Manufacturing MakerBots for the Mass Market

How an engineer re-jiggered a 3D printer and its factory to streamline production
via Manufacturing MakerBots for the Mass Market

FAA: Wildfires and Drones Don’t Mix

In response to the recent reports of drones interfering with aerial firefighting operations combatting wildfires in California, the FAA issued a press release yesterday. The gist of it supports the message the firefighters themselves have been delivering, a message we also want to broadcast: If you fly, we can’t.

From the release: “Often a temporary flight restriction (TFR) is put in place around wildfires to protect firefighting aircraft. No one other than the agencies involved in the firefighting effort can fly any manned or unmanned aircraft in such a TFR. Anyone who violates a TFR and endangers the safety of manned aircraft could be subject to civil and/or criminal penalties. Even if there is no TFR, operating a UAS could still pose a hazard to firefighting aircraft and would violate Federal Aviation Regulation.”

At 3DR, we can’t say this strongly enough: Don’t fly anywhere near these wildfires. Even if it seems like you’re in an isolated area, you may be interfering with operations and not know it.

To read the full press release, click here.

The post FAA: Wildfires and Drones Don’t Mix appeared first on 3DR | Drone & UAV Technology.

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Robots Reveal How Water Striders Jump on Water

A tiny robot shows how water striders can jump without sinking
via Robots Reveal How Water Striders Jump on Water

Bill Dabbs obituary

My father, Bill Dabbs, who has died aged 84, played a key role in the development of the car industry in the UK, including the introduction of its first robot.

Bill was born in Southall, London, into a poor family during the Depression, the only boy among eight children. His father, William, suffering from the effects of mustard gas during the first world war, was often unemployed; his mother, Matilda – known as Kathleen – had been in domestic service. In 1940, to keep Bill safe from the London blitz, his parents booked him passage to Canada on the SS City of Benares. Shortly before he was due to leave, they changed their minds; a few days into its voyage, the ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat and 77 evacuee children lost their lives.

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We Should Not Ban ‘Killer Robots,’ and Here’s Why

What we really need is a way of making autonomous armed robots ethical, because we’re not going to be able to prevent them from existing
via We Should Not Ban ‘Killer Robots,’ and Here’s Why

Package Delivery By Drone

Workhorse Group presents its plan for package delivery by drone at NASA Convention
via Package Delivery By Drone

Drone Control: Here’s How Amazon Thinks Drones Should Fit Into U.S. Airspace

Amazon urges FAA to create a drone zone, separating drones within it by speed and capabilities.
via Drone Control: Here’s How Amazon Thinks Drones Should Fit Into U.S. Airspace

This Week: First drone delivery in US; Uber drones drop ice cream; the handgun drone saga; Sir Patrick Stewart sees the future and it’s whale snot

Question of the week

This week saw articles titled like “Seven ways drones are ruining everything” and “The dark side of drones” (from Fortune, no less), not to mention the bizarre, unsettling and still unfolding handgun drone saga. But I spent the week in DC (hence the break in Downloads), attending the New America Foundation’s summit on humanitarian drone efforts: protecting property rights and human rights, fostering global development and enhancing emergency response and disaster relief efforts.

In my lifetime, rarely have I seen the emergence of a new technology that so immediately and dramatically polarizes public debate. The atomic bomb did this on a more profound scale, but not even the rise of the internet saw the emergence of such a disparate public rift between lovers and haters.

So my question: How best do we navigate or resolve such a rift? Can you do better than me and come up with some pertinent analogies of other emergent technologies or movements, whether recent or not, that might offer a model for how this debate should or will develop?

Leave your thoughts for me in the comments below!

And now: The links that mattered this week. (And last week. I was busy.)



Flirtey beats Amazon: Last week drone maker Flirtey and NASA used an APM-powered drone to complete the first government-approved delivery in the US. The drone delivered medicine to rural residents in Wise County, Virginia, as part of a non-profit’s annual free clinic in the poor Appalachian region. In the past, medicine has been delivered by car via rough and remote routes with drive times sometimes topping an hour and a half. (NBC)

But Amazon has its sights set higher: At the NASA UTM conference just this morning, Amazon announced its plans to develop a “drone superhighway” in the sky. The project—basically a new air traffic control system that sections off a stratus of the sky for commercial drones—would ideally help drones sense and avoid each other as well as manned aircraft. (The Verge)

Uber is using drones to deliver ice cream to Singaporeans. Now I love drones—I truly welcome their full potential and am willing to take the good with the bad—but no matter our successes, I would forever deeply regret being part of an industry that killed the ice cream truck. (CNET)

The 18-year-old Connecticut man (yes, legally he’s a man) who built the handgun-firing drone that became a viral sensation has been arrested—for a completely unrelated charge: assaulting a police officer. (The drone itself appears to be completely legal; the application is still a matter of investigation.) He claims he was beaten until he vomited, and says he then awakened “in the hospital stripped naked.” And: You may remember this same guy was assaulted almost exactly a year ago by a woman on a Connecticut beach for flying his drone in public. He also caught that incident on video. (Courant/NY Daily News)

Nicole Swart, a 23-year-old pilot from South Africa, became the first African to receive a drone pilot’s license.

Overreaction? Following incidents where personal drones temporarily grounded aerial firefighting operations, two California lawmakers have introduced a bill that would permit firefighters to destroy any drone interfering with their emergency efforts. (KQED)

The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority launched a campaign to raise public awareness about drone rules and regulations. (CAA)


The lay of the land

Our co-founder Jordi Muñoz was featured in this great piece from CNET on the future of drones: Apps.

One of the best parts of this job is that I get to type sentences such as the following: Sir Patrick Stewart invests in Kickstarter for drone that harvests whale snot. (Beta Boston)

From your own servos to your own services: As commercial drones proliferate, the sector will see a parallel expansion of companies that provide drone services: “Companies that broker drone services could soon be the biggest players in the U.S. commercial drone economy.” (Fortune)

Sony just launched a drone data services business called Aerosense. The joint venture with Japanese robotics company ZMP will use drones to gather aerial data for tasks such as monitoring, survey and inspection.

Drones could help conservationists spot poachers fishing illegally in Costa Rica. (Tico Times)

This week GE is using the live-streaming platform Periscope to host what it’s calling #DRONEWEEK. As part of the campaign, the mega multinational will stream live drone video of its facilities and normally inaccessible installations such as windmills. You can watch the dronecast on @GeneralElectric, with simultaneous interviews and commentary on @GEDronePilot. (Fast Company)


High tech

BioCarbon Engineering, a startup in the UK, has seeded an audacious plan to use drones to plant one billion trees in the Amazon and South Africa over the next decade. BioCarbon claims that two-operator teams flying seven or eight drones simultaneously can plant about 10 pods per minute—roughly 36,000 trees per day per team. BioCarbon projects that 100 of these two-member teams could plant 1 billion trees a year, covering 500,000 hectares. The article notes that “tropical deforestation plays a big role in global climate cycles,” claiming the accelerated pace of cutting and burning of forests accounted for 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the 1990s. (Wired)

A huge congrats to our friends at ConservationDrones for their successful efforts at using drones to locate treetop nests of endangered Chimpanzees in Africa. (—yeah, yeah, I know.) 

And congratulations to our friends at ETH: Their Pixhawk-powered fixed wing solar drone just set a world endurance record of 81 hours. Next challenge: crossing the Atlantic. (DIY Drones) 

Hacking Team, an Italian computing and network company, has apparently developed drone-based WiFi hacking software. (Ars Technica)

Samsung’s betting on a “selfie” drone. (


Commentary and analysis

Last week the New America Foundation hosted a symposium in conjunction with Omidyar to discuss the use of and rules governing the use drones in various humanitarian efforts: protecting property rights, human rights and global development. The text they assembled is thorough and clear, a must read for anyone interested in this space. (

The first national drone FPV racing championship was held last week at the California State Fair. The big winner was Chad Nowak of Brisbane, Australia. Australia has been noted recently for its vibrant drone racing culture. (Quartz)

On August 3rd, the National Telecommunication and Information Agency will host talks about drones and privacy. The Obama administration charged the agency with hosting these discussions back in February. So far it’s unclear how many parties will participate. The NTIA has previously mediated talks of this kind regarding facial recognition software and mobile app privacy with debatable efficacy. (PC World)


Photo and Video

Watch Flirtey’s historic drone delivery. (Re/code)

Check out this amazing video of a volcano erupting underwater off the azure coast of Taiwan. (Daily Mail)

Have you checked out Dronestagram? Instagram with wings.

The post This Week: First drone delivery in US; Uber drones drop ice cream; the handgun drone saga; Sir Patrick Stewart sees the future and it’s whale snot appeared first on 3DR | Drone & UAV Technology.

via This Week: First drone delivery in US; Uber drones drop ice cream; the handgun drone saga; Sir Patrick Stewart sees the future and it’s whale snot

Stanford Students Teach Robots to Play Ping-pong, Land a Drone

If you had a couple of weeks and a robot to program, what would you do?
via Stanford Students Teach Robots to Play Ping-pong, Land a Drone

Musk, Wozniak and Hawking urge ban on AI and autonomous weapons

More than 1,000 experts and leading robotics researchers sign open letter warning of military artificial intelligence arms race

Over 1,000 high-profile artificial intelligence experts and leading researchers have signed an open letter warning of a “military artificial intelligence arms race” and calling for a ban on “offensive autonomous weapons”.

The letter, presented at the International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Buenos Aries, Argentina, was signed by Tesla’s Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, Google DeepMind chief executive Demis Hassabis and professor Stephen Hawking along with 1,000 AI and robotics researchers.

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via Musk, Wozniak and Hawking urge ban on AI and autonomous weapons

Is artificial intelligence the next step in advertising?

Ads that adapt to users reactions could represent the future for engagement with out-of-home campaigns

Artificial intelligence (AI) has rarely been out of the public eye in the past 12 months. Stephen Hawking’s grave warning, Channel 4 drama Humans and big screen outings Ex Machina and Terminator Genysis have all asked questions about the the potential of AI, and what it could mean for humans.

While for some the notion of AI represents a step into science fiction (or at least science future), there are iterations that have real world implications at this moment. This version of AI will probably not bring about downfall of humanity, but rather be used to shape how advertising is created and targeted.

Related: Coding is the key in a world of robot workers

Related: How to prevent creeping artificial intelligence becoming creepy

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via Is artificial intelligence the next step in advertising?

Welcome to MCity, Michigan's ghost town of driverless cars

A 32-acre site recreating Michigan’s roadways is the testing ground for technology that experts hope will be able to cut fatal auto crashes by 80%

For Sebastian, life is destined to be lonely. The short pedestrian will, for now, be the sole resident of a small city located near the University of Michigan’s north campus. He’ll pass time by stepping into oncoming traffic – while others watch on, never warning of an impending crash.

But Sebastian won’t feel pain: he’s a robot, created by students of the university’s engineering school to assist researchers at MCity, a 32-acre environment that opened this week as a safe zone for testing driverless vehicles.

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via Welcome to MCity, Michigan's ghost town of driverless cars

When robots kill

A recent robot-related death in Germany highlights broader dilemmas in the design of safe autonomous systems.

Last month, a robot grabbed a worker at a Volkswagen plant in Germany, crushing and killing him. This tragic though fairly common incident has drawn attention to the growing dangers of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI).

As computers become smaller, smarter, faster and more interconnected, we will delegate more tasks to them. Generally, this will make our lives easier, because we will spend less time researching information, getting directions, or driving cars. Well-designed programs can often do these sorts of tasks better than we can.

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3DR in Fast Company: The future of drones emerges

Our CEO Chris Anderson sits down with Fast Company to discuss how Solo marks a paradigm shift for the drone industry.

“The first phase of our little adventure was getting robots to fly. That was super hard, but we got there,” he says. “The next phase was putting cameras on them, and stabilizing with a gimbal. That was pretty hard, but we got there, too.” What we’re missing, he says, is “the aesthetics of a good shot.”

Solo, in concert with GoPro, is designed to deliver that perfect shot, with very little technical skill on the part of the pilot. “There are these well-established Hollywood conventions about what makes a great shot; they have this combination of classic framing and paths, which are typically done by teams of professionals,” he says. “We turned all that into software.”

Check out what else he has to say about this critical moment in the full article.

The post 3DR in Fast Company: The future of drones emerges appeared first on 3DR | Drone & UAV Technology.

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Windbot Could Float Through the Clouds of Jupiter

A robot powered by turbulence might be the best way to explore gas giants
via Windbot Could Float Through the Clouds of Jupiter

Sony’s next big thing is camera drones

Japanese company partners with autonomous driving startup ZMP to produce drones for surveillance, inspection and measuring

Sony is launching a company to produce camera drones in a partnership with the autonomous driving startup ZMP.

The new drone manufacturer, Aerosense, will use Sony’s imaging, sensing and networking technology from its smartphone range to create aerial surveillance and reconnaissance drones for businesses.

Related: Drone users face jail if they 'recklessly endanger an aircraft in flight'

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via Sony’s next big thing is camera drones

NASA Tests New Robotic Refueling Hardware on International Space Station

Refueling and repairing satellites in orbit could drastically lower costs, and NASA is working to make it happen
via NASA Tests New Robotic Refueling Hardware on International Space Station

Battle of the bots: US blocks Iran and putters ball to glory in RoboCup finals

American robot THORwin, designed by a team from the University of Pennsylvania, won the ‘adult-size humanoid’ category at the annual event

The Iranian bore down on the US, a goal or two away from bringing America to its knees and achieving world domination. America’s sole defender stared ahead, unblinking. There would be no deal with Tehran today.

Thus a team of Americans and their four-and-a-half-foot robot defeated Iran 5-4 in the RoboCup soccer final on Wednesday, denying the Iranians the 2015 title. The victory keeps the geopolitical rivalry heated in at least one arena, even if relations have cooled in the diplomatic one.

Related: RoboCup robot competition – in pictures

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via Battle of the bots: US blocks Iran and putters ball to glory in RoboCup finals

Australia takes first place in robot world cup – video

An Australian team were crowned robot world cup champions at 19th RoboCup games in China on Wednesday, winning a competition that saw teams from around the world battle it out on the football field using the latest in programming technology. The secret to Australia's win this year, says Sean Harris on the team from New South Wales, was speed Continue reading...
via Australia takes first place in robot world cup – video

The Lego prosthetic arm that kids can hack themselves

Carlos Arturo Torres has created a modular system that lets kids customise and programme their own prosthetics – and Lego is only the starting point in the future of toy-based body parts

The amount of time kids spend with their favourite toys, it might sometimes seem as if they have them grafted on to the end of their arms. Soon, this could well be the case, thanks to designs for Lego prosthetics that allow everything from a mechanical digger to a laser-firing spaceship to be screwed on to the end of a child’s limb.

The work of Chicago-based Colombian designer, Carlos Arturo Torres, Iko is a modular system that allows children to customise their own prosthetics with the ease of clicking together plastic bricks. The only limit is their imagination – and what they can find at the bottom of the Lego box.

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Video Friday: Bacteria Driving Robot, Drone With Gun, and Freaky Snakebot

The most exciting place in robotics right now: Video Friday
via Video Friday: Bacteria Driving Robot, Drone With Gun, and Freaky Snakebot

Crash involving self-driving Google car injures three employees

Driverless car hit while stationary in traffic by human driver travelling at 17mph in another vehicle, resulting in the first self-driving car injuries

Three Google employees have been injured in a crash involving one of the company’s self-driving cars.

Google revealed the accident happened on 1 July when its car was rear-ended while stationary on a public road in Mountain View, California.

Related: Two self-driving cars avoid each other on Californian roads

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via Crash involving self-driving Google car injures three employees

Robotic Construction Gets Fancy at ETH Zurich's Digital Fabrication Lab

Bricklaying robots, building structures out of rubble, and creative concrete are all works in progress at ETH Zurich
via Robotic Construction Gets Fancy at ETH Zurich's Digital Fabrication Lab

Drone firing handgun appears in video

Home-made quadcopter capable of firing pistol at least four times while airborne posted on YouTube

A video of a home-made drone firing what appears to be a pistol has been posted onto YouTube.

The video, which cannot be independently verified by the Guardian, appears to show a small calibre handgun strapped to quadcopter with an elongated frame. The author of the video has not replied to requests for comment.

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Japan's robot hotel ready to welcome its first guests – video

A new hotel in south-west Japan is set to open and its robot staff are ready. At the reception of the Henn na – or Weird hotel – a female humanoid welcomes and checks in guests, while an automated trolley takes bags to the room. Facial recognition technology allows guests to enter their room without the hassle of carrying around a hotel key. The hotel is is 'manned' almost entirely by robots in order to save on labour costs Continue reading...
via Japan's robot hotel ready to welcome its first guests – video

Japan's robot hotel: a dinosaur at reception, a machine for room service

The Henn na – or Weird Hotel – has opened in Japan where guests check in with robots which also deliver their luggage to rooms

The English-speaking receptionist is a vicious-looking dinosaur, and the one speaking Japanese is a female humanoid with blinking lashes.

“If you want to check in, push one,” the dinosaur says. The visitor still has to punch a button on the desk and type in information on a touch panel screen.

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via Japan's robot hotel: a dinosaur at reception, a machine for room service

ReWalk Robotics's New Exoskeleton Lets Paraplegic Stroll the Streets of NYC

Yesterday, a paralyzed man strapped on a pair of robotic legs and stepped out a hotel door in midtown Manhattan
via ReWalk Robotics's New Exoskeleton Lets Paraplegic Stroll the Streets of NYC

Mobile Robots and RFID Tags Internet-of-Things-ify the Outdoors

With long-range RFID tags that cost pennies, mobile robots can perform dirt cheap sensing anywhere you want
via Mobile Robots and RFID Tags Internet-of-Things-ify the Outdoors

This Week: Drones at Comic-Con; world’s best drone photos; Google expands driverless car tests; drones at the Golden Gate;

Question of the week

Each week this newsletter curates (hopefully) some of the most interesting drone stories from around the world. But at 3DR, our mission statement is “Help people see their world from above.” Key word: people.

There are obviously many ways to see our world from above, both recreationally and commercially. Drones can support an array of camera types, as well as other sensors that deliver imagery beyond the visual spectrum. This means that obviously many, many cool and interesting individual use cases (and photos and video) go without attracting media coverage each week. So this week I’d like to know how you folks are using—or planning to use—your drones. Photos? Videos? Racing? Gathering data? Tell me about your use cases in the comments section below—and who knows, they may make it into next week’s Download.

And now, the links that mattered this week:



Following an incident where a personal drone grounded a firefighting plane—which cost the US Forest Service $10,000—California lawmakers are introducing legislation to make sure it doesn’t happen again. State representatives have proposed that flying a drone near firefighting activities should carry a fine as well as a potential five years of jail time. (Ars Technica)

Roll over, Saint Bernards: The Swiss postal service has partnered with Matternet to test autonomous drone delivery in the Alps. The drones are intended to deliver emergency supplies over the rugged Swiss terrain in the wake of natural disasters, as well as make other high-priority deliveries, such as lab tests. (Gizmodo)

Drones help pave a new entrance to San Francisco. The billion-dollar project in its final phase shut down Golden Gate traffic over the weekend. (3DR)

The first phase of construction at North Dakota’s groundbreaking “Grand Sky” drone business park is set to begin this week. The first step: A fence. “It’s not very glamorous and it’s not going to be backhoes and bulldozers and things getting knocked down and built,” said Thomas Swoyer Jr., president of Grand Sky Development Corp. “But that security fence is a very symbolic element to go up because it will really define the park space and give us the ability to control our own access to it.” (AP)

A drone reportedly had a near miss with a US Air jet making an approach to Charlotte International Airport. (ABC)

The Philippines granted its first-ever commercial drone license to survey and mapping company SRDC Consulting. (GMA Network)


Culture and commentary

It’s no secret that Japan has been using drones in agriculture for several years. But here’s a look inside that industry from the Financial Times. 

In stark contrast to the choked traffic by the Golden Gate, this weekend also marked California’s first international drone racing competition. “It’s just exploding right now, it’s just going crazy,” said Rob Wright of Los Angeles. “For people who are bored, sitting at their PlayStation who want to finally get out and do something real.” (Daily News)

Here’s a cursory look at what’s going on in the nascent drone investing space. It’s a projected $91 billion industry, but still in its infancy, which means there’s a lack of available stocks outside of big players like AeroVironment. (Investor Place)

Last year as estimated 1200 rhinos were slaughtered in South Africa. Drone technology might offer a way to stop the poaching by identifying hot spots and tracking poachers with night vision. (PRI)

In York, Canada, police will use drones to more efficiently map the scenes of accidents. Currently they use a “detailed electronic mapping process,” which is time-intensive; drones will get traffic moving again. (The Star)


High tech

Pardon me this quick hometown shoutout: Google is now testing driverless cars here in Austin. Well, one car. Not sure if this is the type of weird intended in the “Keep Austin Weird” mantra, but I guess it’ll do. (The Next Web)

At Comic-Con, a flying Snoopy drone hunts the skies for the Red Baron. (Popular Science)

And from the same guy’s workshop, an R2D2 drone. (Gadget Show)


Photo and Video

ICYMI: Here’s NatGeo’s roundup of last week’s winning photos from the global aerial photo contest they sponsored with Dronestagram. Among the winners is “a selfie with sharks.”

There’s nothing wrong with a little shameless self-promotion, right? Maybe not if it’s this cool. Check out these pretty remarkable stills taken this week from a Solo in Norway. (3DR)

The post This Week: Drones at Comic-Con; world’s best drone photos; Google expands driverless car tests; drones at the Golden Gate; appeared first on 3DR | Drone & UAV Technology.

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Drones Help Pave a New Path to the Golden Gate Bridge

Five years ago construction began on San Francisco’s billion-dollar Presidio Parkway project. This weekend, following a monumental effort by construction crews that included shutting down a critical stretch of freeway, and lots of commuter grumbling, the new Presidio Parkway opened to traffic for the first time.

The aim of the Presidio Parkway project was to entirely replace Doyle Drive, the roadway that connects the Golden Gate Bridge to San Francisco and which the Federal Highway Administration had declared “functionally obsolete.” Doyle Drive was originally built in 1936 to coincide with the opening of the Golden Gate. It sits between the San Andreas and Hayward faults, and the FHWA had recently awarded its bridge a functionality rating of 2 out of 100. The Presidio Parkway project that would replace it would eventually take more than five years, consist of a system of alternating bridges and tunnels and cost one billion dollars. Construction also had to account for serious seismic concerns in the area, and had to be accomplished without disrupting the flow of traffic into and out of the city or the fragile and historic Presidio and Golden Gate National Park, which the parkway passed through.

Daunting to say the least.

Enter Tristan Randall and Autodesk. Autodesk makes state-of-the-art design and engineering software that, among many other purposes, helps construction companies visualize and plan complex projects like the Presidio Parkway. Over the past five years the company helped to visualize the schedule and mitigate the environmental impact of the construction. They did this in large part by bringing the physical world back into the digital world—using drones and other laser scanners to generate digital 3D models of the construction phases as they unfolded.

“Our construction clients are obsessed with drones,” Tristan told me. We stood in a lawn at the edge of San Francisco’s Presidio, a campus of red brick barracks and offices, which for over 200 years served as a military base but is now a national park. A Solo humming over our heads, Tristan pointed out the system of bridges and half-buried tunnels, construction workers bustling over them in hard hats and day-glo vests. Tristan also wore a highlighter-yellow construction vest and a hard hat, and he had to speak up to be heard over Solo’s buzz—just as you would imagine the workers were speaking up over the equipment on the parkway.

“These people understand that drones don’t just get aerial images,” he continued. “They can collect all sorts of data that allow us to fully digitize a site—photogrammetry, taking insanely accurate volumetric measurements. With a drone you can monitor what’s happening on-site daily, even hourly, and you can attach that data to schedules that help project managers deconflict and plan ahead. The technology is changing our entire approach to construction.”

When asked about the special challenges of this massive project, Tristan emphasized the environmental impact. “The parkway passes through a national park,” he said. “So we’ve had to take that into account. There are pretty significant biological and seismic elements to consider, too. Preservation.”

I recalled passing a pet cemetery on my ride in—a wedge of weeds and tall grass caught between two onramps and wrapped in orange mesh fencing. The concrete braces of a new bridge passed at about shoulder-height above the tiny tombstones. A small hand-painted sign implored passing traffic to “Preserve the Presidio Pet Cemetery!”

For three days this weekend this same traffic impatiently crawled by the cemetery while the last leg of the project was completed. The new Presidio Parkway opened to traffic yesterday, right on schedule, thanks largely to Austodesk’s exactitude. Over the next year workers will blanket the tunnels with earth, grass and trees, extending the Presidio’s lawn all the way down to the bay and transforming a militaristic freeway into a spectacular parkway and a new entrance to San Francisco.

But you can’t help but look just beyond the park to the Golden Gate and wonder—what about that one?

The billion-dollar Presidio project is just one small chapter in a massive and complicated narrative of our crumbling national infrastructure. The Golden Gate Bridge, for instance, has also been declared “functionally obsolete,” with a structural rating of 11. It sits between the same fault lines that the old Doyle Drive viaduct did.

We have a long and difficult project ahead of us, to say the least. Looking at the bridge ratings, the urgency becomes apparent, and frankly a little unnerving. However, powerful new technology from software companies like Autodesk, in collaboration with the software and hardware of 3DR’s drones, will do a lot to help us get where we need to be faster and safer.

The post Drones Help Pave a New Path to the Golden Gate Bridge appeared first on 3DR | Drone & UAV Technology.

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NASA’s TransFormers Could Make Harsh Lunar Environments Robot Friendly

Robots using mirrors to reflect sunlight at other robots could enable exploration of craters and caves
via NASA’s TransFormers Could Make Harsh Lunar Environments Robot Friendly

Living dolls: sci-fi’s fascination with artificial women

From Pygmalion to Ex Machina, the idea – and the ideal – of building a ‘perfect woman’ has come down through history. A new book explores why

From mechanical dolls to the eponymous Coppélia, the Jetsons’ Rosie to Ex Machina’s beguiling Ava, the lure of technology to create a manifestation of “the perfect woman” has long proved seductive.

But just why are automatons so attractive? And just what is this “perfect woman” anyway? Rounding up a veritable sorority of artificial Eves, Julie Wosk delves into the issues in her latest book My Fair Ladies, casting an analytical eye over female depictions, both physical and fictitious, to explore the history and the future of Woman 2.0.

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Solo Gimbal Update: The stress test shake

Good news! The Solo Gimbal has entered the stress test phase. Enjoy the antics below.

And no change on shipping: Still targeting the end of July!

The post Solo Gimbal Update: The stress test shake appeared first on 3DR | Drone & UAV Technology.

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Powered picnicking to colour-coding robots

Our favourite tech innovations this week include a refreshing new way to share party snaps, and a carry-on briefcase that carries you

This summer ditch the wicker basket and embrace picnic 2.0. Updating alfresco dining for an urban setting, Atelier Teratoma have created the technopicnic, kitting out this portable case (actually a foldable table) with solar panels, bluetooth-connected screen, speakers, silver pillows, lights and even USB ports so you can plug in your phone for a power boost. Commercial versions are in the pipeline, but until they’re available adventurous readers can embark on their own exploratory mission to the Sala Amadis Youth Institute in Madrid, where the technopicnic prototype is on display this month.

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3D-Printed Explosive Jumping Robot Combines Firm and Squishy Parts

With a material that grades from rigid to flexible, this explosive jumping robot can keep on hopping
via 3D-Printed Explosive Jumping Robot Combines Firm and Squishy Parts

How to Edit Great Drone Video: A tip sheet

Here are some pro video editing tips that we’ve garnered over many years of developing and shooting on various drone platforms.

First, remember that the GoPro video editing process begins with the shot—so always try to shoot with your editing workflow in mind. If you want the absolute highest raw resolution with Solo, set your GoPro HERO4 Black to shoot in 4K at 30 frames per second. Keep in mind that this limits your shots to an ultra-wide view, but lens distortion can be removed in post if you really want or need to shoot at this resolution.

However, we’ve learned that shooting drone aerials at 60 frames per second actually makes your shots look butter smooth. Check out our footage from Cabo, shot with Solo on a GoPro HERO4 Black at 60 fps. The motion feels flawless, and required no stabilization in post.

To get this look, set your HERO4 Black to shoot in 2.7k at 60 fps (if you shoot in 4K the size is too large to effectively process; drop resolution to 2.7 and it processes). You’ll also want to set your GoPro field of view to “medium”—meaning you’ll need no barrel correction in post. As a bonus, note that YouTube now allows you to post videos at 60 fps, so when you share this video nothing will change—what you see in post is what your audience gets.

Again, if you just want to shoot the highest raw resolution, shoot in 4k at 30 fps and fix the view and lens distortion in post.

Additionally, you’ll want to set the GoPro’s ISO as low as you can—400—to minimize visual noise. You can crank the ISO for shooting in low light, but the image will be grainy. To dial down this noise, use the Neat Video plugin for Premiere and After Effects—it’s a great noise reduction plugin, and we use it all the time.

Now, tips for post-production:

GoPro Studio

  1. Convert your file through GoPro Studio. The original GoPro file on your SD card is so compressed that it might not play back smoothly on your computer. Converting the file decompresses it and allows the computer to play it back more smoothly. (Note: The file size will be bigger after conversion.)
  2. “Trim the fat.” The “fat” of your shoot is the extra footage from takeoff and landing, which you’ll want to cut before adding the file to the conversion list. This will save you time as you convert the original file. If you’re flying a Solo, though, you won’t need this step, because you can start and stop recording on the fly so you get only the footage you want.
  3. Quality and frame rate. Under “advanced” settings, assign your footage the highest quality and set the frame rate to 23.98p. (You can check the “remember these settings” box so you don’t have to do this every time.)
  4. Fisheye removal. If you want, quickly and easily remove fisheye just by checking the “remove fisheye” box.
  5. Once you have your settings and you’ve trimmed the fat, add the file to the conversion list and click “convert”—this will convert all clips to the specified settings. 


Adobe Premiere

We prefer to edit in Premiere because it works really well with the GoPro codec for post-production.

First, set your project settings to match the footage that you shot—if you shot at 60 fps, then put your Premiere settings that frame rate at 60 fps. You’ll also want to synch your file export settings—basically, your shooting, editing and exporting sizes and frame rates should all align.

Once you’ve got your settings, the editing process is largely just a matter of dragging and dropping and assembling your clips. However, there are some bumps you may hit along the way. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you edit.

  1. If you’ve set your sequence for 1080p, but your GoPro footage is 4k, then your frame will appear to be zoomed in. To rectify, set the scale of your clip to 50% and the clip will then fill the frame as shot.
  2. If you’ve converted footage originally shot in slow motion (120 fps) to 24 fps, when you bring it into Premiere it will play back in slow motion. If you want your footage to play at normal speed, you can speed it back up in Premiere. To change playback speed, right click on your footage and select “speed/duration.”
  3. To stabilize your footage, use Premiere’s “warp stabilizer” effect. Go to your “effects” menu, select “warp stabilizer” and simply drag it onto the clip you want to stabilize—it may take a few minutes to analyze the clip, but then it will stabilize automatically. (Note: There are a ton of advanced settings you can toy with in “warp stabilizer”; however, the defaults usually work best.)
  4. Correcting lens distortion—i.e., fisheye (if you didn’t already in GoPro Studio). Inside the “presets” folder, you’ll find “lens distortion removal” presets for a variety of GoPro cameras. You can drag and drop these onto your clips in the same way you would with warp stabilizer.
  5. Color correction—Color correcting your GoPro footage in Premiere is largely a matter of personal taste. We recommend using Premiere’s “fast color corrector,” available in the “video effects” menu. Just about the only element that’s not a matter of personal taste here is white balance, a setting that corrects for variations in the color of the lighting under your shooting conditions. The easiest way to set white balance is to use the eyedropper and click on a white area of your frame. You can also set white manually by using the color wheel. The fast color corrector also offers a lot of other options for changing the look and feel of your footage—have fun experimenting!
  6. Exporting—When it’s time to export your footage out of Premiere (say, for social sharing), select “export” and you’ll see a settings menu. First select your format; you’ll want to choose H.264, a format that all online video hosting sites and most devices use. Then you’ll need to select your preset. We use YouTube 1080p HD because it strikes a good balance between file size and video quality. Hit “export” and you’re done.

The post How to Edit Great Drone Video: A tip sheet appeared first on 3DR | Drone & UAV Technology.

via How to Edit Great Drone Video: A tip sheet

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