Skies Fill Up Fast

When the Jackedrabbit Spaketh of the Eye in the Sky, they weren’t kidding. Applications for drone permits are pretty much full, according to the Examiner. How many drones will be filming you from above this year? Oh, not many. Just 200 – about 1 for every 300 citizens, meaning there are more drones than there are cops.

blackhawk wesley clark 2013The 200 is just for the civilian drones, operated by Burners. We also have satellite and military overflights, and who knows what manner of integrated technology the infrared-equipped cops/rangers are testing out at the largest public event on Federal land, on a former military bombing range. There could be all kinds of loony stuff going on overhead.

Re-blogged from The Examiner:

Only three days after organizers of Burning Man opened registration for pilots of radio-controlled aircraft at this year’s event, the cap has been nearly reached.

BurningManDroneImageAs of late Thursday, more than 150 registrants submitted requests to use drones at the annual week-long counterculture gathering in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. When organizers announced the registration Tuesday, it set limit the number of people allowed to use devices to 200.

On Wednesday, event spokesperson Jim Graham said last year’s event saw only a few radio-controlled aircraft and drones, most of which were used by participants to take aerial videos and photographs of Black Rock City. Though registration was required at 2013’s event, organizers believed limiting the number of flyers to this year to 200 would more than accommodate the number of people intending to fly.

Google's "Project Loon" brings Wi-Fi everywhere“We don’t think we had anything close to that last year. We’ll see what we get,” Graham said Wednesday.

But by 11 p.m. Thursday night, 156 attendees had registered for this August’s event.

Despite the numbers, Graham said Friday morning that the organization doesn’t believe it will need to increase the cap.

googleprojectloon2“We had a rush of applications when we announced registration,” he explained. “It has slowed to a trickle. We think the 200 cap is good and was based on our ability to staff and properly support the effort.”

Called by some as an “experiment in radical self-reliance,” Burning Man attracts nearly 70,000 attendees from across the globe to Nevada’s inhospitable Black Rock Desert for extreme art, music and social freedom. The event strongly encourages a participatory atmosphere, and many attendees choose to enjoy the event nude or partially nude.

Google Project Loon balloon on display at Airforce Museum in ChristchurchOrganizers have been traditionally very protective of attendees’ privacy, especially concerning professional photographers and videographers, who are required to register cameras. The event’s strict non-commercial policies also control how photographs and videos may be used, with drones adding another layer of quickly evolving complexity to the mix.

Registration applications, while they last, are available at the Black Rock City Municipal Airport’s website.

So if “most” of them were used to take videos and photos…what were the “other” ones doing?

Some Burners have suggested shooting these things down with water guns, or other means. Last year a young man was killed when his remote controlled helicopter drone crashed in a park in Brooklyn, NY. It’s going to be hard for BMOrg keep 70,000 Burners spread out over 1000 acres safe from 200+ drones that could fall out of the sky at any time. There’s also the risk of drones colliding with birds, skydivers, helicopters, ultralites, lasers, flame effects, UFOs, or anything else in the skies over Black Rock City. Will there be DUIs for drone pilots?

The following footage, from just one drone, has 600,000 views on YouTube. Multiply that by 200, and you have a lot of ad-worthy eyeballs being drawn to Burning Man. So rock out with your cock out! For those bringing your kids, keep in mind that by the time they grow up and pursue a career, it should be pretty easy to locate them at Burning Man from all this drone footage (clue: search technology in twenty years will be much more advanced than today).

The Eye in the Sky: Drone Views of Cargo Cult

From The Week:

aerial 2013When most people think of drones, they probably think of remote-fired missiles raining down on Pakistan and Yemen. But it turns out that drones — or, technically, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) — are also a pretty good platform for capturing a flavor of Burning Man, the surreal celebration of fleeting beauty, self-reliance, generosity, and elaborate self-expression held every year in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.

If, like me, you’ve never been to Burning Man — or, like Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg, you just helicopter in for one day of the weeklong festival — these drone’s-eye views of the big party in the desert are certainly a better introduction than the photos on your friend’s smartphone or Instagram page. If you are a Burning Man regular, here’s a different way to relive the magic.

The video above was taken by Eddie Codel from a DJI Phantom quadcopter UAV. The one below was captured by Tugrik d’Itichi from a TBS Discovery Pro quadrotor. Both UAVs held GoPro Hero3 cameras.

Here’s some more drone footage from 2013: