Drones News - Page 7
The US military wants to create solutions to identify and engage enemy drones, as new technologies allow warfare to evolve and change at a significant rate. Future wars will likely rely on drones and robots, with a lot of attention dedicated towards small drones.
The US Navy is currently working with the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, while the Naval Air Station Patuxent River has a research agreement with the University of Maryland. Johns Hopkins is helping create a drone defense system, and the University of Maryland wants to more accurately identify drones.
"These things are in everybody's hands," said Conrad Grant, a researcher at the Johns Hopkins physics laboratory. Consumers can purchase small drones for a few hundred dollars, leading the way to anyone being able to carry out suspicious activities against the police or military.
Researchers are working on a new drone that is able to automatically unfold itself and quickly go airborne, with the compact and foldable drone ideally suited for emergency first response. The custom quadcopter drone is able to launch in less than one second, and is easily transportable since it's the size of the palm of your hand.
The current prototype has to be folded up by hand - taking less than 10 seconds with a skilled operator - but an auto-fold feature is in development. The drone weighs just 1.3 ounces, so first responders at a natural disaster site could launch a number of these small aircraft to help survey a site.
"You can take it out of the box, switch on the motor, and it's ready to fly," said Dr. Stefano Mintchev, professor of robotics at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, in a statement to LiveScience.
Drone technology is advancing rapidly, and it may not be too much longer when humans will no longer need to directly control them, according to Intel.
During the Intel Future Showcase in the UK, Intel and Ascending Technologies showed off a drone that uses six Intel RealSense Cameras - that power the drone so it can fly by itself. Using the onboard cameras, a drone can create a real-time 360-degree map of the world, supporting depth and distance analyzing functionality. The idea of a self-navigating drone might be frightening to some, but appears to be a small glimpse of the future.
"Ultimately it will make for a safer and more useful robot... it can avoid people for example, so we can be less likely the drone will run into someone and cause harm," said Scott Dwyer, product and marketing manager at Intel, in a statement published by BT.
Valeo, a well-known French automotive parts manufacturer, is utilizing technology from defense contractor Safran, in an effort to provide self-driving vehicle software technology by 2020. Valeo wants to provide carmakers with applications in the next three years, as autonomous vehicles are on the horizon.
Both companies fitted a Volkswagen CC for a live demonstration, and the vehicle was equipped with radar, lidar and camera systems - able to adapt to slow-moving and stopped vehicles, live traffic lights, and posted speed limits.
"We realized very quickly that we had much more in common than we'd expected," said Guillaume Devauchelle, innovation chief for Valeo, in a statement to Reuters. "It turns out than an autonomous vehicle is really a terrestrial drone."
Drones are being embraced by Hollywood directors, as the small unmanned aircraft are able to capture photographs and video footage from unique angles. Drones also are being tasked with live news footage, as they can be rapidly deployed and are relatively inexpensive.
However, there is some concern related to drone safety due to the ease in which drones can be utilized - experience isn't really a necessity before flying a drone. It can become even more dangerous on a film set, which tend to be high-pressure and fast-moving.
"Whenever you have a tool at your disposal that allows you to tell the story more efficiently and more poignantly, you use it," said Pieter Jan Brugge, executive producer of "Bosch," in a statement published by the Wall Street Journal. "The shot tells the story."
3D Robotics has released the DroneKit API for drone app development, and the free open software can be used for drone apps or onboard drone software.
The purpose of releasing the API for the community is so those interested in drones are able to customize how they use them in the field. DroneKit allows for waypoint flight paths, drones can follow GPS targets, view playbacks and log analysis of flights, and other advantages currently unavailable.
"Unlike other APIs for drones, there are no levels of access to DroneKit; it's completely flexible and open," said Brandon Basso, VP of software engineering for 3DR. "The platform works on laptops as well as mobile devices. Best of all, once an app is created, the app automatically works on any computing platform - the interface is always the same."
Earlier in the week, the US Secret Service said it will conduct drone exercises near the White House and throughout the Washington, D.C. area. The tests are expected over the next few weeks, but times, dates and locations for the exercises weren't made available.
Ironically, it's a decision that comes weeks after a drunk federal employee crashed his drone on White House property. Although it was ultimately a harmless incident, it revealed a potential threat with more drones taking to the skies.
The Secret Service didn't offer very many details and only offered this statement:
The use of drones and robotics will be more prevalent in future warfare, providing a great technological edge to a few leading nations. The US and UK might be most recognized as drone leaders, but there are almost 90 different countries using military robotics.
When the US began military operations in Iraq more than 10 years ago, there were only a small number of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) available. However, there are now more than 7,000 drones, including aircraft, helicopters, and unmanned ships and other sea-based craft - and the US military wants to purchase even more options.
The use of drones also allows for military strikes against targets too dangerous or remote for fighter pilots and ground troops. Faster development of artificial intelligence has some experts worried if robotics and drones may become too smart for mankind's good.
Ukrainian forces are overwhelmed by drones and electronic jamming from pro-Russian separatists, as electronic warfare shows how devastating it can be on the battlefield. Ukrainian soldiers lack proper training and equipment to stop continued artillery strikes, and cannot communicate with one another due to radio signals being jammed.
"It is very difficult for Ukrainian forces to be able to operate on radios, telephones and other non-secure means of communications because their opponents have such an exceptional amount of jamming capability," said Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, commander of US Army Europe, in a statement to reporters. "Even if you can acquire where mortar or rockets are coming from, to be able to do something about it is very difficult if you can't communicate."
In addition to electronic warfare, pro-Russian fighters are using drones to conduct surveillance operations - collecting intelligence on Ukrainian military defenses and locations. The drones likely originated from the Russian government, and have become vital in coordinated artillery and mortar strikes against Ukrainian soldiers.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a new statement verifying the Super Bowl is a "no drone zone," and anyone caught flying a drone near the stadium faces potential criminal charges. There is a mix between security and safety concerns and copyright regarding filming sporting events, so drone operators should avoid the potential headache.
"The FAA bars unauthorized aircraft - including drones - from flying over or near NFL regular- and post-season football games," according to a statement from the FAA. "The same restriction applies to NCAA college games in stadiums seating 30,000 or more fans, Major League Baseball games and many NASCAR events."
The FAA is struggling to create private and commercial drone flight laws, as the number of unmanned aircraft continues to rise in the United States. However, the FAA is straightforward when it comes to the Super Bowl and other major sporting events: "If you want to see video of the Big Game, watch it on TV. Leave your drone at home."