Tag Archives: Drones

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Drone startup abuzz at Berkeley coworking space WeWork

Queen Bee Photo: Sarah Gerber
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This post is the first in a series of business stories brought to you by WeWork Berkeley.

At WeWork Berkeley, there’s an office decorated with empty beer steins, and another occupied by a massive beanbag chair. In yet another, mannequins sport colorful bridesmaid dresses. But Queen B Robotics still manages to make their workspace stand out.

“Most of the time it looks like a mad scientist’s lab,” says founder Chris Blower. There are wires and pliers covering the desks, and five spider-like drones wait, ready for flight, in a corner.

You wouldn’t know it, but merely a year ago Queen B was barely even a larva. Blower was in Washington, D.C., finishing up a PhD in unmanned aerial vehicles at The George Washington University. The lifelong aviation lover (“Put me in an airplane and fly me around in circles all day and I’m happy,”), he was particularly fascinated by the rapidly burgeoning drone industry. Eyeing the activity in Silicon Valley, Blower decided to move across the country and get into the game himself. … Continue reading »

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Drones, and racing them, a big attraction in Berkeley park

Drone racers pose during their latest race on Mar. 29. Photo: Scot Refsland.
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While kites floated silently on the seaside breeze at Berkeley’s César Chávez Park last Saturday, a lone black drone buzzed and somersaulted 30 feet in the air, until it came crashing down back to earth.

Several yards away, underneath a pitched canopy, Tom Jacobsen took off his goggles and slowly walked into the field of tall grass in the middle of which his crashed drone had landed. He showed no signs of concern over what may have happened to his hand-built drone, which cost him more than $600 and numerous hours to build.

“Trust me, we fly them so it can crash into the ground,” Jacobsen said as he searched for his drone. … Continue reading »

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Council: No drones for Berkeley police for 1 year

A drone spotted in Berkeley last October. Photo: William Newton
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The Berkeley City Council voted last week to enact a one-year moratorium on the use or acquisition of drones by the Berkeley Police Department.

The Feb. 24 vote came despite the fact that the department had no plans to get or use a drone.

“We don’t own a drone. We have no budget for drones. We have no plan to buy a drone,” said Police Chief Michael Meehan on Friday. “It’s not on our radar.”

Read more about drones in Berkeley.

Council voted Tuesday to allow the Berkeley Fire Department to use drones in disaster response efforts. But officials, for the most part, said they are not comfortable with police using drones for law enforcement purposes until the city hashes out a policy on the subject. As part of last week’s vote, they pledged to work on that policy at some point in the future.

The vote Tuesday does not affect privately-owned drones in Berkeley.  … Continue reading »

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Drone technology in Berkeley may see further study

Advocates calling to make Berkeley a "no drone zone" set up in front of Tuesday night's council meeting to spread the word. Photo: mary mad
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Tuesday evening, the Berkeley City Council delved into the sticky issue of drone regulation, and plans to take an even deeper look at the related ramifications at some point in the future.

The council held a special work session — with no action planned, and none taken — to hear from three city panels that considered drone technology after local officials asked them to offer feedback on it in late 2012.

Two of those bodies came out in support of making Berkeley a “no drone zone,” while the third said drones should be available for the city to use in case of emergency with appropriate oversight. … Continue reading »

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Drone battle to come before Berkeley City Council

Two quadricopter drones, typical of the designs popular with hobbyists. Photo: Gregor Hartl/Ars Electronica
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More than a year after the Berkeley City Council asked three city panels to take a look at the use of drones around town, two starkly different recommendations are slated to come before officials in a special work session later this month.

The city’s Disaster and Fire Safety Commission has made a recommendation to allow the police and fire departments to use drones “for specific enumerated purposes in emergency situations.” Usage would have to approved by the city manager, police chief or fire chief.

But two other city bodies, the Peace & Justice Commission and the Police Review Commission, have asked council to declare Berkeley a “no drone zone,” citing concerns related to safety and privacy, among other issues. … Continue reading »

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Berkeleyside Blotter: Crime in Berkeley, April 3-9

Selected calls for service to the Berkeley Police, via CrimeMapping.com. (Scroll down for maps of burglaries, auto burglaries and auto thefts.) Click the map for the full list. See the map key here.
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This is a partial list of recent crime in Berkeley, compiled by Berkeleyside, and based on reports to the Berkeley Police Department unless otherwise noted. See recent Berkeley crime coverage here.

The following items represent just a sampling of calls, and times may be approximate. From April 3-9, there were 11 burglary reports21 auto break-in or theft from a vehicle reports, and eight stolen vehicle reports to the Berkeley Police Department, according to CrimeMapping.comThree robberies and 11 assaults, domestic violence incidents or batteries were reported. These numbers are subject to change. Click the previous links for the most current information.

[Editor’s Note: We always appreciate photographs and tips, about breaking news or neighborhood safety issues, via email at tips@berkeleyside.com or via Facebook or Twitter; please let us know when you write if you prefer to be anonymous.] 

Thursday, April 3

Five thefts or burglaries from vehicles were reported: at 12:30 a.m. in the 2700 block of Stuart Street; at 8 a.m. in the 1200 block of Haskell Street; at 3:03 p.m. in the 2400 block of Durant Avenue; at 4 p.m. in the 100 block of Seawall Drive; and at 10:45 p.m. in the 2200 block of Parker Street.

A robbery was reported at 2:30 a.m. at Shattuck Avenue and Kittredge Street. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley rejects idea of making city a No Drone Zone

A quadricopter drone. Photo: jalexartis
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At its meeting last night, the Berkeley City Council rejected a recommendation from the Peace and Justice Commission to establish a No Drone Zone in the city. Instead, the council referred the issue to three commissions — the Peace and Justice Commission, the Police Review Commission, and Disaster and Fire Safety Commssion — with guidelines for public safety agencies’ use of drones to be reviewed at a future council workshop.

During public comment more than a dozen people spoke in favor of the Peace and Justice Commission proposal, which would have banned all drones except for hobbyist use (and those would have been restricted to drones without cameras). … Continue reading »

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Berkeley considers becoming a No Drone Zone

Two quadricopter drones, typical of the designs popular with hobbyists. Photo: Gregor Hartl/Ars Electronica
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Berkeley City Council will tonight consider a proposal from the Peace & Justice Commission to ban the use of drones — unmanned aerial vehicles — in the city’s airspace. The recommended ordinance would also prohibit the city, or any agency of the city, from purchasing, borrowing, testing or using drones. Hobbyist use is exempted “as long as those devices are not equipped with any kind of camera or audio surveillance equipment.”

Alameda County Supervisors last week tabled a proposal from the county sheriff to use a $31,646 grant to buy a surveillance drone, following protests from the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation about the lack of privacy protections.  … Continue reading »

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Of course you want to build your own aerial drone

An intent, young maker at last year's East Bay Mini Maker Faire. Photo: Sabrina Merlo
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Build your own biology lab, make foam swords, devise your ingenious escape the MacGyver way, learn about honey harvesting… these are just a handful of the experiences from Berkeley makers you could have at this Sunday’s East Bay Mini Maker Faire, to be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the campus of Park Day School in the Temescal district of Oakland.

Among the 125 makers, performers, crafters, presenters and vendors at the Faire, are a couple of dozen Berkeleyans: among them, Chris Anderson is showing unmanned aerial vehicles you can make in your own garage, Pioneers in Engineering are banging the drum for their new robotics competition (Berkeleyside covered the last one in April), the Fixit Clinic is leading “guided disassembly of your broken stuff”, and Adrian Freed will show you how to build interactive, touch-sensitive surfaces using conductive paper and origami. … Continue reading »