Robot kills worker at Volkswagen plant in Germany

Contractor was setting up the stationary robot when it grabbed and crushed him against a metal plate at the plant in Baunatal

A robot has killed a contractor at one of Volkswagen’s production plants in Germany, the automaker has said.

The man died on Monday at the plant in Baunatal, about 100km (62 miles) north of Frankfurt, VW spokesman Heiko Hillwig said.

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via Robot kills worker at Volkswagen plant in Germany

New Solo Update

This week we’ve rolled out some important updates that will go a long way toward making your Solo experience even more smooth and easy. This includes updates for both Solo and the Solo app—remember, the Solo app will do all of the update work wirelessly, without any need to connect to Solo with cables. For a walkthrough of that workflow, see the bottom of this post.

Here’s a quick summary of what the new updates include and what that means to you.

Solo 1.05

This is an update for Solo’s onboard software, basically an update for the copter itself. Mostly this round involves tuning and improving Solo’s GPS functionality. With these updates, Solo has better GPS acquisition, which means good things for your in-flight experience. Here’s what we’ve done.

GPS_Ready_Prompt_ScreenSolo will now fly better in environments where GPS signal may be less accessible or more sensitive, such as areas with peripheral objects like buildings and trees that can interfere with reception. But even with this improvement you’ll want to be mindful when you choose where to fly. Please stick to wide open places without nearby trees or structures that could occlude or interfere with the satellite signals Solo relies on for its GPS lock. This is especially important for new users who might not yet be comfortable flying in FLY:Manual mode.

Speaking of which, Solo now detects when GPS starts to decay and automatically switches you into FLY:Manual mode when the signal drops below a certain threshold. (In FLY:Manual, Solo automatically holds its altitude for you, but you’re responsible for controlling its position in space; it’s like Solo’s on a skating rink in the air.) The Solo controller will vibrate and let you know when you have good GPS again, and will automatically put you back into regular FLY mode. If you’re flying for a while without GPS, Solo won’t automatically switch you back into FLY; however, the controller will vibrate and let you know the option is again available.

These updates also improve Solo’s GPS checks. Solo measures GPS quality and ensures the lock is strong and steady before takeoff. If it doesn’t have a good signal, the controller will say “Searching for GPS”; if you really want to fly, you can flip into FLY:Manual, but be aware that Solo’s home location will be set in the first spot where it gets a good GPS lock.

And remember: When GPS is lost, neither “pause” nor “return home” functions are available because they’re position-based. For this reason, we strongly urge all users to spend time in an open space getting comfortable with FLY:Manual*. This way, if you fly into an environment with poor GPS reception, you’ll still feel comfortable controlling Solo.

Lastly, if Solo’s in Land mode—such as if battery is running low or you’ve hit RTL—you can reverse its descent just by increasing the throttle. This means that if you want to break control of an auto-land or a failsafe, you have the option to—but be careful and always pay attention to what Solo tells you, because you might be in a failsafe mode and not know it.

iOS update 1.01

We’ve also made a couple of important updates to the iOS app. Perhaps most importantly, the live video feed sometimes wouldn’t work for some users; but now it will.

Also, we’ve fixed the bugs responsible for app crashes. Do remember, though, that there’s nothing wrong with the copter if the app crashes—Solo will just pause in place and hover while you restart the app.

Android 1.0.1

We’ve updated Android to accommodate Samsung Tablet S and S Pro.

Here’s the workflow for executing the new update:




*To practice FLY:Manual, enable “advanced flight modes” in the app settings. Then go to Solo settings and set “FLY:Manual” to the “A” or “B” button. Now when you want to switch into manual mode all you have to do is press A (or B), and you’re there.

The post New Solo Update appeared first on 3DR | Drone & UAV Technology.

via New Solo Update

New AI Safety Projects Get Funding from Elon Musk

Select research aimed at keeping AI from destroying humanity has received millions from the Silicon Valley pioneer
via New AI Safety Projects Get Funding from Elon Musk

Novel Wings and Jet Thrusters for Swimming, Flying Robots

Robots that can make it from air to water and back again need some novel propulsion designs
via Novel Wings and Jet Thrusters for Swimming, Flying Robots

This Week: Drone versus shotgun; FAA versus NFL; robobees versus pollen; Tom Cruise versus drones; all of us versus that fake viral video

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Question of the week 

Shotguns. Snoops. Surveillance. So many stories in recent weeks have been calling attention to the public’s growing skepticism of drone technology. As a company on the advancing edge, we understand and anticipate this kind of resistance to new technology as natural. We also see it as our mission to help relieve the stress of this skepticism with the massage of messaging.

As you read through the stories this week, which seem to strike you as raising particularly pertinent worries, or as patently ridiculous ones? What would you say in response to these stories, and to the concerns they raise?

I’m interested in your commentary on this week’s collection. Leave your remarks below!

And now, the links that matter:



“When you fly…we CAN’T!” So went a tweet from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection after a consumer drone grounded firefighting helicopters preparing to execute water drops on a wildfire. A drone in the vicinity “Puts our pilots lives at risk,” they continued. (LA Times)

In New York, Dave Beesmer (aka “Front Row Dave”) was acquitted of using his drone to “spy” on a hospital. He was taking pictures of the structure to give to the hospital for promotional materials. The ruling is significant in that existing privacy laws were brought to bear on drone technology, resulting not in the conviction but the acquittal of the accused. (Daily Freeman)

Wimbledrone: Authorities noticed a drone flying over the Wimbledon grounds last week and seized it for “flying within 50m of a structure.” They tracked the operator down, who was piloting from a nearby golf course. Wimbledon begins this week. (BBC)

A drone was reported in a near-miss at London’s Heathrow Airport. The UK Airprox Board said they never found the pilot of the device—which they say could have been a balloon, but was most likely a drone. The device was reportedly sighted at 1,700 feet, well above the UK’s 400-foot limit. (The Standard)

Boston will ban drones for its 4th of July events—not even the police will be allowed to fly. (Fortune)


Analysis and culture

I regret that the best details don’t fit here, but trust that this full story won’t let you down. Last November a man in rural California used a shotgun to take down his neighbor’s drone, saying he thought it was a “CIA surveillance device.” The drone owner sued for damages—the drone was over his own property—and this week was rewarded in full. (Ars Technica)

In Australia, news broke earlier this year about the horrific and rampant “live-baiting” of greyhounds in the dog racing business. Racing Queensland—the state’s racing authority—will use drones to help monitor the properties where greyhounds are raised and trained. Racing Queensland already uses drones to film some races, and so have discovered this second valuable use. (Business Insider)

Dronegate? In a confluence of everybody’s favorite American organizations, the FAA is looking into three NFL teams—the Cowboys, Giants and Patriots—for using drones to film their practices without obtaining the official exemptions necessary. (NBC) 

The Washington Post asks, “Do drones make sense for farming?” “It’s been very hard for farmers to conceptualize savings and an increase in their production from UAV technology,” said PrecisionHawk communications director Lia Reich. “We really wanted to help give a deep dive into understanding that return that farmers have for a UAV investment that a lot of farmers see as a large investment at this point.” Some claim that drones can reduce farming inputs by 20% and increase output by 20%.

Drones might finally silence those awful blueberry cannons once and for all. Blueberry farmers in Vancouver want to use drones to keep the birds at bay during harvest: “We want it to fly around, scare the daylights out of the birds—especially the starlings—and keep them nervous enough to stay away during harvest,” said Baumann. Currently the cheapest way to keep birds out of the berries is by firing loud blasts from propane cannons. Nearby towns have protested the cannons, which can be quite loud, but the ministry of agriculture allows them to be fired about every five minutes from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. during harvest season, which can last more than three months. (Vancouver Sun)


High Tech

This surging anti-drone privacy movement means that drone detection—using audio, radio, thermal and video tracking—could be big business. (Tech.Co)

But all you expert pilots out there might also be hearing that old “ka-ching,” yourselves: Fly4Me, an “Uber for drones,” got the nod from the FAA earlier this year and launched in beta this past week. Fly4Me pairs experienced drone pilots with people who need drone services. (Popular Science)

A drone that can survive the arctic. Laval University’s “Argo” drone can survive the extreme conditions of the Arctic Ocean, diving to depths of almost 2,000 m to collect data about marine life. Scientists believe that Argo will improve our understanding of the Arctic marine ecosystem and help us track the effects of climate change. (

May the open source be with you: Now you can 3D print your own Millennium Falcon drone. (



Here’s a drone flythrough of an enormous Japanese solar power plant. (RT)

Remember that viral video from last week, the one with a drone ripping the wingtip off of a commercial airliner? Well, it was fake—essentially an ad for a VFX studio—and this is how they did it. (YouTube)

And I don’t know where else to put this. Doesn’t really fit under “culture.” But here: Tom Cruise will apparently reprise his role as “Maverick” in the Top Gun sequel, which pits the aging pilot (in aging planes) against drones. The script is currently in the hands of Justin Marks, whom you probably remember as the writer of Street Fighter II: The Legend of Chun-Li. You can be my wingunmanned-aerial-vehicle anytime. (Rolling Stone)

The post This Week: Drone versus shotgun; FAA versus NFL; robobees versus pollen; Tom Cruise versus drones; all of us versus that fake viral video appeared first on 3DR | Drone & UAV Technology.

via This Week: Drone versus shotgun; FAA versus NFL; robobees versus pollen; Tom Cruise versus drones; all of us versus that fake viral video

Parrot Unveils a Hydrofoil Drone

The French company takes to the water for the first time as it shows off upgrades to its line of mini-drones
via Parrot Unveils a Hydrofoil Drone
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