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Autonomous


— Science

Autonomous boats get disguised as crocodiles and used to study hippo poop

Although hippos may look slow and docile, they're actually very aggressive, killing more people every year than any other large African animal. So, it would follow that you wouldn't want to swim anywhere near them. That's why when researchers from Yale University and the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies wanted to study the effects of hippo dung on water quality in Kenya's Mara River, they sent in three autonomous air boats instead of people. To help those boats blend in, they were dressed up as crocodiles. Read More
— Electronics

Quadrotor gets autonomous navigation capabilities with Google's Project Tango

We’ve seen a lot of eye- and brain-catching robotics fun from the GRASP lab at the University of Pennsylvania, including a swarm of nano quadrotors playing the James Bond theme and a quadcopter swooping raptor-like onto prey. Dr. Vijay Kumar now gives us proof of concept of the utility of Google’s Project Tango in aerial systems by outfitting a quadrotor with the device to provide autonomous navigational capabilities. Read More
— Aircraft

DARPA seeks drop-in autopilot system to assist pilots

Flying a military aircraft is the classic example of long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of terror. Part of the reason for this is that despite half a century of creating automated flight systems, emergencies still require flight crews to multitask like a one-tentacled octopus. DARPA is hoping to change this with its Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) program aimed at producing a drop-in automated flight control system designed to make the pilot's life simpler while reducing the size of flight crews. Read More
— Aircraft

Arcturus gets the Jump on vertical takeoff and landing for fixed wing UAVs

Fixed-wing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles have a lot of advantages over manned aircraft, but much of that is lost when they get too big to be launched by hand and start needing runways and catapults to get aloft. Vertical Takeoff and Landing systems seem like an obvious alternative, but the extra weight of these systems can limit the advantages they offer. Arcturus UAV in Northern California unveiled its solution this week with its Jump VTOL system. Using self-contained electric lift motors, this add-on system is designed to provide tactical UAVs with VTOL capabilities without the usual penalties of payload and range. Read More
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