Watch Out Amazon! Google Is Testing Out Drone Delivery With Project Wing

Image Source: YouTube/Google

It appears that Amazon is not alone in the battle for drone delivery superiority. Google announced earlier today that 'Project Wing' is their secret drone project aimed at bringing drone delivery closer to a reality.

Just a few hours ago, Google uploaded a video to YouTube and explained that the team over at Google X has been working on a drone delivery project dubbed 'Project Wing.' With a 2 minute-long teaser showing some basic package delivery, it look's like the tech giant is competing against Amazon's Prime Air drone delivery service. However, Google X's Astro Teller did explain to BBC that another big goal of Project Wing is for disaster relief situations. Project Wing has also been in development for the past two years. See GIF below.

Image source: YouTube

As for the drone itself, it appears that Google is approaching drone design in a different manner. When compared to Amazon's octocopter drone, Google's drone looks more like an RC plane capable of vertical take off and landing. Reports from BBC and The Atlantic indicate that the drone has an approximate wing span of 5 feet and a weight of nearly 19 pounds. Hefty! For electronics, Google's drone is equipped with 4 motors/blades and an onboard computer. Unlike most drones, Google's drone takes off the ground in a vertical position and then transitions into a horizontal flight. Sort of like this drone featured on IEEE's Spectrum blog.

The delivery sequence on the Google drone is also quite different from Amazon's. Using some fishing line and a small container called the 'egg', the drone can lower down the package without having to land on the ground. Some say this will protect against package theft. Pretty neat.

Now this all sounds like it would work just fine right? Well, there's always those government technicalities and regulations. Google (same goes for Amazon) can't exactly test these inside U.S. airspace as the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority doesn't want drones whizzing around in the skies. In fact, BBC states that Google has been testing their Project Wing drones in Australia. It's the fact the people could potentially get hurt from these drones that's keeping tech giants like Google and Amazon from bringing drone delivery to the public. But look on the bright side, Amazon is pushing the FAA to allow for this type of commercial drone testing.

So does this mean that we'll be able to order a pair of socks in a moments notice? Probably not. This whole "delivery by drone" still has a ways to go before it becomes available to average consumers.

What do you think about Google's new project? Voice your opinions below!

Source: BBC, The Atlantic

Malloy Aeronautics Has Created A Hoverbike-Riding Robot

Image source: Malloy Aeronautics

If robots riding on camels, in cars, or hitching rides on space ships weren't enough for you, then check this out. Malloy Aeronautics, a UK-based company fundraising £30,000 on Kickstarter for a hoverbike, has developed a robot-piloted hoverbike capable of gliding across countrysides at high speeds. Whether or not the robot is actually controlling the hoverbike doesn't really take away from how awesome it is. None the less, this multi-rotor hoverbike is still a sight to see.

Guest Post: For Cheap Robots, How To Build Awesome Robots Using Household Materials

Guest post by Jonathan W.

Morgan Andrews, the founder/main contributor for SimpleBotics, recently contacted me to say that he liked my robots, and that he would like me to write an article about them for his blog. For the past month or so, I’ve been posting tutorials on Instructables as part of my For Cheap Robots series all about robots you can build out of parts probably already have at home. I was extremely flattered by Morgan’s request, and very pleased he liked my robots because I think my robots are awesome.

When I was little I watched Bill Nye the Science Guy. My favorite part of the show was always the projects and experiments you could do at home. They were clever and simple and showed us amazing things that we could do with junk lying around the house!

This idea always stuck with me. That every day objects had a hidden potential to be something amazing. That’s where my robots come from.

The majority of these materials can be found
lying around the house.

I believe that every child should have a robot kit. I believe that every school should teach robotics, from grade school on up. I believe that these things have the power, not just to get kids interested in technology and engineering, but to give them a chance to do something cool that will stick with them for the rest of their lives.

I’m excited about my For Cheap Robots series for three reasons.

First there’s the obvious. I’m creating a set of tutorials that show people how to make surprisingly sophisticated robots for a fraction of the cost of a robot kit. I want to make robotics accessible to everyone. It’s hard to see a high-school or middle-school teacher buying robotics kits for their classroom on a shoestring budget, but craft supplies are cheap and many teachers already have them. Robotics cannot be considered truly accessible until it becomes truly cheap.
These simple “wheels” eliminate the need to
buy gearboxes or kit wheels and perform

Then there’s the less obvious. I want people to start looking at the world around them differently. If you’re reading this (on a computer) chances are you live in a society inundated with stuff. Bottles, cardboard boxes, twist ties, disposable cups, and plastic jar lids. Things we would see as useless, but many of us have a legacy of clever uses for them! During the Great Depression, my great grandmother made footstools out of empty soup cans, cardboard, and cloth, and my family still uses them. It’s not about the savings, and it’s not always about recycling. It’s all about making something unexpected and unique, something you can be proud of, out of the materials you have around you.

The third reason is something of a mix of the two previous. I believe that the core of learning comes from being fearless. You cannot learn unless you make mistakes, and the less afraid you are of making mistakes, the more ideas you can try and the more you can learn. To me, the real value in making robots out of cheap, accessible materials is in the potential for learners to try their own ideas. You might break it but it didn’t cost much and you can make another. You will never lack for materials. Most of all, the only demands on you are what you want to do.

This arm may not win any beauty pageants
but it's cheap as dirt and very effective!

I want to get these tutorials to specific people.

I’m writing these tutorials for the kids out there who, like me when I was younger, yearn to break into robotics and see what they can do. I never had much of a budget, I was lost on my own, and it’s easy to get disheartened by failure when you haven’t experienced success yet. My tutorials are not just designed to be easy and cheap, they’re designed so that you can start them with a minimum of shopping. For most of them, once you have the microcontoller board, you can scrounge all the parts you need from around the house. Pick them up at noon and finish before dinner. No time to get disheartened or lose interest, and the experience stays with you.

My tutorials use simple steps and lots
of pictures to be as clear as possible.

I’m also writing these for the teachers. Robotics is cool. It’s a mixture of math, engineering, and programming, and it produces results that are showy and satisfying. I want to show you that you can bring that to students with the bare minimum of resources. They’re designed to be versatile and interchangeable, so you can fit them to your curriculum and your resources.

Finally, I’m writing these for the people who think they can’t get into robotics because it’s nerdy and mathy and not their thing. When I say the value of my tutorials is in getting a chance to try out your own ideas, I mean that across a whole spectrum of possibilities. The potential of robotics isn’t just to make something that is functionally cool! Robots can look cool too! The Arduino, the poster child for the maker revolution, was created for artists! I specifically ended three of my tutorials by turning my robots into cool dragons or awkward yelling fish because it doesn’t always matter what you do if you do it with flare!

Robots are awesome so they should
look awesome!

I want to teach you what I’ve learned from years of treating junk like hidden treasure. I want to give you a chance to do something cool. I want to show you a way to take your ideas and make them real. Most of all, I want to inspire you.

Let’s get started!

This is just my favorite picture.

'Twitch Plays Robot' Lets You Navigate Two Robots Through A Maze

Special thanks to JohnStrangerGalt for posting this on the robotics sub-reddit.

Twitch Plays Robot is a an awesome, user-interactive live stream that enables users to control two robots right from the live broadcasting site, Twitch. Aylabot and Ninabot are two little, maze-navigating robots each equipped with a gripper and camera. Through the basic commands which include "left, right, back, forward, open, close," users can navigate these two robots through the maze via the chat box. It's no easy task as cooperation among multiple users is extremely vital. Also, don't be too disgruntled if you think your commands aren't doing anything. The developer behind Twitch Plays Robot, Jillian Ogle, stated that there's a 10-30 second delay between the commands and the robot's movement. Have a few minutes (or hours) to kill? Go help these robots get through a foam-tile maze!

Watch The Trailer For Automata, An Action-Packed Robot Movie Starring Antonio Banderas

Now here's a film all of you robo-geeks don't want to miss. Automata, directed by Gabe Ibañez starring Antonio Banderas, is an upcoming film set in the year of 2044. Robots are on the rise and the fate of humanity is at risk. Of course, the film is based on the foundation of Asimov's laws of robotics. But instead of the most recent robot films, these robots look a tad bit more realistic. There also appears to be different types of robots. From the old, broken robots to the new and upgraded ones, this sort of makes me think that these robots have their own social structure. Kind of weird...

See also - Smallest Drone In The World Can Land On A Coin

Here is the film's plot from IMDB.
Jacq Vaucan, an insurance agent of ROC robotics corporation, routinely investigates the case of manipulating a robot. What he discovers will have profound consequences for the future of humanity.
As opposed to iRobot's ultra-slick, eye-appealing NS-5 robots, the robots in Automata kind of remind me of today's humanoid robots. In addition, there's a blatant resemblance between Automata's robots and the NS-4s of iRobot. None the less, I'm pretty excited about this futuristic, robots-over-humans type film. I'm definitely going to add this to my watchlist.

The World's Smallest Consumer Quadcopter Can Land On A Coin (Updated 2014)

Image source: Brando

Not too long ago, Estes' Proto X quadcopter held the title for the world's smallest quadcopter. However, we've stumbled upon an even smaller drone that's just a little bit smaller than the Proto X. They call it the Cheerson CX-10 .

The chassis of this tiny, 6-axis quadcopter measures in at 4cm x 4cm x 2.2cm, and the weight is also a minute 12g (approx.) But while this quadcopter may be small in size, its flight stability and altitudes are quite impressive. Pilots can expect their Cheerson CX-10 to be stable during the five minutes of flight time. Though, for those who like to take things to the extreme, altitudes of 50 feet are attainable. Other features of the CX-10 include a 30-minute USB recharge time and low battery indicator LEDs. With all these features in mind, I highly recommend this mini 'DJI Phantom' to anyone looking for a reliable, micro-sized quadcopter. Amazon currently has them selling for around $20.

Harvard Has Created A Swarm Of A Thousand Robots

Individually, small robots are next to useless when it comes to advanced functionality. But when in swarms, small robots are capable of much more. Kilobots, which Harvard now has a thousand, are capable of forming 2D shapes when in heavily-populated swarms.

See also - Piece Of Paper Folds Itself, Walks Away As A Robot

The forming of a shape begins when the first few robots start moving into position. Soon after, other nearby kilobots begin to crowd around the inner robots. When an adequate amount of robots are huddled around, they communicate with each other through infrared LEDs and use their control algorithms to form the desired shape. The penny-sized killbots kilobots are capable of forming simple shapes, but researchers are hoping that these robots could one day be used to form big, self-repairing structures.

Via IEEE Spectrum

Google Will Pay You $20M To Put A Robot On The Moon

Looking for an 'easy' way to earn $20M? Well this method may not exactly be easy, but Google's Lunar XPrize is offering a huge amount of prize money for those who can get a robot on the Moon. The contest, which boasts a $20,000,000 grand prize, is looking for anyone that's capable of designing, building, and launching a lunar rover to the Moon. But here's the catch.

See also - Want to advertise here? Contact us.

In order to win the $20M grand prize, your team's privately funded robot (10% or less from government funding) will have to land safely on the Moon, travel 500m, and send back HD video/photos (Mooncasts). The deadline is December 31, 2015. If this sounds easy enough for you, then go on ahead and send your robot up to the Moon! The Moon's waiting...

Source: Google Lunar XPrize