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What do sheep think about drones? That is definitely an interesting question to ask. However, there is an ongoing experiment that seeks to answer that question and offer real-world applications of drones to check on crops and monitor livestock. Dan Swafford, the leader of the project and a retired teacher mentioned that they first have to find out how animals will react to the drone buzzing around. His first round of tests was concluded recently with an aim to expose students to new ways of approaching farming.
The experiment included flying drones over a herd of sheep once a week for a period of five weeks. This involved flying at 75 feet above the ground and reducing by 10 feet every other time. One team flew the drones as the other watched the reactions of the sheep and noted scores on the scale of 1 to 5.
A score of 1 meant that sheep didn’t notice the hovering drone, while a 5 meant the flock ran away in distress. The experiment was called off whenever the score reading was 5. However, after a couple of weeks, the scores generally went down and the sheep were not bothered by the drones. Swafford and his team haven’t published the results yet as they are still doing more tests before they draw a conclusion.
The experiment is primarily designed to see if drones could be a useful livestock monitoring and herding tool for farmers. The researchers added that it’s also a great way to involve the ordinary farmer with new technologies.
Swafford remembers growing up as a geeky child in Missouri on a livestock farm. He was very interested in technology and science. Swafford eventually moved off of the family farm, and joined a university to earn his master’s degree and started out as a teacher in 1974. He later joined Christiansburg High School to teach agriculture in 1989 and stayed until 2014.
Swafford currently works for the Virginia Cooperative Extension on a part-time basis. Virginia Cooperative Extension is an educational outreach program that sponsors his visits to schools where he organizes 4-H clubs in an effort to excite kids about agriculture and farming.
As he went about his teaching and agricultural outreach activities, he teamed up with scientists at Life Sciences and the Tech’s College of Agriculture. They had read about research scientists in Texas who had tested how drone flying affected cattle. And that’s how they come up with an idea of trying the same experiment on different species to see how they can be used on farms. Drone farming is already a reality, and drone herding just may be right around the corner.
A search and rescue exercise was carried out on February 3rd, 2018. The purpose was to find volunteer victims who were pretending to be lost. The team of rescue operators used drones, dogs, horses, and boats for the exercise. They were joined by firefighters and law enforcement officers in the operation to find lost volunteer victims.
The first victim was found along the shore of Lake Somerville only six minutes into the exercise. The victim was found by a fixed-wing drone flown by David Merrick from the Center of Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue (CRASAR). Merrick attributed his find to sheer luck. He said that his attention was divided between sighting aircraft and the on-screen display. He noted that he just happened to have looked at his screen when his drone (Disco) flew 300 feet over the victim.
All rescuers had split up into teams and we’re searching through the thick underbrush and hiking trails on foot. They used trained search dogs and were joined by volunteers on horseback. The Bryan fire department put together its own rescue team about a year ago (10 certified remote pilots and 4 aircraft systems). They received some help from CRASAR.
Robert Murphy is the head of CRASAR and has been studying and promoting the use of robotic assistance in rescue and emergency operations for years. The local area firefighters and law enforcement officials worked with the team that included the Florida State University’s Emergency Management and Homeland Security Program. Search and rescue teams covered assigned areas on foot. Even with the thick and thorny underbrush, they made sure to leave the park clean and undisturbed as much as possible after the exercise.
Many lessons can be learned from real-world disasters. So using drone technology in a search and rescue operation is still a work in progress. There are no guidelines or procedures and operators simply adapted to the situation as the events unfold. The team began the exercise by launching a small drone which took a quick look around and made it easy for them to use the best route for the search. The drone was able to check and clear larger areas faster.
During the exercise, a DJI Mavic Pro flew low so it could spot people and kept its camera at a 45-degree angle. It descended to assess man-made objects to see if there were people underneath. Massive land areas were inspected in just a few minutes. The Bryan fire department also outfitted their drone with thermal imaging cameras so that they could differentiate living things from inanimate objects.
Overall it was a success and we can expect to see more towns and municipalities using drones for future search and rescue missions.
Windhorse Aerospace’s “Pouncer.” Troy Rice / Across 110th Ltd
An aftermath of the 2015 Nepal earthquake left people living in mountain villages waiting for emergency food for weeks. Landslides had destroyed the roads and the limited helicopters in the country couldn’t always safely fly where they were required.
Delivery drones would have come in handy. But Nigel Gifford thinks he has an even better answer. Gifford is the chairman and founder of Windhorse Aerospace and is also part of the team that developed Facebook’s solar-powered UAVs. He has added an interesting twist to the whole drone delivery game by developing a UAV that can not only deliver food and medical supplies but is also partially made of edible materials!
His drone prototype called the Pouncer is developed for one-way delivery missions, and can be broken down and re-purposed when it lands. The lightweight plywood frame can be chopped to be used as a kindling for a cooking fire. The wings are made of edible materials and the protective covers around the supplies can be used as shelters.
Gifford revealed that the surface of the drone’s wings is covered in salad bowl materials. He anticipates that as they continue to develop the design, parts of the drone’s frame and even electronics will also be made of edible materials. With this in mind, the designer aims at keeping electrical components to the absolute minimum.
The company believes that using their drones will be cheaper and more precise than the current aid deliveries facilitated parachute drop. The drones are also made to be dropped from planes. Apart from precision dropping, the drone’s design helps it to glide for over 25 miles from an airplane without using a motor. This means the crew that deploy the drones can stay at a safer distance especially in conflict zones and other dangerous to fly areas.
Gifford revealed that the food delivered needs to be religiously and culturally acceptable to the recipients. He notes that many agencies deliver food that the people won’t eat. The developer figures that self-sustaining for-profit model would work more efficiently than the nonprofit model, and so he went for the former. In addition to food, the Pouncer drones can also deliver medical and other critical supplies
The development hasn’t been without challenges though, and one of their major challenges was getting certified by some regulators, keeping in mind that safety is a serious matter of concern these days. Additionally, the agencies need to be sure that the drones will be reliable and easy to use. The company plans to develop three models that can travel different distances and carry different weights.
Police drone finds car crash victim unconscious in 6ft deep ditch in the dead of night - YouTube
Drones are quickly becoming the method of choice for many institutions to conduct their day-to-day activities. Allowing them to save time, resources and energy as well as proving to be more effective than most of the methods currently in use. Drones are also saving lives all across the world and a recent case in the UK is the latest case of a drone being used by authorities in rescue operations.
Thermal Imaging Drones
Police in Grimsby, a town 130 miles north of London, received reports of a man who had been spotted wandering away from a flipped car. The night was freezing and the police knew they didn’t have much time to locate him before hypothermia set in. They sent a search and rescue party on foot to scour the area for the man while they deployed their drones which have thermal imaging cameras to scan the area from above.
The drone quickly located the man about 160 meters from the crash site and the people in the command center directed the officers on foot to his direction. He was found unconscious in a six-foot ditch. The man was quickly attended to by the medical personnel, who saved his life.
Before adopting drones, the police used to ask for help from National Police Air Service which would then send a helicopter to the site. The helicopter would take some time to arrive at the scene, time which could mean the difference between life and death. The drone however, was able to get started with the rescue operation immediately and for only a fraction of the cost.
Drones are becoming widely adopted by police forces all over the world to help fight crime and to provide other services to citizens. The UK is among these countries turning to drones rapidly, with Devon and Cornwall police departments having teamed up last year to launch the country’s first 24-hour drone service.
The DJI Inspire Quadcopter is the most popular drone in use, with the DJI Mavic also being used in some instances. The police use the drones to gather images from crimes scenes, assist in searching for missing persons, monitor traffic and help in the fight against wildlife crime which is rampant in the woodlands. France and the US are also using drones to fight crime and during the next few years we can expect to see many more countries added to this list.
Police used a drone to help when a woman in Florida pointed a gun at them asking them to shoot her. The woman, a 57 year old who resides in Cocoa Beach, caused a standoff with the police at a Wal-Mart where she pleaded with the officers to shoot.
Avoiding Violence through Technology
The woman is said to have gotten fed up with all the troubles in life and job and decided to provoke the police to shoot. The police, however, decided to avoid a situation in which they would have to shoot and instead turned to drones to monitor the situation and determine the best way to respond. Police pilots flew two drones at a safe distance from the woman and used them to get a better view.
They were able to get an up-close view of her actions, from her waving her gun to her drinking vodka and swallowing pills in her car. The police could even tell when her finger was on the trigger and when it wasn’t and thus determined the best time to move in. In the end, the elite SWAT team ended up using pepper spray and an armored vehicle to approach the woman and disarm her. This is a rare ending to a situation that more often than not ends up with a deadly outcome.
New Uses for Drones Emerging Every Day
This is just one of the many emerging innovative ways drones are being used. The police departments are finding drones to be important e in fighting crime and serving the citizens. Drones have been used in hostage situations to assist the police rescue the hostages without any casualties, to monitor large gatherings and even search for missing people.
Stafford already has 122 officers certified by the FAA and 5 quadcopters. The drone program was put in place in 2016 using $50,000 that had been seized in drug raids. The drones are being used to help execute search warrants, monitor traffic and take crime scene photos. During the next few years we can certainly expect to see more police departments adopting drones.
NASA is currently planning a mission that will place a drone on the surface of Titan – Saturn’s largest moon. The name of the project is ‘Dragonfly’ and it is expected that it will take advantage of Titans dense atmosphere. The quadcopter will fly from location to location and capture data such as the moon’s chemistry and signs of potential life. The drone is designed like other regular drones on earth, but with 4 pairs of stacked rotors. This will make it easier for the craft to fly as fast as any hundred kilogram craft can across Titan’s surface.
Titan has been a mystery to scientists for decades and hopefully, Dragonfly will be able to explore hundreds of kilometers while scouting points of interest. It will take measurements as well as atmospheric conditions from the surface. Catherine Neish is an investigator and professor of Earth Science. She is assisting NASA in its bid to achieve this mission. The team is led by Elizabeth Turtle from John Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. Their main objective is to develop a drone that will investigate the surface of Titan.
Dragonfly is not so tiny but it is nimble. It’s about 2 meters long and is equipped with rotors that will give operators more control during flight times. For several years researchers have thought about exploring Titan with a balloon, small aircraft or rovers. Because each of these methods has its limitations that include mobility control and range, using the Dragonfly is seen as the absolute best choice.
The simplicity of using a small drone will make exploring more effective stated Neish. She also added that it is a bold and realistic option. Titan’s atmosphere is filled with a veil of methane and nitrogen. But in 2005, the Huygens probe (which was part of the Cassini mission) released images of the surface which has encouraged researchers to want to learn more about the moon.
Dragonfly will spend less time flying and more time gathering data on the two-year mission. Its main duties will be sampling for life and organic chemistry. It will also measure atmospheric conditions and conduct studies of the moon’s seismology. Dragonfly is one of the two missions that was shortlisted by NASA recently in its New Frontiers Planetary Science Program. The other project is called CAESAR (Comet Astrobiology Exploration Sample Return). The purpose of this program is to take a sample from a comet called 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and bring it back to earth to analyze its origins and history.
Drones da Dolce Gabbana substitui modelos no desfile de bolsas - YouTube
Dolce & Gabbana amazed the watching audience with a memorable show that replaced human models with drones during the Milan’s Fashion Week. The legendary Italian Fashion brand showcased its Fall 2018 pricy offerings in a what turned out to be a pleasantly surprising way; the drones actually “flew” down the runway carrying its trendy line of handbags.
This is not the first time drones have been used to showcase fashion items. Betabrand is fashion startup that designs office wear that has also used drones before. However, this is the first time drones replaced fashion models for a high profile brand. And if you are wondering why many other fashion brands haven’t tried this yet, here is why – things didn’t go exactly as planned.
The show started 45 minutes late, making some audience members quite annoyed. The reason for the late beginning was that the audience had to switch off their Bluetooth and WiFi hotspots to avoid interfering with the drone’s signals. Considering that the audience was made up of 600 upper class, pampered fashion fans, models, and journalists, it shouldn’t be surprising that they didn’t follow the instructions immediately. In fact, it’s quite commendable that the organizers took only 45 minutes to have everything turned off. The company had to issue multiple announcements in many different languages and even call out individual members to comply.
Once all the potential signal interferences were safely turned off, eight drones emerged, hovering along the runway each dangling a Dolce & Gabbana handbag beneath it. The flying bags excited the audience and made quite an impression as they whistled, cheered and pulled out their gadgets to video the display. The drones first spread out before flying (read “cat walking”) down the runway.
The drones might not have been draped with a fine selection of stylish pants and jackets, but many admit the display was quite impressive. A couple of security staff cautiously strolled nearby, most like ready to capture any stray drone. Luckily, there was no issues and drones did their thing without a hitch.
After the drones were done with the showcasing, human models took over, wearing the company’s latest fashions and carrying the trendy handbags. The event was finalized with a secret show in the evening featuring Lady Kitty Spencer on the runway, but clearly, drones were the stars of the show.
Unfortunately not all drone operators follow the law when flying and it’s starting to become commonplace for drones to fly into restricted airspace. For this reason, some companies are creating technologies to hijack these drones. These new techniques will force a drone to land immediately if violating a no-fly-zone. As drones become more popular, they are being used as tools of war and to spy on people and businesses. Not to mention being flown into prisons to deliver contraband.
Many people fear that as drone usage grows in many industries, so will its use in negative and nefarious activities. Drones are being used to accomplish amazingly sophisticated tasks. It has helped improve business applications in many industries. But because of their capacity to be used as a weapon, more companies are developing anti-drone technologies that will take drones out of the sky.
The fact is that drones can be a security nightmare when they are equipped with sensors and other high-tech devices. They can fly into restricted areas and the worst part is that they will most times go unnoticed. Drones can even be equipped with image scanning devices so that they can see through walls. This feature is used for high-resolution floor planning in construction and architectural firms, but can also be used to spy on companies and people who would rather not reveal their building’s structural information. (Such as banks and military installations).
So creating anti-drone technology has become crucial in this modern age. Drones can be used as weapons of terrorism in places like stadiums and oil refineries, so counter intelligence is a must. Even though some people are trying to discover creative ways of using drones to benefit businesses and companies, there will always be those who have other darker intentions.
The question on our minds is the legality of some anti-drone techniques. Will the process of hacking cause unintended damage to both the drone and property? Digitally hijacking and hacking drones may provide a quick solution to the problem faced by many companies but what if these technologies are used to break the law? Will the bad guys get their hands on the same technology to disable drones that are being used by our police or military?
Robert Nickle, a researcher for Lookout, a mobile security firm stated that almost no one is doing anything about the lack of security in drones. He noted that this is something that manufacturers don’t really think about during design or production. But by 2024, the anti-drone industry is predicted to become a $2 billion industry.
Lousiville is seeking to fly automated drones to sites where gunfire has been detected, becoming the first city to do so. This is dependent on the approval of the FAA, which accepted applications by local authorities for the UAS Integration Pilot Program. The program, which was put in place by the Trump administration, seeks to permit new innovation zones where local authorities can operate drones beyond the current line-of-view regulation.
Cutting-Edge Technology in Lousiville
The Office of Performance Improvement & Innovation in the Lousiville local government is spearheading the application, led by the city’s chief of civic innovation, Grace Simrall. This department is tasked with integrating technology into the governance system to make it better and if given the go-ahead, the automated drones will contribute greatly to this goal. The city is already using a cutting-edge technology known a ShotSpotter which is able to triangulate the location of a gunshot to within 80 feet, enabling the police to respond quickly. The automated drones would be integrated into this system and can then respond immediately and monitor the situation so that the police department can respond better.
The ShotSpotter has been effective, but only when the response team gets there in time or in areas where there is a public safety cameras. This limits greatly its potential as there are only 200 cameras in the city. The automated drones would therefore greatly increase the effectiveness of the ShotSpotter technology and contribute towards public safety in the city.
The city had decided to install more cameras to cover the whole city but this was later assessed to be both very costly and also in violation of people’s privacy. Moving cameras affixed to drones was decided at as the most convenient and affordable solution. The drones don’t have to cover the whole city as they can fly to the areas where they are most required within minutes.
A Community Initiative
The FAA advised local governments that applied for the program to partner with the local community, including research institutions, private companies and public institutions to increase their chances of being selected. Lousiville has taken that into consideration and has partnered with 25 institutions. They include the Louisville Fire Department and the University of Kentucky’s Drone Research Center. Private partners include VizionAir, a drone company based in Lousiville and Aptonomy, a drone company based in California.
The FAA will only approve a few of the applicants with the minimum being five. If approved, Louisville will conduct massive research and extensive testing before finally starting to use the automated drones. The city has already picked Perry County as the site for the testing.
Introducing Skydio R1: The Self-Flying Camera has Arrived - YouTube
An autonomous drone that can follow you and take your photos; sounds like a scene from a movie, right? Well, not anymore as this is what Silicon Valley startup, Skydio has developed and which will be available to the public in just a few weeks’ time.
The Intelligent Drone
The autonomous drone, which is known as the R1, has been developed with software that can recognize your face once it’s programmed into the software and can distinguish you from the surrounding area and even from other people. This has been made possible by advanced artificial intelligence technology that enables the drone to take and process images at lightning speed, enabling it to expertly navigate around obstacles independently. The use of cameras alone as a navigation tool is the first of its kind and is a deviation from the industry standard of using laser sensing technology.
The Fascination with Autonomous Drones
Skydio was formed Abraham Bachrach and Adam Bry, two former graduates from MIT who both worked as robotics engineers for Google. Bry has had a long fascination with autonomous drones and started working on them while still at MIT. His first autonomous drone, which he developed before autonomous drones were available in the market, was the basis of the development of Skydio.
The R1 is armed with 13 cameras that face in all directions, giving it the ability to avoid obstacles in all directions. It also has the Nvidia Jetson AI supercomputer on board which processes the images taken by the cameras and gives the drone the ability to avoid the obstacles, all the while keeping an eye on you and following you around. It can accelerate to match your speed when you run or if you are cycling and slow down when you do. It even has the ability to assess the route ahead, assess the obstacles and map out a possible route for you to follow.
Easy to Use Photography Tool
Skydio is marketing the R1 as a photography tool which makes the drone experience much easier and stress-free. All one has to do is put the drone down and launch it on a smartphone app and it’s airborne. After it launches, one doesn’t have to control it! The drone will then begin following you around and take photos and videos of you. This will be a very handy tool especially for people who engage in activities that are very hands-on such as mountain climbing, cycling and hiking.