Drones and Anti-Missile Systems Being Used to Protect Tanks

When it comes to technology and tanks, we often think of one of two extremes. Firstly the original tanks from years ago, with the large cannons mounted to tracks and then we think to our idea of the future, with giant floating armoured platforms. It would seem the marines are looking to go somewhere inbetween, but not with flying tanks but ones equipped with more systems to help protect tanks from their enemies.

The U.S. Marine Corps is looking at using technology, not additional armour, to help protect their vehicles. First up on the list of technologies is the use of electronic anti-missile systems, or active protective systems, that will detect and intercept anything from a guided anti-tank rocket to the likes of a rocket propelled grenade (such as those used in RPG’s). The system in place would be the Israli Trophy Active Protection System (APS), with four systems being mounted to both Stryker combat vehicles and M1A2 tanks.

With jammers and missile interception components working together the hardware is commonly designed to protect ships or airplanes, but with threats changing the military wants to be one step ahead. That isn’t all, with the Marines also looking at “unmanned aerial systems” (Drones) to help spot enemies before they can even launch the attack.

Combining knowledge about threats before they happen with active and passive defence systems is a nice way to protect soldiers from unwanted threats at a moments notice.

‘Drone’ That Hit Plane in London May Have Just Been a Plastic Bag

A few days ago it was reported that a drone may have hit a British Airways jet flying out of Heathrow. The transport minister Robert Goodwill has yet to confirm if that’s the case, saying that it could have just been a plastic bag.

The incident is believed to have occurred at around 1,700 ft, over four times the legal limit for people who want to fly their drones in the open air and while the Air Accidents Investigation Branch is investigating the incident alongside the Metropolitan Police there has been little in the way of information released to the public.

Goodwill did respond to comments regarding “geo-fencing”, a technique where drones would be blocked from entering restricted areas by means of having ‘no go zones’ installed on their devices by the manufacturers. Goodwill didn’t show great promise or belief in that option as he said it would be vulnerable to “somebody who could get round the software”.

With people speculating that the plane struck a drone, a thought that has occurred many times before and almost happened on several occasions, Goodwill did say that it “has not been confirmed it was actually a drone”, instead saying that the original story came from a local police force who tweeted the news about a reported drone colliding with a plane. “There was no actual damage to the plane and there’s indeed some speculation that it may have even been a plastic bag or something”, the latest news seems to be that if it was a drone or unmanned electronic device, they don’t even know what it could have been.

Going on to explain the current information, Goodwill explained that “there was no actual damage to the plane and there’s indeed some speculation that it may have even been a plastic bag or something”.

So no confirmed Drone could mean that people are overreacting to what has been a nightmare scenario for many groups for a while now, with incidents involving everything from illegally flying their drones during major events to even crashing into famous landmarks.

Drones Banned From Flying While Obama Visits London

People love drones, from their ability to race around the skies to capturing the most picture perfect moments you just don’t feel safe taking yourself. Sadly if you were looking at grabbing a quick picture of President Obama during his visit to London in a couple of week’s you will have to shelve your drone thanks to plans to ban drones from flying around London during the president’s visit.

The bulletin was released by the National Air Traffic Service (NATS) and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and will restrict all types of aircraft on Thursday, April 21st (The Queens birthday) and Sunday, April 24th. The restrictions will be in place on all aircraft, including drones like the one that crashed at the muses content, banning any craft from flying below 762 metres (2,500 feet).

The restrictions are in place over three separate areas, with each area having specific times and dates, with the most restrictive being in Area 2 who find a lack of air traffic all the way from 8PM on the 21st till 9.30AM on the 24th.

With this becoming a common measure for high-profile events, you should be weary of flying your drones when big events are happening as you can often end up with large fines and a ban on using any type of drone.

Drone Crashed into the Audience at Recent Muse Concert

It’s not as unusual as you might think for props to malfunction during concerts, and the latest prop to join the fold is actually a drone that crashed into the audience during a recent Muse concert. The large, blimp-shaped drone was acting as a mascot of sorts for Muse’s 2015 studio album named Drones, and even though it clearly went down, no fans have reported any injuries as a result. The problem occurred when the drone tried to fly over the audience while the band was performing “The Globalist,” but it looks like it only made it halfway around London’s O2 arena before it started to descend slowly but surely.

The inspiration to write the band’s drone warfare concept LP came to frontman Matthew Bellamy after reading a book released by Dartmouth professor Brian Glyn Williams. The singer-guitarist did reveal that Muse would be willing to incorporate drones into their concerts, as he stated the following in an interview: “I don’t want to promise too much, but we want to incorporate drones into the show. I don’t know what health and safety will allow us to do, though.”

The important thing is that nobody got hurt, and just in case you want to see the mishap yourself, you can just have a look at the following video.

Image courtesy of The Update.

It Has Finally Happened – A Plane Has Hit A Drone

While drones are a lovely piece of technology, they are often misused and prove a danger to not only their owner but the public at large. Two years ago a drone was hacked and it resulted in athletes at an event being injured since then we have constantly been warned about drones and the dangers that could happen if someone used them irresponsibly. The time has finally come when a plane has hit a drone, with no injuries we were fortunate.

Heathrow has had some close calls with drones before, this time, the plane is reported to have stuck an object, reported as possibly a drone, as it approached the airport near London. The plane was flying in from Geneva with 132 passengers and five crew when the mysterious object stuck the front of the plane.

While British Airways, the company behind the plane in question, have stated that the aircraft was “fully examined by our engineers and it was cleared to operate its next flight”, you can help but fear that this could have gone worse.

With near misses constantly happening thanks to drone users ignoring common sense and flying their craft not only near but in front and around areas with heavy airplane traffic, it was only a matter of time before something happened and fortunately, nothing bad came of this incident but the police are still looking for the drones owner.

FAA Rule It a Federal Crime to Shoot Down a Drone

Almost a year ago now William H Meredith noticed a drone flying above his property, so with his shotgun, he removed it from the sky. This raised an interesting legal debate, given the drone was above his property at the time it was shot down, was it wrong of him to shoot it down or was the drone user invading his privacy? The FAA have now revealed the answer, saying it is a federal crime to shoot down a drone.

Meredith defended his actions saying that not only was the drone invading his privacy but that of his two daughters in his garden. David Boggs, the drones owner, however, states that he was flying the drone to take pictures of a friend’s house and even sued Meredith for the cost of the drone and then some.

Due to the FAA’s latest drone registry scheme, drones are deemed as aircraft, the same as any manned aircraft in the air. As a result, the FAA responded to a question confirming that shooting down a drone is a federal crime, citing 18 U.S.C. 32 titled Aircraft Sabotage. This escalates to the point where if you are deemed to be interfering with someone who is “engaged in the authorised operation of such aircraft” you could find yourself facing anywhere between five and twenty years in prison.

While no one has yet to be charged for this act, many drones have been shut down and people are now wondering where can you draw the line? Given that specialist task forces are being formed to deal with the threat of drones, both on people and on manned aircraft, is it ever justified to defend yourself from the threat of a drone?

Who Wants a Real Hoverboard That Can Actually Fly?

When we hear about hoverboards these days we think of those handleless Segways that people ride around the place rather than walking, even when you can’t use them legally in public in the UK. Why not look at something a little different then? Like the original idea of a hoverboard, one that can actually fly!

Typically real hoverboards that actually float use magnetism to propel themselves off the ground, with the Lexus Slide being a prime example. If you followed French Jet Ski champion, Franky Zapata, though you would know that there is something completely different available now, let us introduce you to the Flyboard!

Designed as a single person hoverboard, the device is untethered and is powered solely by jet thrust created by a miniature jet turbine engine. Demonstrating the device with speeds of up to 55 kilometers per hour (that’s 34 miles an hour!) and a height of up to 30 meters the Flyboard has enough petrol is its user’s backpack for 10 minutes of continuous flight!

While it may seem like a dream, and until more details are revealed that’s all the device is; the device could be seen as the next step for single person aerial transport. While this isn’t the first time someone’s created a device that lets them fly, famously inventor and aviator David Mayman flew around the Statue of Liberty while using his JB-9 jetpack, the race is surely on with Mayman even challenging Zapata and his hoverboard to a race!

ESPN to Show Drone Racing

ESPN has often shown more than unusual choices when it comes to its schedule, with them beginning to show the DOTA 2 tournaments two years ago, even when their boss said the eSports were not a sport. In the latest change to their schedule, ESPN is looking to show drone racing within the year.

Announcing a partnership with the international drone racing association (IDRA) on Wednesday, ESPN is looking to stream drone races online starting off in August with the US National Drone Racing Championship in New York. Streamed via ESPN3 live, the footage will then be edited to a one-hour special to be streamed on one of ESPNS’s TV channels.

Unlike with other sports, drone racing can be viewed from two perspectives, both the view following the drone and the view that its pilot gets to see, provided via a first person camera mounted on the front. With ESPN also carrying the 2016 World Drone Racing Champion in Hawaii in October, ESPN accredited this uptake to the “unprecedented rise in popularity” of the event, even saying it may go alongside NASCAR and Formula 1 as the “next behemoth racing sport”.

With drone racing having its first champion courtesy of the Drone Prix that was hosted in Dubai earlier this year, drone racing contests are appearing all around the world as people look to race their drones and show off their skills as the next generation of racers!

DJI Have Created A Social Network For Drone Users

Enjoy your food or a video game? There’s a social network for that, all designed around bringing you together with like-minded people who all enjoy what you enjoy. If you are a fan of drones, then why not try DJI+Discover, the social network for drone users.

Create a profile and ask all those questions you’ve wondered about new parts, how to build your personalised drone or the best drone on the market with like-minded people. If you just like the idea of drones you can also use the app to search for professional drone pilots or even drone photographers (that is people who take photos and videos with drones).

With options to filter a map of your surrounding area between all, social and professional, you can quickly filter out the people you want to connect with. As an added bonus why not check out its recommended flying spots and the user-submitted photos, seeing the area around you from a drone’s point of view.

With options and choices galore, why not check out the app if you are interested in, want to hire or just curious about drones and their users. With the ability to quickly organise and share materials, drone users should check out the app and share their photos for the world to see with aspiring and experienced drone users.

The Volocopter Completes Its First Manned Flight

Who doesn’t love a drone? From being used as video recorders and photography tools to their use in creating a whole new form of racing, they’ve come a long way from fantasy tools for soldiers and spies. E-Volo is just one of many one of many groups that want to change what drones can do, in this case, they want to let YOU ride within a many-rotor electric helicopter; as a super drone.

The Volocopter VC200 received its flight permit in Germany, meaning that managing director of E-Volo, Alexander Zosel could take to the sky in the 18 rotor helicopter. In what seems to be a smooth and seamless take off the flight goes just as well with the Volocopter gliding around the field and was even described as responding instantly to the actions put into it.

During interviews after the flight, the companies reactions were positive, with them showing that the Volocopter could be considered as an alternative to cars with everyone being able to own their own which, with the use of a touch pad, would be able to self-drive itself to your favourite location. Why have a flying car when you can have a personal helicopter?

Drones Will Deliver Medical Aid in Rwanda This Summer

It’s pretty great to see drones being used for humanitarian aid, especially when this aid concerns developing nations such as Rwanda. A startup named Zipline has recently signed a contract with Rwanda’s government in order to facilitate a series of supply drops performed by a fleet of fixed-wing drones. It looks like the drops will be delivered to one of the country’s clinics, and the drones in question will have to follow a special flight path stored in a SIM card in order to reach their destination safely. Each drone can carry up to 3.5 pounds of medicine and blood, and they can perform between 50 and 150 deliveries a day at speeds of about 180 miles per hour.

If you think about it, using drones to deliver these crucial supplies makes sense for a country such as Rwanda, where unpaved roads or even the lack of roads makes conventional transportation difficult. As long as a drone is within 90 miles of the UAVs’ home base, the clinic needs only to send a text message and expect supplies to arrive in 30 minutes. Rwanda’s government has expressed a desire to expand the drone network in order to enhance the country’s overall economy. This year, Zipline plans to sign similar contracts with other developing countries.

Meet KILLERDRONE! The Chainsaw Drone

Drones are an interesting piece of technology. They’ve only recently taken off (pun intended) and are now swarming over the world with adaptions for every type of activity. You can race your drone in the Drone world GP, they’ll deliver you your food or Amazon orders and are even used to used for underwater exploration. As with all ideas, there are some ideas that just raise more issues and questions than are worth, with the likes of a drone mounting a gun being one of them. The latest drone design to meet this category is the KILLERDRONE! a drone equipped with nothing more than a chainsaw.

That is correct, the KILLERDRONE! (capitals and exclamation mark are included in its name) is a drone equipped with a chainsaw and has taken off in Finland on its first mission… to hunt down and destroy snowmen. Featuring six rotors and a gas-powered chainsaw, the drone was flown into snowmen to prove that it could be used and has even been discussed as use for legitimate work such as cutting down trees.

While using the KILLERDRONE! to cut down trees may be a good idea, the idea that anyone could mount something like a chainsaw to a drone and then watch as it flew around unrestricted is quite scary. The machine was stopped eventually thanks to a party balloon, raising an even bigger question of what happened if someone stopped a drone above a populated area.

DARPA To Begin Testing Its Sub-Hunting Drone Ship

Technology is getting smarter, it is now getting to the point where technology can start doing things that would often require a human such as deliver pizzas. DARPA (Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency) is keen on seeing this automated technology makes its way into the battlefield. Recently DARPA revealed its Anti-submarine warfare continuous trail unmanned vessel (named ACTUV for short), a sub-hunting drone ship that can operate without a human crew, and it now seems like they are already testing out what it can do.

ACTUV is already in testing and has already passed its speed tests. Designed to go at 31mph, the ACTUV met these expectations and have left people wondering what the next text may be. The ACTUV is designed to track foreign submarines and will then follow them, the ultimate hope being of either forcing them to emerge or retreat.

The ACTUV was also designed to do more than just hunt subs, with it being able to transport deliveries and perform long-term sea reconnaissance missions, all the while freeing up a human crew for duty aboard another vessel.

You can see the ACTUV launch and test out its speed in the video below. Luckily for those in fear of the robots going to the kill us, the ship isn’t equipped with any weaponry and is purely an advance reconnaissance vessel, no combat use what so ever, a reassurance I’m sure many will be happy with.

Researchers Develop Ways to Calculate Distance Through WiFi

We all use WiFi at some point, be it at work or at home, we rely on the technology to avoid the miles and miles of cables that we would overwise have to plug and unplug every time we wanted to grab a drink or watch a movie on Netflix. Researchers may have developed a way to accurately calculate distance through WiFi, a feature that could see wireless communications made more secure and controlled.

Researchers from MIT’s CSAIL team managed to achieve the feat using just a single router by measuring the “time of flight” for the WiFi signals between both the transmitter and receiving components, with a margin of error of just 0.5 nanoseconds, 20 times more accurate that other systems. Once the time was calculated they multiplied it by the speed of light, resulting in the distance between people and their wireless routers.

Using a four room apartment as an example, the researchers managed to locate the correct room for a user 94% of the time. Not stopping there the researchers took the technology to a cafe and managed to track down if someone was within the cafe with a 97% accuracy. Not stopping at wireless routers the technique was then applied to a drone, restricting the distance of the drone from the operator with an error margin of just 2-inches.

With the ability to limit or restrict access to a network by a user’s distance, public networks, and drones could be made more secure and with greater control of who, and where, people can access the systems.

This MIT Drone Can Mimic What You Draw

The researchers over at MIT have been keeping themselves quite busy as of late, especially as far as drone research is concerned. We’ve recently stumbled upon some news regarding a very interesting drone developed by MIT’s Fluid Interfaces Group, and what makes this particular device special is the fact that it can actually mimic the movements of a human hand and sketch out what it sees on a blank canvas. Admittedly, the drone is not exactly an expert at reproducing human-made drawings right now, but that’s because it uses a software algorithm as well as aerodynamics in order to add its own unique touch to each drawing.

At this point, you might be wondering what good is this drone if it can’t reproduce exact drawings? Well, even though the technology still needs some refinement, all it takes is a bit of imagination to realize that it could potentially make our lives so much easier in the future. For example, artists with disabilities could use similar drones to sketch out their paintings and drawings without having to leave their beds, while workers who need to paint interior murals or ceilings could also have a drone mimic their hand movements and paint in places that would be difficult to reach otherwise.

Near Miss at Los Angeles Airport Calls for Future Drone Regulation

Drones are on everybody’s wish list this year. If you want them to just enjoy being in charge of your very own Enterprise or just because you are curious about the new technology, you should remember to use them safely. Sadly that seems to be a lesson that was missed by a drone pilot who caused a near miss at Los Angeles International Airport.

The incident involved a drone flying around 200 feet from a plane of a Lufthansa aircraft, a move which has sparked debate for greater control over drones and the authorities abilities to manage, control and restrict drones freedom when it comes to regulated space.

This is not the first time a drone has come close to the plane, with the same thing happening at Heathrow and other airports around the world. The problem with drones is their ability to operate remotely makes tracking down a drone’s operator difficult, an act which the authorities want to become easier.

Some of the proposals include the geofencing of drones sold domestically, meaning that drones would be unable to fly above their legal altitude or the use of collision-avoidance software. With the requirement for drones to now be registered, it is expected that drone capturing equipment such as the SkyWall could offer authorities a way of tracking down and tackling dangerous drone users.

CRACUNS Drone Able to Deploy from Underwater Station Developed

Drones may be beginning to fill the skies and seas for a number of purposes, but what if a drone could lurk beneath the surface, just waiting to be deployed on an aerial operation? A drone developed by John Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Lab can do just such a thing, able to remain submerged for months prior to launch. When launched, the drone then ‘swims’ to the surface of the water and takes to the air just like any other quadcopter drone.

Named the Corrosion Resistant Aerial Covert Unmanned Nautical System or CRACUNS, this drone is created using cutting edge techniques such as those employed by 3D printing. This construction gives it a composite airframe with which it is able to survive the water movement and pressure of remaining underwater for long periods of time. The sensitive components of the drone that would be destroyed by water are contained within a dry pressure compartment and any exposed components have had commercially available waterproof coatings applied to them. So far, these techniques have held up, with a CRACUNS drone being kept in sea water for two months with no sign of damage or operational issues.

CRACUNS also contains no metal components, to remove susceptibility to rusting as well as managing to be lightweight and low-cost. Altogether, this makes CRACUNS an attractive proposal for researchers and government agencies as the drone is able to operate in areas that were impossible for drones in the past. Large numbers of the drones could also be employed at any one time, either to cover a larger area or in case some units were to be lost. Whether drones like CRACUNS become more commonplace remains to be seen, but the techniques used in its design and construction show that there is still room for the development of groundbreaking new methods for fabricating machines.

Drone Racing Has Its First Champion

Drones are the latest piece of technology that everyone must have. From planting trees in the jungle to watching your beaches for sharks, drones have developed from something in films to the technology you can pick up at your local store. With a new form of technology comes a new form of racing, drone racing. This weekend, Drone racing got its first champion!

A 15-year-old British teenager has just won first place in the Drone Prix that wast hosted in Dubai. Luke Bannister won a whopping $250,000 after coming first in the first Drone Prix, which had a total of over $1 million up to grabs in its prize pool.  In the end, it came down to Bannister’s team, the Tornado X-Blades Banni-UK facing off against Dubai’s very own Dronetek.

To help the racers keep up with their drones they use special headsets, designed to stream the content from their drones on board cameras to the controller while a second camera was often found around the course, allowing spectators to view and follow the race from different points of view.

Do you like the idea of drone racing? Are you interested in taking part yourself? Tell us your thoughts and feelings in the description below.

Sea Drone to Patrol World’s Largest Marine Reserve

There is no doubt that policing 834,000 square kilometers of sea is no easy task. It could be about to get a lot harder for illegal fishermen to slip through undetected thanks to a new two-part ocean-going drone that will patrol the around the Pitcairn Islands in the Pacific that are designated as no-fishing zones.

Created by Liquid Robotics, the drone known as the Wave Glider will be operated by staff at a satellite watch room which monitors the activities of fishing vessels. Wave Glider will be able to take images of vessels that are within the restricted zones as well as pinpoint their location via the use of satellites. This drone is, made of two parts, consisting of a small boat that carries the required monitoring instruments and a separate submersible craft that is attached by a tether. The two-part setup allows the craft to be propelled along by the differential motion between the sea’s surface and the depth of the submersible, which combined with its solar panels allows the craft to stay at sea for months at a time without needing to be recharged.

The zone that the Wave Glider will be patrolling was established as a protected region by the UK in 2015 and created a watchdog foundation to protect the 1,200 species of fish, marine mammals and birds present in the region, some of which are entirely unique. This new drone, which entered service late last month should make it easier to protect these countless species and show that drones can be used for good.

Image credit to Liquid Robotics

Amazon is Now Leasing Airplanes to Help With Deliveries

When it comes to ordering things online, Amazon is one of the places people first look. With distribution all over the world, the company is currently at the forefront of technology to help deliver their products, including being the leader in the “drones for deliveries” concept. In the companies latest move, Amazon is now leasing airplanes.

A step up from your garden delivery drone, Amazon has signed a lease on not one but 20 Boeing 767 freighter planes. With the ability to control and help organise international deliveries, could this be the first step in a truly global delivery system?

In an email to ArsTechnica, Dave Clark (Amazon SVP of Customer Service) provided the following:

We offer Earth’s largest selection, great prices, and ultra-fast delivery promises to a growing group of Prime members and we’re excited to supplement our existing delivery network with a great new provider, ATSG, by adding 20 planes to ensure air cargo capacity to support one and two-day delivery for customers.

From this statement, it would seem to be the case that the new planes will be there to help support and expand on Amazon’s Prime delivery scheme, something which offers quick delivery of their products.

Am I the only one who’s expecting Amazon to create a drone carrying aircraft to help deliver their products?

Researcher Finds New Way to Hijack Drones Mid-Flight

It is often easy to forget that while the majority of drones making the news are operated by hobbyists and amateurs, the US government is rolling out a number of more expensive UAVs for use by first responders and the police. Now, security researcher at IBM, Nils Rodday has potentially thrown a spanner in the works of this, by demonstrating that at least one model of these government standard drones has security vulnerabilities that allow it to be hacked from as far away as a mile, allowing an attacker to seize control of the craft for their own ends or simply cause it to drop from the sky.

The full extent of the vulnerability will be demonstrated by Rodday at the RSA conference this week where he will show how a $30,000 to $35,000 drone can be taken over or knocked out of the sky by a security flaw in its radio connection using just a laptop and a cheap radio chip connected via USB. Due to the fact that the connection between the operator and the drone are left unencrypted to allow commands to be processed more quickly, an attacker who can send the correct sequence of signals to the drone’s telemetry box can impersonate the true operator, locking them out of control of the drone. “You can inject packets and alter waypoints, change data on the flight computer, set a different coming home position,” Rodday says. “Everything the original operator can do, you can do as well.”

With the ongoing fear of irresponsible drone use by hobbyists, it is even more concerning that the expensive drones operated by official bodies are so vulnerable to attack. Should an attacker wish to cause serious harm, it would appear it could be done using a hacked police drone with surprising ease. “If you think as an attacker, someone could do this only for fun, or also to cause harm or to make a mess out of a daily surveillance procedure,” says Rodday.

World Drone Prix to be Hosted in Dubai This Month

Drones are amazing little devices. From flying in the air to underwater, people enjoy using them for a wide range of reasons, the most traditional of them being drone racing. With the creation of the Drone Racing League, it was only a matter of time before people went that one step further. This month it will go further in the form of the World Drone Prix, hosted in the sunny city of Dubai.

These drones won’t be your off the shelf variety, with speeds exceeding 62MPH the drones will be competing in qualifiers on March 7th and 8th before the final 32 will face off on the 11th and 12th.

The winning prize stands at $250,000, with a total cost of all the prizes coming to a million dollars.

With an introduction video putting a drone against a McLaren, you can see how keen they are to bring interest into the drone racing scene. The World Drone Prix will be streaming online, meaning if you can’t make it to Dubai in time you can still enjoy the event, and the site featured a very detailed FAQ section for anyone with ideas or queries about the next generation of racing.

Would you like to see Drone Racing? My question is when will Amazon enter their drone?

Australian Beaches to be Patrolled by Shark-Spotting Drones

We have known for some time now that Australia has been looking for high-tech ways to make its beach-goers safer from sharks. Now, a potential solution has arrived, courtesy of Westpac, which sponsors the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter Services, who plan to deploy a number of drones that will support search and rescue efforts on a trial basis.

The drone being trialled looks more like a tiny helicopter than most drones and is named the Little Ripper. According to a statement from Westpac, the Little Ripper will have 2 main purposes during its trial period, determining the suitability of the drone for Australia’s coastal conditions and developing a system to detect sharks from the air using advanced night-vision systems. The drone could even be used for emergency deliveries, carrying ULB Life Saving Pods to people trapped in life-threatening situations. These pods contain a number of potentially vital items including floatation devices, shark repellent and medical equipment which could just help people stay safe until a manned rescue can be mounted.

Initially, the trial will be run on the coastlines of Newcastle, Hawkes Nest and Byron Bay in northern New South Wales, but it is possible should it go well that it could be expanded, however, details of the number of drones and the cost thereof are currently unknown.

This is hardly the only system being investigated by the government of New South Wales (NSW) to combat the rising numbers of shark attacks, with them mounting a A$16 million high-tech shark strategy. NSW Premier Mike Baird described Westpac’s drone initiative as an innovative way to make the beaches safer at its launch event, stating that “This technology has the potential to improve the way our emergency services respond when people find themselves in trouble.”

Hopefully, the Little Ripper will be able to do its part in keeping the Australian beaches safe, as it is a great example of drones starting to be adopted by authorities for the greater good, instead of hobbyist machines that only seem to attract bad publicity in recent times.

Image credit to Westpac

Volvo ROAR is an Automated Bin!

Volvo is known for their safe cars, my own family has the saying that Volvo’s are the people’s tanks. They are known for other things and soon they could be the ones responsible for your bins thanks to ROAR.

ROAR (RObot based Autonomous Refuse handling) is designed to help those who come pick up your bins every week. ROAR is a two-part system, with the first part being a drone. The drone creates a “target” for the robot, named ROARY, that enables it to locate and navigate towards the target bin, with it even picking up obstacles and moving around the threats.

ROAR is the brainchild of three universities undergraduates with both Chalmers University of Technology, Mälardalen University and Penn State University to help create the project. The second part of the project is the automated emptying of bins. When you approach the back of a garbage truck it detects how far away a person is, when you are too close the process ends meaning it is safe and keeps curious passersby out of harms way from the large lifting and crushing mechanics.

You could soon see a single person traveling in the truck, with a small selection of drones and copters helping pick up your truck with minimal manpower and risk to both you and the neighbourhood. What do you think about the idea? Is the concept of automating everything going a little too far when it will even take out your rubbish?

Another Near Miss as Drone Flies Close to Jet at Heathrow

Drones are a wonderful piece of technology and the more we advance them the more we can do. I mean, they have created a drone that works both in the air and even underwater. How can we not find uses for drones that can be deployed at sea, both above and below the sea line? The problem being is that a select few are ruining the experience for everybody, with drones being used and damaging everything from the Empire State building to cutting out power for residents in LA.  The most recent in a long stream of incidents is a near encounter when a drone flew within 30 feet of a jet that was landing at Heathrow.

The Airbus A319 was landing at Heathrow Airport in September while it was on approach to land. The pilot reported that it went so close as 25 yards left of the cockpit and only 20 feet above. The incident was reported to the police and classed as a meeting risk category A, the highest risk that two objects meet short of actually colliding. The worrying part is that the drone was flying at 500 feet, while the legal limit for drones in the UK is 400 feet, with anything beyond that being considered controlled airspace.

This isn’t the first time that a drone has almost collided with an airplane, and given the risk to both the crew and passengers of the craft and those on the ground, drone pilots performing these kind of stunts, putting others at risk, are the reason that the FAA has pushed for drone registration in the USA.

Hungry? Don’t Worry! The Delivery Robot Starship Is Here!

It gets late, you could go to the kitchen and cook a nice warm meal but every bone is your body is crying out to sit down and play one game, watch one more movie or even to just keep reading. You select one of your favourite fast food places and place your order, waiting the half hour before you get a message saying your food is waiting for you outside. Upon opening the door, you don’t see a driver or even a car but instead a small robot, the smell of your food making you hungrier by the second. Say hello to the Delivery Robot Starship!

The small drone is designed and created by some of the founders of that popular video software Skype. With a top speed of 4mph, the Starship isn’t build to travel the galaxy or even the country but within a few miles, it can safely navigate thanks to the cameras that will not only stop it before it collides with anyone else walking on the paths but in some cases it even steps out the way, letting people walk past in a polite fashion rarely seen by automated vehicles.

While it is in early develop, the ability to delivery up to 20 pounds worth of equipment could help people deliver everything from your takeaways to your morning shopping. With plans to expand its testing in the UK followed only by testing in the US by April, you could soon see a Starship near you.

Fulfil Your Starfleet Dreams With This USS Enterprise Drone

Space, the final frontier. Sadly, very few are currently able to go explore space, even with the internal space station or even NASA’s plans to inhabit mars. We can still see the stars, in the night sky and in the movies, with J.J. Abrams directing the next Star Wars film and the Star Trek films never ending. Sometimes though you want to feel closer to the action and with a little help from Spin Master you may be able to with your very own Enterprise drone.

By using their quadcopter as a base, Spin Master was able to place all four of the rotors blades into the saucer section leaving the main body and nacelles of the famous interstellar vessel to include lights and even ten “authentic” sound effects. Aside from the see-through cage of the saucer section that holds the rotors the vessel does look remarkably similar to the initial design of Kirk’s vessel.

Costing around $120 (around £83), the NCC-1701-A drone will come with an all too familiar controller for those who grew up with remote controlled cars, meaning that you won’t be seeing a Star Trek app for this creation. With warp speed sounds and nostalgia included, I know plenty of people who will be buying this, both for themselves and far too many Trekkies to count. So when can we order our Klingon War Birds?