Now Boarding Tiny Gate A13

9 February 2021 | Propeller Heads Newsletter



Image Courtesy: DroneDJ
Just when you thought drones couldn’t get any cuter, PBS gets in on the action. They have a series called “Spy In The Wild” where they disguise robots and drones in order to get closer to animals that would normally run away from or attack humans! There’s a similar show on BBC with a robot hippo that you should definitely look up. 

Ah forget it! Here’s the hippo link. You really need to see it.

In the hummingbird video, they explain that the birds are nectar drinkers just like butterflies, and therefore, the butterflies are not naturally afraid of them. So you know what some drone nerds had to do. They slapped some extra quiet props on a little plastic hummingbird body, and sent that bad boy into town! Monarch butterflies migrate to the south to escape cold weather, and they also huddle together for warmth. When this happens, you see long tree branches hanging heavy and full of butterflies! The drone is able to get up close without harming them and get some really amazing shots even before the butterflies get warm enough to swarm away! 

This type of technology is extremely useful in… erm… viewing things. Like… butterflies… and other… insects. Look, it’s cute! Show it to your significant other, or kids, or grandkids!



Image Courtesy:Hyundai
Most of us have known the struggle and headache of navigating a busy airport. This past year, maybe not so much but in the before times, Hartsfield-Jackson Airport was the home to many stressful waits in security lines, all to get to your gate two hours early. But don’t worry, you then got to your gate and sat around waiting just so that you could get on a plane and sit and wait some more! Ah, good times. And what’s the deal with the overall aesthetic of airports? It’s like they designed them to look like the service hallway of a strip mall in the 90’s. 

Anyway, Hyundai and the U.K. are looking to take away those memoriesfrom your kids. They want to build a fancy eVTOL airport of the future where you just pull up in a self-driving car, get in an air taxi and never wait once. Who do they think we are? Elon Musk? They’re not working with SpaceX but a company called Urban Air Port, who will oversee the construction of this new tiny airport. 

This is a step towards creating the infrastructure that is needed to one day harbor all of the air and drone travel in the country. Because the eVTOLs can take off vertically instead of gaining enough speed to create lift, less land is needed, and therefore can more easily be located within a city center. Convenience? Who needs it! 

We know what you’re thinking, though. There isn’t even a Sbarro! Which is not terrible. Our guess is the inflight peanuts will be pizza flavored. It’s in line with the whole “Future” vibe. But on top of being 60% smaller than a traditional airport, they also claim it will be a zero emission building! Now they’re taking our pollution too?




Image Courtesy: CNET
Alphabet (owner of Google) is a powerhouse in almost every sense of the word. Everything they touch seems to just work, except for the Facebook competitor Google+. They don’t like to talk about that dark time in their company’s history. If they don’t have the in-house resources or man power to bulldoze through a project, they’ve got the capitol to make it happen anyway! 

Well, it seems we found something that they were not so keen to make happen. Last year, Alphabet filed with the FAA to start testing a drone to aid in firefighting. Those plans have since burned out, and a Google Spokesperson said, “We have no immediate plans to re-engage on this work”. The drone they were intending to use was one developed for spraying agriculture. The drone didn’t have much capacity for holding liquid (5 gallons), and also had a max flight time of just 15 minutes. So maybe it was to be used to search for small fires and try to put them out early? We aren’t sure why they decided to stop looking into this drone application, but we know they maintain their interest in Wing which develops autonomous delivery drones which seems to only be growing. 

Wondering if the problem is that firefighting drones aren’t “sexy” enough for Silicon Valley? We would recommend they emulate the classic “Hot Firefighter” calendars. Those did well, right? It’s part of the welcome package when you start working at Skyfire!



Feb 15th – Online Part 107 | One-day Class
Alright, folks — that’s it! Hope you have a great week!

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