I used to write a fairly regular series of posts here called "Drone Week" that would
Anyways, with a ton of interesting news in this space, I thought I'd bring it back.
What is a drone?
I've been pretty loose with the term drone, and and I figured it would be good to dig into the etymology of it a bit. Based on the dictionary definition, a drone is specifically "remote-controlled pilotless aircraft or missile." I suppose that the usage comes from the drone in a bee colony, which is one that doesn't have stingers, doesn't gather nectar and pollen and whose job seems to be to fertilize the queen. So, basically a lazy, pacifist. Which is the exact opposite of the original drones used by the military.
So why did the military call them drones in the first place? Apparently it's because the first unmanned aircraft used for target practice was called "Queen Bee."...all the way back in 1935. Later versions were called drones...out of respect, I guess?
Still, that definition should work for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and Quadcopters.
But what about our autonomous cars and bipedal robots? Is a quadcopter that makes use of Artificial Intelligence (rather than being remote controlled) still a drone? Is a remote controlled (or RC) airplane still a drone?
I guess I might have to rename this category of posts on my site to ensure I can cover it all.
The Latest Boston Dynamics Monstrosity
Boston Dynamics has a long history of unveiling new robotic servants that fit pretty squarely in the "creepy" section of the uncanny valley, and their latest one, called "Handle" follows the same trend. Based on our definition above, it might not be considered
via the description on their video:
"Handle is a research robot that stands 6.5 ft tall, travels at 9 mph and jumps eet vertically. t uses electric power to operate both electric and hydraulic actuators, with a range of about 15 miles on one battery charge. andle uses many of the same dynamics, balance and mobile manipulation principle found in the quadruped and biped robots we build, but with only about 10 actuated joints, it is significantly less complex. Wheels are efficient on flat surfaces while legs can go almost anywhere: by combining wheels and legs Handle can have the best of both worlds."
Drones At The Movies
It will be interesting to see how drones will be portrayed in the media and movies over the next few years. Good Kill is apparently very good, and on my must-watch list, but I'm also very interested in the potential of Skywatch. It's currently in the process of being crowdfunded.
Self-driving cars have been in the news a lot lately. So much so that it's all starting to feel a bit boring, and that most of the news is about regulations rather than technological innovation.
And that's why RoboRace is so exciting - it feels like that big, next step. It feels like the video-game future I've been looking forward to. The gist of it is that RoboRace will develop a chasis, and that it will be up to teams to optimize software to make it race faster/driver better. With human lives no longer at risk during high-speed rashes (and the ensuing crashes), this might take the thrill out of watching it.
This post was written by me, Parker Mason. I'm a digital strategist who is fascinated by technology but also worried about the singularity . Get in touch with me at ParkerMason.net