Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Aircraft

The Martin Jetpack will be used to advance technologies used in first responder services

Last year's redesign of the long-awaited Martin Jetpack was accompanied by plans to begin commercial sales in 2014, starting with emergency response services and individual sales to follow thereafter. The release date for the first responder Jetpack has since been revised to 2016, a prediction bolstered by the fresh announcement of a partnership between Martin Aircraft Company and US company Avwatch to develop air-based, first responder solutions for the US Department of Homeland Security and Department of Defense.  Read More

The K-MAX drops a payload of water, which it autonomously lifted from a pond

You've gotta hand it to Kaman's K-MAX UAS unmanned helicopter ... it's been used to deliver cargo in a combat zone, it's set altitude and payload weight records for airdrops, and it's been part of an autonomous air/ground mission. Now it's teamed up with a quadcopter in an exercise which suggests that the two could be used to fight forest fires, without endangering human pilots.  Read More

The Skynet concept offers a solution to the problems posed by drone delivery

With drone technology progressing so quickly, it may not be too long before they start dropping packages at our doorsteps. But proposals for how the vehicles can safely navigate fences, pets and small children haven't been entirely convincing so far. A pair of Australians believe they have the answer, with a system that sees drones zero in to drop deliveries into a purpose-built net, guided by LEDs to ensure centimeter-perfect accuracy.  Read More

3D Robotics' new X8+ quadcopter

Launched just two months ago, 3D Robotics' Iris+ quadcopter has one big feature that separates it from the company's base Iris drone – it features a Follow Me function, which allows it to automatically fly along above a moving ground-based GPS-enabled Android device. Now, 3DR has added the same feature to its more utilitarian, heavy-duty X8 platform. The resulting X8+ quadcopter can not only autonomously get tracking shots of its biking, running or skiing user, but it can also be outfitted with a variety of cameras or other devices.  Read More

The DJI Inspire 1, with its landing gear and prop arms raised for flight

Although DJI Innovations is best-known for its line of "prosumer" Phantom quadcopters, it also makes a professional-use multicopter called the Spreading Wings. Among other things, that model features landing gear that folds up while the aircraft is in flight, so it won't get in the shot of the user's undercarriage-mounted video camera. Now, DJI has announced its new Inspire 1 quadcopter, which combines aspects of both the Phantom and the Spreading Wings.  Read More

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