Albatross Teaches Drones the Art of Marathon Flights

By Lauren Sigfusson | October 18, 2017 1:33 pm
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(Credit: Shuttershock)

We’ve seen drones modeled after geckos, insects and if you’ve watched Black Mirror there’s no way you can forget the massive bee drone swarms. Now, scientists are looking to one of nature’s best fliers, the albatross, for tips to help drones fly longer distances.

The albatross is one of the world’s largest living birds, with a wingspan of up to 11 feet across. It can fly hundreds of miles in just one day, while exerting very little effort. But how does it do this? Two separate groups of researchers discovered two very different reasons for this species’ long-lasting flights. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: animals, drones, robots

Will Earth’s Lava Flows Decipher Ancient Mars’?

By K. N. Smith | October 13, 2017 11:54 am
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Drones are helping scientists understand Earth’s lava flows, which could tell us more about ancient Mars. (Credit: Shuttershock)

Lava flow: an unstoppable destructive force that burns pretty much everything in its path. When a volcano erupts, it’s important that people in surrounding areas have adequate time to evacuate. To provide those crucial extra hours, or minutes, researchers are using drones to improve hazard predictions, and perhaps tell us something about life on ancient Mars.

Drones allow volcanologists to map large areas quickly, cheaply and, most of all, safely using magnetometers and thermal cameras. Scientists are even flying drones through eruption plumes to study the chemical composition of Earth’s hot, steamy belches. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, Top Posts

Drones Save Fawns From Terrible Fates

By Lauren Sigfusson | October 12, 2017 1:08 pm
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(Credit: Disney/Giphy)

Bambi: A classic children’s movie about a happy-go-lucky fawn that ultimately takes a turn for the worse. Unfortunately, real life is no walk in the park for young deer either.

Early in a fawn’s life, its mother will leave for extended periods to forage for food and ensure predators stay at bay, wildlife experts say. But nesting in farm fields can be deadly for fawns, as farmers often don’t see them before it’s far too late.

Read More

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MORE ABOUT: animals, drones, robots

We Learned A Lot from Whale Snot

By Lauren Sigfusson | October 10, 2017 4:09 pm
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A drone hovers for a few seconds in the whale’s blow to collect a sample.
(Credit: Michael Moore, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

While the SnotBot drone has been highly publicized for its aerial maneuvers over blowholes, its expeditions have yet to showcase some hard data about whales. But there’s another whale snot-gathering team out there using drones—and they’ve turned those misty explosions into some interesting biological data about whales.

After collecting humpback whale blow—the moist breath you see shoot into the air when a whale exhales—from two healthy populations, scientists found the creatures have a shared blowhole microbiome. The study, conducted by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), was released Tuesday in mSystems and represents the first study “to produce microbiome data from drone-collected blow,” according to lead author Amy Apprill. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: animals, drones, robots

Drones Are Keeping Watch on the Arctic’s Polar Bear Population

By Lauren Sigfusson | October 4, 2017 3:46 pm
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That’s the spot! Thanks to drone technology, this polar bear was spotted getting cozy. (Credit: Intel Corporation)

Polar bears’ fortunes are deeply tied to the whims of a changing climate, and as the Arctic continues to warm it’s increasingly important to keep an eye on their populations. But the Arctic’s stark white terrain can make that a difficult task to accomplish.

In the past, helicopters have been used to spot the bears, but those aircraft are both costly and disturbing to the wildlife. However, drones are a low-cost, less invasive alternative. On a recent Arctic mission, drones helped gather data about polar bears that will help researchers get a better idea of how climate change in the region, and around the world, affects wildlife. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, Top Posts

New York’s Drone Superhighway Officially Launches

By Lauren Sigfusson | September 29, 2017 10:54 am
This is what SAFIRE looks like. Here you can see the package delivery routes for two different drones and numerous other data points that are important for pilots. (Credit: Screenshot from livestream)

This real-time 3D visualization includes flight path and numerous other data points that are important for pilots to know. (Credit: Screenshot, U-SAFE livestream)

Showcasing technology that could help usher in the era of commercial drones, the first phase of New York’s 50-mile long drone test corridor took place Thursday at Griffiss International Airport in Rome, New York.

Using NASA-led research, the Unmanned Aircraft System Secure Autonomous Flight Environment (U-SAFE) is a five-year program that will provide the infrastructure and resources to integrate drones into low altitude airspace. Drone detection and sensing company Gryphon Sensors is leading the initiative, with help from the Federal Aviation Administration, NASA, New York State, and Griffiss International Airport. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: drones, robots

Drones Can Accurately Detect Heartbeats from the Sky

By Lauren Sigfusson | September 28, 2017 1:27 pm
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(Credit: Shutterstock)

Drones have the ability to do a lot of good, and recently they’ve been proving useful to rescuers in the United States by helping with hurricane recovery efforts. But what if they could do more than just document damage or survey areas? What if they could actually detect life?

Researchers from the University of South Australia conducted a study published in Biomedical Engineering Online that shows drones can successfully measure heart and respiratory rates from the sky. Aerially detecting vital signs could be huge for recovering people after natural disasters, detecting security threats, and monitoring infants and the elderly. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Top Posts, Uncategorized

Dubai’s Flying Taxi Drone Takes First Public Flight

By Lauren Sigfusson | September 26, 2017 12:41 pm
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Duabi’s flying taxi drone, the Volocopter made by Volocopter GmbH, took its first public flight on Monday. Who’s ready to jump in? (Credit: Nikolay Kazakov, Karlsruhe, Volocopter)

Dubai’s flying taxi drone took its first public flight on Monday. The autonomous Volocopter, an 18-rotor electrically powered drone made in Germany, can fit up to two people and includes safety parachutes — just in case.

From testing drones for a taxi service to deploying robocops, Dubai is constantly positioning itself as forward-thinking. Originally the city was testing the Ehang-184 passenger drone for its air-taxi service, but later switched to Volocopter for undisclosed reasons. Other companies working to ferry people around in flying cars include Uber and Airbus. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: drones, robots

Drones Help Discover Lost City With Ties to Alexander the Great

By Lauren Sigfusson | September 25, 2017 1:26 pm
Qalatga-Darband-drone-archaeology-alexander-the-great-drones

Morning view over the city Qalatga Darband, a lost city that was recently found with the help of drone technology. (Credit: The British Museum)

With the help of drones, archaeologists discovered a lost city with ties to Alexander the Great, according to the British Museum in London.

Qalatga Darband, an ancient city located in what is now Iraqi Kurdistan, lies along the Darband-I Rania, or a pass at the Zagros Mountains. What’s so significant about this path? Besides being a historic route from Mesopotamia to Iran, Alexander the Great traveled the path more than 2,000 years ago. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: archaeology, drones

Drone Pilot Bobs and Weaves Through Moving Freight Train

By R.G. Edmonson | September 22, 2017 2:52 pm

Flying low, through a truss bridge, under a Union Pacific train, and even in a boxcar are just a few of the stunts a drone pilot shows off in a YouTube video while a UP mixed freight is in motion.

The video went live on Sept. 20 and has already received more than 250,000 views as of Friday morning. The recording shows a double-tracked right-of-way bridging a river near a highway. The location appears to be just south of Verdi, Nev., on former Southern Pacific tracks over the Truckee River — also the route of Amtrak’s California Zephyr.

Federal Aviation Administration representatives responded to Trains News Wire‘s request for comment and said that if the pilot were a hobbyist, that person would have to follow local community safety standards such as ones spelled out by the Academy of Model Aeronautics.

“… [T]he relevant part of which says, ‘All pilots shall avoid flying directly over unprotected people, vessels, vehicles or structures and shall avoid endangerment of life and property of others,'” says FAA representative Les Dorr. “A train would qualify as a ‘vehicle.'”

Dorr also cited UP’s drone policy which requires prior written permission from the railroad before a pilot may take off, land on, or fly over UP property. UP’s rules are online. In the video, viewers can see the drone weave between freight cars, come close to the open window of the lead locomotive, fly underneath a hopper car, fly inside a boxcar, and briefly land on top of what appears to be a boxcar roof.

Calls to Union Pacific and the Federal Railroad Administration were not immediately returned.

This post originally appeared in Trains.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, Top Posts
MORE ABOUT: stunt drones
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