Monthly Archives: May 2013
If you’re one of those folks who is always on the lookout for the latest and greatest new advance in home security technology, we’ve got you covered — or at least, we know who does. Japanese security firm Secom is preparing to launch a new service that will let home and small business owners rent a quadcopter drone that the company claims will launch automatically in the event of a burglary, snapping pictures of the invaders and even capturing live video of them as the crime is in progress. The drones would be just a part of a more traditional line of home security. When a breach is indicated by motion detectors or other more old school security methods, the quadcopter would activate and be dispatched to the scene of the break-in to get a firsthand, eye-in-the-sky look at things. Secom hopes to launch the rent-a-drone business in Japanese markets beginning in early 2014. While rates of home burglary and violent crime are low in Japan, the company is also touting the drones as a cost-effective way to monitor large areas — like warehouses and industrial parks — without mounting legions of video cameras on every rooftop. At the currently estimated price of 5,000 yen per drone per month, that does actually sound pretty reasonable. If the service is successful, Secom hopes to expand it to other nations in short order, bringing us one step closer to a police state where the skies are constantly patrolled by surveillance robots before 2020 rolls around. Between this sort of thing and the GPS monitors we all carry in our pockets these days, we can be sure that somewhere, George Orwell is spinning in his grave so fast that the energy he’s producing could power a small island nation. Secom Drones
The Eclipse 'stealth drone' boat: Lethal remote vessel will take on pirates The Eclipse fleet are the first stealth drones capable of operating in water Remote controlled, invisible to radar and can travel at 60mph 600 nautical miles range and can loiter for ten days without refuelling It is believed to be the first stealth drone capable of operating in the water. This 35 foot long boat is designed to invisibly glide across the ocean acting as a spy and spotting pirates. The daunting vessel belongs to the world’s first fleet of remote-controlled ‘robo-boats’ designed to take on dangerous covert missions without endangering the lives of crew. Looking like a cross between a miniature warship and a stealth bomber, they are the waterborne equivalent of the unmanned drone planes used by the UK and U.S. military in the fight against terror. The Eclipse unmanned surveillance vessels are invisible to radar, can operate 24 hours a day, travel at 60mph and can be kitted out with enough weaponry to blow adversaries out of the water. The cutting edge boats boast state-of-the-art technology that allows it to undertake search and rescue missions or patrol dangerous waters without requiring crew. They have a range of up to 600 nautical miles and can loiter at low speeds for 10 days without refuelling. Powered by two 500 horsepower water jets made by Rolls Royce, the Eclipse range also boast £650,000 giroscopic HD cameras which take pictures of their surroundings, analysing them for potential threats and and relaying information back to a manned control station. The boats can be decked out with weaponry including a high powered fire hose, a cannon that fires nets to foul propellers and even a 50 calibre gun. They can see in the dark thanks to thermal imaging cameras and can also identify radiological and chemical matter, detect underwater mines and profile the sea bed. As well as the 35ft Oscar model, the fleet features a 3-metre jet-ski style boat called the Sea Serpent that can be deployed from another boat and a 35ft semi-inflatable powerboat named Bravo capable of operating with crew or unmanned. The price tag starts at £260,000 for a basic Sea Serpent - and goes up to a whopping £2 million for the basic Oscar boat. The boats can operate by remote control and can also be programmed to carry out missions entirely on their own. The fleet has been designed by engineers in Abu Dhabi by American military robotics experts 5G International. Keith Henderson, spokesman for Al Seer Marine, said: 'Our fleet of USVs is unique. Various companies have prototype boats but none offer a whole fleet. 'The size and type of USV depends very much on the kind of mission you want to send it on. 'We have something for everything - our fleet is the first in the world. Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2326138/The-stealth-drone-boat-set-hunt-pirates-undercover-world.html#ixzz2TeqlrhDX Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook
All plans for a costly drone project have come crashing down. During a parliamentary debate, the German Defence Minister made the controversial decision to pull the plug on the programme after an investment of 508 million euros on the prototype. Germany’s Defence Minister, who has come under fire since the announcement, was called on to provide a full explanation for the halt. Germany was due to fork out a further 500 million euros on four more models. “We prefer to pull the plug. That applies to the future as well, when costs get out of control. Better a horror with an end than an horror without end,” German Defence Minister Thomas De Maiziere told parliament: There are fears that the ‘Euro Hawk’, a version of the American Global Hawk drone, would violate European airspace, and would not be approved by the European Aviation Safety Agency. The opposition claim the De Maiziere was aware of the safety concerns 18 months ago, yet continued pouring money into the programme. Germany is in talks with Israel on buying a Heron TP drone, but De Maiziere has indicated that there would be no further purchases ahead of Germany’s general election on September 22. Source: Euro News
The Triton drone is designed for military use, but can track small, wooden boats. Source: SuppliedAUSTRALIA has jumped back on board the US Navy program to develop long-range surveillance drones to watch over the country's vast landmass and ocean approaches. Defence Minister Stephen Smith said the government would issue a Letter of Request to the United States to gain access to detailed cost, capability and availability information on the US Navy's MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft. The drone is made by US firm Northrop Grumman and is a descendant of the long-range Global Hawk specifically configured for maritime surveillance. Mr Smith said the 2013 Defence White Paper spelled out plans to replace the RAAF's ageing fleet of 18 AP-3C Orion surveillance aircraft with the new Boeing P-8A Poseidon aircraft, complemented by unmanned aircraft able to conduct broad area maritime surveillance. "The goal is to provide long-range, long-endurance maritime surveillance and response and an effective anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare capability," he said in a statement. Australian interest in unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) dates back to the late 1990s when Australia joined the initial Global Hawk research project. In 2001, a Global Hawk flew non-stop from California to Australia, a record for a pilotless aircraft. Then in 2006, the then-coalition government gave approval in principle to buy them. But in 2009 the new Labor regime pulled the pin, citing defence advice the RAAF was not in a position to absorb another advanced capability aircraft at that time. Mr Smith said to help assess suitability of Triton for Australian requirements, the Government would establish a Foreign Military Sales Technical Services Case with the US to obtain detailed cost, capability and availability information. He said the release of a Letter of Request did not commit Australia to Triton. "Defence will continue to investigate options for a mixed manned and unmanned aircraft fleet to inform Government consideration later in the decade," he said. Mr Smith said defence would continue to analyse the value of further investment in unmanned aircraft for overland intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, including for use in border security operations. That could eventually involve acquisition of armed UAVs. "This will include the potential expansion of the role of these assets in the ADF (Australian Defence Force) to include interdiction and close air support, subject to policy development and Government consideration," he said. AAP
Jetstream 31 - The Flying Testbed ( Image from BAE systems )Large civilian planes remotely operated by a controller on the ground could become a reality within just a few years, after British aerospace giant BAE conducted a successful overland UK flight of an unmanned prototype for the first time. “I believe we are writing a new chapter in aviation history,” said Lambert Dopping-Hepenstal, director of the £62 million government-backed ASTRAEA (Autonomous Systems Technology Related Airborne Evaluation & Assessment) program, which is developing the sophisticated sensors that allow the plane to respond to outside conditions without the help of human eyes on-board. The Jetstream 31 – an expensive experimental project known as ‘The Flying Testbed’ that looks much like an ordinary 16-seater training plane – took off from Lancashire in northern England, and landed safely 500 miles away in Inverness in Scotland. As a precaution, two pilots sat in the cockpit, while the entire flight was conducted by an operator back at base. "The pilots were sitting there having a coffee. They did not have to do anything," said a BAE spokesman. Flying a plane from the ground takes more than just building a remote control. Using an automated visual detection system, the plane automatically steers away from dangerous weather formations as it sees them, while its antennae pick up signals from nearby aircraft to avoid them. The Jetstream 31 also scans the ground for potential safe landing zones in case of emergencies. In the past, the lack of “sense and avoid” technologies and other features that would ensure that drones do not cause danger to manned planes were seen as the key stumbling block for letting them into civilian skies. Dopping-Hepenstal admitted that it was “early days”, but said these on-board innovations “will likely impact all of us in the next five, ten, 20 years as unmanned aircraft and associated technology develop and become a part of everyday life.” UK’s air regulators have already given out permits for several hundred light drones to share airspace with manned planes. But in the future larger craft using the technologies piloted by ASTRAEA could be used for extended rescue, patrol or pursuit missions, where time would be lost by having to return to base to refuel and change pilots. Whether eventually passenger planes also become remotely operated, will depend on more than just engineering capability, but social attitudes. "It's not just the technology, we're trying to think about the social impact of this and the ethical and legal things associated with it," said Dopping-Hepenstal. “These latest trials help prove the technology we need to routinely operate unmanned aircraft in our airspace and also help the regulators develop the framework in which the aircraft can operate." US air regulator FAA has insisted that drones be integrated into the civilian airspace by 2015, and the UK plans to do so by the end of the decade. Source RT.com
PSEG's Bridgeport Harbor Station power plant, in Bridgeport, Conn., May 13, 2013. A drone aircraft crashed near the power plant after taking photos of the key harbor front facility. Photo: Cathy ZurawBRIDGEPORT, USA -- A high-flying drone aircraft buzzes a hulking power plant, shooting photos and video of the key harborfront complex -- then takes a nosedive and crashes on the grounds. A foreign national dashes to the plant's gates, asks a guard for permission to retrieve his device, only to see local police and FBI agents swoop in. It sounds like the setup for a summer blockbuster thriller, but it happened in Bridgeport on Sunday. The unidentified man who inadvertently crashed his camera-equipped, remote-controlled airplane near the PSEG plant and landmark smokestack on Bridgeport Harbor was only playing with a high-tech toy, city police said, Still, the incident raised the eyebrows of city police, who called the FBI to the 498-foot striped tower that is a signature piece of Bridgeport's waterfront. "We were contacted by the Bridgeport police, and it seems that nothing nefarious was involved,'' said Special Agent Dan Curtin of the FBI's New Haven office. "The matter remains under investigation.'' The man, who was not identified as he was not charged with a crime, is a Chinese national who recently graduated from the University of Bridgeport with a degree in electrical engineering, said city police spokesman William Kaempffer. The case underscores the growing sophistication of drone technology and its ready availability, raising questions about homeland security and privacy in an era when small robotic spy planes can invade anyone's airspace. Drone kits are now easily purchased in hobby shops and on the Internet. The hobbyist who lost his drone on the harborfront had been flying the remote-controlled plane over the West Beach area of Seaside Park on Sunday afternoon. After a wind gust brought the camera-equipped drone over the power plant, he went to the main security gate trying to get it back, officials said. "The incident brought the FBI to the city because of initial security concerns,'' Kaempffer said. "The man's account, however, checked out, and he was released with a warning not to fly any model aircraft near the power plant in the future.'' The man, a citizen of China in the U.S. on a student visa, agreed to let officers and federal agents review the video footage, which had been transmitted from the on-plane camera to a laptop computer. Curtin would not comment on whether the man's status as a Chinese national affected the FBI's response. The footage showed about 10 minutes of aerial views of Seaside Park and about two minutes of footage of the power plant and the surrounding area. The footage then showed the plane spiraling out of control as it fell from the sky. The man told authorities that he didn't intend to film the power plant, Kaempffer said. While the remote-controlled plane in Sunday's incident was not part of any sinister plot, it certainly could have been. In an era of heightened concern over terrorism, the police and FBI's response to the Bridgeport drone was not unwarranted: In 2011, Rezwan Ferdaus, of Massachusetts, plotted to fly C-4 explosives into the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol using remote-controlled planes. Read more: http://www.ctpost.com/news/article/Drone-buzzes-Bridgeport-harbor-then-crashes-4511159.php
Israel's military would not say how many of the Heron 1 drones were grounded. Photograph: Dan Balilty/AP Israel's military has grounded a fleet of high-altitude surveillance drones after one brought down over the Mediterranean sea. The military says it intentionally crashed the unmanned aircraft late on Saturday because of a malfunction. The military would not say how many aircraft were grounded. The planes will stay down during an investigation. An Israeli defence official said the drone was the Israeli-made Heron 1, which flies at high altitudes and can stay in the air for about 45 hours. Last year, a larger Heron TP drone crashed on a routine flight. Israel is a world leader in drone technology. Palestinians say Israel uses drones to fire missiles, but Israel has not confirmed that.
Iran's Epic drone, painted with the Iranian flag colours, is unveiled during a ceremony in Tehran Photo: AP Defence Minister General Ahmad Vahidi was quoted as saying the Epic, which can fly at high altitudes, is a "stealth aircraft that cannot be detected by enemies". On April 18, Iran made public three other models, The Throne, also a stealth model, has a long range and is equipped with air-to-air missiles, said General Amir-Farzad Esmaili, commander of anti-aircraft operations. Esmaili said Iran had already produced and used dozens of them. The Hazem-3 (Solid) and Mohajer-B (Migrator) are "tactical and combat" models and also capable of reconnaissance, the general said. Source
Injured man, disoriented, walked three kilometres in a field before collapsing. Mounties in Saskatchewan are crediting a high-tech drone for the rescue of a man who had walked away from his vehicle after a rollover crash and could not be found. According to RCMP, the crash happened around 12:20 a.m. CST Thursday on Highway 5, about five kilometres east of St. Denis, Sask., which is about 35 kilometres east of Saskatoon. Emergency crews were notified of the crash in a 911 call and police, ambulance and other rescue teams were dispatched. However, when they arrived at the site of the roll over, there was no one in the vehicle. "The examination of the scene indicated that at least one person had been in the vehicle and was injured," RCMP said. A ground search was launched, but after rescuers scoured some 200 metres in all directions, there was still no sign of anyone. RCMP then called in an air ambulance helicopter equipped with night-vision equipment and high-powered searchlights. The helicopter scanned an area about one kilometre around the crash site, again with no results. Drone called in Finally, about an hour into the search, RCMP called for their drone — an unmanned aerial vehicle with an infrared camera mounted on it. The drone was at the scene, preparing to launch, when RCMP received a cell hone call from the injured man, a 25 year old. "He indicated he was cold, did not know where he was and could give no directions to his location," RCMP said. He was only dressed in T-shirt and pants. He had lost his shoes in the crash. RCMP said the temperature was near freezing at the time. Police said they used the cellphone's signal to get a better idea of the man's location. The new search area was a field more than two kilometres south of the rollover. RCMP officers and rescue people, on the ground and in the helicopter, went to that location but again could not find the man. Heat source spotted Finally, at 3 a.m. the drone was launched and a small heat signature was detected. Searchers were sent to that heat source, which was about 200 metres from the cellphone's last GPS ping. RCMP said the cellphone signal stopped transmitting after the last call. "Fire and rescue members located the driver at this first location, curled up in a ball at the base of a tree next to snow bank," RCMP said. "He was unresponsive and was quickly brought out to the road." He was taken to hospital in Saskatoon for treatment. RCMP said he was released Thursday afternoon. RCMP said using their drone with the heat-sensing equipment was key in the rescue. More here... RTF drones are builders of thermal imaging aerial systems, drone & Multirotors. Contact us for prices.
Video game players may be the ideal candidates to operate military drones, suggests a study. Problem is, they’re so conditioned to non-stop action while playing games that they’re prone to boredom in real-life scenarios, said associate Prof. Missy Cummings, who has studied how to improve drone pilots’ performance at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “When the workload is high the best drone operators are those that are video gamers because they know how to handle all of the multitasking,” said Cummings, pointing to studies that have shown the adeptness of video gamers as drone operators. “So you want people who really perform under a high workload, which are gamers – but 90 per cent of the time nothing is happening and you need a completely different skill set to (handle) that.” Cummings said her research team found that in order to do their jobs, drone operators needed some distractions to manage boredom in down time, including playing with their smartphones, using laptops, reading magazines, eating or sleeping. “When you distract yourself, you’re basically revving up your brain,” Cummings said. “We need to figure out is it possible to let people have some level of distraction but still keep them engaged enough so that when an alarm goes, for example, or when that plane does enter the sector they respond appropriately.” Cummings said she and her team are looking at whether technology can be used to control distractions, such as a small vibrating device that would “give you a little buzz.” “Can we actually take people who are very prone to boredom and actually improve their performance by using some technology to get them to re-engage?” Cummings said the only personality trait the studies found to help predict who will be better drone operators was conscientiousness. Those who scored high on conscientiousness did better when the environment became boring. But she said it’s difficult to say if a conscientious drone operator would be effective in a military setting and would have any unease about firing a missile. “The U.S. military does not currently assign people to jobs based on personality traits. This is definitely an area that needs more research,” she said. Drone use by the American military to strike against terrorists is controversial, particularly when there’s collateral damage. Margaret Somerville, a professor at the McGill Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law in Montreal, said drone operators are not in danger of being killed and don’t directly see their victims. “To what extent are they becoming more like automatons and less like human beings making decisions,” said Somerville, “and hopefully taking into the account the ethics of what they’re doing.” http://www.theglobeandmail.com/technology/gaming/gamers-make-awesome-drone-pilots-study-says-be-afraid/article11787151/