Here’s what the Uber Eats delivery drone looks like


Uber has unveiled more details about its plans for Eats delivery via drones. If all goes according to Uber’s plan, it will start flying its first drone model before the end of the year.

Uber’s design, which it unveiled at the Forbes 30 under 30 Summit today, is made to carry up to one meal for two people. Featuring rotating wings with six rotors, the vehicle can vertically take-off and land, and travel a maximum of eight minutes, including loading and unloading. The total flight range is 18 miles, with a round-trip delivery range of 12 miles.

As Uber previously said, the plan is not to use the drones for full delivery, but rather a portion of it. Once a customer orders food, the restaurant will prepare the meal and then load it onto a drone. That drone will then take off, fly and land at a pre-determined drop-off location.

Behind the scenes, Uber’s Elevate Cloud Systems will track and guide the drone, as well as notify an Eats delivery driver when and where to pick up their food. Down the road, Uber envisions landing the drones on top of parked Uber vehicles located near the delivery locations. From there, the Eats delivery driver will complete the last mile to hand-deliver the food to the customer.

Beginning next summer, Uber wants to use this drone for meal deliveries in San Diego. That would come after Uber first tests deliveries in partnership with drone operators and manufacturers.



UPS partners with CVS to develop drone delivery service for prescription drugs


A UPS autonomous drone carries medical supplies.

UPS announces an agreement with CVS to develop a drone delivery service for prescription drugs.

UPS gets the first FAA approval to operate a drone delivery service earlier this month.

FedEx completes its first residential drone delivery under a pilot program last week.

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Alphabet’s Wing begins making first commercial drone deliveries in the US


Alphabet -owned drone delivery spin-out Wing is starting to service U.S. customers, after becoming the first drone delivery company to get the federal go-ahead to do so earlier this year. Wing is working with FedEx Express and Walgreens on this pilot, and their first customers are Michael and Kelly Collver, who will get a “cough and cold pack,” which includes Tylenol, cough drops, facial tissues, Emergen-C and bottled water (do people who have colds need bottled water?).

The Collvers are receiving their package in Christianburg, Va., which is where Wing and Walgreens will run this inaugural pilot of the drone delivery service. Walgreens gets a noteworthy credit in the bargain, becoming the first U.S. retailer to do a store-to-customer doorstep delivery via drone, while FedEx will be the first logistics provider to deliver an e-commerce drone delivery with a separate shipment.

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USPS eyeing drones for mail, package delivery


The United States Postal Service is considering drones as a new way to deliver mail.

This was disclosed in a request for information (RFI) from September, describing why it is examining this concept and how it might potentially work to help people and companies with their mail-related needs, according to Nextgov.

“The Postal Service recognizes that the ability of [unmanned aircraft systems] to supplement mail delivery and information collection can substantially benefit the country and further the development of other autonomous systems,” said Postal Service officials.

If the USPS mail-by-drones idea becomes a reality, it would be a pioneering plan of action. But, the agency is still reportedly very much in the research and analysis stages of looking at this concept. Nextgov revealed that the USPS has not yet hired any contractors for drone production and that it might engage multiple companies in an effort to “identify candidates for future solicitation”.

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Shooting drones out of the sky with Phasers


Abqaiq has the world’s largest oil processing plant

When a mixed formation of cruise missiles and small drone aircraft rained explosive charges on the Saudi Arabian state oil group Aramco sites at Abqaiq and Khurais on 14 September they halved national oil output, cutting 5.7 million barrels of crude per day from the company’s production.

But they did more than economic damage. This attack has had a huge impact on how nations think about protecting their airspace.

Companies are now developing and deploying sophisticated new defences, from frying the electronic circuits with powerful beams of microwave radiation, to precise jamming systems.

While both the United States and Saudi Arabia have blamed Iran for the Abqaiq attack, it’s still not clear who was behind it.

But it would be a mistake to confuse the use of drones or UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) in this attack with other incidents where off-the-shelf drones have disrupted airports, football matches or political rallies, says Douglas Barrie, an air power fellow at think tank the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Continue reading… “Shooting drones out of the sky with Phasers”

Ford patents drone that pops out of a car’s trunk



 The spare tire stashed in your car’s trunk for emergencies might soon be joined by a drone.

On Thursday, the U.S. Patent and Trademark’s office published a patent application submitted by Ford Motor Company subsidiary Ford Global Technologies. It seems the American automaker is developing a system that would allow drivers to deploy and control a drone stored in their car’s trunk.

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SwarmTouch: A tactile interaction strategy for human-swarm communication


A user manipulating the formation of a swarm of drones using SwarmTouch. Credit: Tsykunov et al.

 SwarmTouch: a tactile interaction strategy for human-swarm communication

Researchers at the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech) in Russia have recently introduced a new strategy to enhance interactions between humans and robotic swarms, called SwarmTouch. This strategy, presented in a paper pre-published on arXiv, allows a human operator to communicate with a swarm of nano-quadrotor drones and guide their formation, while receiving tactile feedback in the form of vibrations.

“We are working in the field of swarm of drones and my previous research in the field of haptics was very helpful in introducing a new frontier of tactile human-swarm interactions,” Dzmitry Tsetserukou, Professor at Skoltech and head of Intelligent Space Robotics laboratory, told TechXplore. “During our experiments with the swarm, however, we understood that current interfaces are too unfriendly and difficult to operate.”

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Dory is aimed at bringing underwater drones to a wider audience


The Dory underwater drone is presently on KickstarterChasing Innovation

 When consumer aerial camera-drones first hit the market, buyers were mostly limited to models costing $1,000 or more. These days, half-decent quadcopters can be had for under a hundred bucks. While not going quite that cheap, Chasing Innovation is now aiming to make underwater drones similarly more affordable, with the Dory.

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Skydio’s new auto-follow drone is basically a flying A.I. cinematographer

Up-and-coming unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) manufacturer Skydio unveiled a new drone today. The Skydio 2, as it’s called, is essentially a new-and-improved version of the Skydio R1 — an autonomy-focused camera drone that was released in early 2018. The new version boasts a bundle of improvements, including better battery life, longer range, and dramatically improved auto-follow capabilities

“Skydio 2 combines groundbreaking artificial intelligence with a best-in-class 4K60 HDR camera, 3.5 kilometers of wireless range, and 23 minutes of flight time in a drone that fits anywhere you can carry a 13-inch laptop,” the company said in a statement. “For experienced pilots, Skydio 2 makes every aspect of flying drones more creative, more fun, more useful, and less stressful. But it’s also capable of flying completely by itself with the skills of an expert pilot, opening up the power and magic of aerial capture to new audiences.”

Auto-follow mode has been a standard feature on camera drones for years now, but despite the fact that it’s relatively common, it’s typically more of an afterthought than a flagship feature on most drones. For Skydio, however, auto-follow functionality is the main event — and it shows. The company’s first-generation drone can fly and dodge obstacles better than practically any other drone on the market, and the Skydio 2 builds upon that already stellar foundation.

Continue reading… “Skydio’s new auto-follow drone is basically a flying A.I. cinematographer”

UPS just won FAA approval to fly as many delivery drones as it wants


But don’t expect your next package delivery via drone

UPS announced that it has received government approval to operate a “drone airline.” Don’t expect your next package to arrive directly on your doorstep by a drone, though: UPS says it will first use this certification to build a drone delivery network for hospital campuses around the US. UPS said in July that it was seeking permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to operate the network, and today, it got just that.

Specifically, UPS’s drone delivery subsidiary, UPS Flight Forward, was granted a Part 135 Standard certification. Though drones might not seem like aircraft that need to be regulated like commercial airplanes do, the federal government evaluates them on similar footing. Drone delivery companies have to be certified by the FAA just like companies that fly planes.

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These tree-planting drones are firing ‘seed missiles’ into the ground. Less than a year later, they’re already 20 inches tall.


 Technology is the single greatest contributor to climate change but it may also soon be used to offset the damage we’ve done to our planet since the Industrial Age began.

In September 2018, a project in Myanmar used drones to fire “seed missiles” into remote areas of the country where trees were not growing. Less than a year later, thousands of those seed missiles have sprouted into 20-inch mangrove saplings that could literally be a case study in how technology can be used to innovate our way out of the climate change crisis.

“We now have a case confirmed of what species we can plant and in what conditions,” Irina Fedorenko, co-founder of Biocarbon Engineering, told Fast Company. “We are now ready to scale up our planting and replicate this success.”

Continue reading… “These tree-planting drones are firing ‘seed missiles’ into the ground. Less than a year later, they’re already 20 inches tall.”

Chinese passenger drone maker EHang is said to file for U.S. IPO



An EHang Inc. E-184 drone.

 Technology startup is working on producing passenger drones.

EHang may raise as much as $200 million in public offering.

EHang, one of China’s largest drone makers, has made a confidential application for an initial public offering with Nasdaq Inc., according to people with knowledge of the matter.

EHang plans to float 10% to 15% of its shares, with the company’s valuation not yet set due to volatile market conditions, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t public. EHang may raise as much as $200 million in the IPO, one of the people said.

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