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Re: [Paparazzi-devel] Embargo to export autopilots from US?

From: Paolo Bernasconi
Subject: Re: [Paparazzi-devel] Embargo to export autopilots from US?
Date: Sat, 17 May 2014 14:53:21 -0700

Heinrich (and all ;-),

Let me rephrase a bit what I said, so to remedy some misunderstanding:
As of today, rules for flying FPV are the same for conventional RC models, which in a simple nutshell means line of sight, 400 feet max ceiling, do not fly over major freeways, do not fly over inhabited areas, stay away from airports.

Reality: that never happens, everyone flying FPV goes way past 400 feet and way past line of sight. 
Just go online and read the posted adventures of FPV  flyers ... how much they enjoyed knowing that their model managed to come back using the fly home safety when miles away from the start point  they lost video and RC radio control.
So, line of sight does not mean video link, it means you must be able to see the model and control it. 
Some even think it's ok to fly into airport airspace! Indeed some smart fellow years ago has been stupid enough to fly FPV into a major airport here in California. They even did post the video from the on-board camera on you-tube,  What a surprise when they got a visit from a black SUVs with FBi agents in it!
Really, are we flying model hobbyists that stupid?

My concern is this: the reach/range of autopilot enhanced RC model makes it easier to reach altitudes and range that cross into commercial flight operations. So, the more idiots among us make the mistake to cause near miss collisions, the more likely that soon or later autopilots will be classified as commercial only technology,.

Lets say it once and for all clearly: anyone who is flying FPV anywhere within 4 miles of an airport is a pathetic idiot. 
What are you thinking??? Sorry for being explicit, but really ... 

The way I see it, we are already past a point of non return as our behavior has burned enough bridges between our freedom to fly models and common sense, meaning safety for commercial flight,

The other point I'd like to make, is this: whenever the FAA issues a new set of rules, it leads to world wide adoption.
Most aviation agencies will not spend time and money required to inventing new rules, they simply take what the FAA does and adopt it, because frankly, they are the most sophisticated aviation agency of the world. That's the reality. 
So, the day the FAA defines autopilot boards as only for commercial licensed users, we hobbyists can kiss good bye to paparazzi open source boards, without passing license exams and other insurance requirements. 

I think this debate about responsibility by the users of paparazzi/ FPV and similar boards is over due.
The irony is that  the more sophisticated and performing the paparazzi project become, the more it will be on the radar of the FAA.

Perhaps it's time to consider including some way to limit the range and reach of any paparazzi based model.

We can pretend as much as we want, but the reality is that we need to start talking with the FAA about what they want us to do to keep the freedom to fly .. if we don't,  well, then be ready to shell the cash for a commercial license.
This debate has started already  and the USA. The major FAA partner representing the hobbyists is is the 

Academy of Model Aeronautics. Go check their website .. this debate is hot there too. 

With regards to export rules, nothing has changed, that is true, they just started enforcing the rules. 
The servers where paparazzi code is hosted  are based outside the USA (I hope so ... ), but it doesn't matter, a board with INS/GPS firmware with inertial sensor, even low grade, is controlled technology and will require a license, regardless from where the firmware has been taken. Not only, even if the firmware is not loaded on it, what matter is the design purpose of the board, not the actual code loaded onto it. So, yes, the paparazzi board are controlled technology, That is not going to change. 

The more near miss with commercial flights happen, the more pressure there will be on the agencies in charge to enforce the rules or even to introduce stricter rules.

All it needs is one accidents and we are done.

May be I am paranoid... just remember,  Andrew Grove (Intel founder) said it, only the paranoid survive and he survived the holocaust. 
So, stop fling into reserved airspace, thank you.


PS: Not sure how it is outside the US, but here to fly FPV one has to have a HAM radio license


On Sat, May 17, 2014 at 1:15 PM, Chris <address@hidden> wrote:
Hi David
I was waiting for you to chime in as you know better.
I totally agree that Paparazzi is not meant for anyone but for serious people even when they play with it.
I am so glad that i chose paparazzi to play and learn with.

On 05/17/2014 09:28 PM, David Conger wrote:

First: Nothing has changed here in the USA. The laws are the same as
they have been for a very long time. The only thing we know is 3DR and
SparkFun have started restricting exports without a proper
Second: The sky is not falling and nothing else has changed.

Now, I am very surprised at the amount of conjecture going on here
about supply and future etc. However it is based on opinions and
theories based on future predictions. Anyone who can predict the
future is suspect. It is unwritten and does not exist. If it did exist
someone surely would bring the future back to the present as proof or
visit it and bring back evidence. Only the now exists or will ever
exist to us. The past is now that has come and gone and the future
will be the now at some point.

All I know is now Paparazzi is available anywhere and everywhere
because it is not a business. I created a business (PPZUAV) but should
I make or not make them should have no effect on Paparazzi the
project. No one is dependent on any one company or country to get one.
For the moment PPZUAV is just not one of them. The only reason for
this is simply I am taking a sabbatical and resting for a bit. I
needed a break and am taking it. Once I am done there are many people
out there who I will gladly resume getting them their Paparazzi
things. They are mostly all out there in the EU and for them a
sabbatical is a normal thing. I do have a desire to relocate to the EU
and partner with someone to continue to make these available. If
anyone has ideas contact me. I have heard from someone in German and
that was very encouraging.

Paparazzi the project is not going anywhere. I hope it is of some
comfort to you all to realize that you are members of a lot larger of
a group than you imagine. There are only a few who post here and a
huge number who do not but do exist and use Paparazzi. You are out
there in major universities and large Govt organizations. You are
quietly doing amazing things and I encourage you to keep doing them
because you may feel like you are the only one but you are not.

Now, that said I will give my own opinion and it is just opinion of
the current situation with new laws about flying things here in the
USA and the World. I have been at this a while and have watched this
all unfold with completely expected results. The future of Paparazzi
is certain to me to continue...The future of other companies that
started under the premise of selling "toys" to anyone is not. I will
This whole state of affairs today with public anxiety over these
things is not so strange to me. I have written about it many times
over the years and it was largely ignored. Maybe still ignored you
control that. Read all my posts back to 2005 ( is another
place I have posted). I have never called these toys or advocated
selling them like toys to anyone. I have stayed a very small (1
person) company this way because I simply looked at these as flying
robots that are extremely complex and capable of great harm in the
wrong hands. It seems those who supported me with your purchases
agreed and I survived all this time by simply not growing and focusing
on my scientific, Govt and research customers. This has been my choice
and not me unable to compete with the companies selling drones as toys
for the cost of a toy. I actively have avoided this market and message
because I do not agree with it and still do not agree with sending a
dangerous message like this to the public. I never want to put these
in the hands of everyone until they are designed to be harmless. I
actively over the years have held a bar up and if you did not show
reasonable intelligence or plan I ignored you.

Now there is one company out there run by professionals who do get it
and always seem to have gotten it. That company is Parrot. From the
initial message to today they understand. Their message has been clear
and they have restricted their products and their message. I doubt
even today no one would take an ARDrone and assume it was as capable
as a military drone nor have they every implied it. They never sold
them for that and you must modify it to even make it autonomous. They
have done well and will continue to do so because they understand the
implications of a dangerous message that is spread widely. I applaud
and agree with the foresight Parrot executives have managed their
company and their product messages. I have no doubt they will under
that guidance succeed here.

Others have run their companies spreading the message they make and
sell military quality drones at toy prices. That message is out there
and the public and government are coming to grips with it. Worse there
are thousands of these "toys" out there without proper instruction,
without any criteria past ability to pay for it stopping them from
having one. They have zero built in altitude or GPS restrictions on
them and easily can enter restricted airspace. They succeeded. Now
just about everyone who wanted one has one and for good or bad
thousands are out there now and hundreds are flying in restricted
airspace with untrained operators. A few are likely flown by complete
novices with zero understanding what they are doing. How do you undo
that? I'm not sure you can. I hope they try.

That said, it should not affect 99.99% of Paparazzi users. You are not
them. You have a plan. You have a goal. You have understanding of what
you purchase and plan to operate it within the laws and do the right
thing. I know this because if you got it from me I know this. Keep at
it. This should not affect you.

To all you developers, keep at it. Stay the course. There is no reason
based on fact to think anything related to Paparazzi has changed or
will change in any way.

For me. During my time off I will be doing a lot of my own development
and learning Paparazzi even more because I will finally not be doing
assembly work every day. I will search out new ways to help more
scientists, more researchers and more search and rescue, conservation
and good uses of this technology to get your projects flying. Even
better I will be mobile (sailing) and hopefully I will turn up in your
country and we can think of new ideas for your use of Paparazzi.

Always remember Paparazzi is not a business. It can't go out of
business. The Govt and institutions out there using it also will lobby
and follow the laws to ensure they can continue to use it. If you
absolutely have some great project or research thing depending on
Paparazzi hardware you will get it I assure you. Keep doing your
amazing work and I will help you in any way I can.

Sorry, this got long. I hope the message was worth it and a positive
one not negative. I have nothing but positive thoughts about the
future of Paparazzi.

-David B. Conger

On Sat, May 17, 2014 at 4:32 AM, Chris <address@hidden> wrote:
So we are saying the same thing?
If someone wants to send a small UAV to photograph something 20 miles away
using waypoints (obviously out of sight) he will need a licence if this is
available at all.

On 05/17/2014 01:55 PM, Ben Laurie wrote:
On 17 May 2014 11:50, Chris <address@hidden> wrote:
Now that is good news, i oppose any hysterical restricting legislation
issued just because some people love to control everything.
I wonder how well birds follow paper restrictions.
In the UK if the flight is commercial in nature you need a licence. If
it is not, then you need to have line of sight and (emergency?)


On 05/17/2014 12:39 PM, Ben Laurie wrote:
On 17 May 2014 07:43, Chris <address@hidden> wrote:
Uav flight was already almost everywhere forbidden for non university
government entities ie hobbyists i think.
Not in the UK.

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