Items tagged with drones

John Henry was a steel driving railroad man who, according to legend, bested a steam-powered rock drilling machine in a competition many, many years ago. I'm reminded of this because it's one of my favorite songs performed by my late grandfather and great uncle, and now decades later, man versus machine is still a relevant topic as the United States Air Force gets read to pit a AI-powered autonomous fighter jet against a human pilot. Things have changed dramatically since the days of John Henry and steam-powered machines. Artificial intelligence has improved machines by leaps and bounds, and every so often, we are reminded of the potential AI holds. For example, when IBM's Watson beat the greatest... Read more...
The United States Interior Department is home to one of the largest fleets of aerial drones in the US government, with more than 800 of them in the agency's employ. However, every single one of them has reportedly been grounded. They are not defective, and instead this is said to be a precautionary measure over growing tensions with China. At issue here is that each of the drones is either made in China, or uses parts sourced from Chinese factories, according to what a "person familiar with the matter" told The Wall Street Journal. The apparent concern is one of national security—as tensions between the US and China continue to grow, it was decided to ground the drones while government... Read more...
Earlier this week, many details (including images) of DJI's new Mavic Mini drone leaked onto the internet. Today, however, DJI has officially introduced the newest member to its growing family. In most respects, the Mavic Mini is both a shrunken down version of the Mavic Air -- thanks to its folding legs that allow for a more compact shape when transporting -- and a replacement for the aging entry-level Spark. The tiny drone weighs in at a mere 249 grams, which is just 1 gram shy of the FAA-mandated 250-gram limit when registration is required. Giving that Mavic Mini serves as flying photography platform, we should mention that the camera uses a 1/2.3-inch sensor that is capable of... Read more...
Drone maker DJI is getting ready to release a new Mavic Mini model that is so small in size it can fit in a person's hand, when folded up. It also checks in under the size and weight requirement by the Federal Aviation Administration for having to be registered, and according to an early product listing, it can fly for up to 30 minutes per charge. This very drone has been the subject of at least one previous leak, so it's not exactly flying into the scene completely out of the blue. However, a listing at Newegg Canada (via a marketplace seller) reveals some details about the Mavic Mini that we did not previously know. One is the weight—it's listed at 249 grams, whereas the previous leak... Read more...
If you have any aspiration of owning a DJI Mavic drone, brace yourself for having to fork over several hundred dollars, or even over a grand—MSRPs range from $799 for the Mavic Air all the way up to $1,899 for the Mavic 2. Accessories and add-ons are extra. A cheaper variant may be in the wings, however, with rumors of a Mavic Mini drone debuting for $399. If there is in fact a Mavic Mini done and it debuts at that price, it would be the least expensive Mavic model available. Incidentally, $399 is what DJI's Spark drone now costs (it debuted at $499). The Mavic series is more fully featured, with one of the key upgrades being the ability to record videos at 4K—the Spark records at... Read more...
Nothing about the image above terrifies me. Nope. I am completely calm that a flamethrower attachment now exists for drones. Or maybe they have always existed and I have just been blissfully unaware that people could rain down hellfire on a whim. Well, a whim and big bankroll—Throwflame's new TF-19 WASP flamethrower drone attachment costs $1,499. I'm not panicking. Not one bit. After all, Throwflame designed this for heavy-duty drone platforms with a payload capacity of 5 pounds or more, not the cheap alternatives that one might buy at Walmart. The company's platform of choice is the DJI S1000, which is the same price. So going all-in on an aerial vomiting devil of fiery death is around... Read more...
Intel has announced the latest its long line of RealSense Tracking Cameras, the T265. The chipmaker is touting the T265 as a new class of standalone inside-out tracking devices that can give developers the tools they need to build autonomous devices with high-performance guidance and navigation. Intel's T265 tracking camera uses proprietary visual simultaneous localization, and mapping (V-SLAM) tech that Intel says is key for applications that need a "highly accurate and low-latency tracking solution," and it notes its tech is ideal for robotics, drones, augmented reality, and virtual reality. The T265 is powered by an Intel Movidius Myriad 2 vision processing unit (VPU) that handles all the... Read more...
SZ DJI Technology Co Ltd., the world largest producer of consumer drones, recently discovered several cases of fraud within their own company. The Chinese technology company may lose more than $150 million USD (1 billion CN¥) due to the corruption. DJI is currently investigating the cases and have already contacted law enforcement. DJI discovered the corruption through a routine quality check. Various employees inflated the cost of drone parts in order to line their own pockets. The China Securities Journal reported that at least 40 people had already been investigated and several employees have been fired. The DJI Mavic Air Drone DJI spokeswoman Hong Yongxin stated, “We are taking... Read more...
Let me say right off the bat that I am not the guy you want flinging $1,200 drones through the sky, especially around cliffs, the ocean, and dense forests, all of which are common where I live. But I took one for the team and decided to check out the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom anyway. You see, I have issues with both directions and spatial relationships; I can get lost in my shower, and concepts such as "north," "south," and "up the road" are foreign to me. Thus, on the road, I simply drive where my wife points. (Also, I should mention that I'm old and cranky. Possibly because my wife is always pointing and telling me where to go.) The DJI Mavic 2 Zoom is simply too valuable a piece of equipment to entrust... Read more...
Most of the time when there is a legal issue involving the use of drones, it's because the owner flew the gadget in a restricted area—there are strict rules that govern the use of drones. In China, however, authorities arrested over two dozen suspects for allegedly using drones to smuggle Apple iPhone devices worth an estimated 500 million yuan (around $79.8 million in US currency). A local Chinese report by the Legal Daily says 26 suspects used drones to life a pair of cables each measuring 660 feet long, and essentially creating a zip line between Hong Kong and Shenzhen, according to Reuters. Authorities then claim they waited until nighttime to lift and transport small bags filled with... Read more...
There is good money to be earned from being an software exterminator. Several companies have so-called bug bounty programs in place in which they pay out rewards for rooting out certain software flaws and vulnerabilities. DJI, a major player in consumer and professinal drones and aerial imaging technology, is the latest to the join the fray. Through its Threat Identification Reward Program, researchers can earn up to five figures per bug. "Security researchers, academic scholars and independent experts often provide a valuable service by analyzing the code in DJI’s apps and other software products and bringing concerns to public attention," said DJI Director of Technical Standards Walter Stockwell.... Read more...
In case you did not know, professional drone racing is a thing these days. The top dog in the drone racing circuit is the Drone Racing League (DRL), which just recently tested what is officially the fastest racing drone in the world. Guinness World Records was on hand for the record breaking attempt for the "Fastest ground speed by a battery-powered remote-controlled quadcopter," which DRL set with its RacerX drone. In order to set the record, the drone was required to fly back and forth across a course measuring 100 meters (328 feet). Guinness World Records goes by the average of the top speed on each flight, rather than the peak top speed. As such, the official speed set by the RacerX is 163.5... Read more...
Snap, formerly known as Snapchat, is best known for its popular app that allows users to take pictures and videos that are viewable by recipients for up to 10 seconds. It became a huge hit and is still being widely used, though Snap apparently has other aspirations that include hardware. Hot the heels of announcing special eye-wear for Snapchat, word on the web is that Snap wants to build a drone. That information comes courtesy of three people who told The New York Times they've been briefed on the matter, but asked to remain anonymous because the details are not supposed to be made public. According to the sources, Snap's intention is to further solidify itself as a camera company. What does... Read more...
Given how popular drones are nowadays, it's becoming more common to see them put to use in new and imaginative ways. Unfortunately, folks don't always know where and when it's safe to fly them. In some cases, users might know, but still disregard the rules put in place for safety in the skies, and instead just take their chances anyway. And it just so happens Lady Gaga is a performer known for taking chances...  We learn today that the NFL might betray a no fly order from the FAA (as the organization has put in place in the past) at tonight's Super Bowl Half-Time show, though something tells us they probably have pre-clearance. Regardless, earlier this week, the Federal Aviation... Read more...
It appears that consumers are just now getting used to the idea of self-driving cars. Many mainstream car companies are offering vehicles with lane-keep assist, automatic cruise control, and auto braking. In addition, companies like Tesla and Waymo have made serious inroads in bringing fully autonomous vehicles closer to production reality. But what about self-flying aircraft? Are we ready for that? According to Airbus, that autonomous flying future will soon be upon us to spare people from bumper-to-bumper traffic along the motorways. The company has embarked on Project Vahana, which is a Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft similar in concept to the V-22 Osprey, but on a much smaller... Read more...
Flirtey, the drone delivery service that made headlines earlier this year for partnering with Domino's Pizza to deliver pies by sky in New Zealand, is back in the news. This time it is for a commercial collaboration with 7-Eleven, the popular convenience store chain. The two outfits completed a month-long test of delivering goods purchased from 7-Eleven by drone to customer homes in the United States. Welcome to the future, folks. As one of the customers who participated in the program notes, this is like "the real-life Jetsons." This also marks an historical moment for Flirtey, which can now brag that it is the first drone delivery service to complete regular commercial delivers to customers... Read more...
Amazon announced this morning that its Prime Air drone delivery service is off to an excellent start. While many thought that Prime Air was little more than fantasy when Amazon first announced the initiative three years ago, the first beta flight involving a paying customer actually took place without issue on December 7th. The customer, only identified at Richard B., is located just two miles from Amazon’s Prime Air fulfillment center. The first Prime Air delivery consisted of an Amazon Fire TV (4K model, of course) and a bag of popcorn to most likely kick back and enjoy the inaugural season of The Grand Tour. The total time from when Richard B. clicked the order button until when the order... Read more...
Apple Maps got off to a rocky start when it launched in September 2012, and its early high-profile failures resulted in the ouster of Scott Forstall, senior vice president of iOS. While Apple Maps has improved significantly over the past four years, many consider the mapping application to still be behind market leader Google Maps when it comes to mapping data and performance. According to a new report, Apple is looking to catch and perhaps surpass Google thanks to the use of aerial drones that will be able to quickly monitor changes to roads, record new construction and even identify road signs. The use of drones would reportedly be faster and provide a much greater amount of data than the fleet... Read more...
Uh oh Houston, we have a problem. Er, make that San Mateo, the city in California where action camera maker GoPro is headquartered. GoPro has also begun dabbling in drones, though things have gotten off to a somewhat rocky start. By that we mean the company has issued a recall for its first drone, called Karma, while it figures out and fixes an issue that can cause it to lose power during flight. The good news for GoPro is that the market isn't flush with Karma drones. Only around 2,500 units have been purchased by consumers since the Karma launched last month, so this is far from a disastrous situation. Even better is that GoPro has not received any reports of injuries or property damage, so... Read more...
In the technology sector, you either adapt to an ever-changing landscape and innovate or whither away and day (some companies quicker than others). Enter GoPro, a household name in the action video recorder market for adventure seekers. Demand for the company's Hero line of cameras has dwindled causing it to post a loss in the third quarter. Can drones lift the company back up? GoPro collected $240.6 million in revenue for the three month period ended September 30, 2016, down 40 percent from $400.3 million year-over-year. After paying the bills, GoPro tallied a loss of $104 million for the quarter, compared to an $18.8 million profit in the same quarter last year. That's about a 654 percent swing... Read more...
One day soon you may look up and say, "It's a bird...it's a plane...no, it's a pie in the sky!" That's because Domino's Pizza has partnered with Flirtey, a tech startup that specializes in delivery by drone, to launch the world's first commercial pizza-by-drone delivery program. The effort kicks off in New Zealand and from there, well, the sky's the limit. "Launching the first commercial drone delivery service in the world is a landmark achievement for Flirtey and Domino's, soon you will be able to order a Flirtey to deliver your pizza on-demand," said Matt Sweeny, CEO of Flirtey. "New Zealand has the most forward-thinking aviation regulations in the world, and with the new U.S. drone regulations... Read more...
If you live in the United Kingdom, a drone instead of a human, may soon be delivering your Amazon packages. Amazon Prime Air is currently working with the United Kingdom government in order to test drones in rural and suburban areas. Amazon has been granted permission to fly drones beyond the line of sight of operations, test sensors on the drones to see if they can avoid obstacles on their own, and test to see if one person could potentially control several drones at once. Paul Misener, Amazon's Vice President of Global Innovation Policy and Communications remarked, “The U.K. is a leader in enabling drone innovation – we've been investing in Prime Air research and development here for quite... Read more...
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