Each week GeoDataPoint finds a selection of good reads related to hot topics in the geospatial community. This week, we begin with a return to drones and wildfires as the Federal Aviation Administration for the first time approves the use of drones to monitor Washington wildfires.

The Federal Aviation Administration on July 11 issued an “emergency certificate of waiver or authorization” to Washington’s DNR to use a Scan Eagle drone, by a Boeing subsidiary in Washington state. Those drones are authorized to fly at night, the first time in U.S. history a drone has been authorized to do so for firefighting purposes. The airspace over the wildfire is restricted.

Drone photography community Dronestagram, in association with National Geographic, launched its first ever international aerial photo competition, which ran from

Source: Dronestagram

This image won first place in Dronestagram's first drone photography contest.

March 15 to June 30. This week, Dronestagram announced the winners, showcasing the best images snapped by cameras mounted to drones. Check out the results photo gallery here. First place went to a stunning image from above an eagle.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Cornell University have created a photographer's and moviemaker's lighting system that includes a small quadricopter drone carrying a white-light source and a LiDAR system. They plan to provide photographers with squadrons of small, light-equipped autonomous robots that automatically assume the positions necessary to produce lighting effects specified through a simple, intuitive, camera-mounted interface. Read more details about the initiative.

Will the next iPad or iPhone have a built-in 3D sensor, capable of scanning full 3D models and becoming a vital tool for 3D printing enthusiasts? The itSeez3D app may be a hint of the future. The itSeez3D app, available free for the iPad 4 and iPad Air on the iTunes App Store, “is a mobile 3D scanner that allows your iPad, with the Occipital’s Structure Sensor, to capture color and structure information of the world and process them into realistic 3D models.”

From USA Today: As part of his plan to help U.S. communities prepare for climate change, President Obama unveiled initiatives July 16 that include 3D mapping to better identify flood risks, landslide hazards and coastal erosion.

In case you missed it: Last Thursday, Amazon formally requested an exemption from Federal Aviation Administration rules that largely prohibit the use of drones for commercial purposes. Amazon is seeking an exemption so the company can conduct additional research and development for Prime Air.

Just for fun: Watch this report from a local news station in South Florida of a near-collision between  a drone and helicopter.