Imagine you're hiking through the woods near a border. Suddenly, you hear a mechanical buzzing, like a gigantic bee. Two quadcopters have spotted you and swoop in for a closer look. They send the signals to a central server, which triangulates your exact location and feeds it back to the drones. Cameras and other sensors on the machines recognize you as human and try to ascertain your intentions.
Today, Zipline is officially opening the first of four distribution centers in Ghana, inaugurating a drone-delivery network that will eventually serve 2,000 hospitals and clinics covering 12 million people. Here's what Zipline says in a press release about the new operation: The revolutionary new service will use drones to make on-demand, emergency deliveries of 148 different vaccines, blood products, and life-saving medications. The service will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from 4 distribution centers--each equipped with 30 drones--and deliver to 2,000 health facilities serving 12 million people across the country. Together, all four distribution centers will make up to 600 on-demand delivery flights a day on behalf of the Government of Ghana. Each Zipline distribution center has the capacity to make up to 500 flights per day.
Who's flying that drone over my house, and what exactly are they looking for? Is the pilot a police officer, a search-and-rescue volunteer, or Creepy Steve from four doors down? These concerns over the origin and intention of small drones have bedeviled the drone industry for as long as it has existed. Our inability to figure out who is piloting the weird quadcopter over our neighborhoods surely has a lot to do with why so many still distrust drones. People are working on it, though.
If you're inclined to puns, you might say medical samples are the lifeblood of hospital systems. But if you actually work with them, you know they're more of a headache. Because the same road traffic that keeps you from getting home keeps the couriers charged with moving these tissue and blood samples, collected by the millions daily and often in urgent need of analysis, from completing their missions. So it makes a lot of sense that when the FAA decided to sanction the first revenue-generating drone delivery scheme in the US, it went with one that promises to speed up that process, run by UPS and autonomous drone technology firm Matternet. It makes sense from the tech perspective, too: The cargo is extremely lightweight and compact, allowing the companies involved to focus on the delivery processes and mechanisms rather than trying to manage unwieldy payloads.
An extended 5km (3.1 miles) no-fly zone for drones has come into force around airports in the UK after reported sightings at Gatwick, Heathrow and Dublin airports in recent months grounded hundreds of flights and left thousands stranded. Previously, only a 1km (0.6 mile) exclusion zone was in place. But despite the negative reputation they have received, the use of drones isn't all bad. From finding missing people to delivering takeaways, here are some of the ways the unmanned aircraft can be beneficial. A Norfolk man who went missing in June last year was only found when a police drone spotted him stuck on a marsh.
The no-fly zone for drones around airports is to be extended following the disruption at Gatwick in December, the government says. From 13 March it will be illegal to fly a drone within three miles of an airport, rather than the current 0.6-mile (1km) exclusion zone. The government also said it wants police to have new stop and search powers to tackle drone misuse. Gatwick was shut for more than a day after drone sightings near the runway. It caused chaos for travellers, affecting more than 1,000 flights and about 140,000 passengers.
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.
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.
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.
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.