Drones feel a bit like old news already, don’t they? At least in the Valley, with its hyper-fragmented mayfly attention span. The military has used them for decades. DJI, the undisputed (consumer) polycopter industry leader, was founded in 2006. We tech journalists can’t stop talking about drones, but they’re still mostly playthings, curiosities. One might well ask: what became of all that hype?
It’s a fair question, given our raised expectations — drones replacing FedEx trucks, drones providing emergency relief, drones creepily face-scanning every protester at a demonstration — but I think it evinces an unrealistic expectation of consistent, linear change.
Brothers Massoud and Mahmud Hassani grew up in Kabul, Afghanistan, knowing that one wrong step could end their lives. “When we walked to school, we had a special path to follow—otherwise we would end up in a minefield,” Massoud says. Mines are cheap to manufacture and deploy, but slow and expensive to remove. An estimated 110 million land mines litter the globe, killing 15,000 to 20,000 people a year. Living among them “becomes like a mental disorder,” Massoud says. “The fear is on your mind all the time.”
Intel recently unveiled its lightweight and versatile Shooting Star quadcopter designed primarily for choreographed multi-drone displays, while last week Disney teased a new sky-based light show lined up for Disney Springs in Florida.
It turns out the two are directly linked, with Intel and Disney partnering for an all-new nightly drone display that takes to the skies for the first time tonight.
Drones are usually behind the camera. The unmanned flying machines are perhaps best known as filmographers and spy planes, mechanical beasts training unblinking eyes on the ground below. But there is more to the craft than their ability to spy: when outfitted with LED lights and set to a live band, drone swarms themselves become the spectacle--a new high art. Sky high art.
Mercedes-Benz has built its share of high-tech luxury concept cars over the years, but now it’s applying the latest technology to a different type of vehicle.
The Mercedes-Benz Vision Van aims to show how automotive-tech buzzwords like connectivity and electric powertrains can be applied to commercial vehicles. It’s part of a new strategy called adVANce, through which Mercedes hopes to become not just a vehicle manufacturer, but a purveyor of “holistic system solutions.” It looks like the humble delivery van is about to get a lot more complicated.
“At the company I cofounded, Skydio, we looked at all the things people wanted to do with drones and realized that the products are primitive compared to what’s possible. Today the typical consumer experience is you take it out of the box and run it into a tree.
Wars are getting high-tech and the future of war certainly has robots in it, not to forget the application of AI too. Britain’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has unveiled its plans regarding the future tactics for Britain’s defences. The plans include the development of robotic dragonflies called “Skeeters”, virtual reality helmets and laser weapons.
DroneDeploy released a new study of the commercial and industrial drones market this week, revealing bad news for the makers of fixed-wing drones — quadcopters are far outpacing this type of unmanned aerial vehicle in every industry.
Xiaomi teased its first ever quadcopter this week with a picture of a children's toy, but the Chinese tech company has now given us a little more to look at. As spotted by9to5Google, a post on the company's forums shows what is likely Xiaomi's quadcopter, along with an unveiling and live stream date of May 25th. "Something wonderful and cool is flying to us very soon," says the moderator who left the post.
Nevada is tackling drought in a futuristic way through cloud-seeding drones. Near the end of April, teams piloted the first ever drone to release a “cloud-seeding payload“: silver-iodide that could generate more rain from clouds. The state believes the drones may be part of the solution to alleviate their drought issue.