SAN FRANCISCO — BigDog, Cheetah, WildCat and Atlas have joined Google’s growing robot menagerie.
Google confirmed on Friday that it had completed the acquisition of Boston Dynamics, an engineering company that has designed mobile research robots for the Pentagon. The company, based in Waltham, Mass., has gained an international reputation for machines that walk with an uncanny sense of balance and even — cheetahlike — run faster than the fastest humans.
It is the eighth robotics company that Google has acquired in the last half-year. Executives at the Internet giant are circumspect about what exactly they plan to do with their robot collection. But Boston Dynamics and its animal kingdom-themed machines bring significant cachet to Google’s robotic efforts, which are being led by Andy Rubin, the Google executive who spearheaded the development of Android, the world’s most widely used smartphone software.
The Future of Skunkworks Management, Now! By Mr. Andres Agostini This is an excerpt from the conclusion section of, “…The Future of Skunkworks Management, Now!…” that discusses some management theories and practices and strategies. To view the entire piece, just click the link at the end of this post: Peter Drucker asserted, “…In a few hundred years, when the story of our [current] time is written from a long-term perspective, it is likely that the most important event those historians will see is not technology, not the Internet, not e-commerce [not so-called ‘social media’]. IT is an unprecedented change in the human condition. For the first time ─ literally ─ substantial and growing numbers of people have choices. for the first time, they will have to manage themselves. And society is totally unprepared for it…” Please see the full presentation at http://goo.gl/FnJOlg
German postal carrier Deutsche Post DHL is testing a drone delivery service that could deliver medical and food supplies to areas with minimal road access.
On Monday, the company ran a test delivery of its so-called “parcelcopter.” In a flight that lasted two minutes, remote-controlled drone carried a batch of medicine from a pharmacy in the city of Bonn to the company’s headquarters, just across the Rhine River.
The test came just a week after Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced on 60 Minutes that his company is developing plans for drone delivery, though it still faces many technological and legal hurdles.
In the DHL test, with two employees controlling it from the ground, the drone flew a little more than half a mile, at a height of about 165 feet.
It is capable of carrying up to 2.6 pounds, and can autonomously navigate using GPS coordinates. The drone cost about $54,900, according to Reuters.
“We are at the beginning of the research project,” DHL manager Ole Nordhoff told Germany’s English news service The Local. “It is an exciting bit of technology.”
3D printing specialists Solid Concepts is to partner with the wcUAVc for an international student competition to create state-of-the-art, affordable UAVs to seek out hot spots of human activity and warn national park rangers in time to save animals. With poaching still at large in national parks in Africa where staff are limited, the outcomes could be very beneficial indeed.
The wcUAVc, founded by Princess Aliyah Pandolfi – a well known animal preservation activist – sought out Solid Concepts earlier in the year for advise and sponsorship regarding this challenge. Pandolfi and Solid Concepts strongly believe that 3D printing, which has already helped to lower the costs of manufacturing in many other industries, could help to lower costs as well as enhance and widen possibilities for UAVs.
A key to this challenge is creating a UAV that can fly for long periods of time, is easy to use and doesn’t require heavy maintenance. After consulting with researchers who have flown UAVs in Africa in the past, it is also clear that a UAV with easily interchangeable parts would be useful, as access to spare parts is nigh on impossible out in the bush lands of Africa’s national wildlife reserves. The drones currently used cost USD$15,000 (£10,000), which increases to $23,000 with the cost of the camera, ground control equipment and training factored in – roughly equal to one ranger’s annual salary.
When 27-year-old Samy Kamkar—a security researcher who famously made one million Myspace friends in a single day—heard the announcement on Sunday that Amazon was planning to start delivering packages via drone in 2015, he had an idea. He knew that whenever new technology, like drones, becomes popular quickly, there are bound to be security flaws. And he claims that he found one within 24 hours and promptly exploited it: America, meet the zombie drone that Kamkar says hunts, hacks, and takes over nearby drones. With enough hacks, a user can allegedly control an entire zombie drone army capable of flying in any direction, taking video of your house, or committing mass drone-suicide.
“I’ve been playing with drones for a few years,” Kamkar, who is based in Los Angeles, tells Mother Jones. “I’m sure that with most of the drones out there, if you scrutinize the security, you’ll find some kind of vulnerability.” Kamkar says that the Amazon announcement was an opportunity to point out that drone security has room for improvement.
Today, the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) announced that it had successfully launched a drone from a submerged submarine. The all-electric eXperimental Fuel Cell Unmanned Aerial System (XFC) was launched in the Bahamas from the Los Angeles-class nuclear-powered attack submarine USS Providence (SSN 719) using a system that allowed the drone to be deployed without modifications to the boat, or requiring it to surface.
The XFC unmanned aircraft was developed by the NRL in less than six years from initial concept to current stage. It’s all electric and powered by a fuel cell that allows it to stay aloft for more than six hours. According the the NRL, the UAV is relatively low cost, flies at low altitude, and is designed for Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions. The craft has folding wings and is designed to be launched from a pickup truck or small surface vessel.
Since Jeff Bezos announced Amazon’s hypothetical delivery-by-octocopter service earlier this week, its drones have become a point of focus for existing debates over privacy, regulation, and “disruptive” technology. The plan has given a sense of urgency to questions about widespread governmental and commercial drone use, and a new hook for members of Congress trying to answer those questions through legislation. Yesterday, Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) became the second member of Congress to raise the specter of Amazon Prime Air to support an anti-surveillance bill, giving a sometimes colorful account of how the drones could change our future.
“In just a few years, Bezos said people will be able to order something online and have it in their hands within 30 minutes by the use of drones. It sounds like something out of the Jetsons, doesn’t it? Gone will be the days of the neighborhood mail carriers. Soon there will be a drone to replace them. According to Amazon, these drones can deliver packages up to 5 pounds, which makes up 90 percent of their deliveries.
Mr. Speaker, thousands of Americans use Amazon every year, especially around the holiday season. Amazon, unlike the glitch-ridden government Web sites, can efficiently use online Internet services that get a timely product to market. Think of how many drones could soon be flying around the sky. Here a drone, there a drone, everywhere a drone in the United States.”
Congress gave the FAA a September 2015 deadline for drones to fly safely with commercial airlines.
The Federal Aviation Administration has a plan for allowing drones to fly everywhere in the country. But research and regulations are months behind the schedule Congress set to have the unmanned devices fly safely with commercial airliners by September 2015.
FAA Administrator Michael Huerta released the five-year road map a month ago. It projected 7,500 unmanned aircraft would be in the skies within that period if regulations are in place.
But the FAA faces technical challenges, among them how much training to require of ground-based pilots, how to ensure that drones fly safely if they lose contact with their pilots and how drones and commercial aircraft should warn each other when they’re in the same area.
“The FAA is committed to safe, efficient and timely integration of unmanned aircraft systems into our airspace,” the agency said in a statement Monday. “Over the next several years the FAA will establish regulations and standards for the safe integration of remote piloted (unmanned aircraft) to meet increased demand.”
In the next five years, the Internet retail giant expects to use small drones to deliver packages to customer doorsteps within 30 minutes of their order.
Amazon is testing a delivery service that uses drones to deliver packages within 30 minutes of an order being placed.
Dubbed Amazon PrimeAir, the service uses 8-propeller drones about the size of a remote-controlled airplane to transport shoe-box-size plastic bins from fulfillment centers to customers’ homes. The service, which still requires more testing and clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration, could take to the skies as soon as four to five years, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos told Charlie Rose during an interview Sunday on “60 Minutes.”
The completely unmanned aerial vehicles rely on GPS to deliver their cargo, Bezos explained during the segment (see below), which included an Amazon film of the drones in action.
“I know this looks like science fiction — it’s not,” Bezos said.