We all love a good idle game from time to time, don’t we? Good thing there are new and good ones coming out all the time, like Swarm Simulator: Evolution. In this game, you breed humble Drones to gather meat and eventually harness that power to do all kinds of crazy things like travel through time and evolve to higher forms of being. In order to get to these late-game points though, you need to be a good little drone and manage your colony optimally. Here’s exactly how to do that:
Want to know why mail drones aren't ready for prime time? Russia can tell you. The Siberian town of Ulan-Ude was expecting to beam with pride as organizer Rudron/Expeditor 3M tested a postal drone in the area for the first time, but they left red-fac… Engadget RSS Feed
On Monday, Russia’s postal service tested a delivery drone in the city of Ulan-Ude, Siberia. Instead, though, the drone crashed violently into a wall of nearby building, turning the UAV into a mess of jumbled parts.
Russia had announced its plans to start delivering mail via drone. It seems like a smart idea, especially in such a huge country where severe weather often interrupts mail delivery.
Here was the original plan for Monday’s test. The $ 20,000 drone was supposed to pick up a small package and deliver it to a nearby village, Reuters reports. Instead the device failed spectacularly, only making it a short distance before crashing into a three-story building. The small crowd gathered to watch the test can be heard uttering expletives, according to Reuters.
No one was injured in the crash, and it didn’t do any damage, except to Russia’s pride.
“We won’t stop with this, we will keep trying,” Alexei Tsydenov, the head of the region who was present at the test, told Reuters. “Those who don’t risk don’t get a result.”
And risk they shall. The organizers aren’t quite sure what went wrong, but they suspect the 100 or so nearby wifi spots could have had something to do with it.
Russia might have succeeded in meddling in our elections, but, hey, at least our drones work.
Drone industry leader DJI has teamed up with thermal imaging specialists FLIR to launch a new two-lensed camera system that enables drones to break new ground in infrastructure inspection, precision agriculture, firefighting, and search and rescue applications.
The technology was demonstrated at the headquarters of the Menlo Park fire department in California.
The Zenmuse XT2 is both an optical and a thermal imaging camera. The two lenses enable the camera to capture heat signatures that are invisible to the naked eye while also providing a 4K video feed for data capture and situational awareness.
Although the dual-vision has many potential uses, from inspecting solar farms to detecting hazardous materials, it has obvious advantages in emergency rescue situations.
“The Zenmuse XT2 continues our longstanding partnership with FLIR to create the most powerful thermal imaging solution available on a drone today,” said Jan Gasparic, DJI’s head of enterprise partnerships.
“This is a significant advance for public safety professionals who are using drones to save lives, and create new industrial applications across different verticals.”
“We are excited to continue our collaboration with DJI to develop sensors for their industry-leading drone platforms,” said Frank Pennisi, president of the Industrial Business Unit at FLIR Systems.
“The Zenmuse XT2 uses a radiometric thermal imaging camera core to capture accurate temperature data for every pixel, ensuring that drone operators have access to as much information as possible during critical, and often life-saving, missions.”
The Zenmuse XT2 is compatible with DJI’s Matrice 200 and Matrice 600 Pro enterprise models.
The innovation doesn’t all lie in the hardware, however. The onboard software includes two intelligent flight modes to assist first responders. These include Spotlight Pro, which allows the pilot to focus on flying while the camera automatically keeps the hottest object, or a specified area, in its sights.
For infrastructure inspections or emergencies involving hazardous materials, the Temp Alarm feature analyses thermal data from above in real-time, and alerts the operator when an object’s temperature goes above a designated limit.
Christian Struwe, DJI’s European head of public policy, told Internet of Business that the company is proud to move beyond consumer photography into areas that are more socially useful.
“Every day we see an increasing number of stories from around the world, of drones not only saving time and money, but more importantly peoples’ lives. In fact, just last year DJI released the first-ever survey of lifesaving drone activities, finding that on average drones save almost one life per week.
“As a company, we’re really proud that the technology that makes this possible started with the drones that people fly for fun. Just like with computers and phones, as more people see the good things drones are doing, the more they appreciate the benefits this technology brings to society.”
Democratising drone technology
DJI has also released a new Payload Software Development Kit (SDK), which enables developers to build specialised platforms for any industrial purpose.
Together with the accompanying Skyport adapter, the Payload SDK opens the door to anyone seeking to integrate customised sensors and cameras with drone platforms. DJI sees the move as “unlocking the true potential of drone technology”.
“Our new Payload SDK makes it possible for any manufacturer to create a payload specific to their customers’ needs that will work seamlessly with DJI’s aircraft,” said Gasparic.
“We believe these advances will not only strengthen DJI’s leadership in the commercial drone industry, but will also provide a powerful, flexible, and standardised platform that customers from different industries can build upon.”
Drones that are capable of saving lives could help to turn the tide of public opinion in favour of the technology; many still associate it with enthusiasts intruding on public spaces, or link the word with military applications.
As by far the biggest hardware manufacturer in this space, DJI should be congratulated for broadening its focus and for recognising the technology’s potential to transform a range of industries.
Malek Murison explains how a Latvian drone startup is repurposing consumer technology to provide critical infrastructure maintenance.
Aerones made headlines last year when one of the Latvian company’s drones was used to assist in a skydive. The move was a publicity stunt to attract attention to Aerones’ drone technology and its potential applications.
Among those applications is wind turbine maintenance, a huge potential market for drone operators, considering the scale (and often remoteness) of the structures, and the global push towards renewable energy.
Ice and dirt can reduce the output of wind farms. To tackle this problem, Aerones has developed a drone-assisted method for cleaning turbine blades and removing ice.
This means that instead of simply providing damage or maintenance assessments via drones, the company is now able to offer an all-in-one service that uses aerial technology to keep wind farms operating efficiently.
According to the International Energy Agency, minimal icing can cut annual energy production by up to five percent, while severe icing can lead to annual losses of over 20 percent.
Aerones’ service, says the company’s website, “aims to provide an effective, practical and economical alternative for cleaning the wind turbine blades using machinery adapted to the needs [of the task at hand].”
Drones are already widely used to inspect infrastructure across the renewable energy sector, including the use of thermal and LIDAR imaging to keep solar farms running at maximum output.
Just as in the solar industry, maintenance costs tend to be thrown in with the total costs of operations. Current de-icing methods rely on either manned teams or expensive blade technology to prevent ice from forming in the first place.
At best, these methods are expensive, at worst they put maintenance crews in danger. Depending on the size of the blades and the weather conditions, Aerones claims to be able to clean or de-ice 30 blades – usually 10 turbines – in a single day.
The commercial and public safety applications for Aerones’ technology extend far beyond the skydive that first drew attention to the startup.
As well as offering maintenance services to wind farms, Aerones’ drone technology is ideal for industrial cleaning missions and even assisting firefighters.
The company’s 28-propeller drone is tethered to a power and water or de-icing source on the ground, allowing it to stay airborne indefinitely up to 400m and push liquids out at 200 bars of pressure.
Internet of Business says
The full potential of drones in engineering, maintenance, critical infrastructure monitoring, or hazardous environments has become clear over the past two years.
Much traditional maintenance of the built environment is slow, expensive, and often dangerous. For example, it may take weeks of work just to put up scaffolding around a building or bridge in order to inspect it; drones could strip away those time and financial costs.
Wind turbines, along with offshore oil and gas installations, are the low-hanging fruit in the market, because their remote locations mean that aviation authorities are more tolerant of unmanned or remote-controlled systems flying in the area.
Southampton University is one of several UK organisations looking at these applications. Related startups such as Callen-Lenz and FlyLogix are already capitalising on the emerging interest in this field.
Amazon was just issued a patent for a UAV that can interpret gesture and vocal commands, a device that could in theory be used to deliver packages. First spotted by GeekWire, the patent describes a drone-like device outfitted with various sensors, ca… Engadget RSS Feed
Walmart filed a host of patents today related to how it keeps track of inventory — and the technologies could change the way its customers shop, as reported by Gizmodo.
One of the patents is clearly for the in-store experience, and proposes a sensing device to make shopping carts smart and communicate with a mobile device (presumably to help you navigate to where items are). There’s also a patent that tracks users through wearables, and several for managing / sensing inventorylevels.
Walmart has also filed a patent for drones that would assist customers shopping in-store. The patent outlines a method where a drone can be summoned via a mobile device — either personal or one temporarily provided — and then “provide assistance to the user…
Amazon has filed a patent for a delivery drone that responds when you call or wave at it. The patent was spotted by GeekWireand the concept drone is designed to recognize human gestures, and then respond accordingly. Gestures the drone would recognize include, for example, waving arms, pointing, the flashing of lights, and speech. (The illustration shows a man wildly waving his arms and with a speech bubble next to his mouth).
The patent was initially filed in July 2016 and published this week. “The human recipient and / or the other humans can communicate with the vehicle using human gestures to aid the vehicle along its path to the delivery location,” the patent states. The patent gives an example of a “shooing” motion, which the…
News has emerged that Google is helping the Department of Defense use artificial intelligence to analyze military drone footage. Information about the project was shared among company employees last week, and later shared by Gizmodo.
The initiative, known as Project Maven, was launched in April 2017. Its goal is to provide the U.S. Air Force with a means of sorting through the massive amount of imagery produced by its autonomous drones, to figure out which items require human analysis.
Google has been providing its TensorFlow application programming interface (API) to the Department of Defense in order to help machine learning algorithms recognize particular objects. A statement from the company submitted to Gizmodo stresses that the technology was used for non-offensive purposes.
However, there’s apparently some unrest among employees regarding the project. Some are upset that Google is dedicating resources to the military’s usage of surveillance technology, while others are arguing that Project Maven raises important questions about the ethical implementation of machine learning.
There’s resistance on the other side of the issue, too. The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is a part of the Pentagon that’s responsible for analyzing images collected from satellites and drone footage. It’s currently in the process of introducing new technology into its capabilities, and some analysts are worried that too much reliance on automated systems instead of human experts will result in less effective intelligence.
Machine learning certainly has a role to play in military surveillance – Project Maven has apparently been employed in the fight against ISIS since December 2017, according to a report from The Bulletin. The question is how to use these tools ethically, and how much oversight is appropriate, given the nature of military operations.