The United States Air Force recently tested a new autonomous
flight system for use on small unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones. The system
was developed in conjunction with John’s Hopkins University. The unmanned
aerial vehicle system is designed to communicate flight information, such as
position, speed, and aircraft orientation back to an artificial intelligence
system that is designed to control the aircraft if it has violated
predetermined course information. The system, called the Testing of Autonomy in
Complex Environments, or TACE for short, can monitor autopilot software and
re-direct the unmanned aerial vehicle back to a safety area if it approaches a
virtual border. This functionality could be useful for many purposes, and one
main commercial use would be to prohibit drone flight around manned aircraft or
within certain restricted airspace. Flights of unmanned aerial vehicles in
prohibited areas is a common occurrence among amateur pilots and poses a
significant safety risk to manned aircraft. A system to virtually block
unmanned aerial vehicle flight from prohibited areas would be a step towards
safer air travel.
The Testing of Autonomy in Complex Environments system also fulfills the function of an simulated entity for use with live aircraft flight. In other words, the Testing of Autonomy in Complex Environments system will be able to fly along other aircraft as a “virtual wingman” with simulated sensors, to enhance constructive flight training and during combat. An autonomous flying system could be a significant asset to the warfighter. The Testing of Autonomy in Complex Environments development comes as a part of the 2018 National Defense Strategy to develop, test, and implement autonomous and AI systems for use by the Air Force. The Air Force’s Combined Test Force with John’s Hopkins University plans to conduct more autonomous flight testing of the Testing of Autonomy in Complex Environments system and will test on unmanned aerial vehicles that can fly up to 250 miles per hour during the summer of 2019.
-Taken From www.saemobilus.com
Batteries are destined to change the future in many ways. One of those ways is by completely disrupting the fossil fuels industry by replacing gasoline powered vehicle with electric vehicles. What is one of the key limiting factors on battery production? Cost. The cost of battery production has dropped significantly in recent years, but it is still expensive to produce batteries. Not to mention, the energy contained in batteries is still substantially less than that of gasoline or other fossil fuels. Therefore, significant obstacles must still be overcome. Even with these obstacles, batteries will someday replace the need for fossil fuels in many applications. Electric cars have recently changed from a niche novelty into a mainstream reality. The main reason for this is because of the decrease in cost and availability of batteries. What was once a very expensive component to produce is now much less expensive. Experts at Bloomberg Energy Finance predict that batteries must reach approximately $100 per kilowatt hour to produce. Current battery production costs are somewhere around double that, and at the rate that production costs have dropped, this goal should be attainable by the year 2025. Additionally, demand for electric vehicles continues to increase. A report from Bloomberg states that worldwide demand for electric vehicles will continue to increase rapidly in the next 30 years. By the year 2040, nearly half of new car sales are forecast to be electric vehicles, up significantly from the roughly 3 percent of sales that electric vehicles currently make up. Aside from transportation uses, batteries will also continue to enhance and improve the world’s power grid. Technologies such as wind power will be able to take advantage of improving battery technology by using batteries to store energy and release it into the power grid when electricity demand is high but wind production is low. This will benefit many types of renewable energy technology as the world’s energy consumption continues to rise.
-taken from www.bloomberg.com
A competition to help influence new drone technologies is
being put together by Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and the United
Kingdom’s Defense Science and Research Laboratory. The competition will find
the best drone design to help with fighting wildfires, and will use new drone
technologies such as drone swarms. The competition is being called the “Swarm
and Search AI Challenge: Fire Hack” and is designed to promote drone swarm
technologies used in a real world scenario. Drones, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles,
are becoming more and more popular for many different applications. Their small
size and simple design bodes well for situations unsuitable for humans, and new
technologies are turning drones into massively capable little machines.
The idea of drone swarms is a relatively new concept. A
drone swarm would consist of a large number of independently flying drones that
are computer controlled. The drones would all be “aware” of each other to avoid
in-air collisions, be fully autonomous, and would be able to fly together in
close proximity, with the same goal of each delivering a small payload, perform
widespread searches of an area, of other related functionality. It’s easy to
envision how drones could be effectively used to fight wildfires: the drones could
deliver a fire suppression payload quickly and effectively, and a drone swarm
could cover a large area of wildfire.
Aside from the above mentioned usage, the Swarm and Search AI Challenge: Fire Hack competition aims to show how drone swarms could be used to effectively map out a wildfire area from a safe location. Benefits of using multiple drones for mapping include the ability to cover a large area quickly, and the ability to create almost real-time updated maps of wildfire spread in an area that would otherwise be too dangerous for firefighters to enter. Capabilities discovered during the challenge may be further developed for military applications. The competition will culminate in March, 2019.
-taken from www.sae.org