FAR from the airplane-sized craft that are the face of cutting-edge warfare, a much smaller revolution in drones is under way.
Micro-aerial vehicles (MAVs) with uncanny navigation and real-time mapping capabilities could soon be zipping through indoor and outdoor spaces, running reconnaissance missions that others cannot. They would allow soldiers to look over hills, inside buildings and inspect suspicious objects without risk.
Unlike their larger cousins, whose complex navigation systems let them fly autonomously for hours or even days, MAVs are not known for their smarts. They typically rely on a GPS signal to tell them where they are, and on human operators for nearly everything else, such as where to go, what to look for and where to land.
Now researchers led by Roland Brockers at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, have developed a MAV that uses a camera pointed at the ground to navigate and pick landing spots. It can even identify people and other objects. The system enables the drone to travel through terrain where human control and GPS are unavailable, such as a city street or inside a building.
A human operator needs to tell the drone only two things before it sets off: where it is and where its objective is. The craft figures out the rest for itself, using the camera and onboard software to build a 3D map of its surroundings. It can also avoid obstacles and detect surfaces above a predetermined height as possible landing zones. Once it selects a place to put down, it maps the site’s dimensions, moves overhead and lands.
In a laboratory experiment, a 50 centimeter by 50 centimeter quadrotor craft equipped with the navigation system was able to take off, travel through an obstacle-filled indoor space and land successfully on an elevated platform. Brockers’s team is now testing the system in larger, more complex environments. The system was presented at the SPIE Defense, Security and Sensing conference in Baltimore, Maryland, in April.
Vijay Kumar of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia says that autonomous navigation and landing capabilities are unprecedented in a drone of this size. “Typically the information required to locate a landing site and stabilize a vehicle over it is coming in at a 100 times a second,” he says. “No one else has been able to design a system so small with this kind of processing power.”
With such capabilities making their way into ever smaller craft, it may not be long until the PD-100 Black Hornet (pictured right), which is set to become the world’s smallest operational drone, gets an upgrade as well.
As it stands the PD-100, which has been in testing by Norwegian manufacturer Prox Dynamics since 2008, can navigate autonomously to a target area using onboard GPS or fly a pre-planned route. It can also be controlled by a human from up to a kilometer away, has an endurance of up to 25 minutes, can hover for a stable view, and fly both indoors and out.
At just 20 centimeters long and weighing about 15 grams, the PD-100 makes the drone created by Brockers’s team look like a behemoth. And while it may look like a toy, Prox Dynamics claims it can maintain steady flight in winds of up to 5 meters per second. This has attracted the attention of the UK Ministry of Defence, which last year issued a request for the vehicle under the name “Nano-UAS”.
Attribution: New Scientist
One of them asked the usual question always asked: “If our chute doesn’t open; and the reserve doesn’t open, how long would we have till we hit the ground?”
The jump master looked at him and in perfect deadpan answered: “The rest of your life.”
Who did build that business, then, Mr. President?
by: Vincent Carroll
Let’s be honest: If the nearest priest, minister or rabbi had uttered essentially the same words about personal merit that got President Obama in trouble recently, we’d have hardly thought twice about it.
Reminding high-achievers that they didn’t make it on their own — that they’re not necessarily any smarter or more hard-working than lots of other folks — is a time-honored means of cultivating the virtues of gratitude and humility, not to mention a sense of realism.
But Obama is not a priest, minister or rabbi. He’s a man with his hand on the tiller of economic policy, and his attitude toward entrepreneurs, innovators and business owners in general is of major importance. So when he says, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that,” it tends to grab public attention — despite the creative claims of his campaign to portray his remarks as merely indicating that business owners hadn’t built “roads and bridges.”
Sorry to his campaign, but that’s not what he said. He said they didn’t build their businesses, while deprecating their savvy and hard work as the engines of success.
Now it’s true, as the MaddowBlog quickly pointed out, that Mitt Romney himself made much the same point when he said “a lot of people help you in a business. Perhaps the banks, the investors. There’s no question your mom and dad. Your school teachers. The people that provide roads, the fire, and the police. A lot of people help.”
What Romney did not say, though, was “you didn’t build” your business — and even if he had, there are two big differences between Romney saying it and the president.
First, we know Romney believes in an entrepreneurial culture. He’s lived it. And he extols free enterprise all the time as the foundation of prosperity.
By contrast, Obama’s background is bereft of any significant first-hand experience that might foster respect or sympathy for business owners. To the contrary, he hails from occupational niches — community activism, academia and politics — in which disdain for commerce is quite widespread.
Of course, you can be a law professor or a politician who bucks the ideological tide. Far more telling is that Obama for years has been making similar statements that suggest a decidedly low regard for commerce and the motives of those who flourish within the private sector.
One of these revealing moments occurred four years ago during his commencement address at Wesleyan University, when he exhorted graduates to take up community service. That’s a worthy theme, of course, but consider how he did it.
“There’s no community service requirement in the real world; no one forcing you to care,” he said. “You can take your diploma, walk off this stage, and chase only after the big house and the nice suits and all the other things that our money culture says you should buy. You can choose to narrow your concerns and live your life in a way that tries to keep your story separate from America’s. But I hope you don’t.”
Several times elsewhere in his speech, Obama cited public sector jobs as examples of meaningful work. The candidate basically offered graduates the following choice: meaningful work in the non-profit and public sectors, on the one hand, or money-grubbing that chases big houses and nice suits. To call this a caricature would be kind.
This nation is engaged in a decisive debate about how to revive an economy mired in slow growth and meager job creati0n, so naturally we pay attention to a candidate’s views of how the economy works. If Obama wants critics to stop saying he’s disdainful of business, maybe he should stop providing them with evidence for the charge.
2008 Obama supporter interviews her 2012 self. Everything is fixed, right?
In honor of the upcoming Summer Olympic Games in London, I thought I might share one of most memorable moments in recent Olympic history.
American Michael Johnson’s record shattering performance in the 200m sprint at the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta. Truly a man amongst boys.
A big game hunter goes on safari with his wife and his mother-in-law. One morning, the wife wakes up to find her mother gone. Immediately, she awakens up her husband and they both set off to find the old woman.
Suddenly, they break into a clearing and there’s the mother-in-law, standing face-to-face with a ferocious lion!
“Quick, darling,” the wife shouts frantically, “Do something!”
“Oh, no,” the husband says, “That lion got himself into this mess. Let him get himself out!”
In yet another shining example of the lefts hypocrisy comes a story of a liberal city vs. the private sector. Always be tolerant and accepting of others’ views, except when they are not the “correct” views. Then it’s okay to stomp on them. As you read, notice also it is never stated that there is ever any actual discrimination, but the left needs always to invent villains & dragons to slay in the name of “Social Justice”. They have a lot of nerve picking on my favorite eating establishment.
BOSTON (The Blaze/AP) — The mayor of Boston is vowing to block Chick-fil-A from opening a restaurant near the city’s “Freedom Trail” because of the company’s stance on gay marriage.
“Chick-fil-A doesn’t belong in Boston. You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against a population. We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion,” Mayor Thomas M. Menino told the Boston Herald Thursday.
“That’s the Freedom Trail. That’s where it all started right here. And we’re not going to have a company, Chick-fil-A or whatever the hell the name is, on our Freedom Trail,” he added.
Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy told the Baptist Press this week that his privately owned company is “guilty as charged” in support of what he called the biblical definition of the
Of course, people flipped out and the company was eventually forced to issue an official statement on its position.
“The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect — regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender,” the company said in a statement.
“Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.”
But, apparently, that’s not good enough for Boston’s Menino who says he’s going to contact the comapny’s main office and tell them exactly how he feels.
This isn’t the first time Menino has turned a business away. He blocked Walmart from putting in a development in 2011 because of the store’s supposed “impact on neighborhood businesses and lower-wage workers.”
And it looks like he’s set to do the same to Chick-fil-A.
“It doesn’t send the right message to the country. We’re a leader when it comes to social justice and opportunities for all,” Menino said, utterly oblivious to the irony of his statement.
Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A has more than 1,600 stores nationwide but just two in Massachusetts, both located in suburban malls.
Forget blasting out your favorite tunes, you could now use speakers to put out a fire. A new video from the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) shows how to extinguish burning fuel by trapping it in an acoustic field generated by surrounding speakers.
By using specific frequencies, a fire is killed in a two-pronged attack. First, sound increases the air speed, thinning the layer where combustion occurs and thus making it easier to disrupt the flame. But the acoustics also disturb the surface of the fuel which increases vaporization, widening the flame and cooling its overall temperature.
Whereas typical firefighting techniques disrupt chemical reactions involved in combustion, DARPA has been looking at approaches like this one that exploit physics. Previously, they’ve used an electric field to blow out a flame by creating an ionic wind. They hope to develop these alternatives to help put out fires in military environments, for example in confined spaces, like cockpits and ship holds.
Attribution: New Scientist