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11th May, 2016

DARPA is building acoustic GPS for submarines and UUVs


It will utilize undersea sounds instead of satellite feeds.

For all the benefits that the Global Positioning System provides to landlubbers and surface ships, GPS signals can’t penetrate seawater and therefore can’t be used by oceangoing vehicles like submarines or UUVs. That’s why DARPA is creating an acoustic navigation system, dubbed POSYDON (Positioning System for Deep Ocean Navigation), and has awarded the Draper group with its development contract.

The space-based GPS system relies on a constellation of satellites that remain in a fixed position relative to the surface of the Earth. The GPS receiver in your phone or car’s navigation [...]

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9th May, 2016

Watch a parachute rescue a drone in free fall

By Jon Fingas

ParaZero’s SafeAir can save a drone (and the people below) in an emergency.

Drone operators dread the thought of their vehicle losing power mid-flight, and not just because of the expensive crash that’s likely to follow — it’s that the drone might hit something or someone on its way down. ParaZero thinks it can set those pilots’ minds at ease, however. It recently unveiled a reusable parachute system, SafeAir, that slows drones when they’re in free fall. The concept isn’t completely novel, but it promises extremely quick reactions that could avoid accidents. As you’ll see in the clips below, the chute deploys within [...]

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28th April, 2016

Paris police want drones to watch over crowds

By Jon Fingas

They’re asking for hexacopters to spot terrorists from above.

Paris’ police force is understandably anxious about crowd security as of late, and it’s turning to technology in a bid to track threats hiding in those groups. It’s planning to buy hexacopter drones that would be used for close crowd surveillance. The machines will have to meet very specific criteria: they’ll have to clearly spot a license plate from 50m (164ft) away, fly at altitudes of 100m (328ft), require no more than 5 days of training and use encrypted connections to avoid hacks. In essence, they have to serve as an extra set of eyes that law enforcement can use [...]

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26th April, 2016

UF researchers let people race drones using their minds

By Andrew Dalton

Put down that controller.

As drone racing gets faster, cheaper and more mainstream, it was only a matter of time before drone pilots ditched the controller and made the leap to an actual brain-computer interface, as these researchers from the University of Florida did last week.

BCI technology has been used in the past to control everything fromnovelty toys to artificial limbs for paraplegics, and researchers at the University of Minnesota were actually the first to show off a mind-controlled drone in 2013. But as TechCrunch points out, this brain-controlled drone competition is another first.

The low speeds and short, 10-yard indoor [...]

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