Drone Journalism—Occupy Airspace

This is a wild ideas I was going to pursue in advance of Monday’s port shut down action. Since I won’t have time for it, I’m putting it out to the world to see if it “flies.”

We’ve got livestreaming, realtime video of most of our actions now, but imagine if we had it from a small, radio-controlled helicopter. Picture the footage of marches, arrests, encampments, raids or tear gas from 50 or 100 feet or more in the air.

Something like this.

I see a few possibilities. One is to simply strap a live-streaming smart phone to the bottom of the aircraft and monitor the image through another phone at scene. Alternately, a small GoPro-type HD helmet cam could be attached, with the footage being quickly downloaded into a laptop when the aircraft landed and then uploaded to the web. The best would be a specialized lightweight unit custom-built for the purpose with HD livestreaming via a satellite uplink. That would be too cool.

Not having any experience with RC aircraft, I was going to look up Bay Area RC clubs, find a sympathetic pilot and begin talking feasibility. I have no idea what the payloads are for those machines, what the range is, nor how usable a livestream from a phone would be, given the vibrations of the motor. But it seems worth investigating. Anyone?

UPDATE: turns out it’s called “Drone Journalism.” It was just used in the big protests in Russia, as well as in the Polish protests in the video below. Here’s the company that makes the Robocopter used in the video, but it’s all in Polish. Anyone want to pursue this? Oakland has been out front in so many ways, let’s see what we can do with this!

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