Amazon-branded delivery drones may look to us humans like, well, Amazon-branded delivery drones, [however] they look to birds like … other birds. Encroaching birds. And that’s because, as Slate’s Nicholas Lund points out, birds—especially predatory raptors, your hawks and your eagles and your harriers—are territorial. Our airspace is also, in a very literal way, birdspace, with birds carving up that soaring territory among themselves, defending their celestial turf against would-be interlopers. Not just with an “excuse me, sir, I think you may be in my seat” … but with violence. Those dudes will put a bird on it in the most Darwinian way imaginable.
A Kickstarter project is trying to marry home automation and the Internet of Things. You’ll want one.
Ninja Sphere acts as an intelligent “hub” that connects to the separate devices you already own and helps them communicate with your other home automation gadgets without asking you to pull out your phone unless absolutely necessary. It does this in part by knowing where objects like your phone or your pets are located in relation to you. When a sensor notices some activity—the dog’s Internet-connected collar sends an alert, for example—the Ninja Sphere tries to determine what action to take next.
Since the sphere can keep tabs on virtually any object that you attached a smart tag to, the possibilities become quite intriguing. Place a Bluetooth-enabled smart tag on your jewelry box, for instance. The Ninja Sphere could then detect that the box of valuables is moving, while also sensing that none of the owners’ smartphones are nearby. It would then alert you to a potential theft in progress (or at least that the five-year-old is playing dress up with mom’s best baubles).
The underlying trick is indoor location sensing, a technology that is quietly being installed in places like the Apple Store because it’s useful to know where its shoppers are located and how they navigate around products. Indoor GPS, as it’s sometimes called, could also help you as a smartphone owner navigate an office building you’ve never visited before.
Drone developers are increasingly attempting to mimic the flight mechanics of birds an insects for the next generation of miniature, autonomous aircraft, but one researcher in New York, has found inspiration in the sea rather than the air. Leif Ristroph of New York University is developing a drone that replicates the pulsating motion of the jellyfish as an alternative drive system for future drones. Sharon Reich has more.
Executives at Robert Bosch and McKinsey experts discuss the technology-driven changes that promise to trigger a new industrial revolution. A McKinsey & Company article.
In manufacturing, the potential for cyber-physical systems to improve productivity in the production process and the supply chain is vast. Consider processes that govern themselves, where smart products can take corrective action to avoid damages and where individual parts are automatically replenished. Such technologies already exist and could drive what some German industry leaders call the fourth industrial revolution—following the steam engine, the conveyor belt, and the first phase of IT and automation technology. What opportunities and challenges lie ahead for manufacturers—and what will it take to win? To discuss the future of manufacturing, McKinsey’s Markus Löffler and Andreas Tschiesner recently sat down for a conversation with Siegfried Dais, deputy chairman of the board of management at German engineering company Robert Bosch GmbH, and Heinz Derenbach, CEO of Bosch Software Innovations GmbH.
This +DNews presentation sums up some of the concerns that may halt Jeff Bezo’s vision of delivery drones from taking the skies by Sept. 2015 (the FAA’s deadline to issue commercial drone regulations):
- High-crash rates and poor maneuvering - Criminal issues such as drone hacking and theft - Public fears and privacy worries
Why buy something when you could rent it, have it instantly delivered when you need it, and taken away when you’re done? While Amazon’s unveiling of its Prime Air drone-powered delivery service could make buying easier, it’s drone pick-up that could make it so we don’t need to buy things at all.
The sharing economy holds the promise of a more efficient, collaborative way of living. Startups like Airbnb and GetAround are thriving by making use of our empty apartments and parked cars. It’s proving feasible for humans to share housing and transportation, but we haven’t quite figured out the sharing of most objects. Perhaps the biggest hurdle is delivery and pickup.
We might buy less stuff and all objects would spend more of their existence being used rather than in a closet, so we wouldn’t have to manufacture as many copies of things. That could put lots of people out of work. No, there aren’t enough drone repairman jobs to make up for all those lost on the assembly line and delivery chain.
For the first time, widespread use of the tiny devices give an aerial perspective on Thailand’s deep civil unrest.
Thailand’s news media outlets have been increasingly using small, unmanned flying gadgets that give them a bird’s-eye view of the protests in the streets of their capital. As my colleague Thomas Fuller writes, the miniature drones have circulated videos of the battles, including one between riot police outside the prime minister’s office and protesters attacking the barricades.
This is the first time that drones have been used so widely during protests in Thailand, which is now in the throes of its deepest civil unrest in three years.
Amazon ‘Prime Air’ could be the first step toward a postal service free of surveillance.
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos [went] on 6o Minutes Sunday night and reveal[ed] a “secret R&D project: The beginning of Silk Air Road? ‘Octocopter’ drones that will fly packages directly to your doorstep in 30 minutes.” Yup. an autonomous drone delivery service that would use GPS coordinates to navigate, called Amazon “Prime Air.”
After the shock and awe wore off, many commentators immediately pointed out that this is currently illegal. While the po-po and government entities are allowed to fly drones if they obtain authorization from the FAA, private use of drones is limited to hobbyists, and they have to keep the drones under 400
feet and within their line of sight. But that’s just a temporary hang-up. Congress has ordered the FAA to clear the skyway for commercial use of drones by 2015. So, yes, Amazon will be able to get emergency diapers, toilet paper, or s-pound gummy bears (depending on the Octocopter’s weight limits) to you in 30 minutes (and Google will be able to launch ‘Drone Map’, and Facebook will be able to launch ‘Drone Stalk’, and on and on).
Law enforcement may already be gritting its teeth over the idea of legal drone delivery though. Being
able to send things by drone could be hugely disruptive to the existing mail system: a peer-to-peer postal service that cuts out the USPS and FedEx. That’s fine when Amazon is shipping out books, but what about the kind of deliveries that law enforcement wants to be able to track? The existing