Why drones won't be taking over our wars anytime soon
By C.J. Chivers
Posted 04.23.2012 at 9:50 am 22 Comments
Early in 2008 on the Black Sea coast, a Georgian drone flying over the separatist enclave of Abkhazia transmitted an instantaneous artifact from the age of human flight—the video record of its own destruction by an attacking fighter jet. What happened that day was born of incendiary post-Soviet politics. The Kremlin backed Abkhazia and was furious that Georgia had bought surveillance drones to watch over the disputed ground. Georgia’s young government flaunted its new fleet, bullhorning to diplomats and to journalists like me what the drones were documenting of Russia’s buildup to war.
It’s the kind of tech startup that we could really get excited about if we weren’t fairly certain it’s some kind of hoax. A Web site has popped up at TacoCopter.com that offers a unique service: tacos airlifted directly to your doorstep via unmanned quadcopter drone. The rise of the machines never sounded so scrumptious.
In an effort to outmaneuver the law enforcement entities that have pursued its swashbuckling operation across the land, the Pirate Bay is looking to the skies. In a blog post yesterday, the Bay’s MrSpock said that in an effort to keep its front machines--the ones that redirect your illicit traffic to servers in a secret location--one step ahead of the law, the organization is going to try to build a network of traffic-relaying aerial drones.
Landing airplanes on moving ships is no mean feat, but this will be especially true when the airplanes are unmanned. Along with making decisions, autonomous airplanes will have to heed their human counterparts during aircraft carrier takeoff and landing — but can a robot read and understand arm-waving signals?
Just a week after Congress finally passed an FAA spending bill requiring the aviation regulator to expedite the integration of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) into the national airspace, President Obama has already signed it into law. What does that mean? The bill requires full integration of UAS into the national regulatory framework by Sept. 30, 2015, but you’ll start seeing drones in the sky sooner than that.
When European farmers turn their eyes skyward, they soon may have more than the weather to worry about. The more progressive aviation framework in Europe means that government monitors potentially have a new weapon in their arsenals--unmanned aerial drones--to enforce regulations, and they’re starting with agriculture. EU regulators are exploring potential aerial systems that can help them spot farm subsidy cheats and violators of Common Agricultural Policy rules.
Sometimes the whole is more than the sum of its parts, and the U.S. Army is about to find out if they can create some amazing ISR synthesis by combining two pieces of bleeding-edge technology from its own stores: Boeing’s A160 Hummingbird unmanned helo and ARGUS--the Autonomous Real-time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance Imaging System. Together, the duo will reportedly be able to collect 80 years’ worth of HD video each and every day.
Drones: they’re not just for controversial cross-border airstrikes anymore. Physicist Jason Barnes has designed a robotic aircraft that could cruise the methane skies of Saturn’s moon Titan almost indefinitely, beaming data and images back to Earth and terminating with extreme prejudice any terrorist threats it encounters there (we made that last part up).
Clothing that adapts to hide you whatever your surroundings are
By David Hambling
Posted 01.12.2012 at 11:12 am 13 Comments
Camouflage works by confusing the brain. Disruptive patterns obscure a form’s outline, making objects less likely to stand out. But camo has a weakness: No pattern works for every environment. Special Operations Apps, a software design firm in Wilmington, N.C., has developed a process to make site-specific camouflage.
Nowadays, nearly one in three American military aircraft is a drone, according to a congressional report, a 40-fold increase in the drone army from just a few years ago. From tiny man-portable flying wings to behemoth strike planes, unmanned aircraft now make up 31 percent of the military’s air power.
Parrot's AR.Drone--what we suppose we should now call the AR.Drone 1.0 (spoiler alert)--won a 2010 Best of What's New award, so we were definitely excited to see the new version here in Las Vegas, cheerfully performing flips in a crowded convention hall (video below, of course). So what's new in version 2.0?
Telepresence is cool, but it’s currently not very versatile and--at least if you’re going the commercial telepresence robot route--pretty expensive. For a princely sum, you can remotely putter around a faraway office or home and communicate with people there via a computer terminal. Outside of that, the technology has yet to break down any serious walls. That is, until software engineer Taylor Veltrop devised a way to brush his cat remotely via a robotic avatar, spearheading what could be the biggest revolution in cat-grooming technology since that kitty brush that you wear like a glove.
A somewhat strange story emerged yesterday involving an extremist antigovernment group, a North Dakota sheriff’s office, and six missing cows, but there’s a much larger story behind this brief legal tangle between local law enforcement and the Brossart family of Nelson Country. When Alex, Thomas and Jacob Brossart were arrested on their farm back in June after allegedly chasing the local Sheriff off their property with rifles, they became the first known U.S.
You know, it’s one thing to “shoot down” the top secret spy drone of the imperialist zionist heathen enemy. But come on Iran--stop bragging. Iran today released a two-and-a-half minute video and the first images depicting the RQ-170 stealth drone that it claims it shot down on Sunday. It’s the first visual proof that leaders of the Islamic Republic are actually holding the drone it their possession.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.