Friday, December 8, 2023

Technology Update (February 2016)

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Drone that can catch another by firing a net at it

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Drone catches another by firing a net at it (Image courtesy:

Engineers from Human-Interactive Robotics Lab (HIRoLab) at Michigan Technological University have filed a patent for a prototype for a drone-catching system that fires a net to take other unwanted aircraft down.

They have named the project Robotic Falconry and have said that the drone, equipped with a net shooter, can intercept and physically remove any intruding multi-rotor drone from private airspace. It can be autonomous or remote-controlled while tackling a drone.
According to the researchers, the net-shooting technique can be effective when force-landing unmanned intruders that would otherwise put the public at risk.

Drone that can do donuts, figure-eights around obstacles

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Researchers are teaching drones to fly autonomously without ever crashing (Image courtesy:

Getting drones to fly around without hitting things is a huge task. Obstacle-detection and motion-planning are two of computer science’s trickiest challenges, because of the complexity involved in creating real-time flight plans that avoid obstacles and handle surprises like wind and weather.

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Two teams of researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have developed software that allows drones to stop on a dime to make hairpin movements over, under and around some 26 distinct obstacles in a simulated forest.

One team has shown a small quad-rotor doing donuts and figure-eights through an obstacle course of strings and PVC pipes.

In a second CSAIL project, PhD student Anirudha Majumdar showed off a fixed-wing plane that avoids obstacles without any advance knowledge of the space, and even in the face of wind gusts and other dynamics. The approach was to pre-program a library of dozens of distinct funnels that represent the worst-case behaviour of the system, calculated via a rigorous verification algorithm.

Polymer super suit designed using solar energy

The Grossman group of MIT has developed a transparent polymer that can store energy by using a solar cell and release controllable heat at any time. This newly-engineered material depends upon the Sun, which is a practically inexhaustible source of energy and stores energy in the form of chemical energy, releasing it later as heat.

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The layer-by-layer solar thermal fuel polymer film comprises three distinct layers (Image courtesy:

Jeffrey Grossman, lead researcher, has said that the product could be a boon for the clothing industry, and provide humans with a new type of protective wear. The team also explained that this concept first came to their mind while analysing the concept of harvesting solar energy for long-term usage, as required in various sectors.

Conventionally, solar energy is converted to electrical energy and serves as an environment-friendly renewable energy source, but the researchers wanted to come up with something new and innovative by using similar ideas.


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