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Boeing's Skunk Works Cargo Drone Is a Heavy Lifter

WIRED

Most likely, your expectations for the age of drone delivery involve cute li'l quadcopters that descend onto your porch with a gentle bzzzz, deposit a box of diapers or a pizza or whatever else you just ordered online, before zooming back to base, ready to deliver the next whim. That's the vision pitched by the likes of Amazon, UPS, and DHL, and it's an appealing one. Boeing has a different idea for delivery drones, one that's bigger by an order of magnitude. Last week, the aerospace giant revealed a prototype for an electric, unmanned cargo air vehicle that it says could haul as much as 500 pounds--that's 400 large Domino's pizzas or 11,291 newborn-sized diapers--as far as 20 miles. But this big buzzer isn't going to your house.


Boeing unveils huge autonomous cargo drone

Daily Mail

A huge autonomous drone that can carry the weight of two baby elephants has been unveiled by Boeing. The heavy-duty quadrocopter can transport payloads up to quarter-of-a-ton, and Boeing says it may use the drone to shift heavy cargo in future. After designing and building the craft in just three months, Boeing says it has already put the vehicle through flight tests at one of its research centres. A huge autonomous drone that can carry the weight of two baby elephants has been unveiled by Boeing. Powered by an electric propulsion system, Boeing's CAV prototype has eight helicopter-like rotors, allowing for vertical take-off and landing.


Video Friday: Drone Fireworks, Cozmo Rap, and Justin Timberlake

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your Automaton bloggers. We'll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months; here's what we have so far (send us your events!): Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today's videos. You won't want to miss the 2028 Pan-Asian Deep Learning Conference in Kuala Lumpur: Call me a hater if you want, but at least for now, pretty sure that's fake. What's funny, though, is that those first five demos are straight out of the standardized humanoid robot demo handbook (which doesn't exist).


This Autonomous Quadrotor Swarm Doesn't Need GPS

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

The vast majority of the fancy autonomous flying we've seen from quadrotors has relied on some kind of external localization for position information. Usually it's a motion capture system, sometimes it's GPS, but either way, there's a little bit of cheating involved. This is not to say that we mind cheating, but the problem with cheating is that sometimes you can't cheat, and if you want your quadrotors to do tricks where you don't have access to GPS or the necessary motion capture hardware and software, you're out of luck. Researchers are working hard towards independent autonomy for flying robots, and we've seen some impressive examples of drones that can follow paths and avoid obstacles using only onboard sensing and computing. The University of Pennsylvania has been doing some particularly amazing development in this area, and they've managed to teach a swarm of of a dozen 250g quadrotors to fly in close formation, even though each one is using just one small camera and a simple IMU.


Amazon could be developing a drone that will SELF-DESTRUCT

Daily Mail

Amazon could be developing drones that disintegrate mid-air if they get into difficulty to protect people on the ground. The idea is outlined in a patent that describes how a malfunctioning drone could rip itself apart automatically during a delivery. Conditions that could cause the drone to resort to such drastic Mission Impossible-style measures include extreme heat, cold, wind, rain or high pressure systems. First filed back in June 2016, the patent has a release system that includes'attachment mechanisms, such as clips, latches, hooks'. The idea is outlined in a patent that describes how a malfunctioning drone could rip itself apart automatically halfway through its delivery.


How the Pentagon is preparing for the coming drone wars

Washington Post

More than a decade after the improvised explosive device became the scourge of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Pentagon is battling another relatively rudimentary device that threatens to wreak havoc on American troops: the drone. Largely a preoccupation of hobbyists and experimenting companies, the vehicles are beginning to become a menace on the battlefield, where their benign commercial capabilities have been transformed into lethal weapons and intelligence tools. Instead of delivering packages, some have been configured to drop explosives. Instead of inspecting telecommunications towers, others train their cameras to monitor troops and pick targets. Instead of spraying crops, they could spread toxic gas, commanders worry.


How Mercedes Is Preparing For The 4th Industrial Revolution: Big Data, Machine Learning And Drones

@machinelearnbot

In an era of great uncertainty and disruption for automotive manufacturers, Mercedes and its parent company Daimler are jumping in full throttle as leaders of the 4th Industrial Revolution. Not only are they designing new vehicles, but their services, influence in the transportation industry and factories are transforming to embrace the new opportunities and demands of their customers. Other companies should follow their lead to thrive in the new industrial revolution. What is the 4th Industrial Revolution? Often referred to as industry 4.0, the 4th Industrial Revolution is the shift to smart factories that use a combination of cyber-physical systems, the Internet of Things and the Internet of Systems to connect the entire production chain and make decisions on its own.


Video Friday: Rocket RoboBee, Willow Garage, and Caltech's Cassie

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your Automaton bloggers. We'll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next two months; here's what we have so far (send us your events!): Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today's videos. A new RoboBee from Harvard can swim underwater, and then launch itself into the air with a microrocket and fly away. At the millimeter scale, the water's surface might as well be a brick wall.


From Energy To Telecom: 30 Big Industries Drones Could Disrupt

#artificialintelligence

Military operations and photography aren't the only areas benefitting from drone technology. Energy, insurance, telecommunications, and many other industries could also have drones in their future. Drone technology has been used by defense organizations and tech-savvy consumers for quite some time. However, the benefits of this technology extends well beyond just these sectors. With the rising accessibility of drones, many of the most dangerous and high-paying jobs within the commercial sector are ripe for displacement by drone technology.


Amazon patents drone that can land on car to recharge it

Daily Mail

Are you considering buying an electric car, but have concerns about how you'll charge it while on the go? A new patent granted to Amazon might have the answer to this problem. The patent details a drone that can dock into electronic vehicles while they're moving to charge them. Pictured is an illustration from the patent file, showing an example of the drone docking system. The system would work by deploying a drone to connect to the docking mechanism, thereby allowing it to charge the vehicle while it's moving or stationary A new patent granted to Amazon details a system that would allow a drone to dock into electronic vehicles while they're moving in order to charge them.