Drones are a tool of precision. Flying overhead, their cameras scan for targets. The agri-drone is a small-scale adaptation of the same premise. Developed by researchers at Japan's Saga University, the agri-drone scans crops for clusters of bugs, and then delivers a precision dose of pesticide to the plant-eating critters below.
It was a much a technological demonstration as it was a trial run for the future. Yesterday, a small hexacopter collected medical samples from people on the land, flew to its home ship, and then returned to shore, carrying medicine. Operated by drone delivery service Flirtey, the promise is better medicine after coastal tragedies.
Google is one of the companies at the forefront of robotics and artificial intelligence research, and being in that position means they have the most to worry about. The idea of a robot takeover may still be an abstract, science fictional concept to us, but Google has actually compiled a list of behaviors that would cause them great concern, both for efficiency and safety in the future.
Robots are not like us. They may inhabit the same spaces, and they may mimic life in their movements, but the kinds of bodies that lend themselves to metal and springs are not the same as those built from flesh and bone. No one knows this better than Boston Dynamics, the formerly Google-owned robotmakers whose shambling, bouncing machines all look like an evolutionary tree from a metal world that forgot about skin. Their latest, SpotMini, combines all that artificial weirdness into a compact, adorable form.
Last weekend, a drone flown by Pakistan's air force crashed just shy of four miles from an airbase in the Punjab. The drone appears to have been a Chinese-made Wing Loong. The drone, also known as the Pterodactyl, serves with the Chinese military, as well as that of Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia.
Today, the Federal Aviation Administration released its new book of drones rules. The summary is almost a thousand words long. The full 624 page rulebook is, at roughly 170,000 words, about as long as Joseph Heller's Catch 22. The rules are long in coming, and they have a depth that will take a while to properly explore. Here's what we know so far.
Gamma 2 Robotics' RAMSEE borrows the name of pharaohs, which is fitting since it works the graveyard shift. The security bot is an autonomous patrolman, rolling around empty halls and hard-to-surveil places, its LIDAR eyes and infrared cameras scanning the environment around it at all times. It is a robot built for empty spaces, alerting its human overseers to any harmful intrusion of life.