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Inside Drones

Inside Drones (Oct 6th, 2017)

An autonomous sea-faring drone has returned from a seven-day mission collecting data on the Great Barrier Reef. Powered by solar panels and waves, the Wave Glider amassed information on pH levels, water salinity, waves and chlorophyll, sending it to scientists in real time. Boeing subsidiary Liquid Robotics developed the drone, which worked on the reef and nearby waters 24/7. “It can do things at night-time and go into some locations where it’s harder for us to get our people into because to get them there we need to put them on a large research vessel, and so that makes it challenging in some locations," said Lyndon Llewellyn, research program leader of data and technology innovation at the Australian Institute of Marine Science. The institute struck a five-year deal with Boeing to complete the research. - AUSTRALIAN

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Boeing is in the process of buying Aurora Flight Sciences, a researcher and developer of autonomous drones and aircraft. The aerospace and defense company announced it would purchase Virginia-based Aurora for an undisclosed sum. The move "will advance the development of autonomy for our commercial and military systems," said Boeing Chief Technology Officer Greg Hyslop. The world is turning to "hybrid-electric airplanes, or all-electric airplanes" and more autonomous systems enabled by AI, he noted. "We don’t know what that market is going to look like in the future, but as it forms, we want to be there and we want to lead." Aurora has already partnered with the Pentagon and Uber, where it is helping the company develop its flying taxi program. - PM

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Federal safety officials have opened their first investigation of a mid-air collision between a military helicopter and a civilian drone. An Army UH-60 helicopter and a DJI Phantom 4 drone collided near Staten Island, New York, on September 21. The helicopter landed safely, with damage to its rotor blade, transmission deck and window frame. The Army and National Transportation Safety Board opened investigations with participation from the Federal Aviation Administration. Investigators, who announced the case Thursday, have recovered a drone arm and motor from the helicopter, reviewed data logs and interviewed the drone pilot. DJI, which is working with the NTSB, noted that the company has "always instructed drone operators to obey the laws and regulations applicable to drones in their jurisdiction." - USAT

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South Africa hosted one of the world's first drone-fishing tournaments last weekend. The Sky Anglers Drone Fishing Tournament drew 65 anglers who carried bait offshore using drones. The catch-and-release competition offered an award of 100,000 South African Rand, equivalent to about $7,300. Local resident Viren Raju won first prize for "largest overall catch" of a blacktip shark weighing more than 200 pounds. The event’s organizer said catching a fish is nearly guaranteed with a drone. - THEDRIVE

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A Toronto technology company will begin using drones to deliver supplies to a remote First Nation community in Ontario. Drone Delivery Canada and Moose Cree First Nation announced an agreement this week to launch the commercial drone program. Test flights of UAVs will begin soon, leading up to deliveries of items such as food, mail and medical supplies to the island of Moose Factory. Patricia Faries, chief of Moose Cree First Nation, said it will help the community and others address the high costs of delivering supplies to the remote area, which relies on boats or aircraft to deliver good in the summer months. - CBC

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