Saturday, August 24, 2013

Drone news from around the world!

Yesterday I drove a bit north of town to bid on cleaning some house windows there and was startled by what sounded like a plane about to crash-land. The house I was looking at was surrounded by some pretty tall oaks so for a few minutes I couldn't make out what was happening. Then, as I heard the plane come back closer to me, it dawned on me that it was probably a crop-duster, spreading herbicide, etc. over a corn field just beyond those oak trees.

And this got me thinking about UAVs.

Without researching the topic much, I'd have to guess that more than a few crop-dusting adventurers have died in the process of ridding cornfields of nasty weeds and assorted creep-crawlies. It should not be hard to control a crop-dusting plane much like Predator drones are being controlled in Afghanistan, etc. Oh sure, that old prop-plane can't be used for much besides sight-seeing and spreading chemicals, but what's the point in endangering one's life when it simply is not necessary anymore?

Anyway ...

Things are getting interesting in the Great Bear state.

Pranksters are going to great lengths to install road signs that warn drivers of aerial drone surveillance. Of course, it just isn't true. But the fact that the steel signs have been made to look and feel just like the ones installed by the highway authority begs the question: who's got the cash laying around -- as well as the time -- to propagate such a practical joke?

Have "drone wars" really been going on that long?

A few weeks ago the 23rd annual International Aerial Robotics Competition commenced in both China and in the US of A. What made this year's contest a bit more interesting is something called "Mission Six." This UAV-centered activity entails creating havoc in the Eurasian banking system. Scary stuff, right?

I don't know ... with the news of the National Security Agency keeping tabs on nearly everything that's hit the Intrawebz in the past five years, nothing related to the over-reaching arms of technology frightens me anymore.

Back in the late '90's, I agreed to help a guy get a handle on his lawn-care business. This summertime adventure offered me a little extra cash as well as some much-needed exercise. It also required that I do battle with a boisterous gaggle of Canadian geese that would not relinquish control of a suburban sub-division small-lake dam. Each week upon arriving there to mow the grass on that dam, those infernal beasts protested mightily, a few of them even to the point of chasing me down! Needless to say, I looked up into the hot summertime sky and pleaded for intervention ... but it never came.

Too bad this guy wasn't around at the time!

Flocks of Canadian geese, along with seagulls, have been causing problems around airports for decades. Of course, it would not be a good idea to use UAVs in those places to control these pesky creatures. But to curtail their evil practices any place else they choose to congregate?

What a great idea!

Now to wrap up this little "drones-around-the-world" post ...

Wasn't there a James Bond movie that had some robotic dolphins in it? Or did they make an appearance in one of these wonderful films?

Not the same as aerial drones, marine drones (not really robotic dolphins) have been in the news lately. A half-dozen or so European countries have colluded to engineer some unmanned underwater robots. According to the director of this venture, underwater robots aren't new; developing a fleet of self-thinking, problem-solving mini-submarines definitely is!

Like a school of dolphins, these UUV's (underwater unmanned vehicles) can't rely on radio signals to coordinate their missions; they instead must use sonar. Right now, the largest squad of marine robots is only 5 but the plan is to have dozens -- if not more -- traversing the deep blue ... someday.

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