MIT's Smartphone Laser Scanner Is Totally Decent and Costs $49

This laser distance sensor works outside and is upgradeable with your smartphone
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Solo for Photography – Interview with @aerialskylab


How did you get started flying drones?

I’ve always had a passion for aviation and robotics. I was doing some video production work for a company called Creative Live in Seattle. During that shoot I met the super talented Nikon-sponsored photographer/cinematographer Corey Rich. That day one of his team members had a custom-built octo to carry the just-launched Nikon J1. I spent the rest of the day picking the pilot’s brain. I flew back home and ordered my first multirotor kit to learn how to build and tune drones.


When you’re shooting to create a panorama, what GoPro settings do you use?

I use a combination of settings depending on location.

I mostly run Protune with flat color.

ISO at the lowest possible setting to get proper exposure and higher shutter speeds.

Color balance to match the environment.

For sunsets I prefer to use 5500k; nighttime or cloudy days I’ll sometimes use 3300.


Any tips and tricks for users on composition?

Use the rule of thirds.

I personally use the “one point perspective” (also known as symmetrical framing; made famous by Stanley Kubrick) when I’m composing shots or cropping in post.


How do you space your photos for proper pano framing?

The technique I use is a term I coined, called “the 25 percent rule.” When framing the next shot in a pano series, I only rotate the copter enough to add 25% more information. This allows more overlap for the stitch software to use. It also gives some extra frames to choose from.


What software do you use for stitching panoramas?

I use Adobe Lightroom CC and Photoshop CC. For most shots I use Lightroom’s Photo Merge feature, but if I have a more complex pano that requires some perspective tweaks I’ll use Photoshop.


Any tips or tricks on getting a great stitch?

Take more photos than you need.

Pay attention to exposure shifts, and wait for the GoPro exposure to level out if you’re using auto settings.

It helps to use vertical features on either side to frame your pano.


What other post-processing do you do once the stitch is completed?

I tweak exposure and color levels, and use light sharpening to bring out the details. To even out the images I use graduated exposure filters.


Any other editing/tips tricks you can share with our users?

Apply lens correction before the stitch.  

Wait for the right moment.

You can make panos from 4k video stills using Adobe Premiere frame grab.


Strangest story/encounter/demo experience with Solo?  

Solo got attacked by a swarm of bees. I had to land about 200ft away and wait 30 mins for the bees to stop swarming the drone. I had bee guts and pollen spattered on the props and body.  I think I chopped up a few bees.


For more shots, check out

The post Solo for Photography – Interview with @aerialskylab appeared first on 3DR | Drone & UAV Technology.

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Documentary Storytelling with Solo

We recently sat down with Kelly Webster, the team’s post-production supervisor of all of our documentary style videos, to discuss not only her approach and techniques in assembling and footage but also to give insight to other filmmakers into constructing a story from troves of video and audio content.

Q: How did you get your start in documentary filmmaking and editing?

Kelly: The first documentaries I worked on were indie films, and I was an assistant editor on a number of those projects. I worked on several of these early in my career and learned how to organize tons — and I mean TONS — of footage, both on my computer and in my mind. I found that mental organization is incredibly important. Going through that much footage requires you to recall shots in an order that will tell the story, or, even more complex, possibly discover a new one. Directors have a number of shots they prefer to use and learning these allowed me to help build out my edits in different ways to evoke certain emotional responses. This is crucial to powerful storytelling.

The first project that I had the chance to work on with 3DR was the “Solo over Sicily” documentary, which was a lengthy but satisfying piece. It was my first experience working with Solo footage, and my introduction to Smart Shots. I’d worked with drone footage in the past, but I found that Smart Shots created really engaging footage, and that was refreshing to work with. What I really liked about this particular video was the story-arc of the Italian director learning and mastering Solo for his own personal work. At first he seemed unsure of using drones, as he was a traditional filmmaker, but after a week of using it you can really see his excitement with every shot he captured. I always try to find an emotional element that people can relate to in my videos, and telling his story in particular helped me understand what was really special about 3DR.



Q: How many documentaries have you worked on with the team at 3DR and what’s coming for future projects?

Kelly: We’ve created five short documentaries so far. With the “Life After Gravity” series, each video had its own corresponding “Field Notes” video that went beyond the episode and walked you through the Smart Shots that we used for our specific sci-fi design. These were cool to make because each episode features a different director, and each director had their own different corresponding style.

Our “Miami Art Week” documentary explores our week at Art Basel following around a mobile art truck. This was an awesome collaboration because it was a fast-paced project with multiple locations each day, and Solo was really the perfect tool to capture all the action.

With most of our shoots, we like to release behind-the-scenes videos revealing how we created the shots. This helps us make it transparent for other drone pilots – we don’t just want to wow our audience, but also teach them how to use Solo as a secondary pilot to create truly cinematic video. We’ve got four documentaries in the works at the moment. We’re never working on only one project at a time. What I’m working on now focuses on the versatility of Solo as a tool for different types of industries.

Q: What’s your overall process from start to finish? Does the process vary from one doc type to another?

Kelly: Several factors influence my workflow. I first have to find out who the storyteller is. This drives the storyline, whether it’s more of an educational film or a journey we’re going to experience with the narrator. So sometimes it’s a narrative, other times it’s a recorded voiceover, but going through that audio and constructing the storyline creates my foundation for the piece. From there I go through the video footage, that includes the drone footage, ground DSLR, and B-roll. It’s a ton of footage. My edit only really begins once I’ve constructed my storyline and have all my best footage selections organized. At this point, I’ve already familiarized myself with the footage, and it becomes much easier to know which shots pertain to each moment the narrator describes. I always keep my eyes open for any hidden representation of the storyline, too. Often I’ll find footage that perfectly conveys a moment or sentiment that wasn’t even intentionally produced. Sometimes I’ll find there’s a story beyond what the narrator reveals, too, and finding those emotional moments or natural metaphors can really push the story into a whole new direction.

For our use, what really makes a video pop is finding the right audio track to complement the feel of the piece. The music will always complete the construction for me; that’s when I really start to feel the energy of the piece. It’s also the part of the process that usually takes me the longest. I know exactly what it is I’m looking for, but it takes time to find the perfect licensable song. One trick I’ve found is to contact the band’s manager directly to negotiate a fair cost along with cross-promotion with the video. You can find some great original and affordable music this way, and create stronger relationships to use in the future for an original composition. Finally, our team puts all of the finishing touches together with sound design, post production, and graphics to complete the video.


Q: When editing and working with the interviews in the pieces, how do you keep the original intent of the narrative?

Kelly: I’ll usually listen to the entire interview before making any of my selections. When I do begin to cut the interviews, I lay out the order of the story first: How do we begin, what is the objective, were there risks or surprises (usually yes!) and how were they handled, how did aerials influence the shoot, and what did we learn? Once the full arc is laid out, I’ll go back to make it more concise, make sure there aren’t any redundancies, and that important moments are highlighted. Of course, the full process varies depending on the shoot and direction of the piece.

Q: A ton of work goes into editing after the shoot. How do you decide what makes it in and what doesn’t?

Kelly: When I’m going through footage, I’m usually partial to camera movement, framing, timing and of course how it corresponds to the story. My top picks almost always have a striking subject in the shot: a sunset, perfect line structure, color formations, abstract shapes; anything thoughtful and cinematically composed. When it comes to timing, my eye will automatically catch parallax motions, revealing shots and dynamic movements. These shots really help the videos pop.

I love whenever Solo helps tell the story with movement, like an action that comes in the middle of an Orbit, or a scene introduced with a Cable cam tilt, or a location expanded with a Selfie reveal. Those are my absolute favorite types of shots to work with. But there always has to be a nice flow to the edit, so if you are using a very intricate shot, it’s nice to follow up with something that grounds the documentary with some structure. Many of my edits at 3DR are made exclusively with drone footage, so finding a nice flow with the movement and composition is really what makes it work.

Q: How do the aerial shots lend themselves to telling the stories that you’ve put together?

Kelly: The aerial shots we use are always unique to each piece: “beauty” shots for a travel or action reel; introductory shots to a location or character that pushes the story forward; they educate through their construction, or they bring a surprising, new element into play. These kinds of shots truly make my job inspiring! Our team has traveled all over the world with Solo to capture video footage, and sometimes viewing it makes me feel like I was there, too. I’ve seen some really magnificent shots that Solo has captured in the most exotic locations.

Aerial footage can also really amplify the production value of any edit because not only are you getting an elevated scenic shot, but that complex camera movement in the sky can really incite an emotional response, and that helps us connect our stories to the people we’re creating them for.

Q: What’s your documentary style? How do you want people to feel after they’ve watched one of the documentaries?

Kelly: Well, the great thing about working with drone footage is that the views are always so breathtaking that they provide an extra element of wonderment. So before releasing any videos, we share them internally, and we know we’ve hit the mark when we feel a sentimental connection to the work. And this approach really complements my own style, which usually revolves around trying to find some kind of conflict/resolution or illuminating a certain aspect of the subject to teach something more. I guess I developed this after years of working odd editing jobs in reality tv and commercial production, where I never really got much out of the story. Now, when I make videos, I really want to them to be meaningful and leave the viewer with some kind of emotive response.

The post Documentary Storytelling with Solo appeared first on 3DR | Drone & UAV Technology.

via Documentary Storytelling with Solo

2016's Top Ten Tech Cars: Chevrolet Volt

Lighter, faster, and more frugal
via 2016's Top Ten Tech Cars: Chevrolet Volt

Advanced Economies Must Still Make Things

Take away manufacturing and you’re left with...selfies
via Advanced Economies Must Still Make Things

Tiny Little Multi-Modal Picobug Walks, Flies, Grabs Stuff

This adorable little robot is as versatile as a bird or an insect
via Tiny Little Multi-Modal Picobug Walks, Flies, Grabs Stuff

2016's Top Ten Tech Cars: Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell

Fill ’er up— with hydrogen
via 2016's Top Ten Tech Cars: Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell

2016's Top Ten Tech Cars: Ferrari 488 Spider

No more natural breathing
via 2016's Top Ten Tech Cars: Ferrari 488 Spider

2016's Top Ten Tech Cars: BMW 7 Series

Bells and semiautonomous whistles
via 2016's Top Ten Tech Cars: BMW 7 Series

Rise of the robots will harm the Earth as well as humans | Letters

Robots consume huge amounts of energy and materials

Your article worrying about a near future in which robots have displaced humans from many jobs fails to worry about the environmental collateral damage from any such displacement (“I am a robot. I’m also a lawyer, a nurse, a waiter and a teacher”, In Focus).

The rise of the robots is a problem not just because of the immediate human cost, but because robots are fantastically energy-hungry and thus accelerate the unsustainable, insupportable damage we are doing to Earth. Moore’s Law, which says that the number of transistors on a microprocessor chip will double every couple of years, is about to run into the buffers: within five years, the working parts of computers will become so small that they start to become vulnerable to quantum instabilities. Thus, continuing to increase the computing power of robots is going to require much more energy in the future. (And remember: as computer parts get smaller, they also become more impracticable to recycle.)  

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via Rise of the robots will harm the Earth as well as humans | Letters

Announcing Our New President: Jeevan Kalanithi

We’re excited to announce today that Jeevan Kalanithi was promoted to President of 3DR. Previously Jeevan served as our Chief Product Officer, responsible for our core products and emerging technology divisions. As everyone at 3DR can attest, Jeevan has grown to become much more than just the head of our product group; he is a leader in the company, able to identify, navigate and guide teams through the challenges and opportunities presented to 3DR in the nascent drone industry.

Jeevan will join co-founder and CEO Chris Anderson on 3DR’s board, and Chris’ focus will shift primarily to high-level strategy, public impact and global regulation efforts for the drone industry. This change comes as 3DR doubles down on our commitment to the enterprise drone space in addition to our core consumer Solo product line. As such, the company is expanding in several directions, from our cloud partner ecosystem and enterprise market exploration to exemplary regulatory leadership. With our recent announcement of Site Scan, 3DR is now able to publicly demonstrate its impact in the enterprise space.

Throughout 2016, 3DR will also be consolidating all its U.S. operations to our newly expanded Berkeley, CA, headquarters. Having all departments under the same roof will allow for much more rapid innovation and even better products for our customers. Since first opening our remote Austin office we’d hoped we could eventually bring our team together, and we’re excited to see this become a reality.


More announcements coming soon —we think you will all be excited about the products and features coming from 3DR in the near future.

The post Announcing Our New President: Jeevan Kalanithi appeared first on 3DR | Drone & UAV Technology.

via Announcing Our New President: Jeevan Kalanithi

The end of cars is coming, so what will happen to the petrolheads?

Driverless cars are on their way but how will Australia’s car-obsessed culture give way to shared ownership, automated traffic and H plates?

Prof Andry Rakotonirainy is worried.

The Queensland University of Technology (QUT) expert in intelligent transport systems and human factors believes that a road network full of self-driving cars will be far safer than today’s human-directed traffic, but what has him concerned is how to make the transition.

Related: Volvo to test autonomous cars with ordinary drivers on public roads by 2017

Related: Your next car will be hacked. Will autonomous vehicles be worth it?

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via The end of cars is coming, so what will happen to the petrolheads?

Robo-Recycling: Apple’s Liam Robot Is Ready to Take Your iPhone Apart

Apple kicked off today’s event by introducing a free recycling program, and Liam, its California-developed robot that will take old phones apart
via Robo-Recycling: Apple’s Liam Robot Is Ready to Take Your iPhone Apart

Skydio's Camera Drone Finally Delivers on Autonomous Flying Promises

This prototype drone can follow a cyclist down a forest trail, which is a skill we've never seen demonstrated before
via Skydio's Camera Drone Finally Delivers on Autonomous Flying Promises

If consciousness is an algorithm, then a robot can be conscious | Letters

Ethical dilemmas may arrive sooner than we think

Rapid advances in artificial intelligence technology are raising ethical questions, as pointed out by Dr Jason Millar (“The momentous advance in artificial intelligence demands a new set of ethics”, Comment).

He asks whether it is desirable to develop autonomous systems that operate beyond human control. Other ethical dilemmas may arise sooner than we think. While many have poured scorn on the idea that robots could possess consciousness, if consciousness can be interpreted as an algorithm – a series of logical cause-and-effect statements – then, because the output of an algorithm is platform-independent, there is no reason in principle why that algorithm should not operate in a robot.

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via If consciousness is an algorithm, then a robot can be conscious | Letters

Computers might beat us at board games, but that doesn’t mean they’ll take over the world

So computers can now beat humans at Go – but why would they swap their game pieces for bombs?

‘AlphaGo” is the sort of supercomputer name a pulp science fiction novelist might come up with. Nevertheless, the achievements of this Google DeepMind machine are only too real. It has become the first computer program to beat a professional human player of the Chinese strategy game Go, without handicaps, on a full‑sized 19×19 board.

It shouldn’t surprise us when computers beat humans at board games. They can, after all, store and rapidly analyse hundreds of millions of moves, and work out the implications of strategies hundreds of moves ahead, something no merely human player can manage. But AlphaGo is different. Experts in Go strategy report that it (I initially wrote “he” …) played in non‑obvious ways, making unusual, sly and even bizarre moves that only belatedly revealed themselves as tactically worthwhile.

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via Computers might beat us at board games, but that doesn’t mean they’ll take over the world

Welcome to the robot-based workforce: will your job become automated too?

From waitstaff to care companions and legal researchers, the future of the machine worker is here. But where does that leave humans

“It’s pure magic,” Eatsa promises.

At San Francisco’s first fully automated restaurant, meals appear in little glass cubbies, just 90 seconds after customers order and pay on wall-mounted iPads. It’s a human-less experience – no waitstaff, no cashier, no one to get your order wrong and no one to tip.

Related: Would you bet against sex robots? AI 'could leave half of world unemployed'

I can see mass unemployment on the horizon as the robotics revolution takes hold

But if Mabu can be better at being human than humans can, what is left for us?

Related: Robot carers for elderly people are ‘another way of dying even more miserably’

Related: The momentous advance in artificial intelligence demands a new set of ethics | Jason Millar

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via Welcome to the robot-based workforce: will your job become automated too?

Video Friday: Autonomous Pizza Delivery, Handwriting Robot, and ROS Master

Your weekly selection of awesome robot videos
via Video Friday: Autonomous Pizza Delivery, Handwriting Robot, and ROS Master

CeBIT 2016: Terabee’s Range Sensor Helps Make Drones Fast, Cheap, and Under Control

The TeraRanger One is a maker-friendly, high-speed, high-precision sensor born in the radiation-filled tunnels of the Large Hadron Collider
via CeBIT 2016: Terabee’s Range Sensor Helps Make Drones Fast, Cheap, and Under Control

Robot maker Boston Dynamics put up for sale by Google, reports say

Firm failed to integrate with the wider Google workforce, and its ‘terrifying’ robots sparked concern about negative press

Google is looking to sell robotics firm Boston Dynamics after concluding that it’s unlikely to produce any marketable robot in the next few years, according to people familiar with the company who spoke to Bloomberg News.

Boston Dynamics has become famous for its impressive (and impressively creepy) videos featuring it torturing its robotic creations with pushes, kicks, shoves and heavy weights, to demonstrate their versatility and reliability.

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via Robot maker Boston Dynamics put up for sale by Google, reports say

Domino’s unveil 'world’s first' pizza delivery robot

Australian fast-food retailer convert military robot into Domino’s Robotic Unit, which could spell the beginning of the end of the pizza delivery boy

Pizza company Domino’s Australia has turned a military robot into a pizza delivery droid.

DRU, Domino’s Robotic Unit, a prototype of what Domino’s says is the world’s first autonomous pizza delivery vehicle, was unveiled in Brisbane on Thursday night.

Related: Are drones really on the verge of delivering packages to your doorstep?

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via Domino’s unveil 'world’s first' pizza delivery robot

Why AlphaGo Is Not AI

Google DeepMind's artificial intelligence AlphaGo is a big advance but it will not get us to strong AI
via Why AlphaGo Is Not AI

Simone Giertz: the YouTube star who builds everyday robots that don't work

The Swedish inventor, called ‘the queen of shitty robots’, has attracted thousands of followers with her quirky contraptions for eating cereal or wearing lipstick

Known as “the queen of shitty robots”, Swedish inventor Simone Giertz builds robots to help with everyday activities - except, they don’t work.

The 25-year-old lives on a houseboat in Stockholm and runs a highly successful YouTube channel with 124,000 subscribers, where she posts videos of her surreal and hilarious contraptions, such as robots to feed her cereal, put on her lipstick and chop vegetables.

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via Simone Giertz: the YouTube star who builds everyday robots that don't work

CeBIT 2016: The Aerotain Skye Could Be Your Friendly Floating Camera Drone

ETH Zurich spin-off Aerotain has created the most agile balloon you’ve ever seen
via CeBIT 2016: The Aerotain Skye Could Be Your Friendly Floating Camera Drone
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