Dr. Adam Watts of the Desert Research Institute is standing by the side of the road near Donner Pass, shouting over the wind into his phone to talk about a recent test flight. “We built a robot that can fly itself and bring more water out of clouds,” he says, capturing the technological promise at hand in just a few words. Together with Nevada's Drone America, the team flew a cloud-seeding drone beyond the pilot's line of sight. It's the next step in a gradual and ambitious process, aimed at solving a decades-old problem: can the desert pull more water from the sky, and can it do so without injuring anyone along the way?
From body parts to supercars, the family of 3D printed products just keeps expanding. But in a study published last week in Science Advances, scientists think small: German researchers 3D printed different lenses—each smaller than the width of a human hair—onto a chip. Such micro-cameras could be perfect for tiny drones and other pint-sized robots.
Today's artificial intelligence is certainly formidable. It can beat world champions at intricate games like chess and Go, or dominate at Jeopardy!. It can interpret heaps of data for us, guide driverless cars, respond to spoken commands, and track down the answers to your internet search queries.
Say you're on the phone with a company and the automated virtual assistant needs a few seconds to “look up” your information. And then you hear it. The sound is unmistakable. It's familiar. It's the clickity-clack of a keyboard. You know it's just a sound effect, but unlike hold music or a stream of company information, it's not annoying. In fact, it's kind of comforting.
A snake is a tube that eats, a wriggling cylinder that carries a stomach and not much else. So it was a natural inspiration for Eelume AS, a Norwegian underwater robotics company, when they needed to design an efficient, minimalist robot. They decided to replicate a snake's bendy body, creating a compact form adorned only with small sideboard motors and cameras.
On Jan. 20, the drone war entered its third Administration. Over the inaugural weekend, American drones fired missiles at suspected Al Qaeda fighters in Yemen, killing five people. The drone war, that is, the popular, unmanned-vehicle term for America's strategy of targeted killing, is an outgrowth of President George W. Bush's war on terror, a vestigial organ that became the centerpiece for the Obama administration's eight years of low-intensity warfare. With much of American national security strategy poised to change under the new Trump administration, it's worth taking a step back to examine what, exactly, the United States hoped to do with its drones.