by Sean Gallagher - Mar 6 2013 - arstechnicaBeware the drones of March: FBI seeks quadrocopter that buzzed airliner
Cheap, small, and hard to trace, microdrones pose threat to bigger aircraft.
On March 5, the pilot of an Alitalia flight on its final approach to Runway 31 R at New York's JFK International Airport spotted something odd in the air—a small, black flying machine with four propellers flying too close for comfort. The aircraft, likely a "quadrocopter" style drone, passed within 200 feet of the Alitalia airliner at an altitude of about 1,750 feet.
Yesterday, the FBI issued a call for help from the public, requesting anyone with information about the drone or its operators to contact the FBI's New York field office. An FBI spokesperson told Ars that there had been no new developments in the case. While investigators believed the drone was a quadrocopter, they had not officially confirmed this detail. But given the size of the drone—less than three feet across—and the pilot's report that it had four propellers, the vertical-takeoff quadrocopter design is the most likely suspect.
Commercial drones in the "microdrone" class, such as the Microdrones quadrocopter recently snatched up by an Italian university student, are expensive and not widely available to individuals. They are, however, available used on the aftermarket for about $20,000. More traditional radio-controlled commercial drones used in film and video production, such as those made by Quadrocopter, sell for slightly less.
But kit quad-rotor drones, like the ArduPirates drones built using Arduino programmable microcontrollers and ArduCopter code, can be built for around $300 and use GPS to navigate on a programmed course. The Parrot AR Drone, controllable by mobile devices based on Apple's iOS and Google's Android, is also in that price range. Though while that drone could operate at 1,750 feet, it would need modification to be controlled from the ground at that altitude.
There's been some speculation that the drone may have been flown out of Brooklyn's Floyd Bennett Field, a popular spot for model aircraft hobbyists. But given the size of the drone (under three feet across, according to the pilot who spotted it) and its type, it's more likely the device was launched somewhere east of the airport in the Five Towns area in Nassau County, a collection of affluent suburbs on Long Island's South Shore.http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2013/03/beware-the-drones-of-march-fbi-investigates-quadrocopter-that-buzzed-airliner/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+arstechnica%2Findex+%28Ars+Technica+-+All+content%29
====================================Student busted for selling wayward drone online
Snatch a helicopter drone up after emergency landing, try to auction it online.
by Sean Gallagher - Mar 2 2013A 24-year old college student in Bologna, Italy was arrested by Italian postal police after attempting to sell a drone that had emergency-landed on his apartment's terrace last October.
The student had posted the drone, a privately operated Microdrones quad-rotor helicopter owned by Italian startup Eye Sky, on Subito.it, an online auction site. The asking price for the $40,000 drone: 1,000 euros.http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/03/student-busted-for-selling-wayward-drone-online/