Who will deliver our packages in the future -- drones, or self-driving robots? Amazon has an entire division devoted to developing drones that can carry them over the air to our doorsteps, but it also recently filed a patent on a ground-based, driverless-delivery vehicle. In so doing it joins a handful of startups and companies who are working on similarly small, self driving robots that will carry goods via the sidewalk. They're much slower than drones and they get in the way of pedestrians, but developers at thyssenkrupp Elevator think the wheeled couriers will catch on quicker than drones. Torsten Scholl, who invented the TeleRetail robot with thyssenkrupp and displayed it at the Washington Auto Show last week, says he recently took the gadget to a small village in the Swiss mountains, hoping to film it in action with a drone. Soon after he sent the drones up in the air, passers-by in the village approached him to complain, saying they "didn't want drones around here," and that the devices weren't allowed.
One day after an American drone strike killed a leader of the militant Haqqani network in northwestern Pakistan, United States officials on Thursday rejected a claim by Pakistan that the strike had targeted an Afghan refugee camp. There were also conflicting accounts of the location of the drone strike and the number of people killed. A statement by Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday condemned the strike and maintained that it had "targeted an Afghan refugee camp in Kurram Agency" -- an assertion that the United States rejected on Thursday. "The claim in an M.F.A. statement yesterday that U.S. forces struck an Afghan refugee camp in Kurram Agency yesterday is false," said Richard W. Snelsire, the United States Embassy spokesman in Islamabad, Pakistan's capital. American officials said that there were no Afghan refugee camps in Kurram, a remote tribal region straddling the border with Afghanistan, where they said Wednesday's drone strike had taken place.
Drone-maker DJI announced a new hobby aircraft today, one that weighs just a shade under a pound, fits in a jacket pocket, and is capable of flying itself. At that price, it hovers in DJI's lineup between the $499 DJI Spark, the gesture-controlled flyer released last year, and the more capable $999 Mavic Pro. The Mavic Air is tiny, half the size of a Mavic Pro, and about half the weight at just 15 ounces. When folded up, it's about the size of a paperback novel. At a press event in New York on Tuesday, DJI exec Michael Perry announced the Mavic Air by pulling it out of the pocket of his puffy Patagonia vest.
Fri 19 Jan 2018 09.09 EST Last modified on Sat 20 Jan 2018 01.44 EST Russia responded on 5 January to an attack by a swarm of drones targeting a Russian airbase in north-western Syria and a naval station on the Mediterranean Sea. The multi-drone attack, which is suspected to have been launched by militants, is the first of its kind, representing a new threat from terrorist groups. The use of a swarm attack demonstrates a militant capability, which was previously limited to states, to simultaneously control and coordinate several commercial drones at one time using a GPS unit. This development may send viewers of the science-fiction series Black Mirror into hiding, but it should prompt professional militaries to double down on countermeasures, specifically the creation of electronic jamming tech. Swashbuckling drones operated by rebels and militants have been shoring up the frontlines of conflict internationally, in some cases braving the choppy waters off the coast of Yemen, and in others crowding the skies over Syria and Iraq.
A pilot has flown a drone into a crane, according to an air-accident report. The pilot had planned the drone flight in Kent with four reference points, all at 400ft above ground level - higher than three existing cranes on the site. But another crane was erected after his site safety visit, and on take-off the drone crashed into the jib of the new structure, damaging the unmanned craft. The crash, in June last year, is listed in the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) update this month. The incident report was picked up by The Register.
Russia on Wednesday identified the village from which a swarm of drones attacked its main military base in Syria and released photographs of the crudely constructed aircraft that were used. The revelations only somewhat cleared up the mystery surrounding what amounts to the biggest concerted attack on Russia's main military base of Hmeimim since the Russian military intervention in Syria began in 2015. Russia said it held Turkey accountable for the drone attack, calling it a breach of their cease-fire agreement in northern Syria, while Turkey accused Russia and Iran of jeopardizing the entire peace process by launching an offensive to take control of an opposition-held air base in the area. The Russian Defense Ministry named the opposition-controlled village of Muwazarra in southern Idlib province as the location from which a swarm of at least a dozen drones armed with crude explosives was launched Saturday, attacking the Hmeimim air base and the nearby naval base of Tartus in northwestern Syria. Under the cease-fire deal, Turkey is supposed to restrain opposition forces in Idlib province.
Maybe you've read the statistics on how many drones are filling our skies: The FAA anticipates 7 million by 2020. Perhaps you've heard about how drones are revolutionizing commercial operations. It's possible you know someone who has a drone of their own, or seen a quadcopter hovering over your local park. The reality is there's no shortage of drones filling our homes, stores, skies, and seas. It should come as no surprise that the technology is steadily making its way into our media.
The Justice Department will soon start trying to jam cellphones smuggled into federal prisons and used for criminal activity, part of a broader safety initiative that is also focused on preventing drones from airdropping contraband to inmates. Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein told the American Correctional Association's conference in Orlando on Monday that, while the law prohibits cellphone use by federal inmates, the Bureau of Prisons confiscated 5,116 such phones in 2016, and preliminary numbers for 2017 indicate a 28 percent increase. "That is a major safety issue," he said in his speech. "Cellphones are used to run criminal enterprises, facilitate the commission of violent crimes and thwart law enforcement." When he was the U.S. attorney in Maryland, Rosenstein prosecuted an inmate who used a smuggled cellphone to order the murder of a witness.
While companies like Amazon pour considerable resources into finding ways of using drones to deliver such things as shoes and dog treats, Zipline has been saving lives in Rwanda since October 2016 with drones that deliver blood. Zipline's autonomous fixed-wing drones now form an integral part of Rwanda's medical-supply infrastructure, transporting blood products from a central distribution center to hospitals across the country. And in 2018, Zipline's East African operations will expand to include Tanzania, a much larger country. Delivering critical medical supplies in this region typically involves someone spending hours (or even days) driving a cooler full of life-saving medicine or blood along windy dirt roads. Such deliveries can become dangerous or even impossible to make if roads and bridges get washed out.