Cool stuff on the open frontier of drone technology

Image courtesy of
Image courtesy of

Three fun articles on drone technology:

  • UND starting classes on setting up a drone business
  • a drone for every Marine squad?
  • drones armed with stun guns
  • autonomous armed drones.

As a bonus, a cool video on how train wheels are made.

Check these out as a refreshing break from the otherwise oh so depressing headlines.

10/19 – Reason – University of North Dakota Offers Class on Starting Your Own Drone Business – Course will have three parts. First, getting pilot certificate and studying FAA regs. Second, studying state of the industry today. Third, develop a business plan for a drone business.

9/30 – Popular Science – Marine Corps Commandant Wants a Drone in Every Squad

The Commandant is thinking that the end of 2017 would be a good target for every squad in the Corps to have its own quadcopter. If your goal is to look over the next hill or see what vehicles are in the village, an off-the-shelf commercial drone would do the trick.

Sounds like a fantastic idea.

10/20 – Wall Street Journal – Taser Explores Concept of Drone Armed With Stun Gun for Police Use – A company producing stun gun and body cameras is working on the idea of putting stun guns on drones, thus giving police the ability to use stun gun level of force remotely. As the article points out, this would be a drastic change from the traditional use-of-force approach for police, if it were to be deployed. Using casual wording, today there must be a life threatening level of danger to police before serious force is used.

10/25 – New York Times – The Pentagon’s ‘Terminator Conundrum’: Robots That Could Kill on Their Own – Centerpiece of article is a near off-the-shelf drone that can fly over a village, identify all humans, and assess whether each human is armed with a rifle. Add a weapon to the drone and some more AI for assessing whether to shoot and you have a fully automated weapon. One quoted source says the US is about a decade away from the fully automated weapon.

Current focus of using drones and AI in on what the military is calling centaur warfighting. A centaur is a mighty warrior in mythology with a horse body and human torso. The visual is an AI loaded piece of hardware offering superfast tactical insight supporting a human who offers creative strategic insight.

Another focus of the article is massive effort by China and Russia to develop autonomous AI powered weapons. The AI apps working their way into self-driving cars is another place this appears. All that software knowledge will seep out to smaller national actors as well as terrorists or criminal groups.

6/13 – Behind the Black – How Its Made – Train Wheels – Even the heavy industrial task of making train wheels is high tech. Watch the robot arms pick up several thousand pound cylinders of glowing steel as if they were toys and move a glowing 900 pound block of soon-to-be-train-wheel as if it were a piece of chicken at the tip of chopsticks. Don’t miss the precise machining of the forged and pressed parts.

Oh, the glowing steel is 1,300 Celsius, or 2,370 degrees Fahrenheit.


Very cool. At least for my desk-bound accountant brain.

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