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Robotics research has focused on factory automation, greeting customers in malls and shopping centers, but could one day soon have a new purpose: flying your meals and drinks to you while you dine at restaurants in Singapore. Infinium-Serve is the new fleet of autonomous flying robotic waiters that will be able to serve as waiters - and help reduce burden on labor problems in Singapore.
The robotic waiters could be deployed by the end of 2015, with Infinium Robotics currently trying to receive government grants to help pay for the project. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong saw an in-person test of the Infinium-Serve earlier this year, however, it remains unknown where he stands on the research.
"Introducing this technology into restaurants would take away mundane tasks of serving food and drinks," said Woon Junyang, Infinium Robotics CEO, in a statement. "It will allow human waiters to focus on higher-value tasks such as getting feedback from customers. This will result in an enhanced dining experience, which will eventually lead to increased sales and revenue for the restaurants."
French authorities are still looking for solutions to prevent future unauthorized drone flights over its nuclear power plant facilities, with 13 different incidents occurring between October 5 and November 2. Despite flying drones one kilometer in altitude - or within five kilometers around nuclear sites - is illegal, these random incidents continued to increase.
As security threats around critical infrastructure, public gatherings, and sporting events increases, trying to detect drone flights remains difficult.
To detect these types of drone flights, using the Spynel, a sensor created by HGH Infrared Systems, provides UAV detection and tracking. The system has a 360-degree infrared thermal imaging camera and uses custom software to detect and track drones up to 11 kilometers away. It has been in use since 2007 - and could prove to be one answer to prevent unauthorized drone flights, helping protect infrastructure and civilians.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has received an increasing number of near-collisions between small drones and airliners. There have been 25 incidents between small drones and pilots, according to commercial airlines, air-traffic controllers, and private pilots. Furthermore, there have been at least 175 incidents where drones were spotted near restricted airspace or near airports.
Most private drones are only a few feet in diameter, and weigh less than 10 pounds, but could be catastrophic if sucked into a jet engine or clips a plane's propeller, flight experts warn.
As more citizens begin to purchase and fly drones, the problem will only increase - leaving the FAA and pilots concerned it could be only a matter of time before a collision occurs.
Work smarter, not harder - including on the farm, which are embracing robotics and technology. Some dairy farmers are deploying new robots that make milking cows more efficient and timely, freeing up time for workers to conduct other tasks. Two machines cost $640,000 and necessary barn renovations increased the total cost up to $800,000 before milking even began.
Now, farmers feed the cows at the same time, but they are able to be milked on "their own schedule," with help from the LBJ Farm Equipment Lely robotic milking machines. The machine is able to read a custom collar, identifying each cow, ensuring it is time for them to be milked - if a cow enters the stall too early, it is guided out of the machine.
The machine has a set of brushes that clean and air dry the teats before the milking process begins, then the machine uses lasers and a 3D camera to know the proper location of the cow. The Lely machine also tracks the cow's weight, temperature, and other vital information to help farmers verify each cow is healthy.
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.