Company's dystopian promotional video for drone armed with machine gun

What a time to be alive.

Duke Robotics brings a fully robotic weaponry system to an airborne platform. TIKAD, which is a proprietary development of Duke, uses the delivery of a unique suppression firing and stabilization solution. TIKAD allows governments to utilize completely new capabilities against terrorist groups and reduce the number of deployed ground troops, and therefore, the number of casualties.

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West coast jurisdictions advance community oversight of police surveillance

This summer, two of the west coast’s largest metropolitan areas—Seattle and California—took major steps to curtail secret, unilateral surveillance by local police. These victories for transparency and community control lend momentum toward sweeping reforms pending across California, as well as congressional efforts to curtail unchecked surveillance by federal authorities. Read the rest

US Navy lab tests "disposable" microdrones that glide down from the sky

The US Naval Research Labs's CICADA (Close-In Covert Autonomous Disposable Aircraft) microdrones are designed to be dropped in bulk from a flying aircraft. Once airborne, the drones use autopilot to stabilize and then GPS and fins to steer to the intended location. Apparently they can glide into a safe landing within 15 feet of their targets. From IEEE Spectrum:

On landing, they transmit data from embedded sensors (a meteorological payload at the moment) back up to their launch aircraft through an antenna embedded in their wings, and each robot will continue to operate and send back data from the ground until its battery runs out...

“Every time I show up at a trade show, or talk with people about CICADA, it’s ‘oh, could you do this?’,” he said. “Chemical and biological sensing is a very interesting idea. There are other electronics you could put in it for seismic sensing along a road. Really, the sky is the limit. It’s just a flying circuit board, so anything you can integrate at the component level is fair game...”

“Right now, [CICADAs] would be ready to go drop into a hurricane or tornado,” he said. “I really would love to fly an airplane over, and each of these could sample in the tornado. That’s ready now. We’d just need a ride. And [FAA] approval.”

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Amazing drone photography contest winners

Dronestagram's fourth annual International Drone Photography Contest had to be tough to judge, given how many great shots made the finals. Above: "Waterlilly" by helios1412. Below: "Two Moo" by LukeMaximoBell. Read the rest

Trump meets with military drone makers and VCs

President Donald Trump today “offered support for emerging technologies including unmanned aerial vehicles and next-generation wireless networks in a meeting on Thursday with the chiefs of AT&T Inc and General Electric Co and other business leaders,” reports Reuters.

At the White House today, Trump met with venture capitalists, and with telcom and drone executives, and they talked about how the federal government can speed technologies to market.

U.S. President Donald Trump (C) holds an event highlighting emerging technologies, in the East Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The meeting, which lasted more than three hours including breakout sessions, is part of Trump's effort to tap industry experts on how to boost U.S. competitiveness in various fields and create jobs. On Monday, Trump met with the heads of 18 U.S. technology companies including Apple Inc, Amazon.com Inc and Microsoft Corp, seeking their help to make the government's computing systems more efficient. He will meet with energy industry leaders next week.

"We want them to create new companies and lots of jobs," Trump told the executives on Thursday. "We're going to give you the competitive advantage that you need."

In attendance were chief executives of several drone companies including Kespry Inc, AirMap, Airspace Inc, Measure UAS Inc, Trumbull Unmanned, and PrecisionHawk Inc.

Drone makers argued that the administration should move faster to approve broader commercial use of drones and noted that the Transportation Department does not require automakers to win pre-approval of self-driving vehicle technologies.

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Watch tandem drones use wifi to map a building's interior

This novel mapping technique developed by Yasamin Mostofi allows two drones to map the interior of an unknown building by using wifi signals and some impressive number-crunching. Read the rest

Art installation includes drones that stalk and record all visitors

Hansel & Gretel opened this month in New York. The collaboration between artist Ai Weiwei and architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron is a noisy dystopian nightmare projected back to visitors and broadcast live to the internet. Read the rest

Watch as orcas charge a blue whale, probably just for kicks

A pod of orcas, aka the a-holes of the ocean, got recorded by a drone as they harassed a blue whale that was minding its own business. Read the rest

Drone and hawk hover together in beautiful aerial dance

Usually, drones and hawks don't get along so well, but this hovering hawk didn't mind being filmed. Read the rest

UK prison deploys active anti-drone countermeasures to fight contraband smuggling

A UK weapons company called Drone Defence has sold an anti-drone product to Les Nicolles prison on Guernsey that will use 20 nonspecific "disruptors" to do something to drones that will stop them from overflying the prison and smuggling in contraband. Read the rest

What happens legally if you shoot someone's drone out of the sky?

Probably not much, as Brad Jones learned over Easter when a neighbor allegedly blasted his DJI Phantom. Even if his prime suspect confessed, there's not much precedent for prosecutions. Read the rest

How to defend yourself from hostile consumer drones, US Army Edition

The US Army has released "Counter-Unmanned Aircraft System Techniques," a manual for soldiers and commanders who find themselves in the field fighting forces that use modified consumer drones to gather intelligence and project force against them. Read the rest

Watch razor-wielding racing drone play real-life Fruit Ninja

Perhaps it's a rather dangerous idea but it is still creative and entertaining.

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DJI proposing "electronic license plates" for drones

Drone manufacturer DJI published a white paper proposing a kind of license plate for drones in the form of a wireless identifier that the buzzing UAVs would be required to broadcast. The paper describes a possible way to balance the privacy of drone operators with perceived public concern about whose controlling the bots buzzing overhead. You can read the full paper as a PDF here. From David Schneider's column in IEEE Spectrum:

As the company points out in its whitepaper, drone operators might want to maintain anonymity even if there were people around to witness their flights. Suppose, for example, that a company were surveying land in anticipation of purchasing and developing it. That company might not want to clue in competitors. Or perhaps the drone is being flown for the purposes of investigative journalism, in which case the journalists involved might not want others to know about their investigations.

DJI proposes that drones be required to broadcast an identifying code by radio . . . That code would not include the name and address of the owner, but authorities would be able to use it to look that information up in a non-public database—a kind of electronic license plates for drones.

At the same time, it’s easy to understand why law-enforcement or regulatory authorities would sometimes want to identify the owner or operator of a drone, say, if somebody felt the drone were invading their privacy or if a drone were being flown close to a nuclear power plant.

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Apple finally allowed drone strike alert app, then removed it again

Josh Begley doesn't give up easily. After 12 rejections, Apple finally allowed his app Metadata+ to be sold on iTunes. But what the App Store giveth, the App Store taketh away. Read the rest

Snap is developing drone for users to share overhead videos and photos: NYT report

One of the products that Snapchat owner Snap Inc. is developing as “a modern-day camera company” is a drone, reports the New York Times today.

Sources for this bold claim are “three people briefed on the project who asked to remain anonymous because the details are confidential.”

The drone would help users take videos and photographs from overhead, then share that visual data with Snap, and presumably, other users of the service.

Snap is scheduled to go public later this week in a long-anticipated IPO. Read the rest

Robotic drone bee pollinates flowers

Japanese researchers demonstrated how a tiny remote-controlled drone could help bees pollinate flowers in areas where bees populations have been reduced due to pesticides, climate change, and other factors. Eijiro Myako and his colleagues at the Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology hope that eventually robotic bees could handle their share of the work autonomously. From New Scientist:

The manually controlled drone is 4 centimetres wide and weighs 15 grams. The bottom is covered in horsehair coated in a special sticky gel. When the drone flies onto a flower, pollen grains stick lightly to the gel, then rub off on the next flower visited.

In experiments, the drone was able to cross-pollinate Japanese lilies (Lilium japonicum). Moreover, the soft, flexible animal hairs did not damage the stamens or pistils when the drone landed on the flowers...

“We hope this will help to counter the problem of bee declines,” says Miyako. “But importantly, bees and drones should be used together.”

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