Drone racing is an increasingly popular sport with big money prizes for skilled professionals. New control algorithms developed at the University of Zurich (UZH) have beaten experienced human pilots for the first time – but they still have significant limitations. In the past, attempts to develop automated algorithms to beat humans have run into problems with accurately simulating the limitations of the quadcopter and the flight path it takes. Traditional flight paths around a complex drone racing course are calculated using polynomial methods which produce a series of smooth curves, and these are not necessarily as fast as the sharper and more jagged paths flown by human pilots. A team from the Robotics and Perception Group at UZH has developed a trajectory planning algorithm to calculates the optimal route at every point in the flight, rather than doing it section by section.
Due to the recent adaptive quarantine measures imposed in virtually all parts of the world, air travel, public transportation, and many other sectors took a really big hit in 2020. However, the automotive world and autonomous vehicles, in particular, have shown increased resilience during this difficult time. In fact, companies like Ford have increased their investments in the development of electric and self-driving cars by allocating $29 billion dollars in the fourth quarter of last year. Specifically, $7 billion of that money will go towards the development of self-driving cars. So Ford is joining General Motors, Tesla, Baidu, and other automakers in heavily investing in autonomous vehicles.
There may not have been any fans in the Olympic Stadium, but Japan still found a way to put on a show for the opening of the 2020 Summer Games. The host country charmed early with the parade of nations, which featured an orchestrated video game soundtrack, and then showed off the type of creativity it's known for with a performance involving the Olympic pictograms. But Tokyo saved the biggest spectacle for last. Towards the end of the ceremony, a fleet of 1,824 drones took to the skies above the Olympic Stadium. Initially arrayed in the symbol of the 2020 Games, they then took on the shape of the Earth before a rendition of John Lenon's "Imagine," which was reworked by Hans Zimmer for the Olympics, played across the stadium.
The pace at which technology is continuously evolving is unprecedented. Each and every day seemingly brings with it some new and exciting thing to be excited about in the world of tech. Fresh off a year that saw the world retreat indoors in an effort to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, much of society grew more reliant and more accepting of technology as a whole. Technology played a big role in various aspects of everyday life such as communication, data transfer, analysis, and even entertainment. More than that, in the age of digital information, a smart device is being placed in the hands of someone new every single day.
The researchers developed a method to model different levels of driver cooperativeness how likely a driver was to pull over to let the other driver pass and used those models to train an algorithm that could assist an autonomous vehicle to safely and efficiently navigate this situation. An algorithm developed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) could enable autonomous vehicles to navigate crowded, narrow streets where vehicles traveling in opposite directions do not have enough space to pass each other and there is no knowledge about what the other driver may do. Such a scenario requires collaboration among drivers, who must balance aggression with cooperation. The researchers modeled different levels of cooperation between drivers and used them to train the algorithm. In simulations, the algorithm was found to outperform current models; it has not yet been tested on real-world vehicles.
Industrial drones are nothing new, but the growth curve and pace of adoption is pretty astounding. The adoption of industrial drone programs by industry is expected to increase at a 66.8% compound annual growth rate over the next year. The best aerial hardware and technology stacks for keeping an eye on operations, individuals, and valued assets from above. Industrial drones are being used in major industries like insurance, mining and aggregates, using cutting-edge technologies (AI, machine learning, and deep data analytics, to name a few) to drastically reduce the time workers spend gathering and analyzing data while increasing accuracy and positively impacting the bottom line. All of these working together result in a growing field impacting industrial work and forever changing how these industries operate on a daily basis globally: smart inspections.
Zala Aero, a Russian UAV manufacturer, presented its state-of-the-art vertical takeoff and landing drone – the ZALA VTOL – at the MAKS 2021 International Aviation and Space Salon, the company told reporters during the air show. "The ZALA VTOL combines the properties of an airplane type drone and a tilt-rotor aircraft. The flight configuration changes depending on the assigned mission. The electric propulsion system enables the aircraft to be in the air for up to 4 hours, providing a range of up to 200 km in aircraft configuration," the company said. The built-in on-board computer ZX1 based on artificial intelligence makes it possible to process Full HD format data and transmit HD videos and photos over encrypted communication links to a ground control station.
My wife and I were recently driving in Virginia, amazed yet again that the GPS technology on our phones could guide us through a thicket of highways, around road accidents, and toward our precise destination. The artificial intelligence (AI) behind the soothing voice telling us where to turn has replaced passenger-seat navigators, maps, even traffic updates on the radio. How on earth did we survive before this technology arrived in our lives? We survived, of course, but were quite literally lost some of the time. My reverie was interrupted by a toll booth. It was empty, as were all the other booths at this particular toll plaza.
In the past week, Tesla's Full Self-Driving beta program went from about 2,000 select drivers testing it to almost any Tesla owner in the U.S. willing to cough up at least $200. U.S. drivers make up at least half of the more than 1.4 million Teslas worldwide, so there's a lot more opportunity to encounter someone with the hands-free, not-quite-autonomous driving mode engaged. Other drivers likely won't know when a nearby Tesla has FSD is turned on, but if they see one struggling on busy city roads, that might give fellow motorists and pedestrians a clue. The electric car company released last week a monthly $199 subscription option for open access to the feature that auto-steers, -accelerates, and -brakes, all while the driver looks at the road ahead, hands on lap, ready to take over. During the FSD beta period, which launched in October, only a carefully selected group of early adopters had access to the feature.
Will self-driving cars be snitches? Are you familiar with the expression that someone is a fink or a no-good dirty rat? Perhaps you might be more acquainted with other ways that this is commonly depicted such as those that are characterized as a weasel, a snitch, or a stoolie. Let's add to the matter a vexing ethical question, namely whether someone can be considered a stool pigeon or a squealer even if they are reporting on something that was an illegal or unlawful act? You would normally be tempted to assert that reporting a prohibited act is entirely appropriate and the tipster or whistleblower ought to be rewarded rather than ostracized as a tattler or snitch. Okay, consider a real-world example and see how you do. You are driving along on your daily journey to the office. There is a stop sign at an upcoming intersection.