SenseFly's eXom Drone Offers Situational Awareness, Self-Adjusting Head, And Thermal Optics



Drone company SenseFly (a subsidiary of Parrot) is about to unveil their ultra-sophisticated and sensor-driven eXom. The eXom is a quadcopter that "offers professional users unprecedented situational awareness."

The real kicker behind this drone is that its amount of sensors and ability to navigate autonomously is unmatched when compared to other drones. Yes, I know, there are drones like AirDog and HEXO+ that offer autonomous flying. However, these drones don't really have any sort of obstacle avoidance technology. They're just built to follow their user around hoping they won't hit anything along the way. eXom, on the other hand, uses a full range of sensors to understand its surrounding environment.



We've contacted SenseFly to get some specifics on how eXom is capable of avoiding obstacles mid-flight. Here's what they told us. eXom is equipped with five "vision" sensors that allow the pilot to see in five different directions. Working in harmony with the vision sensors, five ultra-sonic sensors give distance feedback to the pilot. This allows the pilot to have an understand of how close eXom is to nearby objects and to see what's going on.

In addition to those sensors, eXom has built in proximity warnings that alert the pilot of nearby danger. eXom is also equipped with carbon-fiber prop protectors to absorb impact if there's any surface contact.

Now lets dig into the what this drone really has to offer. An onboard auto-pilot head houses an HD camera for taking video and ultra-HD stills. Thermal data can also be recorded with the drone's thermal camera. eXom's front-facing head also self-stabilizes when in close contact with objects. 270 degrees of motion also allow for the head to tilt completely upwards. SenseFly states that this is "crucial for challenging tasks such as inspecting underside of a bridge."

It's already clear that this drone may not appeal to those looking to shoot some action footage. Instead, this drone is targeted more towards professional and field use. I'm digging the nature-inspired features!

Judging by the teaser, we estimate that this drone will release in a couple of months. Its price tag is still unknown but we project it to be well over $1,000.



Source: SenseFly

A $4,000 Robot That Replaces Your TV, Stereo, And Plays With Your Cat? I'll Pass

Image courtesy: Keecker

The French company, Keecker, hopes to bring the age of robot butlers closer to reality. Their robot, which just went live on Kickstarter (surprisingly raising $78,000 already), is an expensive substitute for your TV, stereo, and babysitter. It can be connected to your phone and provide you weather updates and even project an internet browser onto your living room wall. Pretty neat except for the fact that it retails for $4,000.


For robots to truly become integrated into our homes, they must overcome a major problem that most robots face. That problem is accessibility. We can't have startups designing and building robots that sound useful on paper but cost a fraction of the price of a new car. Seriously, how many consumers are looking to pay $4,000 to replace their HD TV with a robot projector? Plus, this robot looks like it would just get in the way of things. It's huge!

Image courtesy: Keecker

I'm not saying that this robot isn't visually appealing or that it's useless. It really isn't. The only problem I see in it is that it doesn't offer enough to cost $4,000. 4K-resolution HD TVs cost less than $4,000, it's easier to just whip out your smartphone to browse the internet, and playing mobile games on your wall sounds silly. It would have to be able to clean dishes and make dinner to convince me to pay 4K.

I would rather pay $500 for a Jibo. A robot that orders food, talks, and take pictures sounds way more useful. Not to mention it's eight times cheaper than Keecker's robot.

Review: Sphero Ollie Is Smart Tube Robot That Puts Speed First

"A fast, but overpriced tubular robot that can perform amazing stunts."




Ollie is the latest brainchild from Colorado-based Orbotix. The company that brought us the smart and connected robotic ball, Sphero, is now offering a radically new robot. The Ollie is a tubular robot that puts speed above all other features. Connected to a smart device via Bluetooth, this advanced RC car is tricky to control but can attain 14 mph speeds and pull off amazing stunts.

The box comes with Ollie, nubby tires, hubcaps, a USB charger, and a manual. The company is also selling additional ramps, hubcaps, tires, and other customizable parts on their site.


Starting up the Ollie is relatively easy when compared to the Sphero. First you have to wake him by plugging him into the charger. Following that, you simply have to pair your device with Ollie. This is assuming you have downloaded the free app off of the Apple App Store or Google Play. With the implementation of new Bluetooth technology, pairing your smart device with the Ollie is easy. All you have to do is open the app and touch your device to Ollie for about 10 seconds. One a single charge, you'll get around 1 hour of drive time.


Right off the bat, it's a no-brainer that this toy takes some time getting used to. The driving is somewhat awkward and feels like you're driving a soup can. A bit of practice is needed to get familiar with the weird touch-screen control. If you're good enough, you can tilt the app into landscape mode and perform tricks and stunts. Let's delve into the app.


Ollie's app is simple and intuitive. Portrait mode offers a simple drive interface. There's a circle in the at the bottom of the screen that allows you to control Ollie by swipe movements. Ollie's orientation can be set by rotating the slider. The settings menu is accessed by pausing the app. Inside the pause menu, you can set the speed, drift, and handling. The settings also contain presets for indoor and outdoor use. Other controls such as portrait orientation lock are included.

For those who are interested in performing stunts and tricks, Ollie doesn't disappoint. This little bot will deliver you 3 foot vertical jumps off of ramps, quick turns, and rubber-burning drifts. Ollie is the perfect little action-packed robot that's capable of performing eye-catching stunts and tricks. Keep in mind it is not water-proof like the Sphero.


Another key feature of Ollie is that it's not as limited as the Sphero. In all honesty, I've read a lot of reviews of how Sphero got boring after an hour. I can't disagree. Ollie, however, has yet to wind up shelve collecting dust. Its fast speed, ability to get airborne, and high maneuverability make Ollie great for the outdoors. The only thing I found annoying was that Ollie ha s a range of about a half a tennis court's length.

For $99, Ollie makes for an expensive cylindrical RC car that can pull off some amazing tricks. Pick it up at gosphero.com or Amazon.

Angry Hawk Attacks Quadcopter (Video)



Drones are having some tough times these days. Not only are people shooting them down or calling the cops on them, hawks are taking them out of the skies.
On October 8th, YouTube user Christopher Schmidt was flying his DJI Phantom over Magazine Park in Cambridge, MA when a hawk decided to attack his quadcopter. 

The hawk, which probably suspected the drone was a predator invading his territory, quickly homed in on the drone. As Schmidt reacted by throttling down the props to reduce the chance of injury, the hawk attacked the drone and quickly retreated unscathed. Thankfully we were left with this entertaining footage!



Source: YouTube

iRobot Introduces uPoint, A Tablet-Based Control Platform For Military Robots

Image source: iRobot

iRobot isn't only in charge of the famous Roomba robots. The Massachussets-based company is a also a lead contractor for military robots. One of their most used robots in the military is the Packbot. Its job is to scan dangerous environments and disarm explosives.

The company revealed today a new tablet-oriented control method called "uPoint." It's an Android-based app that makes controlling military robots like the Packbot a hell of a lot easier. Operators will be able to control the robot's treads, robotic arm, and other features within the easy-to-learn app. A definite improvement from those clunky, box controllers.


While viewing a live-stream from the robot's front camera, operators can simply drag their finger across the screen to control the robot. The robot's driving as well arm and gripper movements can be manipulated by a simple swipe of the finger. Presets will also be in the app. This means that the simple tasks such as opening the robot's gripper or setting the arm at a certain angle can be controlled with minimal input. Pretty simple if you think about it. Using a touchscreen these days has become second nature for most of us.

Image source: iRobot

Although this is an app-based control system, it's more involved than Bluetooth-connected robots like Sphero. uPoint requires a mesh radio network to operate a robot. This mesh radio network can span over many kilometers by linking together multiple robots. Essentially, one robot could act as an antenna and send signals to another robot that's farther away.


Another advantage to running on Android tablets is the ability to multitask. This allows operators to check email, reference material, and other apps while controlling the robot on the side. iRobot hopes that this will increase productivity and allow operators to focus more on their mission.

iRobot is set to release this in the second quarter of 2015. So we have a little less than a year until mass robot armies can be controlled by consumer tablets.



Source: iRobot

Takei's Take, George Takei Visits With Japan's Most Famous And Advanced Robots





Excerpt from video description.
George Takei wraps up his visit in Tokyo exploring the robotic world of Japan. Life-like mechanical dolls have been a part of Japanese tradition for hundreds of years. Today, they have evolved into robots helping to establish the relationship between technology and humanity. Watch George befriend two humanoids, Asimo and Pepper. These very unique humanoids open us to a future of life with robots.

Meet Anura, The Foldable, Pocket-Sized Camera Drone That's No LargerThan An iPhone 6

Image courtesy: AeriCam


Update 10/22/14: Anura is live on Kickstarter and has already raised $43,000. A 3D-printed version is also available. The robot connects to smartphones via WiFi and it's been confirmed that it will be able to live stream video. Anura plans to ship out to backers in April.

Portable drones are becoming increasingly more popular. Last summer, we saw two action sports drones that could be folded and fit inside of a backup. Heck, we've seen wearable drones that fit on your wrist.

If you're looking for a portable and feature-loaded drone that wont break the bank, then look no further than the AeriCam Anura. This pocket-sized drone is about as big as an iPhone 6 and it's about to be launched on Kickstarter where it plans to raise a minimum of $100,000 and $200,000 with stretch goals. But hey, AirDog and HEXO+ each raised over a million!


Most drones that are small in size lack features and usability. Let's be honest. After a few days of playing with these micro drones, they usually end up as desktop toys collecting dust. AeriCam, however, is challenging the average consumer micro drone by setting some sweet new standards. Some notable and unique features of the AeriCam include the ability to fold up, auto-follow, auto-take off and landing, and the ability to fit inside your shirt pocket.

As we approach the date of the Kickstarter launch, we'll learn more about the drone's technical specifications. For now, we know that this drone will be able to work along side iPhone and Android devices via a Wifi connection. Though the camera isn't exactly HD, streaming is feasible. Again, we'll find out more as soon as the Kickstarter campaign launches on October 15.

The Anura will be available to backers for $195 and retail for about $250.

More about the San Francisco company, AeriCam, can be found here.

Hospital Lets Loose Ebola-Killing Robot, Uses UV Light To "Fuse" Virus DNA

Ebola Virus, Wikipedia

With the recent news on the Dallas Ebola patient, this extremely deadly virus has been a growing concern for many people. The Dallas hospital treating the man diagnosed with Ebola has added an extra layer of protection by deploying a UV-blasting, germ-killing robot named "Little Moe."

According to Dr. Mark Stibich of Xenex, the robot emits pulses of UV light every 1.5 seconds. For the germs, the UV light has no mercy. Following the pulses of light, the nucleic acids inside the microorganisms are destroyed. Without their nucleic acids, bacteria and viruses can't perform cellular functions and this results in death. A hospital room can be completely rid of germs in 5 minutes, while Ebola can be destroyed in 2 minutes.




Source: KENS5