Useful and Timely Delivery Drone Drops Life Preserver to Australian Swimmers

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

Late last year, we wrote about how Australia was paying a stupendous amount of money to try using drones and artificial intelligence to detect sharks off of popular beaches. We were skeptical, mostly because it's hard to make a convincing argument that shark attacks are actually that big of a problem, in Australia or anywhere else, compared to other, bigger problems that we might want to address first. One of those bigger problems, in Australia and in many other places, is drowning--in Australia in 2016, about 120 people drowned on the Australian coast, 60 times more people than were fatally attacked by sharks. Fortunately, the drones doing the shark spotting also happen to carry life preserver pods along with them, and last week, a drone being used for training managed to save a pair of struggling swimmers 700 meters off the coast of New South Wales. Here's a video from the drone's point of view: According to the Sydney Morning Herald, lifeguards were using the drone during a training session when "a call came through of two distressed swimmers."

DJI's Mavic Air drone may have improved 4K video


DJI is supposed to be unveiling a new drone on January 23rd, but the cat might already be out of the bag. Kanzhaji has posted photos and details of the Mavic Air, a foldable drone that would reportedly slot neatly between the diminutive Spark and the existing foldable drone, the Mavic Pro. It wouldn't last as long as the Pro (certainly not the Platinum edition) with a 21-minute flight time, but it might actually best its higher-end ancestor in a few areas. You'd get 60FPS 4K video recording instead of the Pro's 30FPS, an additional backward proximity sensor and 32-megapixel spherical photos. The Mavic Air would borrow a bit from the Spark, but mostly in visual cues: it appears to be smaller (and stubbier), and it'll come in multiple colors with a sleeker, glossier shell.

DJI's new foldable drone is coming, and we just learned almost everything about it


DJI is set to unveil a new consumer drone on Jan. 23, but a leak appears to have already spoiled the announcement. The new drone is purportedly called the "Mavic Air," and looks to be a cross between DJI's ultra compact and foldable Mavic Pro and the even tinier, gesture-controlled Spark. And you wonder why GoPro and others have no choice but to exit the drone market. The drone enthusiast site DroneDJ has shared what looks to be most of the juicy details on the Mavic Air. If they turn out true, drone fans could be in for a real treat.

Flight MH370 Latest Update: Ocean Infinity To Use Swarm Of Drone-Like AUVs

International Business Times

A U.S. company will be deploying the world's most advanced undersea search vessels in a renewed bid to search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which went missing on March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board. Texas-based Ocean Infinity -- which has signed a "no cure, no fee" deal with the Malaysian government to find the jetliner -- will for the first time use a swarm of eight drone-like autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) to scour a remote part of the southern Indian Ocean, where the ill-fated plane is believed to have gone down. The company will be paid only if it succeeds in locating the plane, which is believed to have gone down while on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. According to the Daily Beast, Ocean Infinity will conduct the new search with the latest technology north of the original search area, where an underwater operation for more than three years yielded no concrete clues. Talking about the technology that the company will use, the Daily Beast reported that the system was being used for the first time and that while en route from the Caribbean to the search site, the command ship, Seabed Constructor, paused several times to carry out trials at depths similar to those at the Indian Ocean search site.

The Pentagon's New Artificial Intelligence Is Already Hunting Terrorists


After less than eight months of development, the algorithms are helping intel analysts exploit drone video over the battlefield. Earlier this month at an undisclosed location in the Middle East, computers using special algorithms helped intelligence analysts identify objects in a video feed from a small ScanEagle drone over the battlefield. A few days into the trials, the computer identified objects -- people, cars, types of building -- correctly about 60 percent of the time. Just over a week on the job -- and a handful of on-the-fly software updates later -- the machine's accuracy improved to around 80 percent. Next month, when its creators send the technology back to war with more software and hardware updates, they believe it will become even more accurate.

Intel mixes drones with AI to transform Ferrari's racing experience


You're sitting in the bleachers and the roar of powerful engines starts rising in the distance; seconds later the pack of Ferrari race cars speed past and you crane your neck around trying to see what position your favourite driver is in. That's the typical experience of car racing fans today, but if a partnership between Intel Corp. and Ferrari Motor Sports is a success, it might be much different tomorrow. A new system that involves artificial intelligence and a fleet of drones shooting video was showcased by Intel at CES 2018 booth this year. Not only could it change the fan experience for auto racing, it's also providing Ferrari drivers more insight into their performance. Intel CEO announced the three-year partnership on stage during his keynote.

Fort Collins Police Using Drones in Crash Investigations

U.S. News

Fort Collins Police Services, the Larimer County Sheriff's Office, Loveland and Colorado State University police departments, Poudre Fire Authority, and Loveland Fire Rescue Authority collectively launched a regional unmanned aerial system program in late June 2017 to assist in investigations, including serious crashes and backcountry search and rescue operations.

How to register your drone (it's the law... again)


Then it wasn't the law. Now, it's the law again. Welcome to very important installment of ZDNet's DIY-IT Drone and Robotics Discovery Series. This article could save you thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars, not to mention prison time. Drones could be a threat to pets and powerlines, so Google has come up with a new robot to help.

'Feel' your drone with MotionPilot's haptic joystick


Flying a drone isn't as easy as it looks, as any beginner who has ever purchased one of the pricey things and then immediately crashed it can attest. A startup called MotionPilot wants to help beginners and pros alike with a joystick that makes it more intuitive and tactile at the same time. The device, still in a prototype stage, has motion sensors that let you maneuver a drone just by rotating and tilting your hand, while haptics let you feel it turn and accelerate. MotionPilot, founded by four grad students from France's École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EFPL), says the joystick's hand gesture control are so intuitive that beginning pilots can learn to fly "in a few seconds." To maneuver, you just lean the device forward or sideways, while using a trigger to change altitude.

Pakistan's ace in poker match with US: Afghan air routes

FOX News

WASHINGTON – As bad as President Donald Trump describes U.S.-Pakistani ties today, they can get far worse. Over 16 years that included hundreds of deadly U.S. drone strikes, Osama bin Laden's killing on Pakistani soil and accusations Pakistan helps insurgents that kill Americans, the reluctant allies never reached one point of no return: Pakistan closing the air routes to Afghanistan. It's an action that could all but cripple the U.S.-backed military fight against the Taliban. It could also be tantamount to Pakistan going to war with the United States. Even if such a step is seen as unlikely by most officials and observers, Pakistan's ability to shape the destiny of America's longest war is a reminder of how much leverage the country maintains at a time Trump is suspending hundreds of millions of dollars in military assistance.