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Attack of the drones: the mystery of disappearing swarms in the US midwest

The Guardian

At twilight on New Year's Eve, 2020, Placido Montoya, 35, a plumber from Fort Morgan, Colorado, was driving to work. Ahead of him he noticed blinking lights in the sky. He'd heard rumours of mysterious drones, whispers in his local community, but now he was seeing them with his own eyes. In the early morning gloom, it was hard to make out how big the lights were and how many were hovering above him. But one thing was clear to Montoya: he needed to give chase.

UAV-Assisted Communication in Remote Disaster Areas using Imitation Learning Artificial Intelligence

The damage to cellular towers during natural and man-made disasters can disturb the communication services for cellular users. One solution to the problem is using unmanned aerial vehicles to augment the desired communication network. The paper demonstrates the design of a UAV-Assisted Imitation Learning (UnVAIL) communication system that relays the cellular users' information to a neighbor base station. Since the user equipment (UEs) are equipped with buffers with limited capacity to hold packets, UnVAIL alternates between different UEs to reduce the chance of buffer overflow, positions itself optimally close to the selected UE to reduce service time, and uncovers a network pathway by acting as a relay node. UnVAIL utilizes Imitation Learning (IL) as a data-driven behavioral cloning approach to accomplish an optimal scheduling solution. Results demonstrate that UnVAIL performs similar to a human expert knowledge-based planning in communication timeliness, position accuracy, and energy consumption with an accuracy of 97.52% when evaluated on a developed simulator to train the UAV.

U.S. To Equip MQ-9 Reaper Drones With Artificial Intelligence


The Pentagon's Joint Artificial Intelligence Center has awarded a $93.3 million contract to General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI), makers of the MQ-9 Reaper, to equip the drone with new AI technology. The aim is for the Reaper to be able to carry out autonomous flight, decide where to direct its battery of sensors, and to recognize objects on the ground. The contract, announced at the end of last month, builds on a successful test earlier this year. In some ways this is not a major development, more of an incremental step using existing technology. What makes it significant is the drone that is being equipped, and what it will be able to do afterwards.

DARPA CODE Autonomy Engine Demonstrated on Avenger UAS


General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has demonstrated the DARPA-developed Collaborative Operations in Denied Environment (CODE) autonomy engine on the company's Avenger Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS). CODE was used in order to gain further understanding of cognitive Artificial Intelligence (AI) processing on larger UAS platforms for air-to-air targeting. Using a network-enabled Tactical Targeting Network Technology (TTNT) radio for mesh network mission communications, GA-ASI was able to demonstrate integration of emerging Advanced Tactical Data Links (ATDL), as well as separation between flight and mission critical systems. During the autonomous flight, CODE software controlled the manoeuvring of the Avenger UAS for over two hours without human pilot input. GA-ASI extended the base software behavioural functions for a coordinated air-to-air search with up to six aircraft, using five virtual aircraft for the purposes of the demonstration.

The world's biggest drone debuts, and it weighs nearly 28 tons


A private rocket-launch startup unveiled its fully autonomous drone designed to drop a rocket in midair that shoots small satellites into orbit without a launchpad. Alabama-based company Aevum rolled out its Ravn X Autonomous Launch Vehicle at the Cecil SpacePort launch facility in Jacksonville, Fla., on Thursday. America is changing faster than ever! Add Changing America to your Facebook or Twitter feed to stay on top of the news. The 80-foot aircraft has a wingspan of 60 feet, stands 18 feet tall and is the world's largest Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) by mass, weighing 55,000 pounds.

General Atomics Avenger Drone Flew A Mock Air-To-Air Mission Using An "Autonomy Engine"


However, in this more recent test, General Atomics did develop additional algorithms for CODE to support "behavioral functions for a coordinated air-to-air search." During the demonstration, a human operator then instructed the Avenger and its five virtual wingmen to carry out the aerial search mission, which they then performed autonomously. The CODE "engine" flew the physical Avenger drone for more than two hours, according to the company's press release. It's interesting to note that the instructions from the human operator were sent to the drone using a Tactical Targeting Network Technology (TTNT) radio via the well-established Link16 waveform. The Navy developed TTNT first for the EA-18G Growler and it is now a key component of the service's Block III upgrade package for its F/A-18E/F Super Hornets.

Drone space launch vehicle can put satellite in orbit every 180 minutes

Daily Mail - Science & tech

The world's first satellite launching drone, developed by a US-based space startup, will will be able to carry a new payload into orbit every 180 minutes, the firm claims. Aevum says the massive 80ft long drone, named the Ravn X, is fully autonomous, 70 per cent reusable, and can take off and land on runways as short as a mile long. Working in partnership with the US Space Force, the firm says it is'completely reimagining access to space' by focusing on autonomy and better logistics. The drone can take off from any runway to reach high altitude where it deploys a second stage that takes a small payload the rest of the way to space. After it has launched the second stage rocket into low Earth orbit, the drone flies itself back to its home runway, lands and then parks up in its hanger.

AI-Powered Sensing Technology to be Developed for MQ-9 UAS


General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has been awarded a contract by the U.S. Department of Defense's Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) to develop enhanced autonomous sensing capabilities for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The JAIC Smart Sensor project aims to advance drone-based AI technology by demonstrating object recognition algorithms and employing onboard AI to automatically control UAV sensors and direct autonomous flight. GA-ASI will deploy these new capabilities on a MQ-9 Reaper UAV equipped with a variety of sensors, including GA-ASI's Reaper Defense Electronic Support System (RDESS) and Lynx Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR). GA-ASI's Metis Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) tasking and intelligence-sharing application, which enables operators to specify effects-based mission objectives and receive automatic notification of actionable intelligence, will be used to command the unmanned aircraft. J.R. Reid, GA-ASI Vice President of Strategic Development, commented: "GA-ASI is excited to leverage the considerable investment we have made to advance the JAIC's autonomous sensing objective. This will bring a tremendous increase in unmanned systems capabilities for applications across the full-range of military operations."

SpaceX launches a Falcon 9 rocket booster for a record SEVENTH time

Daily Mail - Science & tech

SpaceX has reused a Falcon 9 rocket for a record breaking seventh time during its most recent mission to put another 60 Starlink satellites into orbit. It comes as the Elon Musk-owned space launch firm is preparing for the first high altitude test flight of its mammoth Starship prototype spaceship - dubbed SN8. Launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida at 02:13 GMT this morning, the Falcon 9 flight was the seventh time that particular first stage booster had been used. This beat the previous record for a booster of six trips and helps Musk in his mission to bring down the cost of launching payloads from the Earth by reusing equipment. SpaceX was able to recover the booster from the Atlantic Ocean using a drone flight - which means it may be able to fly for an eighth time in the future.

5G-and-Beyond Networks with UAVs: From Communications to Sensing and Intelligence Artificial Intelligence

Due to the advancements in cellular technologies and the dense deployment of cellular infrastructure, integrating unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) into the fifth-generation (5G) and beyond cellular networks is a promising solution to achieve safe UAV operation as well as enabling diversified applications with mission-specific payload data delivery. In particular, 5G networks need to support three typical usage scenarios, namely, enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), ultra-reliable low-latency communications (URLLC), and massive machine-type communications (mMTC). On the one hand, UAVs can be leveraged as cost-effective aerial platforms to provide ground users with enhanced communication services by exploiting their high cruising altitude and controllable maneuverability in three-dimensional (3D) space. On the other hand, providing such communication services simultaneously for both UAV and ground users poses new challenges due to the need for ubiquitous 3D signal coverage as well as the strong air-ground network interference. Besides the requirement of high-performance wireless communications, the ability to support effective and efficient sensing as well as network intelligence is also essential for 5G-and-beyond 3D heterogeneous wireless networks with coexisting aerial and ground users. In this paper, we provide a comprehensive overview of the latest research efforts on integrating UAVs into cellular networks, with an emphasis on how to exploit advanced techniques (e.g., intelligent reflecting surface, short packet transmission, energy harvesting, joint communication and radar sensing, and edge intelligence) to meet the diversified service requirements of next-generation wireless systems. Moreover, we highlight important directions for further investigation in future work.