Farmland bird species are declining over most of Europe. Birds breeding on the ground are particularly vulnerable because they are exposed to mechanical operations, like plowing and sowing, which take place in spring and often accidentally destroy nests. Researchers flew a drone carrying a thermal camera over agricultural fields to record images. These were then fed to an artificial intelligence algorithm capable of accurately identifying nests, a first step to aid their protection. Researchers tested the system in Southern Finland near University of Helsinki's Lammi Biological Station, using wild nests with eggs of the Lapwing Vanellus vanellus.
Prince William and his younger brother Prince Harry are reconnecting after the "Megxit" bombshell that rocked Kensington Palace -- but the royal brothers may have one new obstacle to tackle. "The biggest problem now is security and not just outside security but within the boundaries of calls, Zooms and Skypes," U.K.-based royal correspondent Neil Sean told Fox News. "You have to think that while Harry and Meghan were here in the U.K. there were security measures in place to make sure that private chats over Zoom and so forth remained that -- private," a palace insider told Sean. "Harry is [now] living in [a new house] and exposed to all kinds of mishaps security-wise." The palace insider alleged conversations between William and Harry have been formal out of caution that private chats could be leaked to the press.
Scientists have recorded the first documented evidence of a great white shark attacking and killing an enormous humpback whale. Video taken from a drone off the coast of South Africa shows the 13-foot long shark hunting the whale which was around 33ft long and in ill health. Ryan Johnson, a marine biologist who observed the massacre, says the ordeal lasted about 50 minutes before the whale eventually died. Mr Johnson says the great white was very strategic in taking down the behemoth, and targeted its most vulnerable area, on the tail, before drowning the ailing whale. The great white is believed to be a shark called Helen which was named and tagged as part of a 2013 study by Mr Johnson.
Skydio, a startup that makes autonomous drones that fly themselves with little human intervention, is entering the commercial drone market with its new X2 model. The X2 is Skydio's first non-consumer device and it's marketed toward government agencies, the military, and other organizations that require aerial surveillance or surveying, with its own built-in infrared thermal camera. The X2 announcement coincides with Skydio's new round of $100 million in funding, led by German multinational company Siemens' Next47 firm. Skydio first entered the market a little more than two years ago with the Skydio R1. The R1 was an autonomous drone that sported impressive artificial intelligence-powered obstacle avoidance and other sensors and software features that let it seamlessly fly itself through complex outdoor environments like wooded trails while following subjects.
Helping people to help the environment is the core mission at Eden Reforestation Projects, a non-profit that began its work in Ethiopia in 2004, according to the organisation's director of forest monitoring and evaluation Ezra Neale. "A lot of trees are being cut down without any alternatives and local communities are turning towards the land … [and] it creates this endless poverty cycle for the environment and communities; it's all interlinked," he said. "But there's this amazing ability to transform it through planting trees by directly employing and training people to plant trees, totally transforming their lives through a steady income … reinvesting in their community." These days the Los Angeles-based organisation has expanded operations to eight different countries -- Madagascar, Mozambique, Nepal, Haiti, Indonesia, Kenya, and Central America -- and has planted more than 330 million trees. This year alone, the company aims to plant over 120 million trees.
Facebook's experiments in internet connectivity haven't always gone well. But its latest innovation seems genuinely cool. Facebook Connectivity announced Monday that it has developed a robot that can travel along power lines deploying a thin yet durable fiber-optic cable of Facebook's own creation. It claims that this system, which utilizes the electrical grid to build out internet infrastructure, will be cheaper than the existing methods of laying internet cables, particularly in developing countries. That contributes to Facebook Connectivity's overall goal of increasing internet access.
These being pandemic times, a recent visit to the Silicon Valley offices of drone startup Skydio involved slipping past dumpsters into the deserted yard behind the company's loading dock. Moments later, a black quadcopter eased out of the large open door sounding like a large and determined wasp. Skydio is best known for its "selfie drones," which use onboard artificial intelligence to automatically follow and film a person, whether they're running through a forest or backcountry skiing. The most recent model, released last fall, costs $999. The larger and more severe-looking machine that greeted WIRED has similar autonomous flying skills but aims to expand the startup's technology beyond selfies into business and government work, including the military.
Brisbane-based drone company Emesent has launched what it has dubbed as the "first plug-and-play payload" that enables industrial drones to fly beyond communications range and into unmapped areas. Built on Emesent's Hovermap simultaneous localisation and mapping (SLAM) autonomous flight system, the autonomy level 2 (AL2) technology was designed to enable companies to map, navigate, and collect data in challenging environments, such as mines, civil construction works, telecommunications infrastructure, and areas hit by natural disasters. "With the intelligence to navigate environments without a prior map, customers can use the system to carry out complex missions, secure the safety of personnel, and drive greater efficiency in their operations," Emesent co-founder and CEO Stefan Hrabar said. Emesent added that using AL2 would mean the drone processes data on-board in real-time to stream a 3D map of the environment back to the operator's tablet. It also touted that the ability for a drone to fly beyond line of sight allows workers to avoid hazardous environments while also enhancing visibility.
The United Nations's special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary killings presented a new report to the Human Rights Council in Geneva. Agnes Callamard's investigation focused on the legality of armed drones including one that killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani near Baghdad's airport on January 3. It concluded the United States acted unlawfully in carrying out the attack. The US, meanwhile, denounced her findings. Callamard spoke to Al Jazeera about her probe and the future of drone warfare.
In a move that caused a ripple effect across the Middle East, Iranian General Qassem Soleimani was killed in a US drone strike near Baghdad's international airport on January 3. On that day, the Pentagon announced the attack was carried out "at the direction of the president". In a new report examining the legality of armed drones and the Soleimani killing in particular, Agnes Callamard, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial and arbitrary killings, said the US raid that killed Soleimani was "unlawful". Callamard presented her report at the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday. The United States, which is not a member after quitting the council in 2018, rejected the report saying it gave "a pass to terrorists". In Callamard's view, the consequences of targeted killings by armed drones have been neglected by states.