Rise of the Drones
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Rise of the Drones
Investigating the future of unmanned aerial vehicles.
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RAF drone pilots to get their own wings

RAF drone pilots to get their own wings | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it
Air force chief Stephen Dalton says new badges for remotely controlled UAVs recognises service's increasing reliance on them.

Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute, Dalton said unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) would be essential for the RAF and argued the service also had to look to space as another "new fertile ground for intellectual and technical development".

"With our partners we are seeking to exploit the military opportunities which technology can provide and to fully embrace the remotely piloted air systems potential," he told the thinktank.

"Their persistence, their sensors, the lethal precision of their weapons all contribute to a complementary and cost‑effective way to conduct warfare where operational threats and environments permit."

In recognition of the growing importance of remotely piloted air systems (RPAS), and the skill, complexity and professionalism needed to operate them, those who flew the aircraft would have their own badge, Dalton said.
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Burrito Bomber UAV delivers edible payload

Burrito Bomber UAV delivers edible payload | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it
Delivering fresh food to someone's door is far from unusual, but delivering it by flying drone is another story entirely. A team of designers at Darwin Aerospace recently built the "Burrito Bomber," a UAV outfitted with a release mechanism and autopilot controls, so it can take food orders and air drop them at a person's location within minutes.

Johnathan Fincher
17 Dec 2012
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Source: Darwin Aerospace

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Next-gen US drone: Now equipped with ‘death ray’ laser

Next-gen US drone: Now equipped with ‘death ray’ laser | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it
The next generation of military drones, unveiled by a leading US manufacturer, will not just carry a limited supply of rockets – but will likely be fitted with an ultra-light laser, capable of repeatedly destroying objects at the speed of light.

“It would give us an unlimited magazine,” a person close to the High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System (HELLADS) program told Time magazine.

Over the past four years, the Defense Advance Research Project Agency (DARPA) has given contractor General Atomics over $60 million to develop and then scale HELLADS – a powerful 150 kW ray with a difference.

RT.com
11 Dec 2012
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Scientists develop swarm of ping-pong ball-sized robots

Correll and his computer science research team, including research associate Dustin Reishus and professional research assistant Nick Farrow, have developed a basic robotic building block, which he hopes to reproduce in large quantities to develop increasingly complex systems.

Correll plans to use the droplets to demonstrate self-assembly and swarm-intelligent behaviors such as pattern recognition, sensor-based motion and adaptive shape change. These behaviors could then be transferred to large swarms for water- or air-based tasks.

Correll hopes to create a design methodology for aggregating the droplets into more complex behaviors such as assembling parts of a large space telescope or an aircraft.

Machines Like Us
16 Dec 2012
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Homeland Security increasingly lending drones to local police

Homeland Security increasingly lending drones to local police | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it
The little-noticed August 2011 incident at the Lakota, N.D., ranch, which ended peacefully, was a watershed moment for Americans: it was one of the first known times an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) owned by the U.S. government was used against civilians for local police work.

Since then, the Washington Guardian has confirmed, DHS and its Customs and Border Protection agency have deployed drones — originally bought to guard America’s borders — to assist local law enforcement and other federal agencies on several occasions.

The practice is raising questions inside and outside government about whether federal officials may be creating an ad-hoc, loan-a-drone program without formal rules for engagement, privacy protection or taxpayer reimbursements. The drones used by CPB can cost between $15 million and $34 million each to buy, and have hourly operational costs as well.

In addition, DHS recently began distributing $4 million in grants to help local law enforcement buy its own, smaller versions of drones, opening a new market for politically connected drone makers as the wars overseas shrink.
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Swimming robot reaches Australia

Swimming robot reaches Australia | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it
A marine robot has completed a record-breaking 9,000 nautical mile (16,668km) trip across the Pacific Ocean.

BBC
05 Dec 2012
ddrrnt's insight:

The robot was gathering data about phytoplankton, both as a food source for other sea life, as well as a carbon sink. It is said to provide greater detail than satellite data.  


The PacX Wave Glider is manufactured by Liquid Robotics, a US based company. 

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The dronefather

The dronefather | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it

Abe Karem created the robotic plane that transformed the way modern warfare is waged—and continues to pioneer other airborne innovations


“I WAS not the guy who put missiles on the Predator,” says Abe Karem, the aerospace engineer behind America’s most successful and most feared military drone. “I just wanted UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) to perform to the same standards of safety, reliability and performance as manned aircraft.”


When Mr Karem arrived in America from Israel in 1977, the Pentagon had almost given up on robotic planes. At the time its most promising UAV, the Aquila, needed 30 people to launch it, flew for just minutes at a time and crashed on average every 20 flight hours. “It was insanity itself,” says Mr Karem. “It was obvious to me they were going to crash because they had 30 people doing something that could be done better by three.”


Mr Karem founded a company, Leading Systems, in the garage of his Los Angeles home and began work on a drone that would ultimately transform the way America wages war. It was built in an intentionally low-tech manner, using plywood, home-made fibreglass and a two-stroke engine of the kind normally found in go-karts. “I wanted to prove that performance is largely a result of inspired design and highly optimised and integrated subsystems, not the application of the most advanced technology,” he says.


More at the Economist 

01 Dec 2012


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dhorn's curator insight, December 14, 2012 9:58 PM

The mind is a terrible thing to waste on new ways of killing other minds.

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Air Force May Be Developing Stealth Drones in Secret

Air Force May Be Developing Stealth Drones in Secret | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it

The Air Force’s multi-billion-dollar drone fleets may have helped against the insurgents of Iraq and Afghanistan. But in a fight against a real military like China’s, the relatively defenseless unmanned aerial vehicles would get shot down in a second. So once again, the air will belong to traditional, manned bombers and fighters able to survive the sophisticated air defenses.


Via dhorn
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Sheriff’s ‘Crowd Control’ Spy Drone Suspended After Privacy Uproar

Sheriff’s ‘Crowd Control’ Spy Drone Suspended After Privacy Uproar | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it

"Despite official assurances that the drone would only be used for:
search and rescue efforts the Sheriff has previously suggested that the drone could be used:


to hunt for marijuana farms, and “track suspects with guns,” referring to such operations as “proactive policing.”


"The device can also be fitted with thermal imaging devices that would allow police to: see inside buildings, as well as license plate readers and laser radar."


"An internal memo from the Sheriff’s Office dated July 20 also indicated that the department identified uses for the drone, including:
monitoring barricaded suspects, investigative and tactical surveillance, intelligence gathering, tracking suspicious persons and overseeing large crowd control disturbances."

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Great images but do drones invade privacy

Great images but do drones invade privacy | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it

As drone cameras produce ever-more spectacular footage, there are concerns the remote-controlled mini-aircraft might be used to invade people's privacy.


The BBC's Colin Paterson has been taking a look at some of the images - and finding out why there are calls for legislation.


see video at BBC

06 Dec 2012

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SA to use planes to save rhinos

SA to use planes to save rhinos | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it

South Africa is to deploy a reconnaissance aircraft to combat a massive rise in rhino poaching in recent years.



The plane will be equipped with surveillance equipment including thermal imaging to detect poachers.


It will patrol over the Kruger National Park, a vast reserve that borders Mozambique and home to two-thirds of South Africa's rhino population.


So far this year 588 rhinos have been killed in South Africa, in what is being called a "relentless onslaught".


That figure has risen from just 13 reported cases in 2007 as organised and well-armed crime syndicates target the animals.


South Africa is home to the world's largest rhino population - an estimated 18,000 white rhinos and 1,700 critically endangered black rhino.


The rhino horn is highly prized in traditional Asian medicine, even though there is no scientific proof of its effects. It sells for around $95,000 (£60,000) per kilo, almost twice the value of gold. (...)


The surveillance airplane for the Kruger National Park was donated by the Ichikowitz Family Foundation, whose chairman Ivor Ichikowitz said: "You have to fight fire with fire."

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Drone crashes mount at civilian airports

Drone crashes mount at civilian airports | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it

Reaper and Predator crashes in Africa occur perilously close to passenger jets, documents show.


A review of thousands of pages of unclassified Air Force investigation reports, obtained by The Washington Post under public-records requests, shows that drones flying from civilian airports have been plagued by setbacks.


Among the problems repeatedly cited are pilot error, mechanical failure, software bugs in the “brains” of the aircraft and poor coordination with civilian air-traffic controllers.


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Robocod: Homeland Security adds underwater drones to their arsenal with robots based on fish

Robocod: Homeland Security adds underwater drones to their arsenal with robots based on fish | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it

The BioSwimmer robot, being developed by Boston Engineering Corporation, has been designed to patrol coastal areas and search flooded parts of ships.


The new robot, named BioSwimmer, is actually based not on a cod but a tuna which is said to have the ideal natural shape for an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV). (...)


BioSwimmer uses the latest battery technology for long-duration operation and boasts an array of navigation, sensor processing, and communications equipment designed for constricted spaces.

ddrrnt's insight:

Conserve and protect : Scoping the seas


Also see The PacX Wave Glider 

An exception to "Airbourne" is "Oceanic"


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A Twitter Feed That Follows Every U.S. Drone Attack

A Twitter Feed That Follows Every U.S. Drone Attack | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it
NYU grad student Josh Begley is behind two of the more successful attempts to insert the drone debate into media coverage: an app called Drone+, banned by Apple, which would alert users each time the U.S. carries out a drone strike, and include the death toll. This week, Begley fired up @dronestream, a Twitter timeline of every documented U.S. drone strike from 2002-2012.

Abby Ohlheiser
14 Dec 2012
ddrrnt's insight:

The feed is said to use data from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism,


This article also references the Living Under Drones report, "which compiled over 130 interviews with victims, witnesses, and experts on drone strikes in Pakistan."

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US Air Force may be secretly developing next generation of stealth drones

US Air Force may be secretly developing next generation of stealth drones | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it
Bill Sweetman (of Aviation Week) reports that Lockheed Martin and Northrup Grumman are behind the new drones, which include a "Next Generation" stealth bomber and UAV reconnaissance plane. None of these plans have been officially disclosed, however, highlighting a significant contrast to the Air Force's public-facing side, which has repeatedly expressed reluctance about incorporating drones as its mainstay. In 2008, then-US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that trying to get the Air Force to expand its drone armies was "like pulling teeth."

Joshua Kopstein
10 Dec 2012
ddrrnt's insight:

Here's the full story in Aviation Week.

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Britain’s ‘under-trained’ drone pilots create ‘significant risks’

Britain’s ‘under-trained’ drone pilots create ‘significant risks’ | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it
Badly trained pilots are creating “significant risks” to Britain’s unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) programme, a military investigation has found.

A probe by the Military Aviation Authority found that “increasing demands” on drones used for surveillance and intelligence-gathering were “constraining the length of time available to train and qualify” new pilots, according to extracts printed in Tuesday’s Times.

MPs are due to debate the country’s involvement in drone warfare later Tuesday and Labour plans to push the government over whether unmanned aircraft will be deployed to kill terrorist suspects.

“We must clarify the rules, given the significance and spread of the technology,” shadow armed forces minister Kevan Jones will say, according to the Times.

“Whether valid or not, there is a public perception that unmanned technology is shrouded in secrecy, which increases the potential for its demonisation.

“Being open about usage and codifying our policy would help confront this, and would increase accountability and transparency in the system,” he will add.

The Raw Story
By Agence France-Presse
11 Dec 2012
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Berkeley, wants to establish a "no drone zone"

Berkeley, wants to establish a "no drone zone" | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it
From Patch.

Even as the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department considers buying an unmanned aerial vehicle, Berkeley City Council will discuss declaring the city a No Drone Zone.

Arguing that drones are unsafe and pose a threat to civil liberties, Berkeley’s Peace and Justice Commission is recommending that the city council adopt a resolution this month proclaiming:

"1. Berkeley a No Drone Zone and instructing the City Attorney to perform the necessary legal tasks to transform this declaration of a No Drone Zone into an Ordinance for the City of Berkeley wherein drones are hereby banned from airspace.

2. That drones will not be purchased, leased, borrowed, tested or otherwise used by any agency of the City of Berkeley over the City of Berkeley, including drones in transit.

3. That exemptions will be made for hobbyists to continue to fly remote controlled model aircraft in specified areas, away from dwellings and the urban cityscape of people and buildings as long as those devices are not equipped with any kind of camera or audio surveillance equipment."
ddrrnt's insight:

Via Patch 

Does the county sheriff need a drone?

Also see: 

Calif. Residents Concerned By Drone Use In Law Enforcement

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Drone learns from humans how to navigate a forest - DIY Drones

Drone learns from humans how to navigate a forest - DIY Drones | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it
From the ROS blog:
The Robotics Institute at CMU has been developing systems to learn from humans. Using a Machine Learning class of techniques called Imitation Learning the group has developed AI software for a small commercially available off-the-shelf ARdrone to autonomously fly through the dense trees for over 3.4 km in experimental runs. They are also developing methods to do longer range planning with such purely vision-guided UAVs. Such technology has a lot of potential impact for surveillance, search and rescue and allowing UAVs to safely share airspace with manned airspace.
ddrrnt's insight:

Watch the video at DIYdrones to see the drone fly through an unstructured environment. 


More re: Autopilot

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Precise autonomous payload placement using a UAV with giant robotic arm and low cost depth perception vision

Precise autonomous payload placement using a UAV with giant robotic arm and low cost depth perception vision | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it
A DARPA-funded technology demonstration recently finished a successful testing of vision-driven robotic-arm payload emplacement using MLB Company’s tail-sitter UAV, V-Bat. This UAV is capable of both hover and wing-borne flight, making the delivery and precision emplacement of a payload possible. A special robotic arm was designed with the capability of carrying up to 1 pound.

The research team designed and developed a low-cost vision system to estimate the target’s position relative to the hovering vehicle in real time. This vision system enables the UAV to search and find the target for the emplacement autonomously and then perform the action.

DARPA’s precision emplacement technology demonstration paves the way for precise long-range delivery of small payloads into difficult-to-reach environments.
ddrrnt's insight:

UAV's are learning how to pick up and transport things. Who knows, maybe one day they'll pick you up.  Care for a ride?

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iRobot Founder Now Building Tiny Hovering Drone Spies

iRobot Founder Now Building Tiny Hovering Drone Spies | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it

 Four years ago, iRobot co-founder Helen Greiner stepped down from the company she helped turn into an all-important supplier of the military’s growing arsenal of ground robots. Now today, she’s unveiled the first ‘bots to roll off her new company’s assembly line. What are they? Teeny tiny hovering drones, designed to fly through your window and spy on you.


The first is Ease, or “Extreme Access System for Entry.” Really, it’s a tiny hover-bot designed for “intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.” And it’s small enough — it only has a 1-foot diameter and a height of 16 inches from top to bottom – to fly through windows and maneuver through buildings with its ducted fan engine.


The other new drone is the Parc, or “Persistent Aerial Reconnaissance and Communications.” Like Ease, it also hovers. But the Parc is designed to fly high and for long periods of time, and resembles a flying bug with four skinny legs and a quadrotor. The robot can hover at 1,000 feet while being powered — like the Ease — by a microfilament line


Danger Room | Wired.com

Robert Beckhusen 

03 Dec 2012

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AR Drone That Infects Other Drones With Virus Wins DroneGames

AR Drone That Infects Other Drones With Virus Wins DroneGames | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it

AR Drones can be much, much more than awesome toys. Just recently, we've see how the (relatively) inexpensive and versatile flying robots have been used as research tools, but the sky's the limit as to what you can do with them, so to speak. DroneGames, which took place over the weekend in San Francisco, tasked programmers with hacking the UAVs in the most interesting and creative ways possible.


In third place was "TooTall Nate," with a hack that lets you an AR Drone over a cellular networks with a Verizon MiFi card, resulting in unlimited range as long as you've got a decent cell connection.


Second place went to a team of freshmen from Stanford, who figured out a way to control lots of different drones with just one computer. They'll be putting it up on Github, just search for "multidrone."


And in first place was James Halliday, who wrote a virus that will infect an AR Drone, and then use that drone to infect any other AR Drones it comes across, "causing them all to be p0wned and run amok." Or if you want to be less evil about it, it's a handy way to automatically deploy software onto a bunch of AR Drones at once. It's available on Github under "virus-copter."


A crowd favorite seemed to be the project in the picture up top, from engineers at Groupon. They taught a drone to behave itself on the end of a leash, which is neat, but it's also constantly taking pictures and performing facial recognition, posting the resulting images to Twitter in real-time.


Via dhorn
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Drones aid rare species watching

Drones aid rare species watching | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it

Drones could soon be helping protect rhinos, tigers and elephants in Africa and Asia, thanks to cash from Google.


Controlled via a tablet computer, the small autonomous aircraft will photograph poachers and track animals via smart radio tags.


The World Wildlife Fund added the $5m (£3.1m) grant would also fund software that could map where poachers strike.


And it was developing a mobile DNA sampling kit to match body parts with animals.


The WWF said poaching and trafficking of body parts was having a devastating effect on the wild populations of some species, setting back decades long conservation efforts.


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Dad Builds Drone to Walk Son to Bus Stop | Mashable

Dad Builds Drone to Walk Son to Bus Stop | Mashable | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it

A man created a camera-equipped quadcopter drone, a helicopter with four rotors instead of the usual two, to follow his son to the bus stop. All parts of the drone were bought separately, and he attached a smartphone equipped with a video chat app to use as his camera: 


What do you think about this dad's DIY drone project? (G+)


View full article at Mashable.

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Iran TV shows 'captured US drone'

Iran TV shows 'captured US drone' | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it

Iranian state television shows images of what it says is an unmanned US drone captured in its airspace, but the US Navy denies losing one.


The Revolutionary Guards said they had brought down a ScanEagle - one of the smaller, less sophisticated drones employed by the Americans.


Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi told the Fars news agency that the drone had conducted several reconnaissance flights over the Gulf in recent days.


But the US Navy said none of its drones was missing in the Middle East.


Other nations in the region, including the United Arab Emirates, also operate ScanEagles - low-cost, long-endurance aircraft with a 10ft (3m) wingspan, Associated Press says.

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Infowars to hold Drone mob.

Infowars to hold Drone mob. | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it

The FAA might not be too happy with this event and neither might the makers of the X6 enjoy their platforms being used in promotional material. Looks from where I sit that Zilker Park lies underneath controlled airspace surrounding Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (KAUS) There might be an arrangement allowing normal hobby RC aircraft to fly in the park, but of course UA fall outside of that remit.


sUAS News

Gary Morimer

01 Dec 2012

ddrrnt's insight:

Outcome : Hack and Resist 

Can we Hack a Drone before it 'Hacks' our Liberty on a Massive Scale? [InfoWars video]

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