Health Care

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

Reid Wilson
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Reid Wilson
Aug. 21, 2014, 9:10 a.m.

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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