Drones get some bad press, with many associating them with a dystopian future defined by war and surveillance. But now a company is trying to make drones more popular - and in the process improving aerial photography so you can take selfies from the air. The Fotokite Phi is a drone on a leash that you can lead around just like a pet and is now available for pre-order as part of crowdfunding campaign. On a tight leash: 'The Fotokite's tether (pictured) provides a safer, more direct way to fly. It enables close-proximity operations and the tether provides visual accountability for bystanders and property owners,' the Swiss start-up said The drone is now on sale with prices starting at $249 (£159) and can be pre-ordered on their Indiegogo crowdfunding page.
The U.S. Air Force plans to have an operational combat drone by 2023. The service plans to build out a family of unmanned aircraft, known as Skyborg, capable of carrying weapons and actively participating in combat. The Air Force's goal is to build up a large fleet of armed, sort-of disposable jets that don't need conventional runways to take off and land. The Air Force, according to Aviation Week & Space Technology, expects to have the first operational Skyborg aircraft ready by 2023. Skyborg will be available with both subsonic and supersonic engines, indicating both attack and fighter jet versions.
Unmanned drones equipped with thermal imaging cameras could save dolphins, according to a new scientific study out of NZ and the UK. According to the study, the endangered Maui and Hector's dolphins in New Zealand and other marine mammal species around the world could be saved from caught up accidentally when fishing for other species. The successful study proved aerial thermal detection and identification of Maui and Hector's dolphins, and other marine mammals would be possible from both manned and unmanned aircraft and could be used on drones. Martin Stanley from Ocean Life Survey, who led the study, has designed and developed an unmanned remotely operated thermal imaging drone system that can be used for marine mammal study and protection. The thermal drone system can be operated from vessels such as fishing boats to provide real-time detection of and protection to marine mammals.
China has for the first time released video showing its latest stealth drone in flight, state media said Sunday. China Central Television (CCTV) on Saturday ran video featuring the "saucer-like" Sky Hawk drone, and state-run Global Times claimed that the new drone's cutting-edge technology will allow it to fly faster, farther and escape detection. The Global Times, quoting the CCTV report, said the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp.-developed drone, known as the Sky Hawk, had conducted the flight test at an undisclosed location in the country. Video showed the drone taking off and landing, marking the first time that the aircraft has been publicly seen in flight, according to the reports. The drone reportedly made its maiden flight last February, but no video had been published before Saturday's broadcast.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has made a system that can catch drones mid-flight. Instead of risking damage when drones need to land in battlefields or on US Navy Ships, the DARPA SideArm capture system can retrieve drones up to 1100 pounds (500 kg) in weight. The system can fit in a shipping container and can be set up and operated by two to four people, enabling the SideArm to be portable. In December 2016, the system was tested with a 400-pound (181 kg) Lockheed Martin Fury Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) drone. Aurora Flight Sciences, who tested the SideArm, accelerated the drone to speeds that it would fly at using an external catapult.