Municipalities are responding to an explosion in the use of small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV)—or drones—by studying ways to counter their potential security threats. Drones weighing less than 55 pounds are typically considered to be small. Recently, London’s Metropolitan Police has said it's considering using trained eagles—yes, eagles—to deftly take down some of the smaller small drones that threaten building security, individual privacy, and aircraft traffic, Dezeen reports. This comes after a spate of incidents in which drones were used in attempts to infiltrate prisons and of near-collisions with passenger planes in the U.K., the article continues. It's also in response to work by Dutch startup Guard from Above, which is training birds of prey—like said eagles—to take down small drones as they would their dinner. (Just how that would work is shown below.) Unsurprisingly, critics of this approach worry for the birds’ safety.
Meanwhile, in the highly regulated U.S. small-drone market, advocates are trying to loosen restrictions for UAVs weighing less than 4.4 pounds, also known as “micro” drones. Their reasons include spurring innovation in the burgeoning segment and incentivizing recreational and commercial operators alike to use smaller, lighter drones rather than larger, heavier ones. An amendment calling for micro drones to be exempt from the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA's) drone regulations has been added up an upcoming FAA funding bill that must be passed by Congress before March 31, explains Motherboard. That’s good news for AEC firms that use micro drones for activities such as site photography and data gathering, as ARCHITECT reported last year. [Dezeen + Motherboard + ARCHITECT]
ICYMI: Trimble acquired building performance–analysis software developer Sefaira. Here’s what you need to know. [ARCHITECT]
MIT-offshoot Mapdwell has garnered attention for its work plotting out the solar potential of rooftops and providing an instant cost-benefit analysis of adding photovoltaics in eight U.S. cities to date, as well as a few more in Chile. The company plans to include all major U.S. metros by the end of this year. Next up: a building-energy model of Boston estimating the city's hourly energy demand load at the building level. [MIT News]
Listen: The pros and cons of architects using virtual and augmented reality technologies to explain project progress to clients. [Archinect Sessions]
Weatherproofing giant Grace Construction and Packaging Applied Technologies launched on the New York Stock Exchange earlier this month as a publicly traded company. [GCP Applied Technologies]
Watch: Go inside the lab that is prototyping Elon Musk's Hyperloop project. [CityLab]
The knit-like texture on these 3D-printed ceramics was achieved by placing an audio speaker directly below the print bed and letting sound vibrations do the work of moving the vessel to the music while it's being extruded. [Fast Company's Co.Design]