Here's Why DARPA Wants Underground Tunnels

· · Link

Popular news yesterday was about how DARPA, a military research agency, put out a request for giant underground tunnels by August 30. The media made it seem like it was some mysterious, scary thing, saying that DARPA didn’t give reasons. But they actually did, and it’s called the DARPA Subterranean Challenge (SubT).

The SubT Challenge is organized into two competitions (Systems and Virtual), each with two tracks (DARPA-funded and self-funded). Teams in the Systems tracks will develop and demonstrate physical systems to compete in live competitions on physical, representative subterranean courses, and focus on advancing and evaluating novel physical solutions in realistic field environments. Teams in the Virtual tracks will develop software and algorithms using virtual models of systems, environments, and terrain to compete in simulation-based events, and explore larger-scale runs in simulated environments that explore significantly expanded scenario sizes and durations.

If we read between the lines, I think a safe assumption is that this is about developing and improving autonomous systems. Think laser mapping, self-driving vehicles, and indoor combat drones.

A Beginner-Friendly Drone from DJI That Won't Break the Bank: $99

· · TMO Deals

We have a deal on the DJI Tello Quadcopter, an entry-level drone built in partnership with Ryze. It features electronic image stabilization, auto takeoff/landing, and low-battery protection, making it a safe choice for novice pilots. You can also control it from your iPhone or Android device. This drone is $99 through our deal—and there’s also a combo kit option for $149 with extra batteries and more.

Tree-Planting Drones Shoot the Forest Back

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Startup Biocarbon Engineering use tree-planting drones that shoot the forest back in Myanmar and other places around the world.

The drones first fly over an area to map it, collecting data about the topography and soil condition that can be combined with satellite data and analyzed to determine the best locations to plant each seed. Then the drone fires biodegradable pods—filled with a germinated seed and nutrients—into the ground.

This App Controlled Engine Lets You Motorize Your Paper Airplanes

· · Cool Stuff Found

Have you seen the Powerup 3.0? Get this: it’s a motorized propeller for paper airplanes. That’s right, you can make a paper airplane and stick a propeller on it and make it flyyyyyyyyyyyy!! Come on, that’s cool! It’s app-controlled, too, so you use the tilt-controls on your iPhone (or Android device, if—sigh—that’s your jam) to control your MOTORIZED PAPER FREAKIN’ AIRPLANE! Yeah, I know, sure, drones. Drones are cool, yo. I love drones. BUT I’M TALKING ABOUT A MOTORIZED PAPER AIRPLANE! The kit comes with a couple of fold-here paper airplane designs, and there are downloadable templates for other designs, but Ima totally make my own. They say you can get 10 minutes of fight out of one charge, and there’s a couple of different kits you can buy, including one with a stand and extra parts. Kits start at $49.99. I intend to get one and test the crap out of it. You know, because “work.”

This App Controlled Engine Lets You Motorize Your Paper Airplanes

Mid-April Drone Footage Shows Apple Park 'Finishing Touches'

· · Cool Stuff Found

Apple is working hard on finishing Apple Park, the so-called spaceship HQ. It’s expected to open in the next several weeks, and new drone footage from YouTuber Duncan Sinfield shows what he called “finishing touches.” There are shots of the trees being planted, inside work through the glorious windows, and more. It’s an excellent look at just how far Apple Park has come since an ailing Steve Jobs pitched it to the Cupertino City Council.

A New Drone Is Coming To Apple Stores

· · Product News

A new drone on the market called the Hover Camera Passport will soon be sold in Apple retail stores. Made by Chinese startup Zero Zero Robotics, and it will soon be available for in-store purchase at retail locations around the world.

6 Cool Tech Things Going On in Germany

· · Dr. Mac's Rants & Raves

Hamburg Elbphilharmonie (concert hall) as seen from the harbor.

Dr. Mac was in Germany last week, where he found six cool tech things, including his first encounters with Microsoft’s HoloLens Augmented Reality (AR) headset and HTC’s Vive Virtual Reality (VR) headset, plus robots galore, a very cool drone, and more.

What Happens when a 55 Pound Drone Hits Your Head?

· · Cool Stuff Found

We write here a lot of about small drones. Amazon wants to deliver packages with drones. Drones have taken breathtaking aerial views of Apple Park. But what happens when one of the larger drones accidentally slams into a human being? Time for the automotive crash-test dummies to step up and tell the story! Well, the instrumentation does. Bloomberg has a great story on “Crashing Drones into Test Dummies for Safety” Watch a drone disintegrate as it strikes a crash-test dummy.  It’s a battle of the bots. All for human safety, of course.

What Happens when a 55 Pound Drone Hits Your Head?

Uber Sees You When You're Sleeping…Around – TMO Daily Observations 2016-12-02

· & · The Mac Observer's Daily Observations Podcast

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“I’ll be watching you” is a line that might make Sting look a lot more prescient after you hear this episode. Uber and Waze want to know where you are even more than they used to, and Apple wants to put drones in the air over your roads and in front of your homes, at least for a little bit. It’s a brave new world. Our advice: don’t go outside without pants on.