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Action camera maker GoPro plans to jump into the consumer drone market sporting high-definition cameras, which will launch in 2015, according to a report published by the Wall Street Journal. The drones should be available late next year and costs will range from $500 up to $1,000 per drone, but design styles are still unknown.
GoPro camera models already are compatible with some consumer drones currently available, and transitioning into drone manufacturing could be a lucrative effort. However, with companies such as DJI Innovations and other consumer drone manufacturers in a suddenly booming market, competition will be intense.
A GoPro spokesman told the WSJ that "jaw-dropping GoPro footage recorded from quadcopters," is already available - and producing impressive content. "Earlier this year, to study the policy implications and to protect the rights of our users, GoPro joined the Washington-based Small UAV coalition," the spokesman mentioned.
Baidu, the Chinese technology company, has teased the Internet with its new connected DuBike smart bike. The bike has multiple sensors that can collect rider data, heart rate, velocity, foot pressure, and seating pressure. DuBike also has the ability to convert kinetic energy into electricity, GPS, and a custom operating system that provides riders with updated routes and nearby users.
All collected data can be sent to PCs and mobile devices for further analysis, with more connected features possible in the future.
Baidu was careful not to add noticeable sensors on the outside of the bike, so hopefully bike thieves won't be drawn to the bike. Pricing information and scheduled release date weren't made available to consumers.
Do you want to be a drone pilot? There is increasing need for private drone pilots, with salaries often starting at $100,000 per year - and the demand for these specially-trained workers is only increasing. The market is expected to create around 100,000 new jobs over the first 10 years, with a growing number of drones entering private US airspace.
Even with potential Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) problems, Amazon, Facebook, and other companies are interested in utilizing drones for various reasons. Some companies are already paying $50 per hour, and salaries will only increase even further above $100,000 per year, according to Al Palmer, University of North Dakota Unmanned Aircraft Systems director.
Expect more university programs dedicated to helping groom the next generation of drone pilots.
Tech giant Google is now promoting the Liftware spoon, a custom-designed smart utensil that is able to help people with tremors and Parkin's disease make eating easier. Lift Lab, the smart spoon's manufacturer, was acquired by Google earlier in 2014 - and has now been rolled into the Google X life sciences division.
"We want to help people in their daily lives today and hopefully increase understanding of disease in the long run," said Katelin Jabbari, Google spokesperson.
The spoon is able to analyze how a hand is shaking, and uses hundreds of algorithms to make adjustments to stay balanced. There are more than 10 million people throughout the world that suffer from Parkin's disease and tremors, and the spoon can reportedly reduce shaking by an average 76 percent. The Liftware spoon is available now for $295.
NASA is doing some cool things on-board the International Space Station, with the US space agency taking up a 3D printer and printing out some cool faceplate.
The experiment has revealed to NASA that parts stick to the print tray much more in space and its microgravity, than they do on Earth. It's possible that plastic layers bond differently in zero-gravity, than they do here on Earth. More 3D-printed objects will be printed, but they won't be coming back down to Earth until next year.
The US Army Research Laboratory (ARL) is working with robotic systems that provide a wide-field of vision that can improve 3D mapping and motion estimation for future technologies. Carnegie Mellon University is helping participate in the Micro-Autonomous Systems Technology Collaborative Technology Alliance (MASTCTA), with more partnerships in the works.
"The upcoming tests are a small example of a much larger effort," said Brett Piekarski, Collaborative Alliance manager. "The university researchers across the consortium work with the Army researchers to come up with systems that can provide Soldier/robot teaming, and be transitioned to industry."
The US military wants increased collaboration from the private sector, in an effort to provide soldiers on the ground increased battlefield awareness.
Japan has endured a major economic slump in recent years, but the country's robotics industry is rebounding as new research funds are becoming available. The Japanese government reportedly wants to utilize more than 30 million SoftBank "Pepper" humanoid robots able to help greet customers in stores, direct guests in hotels, and other unique interactions with regular people.
Robots, especially humanoids, have a unique ability to not only serve a role in factories and production facilities, but interact with the general public.
"The companies that want to use these kinds of robots are increasing rapidly, so these humanoid robots will keep evolving, become faster and even more efficient," said Toshifum Tsuji, manager of Nextage, which is using robots in its factory outside of Tokyo. "The robots have cameras and they can find defects which are hard to find for humans. I think they are helping us make better products."
The Microsoft Silicon Valley campus located in Mountain View, California, is now being patrolled by Knightscope's K5 security guard robot. The 5-foot-tall, 300-pound robots are designed to keep company property and visitors safe, while helping augment security personnel.
The K5 is an "autonomous data machine" that has a "commanding but friendly physical presence," including multiple HD cameras, license plate reader, multiple microphones, alarms, weather sensors, Wi-Fi, sirens and GPS - and they can alert human security guards if an incident is occurring.
It's unknown what other companies are interested in leasing K5 to patrol their campuses, malls, and parking lots - but should garner interest in the future.
The use of military attack drones were pitched to US citizens as a way to launch organized airstrikes against specific targets, while also keeping US military personnel out of harm's way. However, the collateral damage - and accidental bombing due to poor military intelligence - has killed 1,147 people while the military targeted just 41 men, according to human rights groups.
Drone strikes against 24 targets in Pakistan, for example, have led to 874 deaths, with multiple unsuccessful strikes only lead to even more strikes. US Secretary of State John Kerry previously said the CIA and military only launch drone strikes against targets that have been vetted over a period of time, though cases of mistaken identity appear to be increasing as well.
"Drone strikes have been sold to the American public on the claim that they're 'precise,'" but they are only as precise at the intelligence that feeds them," according to Jennifer Gibson, US attorney and Reprieve staff member. "There is nothing precise about intelligence that results in the deaths of 28 unknown people, including women and children, for every 'bad guy' the US goes after."
The use of mini-drones has captured the attention of military contractors, but have great potential in the private world and commercial industry.
It wasn't too long ago when drones in the private sector were extremely expensive, but as technological advances develop, the overall price is continuing to drop. In addition, there is a booming private sector dedicated to the design and sale of drones that can be easily flown by citizens. In the future, drones will continue to expand away outside of military and government use, and will develop even further among private citizens.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is currently drafting guidelines that will outline private drone use - but until then - the market is still essentially a new-age version of the wild west.