A little-known but highly influential group of attorneys from across the country will soon meet in Detroit and could change our skies forever. They claim their draft model legislation concerning drones will help protect privacy. However, their actions could have far-reaching effects on innovation, safety and future drone operations.
The state-appointed members of the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) aim to promote uniformity by proposing model legislation for consideration by legislatures across the country.
In Detroit, the ULC will continue work on a proposed “Tort Law Relating to Drones Act” drafted by commissioners who have no aviation or drone experience and without consulting the federal government, state legislators or the industry. Their subsequent proposal fails to recognize the federal government’s exclusive control of airspace regulation and runs counter to existing law.
The draft proposal draws an inflexible, arbitrary line 200 feet in the sky and, if enacted by the states, would establish a new aerial trespass law. It anoints private property owners as de facto air traffic controllers, giving them a right to establish no-fly zones and creating a maze of flight paths with differing rules that operators must navigate on a house-by-house basis. As the draft goes much further than any existing state or federal law, it’s likely to cause significant controversy and could create a complicated patchwork of differing state laws that erode, rather than enhance, aviation safety.
Creating roadblocks to drone use would stifle innovation, halt job creation and slow growth in this still-nascent industry. Consumer drones are one of the fastest growing products, with total sales expected to reach over $1 billion this year, according to the Consumer Technology Association. More than 110,000 commercial small drones are registered with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and it expects over 450,000 commercial drones to be flying by 2022.
The ULC’s proposal could prevent businesses and public service organizations from using drones. This could limit powerline and railroad inspections, prevent insurance companies from deploying drones to assess damage or ground drone search and rescue operations after natural disasters, like hurricanes Florence and Michael.
The ULC has essentially disregarded the concerns of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), the FAA and the drone industry. Its proposal incorrectly states the DOT, FAA and others are supportive despite on-the-record letters opposing these efforts. The ULC has ignored attempts to correct these mischaracterizations.
This isn’t the first time the ULC has disregarded industry views. In 2014, it attempted to jam through model legislation that would have led to automatic disclosure of digital assets after death with little regard for privacy or whether the deceased consented. States rejected the proposal and the ULC was forced to revise it to require affirmative consent in wills before assets are disclosed — as the tech industry had originally proposed.
The ULC’s lack of inclusiveness sits in stark contrast to the FAA’s collaborative process to ensure the safe integration of drones into our skies. Its UAS Integration Pilot Program currently works with state, local and tribal governments across the country to conduct research that will shape a national drone policy framework in the coming years.
The program provides a mechanism for localities to provide input to the FAA without infringing on its jurisdiction over the airspace. The recently enacted FAA Reauthorization Act also mandates a study on the roles of different levels of government in drone regulations.
The ULC shouldn’t undo the tremendous progress we have made. Instead, it should abandon its severely flawed proposal and leave airspace regulation to the FAA so the drone industry, and American aviation as a whole, can continue to safely operate in our skies.
Honor marks independence by inking the supplier deals Huawei couldn’t
Honor is going it alone, cutting ties with Huawei as it spins out as an independent business, and inking the deals that the US government blocked its former parent company from making. The Chinese phone-maker launched its first device as a standalone company today, the Honor View40, a 5G smartphone with aggressive pricing.
Honor was founded eight years ago, as Huawei’s push to grab market share in the more affordable end of the device market. Resolutely targeting younger users, the sub-brand tapped celebrity endorsements like Brooklyn Beckham to help emerge from its parent’s shadow, though also benefited considerably from Huawei’s R&D investments into camera tech and screen design.
That stopped being such an advantage when Huawei found itself added to the US trade embargo list under the Trump Administration. Under the terms of the entity list, Huawei was blocked from inking deals with companies like Google, Qualcomm, and others, and as a subsidiary it left Honor out in the cold, too. In mid-November 2020, Huawei sold Honor to Shenzhen Zhixin New Information Technology Co., Ltd.
As a “fully independent company,” Honor says, it has its own ambitions for 2021 and beyond. As well as the Honor View40 smartphone, and upgrades to the MagicBook Series of Windows notebooks, the company also confirmed it had reached supplier agreements with a number of firms that, as part of Huawei, it had been blocked from doing business with.
“Based on global consumer needs, Honor has the flexibility and independence to choose the best solutions for its global supply chain,” the company said in a statement today. “Honor has already confirmed partnerships with leading suppliers such as AMD, Intel, MediaTek, Micron Technology, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Samsung, SK hynix, and Sony.”
It’s a comprehensive list if you’re a company trying to make cutting-edge smartphones. Sony, for example, provides the camera sensors for many in the smartphone industry right now; Samsung is a key supplier of memory and displays. A deal with Qualcomm gives Honor the option of using Snapdragon chipsets and, arguably as important, the company’s 5G modems.
The Honor View40 uses MediaTek’s 1000+ chipset with 5G, but lacks support for the mmWave networks that US networks have been rolling out for the fastest possible speeds in typically urban areas. It’s unclear when – or if – Honor might have ambitions for the fiercely competitive US market, but supporting mmWave 5G would be effectively a must-have if that’s on the roadmap. Right now, that means Qualcomm modems, since MediaTek’s 5G products don’t support that specific network tech.
HONOR View40 launched with waterfall display, 5G, super-fast charging
This week the folks at HONOR revealed the HONOR View40 at a live streamed event in China. This device is the first major release of the year for HONOR, and one of the most extravagant devices released by the brand thus far. The HONOR View40 works with a waterfall cured 7.72-inch OLED display with a resolution of 2676 x 1236 pixels.
The HONOR View40 smartphone’s display is 10-bit (8+2-bit) with OLED tech, delivering over 1 billion colors directly into your face. This device’s display works with a 120Hz image refresh rate with up to 300Hz touch response. This panel covers the entirety of the DCI-P3 color space and works with HDR10 support.
Under the hood, this device has a 4000mAh battery with the ability to charge at a great speed, thanks to 66W SuperCharge tech. The battery in this device can charge up to 60 percent capacity in approximately 35 minutes – that’s swift! That’s wired charging – wireless charging is here too, at up to 50W (allowing up to 50 percent total charge in approximately 30 minutes).
The processor inside this machine is a MediaTek Dimensity 1000+ (SoC) with GPU Turbo X and Hunter Boost optimizations – we’ll see what that’s all about when we review the device in the near future. For now, HONOR suggests they’ll bring power to the gaming environment in this machine.
The HONOR View40’s cameras include a 50-megapixel RYYB sensor with 1/1.56-inch sensor with f/1.9 aperture to deliver top-notch main sensor action. This camera array also includes an 8MP ultra-wide camera with f/2.4 aperture and 2MP macro lens with f/2.4 aperture.
This device also has NSA/SA 5G connectivity with a dual-SIM tray for switching. This device also works with an infrared port (for controlling your television) and always-on display. You’ll have NFC, multi-window multi-tasking, and a variety of sensors. Sensors include proximity, ambient light, gravity, accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, and fingerprint sensor (under-display, optical).
The HONOR View40 will have a release date of January 22 (today!) That’s when it’ll be released in China – no word yet when it’ll be released (or if it’ll be released) elsewhere. This device will have two iterations (at least) with 8GB RAM and either 128GB or 256GB internal storage. Pricing will be RMB 3599 and RMB 3999 for the smaller and larger internal storage size iterations.
New MacBook Air could lead Apple’s long-awaited apology to power users
A lot of rumors have been swirling about incoming MacBook updates lately, and today we have a particularly juicy report to sink our teeth into. Just as Apple is rumored to be updating the MacBook Pro significantly, so too is it apparently looking to make some big changes to the MacBook Air. The first big change is rumored to be a switch back to MagSafe chargers.
That’s according to a new report from Bloomberg, which is based on information from anonymous sources with knowledge of Apple’s plans. Last week, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted that MagSafe will return in 2021’s MacBook Pro, and now we’re hearing the same is true for Apple’s next MacBook Air, which could be released either later this year or at some point in 2022.
Bloomberg’s report also states that this new MacBook Air will use next-generation versions of Apple’s in-house processors, which makes sense as Apple debuted its M1 chip in the MacBook Air last year. This new MacBook Air may shrink screen bezels to make for a footprint that’s smaller overall, but we can expect the screen to stay at 13-inches – we’re told that Apple has entertained the idea of making a MacBook Air with a 15-inch display, but that’s on hold for this upcoming model.
This report doesn’t just stop at the next MacBook Air, though. Bloomberg also reports that the next MacBook Pros will feature SD card slots, which is something we haven’t seen on a MacBook since 2016. We also hear that the Touch Bar is being dropped, which is something that Kuo predicted last week as well. Further off in the future, we could even see Macs that support both cellular connectivity and Face ID, but Bloomberg says that neither feature is coming soon.
So, regardless of whether you’re a MacBook Air or a MacBook Pro person, it sounds like you’ve got some changes heading your way in newer models – assuming, of course, that Bloomberg’s report and Kuo’s predictions pan out and are actually accurate. We should find out soon enough, as Apple could start unveiling these new laptops in the second half of this year.
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