ETC Publishes its Perspective on Consumer Electronics Show

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) set “the global stage for innovation” in an all-digital format when CES 2021 opened its four-day run in January. The annual confab shaped up less as a showcase for breakthrough future technology and more as a bellwether for a world massively altered by the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, instead of key product trends to define our media and entertainment industry focus, the ETC@USC team emphasized four dynamics to drive much of the discussion: Adaptation, Change, Snapback and Opportunity. For an examination of these themes, ETC’s CES report is now available online. Continue reading ETC Publishes its Perspective on Consumer Electronics Show

CES: Airpeak Drone Designed for Capturing Photos and Video

First announced in November of last year, Sony unveiled a drone at CES 2021 that the company says is the smallest of its kind capable of accommodating a Sony Alpha mirrorless camera for professional photography and producing video projects. While Sony did not reveal pricing or specs, the drone is is said to be shipping sometime this spring. The quadcopter design shown during the all-digital CES featured two landing gear extensions that are designed to retract during flight so they do not get in the way of shooting stills or video. Continue reading CES: Airpeak Drone Designed for Capturing Photos and Video

FAA Greenlights Amazon’s Plan to Develop a Fleet of Drones

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) just approved Amazon’s plan to create a fleet of drones. The e-commerce company will still need to jump through some hoops before beginning limited tests of package delivery to U.S. customers. Amazon also has testing sites in Austria, Canada, the United Kingdom and other international locations but can only perform tests in the UK and U.S. Before drone delivery becomes widespread, the FAA must complete rules for remote identification and for letting drones fly above populated areas. Continue reading FAA Greenlights Amazon’s Plan to Develop a Fleet of Drones

Drones Take on Essential Roles During Coronavirus Pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic, drones have been put to good use. In Florida, for example, UPS Flight Forward is delivering medicine from a CVS pharmacy to a nearby retirement community. As former roboticist Daniel Wilson, author of “Robopocalypse” put it, “the machines we’re used to fearing are uniquely well suited to swoop in and save the day.” Although drones have successfully shed some of their dystopian image, privacy advocates and others are still wary of their use by police for broad surveillance. Continue reading Drones Take on Essential Roles During Coronavirus Pandemic

Robots and Drones Make More Deliveries During Pandemic

All around the globe, from China to Israel to the U.S., robots and drones are delivering everything from groceries to medical supplies during the coronavirus pandemic without the threat of transmitting COVID-19. In Sacramento, for example, startup Nuro’s R2 robots are delivering personal protective equipment, clean linens and food from a supply depot to a field hospital. But, as many businesses and governments are eager to use robots, the startups that make them are challenged to ramp up production to meet demand. Continue reading Robots and Drones Make More Deliveries During Pandemic

Drones in Delivery Tests, U.S. Agency Bars Chinese UAVs

Amazon, Alphabet’s Wing and Uber Technologies are conducting government-approved trials of drones to deliver packages. Wing is in Christiansburg, Virginia and Uber will begin tests in San Diego before the end of 2019. United Parcel Service also gained FAA approval to create a fleet of drones to deliver health supplies and, ultimately, consumer packages. The FAA predicts that drones for commercial purposes will reach 2.7 million by 2020. Meanwhile, the Department of the Interior is grounding more than 800 drones that were manufactured in China, citing national security concerns. Continue reading Drones in Delivery Tests, U.S. Agency Bars Chinese UAVs

Uber Demonstrates Its Drone Delivery Service in San Diego

Uber demonstrated the transport of a McDonald’s meal via its Uber Elevate A4200 drone with custom-designed delivery box. The drone was set to fly only half a mile away, but the trip was canceled due to a 26-knot breeze. The demo is still noteworthy as a practical application of the technology. Uber isn’t the only company pinning some of its high-tech hopes on drone delivery. Google already has the greenlight from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to make similar unmanned commercial deliveries in Virginia, and Amazon also debuted its drone delivery service. Continue reading Uber Demonstrates Its Drone Delivery Service in San Diego

FAA Approves Commercial Delivery For Alphabet’s Drones

Wing Aviation, a unit of Alphabet, received the Federal Aviation Administration’s first authorization to deliver consumer goods via drone. Being first is a coup for Google’s parent company and a harbinger that many other companies — Amazon among them — will soon launch drone delivery services. Not long ago, officials predicted that the FAA wouldn’t implement the first rules for unmanned aircraft delivery until 2020 or 2021. The current FAA permit for Wing Aviation only includes a rural area around Blacksburg, Virginia. Continue reading FAA Approves Commercial Delivery For Alphabet’s Drones

HPA Tech Retreat: Drones, Photogrammetry as Useful Tools

Singularity Imaging founder/chief executive Eric Pohl discussed how drones and photogrammetry methods can be used to extract 3D information and create large point-cloud scenes. Uses include previsualization for production, content for set extensions, VR/AR and gaming applications. Pohl noted that, at last year’s HPA Tech Retreat, a presentation showed how the Unity game engine could be used to map and plan a production. “Mapping and remote sensing are quite mature, but drones bring something new to it,” he noted. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Drones, Photogrammetry as Useful Tools

Google Plans Not to Renew its Defense Department Contract

Influenced by employee discontent, Google will not renew a contract with the Pentagon’s Project Maven when it expires next year. Google Cloud business head Diane Greene, who won the contract, was the one who announced the company’s decision in a weekly employee meeting. The Maven project uses artificial intelligence to interpret video images and, among its potential uses, could be employed to improve drone attack targeting. Many Google AI researchers worried aloud that it was a step towards using AI for advanced weaponry. Continue reading Google Plans Not to Renew its Defense Department Contract

Panavision: Lenses for Drones, New Filter Tech, 8K Workflow

Panavision made its Cine Gear Expo debut of the Millennium DXL2 8K camera, 8K workflow improvements, a customized optics system for specific use with drones and gimbals, four new large-format lenses and a technology demonstration of a major advance in filter technology. The new products, said Panavision chief executive Kim Snyder, are intended to evolve the ecosystem surrounding the Millennium DXL2. “We’re building a bridge between products and processes,” said senior vice president of innovation Michael Cioni. Continue reading Panavision: Lenses for Drones, New Filter Tech, 8K Workflow

Department of Transportation Selects 10 Drone Test Projects

The U.S. Department of Transportation selected 10 local, state and tribal governments to test drone commerce in partnership with Intel, Uber, FedEx and Qualcomm, among others. The Integration Pilot Program, promoted by the Trump administration to speed up approvals of longer-range unmanned flights, has enthused drone companies, including startups such as Flirtey and AirMap. Notably missing from the list, however, is Amazon, which has a project in development to deliver packages to people’s homes. Continue reading Department of Transportation Selects 10 Drone Test Projects

Skydio R1 Drone Touts Advanced Visual Tracking, 4K Camera

Several companies have offered drones that can, more or less, follow a target and avoid obstacles. But now a new company, Skydio, has introduced the $2,499 R1 drone that shows significant promise. The R1 doesn’t use GPS or wearable trackers for 3D vision tracking, yet is able to avoid obstacles from all angles at speed (about 25 miles per hour). The high-quality device, which Skydio describes as a “self-flying camera,” is also easy to use. The R1, via camera lenses that point up and down on a two-axis gimbal, also records 4K video. Continue reading Skydio R1 Drone Touts Advanced Visual Tracking, 4K Camera

Zipline’s Fixed Wing UAV Becomes Fastest Commercial Drone

Zipline, the California-based startup that uses drones to deliver blood and drugs to remote Rwandan medical centers, is now using a fixed-wing aerial robot to make commercial deliveries at nearly 80 miles per hour. The company claims its fixed-wing UAV is the world’s fastest commercial delivery drone. In Rwanda, Zipline has already flown 300,000 kilometers in over 4,000 flights since its October 2016 debut, and introduced a similar service in Tanzania. This expertise will enable it to compete with the big players in drone delivery including Amazon’s Prime Air and Alphabet’s Project Wing. Continue reading Zipline’s Fixed Wing UAV Becomes Fastest Commercial Drone

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

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