Showing posts with label drones. Show all posts
Showing posts with label drones. Show all posts

Flights Of Fancy: New Drone Programmed To Paint Pointillist Portraits

Despite their reputation for being death-dealing, bomb-bearing little robo-bats, drones have been taking flight for many moregood reasons these days.  Now, with robotic art competitions actually becoming a thing, a new technique for creating masterpieces has emerged thanks to drone technology:  pointillist portraits created in flight.

Make art, not war.
(Image courtesy

Meds Overhead: New Drone System Delivers Blood & Medical Supplies To Remote Areas

Recently we discussed what might happen if drones begin making commercial deliveries inthe United States.  The attendant surveillance and sky-traffic might make things a little weird, particularly in urban areas.  However, it’s important to note that non-commercial drones could make some very important deliveries out beyond where traditional services usually roam…

But will it get chased by vampire bats?
(Image courtesy

Drone-O-Gram! Amazon Secures Patent For Air-Based Deliveries

Like it or not, drone technology is here to stay.  Besides providing for brutally asymmetric warfare, however, they could also be pretty useful for delivering things other than bombs.  Since we all know the surveillance state isn’t about to let anything get actually lost anymore, it only stands to reason that a new patent could provide drone-docks all around your neighborhood…

Just make sure they use lots of bubble wrap in the packing...
(Image courtesy

Skin And Drones: Could Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Deliver Organs To Those In Dire Need?

Technology is often at its most fascinating (and effective) in the most remote regions, be it space, the deep sea, or the far-flung areas still mostly untouched by human civilization.  We say "mostly", because people still live in these outbacks and backwoods, and those people have needs that only modern society can satisfy.  To help these folks, a whole new usage of technology can be tested...

Special delivery!  Handle all hearts with care...
(Image courtesy

W.O.R.D. To The Copters, We Came To Race Them Proper

Drones!  They're doing it all these days!  Creating artistic light show / circuses, patrolling borders, airlifting contraceptives to oppressed women, and so much more.  Now, our little flying friends have entered the next logical phase of what happens when humanity finds something agile, competitive and able to be technologically souped-up:  we're racing them.

What's the Vegas betting line on little flying robots?
The world may soon be enthralled.
(Image courtesy

Eagles Vs. Drones: Fight In Flight

It's no secret that drones are becoming more and more ubiquitous, both from a law-enforcement perspective as well as hobbyists and aerial Peeping Toms.  But what can you do when a drone is infringing on your airspace and you don't think firing weapons or fireworks at it is a safe and/or sane option?  One word:  birds.

Uncle Sam must be very conflicted about this match-up.
(Image courtesy

Eyes In The Sky That Pry Via Wifi: Malware-Injecting Drones Swoop In To Spy

Hackers, in an ever-escalating bid to stymie security, have teamed up with an arm of one of the world's leading aerospace companies to create computer-death from above...

As usual, we're sure this is all to "protect your freedom"...
(Image courtesy

Forests, Not Firebombing: New Drones Could Plant A Billion Trees Per Year

While just last week we discussed drones aiding and abetting criminals in prison, now it's time to look at one of the nicer sides of our flying friends.  An ex-engineer from NASA now intends to use drones to plant over a billion trees a year...

Spread the love (and the oxygen!)
(Image courtesy

Aviation Vs. Incarceration: Drones Delivering Drugs Into Prison Yards

Drones!  Is there anything they can't do?  They help to fight fires, deliver contraceptives, bomb insurgents, and don't even require an endless supply of pharmaceutical-grade speed to keep their pilots awake!  Now, they've added a naughty new skill to their flying functions...

(Image courtesy

Peppery Pacification: New Crowd-Control Drones In India Feature Pepper Spray

Some police departments used to strive for "less-lethal" weaponry, leading to an influx of options like bean-bag guns, LRAD sound cannons, and all varieties of sprays and chemicals to subdue (but not kill) their targets.  Now, that premise has taken flight on a whole new level: pepper-spray drones.

We can't even control cops that over-use pepper spray...will machines do any better?
(Image courtesy

Send In The Drones: New "Drone Circus" To Open In Amsterdam

You may have heard that finding crazy and interesting things to do and see in Amsterdam is easy.  Now, it just got a little more intriguing...a circus where the performers are all drones is set to open this year.

Commercial Drone Use Takes Off As FAA Allows Four Companies Aerial Access

This Christmas season, Santa and his sleigh team are going to find some more traffic in the skies.  Today, the FAA granted approval for four commercial companies to fly drones for the purposes of conducting aerial surveys as well as observing oil stacks and construction sites.

According to USA Today, the selected companies - Trimble Navigation Limited (TRMB), VDOS Global, Clayco Inc. and Woolpert Inc.- will be among the first to utilize drones for commercial purposes.  The FAA has still got a ways to go concerning the exact rules of operation and regulations for flying drones in commercial airspace, but hopefully this development will shed more light on what will work best for future drone aviation.

This has to be handled well, to avoid aerial traffic jams.
(Image courtesy

The first commercial drone license was granted this June for a drone to keep watch over BP's Alaskan oil pipeline.  The FAA has received 167 requests for commercial drone flight clearance, including one from Amazon, who seek to use drones for delivery purposes.

Jeff Lovin, senior vice president of Woolpert, Inc., was enthusiastic about his company's new acquirement of air access, which will allow their 5-foot, 15 pound drone to examine parts of rural Ohio and Mississippi from the air. He explained that drones "will change the way we conduct some of our existing business in the not-too-distant future, but more importantly, will create completely new and world-changing applications we haven't even thought of yet."

(Image courtesy

This Drone Is Not Trying To Kill You

Every year, 800,000 people in the European Union suffer a heart attack, but the survival rate remains only about 8%.  Now, thanks to an innovative "ambulance" drone created by a Belgian engineering student, reaching people in a time of emergency can be more effective than ever.

According to, grad student Alec Momont developed the drone to reach the scene of an accident in considerably less time than the standard urban emergency services.  With most post-cardiac-arrest brain death occurring within 4-6 minutes, the ambulance drone can save lives by reaching anywhere in a 12-kilometer zone in one minute (as opposed to an actual ambulance's 10+ minute arrival time.)

This speed, coupled with onboard defibrillator equipment, could theoretically raise the survival rate from 8% to 80%.

The Ambulance Drone floats like a butterfly, shocks like an electric eel.
(Image courtesy

The drone uses GPS from an emergency caller's phone to arrive at their position.  Onboard cameras, speakers and microphones enable emergency service providers to coach the on-site rescuer in aid techniques until professional lifesavers can arrive.

Momont wants the drones to eventually contain a "flying medical toolbox" with gear including insulin needles and oxygen masks, to provide for other types of emergencies.  Now, instead of drones stereotypically raining down "death from above", a more optimistic option can take flight.

This drone is considerably less helpful to your health.
(Image courtesy

Droneland Security: Predator Aircraft Guard Mexican Border; Canada Next

Drones...they're gaining popularity for everything from firefighting to delivering burritos.  Yet it is their sociopolitical applications that currently seem to have the most attention.  Perhaps it is because they will help save the lives of military and law enforcement, or perhaps it is because of their manageability.  Now, they have been tasked with acting as border patrol agents, but with mixed results.

As reported by, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) now uses drones to patrol over half of the U.S.-Mexico border.  Using Predator B-type drones, videos are taken over certain areas, and then subsequently re-shot several days later.  This enables CBP to examine the photographed terrain for noticeable changes, such as vehicle tracks or footprints from humans and livestock.

One major benefit of drones is that they'll patrol the desert as readily as a nice beach.
(Image courtesy

"Law-abiding people shouldn't worry" and "cameras are unable to capture details like license plate numbers and faces on the ground," Lothar Eckardt, CPB's executive director of national air security operations, told the Associated Press. This is not as reassuring as the actual results of the program.

A mere 2% of the missions indicated evidence of illegal border crossings, and those areas were then secured by more thorough "ground sensors" by CPB. Another 2% were inconclusive, and 4% were false alarms. It is difficult to determine if the drones simply didn't find any evidence or were not able to look hard enough.

Nevertheless, the program is set to move up to the Canadian border in 2015.  The original "change detection" program over the U.S.-Mexican border was launched in 2013.

Does anyone else want to see a buzzard or vulture pick a fight with a mountain-region drone?
(Image courtesy

Fire(fighting) In The Sky: NASA Drones To Patrol For Literal Hotspots

With all of the bad rep they get as military and surveillance machines, we can't be quick to also denounce the drones that might do good work helping people.  NASA is working on a new series of drones that you can think of as your friendly local fire department, not the police force that puts the emphasis on "force."

As reported by, the new drones are in development at Langley Research Center, and are intended to be used to find and fight fires (as well as provide help for underfunded local fire departments.)  NASA aerospace engineer Mike Logan, who heads up Langley's unmanned air vehicle lab, explained, “The theory is that we should actually be able to see smoke rising up, or we should be able to see the hot spot with the infrared...They’re going to be doing so many missions that flat out can’t be done now. People can’t afford to do them now because of the expense.”

Fires in rural areas that would often go unpatrolled, or that might naturally occur in the depths of the wilderness, can now be monitored and dealt with before they become a more serious issue for civilization.  The drones are especially useful for this task, as they can fly in storms that other aircraft or humans would have a more difficult time dealing with.

Although the drones only have 20-25 minutes of flight time at 40-50 m.p.h., they could cut significant costs for fire departments and eventually cost very little per launch.  Originally developed as Army target drones, the 15-pound aircraft could save firefighters and citizens a ton of trouble.

These drones don't want pictures of YOU, they're looking for something much hotter.
BTW, that's NASA aerospace engineer Mike Logan, and it seems like his life is awesome.
(Image courtesy

Google Tests Internet-Enabling Drones; Polar Bears Can Soon Join Facebook

While those of us in the first world are bickering over how to make our internet even faster, there are those on the planet who are not fortunate enough to have any connectivity at all.  Google is now working in conjunction with a drone company to provide internet access to even the most remote areas.

As reported by, Google released a statement saying they have "recently acquired Titan Aerospace, a firm that specializes in developing solar and electric unmanned aerial systems ('UAS') for high altitude, long endurance flights." Along with plans to use high-altitude balloons and low-orbit satellites for the delivery of delicious internet, the Titan drones can use solar power and their five-year flight capacity to keep the world connected.

Google plans to test this idea in New Mexico, and they were quick to point out that they didn't want to step on the FCC's transmission toes. Their statement included the disclaimer, "Google understands that there may be some federal operations in the 900 MHz band in the vicinity of the test site...Google is prepared to coordinate with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to avoid harmful interference to any federal operations."

If this idea proves fruitful, it could be used in a variety of situations requiring remote internet access. To far-flung regions that have been devastated by natural disaster or inclement weather, this could be an important aid for rescue operations or other distress signals. For war-torn regions run by despots who demand control of the peoples' link to the world, this could offer an alternative.

So yes, soon you may be able to watch cat GIFs in the middle of the desert, all thanks to the efforts of the search engine who just wants to be found.

"Finally, at long last, I may see what this 'Game Of Thrones' is all about."

Taxidermy Taxi'ing For Takeoff: Dutch Inventors Mount Dead Things To Drones

Drone technology is advancing rapidly, so much so that some versions are available for civilian use. Two Dutchmen have taken this opportunity to amass a taxidermied aerial zoo.


According to the Daily Mail UK, it all started with a flying cat. Perhaps in the name of great, crazy art, or perhaps just thinking that a unique cat video would lead to instant fame, inventors Arjen Beltman and Bart Jansen stretched a dead and stuffed feline over a four-rotor remote-controlled drone device. The rest is weird history.

This is real.  This really happened.

Jansen stated, 'Flight is man's greatest achievement, so why not give it to more animals? The world needs more flying animals.' He and Beltman then went on to aid a Dutch boy by giving his dead pet rat a new life as a three-rotor drone captain.  The cat and rat drones then went for a spin together, like a very disturbing episode of "Tom And Jerry."

Other projects from these not-quite-Wright Brothers include an aerial ostrich (with propellers!) that finally gives the flightless creature some time among its brethren in the skies.  Their most recent endeavor, a shark mounted to a winged jet engine, proves that even sea creatures can get in on the fun of flight.

Is it wrong to ask if they'll have a human funeral package option available?  

Great, now we have to worry about shark attacks from the SKY, too?

A Drone New World: Disney To Use Flying Robots In Their "Magic"

Like them or not, no one can deny that Disney live operations are major spectacles that are specifically engineered for a maximum "wow" factor. Now, they plan to augment their man-made magic with some help from some happy little flying robot friends. Weirdest sidekick ever?

According to the, Disney Enterprises are massing a fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles to fly around and aid with puppetry and light work in their live shows, like Cinderella or Snow White's fun forest friends (if they were electronic and had cousins with the potential to be used for evils from surveillance to assassinations.)

Similar to Jeff Bezos' notion to put drones to work as delivery vehicles, or Google's plan to make them aerial photographers (supposedly) for cartographical purposes, the masters of the Mouse feel that drones would make good "castmembers" (Disney slang for workers.) Three patents approved this week would allow the ground-controlled gizmos to manipulate puppet "tether lines" from the air, carry around portable "flexible projection screens" like flying carpets for movies, or shoot colored lights from the sky (and with Disney's penchant for fireworks, this could look amazing.)

The latter, as part of Disney's "Symphony of Lights", was quoted as being applicable for use “over a sports stadium or theme park where no or few buildings may be present.” Cue the countdown to someone using it to make a wedding proposal. While this technology is interesting and could be used well by such creative types as Disney, does this open a door for constant drone-based entertainment-whoring or flying advertisements to become part of our world?

It's the cirrrrrcle of liiiiife (and sometimes lack thereof.)

Drone Riders In The Sky: New Aerial Highway In The Works

The futuristic visions of flying cars or at least drone-delivery burritos need a place to begin. That place, claims scientist Dr. Parimal Kopardekar, is a well-defined aerial highway for drone traffic, aka the UTM (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Traffic Management System.)

Dr. Kopardekar, a rocket scientist who was NASA Ames Engineer of the Year 2003, is the principal investigator for this project, where low-level Class G airspace (anything up to 1,200 feet about ground level) will be organized to suit our little flying robot friends. As Dr. Kopardekar told, "We are basically creating this UAS traffic management system that allows you to accommodate the number of vehicles that will operate in the low altitude airspace. The analogy is ‘just because we have a car, whether it’s an autonomous car or someone is driving, does not negate the need for a road or stop signs or rules of the road.’ The same thing happens in the airspace. We need to have a structure."

Using GPS and geofencing, the drones will be hopefully be kept in line despite whatever their mission may be. Aerial photography, delivery services, weather reporting, and other elements will be made easier with this technology. The program is intended to be operational within five years.

Pizza's here!

And The Rockets' Red Glare: Drone Flown Through Fireworks

Did the Fourth of July fireworks get rained/hurricaned out in your town? No worries, videographer Jos Stiglingh took his drone and GoPro camera for a spin through the sparks.

As reported by, Stiglingh used a DJI Phantom II drone mounted with a GoPro Hero 3 Silver camera to capture the fireworks in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Nice to see an alternative (but still patriotic) use for drone technology!