Drone Defense on the Rise

Just as drones themselves are gaining traction, so too are drone defenses. It’s not hard to understand why.  Earlier this year, I was shown a video of ISIS using a commercially available drone to drop a bomb on unsuspecting soldiers.  Isis is even using this as a recruitment tactic (warning – link contains video of disturbing footage).

Given the increase in drone defense companies, it was not a stretch to see an article from the Army Times reporting the Army has purchased the “DroneBuster” (kuddos to the name on this one).

Picture Courtsey of Radio Hill Technologies

The DroneBuster, developed by Radio Hill Technologies, is a small gun-like device to jam drones.  The DroneBuster jams ISM frequencies as well as GPS frequencies.  Per Radio Hill Technologies website, the DroneBuster intercepts the drone command link and commands the drone to descend or go home.  Hopefully this equipment provides safety and security to our troops on the front line.

PureRockets is purely fun and innovative

I happened across an article this weekend on an inventor using gloves to control a drone.  Jeff Dillon, the man behind Pure Rockets has a fascinating idea to create a drone to lift a large payload via a turbine powered drone.  In his early prototype videos, he provides an idea for a drone powered by a central, large turbine and six smaller satellite turbines.

Mr. Dillon has further developed his drone since his prototype videos and has actually gotten his drone to lift his own body weight.

A few days later, he posted his drone lifting 200 lbs.

Recently, Mr. Dillon demonstrated his “Iron Man” glove control of his drone.

This man has some real ingenuity and I am excited to see what he develops next.  His drone already has a thrust vector control, yaw thrusters, iron man gloves, and a proven 200 lb payload.

 

 

Google and the Drone Delivery Race

Google’s latest drone delivery patent application, US Patent Publication No. 2017/0098378, just published last week.  The patent application provides some insight into the competitive drone delivery market.  As a means to increase the accuracy and reliability of packages via drone delivery, the patent introduces a delivery receptacle 130.

Figure 1 of 20170098378

The delivery receptacle emits an infrared (“IR”) beacon which is detected by the drone delivery device.  The delivery receptacle accepts the package, then transports it to a secure location.  The patent application provides for wheels affixed to the delivery receptacle to move the package to a secure location.

I can see where a device such as this may make sense.  You could place the delivery receptacle in your yard or driveway to accept a package.  It provides the drone with a clear landing pad to deliver the package and negates the need for the drone to detect a porch or other secure location to leave the package.  However, who pays for the delivery receptacle?  And if granted, will Google be willing to license this technology to other drone delivery companies, including competitors? Or will consumers be forced to purchase multiple delivery receptacles?

The drone delivery race is still on, and there is probably not a need for standardization yet, but this is going to be a heavily regulated area, if for nothing other than safety.  Which is probably what the companies should be focusing on if they are not already.  Safety, regulations, and public outreach.  People are fearful of drone deliveries.  What does the A/I mean for our world? How safe is it going to be? Will the drones need cameras? Is the data going to be obtainable by police forces? The NSA? We already have clogged streets, do we need clogged airways as well?

Companies have promised drone delivery by 2017.  They technically can achieve it, but will the public and the government allow it?  I do not think so.

Mission to Mars – Our Destiny?

At the 33rd Annual Space Symposium, I have the fortunate opportunity to attend the New Generation programming.  This program is rich with experiences and exposure.  For example, we heard Buzz Aldrin speak about his trip to the Moon and his work to develop a pathway to Mars.

It was the first time I had heard him speak of his experiences.  Dr. Aldrin is dedicated to helping a human mission to Mars.  As part of the New Gen track, we were able to experience Buzz’s “Cycling Pathway To Mars,” a truly out of this world VR experience developed by 8i.

The trailer takes you through Buzz’s Moon Landing, his approach to a Mission to Mars and colonization, as well as a glimpse of the cosmos.  This experience is available via Steam and Viveport for the HTC Vive.

When a panel on Wednesday morning was asked, “Why Mars?” Every panel member gave virtually the same answer – it is in our DNA to explore and what better exploration than the Cosmos.  I personally have a much different view.  I do believe that humans want to do the impossible.  Generations before me grew up with the site of Apollo and the moon landing, my generation grew up with Star Wars.  My little boy loves to build anything related to spaceships or speeders and has the amazing ingenuity to make modular designs that transform based on the need.  These are the ideas and imagination that fuel the mission to mars.

But ask me, “Why Mars?” To save the human race.  The technology, infrastructure, and ingenuity to achieve not only a human mission to the Red Planet, but to also successfully colonize Mars will save our own planet.  Global warming is a fact, the threat of nuclear war is real, new viruses are threatening human kind every day.  Non-renewable fossil fuels are the backbone of our modern society.  These are just a few of the long list of threats to human kind.  The work being done today to achieve a Mission to Mars tomorrow has the potential to eliminate our reliance on fossil fuels and reverse the deadly ailments we have created.  While some see Mars as the next big adventure, I see it as humankind’s salvation.

Why not space?

For some people, keeping their feet on the ground is where it is at.  I understand.  I love space, stars, and can’t wait to see us reach Mars.  However, I don’t want to go to Mars, or even in space.  But that does not mean I can’t see the benefits of space exploration and what it has afforded us.

Take this year’s recipient of the Douglas S. Morrow Public Outreach Award at the 33rd Space Symposium.

From the Space Foundation website:

DigitalGlobe and journalists with The Associated Press (AP) worked together to deliver critical public visibility of modern day slavery in the fishing industry, helping the public at large gain a better understanding of how the use of space technology can improve the quality of life on Earth.

The combination of DigitalGlobe satellite intelligence, and investigative reporting by Esther Htusan, Margie Mason, Robin McDowell and Martha Mendoza of The Associated Press, resulted in the freeing of more than 2,000 slaves, as well as multiple arrests, the seizure of ships and the passage of legislation that bars slave-produced goods from being sold in the United States.

Over the course of an 18-month investigation, the AP journalists located men held in cages, tracked ships and stalked refrigerated trucks to expose the abusive practices of the fishing industry in Southeast Asia, putting themselves at personal risk in the process. Needing the final piece of visual evidence to make their case in July 2015, the reporters turned to DigitalGlobe, operators of the world’s highest resolution commercial imaging satellites. The company tasked its WorldView-3 high-resolution satellite and captured the “golden image,” showing a commercial fishing boat accepting catch from two slave boats off the coast of Papua New Guinea.

Sitting in the audience and seeing the good satellites in space can do for people was inspiring.  So when people say, why space, I think the better question is why not space?

 

Don’t believe me? Take a look at this video: