The absolute bleeding edge of drone technology explained by Raffaello D'Andrea at TED (video below). Drone technology is moving at a rapid pace, so much so that the course in near ground earth observation (known as the drone course) that I recently completed feels out of date already.
Having a single rotor drone flying was impressive to see, as was the quad copper that had a failure in two of its rotors but could still fly and be controlled. Raffaello's work is focused on the creation of systems that leverage technological , scientific principles, advanced mathematics, algorithms, and the art of design in unprecedented ways, with an emphasis on advanced motion control. His hope is that these creations inspire us to rethink what role technology should have in shaping our future. The link to his site is above and is well worth checking out, the work he is doing is very impressive.
I also spotted a report on the BBC today about the length of battery times being increased from 20-30 minutes to over an hour using Hydrogen fuel cells. Intelligent Energy's range extender offers several hours of drone flight time and reduces the downtime to a couple of minutes for recharging. The increase in the length of flights will be useful for many industries, however at this point it is cost prohibitive for the hobbyist. Hydrogen is an extremely explosive gas, I worry about the first terrorist attack that uses a drone powered with hydrogen, especially in the wake of the recent attacks in Brussels.
The United States Federal Aviation Authority announced a mandatory registration process for drones in December (2015) that applies to hobbyist drones from 0.25kg and 25kg which basically means that everyone needs to register. It costs $5. and requires you to mark on your drone your unique registration number. Interestingly you have to be 13 to register which I take to mean that you have to be at least 13 now to fly a drone. The registration process only applies to recreational use at this point, but the business rules are forthcoming from the FAA.
Registering your drone with the authorities, another blow for privacy. Am sure Mr Cameron will follow suit shortly, of course the charge for registration in the UK will be about the same cost as the drone.