The new commute: How driverless cars, hyperloop, and drones will change our travel plans


Articles about technology and the future of transportation rarely used to get far without mentioning jetpacks: a staple of science fiction from the 1920s onwards, the jetpack became a reality in the 1960s in the shape of devices such as the Bell Rocket Belt. But despite many similar efforts, the skies over our cities remain stubbornly free of jetpack-toting commuters. For a novel form of transport to make a material difference to our lives, several key requirements must be satisfied. Obviously the new technology must work safely, and operate within an appropriate regulatory framework. But public acceptance and solid business models are also vital if a new idea is to move from R&D lab to testbed to early adoption, and eventually into mainstream usage.

Scandinavia gets its first autonomous public buses, but there's a big catch


Video: Norway's 5G pilot will have driverless buses, drones, and real-time medical diagnoses. Mass-transit company Kolumbus in Stavanger, southwestern Norway, has just won the right to run an autonomous bus service on some of the city's public roads. The license is the first granted in Scandinavia, according to the company. However, the Norwegian ministry of transport and communications-issued license comes with restrictions because current Norwegian legislation doesn't allow for completely driverless vehicles on public roads. As a result, a Kolumbus employee must always be present on the bus, to manually override the autonomous controls with a brake button if a dangerous situation occurs.

How Drones Will Impact Society: From Fighting War to Forecasting Weather, UAVs Change Everything


UAVs are tackling everything from disease control to vacuuming up ocean waste to delivering pizza, and more. 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. The use cases for safe, cost-effective solutions range from data collection to delivery. And as autonomy and collision-avoidance technologies improve, so too will drones' ability to perform increasingly complex tasks. According to forecasts, the emerging global market for business services using drones is valued at over $127B. As more companies look to capitalize on these commercial opportunities, investment into the drone space continues to grow. A drone or a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) typically refers to a pilotless aircraft that operates through a combination of technologies, including computer vision, artificial intelligence, object avoidance tech, and others. But drones can also be ground or sea vehicles that operate autonomously.

Researchers develop virtual-reality testing ground for drones

MIT News

Training drones to fly fast, around even the simplest obstacles, is a crash-prone exercise that can have engineers repairing or replacing vehicles with frustrating regularity. Now MIT engineers have developed a new virtual-reality training system for drones that enables a vehicle to "see" a rich, virtual environment while flying in an empty physical space. The system, which the team has dubbed "Flight Goggles," could significantly reduce the number of crashes that drones experience in actual training sessions. It can also serve as a virtual testbed for any number of environments and conditions in which researchers might want to train fast-flying drones. "We think this is a game-changer in the development of drone technology, for drones that go fast," says Sertac Karaman, associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT. "If anything, the system can make autonomous vehicles more responsive, faster, and more efficient."

Uber's Flying Car Plan Meets a Regulator It Can't Ignore: The FAA


The federal government is finally embracing drones. This week, the FAA endorsed 10 pilot projects that will see UAVs delivering medicine, inspecting infrastructure, monitor the border, and more. "This tech is developing so rapidly that our country is reaching a tipping point," said Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, when announcing the trials. Depending on the results, the little buzzers could become even more common than the mosquitos some of them are being programmed to help eradicate. So it's natural for drone operators to start thinking ahead to the next big leap: carrying people.

3-word addresses: An addressing system built for voice


By dividing the world into 3m x 3m squares, each with a unique 3-word address, what3words enables the most precise reference to any location around the globe. In contrast to GPS coordinates, 3-word addresses are easy to remember and, more importantly, they are designed for explicit and error-free voice input in more than 20 languages. Currently used by various businesses, governments, and individuals, this technology is now integrating with the automotive navigation system included in the all-new Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX), featured in the new A-Class. At our Nuance Auto Forums in Detroit and Europe, attendees had the opportunity to experience the 3-word address system and to hear the what3word story and vision presented by Gigi Etienne, what3words Partnerships Manager, and Ashley Cashion, Head of Automotive and Mobility at what3words, personally. For those who could not attend, I had the good fortune to talk to these innovators about what3words and their vision on voice input in vehicles.

Drones as first responders


During his presentation, Dr. Lupashin of ETH Zurich attached a dog leash to an aerial drone while declaring to the audience, "there has to be another way" of flying robots safely around people. Lupashin's creativity eventually led to the invention of Fotokite and one of the most successful Indiegogo campaigns. Since Lupashin's demo, there are now close to a hundred providers of drones on leashes from innovative startups to aftermarket solutions in order to restrain unmanned flying vehicles. Probably the best known enterprise solution is CyPhy Works which has raised more than $30 million. Last August, during President Trump's visit to his Golf Course in New Jersey, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) deployed CyPhy's tethered drones to patrol the permitter.

Why the Future of Drone Industry Depends on Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain


Advances in deep technology, machine learning and automation are ushering a new era of digital workers. In the near future, drones, artificial intelligence and driverless cars will seamlessly coordinate and transport goods and people across the globe at rather smaller cost. In fact, drones in particular have caught the interest of several bodies and policymakers across the globe. Countries across the world are exploring the possibilities of drones and their extent of usage in different scenarios. From delivering online grocery orders at the doorstep, to providing emergency medical supplies to remote areas, or facilitating unmanned surveillance in dangerous warzones, there are many more ways in which Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or drones are changing the commerce landscape as well as our lives.

This swarm of robot submersibles can be controlled as a single entity


Aquabotix, which makes unmanned underwater vehicles, is commercializing swarm robots. The company's latest offering is a small vessel that operates on the surface or underwater. Paired with additional units, the robots can be controlled in a swarm by a single operator as if they were an individual entity. Swarm robotics has long been a promising field of research in robotics labs. That's because swarms offer a number of potential advantages over individual robots.

Raytheon's New Radar Could Help Bring Flying Cars to Our Cities


Like many cliches, "flying under the radar" has a literal, real-world history. As the new object-detection technology proliferated in the years after World War II, military pilots knew it had trouble seeing things at low altitudes, where buildings and hills severely limit its range. And so pilots would hug the terrain, flying beneath the radio waves that would detect their presence. For the most part, that low-level limitation has been tolerable (unless, of course, you were the target of the aerial attack in question), and hasn't slowed the growth or hurt the safety record of the airline industry that came to rely on the systems for safe passage through crowded airspace. But aviation is bracing for a variety of twists and turns that will change what flies where--and how we look at it.