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Autonomous

A new algorithm developed at MIT enables delivery drones to better preserve their health i...

The prospect of delivery drones brings with it a few notable issues. Beyond visions of colliding rotor blades and unsolicited package drops lies another problem: the huge amount of computational power needed to take into account real world uncertainties, such as strong winds, limited battery life and navigational errors, in order to provide a reliable delivery service. This has been the focus of new study from MIT, with a team of researchers devising a new algorithm said to massively reduce the level of computation required, enabling the drone to monitor its "health" in real time.  Read More

Researchers have successfully paired a drone with a unmanned ground vehicle, enabling it t...

While continual improvements are allowing larger UAVs to stay in the air for longer, the lifting capacity and endurance of smaller UAVs is largely constrained by the weight and size of their batteries. In a move that could greatly expand the reach and applications of small UAVs, a team of robotics researchers propose pairing a UAV with a ground vehicle that would provide a place of respite. However, such a vision requires autonomous coordinated docking between the two vehicles, which is exactly what the team has achieved.  Read More

A K-MAX unmanned helicopter autonomously delivering an SMSS by sling load as part of a fir...

While aircraft such as the X-47B are paving the way for unmanned aircraft filling combat roles, autonomous aircraft are also being developed to tackle more mundane – but still dangerous – military operations. To this end, the first fully autonomous resupply, reconnaissance, surveillance and target-acquisition demonstration using the Squad Mission Support System (SMSS) unmanned ground vehicle, K-MAX unmanned helicopter and Gyrocam optical sensor was recently conducted at Fort Benning, Georgia.  Read More

The SaviOne robot can deliver items to guests in hotel rooms

Personal helper and service robots like Milo from RoboDynamics have been in development for some time. Milo was a pretty basic machine, however. It certainly didn't have the dexterity to twist open a bottle like Honda's most recent ASIMO. Nor could it gauge human reactions and crack jokes like the Pepper personal robot that's due to be released next year. Now helper robot company Savioke has announced that it is to start trialing service robots for hotels. The SaviOne robot can autonomously deliver items to guests in hotel rooms.  Read More

Just a few of the Kilobots that were part of the swarm

Ants, schooling fish and flocking birds all have something in common – they can achieve things by working together that they could never do on their own. With that in mind, researchers are now looking into ways of allowing "swarms" of communicating robots to accomplish tasks that are difficult or even impossible for single robots. Harvard University recently performed an unprecedented demonstration of that behavior, in which a batch of over 1,000 tiny Kilobots arranged themselves into a variety of pre-assigned two-dimensional shapes.  Read More

ATV-5 docks under autonomous control (Image: ESA/NASA)

ESA’s last Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV)-5, Georges Lemaître, has arrived at the International Space Station. In what the space agency describes as a "flawless demonstration of technology and skill," the unmanned cargo ship autonomously docked itself while supervised by mission control in Toulouse, France and by ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov inside the space station.  Read More

An autonomous car being tested in the UK

Driverless cars are an exciting glimpse of the future, with great potential to improve road safety. It seems the UK has caught on to this, announcing a £10 million (US$17 million) scheme to test driverless cars on public roads from January 2015.  Read More

The US Marines' autonomous vehicle has successfully demonstrated the ability to follow a p...

In a small taste of things to come in military operations, the US Marine Corps has tested a self-driving mini-truck as part of the 2014 RIMPAC international naval exercise.  Read More

Belize has begun using drones to monitor its coastline for illegal fishing operations

Unsustainable fishing in Belize has placed growing pressure on local anglers and the country's celebrated coral reef systems. Decades of decline has led to the introduction of catch limits and even the European Union blacklisting seafood imports from Belize for a perceived lack of action against illegal fishing. In an effort to better regulate the industry, the Belize Fisheries Department has begun using drones to monitor coastal areas for unlicensed and unlawful activity.  Read More

Three free-flying, bowling ball-sized robots aboard the ISS will use a 3D map to provide s...

Last week, Orbital Sciences' second commercial resupply mission delivered two Project Tango Google smartphones to the International Space Station. The sensor-filled phones will be used to create a detailed 3D map of the spacecraft, which will then help two soccer ball-sized, free-flying satellites autonomously navigate through some very tight spots.  Read More

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