Drones bring soaring new technology to SU

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or UAVs, have landed at Syracuse with the help of professors, students and the Skyworks Project.

Arland Whitfield began the Skyworks Project with the intention of “pushing the limitations of drone technology.”

Whitfield, an information management and technology sophomore, aims to certify the members of this club in Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) operation before the FAA allows the commercial use of drones, a mandate expected to pass by 2014.

Though the Skyworks Project awaits new FAA drone regulations, Whitfield will continue to share his knowledge, provide a safe environment for flight and push the boundaries of current drone technology. Whitfield enjoys photography and believes that drones can capture “impossible shots” and accomplish what no other current technology in Hollywood can do.

Photo: Lenny Christopher
Though the law prohibits commercial use, FAA regulations allow for hobbyists, like Arland Whitfield, to fly drones under one thousand feet.

UAVs captured the attention of Prof. Dan Pacheco who imagined the added types of stories that could be told through aerial imagery.

The small army of drones on campus overseen by him include the ArduCopter, the Parrot Drone and the newest addition, the DJI Phantom. Pacheco has flown the drones in the Manley Field House with the Skyworks Project and is hoping to do so on a bigger playing field, the Carrier Dome. Pacheco is the chair of journalism innovation at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications.

These drones, which have the capacity to fly up to 400 feet, still pose legal issues in the U.S. With FAA lawmaking lagging behind the technology of UAVs, drones are still considered to be in the same category as commercial airliners. A UAV resembles the size of a remote-controlled helicopter.

“The FAA is making drone experimentation difficult at the moment,” Pacheco said, who believes that FAA regulations will change “as more trained professionals model good behavior.”

Using software that independently controls each of the drone’s four blades, a UAV has the capability to be controlled in ways that similar-looking aircrafts, like model helicopters, cannot.

The Phantom can lift up to two-pounds, and Pacheco has the Phantom fitted with a GoPro camera. Wireless viewing transmits exactly what the GoPro sees from above. Other technology allows users to experience in-flight drone footage with a wearable interface.

Though restricted by where they can fly the drones, Pacheco and the students of the Skyworks Project have big ambitions for what this technology might mean for on-campus sports. The Skyworks Project, working closely with the football team, has employed the drones during practices to acquire unique aerial footage.

“Small camera-equipped drones are already a part of our world, and the technology is getting better by the day,” Pacheco said.

Drones at Syracuse University

Dan Pacheco, chair of journalism innovation at the Newhouse School, lends his guidance to members of Skyworks Project during a demonstration at Manley Field House. (Photo: Lenny Christopher)

Though the drones are typically controlled manually, they can also be programmed with facial recognition software, Pacheco said, allowing the drone to identify faces and follow certain individuals around. Perhaps they could even be used to save lives, Pacheco said.

For example, a drone can be sent to find survivors following a natural disaster, and it is able to examine locations that humans and rescue helicopters cannot access. Or, they can be sent to gain footage of dangerous events, rather than endangering the lives of reporters. Or, on a lighter note, Pacheco said, “Perhaps in the future our food could be delivered from Marshall Street by flying drones.”

Pacheco believes that technology will continue to change the interface of storytelling.

“It's important for trained journalists to experiment with drones now, and show how they can be used to tell stories in new ways,” he said.

Flight demo in Manley Field House

Video produced by Erin Miller.


Now filmmakers can use drones for shooting high-end scenes for the film, it will be remarkable !
Read: http://newsorigin.com/now-filmmakers-can-use-drones-for-filming/


Technology has affected society and its surroundings in a number of ways. In many societies, technology has helped develop more advanced economies (including today's global economy) and has allowed the rise of a leisure class.

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