Robots and dinosaurs as Japan holds 'Niconico' offline gala

Robots and dinosaurs mingled with cosplayers as Japan's largest video-sharing website Niconico on Saturday opened its two-day meet-up gala which is expected to attract more than 100,000 fans for the offline get together.
via Robots and dinosaurs as Japan holds 'Niconico' offline gala

Tiny robots climb walls carrying more than 100 times their weight

The two robots borrow techniques from both inchworms and geckos to climb up walls while carrying huge loads

via Tiny robots climb walls carrying more than 100 times their weight

Video Friday: Sphero Droid, Drone Jogging, and Robot Feeds You Marshmallows

Your weekly dose of robot videos is here
via Video Friday: Sphero Droid, Drone Jogging, and Robot Feeds You Marshmallows

Will the Whill Hi-Tech Wheelchair Sell?

A Japanese startup is betting that an aging population of tech savvy first adopters will want their super-wheelchair
via Will the Whill Hi-Tech Wheelchair Sell?

Battle lines drawn around the legality of 'killer robots'

The future of lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS) – often referred to in the popular press as "killer robots" – remains uncertain following a week-long meeting in Geneva to discuss their legality.
via Battle lines drawn around the legality of 'killer robots'

Solo: The drone made for beginners; made for pros; and made for GoPros

Why GoPro, you ask? Well…

When we designed Solo, we didn’t want to be handcuffed to any tradition, no matter how deeply ingrained. For instance, up until now all 3DR platforms, in accord with our rich open source tradition, were optimized only for Android mobile devices; Solo marks a big departure here—the advent of our first (and very cool) app with both iOS and Android support. We also completely rethought our visual ID and branding, then deconstructed the clunky and complex RC tradition and created an entirely new type of controller. Further, we revised the entire drone user experience: No longer is it centered around flight (looking up), but around making flight so easy and effortless that it’s almost forgettable, all in service of consistently getting perfect shots (looking back down)—in every sense a true re-vision.

So naturally we gave a lot of thought to the type of camera Solo would carry. On one level, it seems patently obvious that Solo, like the IRIS+ before it, should be made for GoPro. When we went out and actually asked drone users about this we found that GoPro is the camera they most want to put in the air—50:1. There’s simply no better sub-100g camera on the market. This is important to us as manufacturers because lightweight cameras mean lightweight overall systems, which in turn means they’re safer, more portable and more convenient to shoot with. And it’s actually thanks to the size and popularity of GoPros that drone photography was able to evolve at such a rapid, almost epidemic pace in the first place. Tough, dependable, affordable, lightweight and able to shoot extremely high quality video in up to 4K: GoPros seem like they were ready-made for drones, right? …


But that doesn’t necessarily mean a drone should be ready-made for a GoPro. We’re engineers, technologically agnostic: We don’t take anything for granted, and we didn’t want to discount any options.

Among these options was making our own camera, one perfectly matched to our platform, one Solo could fully control inside and out. But we knew that we—a drone company—couldn’t produce a camera that could touch the quality or reliability that you get from a GoPro, a company with years and years at the top of the action camera market, and who defines the leading edge of camera technology. To think otherwise would be hubristic. Plus, people want to use their GoPros—they’re incredible cameras, a trusted name with good reason—and they keep getting better. We didn’t want to impose a new and unfamiliar camera on the user experience, and in the 3DR spirit we wanted to keep Solo receptive to future advancements in camera technology.

We also didn’t want to handcuff you to a drone, making you buy a whole new drone just to get better camera features—as GoPros get better, your drone should get better. Speaking of being handcuffed, with GoPro, you’re not dealing with a camera that’s just fixed to your drone. GoPros are renowned for versatility and durability—use them anywhere, even underwater, to film almost anything. Pop one on your drone and just pop it off again when you want to shoot something else.

Alternatively, we could have chosen to make Solo a platform for high-end cameras. While image quality would improve, this option would make Solo a more exclusive product, at a price point out of reach for most people. We’re a democratic company and we designed Solo to make a pro-quality aerial photography experience easy and accessible for everyone, so that was a no-go, too.

But what about the fisheye factor—and losing image quality due to the necessary compression in post-production? This really isn’t much of a worry. GoPros deliver such high quality imagery that even Hollywood production houses use them regularly—even Michael Bay’s movies. If they’re good enough for Hollywood—and the image quality survives all of the compression that Bay’s super high-tech and demanding post-production process must heap on it—then they’re good enough, period. After all, GoPro HERO4 Black has you covered all the way up to 4k. And as for the fisheye effect, that’s a quick and easy fix in the free GoPro Studio software that comes bundled with your GoPro.

How easy, you ask? This easy.


But to keep ourselves open to new ideas, rather than closed to one camera in particular, we decided to keep Solo’s gimbal bay open so that we—or any third party—could develop new gimbals for other cameras and sensors, giving them access to all of Solo’s capabilities and intelligence. Want to fly that new BlackMagic action camera? You won’t need to buy a whole new Solo BlackMagic.

Lastly, we could have sought to partner with another company to make Solo a perfectly tailored platform for another camera model. But GoPro is trusted, GoPro is everywhere, GoPro is growing, GoPro is the best.

It had to be GoPro. For a smart drone, this was a no-brainer.

But GoPro drone photography still hadn’t yet been perfected. If we wanted to deliver the best all-around aerial photography experience, there were some pretty big gaps we had to address: You can’t start and stop recording GoPros while you fly; you can’t choose when to snap photos while you fly; you can’t adjust camera settings while you fly, and you can’t charge your camera battery, either; and maybe the biggest gap of all, you can’t get a wireless HD feed direct from your GoPro to your mobile device. And we also wanted you to be able to record this live feed directly to your device’s camera roll for instant sharing.

To fill these gaps in the best, most robust and complete way that we could, we went straight to the source: GoPro themselves.

We not only chose to optimize Solo for GoPro cameras, we worked directly with GoPro to ensure our users got the fullest experience possible. This led to two things: First, Solo comes with GoPro’s The Frame in the box, so you can attach your GoPro to this vibration-isolated mount and start getting an incredible live HD feed immediately, on day one. But our collaboration also led us to create the Solo Gimbal—the first gimbal with unfettered access to GoPro camera controls, which you can adjust directly through the Solo app, without putting a hitch in your workflow. Now all those gaps mentioned above have been filled:

  • First drone with wireless HD feed from GoPro to mobile
  • First drone with in-flight access to GoPro controls: Change FOV, FPS, exposure, white balance and more.
  • First drone with GoPro start/stop recording in flight
  • First drone to power your GoPro as you fly
  • First drone with HDMI out from GoPro for live broadcast in HD

Now you have full reign of the world’s premiere action camera, and the ability to easily capture smart, smooth and cinematic aerials with professional image quality and clarity, all the way up to recording in 4k. And it only gets better.

This is smart. This is Solo.

The post Solo: The drone made for beginners; made for pros; and made for GoPros appeared first on 3DR | Drone & UAV Technology.

via Solo: The drone made for beginners; made for pros; and made for GoPros

3DR Expands Series C Funding to $64 Million

Today we’re announcing an expansion of our Series C round of financing, from the earlier $50 million to now $64 million. With this expansion in funds we’re also expanding our investor base geographically, with new investors from Asia and Europe leading the additional injection. We’re historically a global organization, springing from an international developer community that is now the world’s largest open robotics community, and with our new drone, Solo, we’re now taking an advanced consumer platform into new international markets. This is just the beginning of a new global future for 3DR.

The additional funding is led by WestSummit Capital, with additional global investors from AsiaEurope and the U.S. participating, including SanDisk Ventures and Atlantic Bridge Ventures. We initiated the Series C financing with $50 million in investment led by Qualcomm Ventures, with Foundry Group, True Ventures, OATV, Mayfield, Shea Ventures. We’ll leverage the expertise and market knowledge from this diverse investor base to lead innovation in the dynamic and rapidly expanding global UAV market.

“3DR’s roots are in a worldwide, open developer community, so creating an equally expansive global organization is a key part of company strategy,” said Chris Anderson, CEO of 3DR. “China is emerging as a world leader in drone technology and production, and many of the innovative companies there are already using 3DR platforms. We see tremendous opportunity to work with investors and experts in these markets to extend that lead and work more closely with innovative young companies.”

“We’re active investors in the Internet of Things market and see huge promise in 3DR as a leader in next-generation robotics,” saidDavid Lam, Managing Director of WestSummit Capital. “IoT is a truly international market where software meets hardware and East meets West, and 3DR has developed an incredibly advanced and globally adopted drone software and hardware platform. WestSummit Capital’s China Value Creation capabilities match perfectly with 3DR’s cross-border business, embracing Silicon Valley innovation, Asian manufacturing, global competition and the global market.”

“We strongly believe in 3DR’s vision in becoming the leading open platform for developers in the drone market. Our investment strategy in the IoT, computer vision and robotics sectors, combined with our presence in the European, American and Asian markets, will complement and support 3DR’s strategy to be a global leader in the burgeoning drone industry,” said Brian Long, General Partner, Atlantic Bridge Ventures.

Read the full press release here.

The post 3DR Expands Series C Funding to $64 Million appeared first on 3DR | Drone & UAV Technology.

via 3DR Expands Series C Funding to $64 Million
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