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— Space

Gaia launch delayed over dicey components

The Gaia mission to map a billion stars in the Milky Way has been delayed for about two months by the European Space Agency. Problems in X-band transponders used in other satellites have begun to appear, and the ESA has decided to replace those modules prior to launching. The likely blastoff date will be in late December of this year. Read More
— Science

New software could allow cyborg insects to map buildings

Living remote-control cockroaches are now a thing. They actually exist. Besides wowing people and sparking ethics debates, however, the cyborg insects may ultimately have some very worthwhile applications. A team led by North Carolina State University's Dr. Edgar Lobaton has brought one of those applications a step closer to reality, by developing software that would allow "swarms" of the cockroaches to map hazardous environments such as collapsed buildings. Read More
— Drones

Fleet of eBee drones capture the immensity of the Matterhorn

Explorers have mapped the surface of the iconic Matterhorn painstakingly by foot, by satellite, and now by drone, thanks to a partnership between drone maker senseFly and nonprofit Drone Adventures. Launching a small squadron of eBee minidrones off the summit and sides of the famous Alps mountaintop, the mission tested the navigational abilities of the system and created a staggering data-rich 3D model. Read More
— Outdoors

Trimble TopoCharger converts an iPhone into an outdoor GPS

Smartphones have all but replaced standalone GPS units for basic car and foot navigation in cities and on highways, but without apps like the ViewRanger, they aren't equipped to guide you around forests, mountains and trails. The new Trimble TopoCharger brings another such app, along with a full set of topographical maps and a full-sized back-up battery. Pop this case on, and the iPhone transforms into an outdoor GPS. Read More
— Aircraft

Aeromapper X5 UAV maps terrain and parachutes to the ground when it's done

While we’re seeing an increasing amount of aerial mapping being performed by purpose-built drone aircraft, a lot of people are no doubt still leery of remotely-piloting what is essentially a little airplane. With such people in mind, Canada’s Aeromao has recently released its Aeromapper X5. The drone is launched by hand, flies and takes photos autonomously, then parachutes back down to the ground. Read More
— Wearable Electronics

Backpack-mounted system maps places unreachable by GPS

Mapping environmental threats in GPS-inaccessible locations – such as underground installations, or the passageways of ships – can certainly pose some challenges. While there are robotic systems that can do the job, robots aren’t necessarily the best choice for cramped quarters or uneven terrain. That’s why a team of scientists at Johns Hopkins University have developed the backpack-mounted Enhanced Mapping and Positioning System ... or EMAPS. Read More
— Computers

Google Street View lets users take a virtual hike through the Grand Canyon

In recent months, Google Maps has ramped up its cartographical efforts to provide more detailed maps of North Korea and take users to more exotic locations like snow-covered mountains and underwater coral reefs via Street View. Now thanks to the Trekker, Google's own backpack-mounted camera system, users can explore stunning 360-degree panoramic images on a virtual hike through the Grand Canyon. Read More