Delivery drones could someday hitch rides on public buses to dramatically extend their range in cities. Stanford’s Intelligent Systems Laboratory and Autonomous Systems Lab modeled such a system to see if it even makes sense. According to their research paper, it does. In theory, anyway. Evan Ackerman writes in IEEE Spectrum:
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The first thing to understand about this paper is that it’s not trying to solve any of the practical problems surrounding the real-world deployment of a delivery network involving drones and buses, like how you’d get a drone to land on a moving bus, for instance. What the paper is about is how you’d get a potential network of drones and vehicles to operate efficiently, and how big of a difference that might be able to make in a package delivery context.
In a metropolitan area like San Francisco, the idea is that you’d have a bunch of package depots scattered around the city. You’d also have a bunch of drones, and every day, you’d need to figure out how to get all of those packages where they need to go in the minimum amount of time, using the existing bus routes and schedule to boost their range when necessary. And when I say “you,” that’s where this research comes in, because it’s solving a big optimization problem that involves which drones make which deliveries in what order, when they should use buses, and for how long. It gets more complicated too, because there are conflicts that have to be resolved when buses can only carry a few drones at a time and you don’t want the drones occupying the same space on the network at the same time.
Order says data collected ‘could be valuable to foreign entities’
The United States Interior Department today introduced a no-fly rule that covers pretty much all Chinese drones, and all unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) made with Chinese parts, with some narrow exceptions. The big fear is espionage. Read the rest
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
Intel and Chinese tech firm Ehang UAV have been locked in a battle over the world record for largest drone lightshow, and Ehang recently took the lead with 1,374 drones as voxels.
Here's a behind-the-scenes of Intel's worthy entry at PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics:
• EHang Egret’s 1374 drones dancing over the City Wall of Xi’an, achieving the Guinness World Records (YouTube / EHANG) Read the rest
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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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
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
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
The Cold Drone Wars have begun. In a first-of-its-kind military standoff, the Chinese Navy has taken possession of an underwater autonomous drone deployed by a U.S. oceanographic vessel in the South China Sea.
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Tim Maughan writes, "Thanks to all the Boing Boing crew that checked out the trailer for our Detroit LIDAR film, it'll be out soon - in the meantime our film IN THE ROBOT SKIES is now up to stream. The first narrative film shot entirely by semi-autonomous drones, it's a love story set on a highly surveilled housing estate in London. Written by me, directed by Liam Young, with music by Forest Swords." Read the rest
Dr Rodrigo Nieto-Gomez is a research professor at the Naval Postgraduate School, studying "criminal entrepreneurship" in drug cartels, who beat Amazon to using drones for delivery by years, use modified potato guns to shoot cocaine and marijuana bundles over border fences, and represent the "true libertarian, Ayn Rand capitalism." Read the rest
The Nazi V-1 "robot bomb" (AKA the "buzz bomb") was a kind of flying landmine that terrorized London during the Blitz, doing incredible damage to the city, sowing disarray and fear, as this Periscope newsreel makes clear. Read the rest
The way these schoolchildren in rural Uganda react to a hobbyist's drone flight demo is so delightful. Honestly, my reaction when I first saw a friend navigate his UAV into the air was about the same.
Mark Brandon Smith shot this wonderful video, and tells the tale behind it. Read the rest
Drone Deploy is an analytics and automation package that uses drones to create accurate 3D terrain and architectural models. Read the rest
Amazon is advancing its drone program with great speed. This is not a joke. Say goodbye to the brown trucks.
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Officials in Oklahoma claim to have halted the first attempt in the state to smuggle contraband into a prison with an unmanned aerial vehicle. Read the rest
Amid growing fears about safety and security risks from unauthorized drone flights, federal regulators say they plan to require pretty much all recreational drones in the U.S. to be registered. Read the rest