Crops are key for a sustainable food production and we face several challenges in crop production. First, we need to feed a growing world population. Second, our society demands high-quality foods. Third, we have to reduce the amount agrochemicals that we apply to our fields as it directly affects our ecosystem. Precision farming techniques offer a great potential to address these challenges, but we have to acquire and provide the relevant information about the field status to the farmers such that specific actions can be taken.
Autonomous exploration and reliable mapping of unknown environments corresponds to a major challenge for mobile robotic systems. For many important application domains, such as industrial inspection or search and rescue, this task is further challenged from the fact that such operations often have to take place in GPS-denied environments and possibly visually-degraded conditions.
JD Claridge’s story epitomizes the current state of the drone industry. Claridge, founder of xCraft, is best known for being the first contestant on Shark Tank to receive money from all the Sharks – even Kevin O’Leary! Walking the floor of Xponential 2017, the annual convention of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems Integration (AUVSI), Claridge remarked to me how the drone industry has grown up since his TV appearance.
Autonomous exploration of unknown environments corresponds to a critical ability and a major challenge for aerial robots. In many cases, we would like to rely on the ability of an intelligent flying system to completely and efficiently explore the previously unknown world and derive a consistent map of it. On top of this basic skill, one can then work on several tasks such as infrastructure inspection, hazard detection, and more.
With their near-vertical walls and deep fractures, glacier crevasses are dangerously narrow ice caves that present a huge risk to search and rescue teams. In a partnership between Flyability (Winner of the 2015 UAE Drones for Good Award) and the Zermatt Glacier mountain rescue team, drones were used to explore a remote crevasse in the Swiss Alps. The goal is to one day use the drones to help locate injured parties before dispatching a rescue team into dangerous territory, and also to help refine rescue techniques related to crevasse fall emergencies.
Getting drones to fly around without hitting things is no small task. Obstacle-detection and motion-planning are two of computer science’s trickiest challenges because of the complexity involved in creating real-time flight plans that avoid obstacles and handle surprises like wind and weather. In a pair of projects announced this week, CSAIL researchers demonstrated software that allow drones to stop on a dime to make hairpin movements over, under, and around some 26 distinct obstacles in a simulated “forest.”
In the first known lethal strike by a Chinese-made drone, an Iraqi military CH-4 drone launched a strike against suspected ISIL militants in Ramadi. Iraq acquired the Caihong-4, a Chinese version of the American MQ-9 Reaper, earlier this year.
With the holiday season approaching, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) estimates that up to one million new drones will be entering U.S. airspace, creating potentially dangerous situations for unmanned and manned aircraft. A new study released by The Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College offers a comprehensive examination of incidents involving drones and manned aircraft in the national airspace over the past two years.
Switzerland concluded a deal with Israeli drone manufacturer Elbit Systems to purchase an unspecified number of Hermes 900 drones, a medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned reconnaissance aircraft. The $200 million deal will be fulfilled over four years.