Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Unmanned

Technicians inspecting the X-37B after a 2010 landing (Image: US Air Force)

The US Air Force’s reusable unmanned spacecraft, the X-37B, is scheduled to return to Earth this week. Although the exact day and time remains undetermined, preparations are underway at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California in anticipation of the arrival of the mini-shuttle as it ends its classified Orbital Test Vehicle mission 3 (OTV-3).  Read More

The Spotify PartyDrone accompanied festival attendees, blasting their favorite tracks as t...

We've seen drones designed to deliver Wi-Fi, pharmaceuticals and books, but your favorite music? That's what Spotify and Belgian mobile operator Base have done, enlisting UAVs to deliver personalized music to festival goers across Belgium last month.  Read More

The ONR's robotic boats are designed to autonomously swarm an attacking vessel (Photo: ONR...

In an age plagued by terrorism, the threat posed to the world’s navies and merchant fleets by small craft laden with explosives or crews with automatic weapons is a very real and present danger. To help combat this, the United States Navy's Office of Naval Research (ONR) is developing a fleet of robotic patrol boats that can not only act as escorts for larger warships or merchant vessels, but can also autonomously swarm around a threatening craft and destroy it.  Read More

The Small UAV Coalition has been formed to promote civil and commercial use of small UAVs ...

As is so often the case when it comes to rapidly evolving technologies, the law is struggling to keep up with the surge in popularity of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). In an attempt to pave the way for commercial, philanthropic, and civil use of small UAVs in the US and around the world, a number of players in the field have teamed up to form the Small UAV Coalition.  Read More

The PlexiDrone is a modular drone with the ability to lug a range of camera equipment alon...

With the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) last week granting exemptions for drone use in film production, we are guessing this won't be the last time we cover an unmanned aerial vehicle promising fresh new ways of capturing footage from above. The team behind the PlexiDrone really couldn't have timed its run any better, looking to shake things up with a snap-together drone capable of lugging a range of camera equipment along for the ride.  Read More

Artist's impression of the Rosetta spacecraft orbiting 67P (Image: ESA)

Ever since the historic achievement of August 6, when Rosetta became the first unmanned spacecraft to achieve a stable orbit around a comet, mission operators have been readying themselves for the inevitable nail-biting landing attempt. Six weeks after arrival at the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (67P), Rosetta's handlers have tentatively announced November 12 as the date for the historic touchdown.  Read More

The Zephyr has become the first High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS) system to complete a...

The solar-powered, high-altitude long endurance (HALE) UAV previously known as the Qinetiq Zephyr, which is now part of the Airbus High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS) programme and called the Airbus Zephyr, has continued its record-breaking ways in its first civil flight in the skies over Dubai earlier this month.  Read More

Facebook hopes to begin testing its solar-powered UAVs in 2015, with the ultimate aim of d...

There was an understandable amount of skepticism when Amazon announced its grand plans for delivery drones last year. But if the last twelve months are any indication, Jeff Bezos and his fellow tech heavyweights are actually kinda serious about the potential of unmanned aerial vehicles. Speaking at the Social Good Summit in New York on Monday, engineering director at Facebook Connectivity Lab, Yael Maguire, has further detailed the company's vision of internet-carrying drones, with plans to begin testing in 2015.  Read More

A concept rendering of the robotic ship of the future (Image: Rolls Royce)

Earlier this year Rolls Royce outlined a future where giant robot cargo vessels ply the world's sea lanes without a human crew on board. That scenario is now coming closer to reality as the EU project MUNIN looks into the feasibility of robotic freighters and the hurdles they must overcome.  Read More

Landing site J (pictured on the right) has been selected as Philae's primary landing site ...

The Rosetta mission's Landing Site Selection Group has selected the primary and back up landing sites for the ESA's Philae probe ahead of an attempted touchdown on 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko on November 11. Selecting sites J and C as the primary and back up sites respectively was no easy task, with mission operators weighing up various factors and racing against time since the spacecraft entered orbit around the comet on August 6. Prior to this, the comet had simply been too far away to characterize.  Read More

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