An Israeli army's Skylark I unmanned drone aircraft, which is used for monitoring purposes, on July 14, 2014.
The U.S. government uses them to bomb alleged terrorists in far-away places. Tech companies like Amazon, Google and Facebook are all toying with the idea of using them, and now they're a photographer's secret weapon. Drones are a big part of our lives, whether we see them or not. Drone Beat collects the best and most important stories every week.
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Last update: July 19, 12:42 p.m. ET
Judge delivers another blow to the FAA
For the second time in just over four months, a judge has ruled against the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in a case involving drones.
On Friday, an appeals court judge said that EquuSearch, a Texas-based company that uses UAVs for search and rescue operations can legally fly its drones, and that the cease and desist email that the FAA sent the group earlier this year didn't have any legal effects, as reported by Motherboard.
The ruling was a win for EquuSearch, which will resume its drone flights right away. However, the ruling doesn't address the larger issues regarding drone regulation, which at this point are murky, but it's a huge loss for the FAA, which has to face yet another court ruling saying that the agency is on shaky ground when it comes to preventing pilots from flying drones.
Here's the scoreboard. Drones: 2, FAA: 0.— Ryan Calo (@rcalo) July 19, 2014
The FAA, however, was quick to point out that the decision had a limited effect.
"The court's decision in favor of the FAA regarding the Texas EquuSearch matter has no bearing on the FAA's authority to regulate" drones, the agency said in a statement. "The FAA remains legally responsible for the safety of the national airspace system. This authority is designed to protect users of the airspace as well as people and property on the ground."
Drone wars between Israel and Hamas
Earlier this week, Israel claimed to have shot down a drone controlled by Hamas. The militants later claimed to have developed three types of drones, including two capable of carrying out attacks.
The group even posted a video on YouTube purportedly showing one of the drones, seemingly armed with missiles — although experts consulted by Mashable were skeptical of the drone's real capabilities.
National Geographic announces winners of first drone photo contest
The winners of the first National Geographic/ Dronestagram photo contest, for pictures taken with flying robots, were announced late last week.
Five stunning pictures were chosen out of around 1,000 submitted. The one below got the first prize.
Congressman hires drone to shoot wedding, gets investigated
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) paid an aerial photography company to shoot his wedding with a drone last month, as revealed this week.
As we've noted repeatedly, the FAA says that the commercial use of drones — including hiring photography companies to take pictures using them — is prohibited. Perhaps Maloney was unaware of the regulations? Probably not, since he actually sits on a congressional subcommittee that oversees the FAA itself.
In any case, his use of flying bots to film his wedding is now under FAA investigation.
As Quartz noted, Maloney is hardly the only one who is doing this. Several photography companies are offering their services for weddings.
Tags: DRONE BEAT, DRONES, FAA, GADGETS, HAMAS, ISRAEL, U.S., US & World, WORLD