I think I might have missed one of my weekly recaps of drone and quadcopter news, but that’s because I’ve been doing a bit of travelling lately.
Up first is the story of an apparently hacked drone crashing and injuring a triathlete in Australia. The story has made the rounds across a number of different publications, but I first read about it on Kotaku. What I liked is one of the first comments on that article:
Nope. This guy is a complete jackoff. Either he’s flat-out lying, or he was grossly negligent and incompetent… In either case, fuck him.
First of all, let’s start with the airframe. It’s a $20 Chinese knockoff of a DJI Flamewheel hexacopter, that he no doubt purchased from Hobby King. (The fact that it’s not DJI motors or anything else is a good tipoff.) And even a properly-configured $100 Chinese flight controller would’ve RTL’d (Return To Launch; climb to a safe altitude and fly back to the GPS coordinates of where it took off from.) upon loss of control. (Even a $60 one, really.)Nevermind the fact that any RX/TX setup you pay more than $50 for won’t be interfered with that easily. Bottom line is, once again, either he’s flat-out lying and it was operator error, or he was flying a dangerously unfit piece of equipment overhead of people.
The second interesting news item from the last few weeks about drones is a collision of technology trends, with the University of Sheffield announcing they’ve designed a drone that can be 3D printed and flown that same day. I can see situations where it’s not feasible to bring large numbers of drones to a location, but where a 3D printer and materials are readily available.
Apparently Google is also getting in to the drone game. According to a link that Jason Guitard sent my way. I’m not really sure what to make of this news – in the scale of drone company acquisitions, it’s probably pretty big. In the scale of Google, it’s probably not a big investment on their part. According to the article, they plan on using it to potentially map the earth in more detail and/or to provide quicker internet speeds around the world.
Lastly, the Daily Dot wrote an article about some guy in California who took the first “Drone Selfie”. I’d like to refute that claim, as this Instagram photo from last summer clearly demonstrates that I beat them to it with my Parrot AR.Drone 2.0. You can check out some more photos I took with that drone here.
If you’ve been reading BlogCampaigning for the past month or so, you’ll have noticed that I’m doing weekly recaps of drone-related news. You can find the previous posts here.
First up is a cool post on RoboHub about an organization named Drone Adventures who have done an aerial survey of Fukushima, site of the Tsunami/Nuclear disaster three years ago. It has some interesting observations on the state of the area, but what I liked most is that it seems they are using the same type of drone that ReRoll is using the map the earth for their open-world game. Maybe we’ll see Fukushima as the first level?
Next up is Flone, a drone created by a group of artists and computer engineers which uses a smartphone as the control mechanism. Read more about it here.
And lastly: It sounds like there’s going to be a sequel to Top Gun but this time it will be Tom Cruise vs Drones. I’ll watch it, but only for the drones.
Another week on planet Earth, and another set of interesting news about drones.
First up, Foreign Policy magazine is reporting that the Pentagon might use a fleet of “underwater drones” to help find Malaysian Airlines flight 370.
Also in the news is Drone Hire, who have recently posted that they’ll be accepting Bitcoins for payment. The company appears to be a loose organization of drone operators willing to rent out their machines and services.
And lastly. DDB Canada/Tribal Worldwide recently released a new spot for Subaru Canada for the WRX. Read more about it on Slashgear.
I think I was as surprised as anyone about the news that Occulus Rift, VR-darling of the indie game community had been acquired by Facebook for $2 billion dollars. Some of the reactions were more interesting than mine, and I’ve captured a few below.
The following comic was the top post on Reddit for a few hours today, and sums up what I think a lot of people’s thoughts about the situation are:
Next up is a post on Reddit’s R/Funny section titled “Well, looks like Simpsons called it again.” Although it does look like the Simpsons are predicting a Virtual Reality version of Farmville, the originally game was actually “Yardwork Simulator.”
The following Tweet is my personal favourite reaction the the news (though it might be lost on those who aren’t fans of the Metal Gear Solid video game series):
And the last, but possibly most important, reaction comes from Notch. The man behind the popular Minecraft game and apparently an early investor in the Oculus rift Tweeted that he thought Facebook was creepy, then followed it up with a lengthy blog post, a highlight of which is below:
Facebook is not a company of grass-roots tech enthusiasts. Facebook is not a game tech company. Facebook has a history of caring about building user numbers, and nothing but building user numbers. People have made games for Facebook platforms before, and while it worked great for a while, they were stuck in a very unfortunate position when Facebook eventually changed the platform to better fit the social experience they were trying to build.
I’ve always thought drones are interesting, so I’m going to start doing a weekly recap of any good drone or quadcopter related news.
First up, there’s a great video of an (in)famous Sydney surf break called Ours. It really takes a drone’s-eye view to understand how little water is left in front of the wave:
Next up is a beautiful few pieces of video of some ice caves, shot by a drone:
And lastly, there’s an interesting article on the Guardian’s site about how China is going to start using drones to investigate pollution in the country. Apparently, it’s possible to tell if an industrial building is polluting by the colour of smoke they’re putting out.
This post originally appeared on the DDB Canada Blog.
Virtual worlds are big and getting bigger: The world of Skyrim is just under 40 square kilometers. Grand Theft Auto V‘s map is 126 square kilometers. DayZ, a recently-released survival game, has a map size of about 230 square kilometers. Middle Earth, the fictional world of Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings saga, is about the size of the British Isles and has been recreated virtually.
Developers of the upcoming game ReRoll are dreaming bigger. A lot bigger. Like, 510 million square kilometers bigger.
That’s because 510 million square kilometers is the surface area of the Earth, and they’re planning on using drones to map our entire planet, creating the biggest open-world game ever. It’s an ambitious project, and like a lot of crowd-funded games, might never come to fruition. However, we’re interested in the way that it is further blurring the lines between real and virtual. The Montreal-based team behind the game is funding it via crowdsourcing on their website ReRollGame.com. Their announcement video will help show you just how big this project is going to be.
I originally penned this post for a newsletter of The New Zealand Initiative Think Tank.
In his book, The Great Degeneration, Niall Ferguson describes how the West’s six ‘killer applications’ (competition, science, property rights, medicine, consumerism, and work ethic) are on the decline.
“Our democracies have broken the contract between the generations by heaping IOUs on our children and grandchildren. Our markets are increasingly distorted by over-complex regulations that are in fact the disease of which they purport to be the cure. The rule of law has metamorphosed into the rule of lawyers. And civil society has degenerated into uncivil society, where we lazily expect all our problems to be solved by the state.”
The result is slow growth, strained social systems, complacency, and disinterest.
At the same time, the creative industries were shaken by the principle of crowd funding. Privately owned for-profit websites like Kickstarter allow individuals to pool their money to support projects initiated by other people.
Creators set deadlines and a minimum funding goal, and describe risks and challenges associated with the project. Once the project receives funding, the creators are expected to supply regular progress updates.
According to Wikipedia, since Kickstarter’s launch nearly five million people have funded more than 50,000 projects. Examples include video games, films and a 3D printer. In fact, in 2012, Kickstarter channelled more money into the US arts scene (US$323.6 million) than the Federal Government (US$146 million).
These numbers raise the question of whether the answer to Western society’s ills could lie in adopting this model.
A small percentage of taxes would go into essential services, and what happens with the rest is for the electorate to decide.
Any tax-funded project must justify itself, and it would need to persuade people, give detailed timelines, manage risks, and show that it has the appropriate staff. Any delays and extra costs would have to be communicated and explained immediately. Lobbyism would become more public as it needs to inform a broader audience.
For example, single mothers could choose not to pay for upper class students to attend university. Tax-funded nanny state tendencies based on vocal special interest groups, solely focused on helping themselves to our wallets and freedoms, can be curbed and a sense of personal responsibility re-instilled.
Theoretically, this would lead to less waste, and lower taxes.
Of course, this approach is not without its problems, the biggest being how to make sure that all projects are equally represented and considered by the electorate.
Still, the idea would make for a much more explicit contract between the state and its people that would make for more engagement by appealing to responsibility, and being able to directly influence outcomes. Maybe the West can crowd fund itself back to glory.
While Heather and I were on the island of Maui over the Christmas holidays, we did an amazing hike through Haleakala crater. The following are a few photos from the hike (click through on each one for a larger version).
I’d highly recommend this hike to anyone visiting Maui who wants an experience outside of the usual beach and surf scene. The scenery is unlike anything else you’ll see on the island, and it really gets you away from the crowds. Make sure to pack warm clothes and lots of water and food. We did the 18.5 km hike in a little bit over four hours, but you might want to plan on taking a bit more time than that. The National Parks Service has a great page of information and maps for the area here.
Check out a few of my other blog posts about Hawaii:
Inspired by the awesome blog Unreal Hawaii, I’ve decided
Below are a few photos I took on a hike along The King’s Highway, which is a trail across rough lava rock on the south side of Maui. According to the “Every Trail” website, these lava fields are about 200 years old. There is barely any vegetation growing, and the entire landscape looks like Mars (which is why I like this hike so much). If you give it at try, make sure you bring good walking shoes and lots of water. There’s no shade. I also used the Nike+ App on on my iPhone, so if you want to check out the map of what I hiked you can here.