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Health Care

Watch a Drone Dump Water on Someone for the Ice Bucket Challenge

The ALS awareness campaign has a new remotely controlled ally.

photo of Dustin Volz
August 21, 2014
(Spark Aerial)

Flying robots have now joined the fight against ALS.

In a video posted online Wednesday, drone enthusiast Austin Hill lets one of the remotely piloted machines dump ice water on his head to complete the Ice Bucket Challenge.

The drone-powered bucket spill amounts to one of the most creative spills of water for the viral awareness campaign that has raised millions for research to combat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, a debilitating neurodegenerative disease. The popular campaign has lured several prominent individuals to the cause, including former president George W. Bush and Apple CEO Tim Cook.

 

The video, however, also doubles as a publicity stunt for San Diego-based Spark Aerial, a cinematography start-up that uses drones to capture its footage.

The group is currently promoting a Kickstarter campaign to create a series of video training sessions for "aspiring drone pilots," and has raised more than $5,000.

Drones have been increasingly used for inventive purposes in recent months. In July, a video of a drone flying through a panoply of fireworks caught fire around the Internet, though the legality of the aerial acrobatics are questionable.

Commercial drone use is currently banned by the Federal Aviation Administration, with few exceptions. The agency announced earlier this summer it was considering proposals by film companies to use drones on set, but authorities have also sent notices to enterprising businesses that have tried to use small aircraft for financial gain, such as a beer-by-drone delivery system deployed by a Wisconsin brewery.

The FAA has been somewhat forgiving with its policing of drone use, however, generally handing out more warnings than citations. And what qualifies as "commercial use" is sometimes murky. A crackdown for using a drone for a charity cause, however, seems unlikely.

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