Project Wing, a subdivision of Google's parent company Alphabet, will use self-guiding drones to deliver Chipotle food at Virginia Tech this fall. The drones are capable of both flying and hovering on pre-planned routes, avoiding hazards as they go. Dave Vos, head of Project Wing, told Bloomberg that human pilots will be there to take over in case of emergency, as is required by the FAA. This specific experiment is novel, because "it's the first time that we're actually out there delivering stuff to people who want that stuff," Vos told Bloomberg. The drones will launch from a food truck, make the delivery, and return to the truck as a "home base."
A group of air-traffic controllers, their wives, and kids, we carry signs emblazoned with the logo of PATCO, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization, and chant a medley of protest slogans most of us are learning for the first time. "United," we cry, "we will never be defeated." We are the only two black people in the group, but this isn't why we stand out. "I take it you're not in this for the sport!" he shouts. And when he throws his hands up and cries, "What, and leave show business?" he brandishes his placard like a spear. "Figure it out," he tells me when he mistakes the look on my face for confusion. Of everyone here, I'm the one who has the least trouble deciphering his private meanings. As the world's leading scholar on Gregory Pardlo, Sr., I know these pronouncements he's polished, these homemade koans impenetrable to reason, that were once the punch lines of tired jokes. The jokes themselves are vestigial. He no longer needs them, confident his enemies will notice the deft lacerations of his wit in some later moment of quiet reflection. Uncharacteristically reckless now, he heaves them with neither accuracy nor discrimination at the passing traffic. Highway grit settles across my brow and our picket line warps in the heat. Although many cars honk in solidarity with the air-traffic-controller strike, odds are the honk will precede a driver's flipping us the bird. Nothing, though, causes me to question the righteousness of our mission. In this, at least, I hold my father infallible. Sun catches in the penumbra of his hair when he turns to face me, and I squint until I fit into his shadow.
Drone technology is developing so quickly--and morphing into commercial uses never before contemplated--that aviation regulators are having trouble keeping pace. Air-safety authorities on both sides of the Atlantic have acknowledged that traditional rule making is too slow and rigid to cope with the rapidly expanding applications of the flying machines, from bridge inspections to land surveys to news photography. And the pressure to spell out exactly what's allowed and what isn't is growing as the industry booms. Millions of hobbyists already operate drones, and over the next few years businesses are projected to begin flying millions more in the U.S. alone. Now regulators are scrambling to draft new, more-nimble rules and procedures.
Driverless vehicles are being tested on public roads in a number of countries.Credit: Prostock/Getty Last month, for the first time, a pedestrian was killed in an accident involving a self-driving car. A sports-utility vehicle controlled by an autonomous algorithm hit a woman who was crossing the road in Tempe, Arizona. The safety driver inside the vehicle was unable to prevent the crash. Although such accidents are rare, their incidence could rise as more vehicles that are capable of driving without human intervention are tested on public roads. In the past year, several countries have passed laws to pave the way for such trials.
DALLAS/WASHINGTON - U.S. airline bosses are stepping up their criticism of the partial government shutdown, warning that the closing threatens to snarl air travel as it drags into its 34th day. "We are close to a tipping point as employees are about to miss a second paycheck," JetBlue Airways Corp. Chief Executive Officer Robin Hayes said on a conference call Thursday with analysts and investors. "The longer this goes on, the longer it will take for the nation's air travel system to rebound." CEOs at larger carriers backed him up, with American Airlines Group Inc.'s Doug Parker warning of "long lines" and "delayed airspace." Southwest Airlines Co. said it lost out on as much as $15 million in sales this month because of the shutdown.