NASA drone race pits humans against an AI pilot

Daily Mail

NASA has pitted a professional drone racer against its AI. The space agency took on pilot Ken Loo on a specially designed course using three purpose built drones named Batman, Joker and Nightwing. While the human prevailed, NASA found its craft, which were funded by Google, were far more consistent - and didn't suffer from tiredness. The space agency took on pilot Ken Loo on a specially designed course using three purpose built drones named Batman, Joker and Nightwing in a project funded by Google. Loo averaged 11.1 seconds, compared to the drones 13.9 seconds The team built three custom drones (dubbed Batman, Joker and Nightwing) and developed the complex algorithms the drones needed to fly at high speeds while avoiding obstacles.

Tech-savvy Chinese farmers use drones to spray pesticide

Daily Mail

Farmers in China have caught up with the country's booming drone trend and started using unmanned aircraft to spray pesticide onto the fields. Not only that, a team of villagers in central China recently bought 30 of these bug-zapping vehicles in hope of turning it into a new business. Zhu Xiwang and his neighbours said they hoped their squad of agri-drones to could help them start a pest-killing service, according to Huanqiu.com, an affiliation to People's Daily Online. This £24.8K flat pack folding home takes just SIX HOURS to build Pictures show the 30 drones lining up on a field, ready to take off. The unmanned aircraft, known by its model name MG-1S, is produced by Shenzhen-based Da Jiang Innovation, one of the largest drone manufacturers in China.

NASA Finds AI-Powered Drones May Be Safer Than Human-Flown Ones

International Business Times

Drones controlled by humans may soon give in to ones flown completely using artificial intelligence, a new experiment by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has demonstrated. In the demonstration, NASA researchers pitted a human-controlled drone against one controlled by AI. The findings were published on NASA's website and a video of the race was uploaded on its YouTube website Tuesday. "We pitted our algorithms against a human, who flies a lot more by feel. You can actually see that the A.I. flies the drone smoothly around the course, whereas human pilots tend to accelerate aggressively, so their path is jerkier," Rob Reid, the project's task manager, said in a press release.

Turn off your mind, relax, and float down a red hot stream of lava from a Hawaiian volcano


Some people listen to rain sounds to relax, others watch rivers of red hot lava flowing from an active Hawaiian shield volcano. Like Erez Marom, who used a drone to capture mesmerising footage of lava streaming through the Puʻu ʻŌʻō crater of Kīlauea, Hawai'i. It's one of the world's most active volcanoes, and has been spewing lava in its latest eruption since September. Marom shot the footage during a two-week trip to Hawaii, in which he and a friend hiked to the edge of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. The lava melted the plastic inside the drone camera, but not before he'd nailed some impressive shots.

No, digital picture frames are not dead -- in fact, this one is insanely cool


I'm about to tell you about a product that's much cooler than I ever expected. Here's how it all started. A few months ago, I got a call from a Discovery Series supporter at Wellbots, with whom I've been working for awhile. Wellbots is the company who has kindly been supplying me with drones for my new Drone and Robotics Discovery Series. Anyway, he calls me and tells me he's got this digital picture frame he thinks I might like.

Tech turkeys of 2017: Spectacles beats Bixby and Juicero on list of biggest misses


Jefferson Graham runs down his choices for the top 10 tech turkeys of 2017. Is there a Snapchat Spectacles on your list? LOS ANGELES -- Looking back at 2017's tech bombs, none was a bigger turkey with consumers than Spectacles, from Snapchat parent Snap, Inc. The cute $129 video sunglasses were initially hard to get--until Snap put them on sale nationally in February. Then consumers turned fickle on the company, leaving a backlog of thousands of unsold glasses and a $40 million write-down from Snap.

Drones Distribute Swarms of Sterile Mosquitoes to Stop Zika and Other Diseases

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

The deadliest animal on Earth, by far, is the mosquito. Millions of people die annually from mosquito-borne illnesses, and many of those diseases can't be cured with drugs. It's best to avoid being bitten in the first place, but this is becoming more difficult as the insects expand their range, migrating north with warming climates. For decades, government agencies and nonprofit organizations have tried to prevent the spread of mosquito-borne diseases in developing countries by spraying large areas with insecticides. But that process is expensive, especially as mosquitoes develop resistance to commonly used chemicals.

DJI Mavic Pro: First impressions from a drone novice


Welcome to the first article in our new Drone and Robotics Discovery Series, here on ZDNet. Like our 3D Printing Discovery Series, this set of articles and videos will be all about hands-on testing, tinkering, and exploring. As with the 3D printing series, I'm coming at this unencumbered by the curse of knowledge. I'm new to drones, so we'll be learning and exploring them together. We're kicking off this series with the DJI Mavic Pro.

The future of work: Technology, jobs and augmented intelligence


Work as we know it is in a state of flux. Technology is imposing rapid change, and the rise in automation capabilities and artificial intelligence are the chief catalysts. As Salesforce's Futurist, I spend a lot of time forward-thinking and analysing trend data, and have shared my thoughts on what this technological change means for the future of work and how to navigate it. There's a lot of angst in the world right now that the rise of smart technologies are going to disemploy vast numbers of people. I appreciate why there's anxiety, but if we look at history as a predictor of the future, this simplistic idea that'technology steals jobs' is unfounded.

Watch: This flying drone folds its wings and dives into the sea, then relaunches itself


I'm a sucker for bio-inspired engineered. This air-and-sea drone, called the Aquatic Micro Air Vehicle, or AquaMAV, had my number from the first splash. The drone can fly up to 25mph and cover a distance of more than six miles on a charge. After it dives, it can collect water samples and then relaunch itself out of the water using a powerful gas jet. Developed by Mirko Kovac, PhD, who directs the Aerial Robotics Lab at Imperial College London, the device is one of a growing number of multi-domain robots that can traverse disparate environments.