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Autonomous

Google has followed up news of its "self-driving lessons learned" with an announcement that it is to begin testing its self-driving cars on public roads in California. The first complete prototype was unveiled late last year. The new pilot will allow Google to study public responses to the cars and have them face real-world challenges.

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As internet commerce matures, consumers are expecting more immediate delivery of goods, but a fleet of drones won't do any good unless the packing warehouses can keep up. The latest effort to help speed up this process comes from Fetch Robotics, which has unveiled Fetch and Freight – a robotic tag team that takes over the boring task of collecting and delivering stock. Read More
The US Navy's X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration (UCAS-D) aircraft has gone out on a high note (and added yet another acronym to the military lexicon) by conducting the first ever Autonomous Aerial Refueling (AAR) exercise. The autonomous aircraft rendezvoused with an Omega K-707 tanker plane off the coast of Maryland and Virginia, successfully taking on 4,000 lb (1,814 kg) of jet fuel as it completed the project's final test objective. Read More
This is the year that automotive companies will tantalize eyes and minds with full visions of autonomous cars. Mercedes opened up the year with the intriguing F 015 design study, and Italdesign Giugiaro showed its own version of autonomy with the Geneva-debuted GEA. Chevrolet has an equally intriguing self-driving vision, and it calls it the FNR. The "futuristic capsule" is loaded with next-generation styling, technology and ideas. Read More
The Office of Naval Research (ONR) has revealed that it has been conducting demonstrations of swarming unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) at various locations over the past month. The demonstrations were part of the Low-Cost UAV Swarming Technology (LOCUST) program, which is developing quick launching UAV swarm technology to overwhelm adversaries. Read More
Many people have likely watched aerial video shot by drones, and dreamed of getting such footage with a drone of their own. What they might not realize, however, is that controlling the little UAVs can be difficult, particularly if the user is trying to both fly the drone and keep a subject centered in the frame. That's why a group of entrepreneurs are creating the pre-programmable Ares quadcopter. Read More
Global trends appear to be moving towards a future where in many markets, car ownership may look like an expensive, impractical and inconvenient way to get around. So what's the next model of personal transport, and where do the big automakers fit in? Ford's new global VP of Research and Advanced Engineering, Ken Washington, sat down in Melbourne for a "crystal ball" discussion about autonomous cars, on-demand vehicles, car sharing, smart parking, multi-mode transport, and how a car company might learn to cater to a new generation of customers that are far more interested in upgrading their phones than getting their driver's licenses. Read More

Amazon has taken its Prime Air drone-delivery operations north of the US border to develop the technology with greater regulatory freedom, according to a report in The Guardian. Read More

Designing a robot that can convincingly move like a member of the animal kingdom is a much more difficult prospect than merely building something that has the outward appearance of one. Some of the best examples of both have come from the engineers at Festo, including a herring gull named SmartBird and a bit of a bounder known as the BionicKangaroo. As a taste of things to come at next month's Hannover Messe trade show in Germany, the company has now revealed three more biomimetic creations: a small colony of ants, a gripper modeled on a chameleon's tongue and some fine flyers in the shape of some big blue butterflies. Read More
In anticipation of more ambitious planetary missions, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, in collaboration with Masten Space Systems in Mojave, California, has recently been testing new landing technologies using an Autonomous Descent and Ascent Powered-flight Testbed (ADAPT). Aimed at developing new systems for landing on Mars and other planets with much greater precision, a new imaging landing system and algorithm were tested using the demonstration vehicle on two successful flights. Read More
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