From office watcher to farm protector and crop duster, unmanned aircraft playing unusual roles

The Japan Times

At exactly 5 p.m. one recent Friday at Taisei Co., a flying drone alerted workers at the building maintenance firm that the day's work was done. The fully automatic drone, which goes by the name T-Frend, is an example of the unique ways unmanned aerial vehicles are being used to seize control of what people are failing at or incapable of. "This drone will identify who remains in the office after hours. . . . And by accessing recorded data, human resources or administration departments will be able to deal with those who abuse overtime," said Chikara Kato, manager of the Tokyo firm's corporate planning division and inventor of the device. In recent years, Japan has been strengthening efforts to limit overtime amid outrage sparked by the continuing deaths caused by Japan's excessively long working hours.

Pilot schools cash in as drone business takes off in Japan

The Japan Times

As Japan positions itself to take advantage of the growing trend in drones, another sector is popping up in the promising market -- drone schools. Industries ranging from agriculture to security are setting their eyes on the benefits of the device. And although the aerial vehicles are capable of autonomous flight, skilled pilots need to be on hand in case something goes wrong. "The industrial use of drones will grow more to replace some work previously handled by humans," said Kazunori Fujiwara, a spokesman at the Drone Pilot Association, a Tokyo-based group that promotes pilot education. "There are still not enough pilots.

Drone deliveries ready to soar in Japan but lingering issues likely to keep post office in business

The Japan Times

A drone carrying a package sails through the air, touching down to make a delivery right on a customer's doorstep. Inc. wowed the world in 2013 with a video purporting to show what the future of the delivery industry would look like. But are we any closer to that now? The answer seems to be no -- at least in Japan. The nation is set to take a step forward in the sector this year as the government prepares to deregulate aviation rules so delivery firms can use drones in rural areas.

Virginia Tech Unveils New Drone Park On Campus – DEEP AERO DRONES – Medium


Recently, Virginia Tech revealed their new drone park, which will be used as a space for students and researchers to test out drones for different uses. "I think the chance of something happening here that is big is higher than anywhere else in the world," says Timothy Sands, Virginia Tech President. The drone park stands 85 feet above the ground and has a nice controlled environment. "Drones can get lost, they can get damaged, they can damage other things, this provides a nice safe space for students to test and easily recover their drone," says Domonic Bisco, first-year engineering students. "Almost every field can use unmanned aerial systems in one way or another," says Sands.

EENA & DJI New Emergency Drone Program- Part II – DEEP AERO DRONES – Medium


How can a drone be a life-saving object? Alfonso Zamarro, EENA's Drone Activities Manager, mentioned that the first phase brought great benefits for firefighters and search and rescue teams. Collaborating and making use of EENA efforts and emergency service, and DJI technical knowledge, they were able to notice how drones can help in such emergencies, and what all improvements it requires. "Phase II will go one step further and we need to study and understand its working," says Zamarro. What are the further steps of the program?

Drone Monitoring Tech. Company To Meet The Major Industrial Needs


Uavia, a Drone Monitoring Technology Company completed its first round of financing from Airbus Ventures, Sofimac Innovation, Bpifrance, and a pool of entrepreneurs and business stakeholders. "The financing round allows us to reinforce our capabilities and our technical teams to further develop our technological advance. We're also scaling our commercial operations to serve industrial sectors on which we observe a global traction," says Clement Christomanos, CEO and co-founder of Uavia. Its robotic platform allows the users to connect their drones and robots to the cloud through any mobile-IP network available. This platform will also allow the multiple users to control the fleets of drones and robots while having their data processed, analyzed and shared in real time.

Scandinavia gets its first autonomous public buses, but there's a big catch


Video: Norway's 5G pilot will have driverless buses, drones, and real-time medical diagnoses. Mass-transit company Kolumbus in Stavanger, southwestern Norway, has just won the right to run an autonomous bus service on some of the city's public roads. The license is the first granted in Scandinavia, according to the company. However, the Norwegian ministry of transport and communications-issued license comes with restrictions because current Norwegian legislation doesn't allow for completely driverless vehicles on public roads. As a result, a Kolumbus employee must always be present on the bus, to manually override the autonomous controls with a brake button if a dangerous situation occurs.

How Drones Will Impact Society: From Fighting War to Forecasting Weather, UAVs Change Everything


UAVs are tackling everything from disease control to vacuuming up ocean waste to delivering pizza, and more. Drone technology has been used by defense organizations and tech-savvy consumers for quite some time. However, the benefits of this technology extends well beyond just these sectors. With the rising accessibility of drones, many of the most dangerous and high-paying jobs within the commercial sector are ripe for displacement by drone technology. The use cases for safe, cost-effective solutions range from data collection to delivery. And as autonomy and collision-avoidance technologies improve, so too will drones' ability to perform increasingly complex tasks. According to forecasts, the emerging global market for business services using drones is valued at over $127B. As more companies look to capitalize on these commercial opportunities, investment into the drone space continues to grow. A drone or a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) typically refers to a pilotless aircraft that operates through a combination of technologies, including computer vision, artificial intelligence, object avoidance tech, and others. But drones can also be ground or sea vehicles that operate autonomously.

Drone maker accused of covering up bomb in bag on Delta flight, going after whistleblower

The Japan Times

NEW YORK – AeroVironment Inc. was accused of trying to conceal that employees transported a drone rigged with explosives on a commercial flight and retaliating against a manager who told the government. In April 2015, AeroVironment workers traveled to Los Angeles from Salt Lake City on a Delta Air Lines Inc. There were about 230 civilian passengers aboard, the lawsuit states. The plaintiff, Mark Anderson, who oversaw security for the drone-maker's top-secret government programs, learned of the incident in May 2015, according to the complaint. After reporting it to the U.S. Department of Defense, he was reprimanded, stripped of his responsibilities and ultimately fired without severance, Anderson alleges.

Virtual testing ground helps autonomous drones fly faster


It's not easy to teach drones to fly quickly and safely. You usually have to create an elaborate proving ground with real obstacles, and a single mishap could prove very costly. Have the drones fly around imaginary objects. The school's engineers have created a virtual testing ground, nicknamed Flight Googles, that has drones flying through a simulated landscape in the safety of an empty room. Motion capture cameras around the space track the orientation of the drone and help the system send realistic, customized virtual images to the drone to convince it that it's flying through an apartment or another obstacle-laden environment.