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California’s No Drone Zones

Proposed law would ban “trespassing” by low-flying drones

1 min read
California’s No Drone Zones
Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Do property owners have control over their airspace? That’s the question on the table when the California legislature considers bill SB 142, which bans trespassing by drones.  The legislation would only cover drones flying below 400 feet (122 meters); above 400 feet, the airspace is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA is still working out its drone rules, but at this point the regulations require hobbyists to keep their drones below 400 feet.

This isn’t the first—and likely won’t be the last—California legislation trying to put some boundaries on drone use. Last autumn, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a law preventing “drone paparazzi,” that is, the use of drones to capture images and voices of people without their permission. (Police, however, are allowed to use drones for surveillance with few limits—Brown vetoed a bill that would have required a warrant in some cases.) The new anti-trespassing law would take drone control a step further, defining trespassing to include “operation of an unmanned aerial vehicle below the navigable airspace overlaying the property”—even if the drone isn’t taking pictures.

So what does that mean for your average drone-owner? Unless you’ve got a really big yard, a very precisely controlled drone, or can work out agreements with your neighbors, it likely means doing your flying in open, public spaces. And while it is a relief that I won’t have to worry about a drone crashing on my roof, I will miss the “lost drone” notices around town.

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The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

The prosthetics industry is too focused on high-tech limbs that are complicated, costly, and often impractical

12 min read
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A photograph of a young woman with brown eyes and neck length hair dyed rose gold sits at a white table. In one hand she holds a carbon fiber robotic arm and hand. Her other arm ends near her elbow. Her short sleeve shirt has a pattern on it of illustrated hands.

The author, Britt Young, holding her Ottobock bebionic bionic arm.

Gabriela Hasbun. Makeup: Maria Nguyen for MAC cosmetics; Hair: Joan Laqui for Living Proof
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In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship.

The story of the Baltimore Gun Club propelling themselves to the moon is about the extraordinary masculine power of the veteran, who doesn’t simply “overcome” his disability; he derives power and ambition from it. Their “crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc [rubber] jaws, silver craniums [and] platinum noses” don’t play leading roles in their personalities—they are merely tools on their bodies. These piecemeal men are unlikely crusaders of invention with an even more unlikely mission. And yet who better to design the next great leap in technology than men remade by technology themselves?

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