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Apple is using drones to improve Maps

Engadget

North Carolina, one of the states the Transportation Department authorized to conduct drone testing beyond FAA limits, is apparently working with Apple. Cupertino has revealed that it's using drones in the state to improve its Maps application, effectively confirming a Bloomberg report from way back in 2016 that said the company was putting a team together to capture mapping data with the use of UAVs. A spokesperson said in a statement that Apple collects "both aerial and ground images around the world to improve Apple Maps," and it will soon "begin to capture additional aerial images in select areas using drones." Since people are now more conscious about their privacy following high-profiles hacks and leaks, such as Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal, the spokesperson also assured that Apple will take measures to ensure it doesn't publish sensitive data. "Apple is committed to protecting people's privacy including processing this data to blur faces and license plates prior to publication," he said.


Russia's new mail delivery drone crashes into wall during inaugural flight

The Independent - Tech

A postal drone in Russia crashed into a wall and smashed into pieces during its maiden flight. The unmanned aerial vehicle took off to deliver a small package to a village near Ulan-Ude, a city in Siberia, but hit a three-storey building shortly after lifting off from a mini launch pad in front of a crowd of spectators. The drone had been touted as a new way to deliver post in the rural Buryatia region, located more than 2,700 miles from the Russian capital Moscow. Video footage of the crash showed the vehicle taking off before veering into the apartment building and showering onlookers with debris. No one was harmed in the incident.


A Complete Coverage Algorithm for 3D Structural Inspection Using an Autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

AAAI Conferences

This paper presents a novel algorithm for complete coverage of three-dimensional structures to address the problem of autonomous structural inspection using an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). The proposed approach uses a technique of cellular decomposition based on Morse decomposition to decompose the 3D target structure into 2D coverable faces that are subsequently connected using a graph-based representation. We then use graph traversal techniques such as the Traveling Salesman Problem (TSP) to generate a flight coverage path through the decomposed faces for a UAV to completely cover the target structure, while reducing the coverage time and distance. Experimental results show that our approach guarantees complete coverage of the target structure.


Real-World Applications for Drones

Communications of the ACM

In June, Amazon announced it was close to being able to offer for package deliveries by drone for its Prime Air service. That same month, Uber said it plans to test food delivery by aerial drone in crowded cities. And drone delivery company Flytrex already touts the ability to deliver drinks via unmanned vehicle on the golf course. Despite such announcements, drones are not crowding the skies over major cities and population centers just yet. But that may be about to change.