Drones: AI-Alerts


World calls for international treaty to stop killer robots before rogue states acquire them

The Independent

There is widespread public support for a ban on so-called "killer robots", which campaigners say would "cross a moral line" after which it would be difficult to return. Polling across 26 countries found over 60 per cent of the thousands asked opposed lethal autonomous weapons that can kill with no human input, and only around a fifth backed them. The figures showed public support was growing for a treaty to regulate these controversial new technologies - a treaty which is already being pushed by campaigners, scientists and many world leaders. However, a meeting in Geneva at the close of last year ended in a stalemate after nations including the US and Russia indicated they would not support the creation of such a global agreement. Mary Wareham of Human Rights Watch, who coordinates the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, compared the movement to successful efforts to eradicate landmines from battlefields.


Drones Help Rid Galapagos Island of Invasive Rats

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

The Galapagos Islands are famous for their exotic wildlife, which in most cases is not nearly as afraid of humans as it should be. Humans have done some seriously horrible things to the animals living there, like packing thousands of giant tortoises upside down on ships because they would stay alive without food or water for months and could then be eaten. People traveling to and living in the Galapagos have caused other serious problems to the fragile ecosystem: In addition to devastating oil spills, humans have introduced numerous invasive species to the islands. In particular, goats, which were brought on purpose, and rats, which were brought accidentally, have been catastrophic for endemic animal populations. For decades, the Galapagos National Park Directorate (DPNG) has been working to remove invasive species island by island, including tens of thousands of feral goats, pigs, and donkeys.


Technologizing Agriculture

Communications of the ACM

Agricultural businesses usually have a massive number of trackable assets (plants, livestock, and machinery), often operate in wide geographic areas in which these assets are located, and are subject to operational factors often beyond their control, such as the amount of sunlight or rainfall they receive, or temperature fluctuations. As such, agriculture is ripe for the adoption of new technologies to help monitor and manage assets on a granular level, and everything from Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, robots, and drones are being used by farms around the globe. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture notes that the farms of today are avid users of agriculture technologies such as robots, temperature and moisture sensors, aerial imaging, and GPS technology, which are more precise and efficient than humans alone, and allow for safer, more efficient, and more profitable operations. One example of how technology enables new farming techniques is the use of robotic harvesting on indoor farms, which today account for a tiny fraction of the 900 million acres of traditional farmland in the U.S. However, these indoor farms are well suited to the growth of vegetables such as tomatoes, lettuce, and other leafy greens, are highly sustainable, generally feature an average yield per acre more than 10 times higher than that of outdoor farms, and represent a continuation of the agricultural sector's trend toward incorporating precision agriculture techniques to improve yields and become more sustainable.


Super Bowl: experiment radar aims to stop drone drama at game

The Guardian

A Bill Gates-funded startup is seeking permission to test a new kind of drone detector at Sunday's Super Bowl game between the Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots in Atlanta, Georgia. Echodyne, a Seattle-based company, filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Sunday to operate two experimental radars "in the immediate vicinity" of Mercedes-Benz Stadium to "alert security personnel, including Federal officers, of any unidentified drone activity during Super Bowl LIII". The drone tests would be conducted under the guidance and direction of the FBI. Atlanta police have said there will be a zero tolerance policy for drones near the Super Bowl stadium, with hundreds of local, state and federal law enforcement officers watching for illegal flights. Reports of rogue drones grounded flights at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey last week, and forced the closure of Gatwick, Britain's second-busiest airport, for several days in December.


Regulators To Ease Restrictions On Drones, Clearing The Way For More Commercial Uses

NPR

Federal regulators have announced plans to allow drone operators to fly their unmanned aerial vehicles over populated areas and at night. A Wing Hummingbird drone from Project Wing arrives and sets down its package at a delivery location in Blacksburg, Va., last year. Federal regulators have announced plans to allow drone operators to fly their unmanned aerial vehicles over populated areas and at night. A Wing Hummingbird drone from Project Wing arrives and sets down its package at a delivery location in Blacksburg, Va., last year. Package delivery by drone is one small step closer to reality today.


Airport drone disruption: All major UK airports to have 'military-grade' protection

BBC News

All major UK airports now have or will soon have military grade anti-drone equipment, the government says. It comes after the military were called in to help when drone sightings caused delays for around an hour at Heathrow on Tuesday. And drone sightings at Gatwick caused major disruption affecting 140,000 passengers before Christmas. Earlier, the defence secretary said it would "not be right" to ask the RAF to respond to similar incidents in future. Gavin Williamson said all commercial airports needed to invest in anti-drone technology.


Police handed new anti-drone powers after Gatwick disruption

The Guardian

Police will be handed extra powers to combat drones after the mass disruption at Gatwick airport in the run-up to Christmas. Gatwick was repeatedly forced to close between 19 and 21 December due to reported drone sightings, affecting about 1,000 flights. In response the government has announced a package of measures which include plans to give police the power to land, seize and search drones. The Home Office will also begin to test and evaluate the use of counter-drone technology at airports and prisons. The exclusion zone around airports will be extended to approximately a 5km-radius (3.1 miles), with additional extensions from runway ends.


The drone crackdown: if a trained eagle can't stop them, what will?

The Guardian

From computer programming and guns that fire giant nets to well-trained birds of prey, previous attempts to stop the rogue use of consumer drones have been nothing if not original. But for all that creativity, the authorities have been left behind. And on Thursday, as an unknown operator succeeded in shutting down Gatwick airport for at least 18 hours by flying drones around the airport's protected airspace, the slow pace of progress was highlighted again. Regulators, police and defence experts are hoping to close that gap as they seek to deal with the rapid proliferation of drones, which have upended conventional thinking in fields as varied as aviation, prison security, and guerrilla warfare in the Middle East. In the UK, new rules first announced in July 2017 will finally be implemented in November 2019, requiring individuals to register with the government when they purchase drones weighing more than 250g (8.8oz), and be tested on their piloting skills and knowledge of the law before they are allowed to fly the devices.


Drone 50ft from hitting plane at Stansted

BBC News

A drone flying more than 20 times the allowed height came within 15m (50ft) of a Boeing 737 approaching a runway at Stansted Airport in Essex. The plane was flying at 10,000ft (3km) and coming in to land on 17 August when the captain spotted the drone. The first officer then saw "a dark-coloured square or rectangle-shaped object pass down the right side of the aircraft with minimal separation". The UK Airprox Board rated the risk of collision as the highest possible. After the incident, which happened at 16:36 BST, the plane was inspected on the ground and found no evidence of contact or damage.


Why your pizza may never be delivered by drone

BBC News

For years tech companies such as Amazon, Alphabet and Uber have promised us delivery drones bringing goods to our doorsteps in a matter of minutes. So why are they taking so long to arrive? If our skies are to become as crowded as our streets, airspace rules need updating to prevent accidents, terrorist attacks, and related problems, such as noise pollution. But that's easier said than done. According to a recent study by Nasa, the noise made by road traffic was "systematically judged to be less annoying" than the high-pitched buzzing made by drones.