie żyje, on a beach in the Firth of Forth – crowds gathered and the police rather officiously kept us back. So I flew my drone out over their heads to have a look at it and take some pictures.

Że, the Civil Aviation Authority tells me, was illegal. It is their job to police manmade objects in the UK’s airspace, whether over your back garden or Heathrow. The law, a spokesman explains, is clear. No UAVs can be flown within 50m of a person, vehicle or building – unless those are “under your control”. So what about the back garden of my terraced house? “We would expect you to have told your neighbour. It’s not permitted if you’re within 50m of your neighbour’s house.”

There’s more. No flight is allowed within 150m of any congested area, which rules out half of Hyde Park. Również, you have to be in line of sight of the UAV at all times – which means it should be no more than 120m above you and 500m away. This is despite the fact that the cheaper models now give you real-time views from the drone’s camera, and control via GPS makes long flights out of sight ordinary – just like the drones the RAF is using to bomb Isis in Syria.

Breaking these rules is a criminal offence, but so far there have been only two convictions, both this year. One was for flying a drone over Alton Towers too close to the rides – a guilty plea and a £300 fine. In the other a TV shop owner in Barrow-in-Furness was fined £800 for flying the drone within 50m of a road bridge and near a BAE nuclear submarine site, an offence in itself. The villain, Robert Knowles, called his conviction “ridiculous”, saying that the drone had only got to these places because it had crashed and floated there down the river.

No UAV, furthermore, can be used for paid commercial activity without a certificate of competence, after a training course, and permission from the CAA. Że, oczywiście, turns nearly all the drone users who hire themselves out to builders and architects in Marionville Models and around the country into law breakers. prawdopodobnie, it would nab the BBC natural history unit – regular drone users, zbyt. But the CAA has exempted them.

“We’re not naive,” sighs the CAA spokesman, “but we think the rules are proportionate and sensible. The Phantom 2 weighs 3kg: flying at 200ft, the remote goes, it drops out of the sky, that could hurt someone.” And, in case any droner is wondering, the CAA does monitor YouTube. That’s how they got the guy from Alton Towers.

In order to photograph the fleet of drones acquired for this article, the Obserwator played it strictly by the book. The notion of drone-flying a Hibernian FC flag across Hearts of Midlothian’s ground midmatch, emulating a stunt pulled by an Albanian fan at a Serbia-Albania match in Belgrade two months ago, was abandoned. Instead we borrowed a country house on a secluded estate in East Lothian. On a golden November day, the drones danced around the neo-classical stonework, putting up pigeons that then tried to attack them. There were no accidents, because we had obtained the services of a competent pilot, Ian McKean.

Ian bought a Phantom 2 Vision earlier this year for TipTop Gardens, his landscape gardening business. “It’s really useful for surveying a property from above, getting pictures so you can then show a client where a bed is going to be.” He doesn’t charge for that service, so no CAA permission is needed.

But what about the fun, I wondered, looking for the boy-gleam in his eye. "Oh, I’ve got a project filming the changing seasons in the woods around my house. And there’s a friend who’s organising motocross events, and wants that filmed.” I can see there’s something else: an even more pleasing notion. Ian grins, the smile of a man who once loved a balsa-wood aeroplane. “My friend is a sheep farmer and we think we might use it for rounding up the animals. I’ve seen that on YouTube."

The DJI Phantom 2 Vision was lent by rcgeeks.co.uk (01737 457 404). Including a motorised gimbal for a GoPro camera, it sells for £707.50. Marionville modele, 42 Turnhouse Road, Edinburgh (marionvillemodels.com; 0131 317 7010) sells drones and offers generous human help to those who can’t fly them very well.

UAV: a buyer’s guide
(in order of size)

Hubsan X4
Four engines, 20 minutes’ flight time. Best of the many nano-drones, equipped with video camera and memory. Use for snooping indoors and outdoors, harassing pets. Will fit through letter box. From £35.

Parrot AR Drone 2.0
Four engines, 30 minutes’ flight time, max speed 25mph. Controlled via Wi-Fi from smartphone, tablet or head-set. Low-res video or stills can be stored on board or streamed back. From £220.

DJI S1000
Spreading wings. Eight engines, 15 minutes’ flight time, max speed 45mph. Retractable landing gear. For professional still and video photography. From £2,800.

RAF MQ9 Reaper
One engine, 14 hours’ flight time, max speed 300mph. Cameras and up to four Hellfire air-to-ground missiles. Few legal restrictions as long as only non-UK citizens are killed. From £8m.

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