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.

Read the rest

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

Is the Holy Stone HS100 the best drone money can buy?

The Holy Stone HS100 is a drone on Amazon that has two interesting qualities. First, it's one of those undesigned generic gadgets resold by numerous brands with SEO-stuffed and bizarre product names (e.g. "Holy Stone GPS FPV RC Drone HS100 Camera Live Video GPS Return Home Quadcopter Adjustable Wide-Angle 720P HD WiFi Camera- Follow Me, Altitude Hold, Intelligent Battery Long Control Range")

Second, it has thousands of glowing reviews. Thousands. Are they real? Are the Holy Stones any good? DroneDJ checks it out.

The Holy Stone HS100 and HS100G are both rebranded versions of the SJRC S70W. The only places to buy the Holy Stone versions of these drones is on Amazon and on Holy Stone’s website. SJRC (also SJ R/C) is the brand of the original manufacturer. According to my source, the manufacturer is a Chinese factory called Apex.

You might think that I am going to totally trash the HS100 as a terrible drone. I’m not going to do that. I have tested 100s of drones, many of which are pretty bad. For the most part, the HS100 (SJRC S70W) does what it is supposed to do. That’s more than can be said for many of the cheap toys you can find on Amazon and elsewhere online.

Surprise! It's ok. But the reviews, it must be said, are definitely fake. Read the rest

Own a drone? Law enforcement will soon be allowed to shoot it down

I own a DJI Spark. It's not the most expense drone out there, but it's a good one. I love its ability to take video and photos from angles that I could never manage from the ground. I do not, however, love the fact that law enforcement officials in the United States will soon be able to shoot it down. Read the rest

Former military contractor found guilty of stealing U.S. Navy drone secrets

It’s raining military secrets!

Earlier this week, it was revealed that a group of hackers got their meathooks on an operator manual for the United States military’s MQ-9 Reaper UAV. The manual was fair game: a U.S. Air Force captain had it stashed away on his under-protected home network—you know, as one does with sensitive documents that could fuck with national security. My guess is that the captain wasn’t aware of the case against military contractor Jared Sparks. The company Sparks was employed by was developing an underwater drone for the U.S. Navy. While he was drawing a paycheck from them Sparks decided it’d be cool to upload scads of documents that detailed trade secrets to his personal Dropbox account.

The Navy, Sparks’ former employers and the U.S. Department of Justice? They weren’t really comfortable with that. Today, the Department of Justice announced that a federal jury has found Sparks guilty of multiple counts of the theft and of uploading of trade secrets, with each count carrying a penalty that could land Sparks in the clink for a decade.

From Gizmodo:

Sparks used to work for LBI Inc., a Connecticut-based defense contractor that makes underwater drones for the U.S. Navy, as well as weather data-gathering buoys for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. While at that company, he collaborated with Charles River Analytics (CRA), a company that made software for the LBI drones. Sparks was eventually hired by CRA in January 2012, but before he switched jobs, he saved sensitive company and military information—including renderings and design photos of LBI drones and buoys—onto the cloud-storage service Dropbox, according to DOJ.

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Google promises no more use of its artificial intelligence tech in weapons

Alphabet, Google's parent company, promises not to allow use of its artificial intelligence technology in weapons and in certain forms of surveillance. Read the rest

Citing bad publicity and internal dissent, Google announces it won't renew contract to supply AI for US military drones

Google knew that Project Maven, its contract to supply AI to US military drones would be unpopular, but they were chasing hundreds of millions of dollars in follow-on contracts, and even though dozens of engineers quit over the project, at least they got a snazzy mission patch. Read the rest

Leaks show that Google expected its modest AI-for-drones business to expand exponentially

While leaked memos show that Google execs perceived a real risk of internal backlash from their $9 million Pentagon contract to supply AI for US military drones, they were willing to risk it because they expected the business to quickly grow to $250,000,000. Read the rest

Vanuatu will use drones to deliver vaccines across its remote chain of tiny islands

Vanuatu and UNICEF have issued a request for tender inviting drone companies to bid on a contract to deliver vaccines along the nation's chain of tiny, remote islands -- 83 volcanic islands strung along a 1600km atoll. Read the rest

Watch how TIME created their new cover image with 958 drones

It took nearly a thousand drones carefully programmed and deployed to create the imagery used for the new TIME magazine cover. Read the rest

No, seriously, THIS is the mission patch for Google's drone warfare AI contract with the Pentagon

JWZ: "Which probably translates to, 'Take your ad-targetting snake-oil and repurpose it to execute brown people with drones'. You know, kind of like how Wehrner von Braun aimed for the stars, but mostly hit London." Read the rest

Leaked memos reveal the deep divisions within Google over Pentagon contract

Google's decision to provide AI tools for use with US military drones has been hugely controversial within the company (at least a dozen googlers quit over it) and now the New York Times has obtained internal memos revealing how senior officials at the company anticipated that controversy and attempted (unsuccessfully) to head it off. Read the rest

Autonomous boats in some cities could transport people, shuttle goods, and self-assemble into structures

MIT researchers designed and prototyped small, autonomous boats that they think could go a long way to improving urban mobility and reducing traffic in cities with waterways like Amsterdam, Bangkok, and Venice. The 3D-printed hulls are rectangular to enable them to more easily connect with each other. Each side features an independent thruster to increase its agility. From MIT News:

“Imagine shifting some of infrastructure services that usually take place during the day on the road — deliveries, garbage management, waste management — to the middle of the night, on the water, using a fleet of autonomous boats,” says (MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory) director Daniela Rus, co-author on a paper describing the technology that’s being presented at this week’s IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation.

Moreover, the boats — rectangular 4-by-2-meter hulls equipped with sensors, microcontrollers, GPS modules, and other hardware — could be programmed to self-assemble into floating bridges, concert stages, platforms for food markets, and other structures in a matter of hours. “Again, some of the activities that are usually taking place on land, and that cause disturbance in how the city moves, can be done on a temporary basis on the water,” says Rus, who is the Andrew and Erna Viterbi Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

The boats could also be equipped with environmental sensors to monitor a city’s waters and gain insight into urban and human health.

Read the rest

A dozen googlers quit over Google's military drone contract

Google's "Project Maven" is supplying machine-learning tools to the Pentagon to support drone strikes; the project has been hugely divisive within Google, with employees pointing out that the company is wildly profitable and doesn't need to compromise on its ethics to keep its doors open; that the drone program is a system of extrajudicial killing far from the battlefield; and that the firm's long-term health depends on its ability to win and retain the trust of users around the world, which will be harder if Google becomes a de facto wing of the US military. Read the rest

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