2015 Detroit NAIAS Auto Show

Autonomous

The Drones For Good award sees US$1 million up for grabs

The word "drone" is synonymous with autonomous military aircraft that hail down death and destruction from on high. But the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is looking to highlight the humanitarian potential of the technology with its Drones For Good competition. Entrants include vehicles that detect landmines, plant trees and service slums all in the hunt for the industry's most prestigious (and probably only) prize, with the inaugural first place winner set to be announced next week to take home US$1 million.  Read More

The redesigned Atlas robot has an on-board lithium-ion battery (Image: DARPA)

Like a teenager going off to college, DARPA's Atlas robot has cut the tether and is walking on its own without a safety line. The centerpiece of this year's DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC), the upgraded Atlas robot was unveiled to the competing teams in Waltham, Massachusetts last week during a technical shakeout.  Read More

The Autosub6000 returns from the deep

Curious about what's living on the deep sea floor? Well, the Autosub6000 AUV (autonomous underwater vehicle) is helping us find out. Led by Dr. Kirsty Morris, a team at the UK's National Oceanography Centre (NOC) has equipped one of the unmanned submarines with a high-resolution photographic system. As a result, it's claimed to be far more effective at identifying deep-sea life than the usual approach of scientific trawling.  Read More

The pact will produce a zero-emissions vehicle (Image: Nissan)

It may seem akin to an alliance between a railway and a submarine manufacturer, but Japanese automaker Nissan has signed a pact with US space agency NASA to develop self-driving cars. The five-year agreement announced last week covers a partnership on research and development of autonomous vehicle systems and their commercial applications.  Read More

Scientists work around a seal, while launching the AUV through a hole cut in the ice (Phot...

Early every spring in Antarctica, mats of algae form on the underside of the sea ice. These mats – along with bacteria that live in them – serve as a food source for zooplankton, essentially kickstarting the food chain for the year. Given that the ice algae plays such an important ecological role, scientists from Denmark's Aarhus University have set out to better understand its distribution. In order to do so, they're using a high-tech underwater drone.  Read More

Mercedes reveals its F 015 concept at CES 2015 (Photo: C.C. Weiss/Gizmag)

When you choose to debut a full concept car at the Consumer Electronics Show, rather than the looming international auto show a few days later, it's gotta be a piece of forward-looking, high-tech wizardry. The Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in Motion is that and more. The car represents Mercedes' vision of a fully autonomous rolling lounge that envelops four passengers in technology and comfort.  Read More

Ehang's Ghost Drone in action

It was just this June that we heard about the HEXO+ and AirDog drones, which were two of the first consumer multicopters to offer a Follow function – that's the ability to track the location of their user, and fly along above them. Since then, models including the Iris+ and Zano have come out with the same feature. Now, Chinese/American company Ehang is successfully raising production funds for its Follow-equipped GoPro-toting Ghost Drone. Developed in partnership with Duke University, not only is the quadcopter able to track and film its user, but it's also reportedly easier to fly than its competitors.  Read More

Bhuneshwar Prasad (left), Associate Professor S.K. Panda and Abhra Roy Chowdhury, holding ...

They may be slow on land, but when they're in the water, sea turtles are fast and maneuverable – qualities that are also desirable in underwater robots. Additionally, the robotic equivalent of a turtle's streamlined shell could be stuffed full of electronic components and batteries. It shouldn't come as a surprise, therefore, that both ETH Zurich and the ARROWS project have recently created their own turtle-bots. Now, the National University of Singapore has announced its own entry in the field, that can self-charge its batteries while at sea.  Read More

2014 saw the emergence of some truly innovative drone projects

2014 wasn’t the year that drones first entered the consumer lexicon, but it did see the notion of using these unmanned vehicles to our advantage become much more palatable. Package deliveries and carrying out conventional robotic tasks are some concepts that have defined the progress of drones in the past 12 months, but, as is typical of emerging technologies, the more their potential is realized the more they find uses in unexpected new applications. Let’s have a look over some of the year’s more surprising, yet significant, drone projects that promise to shake things up in exciting new ways.  Read More

DARPA is seeking a UAV that can operate in debris-strewn close quarters (Image: DARPA)

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) are the eyes in the skies for soldiers and disaster relief crews, but despite over a century of aviation progress, they still leave a lot to be desired and close quarters are very difficult for them to navigate on their own. To make UAVs more practical in debris-strewn areas, DARPA's Fast Lightweight Autonomy (FLA) program aims to develop algorithms that will allow autonomous fliers to negotiate obstacles as easily as a bird of prey.  Read More

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