Records are made to be broken, and a bunch of students at the University of Maryland are smashing the ones they just set earlier this summer. They're so close to winning the crazy-hard American Helicopter Society's Igor I. Sikorsky Human-Powered Helicopter competition — watch an amazing eight-foot flight past the jump.
This summer's crippling famine in Somalia, which has killed tens of thousands of people and led half a million more to seek refuge in Kenya, is notable for many reasons — but the theft and sale of life-saving aid is arguably one of the worst. A new project could be one way to prevent such atrocity in the future: Use drones to drop food and drugs right where they're needed, no human intervention required. Enter the Matternet.
Every night in Texas, vast swarms of Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from caves to dine, swarming in dense clouds and plucking huge amounts of insects out of the air. They dip, swirl and turn on a dime to chase their prey, while somehow avoiding collisions with each other. To study how they do this, bat researchers from Boston University built a quadcopter to fly with them and purposefully get in their faces.
Regular readers of this page are all pretty familiar with the latest generation of flying robots, from tennis-playing quadcopters to surveillance hummingbirds. But zebras, it’s fair to say, are not. So what happens when a drone buzzes a herd?
The German surveillance bot maker Microdrones took one of their md4-1000 quadcopters to the Masai Mara region of the Serengeti, and used it to capture video of all sorts of African wildlife. Here’s a preview of what their drone saw.
Not sure whether to use a cylindrical crawler or a buzzing helicopter for your remote sensing needs? This robot makes the choice easier, incorporating both abilities. In the video below, you can watch as it rolls along, then tips up vertically to take off like a helicopter.
This photo accompanies an actual news release from an actual Iranian news service, which claims the Islamic Republic has built a flying saucer.
Of course, it’s possible Iran’s news agency chose to illustrate their announcement with a screen shot from a 1950s B movie. But the Fars News Service does not explain the photo’s origin, simply stating that the flying saucer was unveiled in a special ceremony.
Fully embracing the notion that there’s no point in building a UAV if it doesn’t make other UAVs look completely lame by comparison, UPenn’s GRASP Lab has developed an autonomous quadcopter that does a lot more than hover. It flips, dives, twists and otherwise dazzles, executing aggressive aerial maneuvers like dashing through tight windows with just three inches clearance and zipping in between other hovering quadcopters with graceful ease. All by itself.