The United States boasts some of the most advanced multi-mission combat aircraft in the world, but this can be a liability as well as an asset. True, each aircraft can outperform an entire squadron of a few decades ago, but they're also very expensive, incredibly complex, and not exactly expendable. For these reasons DARPA has launched the Gremlins program, which aims to develop swarms of cheaper, smarter aircraft that can be deployed and collected in midair.
Radio tags have made things easier for environmental scientists tracking animal movements, but they still involve spending a lot of time and money traipsing over land by foot in search of a signal. This is particularly pertinent for Australian National University's (ANU) Debbie Saunders, who has spent years trying to track small, evasive birds. But work is set to become easier for Saunders and her team, who have developed the first radio-tracking drone that locates radio-tagged wildlife in a fraction of the time of previous methods.
Last month, Sony Mobile announced a joint drone venture with Japanese robotics company ZMP. The first images and videos of the Aerosense quadcopter, fitted with Sony's QX30 lens/camera module, and VTOL UAV prototypes have been released.
Boeing has been given a patent for a new kind of amphibious drone that's like something straight out of a classic spy movie. The aeronautics giant has a novel design for an unmanned aerial drone that can spontaneously convert into an unmanned submarine and go for a dive.
Earlier this year, DJI unveiled two new quadcopters – the Phantom 3 Advanced and Phantom 3 Professional.
With respective price tags of US$1,259 and $999, however, they're
perhaps "more drone" than the average user needs. That's why DJI has now
announced the less expensive, more basic Phantom 3 Standard.
While there are already some truly tiny consumer drones out there, their protruding propellers still make them difficult to stuff into one’s pocket. AeriCam had been developing a model called the Anura, which featured props that folded into its sides – as a result, the whole aircraft became a pocketable rectangle. While we haven’t heard much about that one lately, Droidworx is now promising something similar in the form of its Blu quadcopter.
Sony Mobile, the wholly owned Sony subsidiary formerly known as Sony Ericsson, is going upwardly mobile by teaming up with Japanese robotics firm ZMP to launch a drone company. Aerosense Inc. will launch next month and target enterprise customers with a focus on the internet of things applications.
The California State Fair played host to an unconventional but increasingly popular type of sporting event last week. The first international drone racing contest invited budding pilots from all around the globe to battle it out for the inaugural US National Championship and a slice of US$25,000 in cash prizes.
As the latest in Parrot's line of smartphone-operated drones, the Bebop boasts a number of improvements over the AR.Drone 2.0 including a better camera, longer range, and an optional joystick-based controller. We put the Bebop in the hands of several quadcopter neophytes, tested it indoors (which is supposedly one of its strengths), and enlisted its 14-megapixel camera to capture some aerial footage. We also powered on Parrot's new Skycontroller, which adds physical controls and a more powerful Wi-Fi antenna for extended big range and potential FPV fun. So how did it perform?
One weekend each July, 1,500 people from rural area of Wise County, Virginia descend on the local fairgrounds for a once yearly medical clinic. Here they seek attention for unique conditions that go untreated for the rest of the year due to lack of access to proper healthcare. In years gone by, medical supplies would be brought into the town by truck, but this year things will be working a little differently. Startup Flirtey has teamed up with NASA to conduct an FAA approved exercise to deliver some of these items by drone. This is a good news for a startup trying to spread its wings, but even better news for rural folk who instead of waiting days for urgently needed medication will have their prescriptions filled in just half an hour. And as Flirtey CEO Matt Sweeney tells Gizmag, it could be the "Kitty Hawk" moment the drone delivery industry has been longing for.