Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Autonomous

Major the dog, suited up with the control system

Trained dogs can do a lot of things – they can locate victims at disaster sites, sniff out drugs or explosives, and subdue criminals. One thing that they can’t do in all situations, however, is hear commands made by their handlers. That’s why scientists at Alabama’s Auburn University have created a control system to guide them.  Read More

Titan Aerospace's Solara in flight

Conventional satellites may be decent at their jobs, but they do have some drawbacks – the spacecraft themselves are quite expensive, getting them into orbit is also a costly process, and they can’t be reclaimed once they’re in use. Titan Aerospace, however, is offering an alternative that should have none of those problems. The company’s Solara unmanned high-altitude aircraft is intended to serve as an “atmospheric satellite,” autonomously flying in the sky’s upper reaches for as long as five years continuously.  Read More

Traveled and projected route of Curiosity to Mount Sharp (Image: NASA)

NASA took the metaphorical training wheels off the Mars rover Curiosity on Tuesday, as the unmanned explorer took its first drive using autonomous navigation. It used its onboard cameras and software to select and drive over an area of ground that mission control at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California couldn't see and vet beforehand. This capability allows the nuclear-powered rover to negotiate the most direct route to Mount Sharp rather than having to detour to find routes that can be seen directly by Curiosity before entering, so they can be analyzed by mission control.  Read More

With the help of the tiny autopilot, UAVs could be small enough to fit in your pocket

As the word "drone" has become so commonplace that you can literally build a UAV out of anything, researchers are aiming to make the technology smaller and more usable in everyday practice. Bart Remes, project manager at the Micro Aerial Vehicle Laboratory at the TU Delft faculty of Aerospace Engineering, has led a group of researchers to the creation of the world's smallest autopilot.  Read More

The tailbot, a running, jumping mobile sensor that can maneuver in mid-air with its tail (...

Imagine mobile sensor networks that run around, jump and maneuver in the air to get the job done. That's what Jianguo Zhao is working towards; his design for such networks involves biologically-inspired sensors in the form of robots with little tails. These "tailbots" are expected to have applications in areas ranging from search and rescue to surveillance and environmental monitoring.  Read More

Latitude Engineering’s Hybrid Quadrotor UAV

If you need a drone aircraft that can hover in one spot or perform vertical take-offs and landings (VTOL), then a multi-rotor contraption such as a quadcopter is the way to go. Should you be looking for something that can cover long distances as quickly and efficiently as possible, however, then a more traditional propellor-driven fixed-wing airplane will serve you better. So, what if you want both? Well, that’s where Latitude Engineering’s Hybrid Quadrotor UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) comes in. Putting it simply, it’s a quadcopter/fixed-wing combo.  Read More

Vienna University of Technology’s 'smartphone quadcopter'

With one possible exception, autonomous quadcopters are not something that you would expect to be inexpensive. A relatively cheap model may indeed be on its way, however. Designed by the Vienna University of Technology’s Virtual Reality Team, the tiny aircraft utilizes the processor and camera of an off-the-shelf smartphone.  Read More

The Spiri quadrotor

You say quadcopter, I say quadrotor, let's just agree that under no circumstances is it quadrocopter. Whatever they're called, here's another one. It's called Spiri, it's designed to be rather more fun than your average drone, and is designed to be both programmable and capable of running downloaded apps. After 13 months of development Canadian quadcopticist Patrick Edwards-Daugherty has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help bring it to market.  Read More

The Tsinghua University (Beijing) successfully completed the 2013 IARC Mission Six (Photo:...

For the past 23 years, the International Aerial Robotics Competition has challenged college teams with missions requiring complex autonomous robotic behaviors that are often beyond the capabilities of even the most sophisticated military robots. This year's competition, which was held in China and the United States over the past week, saw the team from Tsinghua University in Beijing successfully complete the current mission – an elaborate espionage operation known as Mission Six that was first proposed in 2010.  Read More

The tablet-programmed LA300, being hand-launched

Last November, we heard about Lehmann Aviation’s LA100, a small and fully autonomous UAV designed to capture aerial images with a user-supplied GoPro camera. Now the French company is offering two new models that go farther and stay in the air longer. As with the LA100, both of the new models are designed for use by people with little or no remote piloting experience.  Read More

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