Airborne Services

Drone fleets could help find missing hikers

By James Rogers, Fox News

Researchers at MIT say that a sophisticated fleet of drones could help find lost hikers by searching under dense forest canopies.

The autonomous drones would bypass the problem of unreliable or nonexistent GPS signals in forest environments by using onboard computation and wireless communication, according to the experts.

The team’s research is revealed in a paper that will be presented at the International Symposium on Experimental Robotics conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, this week.

See: https://youtu.be/2hRNx_0SWGw

Using laser range-finders to estimate their position and plan a route, the drones will create 3-D maps of the terrain. Algorithms will be employed to help the drones identify unexplored areas and places that it has already searched.

Read More: New Your Post

Australian start-up develops drones that fly underground

By GCR Staff

Australian company Emesent has developed software that allows autonomous drones to create mapping of underground spaces such as mines and tunnels.

The company was founded by researchers at the robotics department of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, an Australian federal research agency. While there, they began created “Hovermap”, a technology that allows drones to explore confined spaces such as mines, transport and utility tunnels.

The drones, which do not require a human controller, rely on the LiDAR laser systems used by self-driving vehicles, as well as collision-avoidance sensors and GPS chips. They can also perform other tasks, such as taking gas readings

A video of the system in action can be seen here.

Read More: GCR

Southern California police are sending drones to respond to 911 calls

By Feilidh Dwyer

A police department in Southern California have started deploying drones to respond to  911 calls.

Chula Vista, population 275,000, is a city south of San Diego. According to the San Diego Union Tribune, since last week the city’s police force have used drones to react to more than 30 different calls, three of which led to arrests.

So what’s going on?

As entertaining as it is to imagine – the drones aren’t making arrests themselves. We are probably a few decades away from that.

What actually happens is the police receive calls from the public and depending on the location of the crime, one of their drones is able to fly quickly to the scene, giving incoming police officers a live, bird’s eye view of what’s going on.

Read More: We Talk UAV

Drones to deliver vaccines to remote Vanuatu in world-first commercial contracts

By Yara Murray-Atfield

An Australian company is one of two to be awarded the world’s first-ever commercial contracts to deliver life-saving vaccines to vulnerable children in remote areas by drone.

The Vanuatu Government awarded the contracts to Melbourne-based Swoop Aero and German Wingcopter Holding, who outbid 18 other drone companies from around the world.

Vanuatu has more than 80 islands spread over some 1,600 kilometres, and only around one third of the inhabited islands have established roads and air landing strips.

The country has an infant mortality rate of 23 deaths per 1,000 births — significantly higher than developed Western nations like Australia where infant mortality rates sit just under four deaths per 1,000 births.

Read More: ABC News

Drone vaccine delivery in Vanuatu ‘could be game-changer’

The founder of the drone company contracted to trial vaccine delivery in Vanuatu says the move could be a game-changer for healthcare in the region.

Unicef last week announced two companies would take part in a trial, intended as a way to safely and quickly deliver vaccines to remote villages where health workers sometimes have to walk days.

One of the companies is Melbourne-based Swoop Aero, which will use its two-metre refrigeration drones to deliver vaccines up to 100 kilometres in less than an hour.

Read More: Radio NZ

Vanuatu awards international drone companies with commercial contracts for vaccine delivery

In a global first, the Vanuatu Government has awarded two international drone companies, Swoop Aero and Wingcopter, with commercial contracts to trial the use of drones to bring lifesaving vaccines to children living in remote rural islands.

“Ensuring vital supplies at health facilities are consistently available is an ongoing challenge for Vanuatu due to geography, logistics and high costs. An important step for dealing with some of these challenges to providing healthcare to vulnerable communities is looking at innovative ways such as the use of drones,” said Director General of the Ministry of Health in Vanuatu, George Taleo.

The first phase of the drone trials will take place during the week of 3-7 December when these two drone companies will test the viability of delivering vaccines to inaccessible areas.

Read More: SUAS News

Exploring the “triggers” that will drive increased drone business demand with Skylogic Research

By Jeremiah Karpowicz

Any search for information related to commercial drone technology will pull up a variety of articles from Colin Snow, aka the Drone Analyst, CEO and Founder of Skylogic Research.

The info he’s laid out in these pieces ranges from a realistic look at the growth prospects in the drone market to a breakdown around why agriculture and farming would not be the largest driver of sUAS commercial businesses to an exploration of diversity and hype in market forecasts.

They demonstrate his unmatched expertise when it comes to assessing how drones have and will be used in a variety of commercial applications.

However, the analysis he’s laid out in these pieces is just of hint of what he fully explores in his market reports that go beyond the hype and headlines of the drone industry.

His 2018 Drone Market Sector Report has set a new standard for drone industry surveys, as it includes the results of interactions with 2,500 drone buyers, service providers, business and public agency users, and software service users, plus insights into the verticals that use drone data.

The 107-page research report is an incredible resource for anyone who wants to get a clear picture of how drones are actually being used in a variety of commercial settings, and what all of this means for the future of the technology.

Read More: Expo UAV

Fast food is taking flight as drones battle Iceland’s rain and snow

Maron Kristofersson is looking forward to the completion of a new roof on his office in Reykjavik.

It is not that the old roof leaked but rather that the new one will be heated. Kristofersson is the boss of Aha, which delivers on behalf of restaurants and shops in Iceland’s capital. The heated roof will let his delivery drones take off from and land on top of the building in the winter, without anyone having to clear away the snow.

When drones came to public attention about a decade ago, various commercial uses were proposed for them. Some of these, such as surveying, aerial photo­graphy and law enforcement, have now become routine.

But one, in particular, has not. This is the idea of household deliveries. In 2013 online retailer Amazon said it was testing just such a system. Others suggested using drones to deliver medicines and fast food.

However, not much then happened.

Read More: The Australian

DJI Improves Drone Geofencing

Facing tighter FAA regulation on recreational drone use, the world’s leading manufacturer of the vehicles, China’s DJI, today announced improved geofencing technology to refine airspace limitations for drone flights near airports.

DJI’s updated Geospatial Environment Online (GEO) Version 2.0 will be phased in starting next month when the revised zones will take effect for airspace around airports in the U.S. Upgrades in other parts of the world will follow, the company said.

DJI has selected PrecisionHawk to provide the data for the system, replacing the company’s previous geospatial data provider. DJI collaborated with the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and the American Association of Airport Executives in developing GEO 2.0.

According to DJI, the new system creates three-dimensional “bow tie” safety zones surrounding runway flight paths and uses “complex polygon shapes around other sensitive facilities, rather than just simple circles.” The new restrictions better reflect the actual safety risk, while enabling more flights to the side of runways where the company says the risk is lower.

Read More: ainonline

A new palm-sized drone is mini, but mighty


The bot reels in its cargo while affixed to a surface, rather than flying with a load

A new type of mini drone can pull a lot more than its own weight.

The drone latches onto a surface and uses a cable to reel in objects up to 40 times its mass, researchers report. This feat is a marked improvement over other flying robots, which generally can’t tote objects heavier than about their own weight (SN: 2/7/15, p. 18).

The new palm-sized flyer, described October 24 in Science Robotics, could work in factories or help with exploration and search-and-rescue missions.

Each 100-gram quadcopter is equipped with either gecko-inspired adhesive or microspines, which resemble tiny fishhooks, that help it cling to various surfaces (SN Online: 6/28/17). After attaching a cable to an object, the drone flies to its destination, anchors itself to its landing spot and uses a mechanical winch to pull in its cargo.

This sequence of events allows the drone to transport objects that would be too heavy to carry while flying.

Read More: Science News