Authorities searched for the source controlling unmanned, mysterious drones spotted flying around northeastern Colorado and Nebraska at night since last week.

Though it’s unclear how the drones are operated, federal, state and local law enforcement agencies suspect that a command vehicle in the area – probably a closed box trailer with antennae or a large van – controls the drones, according to a Facebook post from the Phillips County Sheriff’s Office in Colorado.

Morgan County Sheriff David Martin hosted a closed-door meeting Monday in Colorado.

The agencies arranged a task force to investigate, according to the Phillips County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff’s representatives from Yuma and Phillips Counties denied a request by USA TODAY for further comment.

The agencies asked the public for assistance identifying the drones’ origins.

No one has answers:Mysterious drones fly around the Midwest, Great Plains

Last week, sheriff’s offices in the region received calls notifying them of unknown flying devices after initial reports from Yuma and Phillips Counties. 

Flying in grid-like formation in groups of six to 10, the drones have 6-foot wingspans and come out during the evening, flying in airspace controlled by the federal government. The Federal Aviation Administration, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Air Force and the Army Forces Command said they don’t have any information on the drones. 

The drones are not believed to be malicious, the Phillips County Sheriff’s Office said.

The FAA contacted several airports in the area, cautioning pilots about the drones and asking them to report any sightings.

Rep. Adrian Smith, R-Neb., expressed concerns about the drones and their unclear origins. “We must protect the privacy and property rights of Nebraskans,” he said in a statement.

Amazon, Paragon Geophysical Services, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Colorado Department of Transportation and UAV Recon denied connections to the drones, according to the Denver Post. 

The FAA announced a proposed rule last month that would ensure all drones registered by the agency have remote identification technology.

As of December, more than 1.5 million drones were registered with the FAA.

Contributing: Adrianna Rodriguez, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

Follow Joshua Bote on Twitter: @joshua_bote

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One of the new products unveiled at CES this year is a new kind of home security system — one that includes drones to patrol your property, along with sensors designed to mimic garden light and a central processor to bring it all together.

Sunflower Labs debuted their new Sunflower Home Awareness System, which includes the eponymous Sunflowers (motion and vibration sensors that look like simple garden lights but can populate a map to show you cars, people and animals on or near your property in real time); the Bee (a fully autonomous drone that deploys and flies on its own, with cameras on board to live-stream video); and the Hive (a charging station for the Bee, which also houses the brains of the operation for crunching all the data gathered by the component parts).

Roving aerial robots keeping tabs on your property might seem a tad dystopian, and perhaps even unnecessary, when you could maybe equip your estate with multiple fixed cameras and sensors for less money and with less complexity. But Sunflower Labs thinks its security system is an evolution of more standard fare because it “learns and reacts to its surroundings,” improving over time.

The Bee is also designed basically to supplement more traditional passive monitoring, and can be deployed on demand to provide more detailed information and live views of any untoward activity detected on your property. So it’s a bit like having someone always at the ready to go check out that weird noise you heard in the night — without the risk to the brave checker-upper.

Sunflower Labs was founded in 2016, and has backing from General Catalyst, among others, with offices in both San Francisco and Zurich. The system doesn’t come cheap, which shouldn’t be a surprise, given what it promises to do on paper — it starts at $9,950 and can range up depending on your specific property’s custom needs. The company is accepting pre-orders now, with a deposit of $999 required, and intends to start delivering the first orders to customers beginning sometime in the middle of this year.

CES 2020 coverage - TechCrunch

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This story is part of CES 2020, our complete coverage of the showroom floor and the hottest new tech gadgets around.

PowerVision has made drones that fly and drones that swim and now, it’s got one that flies in the rain. The PowerEgg X, debuting at CES 2020, is considerably smaller than the original PowerEgg that was essentially a large 4.6-pound flying egg with a 4K-resolution camera. The PowerEgg X is still eggish in shape, at least partly, but looks a lot more like a typical quadcopter than its predecessor and seemingly does a lot more, too. 

The company bills it as a three-in-one camera because of its design that can be converted from an autonomous tabletop selfie camera to a drone or handheld camera, and its use of “proprietary AI algorithm and robotics technology capabilities.” As a selfie camera, it’ll use facial recognition to track subjects and keep them in the middle of the frame. It will also continue to track that subject even if they move in and out of its field of view. 


Sarah Tew/CNET

Those same AI features can be used handheld, and since the 4K-resolution camera is mounted on a three-axis motorized gimbal, the video should look smooth regardless of camera shake. And then there’s drone mode, so you can presumably get the equally smooth video from the air. PowerVision includes waterproof accessories — a case and landing float — that allow it to fly in heavy rain or a waterfall as well as take off and land on water, which is something I really haven’t seen since the failed Lily Camera.   

PowerVision also added an audio sync to its mobile app, so you can record audio using your phone’s mic or wireless headphone and combine it with your video. The company said it will get up to 30 minutes of flight and has automatic obstacle avoidance as well. 

The PowerEgg X is available now in the US at, B&H Photo, and starting at $899.

The consumer and prosumer camera drone market contracted considerably in the past two years with market leader DJI dominating the category. However, in the past year there’s been a handful of competitors like Parrot, Skydio, Zero Zero Robotics and now PowerVision offering drones with features and designs unavailable from DJI.  

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DENVER — The Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control confirmed the agency was involved in a joint operation Monday night to investigate the source of “mystery drones” flying in northeastern Colorado.

“The joint operation found no verification of suspicious drones,” said Caley Fisher, a spokesperson for the department.

Fisher would not confirm whether the state agency used a state-owned Multi-Mission Aircraft, which is frequently used to assist in wildfire detection and providing “near real time” information about the fire to ground crews.

However, the FOX31 Problem Solvers have learned one of the state’s planes was flying last night in the area where drones had been reported.

“(The Colorado Department of Public Safety) consistently utilizes the expertise and resources of our divisions in efforts to assist our local and federal partners with ongoing investigations,” said Fisher.

The state’s Multi-Mission Aircraft includes two Pilatus PC-12 airplanes, according to the Division of Fire Prevention and Control’s website. Each is equipped with infrared and color sensors. According to the flight-plan tracking website,, one of the state planes was flying in circles northeastern Colorado for nearly five hours Monday night.

Fisher would not disclose what the plane was doing in that area.

“We do not discuss the investigative techniques or technology we’re using,” Fisher said. “We are actively monitoring reports of suspicious activity and will take action based on the level of activity and information being gathered by the (Colorado Information Analysis Center, a division of the state’s Department of Public Safety).”

“They were conducting as wide a search as possible for something. Now, whether it was for these drones or not remains to be seen,” said Steve Cowell, an aviation expert. “We do know that these planes were up there flying certain patterns over the northeastern portion of the state.

Cowell said the plane’s infrared technology can help notice heat signatures from thousands of feet in the distance, but a drone might not give off a heat signal.

“You’re not going to find a heat signature on a small drone. You may not find one on a large drone,” he said. “They’re electric motors. They’re not gas-powered engines generating a heat signature, so they’re going to be very difficult to find.”

According to the state’s description of its Multi-Mission Aircraft, each is equipped with a color sensor. Cowell said that might help detect a drone’s lights.

“It’s highly possible they may be looking for those red and green lights that are associated with these drones,” he said.


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CENTENNIAL, Colo. — A Centennial-based drone dealer says it knows what’s behind all the mystery lights hovering over Castle Rock in recent days, and they aren’t drones.

Multicopter Warehouse says the lights are the Starlink satellites launched into space by SpaceX.

So far, 182 of the mini-satellites have been launched aboard rockets, part of a plan to provide broadband internet service around the globe.

“The launches just started recently and they’re going to occur every other week for about a year,” said Kerry Garrison, a vice president at Multicopter Warehouse.

Garrison says the satellites that just launched are especially visible because they were launched in low orbit and they may look lower than they actually are.

“It is impossible to judge distance of an object at night,” he said.

It just so happens they were also launched at a time when many Coloradans were looking to the skies, leery of strange lights overhead.

“Part of what plays into it is we’ve had extremely clear skies, almost no moon, and those satellites were most visible in this area. Further in the country they weren’t as visible,” said Garrison.

Garrison also recently visited the eastern Plains alongside a team of other experts in aviation to independently investigate the mysterious lights being reported there.

Their conclusion?

“There’s enough things that we can’t explain that something does seem to be going on out there,” Garrison said.

However, that does come with a caveat.

Garrison believes that 98 percent of all sightings are misidentifications, meaning airplanes, helicopters and satellites that people believe are drones.

However, he and his team did see two things they can’t explain.

“We saw red lights go zipping across the sky that didn’t show up on any apps or screens,” he said.

Those lights were low on the horizon, traveling at speeds of more than 100 mph, faster than any drone can travel.


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