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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.


Mimicking an air traffic controller, AI orchestrates multiple drones in flight

#artificialintelligence

Israeli startup Airwayz Drones Ltd., set up by veterans of the Israeli airforce, has developed software that knows how to safely steer hundreds of drones in the same airspace, orchestrating them in the sky autonomously, just as a traditional human-manned air traffic control station would. The technology of the Israeli company Airwayz managed some 20 drones from five companies simultaneously on Wednesday in the sky over an unpopulated area of the northern coastal city of Hadera. It was the first stage of a two-year initiative that is being touted by the Israel Innovation Authority and its partners in the event as one of the largest drone experiments ever conducted in the world. "This is one of the most progressive experiments in the world, in which drones from many companies are flying in a open and not controlled area," said Daniella Partem, head of the Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution at the Israel Innovation Authority, which is in charge of fostering the nation's tech ecosystem. Get The Start-Up Israel's Daily Start-Up by email and never miss our top stories Free Sign Up The purpose of the large-scale government-backed experiment is to understand what our skies will look like in the future, as hundreds and thousands of drones pepper our firmament to meet various needs -- online deliveries, photography, security, agriculture and more.


White Paper Machine Learning in Certified Systems

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Machine Learning (ML) seems to be one of the most promising solution to automate partially or completely some of the complex tasks currently realized by humans, such as driving vehicles, recognizing voice, etc. It is also an opportunity to implement and embed new capabilities out of the reach of classical implementation techniques. However, ML techniques introduce new potential risks. Therefore, they have only been applied in systems where their benefits are considered worth the increase of risk. In practice, ML techniques raise multiple challenges that could prevent their use in systems submitted to certification constraints. But what are the actual challenges? Can they be overcome by selecting appropriate ML techniques, or by adopting new engineering or certification practices? These are some of the questions addressed by the ML Certification 3 Workgroup (WG) set-up by the Institut de Recherche Technologique Saint Exup\'ery de Toulouse (IRT), as part of the DEEL Project.


Make way for robots

#artificialintelligence

It's the end of the day on a Friday, and you didn't make it to the mall to pick up favors for your child's birthday party this weekend. So you log on to Amazon to see what's available for next-day delivery. In addition to the favors, you find lightbulbs to replace the burned-out bulb in your table lamp, and spot a new book that you decide to go for. You click "Place my order," and a short while later, robots in Amazon's fulfillment warehouses are whizzing away to make sure it's delivered to you right on time. The warehouse is full of small, flat robots that shimmy underneath shelves loaded full of everything from blenders to wool coats to table saws.


Philadelphia airport offers robot food delivery to travelers

FOX News

Fox News Flash top headlines are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com. The future is now – at least at the Philadelphia International Airport (PHL). On Monday, the airport launched a robotic food delivery program using gita robots developed by Piaggio Fast Forward. Each gita robot can hold up to 40 pounds in its cargo bin, where customers' orders are kept.


Google seeks FAA approval to test fire-fighting drones

ZDNet

Google this week asked the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for permission to test out the use of drones for monitoring and fighting fires. The request comes as the FAA slowly expands sanctioned drone use in the US. Specifically, Google's Research Climate and Energy Group said it wants to run tests using the HSE-UAV M8A Pro unmanned aircraft system -- a crop-spraying drone built by Homeland Surveillance & Electronics. The Google Research group plans to test fire-fighting and monitoring operations at a private property in Firebaugh, California. Google's sister company, the Alphabet-owned Wing, already has FAA approval to test out commercial drone deliveries.


Flying robots suggest bees can't rely on instinct to land on flowers

New Scientist

Honeybees move quickly from flower to flower, landing easily on each one in turn – but a study involving small drones suggests that the undertaking is more difficult than it looks, implying the bees rely on learning as well as hardwired instinct. Bees and other insects judge movement using what is called "optical flow" – basically the rate at which things are moving through the field of view. Optical flow is useful during landing too, particularly to help a bee decelerate.


Flying robots get FAA approval in first for drone sector

ZDNet

The FAA has authorized its first-ever approval to a company for use of automated drones without human operators on site. The move comes as the agency is putting new rules in place to evolve regulation of the broader enterprise drone paradigm in the U.S., which has lagged behind other developed nations in adopting industry-friendly commercial drone guidelines. Boston-based American Robotics, a developer of automated drone systems specializing in rugged environments, received the FAA approval last week, marking a first for the federal agency. "Decades worth of promise and projection are finally coming to fruition," says Reese Mozer, CEO and co-founder of American Robotics. "We are proud to be the first company to meet the FAA's comprehensive safety requirements, which had previously restricted the viability of drone use in the commercial sector."


FAA approves first fully-automated commercial drone flights (with a catch)

Mashable

You can officially claim autonomous commercial drones for your 2021 bingo card. On Friday, Massachusetts-based industrial drone developer American Robotics announced it had received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to operate its fully-automated "Scout" drones without any humans on-site. It's the first waiver of its kind, as the FAA has previously approved the use of autonomous commercial drones exclusively under the condition that human observers be present along the flight path -- or that risk of collision be mitigated through otherwise hyper-strict limitations. Advocates of drone technology say those restrictions have long held the industry back. "Decades worth of promise and projection are finally coming to fruition," CEO and co-founder of American Robotics Reese Mozer said in a press release.


FAA Approves Fully Automated Commercial Drone Flights

WSJ.com: WSJD - Technology

U.S. aviation regulators have approved the first fully automated commercial drone flights, granting a small Massachusetts-based company permission to operate drones without hands-on piloting or direct observation by human controllers or observers. The decision by the Federal Aviation Administration limits operation of automated drones to rural areas and altitudes below 400 feet, but is a potentially significant step in expanding commercial applications of drones for farmers, utilities, mining companies and other customers. It also represents another step in the FAA's broader effort to authorize widespread flights by shifting away from case-by-case exemptions for specific vehicles performing specific tasks. In approval documents posted on a government website Thursday, the FAA said that once such automated drone operations are conducted on a wider scale, they could mean "efficiencies to many of the industries that fuel our economy such as agriculture, mining, transportation" and certain manufacturing segments. The FAA previously allowed drones to inspect railroad tracks, pipelines and some industrial sites beyond the sight of pilots or spotters on the ground as long as such individuals were located relatively close by.