HTC Unveils New Vive Pro Headset With Foveated Rendering

At CES in Las Vegas, HTC unveiled an upgrade to its Vive Pro VR headset, the Vive Pro Eye, featuring integrated eye tracking for in-app controls, analysis of user attention and foveated rendering. The last item relates to the ability of cameras in the headset to precisely track the position of the eyes’ pupils to enable the GPU to focus processing on that location. With foveated rendering, the GPU is said to save 30 percent over its power, which can be used to conserve power or increase detail within the rendered area. Continue reading HTC Unveils New Vive Pro Headset With Foveated Rendering

Facebook Pulls the Plug on its Aquila Solar-Powered Aircraft

Facebook announced that it is grounding a solar-powered aircraft project it originally hoped would have used laser technology to help provide Internet access for underserved communities. In an effort to connect the nearly 4 billion people around the world who still do not have Internet access, the company has been working for several years from Bridgwater, UK on a high altitude platform station (HAPS) system called Aquila. Rather than continue to develop its own aircraft, however, Facebook has opted to partner with companies such as Airbus and close its facility in Bridgwater. Continue reading Facebook Pulls the Plug on its Aquila Solar-Powered Aircraft

FAA: Number of Commercial Drones Will Quadruple by 2022

In positive news for the drone industry, recently updated Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) numbers project significant growth in commercial drone use by 2022, at which point the current numbers are expected to quadruple. By that year, 450,000 unmanned drones will operate within domestic airspace. Today, there are roughly 110,000 in use. These increases are projected even if federal restrictions are loosened more slowly than expected or desired by advocates and others.

Continue reading FAA: Number of Commercial Drones Will Quadruple by 2022

FAA Panel Fails to Reach Consensus on Drone Regulations

A federal advisory panel of 70+ industry, labor and law enforcement experts failed to come to agreement on a proposal on how to track and identify drones. More specifically, the panel could not find agreement regarding categories of drones that should require remote monitoring. The result is that it will now be more difficult for the Federal Aviation Administration to execute rules that would please all concerned groups, which include law enforcement agencies, hobbyists and drone advocates. Continue reading FAA Panel Fails to Reach Consensus on Drone Regulations

Netflix Aims to Bring More In-Flight Entertainment to Travelers

Netflix plans to extend bandwidth-efficient, mobile tech to airlines in an effort to offer passengers low-cost or free Wi-Fi entertainment. The company claims the mobile-encoding tech would allow travelers to “watch Netflix in high quality while airline carriers save up to 75 percent in bandwidth costs,” reports Variety. Netflix already has various deals involving in-flight Wi-Fi with Virgin America, Aeromexico, Qantas and Virgin Australia. On select flights with next-gen Wi-Fi, “such as those equipped with Ka-band and Gogo’s 2Ku Internet access, passengers are able to access Netflix from their carry-on devices and watch the streaming service at no extra charge.” Continue reading Netflix Aims to Bring More In-Flight Entertainment to Travelers

UN Civil Aviation Group Brainstorms Global Drone Standards

The United Nations’ 191-member state International Civil Aviation Organization held its first-ever symposium to solicit industry ideas on global operating standards for drones. Held at the ICAO’s Montreal headquarters, the two-day event was not aimed at establishing specific rules but rather to spur discussion and ideas among those already involved in the drone industry. Amazon, NASA, Boeing and General Electric participated along with leading industry trade associations and Chinese and Brazilian researchers. Continue reading UN Civil Aviation Group Brainstorms Global Drone Standards

In Response to Elon Musk and His Concerns About AI Safety

Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking are among those that have raised concerns regarding our pursuit of artificial intelligence, while Musk has recently gone so far to suggest that AI presents “more risk than North Korea” and should be regulated, like “everything (cars, planes, food, drugs, etc.) that’s a danger to the public.” Our colleague Yves Bergquist, director of ETC’s Data & Analytics Project, published a compelling rebuttal on Medium this week, in which he clearly defines “narrow AI” and “artificial general intelligence” in order to provide additional context regarding the evolution of AI applications and their numerous possibilities. Continue reading In Response to Elon Musk and His Concerns About AI Safety

Amazon Files Patent for Safer Drone Delivery in Urban Areas

Amazon’s drone delivery program faces the challenge of getting drones near enough to large population centers, but the company just filed a patent application for a solution. What Amazon calls “multi-level fulfillment centers for unmanned aerial vehicles” would place drones in the midst of cities in vertical structures, thereby letting drones fly in and out of the building while avoiding pedestrians. Although this idea would solve one problem, it raises others pursuant to drones flying in the sky above a city. Continue reading Amazon Files Patent for Safer Drone Delivery in Urban Areas

FAA Issues Drone Operation Rules, Privacy Issues Unresolved

The operation of drones has sparked heated debate and industry angst regarding issues of safety, privacy and regulation. Now, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued its first detailed rules that clarify nationwide licensing requirements for pilots and bans operation of drones at nighttime. But it still hasn’t touched the hot button topics of privacy protections, high altitude flying, drones heavier than the currently-approved 55-pounds and other issues. In that vacuum, local governments are coming up with their own regulations. Continue reading FAA Issues Drone Operation Rules, Privacy Issues Unresolved

Amazon, Google Looking to Effectively Manage Drone Traffic

During CES 2016, representatives from Amazon, Google, Intel and NASA discussed the future of air traffic control in regards to drones. Both Google and Amazon are developing drones that they hope will eventually deliver packages to their online customers, but the companies differ on how to regulate the drones’ flights. Google favors a system in which drones report their flight to a centralized coordination facility before takeoff. Amazon, on the other hand, wants less emphasis on a central command center. Continue reading Amazon, Google Looking to Effectively Manage Drone Traffic

FAA Task Force Releases Recommendations on Policing Drones

The Consumer Technology Association estimates there will be 400,000 drones under the Christmas tree this year. Just in time, a task force created by the Federal Aviation Administration has come out with a report detailing recommendations on how to regulate them. The task force, comprised of drone makers, technology companies, an airline pilots association and the government, says drone owners need to be entered into a federal database and should display a government-issued registration number on their drone. Continue reading FAA Task Force Releases Recommendations on Policing Drones