A California bill that would require police to obtain warrants before using drones for most purposes was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown this week. While the bill contains exceptions for emergency situations, wildfires, coordinating traffic accident first responders, and environmental disasters, it does rule out police using drones for routine traffic stops or other searches, without getting a warrant a first.
Rescue robots are better when they travel in packs. Snake bots, slithering like their reptilian namesakes, are great at crawling through narrow spaces, but they're fairly slow. Quadcopter drones can quickly fly over and around obstacles, but once on the ground they can’t too much besides take off again. A new chimera-like creation, from the Modular Robotics Lab at the University of Pennsylvania, combines two snakebots and one quadcopter into a sort of drone superorganism, bringing rescue robots together for difficult situations.
Drones soon may be bound together by a common code. Airware, a commercial drone software company with MIT roots, hopes to unify drones in a shared code architecture. Airware already makes an autopilot, but that’s just the first step to creating a drone operating system, allowing hardware from different manufacturers to communicate with one another.
A century ago, as cars first emerged into the world, cities and laws that were designed for horses suddenly had to adapt to a whole new presence in their space. Cities didn’t know how to handle these fast machines, and fatal accidents in the early age of cars led to legal battles between pedestrians and cars over who had the right to the road. Now, commercial drones are approaching their Model-T moment, and planners can get ahead of this by plotting out their cities in color-coded three-dimensional blocks of sky.