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FAA approves first commercial drone flights with no on-site pilots

Engadget

Farms and other agricultural operations in certain rural areas in the US can now use robotic drones to take images of or gather data on their crops. The FAA has approved Massachusetts-based American Robotics' request to be able to deploy automated drones without human pilots and spotters on site. As The Wall Street Journal notes, commercial drone flights typically require the physical presence of licensed pilots making them a costly undertaking. AR's machine eliminates the need for on-site personnel, though each automated flight will still need to be overseen by a remote human pilot. According to the relevant documents (via The Verge) the FAA has uploaded on its website, the pilot "who is not co-located with the aircraft" will have to conduct pre-flight safety checks to ensure the drone is in working condition.


FAA approves first fully-automated commercial drone flights (with a catch)

Mashable

You can officially claim autonomous commercial drones for your 2021 bingo card. On Friday, Massachusetts-based industrial drone developer American Robotics announced it had received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to operate its fully-automated "Scout" drones without any humans on-site. It's the first waiver of its kind, as the FAA has previously approved the use of autonomous commercial drones exclusively under the condition that human observers be present along the flight path -- or that risk of collision be mitigated through otherwise hyper-strict limitations. Advocates of drone technology say those restrictions have long held the industry back. "Decades worth of promise and projection are finally coming to fruition," CEO and co-founder of American Robotics Reese Mozer said in a press release.


Dating apps are using Capitol images to ban rioters' accounts

Washington Post - Technology News

Soltani said that the issues facing the dating apps are difficult ones, with a range of possible solutions. The apps could alert individual users that a person they have expressed interest in may have participated in the Capitol takeover, or they could allow individual users to identify themselves as participants by hitting a built-in button, similar to the "I Voted" tag some social media companies offer on election days. Blocking users outright based on analysis of images, especially before arrest or adjudication, struck him as "over-moderation" by the apps.


ICYMI: More gadget highlights from CES 2021

Engadget

While CES was a bit different this year, we still managed to check out a number of inspiring new devices, apps and services. While we acknowledged the most promising tech in Engadget's Best of CES awards, there remain a bunch of gadgets that didn't make the list that will be worth checking out when they actually hit shelves later this year. Things like HP's new Dragonfly laptops, TCL's 8K TVs and Cowin's two-piece soundbar are all things to look forward to as 2021 progresses (and some are even available already). Here are some of the CES 2021 gadgets you may have missed this week. Cherlynn Low found a lot to like about last year's HP Dragonfly laptop: it was lightweight at 2.2 pounds, had a great battery life and an attractive design.


NASA declares the Mars InSight digger dead after two years

Mashable

NASA announced on Thursday that a "mole" on Mars has ended its mission after landing on the Red Planet nearly two years ago. The mole -- also called a digger, drill, and probe -- was built by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and deployed by NASA's InSight lander. Its purpose was to drill 16 feet into Martian soil to take its temperature and...well, it never managed to do that. The digger had drilled down merely 14 inches before getting stuck in the first month of its mission. Months later in Oct. 2019, NASA engineers made a plan to put the digger back on track by using a robotic scoop to help refill the 14 inches and support the digger in its next attempt at burrowing down 16 feet.


The 5 best Amazon deals you can get this weekend

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. At long last, the weekend is finally here! To celebrate the three-day break ahead, we've corralled some of the best Amazon deals we could find this weekend. From $200 in savings on an amazing iRobot Roomba vacuum to a more than 50% off one of our favorite pairs of noise-canceling headphones, the price cuts are certainly aplenty today--and you definitely won't want to miss out. Get expert shopping advice delivered to your phone.


Robotics trends at #CES2021

Robohub

Even massive events like the 54th edition of Consumer Electronics Show (CES) have gone virtual due to the current pandemic. Since 1967, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), which is the North American trade association for the consumer technology industry, has been organising the fair, and this year was not going to be any different--well, except they had to take the almost 300,000m${} 2$ from CES 2020 to the cloud. In this post, I mainly put the focus on current and future hardware/robotics trends presented at CES 2021 (because we all love to make predictions, even during uncertain times). "Innovation accelerates and bunches up during economic downturns only to be unleashed as the economy begins to recover, ushering in powerful waves of technological change"--Christopher Freeman, British Economist. With this quote, I start the first session on'my show' of CES 2021, 'Tech trends to watch' by CTA (see their slides here).


DJI's Latest Compact Drone Is a Blast to Fly

WIRED

DJI's Mini 2, as the name suggests, is the second generation of the company's least-expensive, and in many ways most-compelling, drone. What's notable is the new camera, which can now shoot 4K video at up to 30 frames per second and capture RAW still images. Its new motors are more powerful, which gives the Mini 2 more speed and, more important, better performance in the wind. Despite all the new features though, the best thing about the Mini 2 is the same thing I said about its predecessor--it's just plain fun to fly. The Mini 2 looks identical to Mavic Mini it replaces.


Lidar tech on the rise at CES to power future smart cities, autonomous cars

Washington Post - Technology News

The Mini is small, roughly five centimeters long and is meant to detect closer range objects around a vehicle. It's customizable to fit within a vehicle's design scheme, according to the company. The larger Vision Plus can pick up things 650 feet in front of and behind cars with self-driving features. Together, they're designed to enable cars to handle more than one automated task at a time.


Flying cars, smart beds: 5 things I'd actually buy from CES 2021

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

Despite the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) taking place online for the first time in its 54-year history, the all-digital 2021 CES still served as a window to the near future, featuring more than 1,800 exhibitors showcasing their wares – virtually speaking. Granted, it can be tougher to assess how impressive these products are without seeing them with your own eyes – like the latest TV technologies or self-driving cars – but the show managed to surprise and delight with several innovative offerings. As an annual tradition during CES, the following is a few gadgets I'd actually shell out money for – even if they're not available for a long while. Galaxy S21 or iPhone 12?:How Samsung and Apple smartphones stack up Teased by Samsung earlier in the week, Bot Handy is a domestic robot that can roam around your home to perform chores – such as picking up clothes from the floor or loading the dishwasher – but my favorite feature is pouring a glass of wine and bringing it to you. After all, after the year we've just endured, who wouldn't want this kind of high-tech pampering.