Rise of the Drones
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Rise of the Drones
Investigating the future of unmanned aerial vehicles.
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United Nations’ Drones: A Sign of What’s to Come?

United Nations’ Drones: A Sign of What’s to Come? | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it

While the prospect of weaponised UN drones remains remote, more worrying – and perhaps less evident –  is the idea that this deployment might augur an era of increasingly intrusive surveillance by UN bodies in the name of humanitarian good. In a June briefing to the UN Security Council, MONUSCO’s Force Commander enthusiastically promoted the use of drones in the eastern DRC and also notably endorsed a more expansive scope for surveillance by the UN, stating,

[There is] the potential to make much greater use of surveillance technology to bolster monitoring capacity, as in the context of cross-border activity. We have borders with many countries and more than 50 armed groups operating close to those borders, which they may cross, leading to broader disturbances. High-resolution imagery could be of significant use as material evidence. In a similar vein, the selective employment of signals intelligence could enable peacekeepers to stay one step ahead of those posing a threat to peace, which would undoubtedly help to mitigate the risks both to the population and to United Nations troops and personnel.”

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Matternet: Swapping roads for flying drones

Matternet: Swapping roads for flying drones | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it
Two start-ups want to replace road transport with internet-style technology and swarms of tiny autonomous helicopters.

 

The Matternet concept grew out of lengthy brainstorming sessions last summer at Singularity University, which is located at the NASA Research Park campus in Silicon Valley. The University was founded by Dr. Peter Diamandis, founder of the X-Prize Foundation, and Dr. Ray Kurzweil, who is known for his work in artificial intelligence and transhumanism.

 

One of those involved in those sessions was Andreas Raptopoulos, an engineer with a life-long love of flying vehicles.

 

"In the course, they asked us to come up with solutions to some of the globe's grand challenges," says Raptopoulos. "And one of those was alleviating poverty."

 

Quadcopter swarm

 

The more the group thought about the problem of poverty, the more they felt it was, in large part, caused by the fact that millions of people are cut off, literally, from the global economy because of a lack of delivery infrastructure.

 

"The concept of using roads to move stuff around is a very, very old concept," Raptopoulos tells me. "The US has now more than  miles of roads. But should Africa try to replicate that? It is expensive, and it destroys the environment."
 
Eventually, the group considered the merits of an unconventional delivery system. Why not, they thought, use a network of unmanned aerial drones to move physical objects the way the internet carries small packets of information through various routes, and then puts all those pieces together again at the end?

 

“That’s when the idea clicked for me,” says Mint Wongviriyawong, who was also a member of the group. “If you could use these UAVs to transport things from point-to-point, you could transport a lot of loads, autonomously, within a shorter time frame, and it could be done cheaply.”

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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 & New UMD Tech Help Protect Wildlife from Poacher

A series of "flawless" test flights have shown that unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, combined with anti-poaching computer software can successfully protect rhinoceros from poachers in the SouthAfrican bush.

 

The first night flight of the UAV, nicknamed "Terrapin One", took place on May 26 at the Olifant West section of the Balule GameReserve near Krueger National Park. The team used its analytical model to locate a rhino and its calf in just a few minutes. Flying around the rhinos in a grid pattern, the UAV spotted a suspicious car close by and the team alerted the authorities immediately.

 

"We believe this is the first time that a UAV has been flown at night, with an infrared camera, where rhinos were identified from the air and a possible poaching event was successfully deterred," Snitch said. "As we say at the University of Maryland, 'Fear the Turtle.' "

 

 

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U.N. wants to use drones for peacekeeping missions

U.N. wants to use drones for peacekeeping missions | Rise of the Drones | Scoop.it

The U.N. Department of Peacekeeping has notified Congo, Rwanda and Uganda that it intends to deploy a unit of at least three unarmed surveillance drones in the eastern region of Congo.


... the effort is encountering resistance from governments, particularly those from the developing world, that fear the drones will open up a new intelligence-gathering front dominated by Western powers and potentially supplant the legions of African and Asian peacekeepers who now act as the United Nations’ eyes and ears on the ground. (...)


U.N. officials have sought to allay the suspicions, saying there is no intention to arm the drones or to spy on countries that have not consented to their use.

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