Highway traffic monitoring is frequently... less than efficient. Fixed cameras can't catch problems beyond their immediate location, while aircraft are both costly and inevitably have to fly back to a distant base to refuel. These systems may soon get a robotic upgrade, though. Ohio State University is leading a pilot program that will use drones for roadway and traffic monitoring along a 35-mile highway stretch (the Smart Mobility Corridor) between Dublin and East Liberty. The dry run will see drones feed tracking data to the Ohio Department of Transportation's Traffic Management Center to complement data from existing systems.
Drones could be a threat to pets and powerlines, so Google has come up with a new robot to help. In countries where commercial drone delivery is permitted beyond line-of-sight (hint: not the US), autonomous drones still have a big blind spot: Urban areas. Due to interference from tall buildings, navigating city streets is all but impossible with GPS alone. Researchers at the University of Zurich and the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR Robotics) set out to tackle that problem. Design an algorithm that allows drones to autonomously navigate by mimicking the very traffic that delivery drones were invented to avoid.
Drone Co-habitation Services operates a Phantom 3 commercial drone, one of 11 vehicles in the NASA field demonstration in Nevada. Drone Co-habitation Services operates a Phantom 3 commercial drone, one of 11 vehicles in the NASA field demonstration in Nevada. By 2020, an estimated 7 million drones could be zipping around the country delivering packages, taking photos, inspecting infrastructure or conducting search and rescue missions. But before that happens, they'll need a system in place to avoid crashing into each other -- or worse, passenger aircraft. NASA, along with the Federal Aviation Administration and an extensive list of industry partners, has been researching the requirements needed to establish a drone traffic management system.
In the near future as envisioned by Amazon, little drones will sit on the shoulders of police officers like parrots on a pirate. The company earlier this month patented the design for a tiny drone that, according to the patent filing, would be useful for a range of everyday tasks, but perhaps particularly useful for law enforcement. The drones could record video which, according to the patent, means they could "replace" cameras on the dashboards of police vehicles. Officers could have the drone perform tasks they would otherwise have to by giving verbal commands at a traffic stop such as "check plate." In a chase, the officer could ask the drone to fly alongside him or her.