Archive for the ‘Drone’ tag
This time, however, a drone saved a life.
“To our knowledge, this is the first time that a life may have been saved with the use of a sUAS (small Unmanned Aerial System) helicopter,” says Zenon Dragan, the founder of Draganfly.
After a car accident yesterday near Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, an injured and disoriented driver wandered away from the accident scene in near-freezing temperatures. Royal Canadian Mounted Police who responded to the incident couldn’t find the man, who was in danger of dying of exposure and hypothermia.
Cue the unmanned aerial vehicle search.
After the driver called 911 call, telling operators he had no jacket and had lost his shoes, the local mobile carrier helped police narrow down his location — a field two miles away — via GPS. Honking, sirens, and flashing lights did not spur the injured man to make his location known, so RCMP Cpl. Doug Green launched his Dragan Flyer X4-ES, which is equipped with a forward looking infrared camera (FLIR).
He found a heat signature 200 meters (320 feet) from the last-known GPS location, and a rescue team found the driver at the base of a tree next to a snow bank, unresponsive, and curled up in a ball. They quickly picked him up, brought him to an ambulance, and transported him to hospital.
“Without the UAV and FLIR, searchers would not have been able to locate the driver until daylight,” the RCMP said in a statement.
At which point, given that he was already unresponsive, was next to a snow bank, and the night would only have gotten colder until dawn, he probably would have been dead.
Draganfly’s website says that it provides a “quick to deploy, low cost, aerial platform that delivers critical, high-quality data to ground-based personnel in real time that saves lives.”
For once, it’s not just marketing jargon.
Here’s the video from the drone:
Image credits: Draganfly, RCMP; Hat tip: The Verge
Filed under: Business
Why spend a few hundred on a Parrot AR.Drone when you can pop over to Brando and pick up a $49 quadcopter that fits in the palm of your hand and does flips.
The Quadcopter uses “New Design Technology” to be “The Most Stable (like the real?) Floating in the AIR.” I’ll let Brando’s breathless authors take it from here:
Plus you get all that eversion!
Here’s another good example of speculative design. Elie Ahovi imagines gigantic semi-autonomous underwater drones collecting vast amounts of oceanic plastic in gigantic nets.
Looks like a toy, but imagine it at scale:
Plastic-Eating Underwater Drone Could Swallow the Great Pacific Garbage Patch via Popular Science
A new underwater drone concept could seek and destroy one of the ocean’s most insidious enemies, while earning a profit for plastics recyclers. This marine drone cansiphon plastic garbage, swallowing bits of trash in a gaping maw rivaling that of a whale shark.
Industrial design student Elie Ahovi, who previously brought us the Orbit clothes washer concept, now presents the Marine Drone, an autonomous electric vehicle that tows a plastic-trapping net. The net is surrounded by a circular buoy to balance the weight of the garbage it collects. It discourages fish and other creatures from entering its jaws via an annoying sonic transmitter, and it communicates with other drones and with its base station using sonar.
This design forces us to consider the implications of the plastic in the ocean, since the designed object changes the possible costs of cleaning the ocean. If it is no longer impossible — or no longer too costly — to clean the ocean, how much are we willing to pay? A $100M a year for 10 years? 20 years?
I hope that this design sparks a real discussion, and not just another TED inspirational moment where we see a cool idea, and then turn back to the status quo, satisfied that in some techno-utopian future smart technologists like Elie Ahovi will save us, even when our leaders hopelessly fail to even address the issues, let alone solve them.
We’re not living in some Independence Day movie, where two guys can steal a hot-rod space ship, do a drive-by, and save the day. We need speculative designers to force the discussion by creating imaginary appliances that can break through the logjam, and get real discussions going, and then real actions taken.
I for one think that we should have NOAA start an Oceans Clean-Up program, a long-term project to get the plastic and other garbage out of the oceans, and we should fund it just like the Mars Lander program, which has been given $2.5B.
You don’t often hear about planes crashing in mid-air. The systems they have in place have done a fairly good job at keeping passengers safe. But safety and security are two different things, and while the systems may work, one researcher has found they are scarily easy to hack.
“This is like shooting fish in a barrel. If you’re not scared about this, you should be,” said researcher Nick Foster at the Def Con conference in Las Vegas. “Without encryption without any bottom security and protocol, it’s just not hard.”
The systems that keep planes from running into each other are called Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast and there are two types ADS-B In (the transmissions sending information to the planes) and ADS-B out (the transmissions sending information to the tower). Both of these transmission types are unencrypted and unauthenticated — meaning the transmissions between the plane and tower are not protected and there’s no way to prove it actually came from the plane or the tower. Anyone can listen to these transmissions and monitor where planes are going and how fast.
Renderman, or Brad Haines, discovered this blatant vulnerability after checking out Planefinder AR, an app that lets you hold your phone to the sky and see where the flights overhead are going. He wondered where the app got its data, and found a number of websites that aggregated data from users. These users set up ground stations, collect data from flights going over, and feed the data into the site’s database.
So, what can people do with that information? Hack it, of course.
If you have access to the transmissions being sent to the tower, who is to say you can’t fuzz the information, add a bit of your own data to the real data. For example, you could tell air traffic control that there was a plane headed straight for the tower, though no plane existed. You could also potentially jam the system by adding fifty more planes to the control tower’s systems, which could send the operators scrambling or overload the system. You could also duplicate a real flight headed through the area. This is dangerous if the tower operators decide to ignore the right flight data, thinking it was a glitch in the system.
Pilots in flight can be messed with as well. A hacker could alert pilots to a fake plane headed straight for it. They could also spoof the GPS, which pilots depend on to know where they are in the skies. We saw GPS spoofing recently when Iran landed a U.S. drone flying in the vicinity. The country’s engineers were allegedly able to hack into the drone’s systems, make it think it was in its landing location and landed the drone within its borders.
Haines stressed, “for the love of Spongebob do not try anything you’re about to see.” He wanted to make this public so that the airline industry can patch up its leaky ship — encrypt and protect this information.
Image via Dean Takahashi/VentureBeat
The do-it-yourself (DIY), open-source drone movement is turning into a real business that could disrupt the commercial and military drone industry. It’s another case of how exploiting the curiosity of hackers can turn into a commercial opportunity.
That’s the view of Chris Anderson (pictured), the editor of Wired magazine and a drone hobbyist and businessman on the side. He spoke about this DIY trend and his own efforts to lead it in a talk at the Defcon hacker conference in Las Vegas today.
Anderson said the whole project is “open sourcing the military industrial complex.” Drones have been the domain of the U.S. military, which has created huge awareness about drones such as the Predator and the Reaper by using them against terrorist targets in a variety of countries where troops can’t go. Those drones cost millions of dollars, but the DIY drone business is focused on created ubiquitous drones that cost tens of dollars.
Anderson’s interest started five years ago as he sought ways to get his kids interested in science. He got them to make robots with Lego Mindstorms robot kits, but their interest didn’t last. Then he tried to get them to fly a remote-controlled airplane, which ended up stuck in a tree. The kids lost interest. But the idea of combining the DIY nature of the robot and the airplane sent Anderson “straight down the rabbit hole,” he said. Then he created the first Lego unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), or drone.
His interest in drones led to a web site called DIY Drones, which has blossomed into a community with 30,000 registered members. The site gets 1.4 million page views a month, has 6,000 blog posts, 8,000 discussion threads, and 80,000 comments a year. Anderson has marshaled that community to create open-source software for all sorts of drones. And Anderson co-founded a for-profit company, 3D Robotics, (with a 19-year-old Mexican teen) that creates computing hardware for drones. That hardware itself is built on the Arduino open-source computing platform. The DIY software helps hobbyists create a wide variety of drones, like a drone you can fly with a Wii game console controller.
That hardware can be used to build all sorts of drones, such as “quad copter” drones based on the hardware of the Parrot AR Drone. The Parrot drones are controlled by humans, but the 3D Robotics hardware converts them so they can be completely autonomous, fulfilling the definition of a drone.
3D Robotics sells the drone hardware for $199 or so, enabling the community members to take their software and run it on a hardware platform and thereby field their own flying drones.
“Anything that is remote-controlled, you just put this in there and suddenly you’ve got a drone,” Anderson said.
There are some legal issues around drones and whether they can be flown in commercial airspace, but Anderson said he has a legal opinion from lawyers that the business is legal, since the DIY drones are so far used for non-commercial purposes.
The uses of the drones are creative. You can go surfing and have a drone take off from the beach, fly over you, turn on its camera and then film you from above as you surf.
The drone hardware is priced at about 2.6 times the hardware bill-of-material cost, allowing a 40 percent margin for retailers and a 40-percent margin for the company. But since the software is free, the end product can be quite cost efficient compared to competitors who have to try to keep pace with an all-volunteer software community, Anderson said. That means that Chinese knock-off rivals can copy the hardware, but will have a tough time keeping up with 3D Robotics as it launches new software-driven varieties. Right now, there are 150 different products, including 75 from the community.
“They can’t clone our community,” he said.
The company has two factories and 50 employees now. In addition, 3D Robotics rewards its community contributors with T-shirts, coffee mugs, free travel, free hardware, and — if they contribute enough — equity in the company. All of the drones are under $1,000. Competitors include other open-source DIY communities where the model is similar: charge for hardware, give away the bits.
There’s still a lot to improve before drones become mainstream toys for more consumers, especially those who would never pick up a soldering iron to assemble a product.
“In two years, we have begun disrupting a multimillion-dollar industry with the open-source model,” Anderson said. “We can deliver 90 percent of the performance of military drones at 1 percent of the price.”
Of course, at least so far, the hackers aren’t “weaponizing” the drones.
Filed under: security
Is this a mosquito? No. It’s an insect spy drone for urban areas, already in production, funded by the US Government. It can be remotely controlled and is equipped with a camera and a microphone. It can land on you, and it may have the potential to take a DNA sample or leave RFID tracking nanotechnology on your skin.
Actual research paper
A team from the University of Texas at Austin showed Homeland Security just how detrimental GPS spoofing can be to our drones program. The group hacked a school-owned drone using a cheap, home-made spoofing tool.
With Homeland Security officials standing by, the team confused a hovering drone from nearly a mile away using GPS spoofing. GPS spoofing is the act of hacking into a GPS system and tricking it into believing it’s somewhere it’s not. From here, a hacker could provide new coordinates for the drone to follow and eventually ground the aerial vehicle in their desired location. While the process seems complicated, Professor Todd Humphreys from the University of Texas at Austin created a spoofer for less than $1,000 that could execute the necessary instructions.
“In 5 or 10 years you have 30,000 drones in the airspace,” Humphreys told Fox News. “Each one of these could be a potential missile used against us.”
The spoofer convinces the target drone into believing all the information it is being fed is legitimate — that nothing is unusual. He then is able to change the drone’s course to his liking.
In 2011, Iran captured a U.S. drone. It was believed that engineers in the country had detected the drone and used GPS spoofing to bring it down. At the time, the American Civil Liberties Union called for more restrictions on drone usage in U.S. airspace, as many begin to fear how these drones could turn on us.
Filed under: VentureBeat
What are the laws against drones—and their masters—behaving badly? Turns out, there are few that explicitly address a future where people, companies, and police all command tiny aircraft. But many of our anxieties about that future should be assuaged by existing regulations. We asked Ryan Calo, a law professor at the University of Washington, to weigh in on some of the issues.
Read the full story at the original publication link below. Read more » about No, You Can’t Use a Drone to Spy on Your Sexy Neighbor
Let’s just cut to the chase. The Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 is awesome. Pricey? Sure — it’s $300. It’s a toy that costs as much as the smartphone you’d be controlling it with, but it’s a grown-up’s toy, and one that makes a jaded John Biggs very happy. This is far more than I can say for most of the gadgetry on the market today. But John’s opinion aside, this thing just rocks.
The quadcopter has a 720p camera that streams the feed directly to your smartphone, along with a QVGA camera measuring the terrain below. Plus, it comes with a built in GPS and allows you to store to a USB key on the device and upload the footage later. Oh, and it can do a flip.
Now, they can be a bit difficult to maneuver. Matt nearly broke one at Disrupt this year, and flew it straight into a wall. But I think it’s one of those things you have to get used to. John didn’t have that much trouble weaving that thing around cameras and ducking it under lights in our studio. And I imagine that a game of chicken between two AR.Drones at once would probably be a pretty good time.
All in all it’s an expensive, but totally worth-it toy. Two flies.