Drones & UAVs News & Discussions

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Yuli Ban
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El Pollo Loco Starts Testing Drone Deliveries
California-based chicken chain El Pollo Loco is going for first-mover status as it announced today the launch of its drone delivery test starting June 24.

El Pollo Loco is partnering with Tel Aviv-based drone startup Flytrex for the test, which will start in Southern California. During the pilot, a select number of the chain’s Loco Rewards members in that market will be surprised with one of the first deliveries from what is being called the “Air Loco” drone.

The drone is outfitted with a fastened delivery box to keep orders intact, while the food itself is served in El Pollo Loco’s new Thermo-to-Go packaging. Orders are lowered by a wire release mechanism from 80 feet.
And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future
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Yuli Ban
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For the first time, an autonomously flying quadrotor has outperformed two human pilots in a drone race
New algorithm flies drones faster than human racing pilots
For the first time, an autonomously flying quadrotor has outperformed two human pilots in a drone race. The success is based on a novel algorithm that was developed by researchers of the University of Zurich. It calculates time-optimal trajectories that fully consider the drones' limitations.
To be useful, drones need to be quick. Because of their limited battery life they must complete whatever task they have—searching for survivors on a disaster site, inspecting a building, delivering cargo—in the shortest possible time. And they may have to do it by going through a series of waypoints like windows, rooms, or specific locations to inspect, adopting the best trajectory and the right acceleration or deceleration at each segment.
Algorithm outperforms professional pilots
The best human drone pilots are very good at doing this and have so far always outperformed autonomous systems in drone racing. Now, a research group at the University of Zurich (UZH) has created an algorithm that can find the quickest trajectory to guide a quadrotor—a drone with four propellers—through a series of waypoints on a circuit. "Our drone beat the fastest lap of two world-class human pilots on an experimental race track," says Davide Scaramuzza, who heads the Robotics and Perception Group at UZH and the Rescue Robotics Grand Challenge of the NCCR Robotics, which funded the research.
And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future
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Yuli Ban
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Dubai police will use citywide network of drones to respond to crime
Dubai police will be able to respond to an incident anywhere in the United Arab Emirates city within a minute, thanks to a network of pre-positioned drone bases.

The quadcopters, supplied by Israeli company Airobotics, will operate from base stations during the Expo 2020 event starting in October this year, an exhibition said to be the third largest event in the world after the Olympics and the World Cup. The drones will reduce police response time from 4.4 minutes to 1 minute according to a tweet from Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Each base has a sliding roof that allows the drones to enter and exit. The drones can fly pre-programmed patrols, or be dispatched to a specific location, allowing an operator at police headquarters to inspect the scene, or follow a suspicious individual or vehicle and pass data to other police units.
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An Airobotics drone and its base station
Airobotics
And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future
caltrek
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Daniel Hale Makes Case Against U.S. Drone Policy
by Ryan Devereaux
July 24, 2021
(The Intercept) THE MISSILES THAT killed Salim bin Ahmed Ali Jaber and Walid bin Ali Jaber came in the night. Salim was a respected imam in the village of Khashamir, in southeastern Yemen, who had made a name for himself denouncing the rising power of Al Qaeda’s franchise in the Arabian Peninsula. His cousin Walid was a local police officer. It was August 21, 2012, and the pair were standing in a palm grove, confronting a trio of suspected militants, when the Hellfires made impact.

The deaths of the two men sparked protests in the days that followed, symbolizing for many Yemenis the human cost of U.S. counterterrorism operations in their country. Thousands of miles away, at the U.S. military’s base in Bagram, Afghanistan, Daniel Hale, a young intelligence specialist in the U.S. Air Force, watched the missiles land. One year later, Hale found himself sitting on a Washington, D.C., panel, listening as Salim’s brother, Faisal bin Ali Jaber, recalled the day Salim was killed.

As Fazil recounted what happened next, I felt myself transported back in time to where I had been on that day, 2012. Unbeknownst to Fazil and those of his village at the time was that they had not been the only ones watching Salem approach the jihadist in the car. From Afghanistan, I and everyone on duty paused their work to witness the carnage that was about to unfold. At the press of a button, from thousands of miles away, two Hellfire missiles screeched out of the sky, followed by two more. Showing no signs of remorse, I, and those around me, clapped and cheered triumphantly. In front of a speechless auditorium, Fazil wept.
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A screenshot from Daniel Hale’s 11-page handwritten letter, dated July 18, 2021.

Drone Whistleblower Daniel Hale Sentenced to 45 Months in Prison 'For Exposing US War Crimes'
by Kenny Stancil
July 27, 2021

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2021/ ... war-crimes

Introduction
Human rights and press freedom advocates expressed dismay on Tuesday when whistleblower Daniel Hale, who pled guilty earlier this year to violating the Espionage Act, was sentenced to 45 months in prison for sharing with a journalist classified information about the U.S. military's drone assassination program.

"Whistleblower Daniel Hale has just been sentenced to 45 months in prison for exposing U.S. war crimes," said anti-war group CodePink. "While his sentencing isn't the 10 years we feared, it is 45 months too long."
caltrek
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Small Unmanned Helicopters Used Lasers To Map Littorals In Recent U.S. Navy Tests
by Brett Tingley
August 9, 2021

https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/4 ... navy-tests

Introduction:
(The Drive) The U.S. Navy recently conducted successful flight tests of a UAV carrying an aerial laser system designed to map the ocean floor in shallow water areas. While details are scarce, we know that the tests used a Light Detection and Ranging, or LIDAR, system aboard a small unmanned helicopter. While such a system could be an important tool for making detailed topographic maps of waterways and littoral areas, there could be other potential applications of well beyond general cartographic ones.

The tests were conducted by the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR) in conjunction with Shiebel, makers of the CAMCOPTER S-100, the helicopter drone used in the tests. According to NavalNews.com, the tests took place on the commercial vessel Richard L. Becker off the coast of Pensacola, Florida. Hans Georg Schiebel, Chairman of the Schiebel Group, says this his company is proud to showcase the CAMPCOPTER’s capabilities to the Navy in the tests, adding that “we operate extensively on land and at sea and we are confident that our unmanned solution is also the right fit for the US Navy.”

The LIDAR system used in the demonstration is the Pushbroom Imaging Lidar for Littoral Surveillance, or PILLS, made by defense contractor Areté. LIDAR is a low-power, eye-safe laser technology that measures the light reflected from short pulses in order to quickly and accurately make 3D maps of an environment. LIDAR systems are used in a wide variety of applications including surveying, laser guidance systems, and even in some self-driving cars.

As early as 2000, the Naval Oceanographic Office was exploring airborne LIDAR for conducting surveys of underwater topography. More specifically, the Navy has been exploring using the PILLS LIDAR system aboard unmanned aerial systems for making seafloor maps since at least 2016, according to an ONR release. The service also conducted exercises in the Mississippi Sound in 2019 that featured “two unmanned aerial system-capable” LIDAR systems. As ONR’s release states, the capabilities offered by the PILLS system are needed because “remote areas around the world lack precise or updated topographic maps or bathymetric charts.”
caltrek
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Japan Wants To Detect Incoming Hypersonic Missiles With Unmanned Aircraft
by Thomas Newdick
August 9, 2021

https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/4 ... d-aircraft

Introduction:
(The Drive) The Japanese Ministry of Defense is considering using unmanned aerial vehicles equipped with infrared sensors to provide early warning of potential attacks on the country by hypersonic missiles. Recent reports from the country indicate that the drone-based detection system has been proposed as one response to high-speed weapons developments in China and Russia and specifically to counter a new class of ballistic missiles carrying hypersonic glide vehicles.

According to a story on the website of the Sankei Shinbun daily, the Japanese Ministry of Defense announced the plan on August 7 as part of what the newspaper described as Tokyo’s “rush to develop capabilities to counter the development of hypersonic weapons.”
caltrek
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Paladin Publicly Launches Knighthawk, a First Response Drone for Cities
by Danny Crichton
August 19, 2021

https://techcrunch.com/2021/08/19/palad ... or-cities/

Introduction:
(TechCrunch) Emergency response is a time-sensitive business. When fires burn or a driver crashes their car, seconds can mean the difference between saving lives and watching a situation spiral rapidly out of control. For fire and police departments, getting teams on site can be challenging, what with the vagaries of traffic and bad routing.

Houston-headquartered Paladin is a startup building a custom drone hardware and software solution for cities to be able to respond to emergencies faster and with better data. After years of development, the company is publicly unveiling its Knighthawk and Watchtower products.

The Knighthawk is a custom-made drone designed for the specific needs of emergency response personnel. It comes complete with two cameras — one 10x zoom optical and one thermal — to provide the best video feeds on a developing situation at both day and night with only a half second latency. Importantly, the drone has a time range of 55 minutes and can travel multiple miles away to reach a site, according to the company. Launch time can be as short as a few seconds from when a 911 call comes in.

To manage the drones and watch the video feeds, operators use the company’s Watchtower software (available as an app) to place a pin on a map to direct the drone to the likely site of an emergency. Once there, uploaded video feeds will display in the app as well as in a 911 center’s existing computer-aided dispatch systems, a topic we covered quite a bit in our RapidSOS EC-1 from a few weeks ago. (See: https://techcrunch.com/2021/07/27/rapidsos-ec1/ for that article.)
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Paladin Drones’ Knighthawk operating during the day.
Image Credits: Paladin Drones
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raklian
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‘Tesla Bot’ prototype will arrive in 2022, Elon Musk says

https://www.teslarati.com/tesla-bot-rob ... pecs-2022/

Image

Tesla will launch the “Tesla Bot” prototype in 2022, Elon Musk announced during the Artificial Intelligence Event the company held today at its Palo Alto headquarters.

After jokingly walking out a human in the Tesla Bot uniform, Musk said “Tesla Bot will be real.” Musk detailed some of the tasks that the robot will be able to complete, including grocery runs, picking up household objects, and other everyday commands.

The robot will be 5 feet 8 inches tall and 125 pounds. It will include a screen on the face of the bot to display useful information. Additionally, it will have human-level hands. The extremities operate using 40 electromechanical actuators, with two feet, and force feedback sensing for balance and agility. Musk joked that it may be able to run up to 5 MPH.

The Tesla Bot will also utilize some of the company’s AI devices that are operational on the company’s vehicles. Autopilot cameras will essentially act as the vision for the Tesla Bot, while a Full Self-Driving computer will essentially function as the internal organs of the robot, helping it to operate and function as a productive member of the household. It will utilize mutli-camera video neural networks, identical to what was detailed during the company’s AI Event. Additionally, Neural Net planning, labeling, simulation and tools will also be used to help the Tesla Bot operate effectively and efficiently, while accurately performing tasks.
Is Elon Musk once again being a little too optimistic, like he was predicting Level 5 autonomy? We'll have to see.

I'm starting to think Elon Musk is planning on using robots to set up and help around in bases on Mars or even the Moon.
To know is essentially the same as to not to know. The only thing that occurs is entropy.
caltrek
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Wing Approaches 100,000 Drone Deliveries After Logan, Australia Launch
by Brian Heater
August 25, 2021

https://techcrunch.com/2021/08/25/wing- ... ia-launch/

Introduction:
(TechCrunch) In a blog post this morning, Alphabet drone delivery company Wing announced that it is set to hit 100,000 customer deliveries over the weekend. The news comes on the second anniversary of the service’s pilot launch in Logan, Australia, a city of roughly 300,000 people in the Brisbane metropolitan area.

It also, notably, arrives a few weeks after Wired reported that Amazon’s own drone delivery efforts are “collapsing inwards.” (See https://www.wired.co.uk/article/amazon- ... -prime-air. Wing comms head Jonathan Bass told TechCrunch that the service is set to enter additional markets in the coming months.

“I think we’ll expand quite a bit,” Bass told TechCrunch. “I think we’ll launch new services in Australia, Finland and the United States in the next six months. The capabilities of the technology are probably ahead of the regulatory permissions right now.”

Of the existing deliveries, more than half were completed in Logan over the course of the last eight months. The first week of August, for instance, found customers place orders for 4,500 deliveries, which works out to one every 30 seconds during Wing’s delivery window.
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