After spate of incidents, Japan increases punishments for pilots who drink and fly

The Japan Times

The Diet enacted a revised aviation law Thursday that increases punishments for pilots found to have flown under the influence of alcohol or drugs following a series of drinking-related incidents involving Japanese airlines. Under the legislation, which will take effect in stages within one year of its official announcement, the penalty for drinking and flying has been raised from a maximum one-year jail term or ¥300,000 fine to a sentence of up to three years or a ¥500,000 fine. Japanese airlines have already tightened drinking rules, introducing mandatory Breathalyzer tests and relieving pilots of their duties if even a very low level of alcohol is detected. Those flying private planes, however, are not subject to the same checks. The legislation also seeks to improve aviation safety ahead of the intended mid-2020 delivery of the Mitsubishi Regional Jet, Japan's first homegrown commercial passenger jet.

Houthis Strike Saudi Airport, Escalating Yemen Conflict

NYT > Middle East

But the fragile peace initiative has since stalled, and the Houthis resumed attacking Saudi Arabia over the past several weeks in what it said was retaliation for the Saudis' failure to curtail the violence. Houthi drones targeted Saudi drone facilities at another airport on Sunday, a Houthi TV channel said, and Saudi air defense systems have intercepted several Houthi missile and drone attacks in the last month, the official Saudi Press Agency said. A Houthi attack on a Saudi oil pipeline last month forced the Saudis to shut the pipeline temporarily, soon after a mysterious sabotage attack damaged four oil tankers outside the Emirati port of Fujairah, two of them Saudi. The Houthi attacks have caused few casualties. The attack on the airport on Wednesday was one of the worst Houthi attacks on Saudi soil yet.

Uber tests drone food delivery, launches new autonomous SUV

The Japan Times

WASHINGTON - Uber is testing restaurant food deliveries by drone. The company's Uber Eats unit began the tests in San Diego with McDonald's and plans to expand to other restaurants later this year. Uber says the service should decrease food delivery times. It works this way: Workers at a restaurant load the meal into a drone and it takes off, tracked and guided by a new aerospace management system. The drone then meets an Uber Eats driver at a drop-off location, and the driver will hand-deliver the meal to the customer.

Wind power: A $27 billion opportunity readymade for AI and autonomous drones - IoT Agenda


The enterprise drone market is ascending rapidly. Goldman Sachs estimated that businesses will spend $13 billion on drones between now and 2020. Promising commercial applications for drones range from emergency response and firefighting to surveying farmland and grocery delivery. However, as is the case with any new and innovative technology, there have been some speed bumps along the way that must be delicately navigated before broad adoption sets in. One of the most common speed bumps for businesses is the challenge of analyzing the vast volumes of data collected by drones.

Yemen's Houthi rebels launch attack drones into Saudi Arabia

The Japan Times

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Yemen's Houthi rebels said on Tuesday they launched at least two drones targeting a southwest Saudi city that's home to an air base. The Houthis' Al-Masirah satellite news channel reported the rebels launched Qasef-2K drones to strike the city of Khamis Mushait. The state-run Saudi Press Agency reported Tuesday, quoting military spokesman Col. Turki al-Maliki, that soldiers "intercepted" two drones launched by the Houthis. The Iranian-allied Houthis increasingly have targeted the kingdom with bomb-carrying drones. Khamis Mushait, some 815 km (510 miles) southwest of the capital, Riyadh, is near the kingdom's border with Yemen.

US military will begin testing 'jam-resistant' GPS that can help combat Russian interference

Daily Mail - Science & tech

The US military is looking to expedite the deployment of'jam resistant' GPS units in an effort to guard against interference from Russian troops. According to Breaking Defense, a first-generation model of the device will be sent to soldiers in Germany by the end of the year. It's specially designed to be resistant to GPS jamming, or technology that attempts to disable GPS by transmitting fake signals or scrambling them. The US Military is looking to mitigate GPS jamming, as it presents security risks. While the actual technical details of the devices remain a mystery, the new GPS will look to combat what is suspected to be coordinated jamming by Russian military, which has been documented by the US in countries ranging from Syria to Scandinavia.

Futuristic rifle with 'Google Maps for drones' software

Daily Mail - Science & tech

A defence company has invented a new futuristic'rifle' that stops rogue drones by hacking into them - and forcing them to fly back to their pilots. DroneShield has developed a software similar to'Google Maps' for drones that instantly locates any drones - and sends them back to their pilots. The firm has previously worked with the British Army and provided assistance to the 2018 Korean Winter Olympics, and their tech is in use at airports. CEO Oleg Vornik remains tight-lipped on the exact cost of the system, but confirmed it ranges from five to seven figures. Mr Vornik also says the system could be used to protect airports from drone incursions - such as the one that brought chaos to Gatwick Airport, bringing it to a standstill for 33 hours before Christmas.

Robotic fighter jets could soon join military pilots on combat missions


Military pilots may soon have a new kind of wingman to depend upon: not flesh-and-blood pilots but fast-flying, sensor-studded aerial drones that fly into combat to scout enemy targets and draw enemy fire that otherwise would be directed at human-piloted aircraft. War planners see these robotic wingmen as a way to amplify air power while sparing pilots' lives and preventing the loss of sophisticated fighter jets, which can cost more than $100 million apiece. "These drone aircraft are a way to get at that in a more cost-effective manner, which I think is really a game-changer for the Air Force," says Paul Scharre, director of the technology and national security program at the Center for a New American Security, a think tank in Washington, D.C. Unlike slow-moving drones such as the Reaper and the Global Hawk, which are flown remotely by pilots on the ground, the new combat drones would be able to operate with minimal input from human pilots. To do that, they'd be equipped with artificial intelligence systems that give them the ability not only to fly but also to learn from and respond to the needs of the pilots they fly alongside. "The term we use in the Air Force is quarterbacking," says Will Roper, assistant secretary of the U.S. Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics and one of the experts working to develop the AI wingmen.

How Amazon's delivery robots will navigate your sidewalk – TechCrunch


Earlier this year, Amazon announced its Scout sidewalk delivery robot. At the time, details were sparse, except for the fact that the company had started to make deliveries in a neighborhood in Washington State. Today, at Amazon's re:Mars conference, I sat down with Sean Scott, the VP in charge of Scout, to talk about how his team built the robot, how it finds its way around and what its future looks like. These relatively small blue robots could be roaming a sidewalk near you soon, though as of now, Amazon isn't quite ready to talk about when and where it will expand its network from its single neighborhood to other areas. "For the last decade, we've invested billions of dollars in cargo planes and delivery vans, fulfillment center robots, and last holiday period, we shipped over a billion products with Prime free shipping," Scott told me.

Arizona startup unveils aerial surveillance system that relies on high-altitude balloons

Daily Mail - Science & tech

For most people, balloons may connote birthday parties, weddings, parades, or on a less celebratory note, meteorology. But, if one new startup has its way, sweeping surveillance may soon make that list too. World View Enterprises Inc., based in Arizona, is working to build what it's calling Stratollites -- balloon mounted-surveillance systems that the company claims can be remotely controlled and adjusted using its own proprietary technology. In an test of unprecedented length, a World View balloon safely completed a 16-day mission, navigating above states in the Western U.S. The feat, says the company, is a major mile marker in the goal of keeping the devices afloat for months at a time. Balloons could be the new method of surveillance according to one Arizona startup, World View.