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Autonomous

Environment

Autonomous mini helicopters hunt down invasive weeds from the air

The sheer density of the rainforests in Australia's far-north creates a slight problem for local conservationists. With incursions by invasive plants posing a threat to the native flora, inaccessibility for people makes it a difficult and time-consuming task to monitor the region. Now researchers from the CSIRO have developed two mini helicopters capable of hunting down the dangerous weeds from the air, significantly reducing the resources needed to preserve local plant life. Read More

Drones

MIT algorithm lets delivery drones monitor their health in real-time

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

Drones

New control method enables drones to land autonomously on moving vehicles

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

Military

Robotic vehicles team up on first fully autonomous mission demonstration

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

Robotics

SaviOne robot butler starts room service deliveries this week

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

Robotics

Over 1,000 robots swarm together in Harvard lab

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

Space

ESA tests new rendezvous system as ATV-5 docks at Space Station

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

Driverless cars to hit UK roads from next year

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

Drones

Drones take flight over Belize coastline to monitor illegal fishing activity

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

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