Tag: drone

Google X worked older staff member to collapse

Google X worked an older staff member so hard he finally collapsed and it laid him off.

According to Business Insider the employee was assigned to fieldwork for Project Wing, which is X’s program to create delivery drones for transporting consumer goods and emergency medicine.

While out in private ranch lands in the Central Valley in California one day, the employee succumbed to either a heart attack or a grand mal seizure because of the hot temperatures in the Central Valley, coupled with a gruelling work schedule of 10-12 hours a day and stress may have brought it on.

The Project Wing drone tester, who returned to work after two months’ leave, found himself demoted and sent back into a field gig before eventually being pushed out of the company.

According to Business Insider, some members of the Project Wing field team painted an alarming picture of hostile work conditions driven by engineers and managers back at headquarters who scheduled the group to conduct loads of tests, thereby producing loads of data, despite the long hours outdoors that such a schedule required.

To make matters worse all their demanding work and data was being ignored because their backgrounds in the military were allegedly viewed disdainfully by Google X.

US state wants to give its drones guns

 The US state which was at the forefront of the French-backed terrorist revolution against its lawful British king thinks that its freedom can be defended by drones with guns.

While thinking that the British government was a tyranny for putting a penny tax on tea, the citizens of Connecticut think they will be somehow freer if police can robotically kill someone by pressing a button on a robot.

Legislation, approved overwhelmingly by the state legislature’s judiciary committee, would ban weaponised drones in the state but an addition to the law exempts agencies involved in law enforcement. It now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Civil libertarians and civil rights activists are lobbying to restore the bill to its original language before the full House vote.

David McGuire, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Connecticut said according to statistics, coppers tend to shoot minorities. The fear is that armed drones would be used in urban centres and on minority communities.

In 2015, North Dakota became the first state to permit law enforcement agencies to use armed drones but limited them to “less than lethal” weapons such as tear gas and pepper spray.

US drones turned over by Russian hackers

orvillecopter-bart-jansen-cat-droneWhile the US has spent a fortune on drone technology, that gear has never actually had to stand up to an opponent that can fight back.

The situation is a bit like the days of the British colonial wars where the prerequisite of a campaign was that the enemy should under no circumstances carry guns. Drones can buzz around blowing up who they like safe in the knowledge that the Iraqis, Isis or Afghans have not got anything to stop them.

According to a new Reuters report  all that is coming unstuck in the Ukraine which has spent a fortune on US drone technology only to find itself deployed against the Russians who know how to take it out.

Millions of dollars’ worth of U.S.-supplied drones that Kiev had hoped would help in its war against Russian-backed separatists have proven ineffective against jamming and hacking.

The 72 Raven RQ-11B Analog mini-drones were so disappointing following their arrival this summer that Natan Chazin, an advisor to Ukraine’s military with deep knowledge of the country’s drone programme, said if it were up to him, he would send them back to the US.

He said that it was a wrong decision to deploy the AeroVironment drones in the Ukraine conflict where the separatists have their own Russian made high tech gear which can intercept and jam their video feeds and data.

For some reason the drones use an analogue signal which means that the the command channels and data are not protected from interception and suppression.

The US itself is a bit spooked.  It had convinced itself since the Cold War was over that the Russians could not technologically match it. Arrogantly it assumed it was the masters of electronic warfare only to discover that Russia’s electronic warfare capabilities were far more sophisticated than thought.

The U.S. Army told Reuters it still uses Ravens but has upgraded them to digital versions, but the Ukrainians apparently can’t have these. One of the US officials cautioned about limitations on America’s ability to export drones that can evade Russia’s electronic warfare capabilities.  The US is still smarting from IS capturing shedloads of its gear from the Iraqis.

The Ukrainians have found the older tech so useless that the do not use them in the front lines and are mostly in storage.

This was because they allowed the enemy to see Ukrainian military positions and, when it wanted, easily take them down. Their battery life was too short to be useful at gaining intelligence on artillery positions, he said. Meanwhile it is continuing the build its own drones from commercially available tech.

Apple drones on

orvillecopter-bart-jansen-cat-droneThe fruity tax-dodging cargo-cult Apple is considering drones as a possible money spinner to help it improve its rather disappointing maps product.

Apple is putting together a team of robotics and data-collection experts who will use drones, and “new indoor navigation features”. The big idea is to try catch up with Google, the long-time leader in the mapping field.

The drones can capture and update Apple Maps at a far quicker rate than Apple’s collection of GPS data-collecting minivans, which began appearing in the United States in early 2015. That is, of course, if they are not bought down by US citizens demonstrating their right to arm bears to protect their property. [Are you sure you have got that right? Ed]

Apple wants to bring in a new feature which will let users view the insides of buildings, thanks to its Indoor.io and WifiSLAM acquisitions, and overall improvements will be made to navigation within the app.

Apple wants to fly drones around to do things like examine street signs, track changes to roads and monitor if areas are under construction, the person said. The data collected would be sent to Apple teams that rapidly update the Maps app to provide fresh information to users, the person added.

Apple already filed for an exemption from the Federal Aviation Administration to be able to fly drones for commercial purposes, and was granted approval to “operate an unmanned aircraft system to conduct data collection, photography, and videography”.

Under current rules, Apple’s drone fleet would be restricted from flying over people and buildings, would be designated to operate only in daytime, and could only be flown by licensed pilots.

GoPro delays Karma for another lifetime

Centre_of_wheel_of_lifeWearable camera outfit GoPro is  delay the launch of its drone, Karma, until the holiday shopping season.

The drone, which was expected to release in the first half of the year, was seen by analysts as key in turning around the company’s fortunes. The move to delay the drone’s launch is a big surprise.

GoPro claims that it wants to work on the features but di not did not explain the delay and why they did not notice any problems months ago.

GoPro is facing pressure from the improved video-shooting abilities of smartphones that are likely affecting sales of traditional cameras.

The company’s revenues halved to $183.5 million in first quarter ended March 31.

GoPro said it shipped 701,000 cameras in the quarter, a 47.8 percent drop from a year earlier.

The company posted a net loss of $107.4 million, or 78 cents per share, compared with a profit of $16.8 million a year earlier.




Intel drones at Government

orvillecopter-bart-jansen-cat-droneChipmaker Intel is threatening to take its ball back unless the US government stops stuffing up its drone research with red tape.

Intel said it would take its drone research and development operations overseas unless the federal government drops its “overly proscriptive” approach to unmanned aerial systems technology.

Joshua Walden, Intel’s senior vice president and general manager for new technology, told the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade that the federal government approach that was overly prescriptive regarding the deployment of new hardware and software. This will deter the private sector’s ability to invent and compete in the marketplace.

“Worse, it will drive us to relocate our business planning and R&D overseas, where we are being welcomed by foreign countries eager for investment in this new technology area,” he said.

The government is under pressure from its big corporate masters to allow R&D so that drones can be used for everything including the delivery of packages. But they also face objections from those who think the government is going to use drones to take their guns away and spy and the very real concerts about air space management.

Facebook wants a huge drone

cameronFacebook wants regulators to like a huge drone that it is building to bring social networking to the places where cable can’t reach.

The drone, with its Boeing 737 wingspan, will provide internet access to the most remote parts of the world. It will be tested in the United States later this year.

Weighing 400 kg the drone will hover between 60,000 feet and 90,000 feet above the altitude of commercial airplanes and ignore the weather.

Facebook said the drone, which was built in 14 months can fly for 90 days. Helium balloons will be attached to the plane and float it up into the air.

The planes will circle a three-km (two-mile) radius. During the day, they will float up to 90,000 feet (30 km) and at night will drift down to 60,000 feet (20 km) to conserve energy.

Facebook is not planning to sell the drones but will use them to expand internet access.

Facebook is the first company to fly at such altitudes. It has a team lobbying politicians to let it through… er to set guidelines.

Amazon gets to play with drones

predator-firing-missile4Amazon has won approval from US federal regulators to test a delivery drone outdoors, less than a month after it blasted regulators for dragging their feet on approving commercial drone testing.

The Federal Aviation Administration had approved an Amazon prototype drone in March, but the company told US lawmakers less than a week later that the prototype had already become obsolete while it waited more than six months for the agency’s permission.

The FAA granted Amazon’s request to test delivery drones in a letter dated Wednesday, posted on the agency’s website.

Under the rules Amazon must keep flights lower than 400 feet and no faster than 100 miles per hour.

Amazon wants to sending packages to customers by air, using small, self-piloted aircraft. The FAA is caught between a rock and a hard place. While companies like Amazon are screaming to be allowed to use drones, there is public concern about safety and privacy.

Amazon wants to use drones to deliver packages to its customers over distances of 10 miles (16 km) or more, which would require drones to travel autonomously while equipped with technology to avoid collisions with other aircraft.

Drones can’t deliver packages

The Federal Aviation Administration has ruled out the use of drones to deliver packages.

Drones were being tested by Amazon to deliver books and packages, but it turns out that the scheme might never get off the ground.

An FAA document is apparently seeking public comment on its policy on drones, or what the agency calls “model aircraft”.

Since 2007 the FAA has said that the commercial operation of drones is illegal.

A federal judge ruled in March that the FAA failed to call for public input before adopting the rules.

That decision is in the process of being appealed, but in the meantime the FAA is calling for public input wit the idea of looking at the commercial application of small drones later this year, with potential new rules in place perhaps by the end of 2015.

The FAA named Amazon’s December proposal as an example of what is barred under regulations that allow the use of drones for hobby and recreational purposes.

Amazon hopes the agency will change its mind, but is not holding its breath. 

UK phones support US drone strikes

The UK’s telecommunications infrastructure is being used as part of a global defence intelligence network to help the US government conduct drone strikes.

Computer Weekly  has revealed that the situation is just as damaging as the situation where illegal US rendition flights to land at UK military sites, or permitting the US government to launch air strikes from its airforce bases in the UK.

Apparently the US depends on the UK to provide part of the core communications backbone used by drone operations.

The UK government and BT both deny any knowledge of the specific purposes for which the network is used, but then they would, wouldn’t they?

Legal charity Reprieve alleged last year that the UK connection is used for drone strikes on suspected terrorists outside the usual parameters of war but a lack of evidence about the UK connection has blocked the charity’s attempts to hold BT and the government to account.

However Computer Weekly thinks it has found the smoking gun which has established that the UK connection is part of a US military network that is used to target drone strikes.

The UK connection is a high-security communications line that forms part of the Defence Information Systems Network (DISN), which provides vital support to drone operations.

Key information revealing the role of the UK connection went unnoticed among various technical acronyms in a contract specification. In the specification, the US Defence Information Systems Agency (DISA) outlined instructions for a fibre-optic connection it had contracted BT to provide between a US military communications hub at RAF Croughton, Northamptonshire and Camp Lemonnier, the regional headquarters for US operations on the Horn of Africa.

The BBC and the Washington Post worked out that Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti is the base for US drone operations against suspected terrorists in Yemen and Somalia. These operations have bumped off civilians and are controversial.

The base has also conducted other military operations in support of states in the region, as well as extensive humanitarian, infrastructure and state-building missions.

What appears to have happened is that over the last 15 years show how DISN has enabled a transformation of the US war machine under the doctrine of network-centric warfare.

DISN has a dedicated military internet that spans over 3,500 US facilities in at least 88 countries and the US has an ongoing strategy to connect all its communications, forces, commanders, vehicles, weapons, surveillance sensors, satellites, radios, computer systems, intelligence agencies and allies into one network.

Drones use DISN to disseminate mission data and for long range command and control. Its 2005-2030 Roadmap named Reaper and Global Hawk as specific drones that use DISN. The DoD’s ongoing work seeks to make drones a more closely integrated part of GIG, which is the foundation of net-centric warfare.