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    CoyoteCopter and the Thrill of Inadvertently Filming Nature Porn

    Like it or not, wily small-fry drones are flying under the eco banner. Whether it's dam restoration or spotting orangutan nests or looking out for some of Africa's last remaining white rhino herds, researchers, conservationists, and hobbyists alike are spinning up a seemingly limitless number of uses for remotely-piloted aircraft that don't involve spying on or incinerating humans.

    When it comes to managing natural resources or tracking endangered creatures, advancing drone technology is forcing us, amid fierce debate and uncertainties about how drones are being used in the new theatre of war, to reaffirm the age-old notion that it's not the tool--it's how we use it. But even still, other legitimate and civil drone uses are still flying under the radar. I'm thinking of the potential to gather stunning footage of wildlife just doing their thing à la Planet Earth or whatever other slick nature program is blowing minds right now. 

    Take this sweeping scene of a small pack of coyotes cresting a ridge in Riverside, California. The video comes courtesy of Thomas Renck, who inadvertently happened upon the critters while flying a tricopter with FPV goggles. If the views weren't enough, how about that score? Bloody fantastic music selection, Mr. Renck. Great stuff.   

    Presumably we're going to see this sort of thing happening more and more as everyday civilians get their hands on unmanned systems that can pieced together off the shelf for as little as $300. But for now, it's still somewhat of a novelty, which could explain the strange thrill of watching some small part of survival's epic saga play out when you think about the giddied excitement of whomever had the fortune of inadvertently buzzing upon wild animals being their animal selves in the wild. The future of nature films is looking up.  

    What's particularly interesting here is how the coyotes respond to the drone. You can tell they've got a keen sense that something is present. They know it's there--they can recognize the drone, and act out is spurts that are at times playful, at others skittish. You know, not like that moose in Norway that seemed just as almost as drunk as the drone pilots that stumbled upon the beast by chance. 

    Reach Brian at brian@motherboard.tv. @thebanderson

    Topics: drones, drone, coyotes

    Written by

    Brian Anderson

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