Autonomous vehicles fooled by drones that project too-quick-for-humans road-signs

In MobilBye: Attacking ADAS with Camera Spoofing, a group of Ben Gurion security researchers describe how they were able to defeat a Renault Captur's "Level 0" autopilot (Level 0 systems advise human drivers but do not directly operate cars) by following them with drones that projected images of fake roadsigns for a 100ms instant -- too short for human perception, but long enough for the autopilot's sensors. Read the rest

Cat whiskers for flying drones

Whiskers are a fantastic natural sensor that enables cats, fish, seals, and many other animals to detect not just direct contact but even air flow indicating an approaching object. In a fascinating example of biomimicry, University of Queensland engineer Pauline Pounds and her colleagues have developed tiny whisker sensors for drones. According to the researchers, the whiskers are well-suited for "navigating through dark, dusty, smoky, cramped spaces, or gusty, turbulent environments with micro-scale aircraft that cannot mount heavier sensors such as lidars." At IEEE Spectrum, Evan Ackerman writes:

The whisker fibers themselves are easy to fabricate—they’re just blobs of ABS plastic that are heated up and then drawn out into long thin fibers like taffy. The length and thickness of the whiskers can be modulated by adjusting the temperature and draw speed. The ABS blob at the base of each whisker is glued to a 3D-printed load plate, which is in turn attached to a triangular arrangement of force pads (actually encapsulated MEMS barometers)...

It can detect forces as low as 3.33 micronewtons, meaning that the researchers had to be careful not to stand too close to the whiskers while making measurements since the force of their breathing would throw things off. This sensitivity allows the whiskers to detect the wave of air generated by objects moving towards them, perhaps not in time for the drone to actually stop, but certainly in time for it to take other steps to protect itself, like cutting power to its motors. The whiskers can also be used to measure fluid flow (a proxy for velocity through the air), and of course, at slow speeds they work as contact sensors.

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Watch this drone dodge soccer balls hurled at it

Researchers from the University of Zurich's Robotics and Perception Group designed an event camera system for drones. In the video above, the fun starts at 1:25. As explained by IEEE Spectrum, "These are sensors that are not good at interpreting a scene visually like a regular camera, but they’re extremely sensitive to motion, responding to changes in a scene on a per-pixel basis in microseconds. A regular camera that detects motion by comparing one frame with another takes milliseconds to do the same thing, which might not seem like much, but for a fast-moving drone it could easily be the difference between crashing into something and avoiding it successfully."

HEADS UP!

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First drone delivery of organ for human transplant

My late brother Mark was a transplant surgeon. He told me how sometimes he'd be woken up in the middle of the night to fly to a nearby city to retrieve, say, a kidney, from someone who had just died (frequently in a motorcycle crash), then carry the organ on a plane to another city where he'd install the kidney into a waiting patient, and then fly back home. (He felt it important to personally retrieve the organ that he'd then be transplanting.) I thought of that process while reading about the first drone delivery of a donated kidney that resulted in a successful transplant for a 40-year-old woman who had been on dialysis for 8 years. The drone delivery system was designed by researchers from the University of Maryland and organ donation nonprofit the Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland. The kidney only traveled three miles but was a major step forward. From the New York Times:

The team’s leader, Dr. Joseph R. Scalea, an assistant professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said he pursued the project after constant frustration over organs taking too long to reach his patients. After organs are removed from a donor, they become less healthy with each passing second. He recalled one case when a kidney from Alabama took 29 hours to reach his hospital.

The drone used in this month’s test had backup propellers and motors, dual batteries and a parachute recovery system, to guard against catastrophe if one component encountered a problem 400 feet in the air.

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Drones that save power by hanging like bats and perching like birds

New drone designs enable small UAVs to conserve battery life by taking breaks in unusual locations as opposed to landing back on the ground. Read the rest

Palmer Luckey wins secretive Pentagon contract to develop AI for drones

Palmer Luckey (previously) the alt-right financier who was made a billionaire by Mark Zuckerberg's decision to acquire his VR startup Oculus, is now running a Peter-Thiel-backed surveillance startup called Anduril Industries, which has won a contract to contribute to Project Maven, the Pentagon's controversial AI-for-drones system (Google's involvement in Project Maven sparked an employee uprising that ended with the relevant executives leaving the company and the contract being allowed to lapse). Read the rest

Comparing a $50 knockoff drone with a $1400 Mavic 2 Pro

How does a $50 drone compare against a $1,400 Mavic 2 Pro? Well, I was hoping this test would reveal that the $50 knockoff was about half as good as the Mavic. But it turns out that the knockoff is so crappy that it's 0% as good. It can't deal with a light breeze, it loses its radio connection frequently, the camera is garbage, and the battery dies without warning. The Mavic 2 Pro, on the other hand, is a thing of beauty, with built-in GPS so it hovers, and a gorgeous video image.

Image: Indy Mogul/YouTube

[via Dooby Brain] Read the rest

Newark airport halted all flights after 2 drones spotted flying nearby

Two drones flying near Newark Liberty International Airport led to a full stop on all flights. The airport, also known as EWR, serves the greater New York City area. Read the rest

Trailer for "The Drone," a horror film about a sentient flying drone

The Drone, currently in post-production, is a real movie about a killer drone. From the trailer description:

A serial killer transfers his consciousness into a consumer drone right before he is killed, then flies off to terrorize newlyweds Rachel (ALEX ESSOE) and Chris (JOHN BROTHERTON). The couple must fight to stop the insidious device before it destroys them both.

Director Jordan Rubin is a comedian, his prior film was Zombeavers, and The Drone is obviously a tongue-in-cheek tale. But I kinda wish it was straight-up splatterpunk sci-fi.

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Shrapnel drone kills 6 at Yemen military parade

Video footage captures the moment when an explosive drone, piloted by Houthi rebels, exploded over a military parade in Yemen. It killed six soldiers and injured at least 20 more, including the army's chief of staff.

Tobias Schneider, a Research Fellow at the Global Public Policy Institute, identifies it as a Qasef-1 loaded with shrapnel.

"Very effective attack. Houthi drone tactics are fascinating. Commonly used to blind Saudi/Coalition radars to cover missile launches (tactic pioneered by Hezbollah vs Isreal), sometimes as impromptu cruise missile itself."

Indeed, the military death toll of 6 equals that of the 2018 cruise missile campaign launched by Trump against Syria. Read the rest

London Heathrow airport departures halted after drone sighting

First Gatwick, now Heathrow. Departures at London’s Heathrow airport were stopped for some time on Tuesday after a drone sighting was reported to authorities. Read the rest

Drone sighting closes Heathrow

Last month, London's Gatwick airport (the second busiest airport in the UK) was closed for several days after drones were sighted in its airspace. Read the rest

Drones deliberately taunting Gatwick Airport, shutting it down for nearly 24 hours so far

Police are on the hunt for the owners of disruptive drones that have shut down London's Gatwick Airport for nearly 20 hours, preventing flights from taking off and landing. And these aren't your usual off-the-shelf drones, either. Police describe them as "industrial specification" drones, meaning they are "something bigger or more complex," according to CNN.

This is Gatwick's busiest time, with over 100,000 passengers stranded until the drone operators are located.

But locating them hasn't been easy.

Via CNN:

"Each time we believe we get close to the operator, the drone disappears; when we look to reopen the airfield, the drone reappears," Sussex Police Superintendent Justin Burtenshaw told the UK's Press Association...

Aviation expert Jon Parker told CNN he'd "seen nothing on this scale before," in terms of deliberate disruption by a drone to a major UK airport.

Usually, an airport shuts down for only half an hour when a drone disrupts an airport, but this case is different.

"The usual practice (when a drone is spotted) is to suspend flights for half-an-hour, which is the usual battery lifespan for drones," explained Parker, a former Royal Airforce fighter pilot and head of drone training company Flyby Technology.

But in the case of Gatwick, "whoever is responsible for this has had several batteries and have brought their drones back to the ground to put new batteries on them," he said.

Passengers describe the scene at Gatwick as "total chaos" and "utter shambles."

Passengers stranded at Gatwick in the early hours of Thursday described "total chaos" inside the terminal, with flights suspended and little information from staff.

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760 flights diverted from Gatwick airport after drone scare, affecting 110,000 passengers

On Wednesday night, in a "deliberate act of disruption" (but not "a terror attack") someone flew a drone of "industrial specification" into the airspace of London Gatwick airport, the city's second-busiest, causing all flights in and out of the airport to be suspended; the disruption has affected 760 flights carrying 110,000 passengers (so far) and the ripple effect is expected to last for "several days." Read the rest

Use this guide to buy the right memory card for your Cyber Monday purchases

If you want to get the most out of dedicated digital audio players, smartphones, cameras, drones, tablets or game systems, you'll need to pair it with the right memory card. No problem: head down to Best Buy or log into Amazon and you ca--shit there's a ton of the frigging things. You can buy the first, least expensive one that you see. That'll work for some things... but not all of the things. Some devices can benefit from speedier, more expensive memory cards. Knowing which card to jam into which thing can be daunting. Thankfully, Gizmodo's David Neild has put together a quick, easy-to-understand guide to figuring it all out.

From Gizmodo:

To start with you’ve got a choice of sizes: The standard SD ones (mostly for digital cameras and bigger gear) and the smaller microSD ones (originally developed for, and still used in, smartphones). Extra letters after the SD mean a newer, improved standard, with room for greater capacities and faster speeds—these include HC (High Capacity) and the latest XC (Extended Capacity), and both are used across the SD and microSD form factors today.

Yeah, it's pretty dry stuff. But it's well presented and deeply useful.

So, before you buy a new memory card to go along with your new digital whatever this Monday, you'd do well to stop by Gizmodo first.

Image by CompactFlash.jpg: André Karwath aka AkaSecure_Digital_Kingston_512MB.png: Andrew pmkMS-PRO-DUO.JPG: KB AlphaXD_card_typeH_512M_Olympus.png: og-emmetMicroSD_card.jpg: KowejaMemory_Stick_Micro.JPG: The original uploader was J Di at English Wikipedia..Later version(s) were uploaded by Toehead2001 at en.wikipedia.derivative work: Moxfyre (talk) - CompactFlash.jpgSecure_Digital_Kingston_512MB.pngMS-PRO-DUO.JPGXD_card_typeH_512M_Olympus.pngMicroSD_card.jpgMemory_Stick_Micro.JPG, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link Read the rest

Exec who oversaw Google's failed babykiller projects and cozied up to Saudis quits after employee uprising

Diane Greene was the CEO of Google's cloud business, and it was she who tried to convince Googlers to back her bid to sell AI services to the Pentagon's drone program, as a warmup for bidding on JEDI, the $10B Pentagon infrastructure project. Read the rest

600 lighted drones in murmuration over Black Rock City

This past year at Burning Man, 600 drones light up the sky -- accompanied by live piano music -- one evening in a beautiful "flying sculpture" called "Franchise Freedom." This is the recently-released film of the piece made by its artists at Studio Drift.

As dusk fell over Black Rock City, 600 luminous drones rose into a hypnotic display of technological choreography, accompanied by the poignant keys of Joep Beving. The drones were guided by a specially made algorithm that simultaneously allows both individual choice and movement as a group. The innovative technology made it possible to create a 3d image in the sky that could be viewed from multiple angles.

Thanks, Cheryl! Read the rest

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