It’s probably the first time you’ve seen 300 drones flying in formation, but it’s almost certainly not the last. The technology underpinning the Intel Shooting Star drone system is fascinating in and of itself, but its potential applications are even more so. The same drones that accompanied Lady Gaga will one day revolutionize search-and-rescue, agriculture, halftime shows, and more.
For builders, the case for return on investment is straightforward. Drones are cheaper to fly than manned aircraft and faster than human surveyors, and they collect data far more frequently than either, letting construction workers track a site’s progress with a degree of accuracy previously unknown in the industry. With the right computing tools, builders can turn sensor data into 3D structural models, topographical maps, and volumetric measurements (useful for monitoring stockpiles of costly resources like sand and gravel). Collectively, that intelligence allows construction companies to more efficiently deploy resources around a job site, minimize potential issues, trim costs, and limit delays.
For now, the taxis are only running in a 2.5-square-mile business and residential district called "one-north," and pick-ups and drop-offs are limited to specified locations. And riders must have an invitation from nuTonomy to use the service. The company says dozens have signed up for the launch, and it plans to expand that list to thousands of people within a few months.
The cars — modified Renault Zoe and Mitsubishi i-MiEV electrics — have a driver in front who is prepared to take back the wheel and a researcher in back who watches the car's computers. Each car is fitted with six sets of Lidar — a detection system that uses lasers to operate like radar — including one that constantly spins on the roof. There are also two cameras on the dashboard to scan for obstacles and detect changes in traffic lights.
better materials, autonomous navigation systems, and other technical advances have convinced a growing body of smart, wealthy, and apparently serious people that within the next few years we’ll have a self-flying car that takes off and lands vertically—or at least a small, electric, mostly autonomous commuter plane. About a dozen companies around the world, including startups and giant aerospace manufacturers, are working on prototypes. Furthest along, it appears, are the companies Page is quietly funding. “Over the past five years, there have been these tremendous advances in the underlying technology,” says Mark Moore, an aeronautical engineer who’s spent his career designing advanced aircraft at NASA. “What appears in the next 5 to 10 years will be incredible.”
The 50-ton craft can carry as much as 20 tons of sensors or other gear and operates at depths reaching 11,000 feet. While on the surface, it downloads route instructions from human minders via satellite.
The Voyager runs on batteries, which are recharged using diesel fuel every three days during a four- to eight-hour resurfacing. With a full 1,000-gallon diesel tank, the robot can travel a total of 6,500 nautical miles—enough to swim around Australia—vs. 200 miles tops for a typical drone craft.
Rwanda’s minister of youth and ICT, Jean Philbert Nsengimana recently signed a new agreement with the San Francisco-based company Zipline, whose aerial vehicles — aka vampire drones — will be able to deliver blood to more than 22 transfusion facilities throughout the country. The life-saving potential of this technology has been tested by Doctors Without Borders, which used drones to fight tuberculosis in Papua New Guinea. And if the Rwandan experiment works, it won’t be long before other countries in the region decide to follow suit. For Rutayisire, the prospect of aerially connecting hospitals, tech hubs and markets across the continent is simply too exciting not to try. “With so much potential,” he says, “it’s hard to not be optimistic.”
When you hear the word "drone," you probably think of something either very useful or very scary. But could they have aesthetic value? Autonomous systems expert Raffaello D'Andrea develops flying machines, and his latest projects are pushing the boundaries of autonomous flight — from a flying wing that can hover and recover from disturbance to an eight-propeller craft that's ambivalent to orientation ... to a swarm of tiny coordinated micro-quadcopters. Prepare to be dazzled by a dreamy, swirling array of flying machines as they dance like fireflies above the TED stage.
When it is time to begin waste collection, the driver of the refuse truck presses a button. This starts the robot, and the drone simultaneously lifts from the roof of the truck. Flying through alleyways, the drone quickly finds the location of the refuse bins and communicates their positions to the robot. This is followed by automatic waste collection and emptying by the robot. In the cab, the driver is able to monitor the exact location of the robot and the emptying process.
The ROAR project, Robot-based Autonomous Refuse handling, is a collaboration between the Volvo Group, Chalmers University of Technology, Mälardalen University, Penn State University in the United States, and Renova.
Yamaha’s drones have been dusting crops in Japan for more than two decades and handle more than a third of the nation’s rice paddies. That’s helped farmers cope with an aging population that’s winnowed the agricultural labor supply. Yamaha’s drones also operate in South Korea and Australia and are used for research in France.
Although there are hundreds of rival agricultural drones, many are smaller, powered by batteries, and work mainly collecting data, monitoring disease, and mapping. The gasoline-powered, scooter-size RMax, which has two 2.1‑gallon tanks, can fly for an hour when fully loaded with chemicals. It is radio controlled and has an onboard GPS system to keep its flight precise. Aerial spraying can be done as much as five times faster than with tractors, says Brian Wynne, president of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.
Subcultron is a swarm of at least 120 self-directing, underwater robots being developed by scientists in six countries to monitor Venice’s polluted waterways and transmit environmental data to government officials.