What’s coming to AUVSI Xponential + UAV misHAPS

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AUVSI Xponential 2019 — the huge exhibition and conference built around unmanned everything — will run at the West Building, McCormick Place Convention Center, April 29 to May 2 in Chicago.

This is the premier show for the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) group and its many members and supporters who have interest in unmanned technology — 8,500 attendees with connection to unmanned and autonomous capability are expected to walk the exhibit hall to see the latest products, hear numerous related presentations, participate in educational courses, and mingle with other like-minded people in the industry.

I was looking for a way to provide a brief overview of the companies exhibiting; a sample cross-section to provide an insight on what to expect. But with more than 700 exhibitors, it’s a difficult thing to do. Then I realized that the company show preview emails in my inbox were from organizations that were actually quite representative of the industry, and I had my overview selection.

Flyability inspection drone. (Photo: Flyability)

Flyability inspection drone. (Photo: Flyability)

Flyability’s drones are adapted for inspection tasks, both indoors and out, with an exterior protective cage. Routine inspection jobs indoors, underground and around complex pipework become quicker, safer and are fully documented by high-resolution video and stills.

This all enables the reduction of costs and process-interruption downtime of industrial inspections, while also reducing to a large degree the risks for inspection professionals. Industries using these inspection drones include power generation, oil and gas, chemicals, maritime, infrastructures and utilities, and public safety.

AeroVironment’s drones are used extensively by the military for surveillance and reconnaissance, and in the commercial sector they focus on tools for agriculture.

Quantix drone. (Photo: AeroVironment)

Quantix drone. (Photo: AeroVironment)

The VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) Quantix drone system is fully automated for takeoff, flight and landing, enabling mapping of farm acreage to monitor crop health to identify anomalies due to water, insect, weed and disease so their impact on yield can be minimized.

Drone mailbox. (Photo Valqari)

Drone mailbox. (Photo: Valqari)

Valqari has developed a drone mailbox that is interoperable with a large number of delivery drones and enables drop-off of packages in residential neighborhoods.

The Valqari drone mailbox automatically accepts packages and safely stores them until the recipient opens the box later to retrieve them.

Cepton makes lidar systems more commonly used for automotive obstacle detection, but now customized for UAV integration and use. Its UAV lidar system provides long-range, high-resolution and low-cost mapping capabilities in a lightweight package. With a scanning range of 200 meters, high-density map-data acquisition becomes possible.

Deseret UAS is a non-profit working to bring UAS business to Utah — the organization offers information, promotes UAS companies and offers test-range access in Utah. In collaboration with Utah State University AggieAir, FAA authority for flight testing in wide open; low-risk operational areas of Utah can be accessed.

And, of course, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI), manufacturer of the well-known Predator military drone, will exhibit. At Xponential 2018, GA-ASI unveiled its MQ-9B SkyGuardian certifiable drone system. Through the year, the company has progressed towards certification of the system for flight within the U.S. civilian National Airspace System and the civil airspace of other countries around the world.

GA-ASI’s latest media release recounted how an MQ-9B was flown by the company’s Certifiable Ground Control Station (CGCS) on March 9, including both take-off and landing. The CGCS architecture separates flight and mission-critical functions. Off-the-shelf avionics and flight computers are used for flight-critical functions, and mission-critical functions run alongside GA-ASI’s Advanced Cockpit payload and weapons equipment.

Certifiable Ground Control Station. (Photo: GA-ASI)

Certifiable Ground Control Station. (Photo: GA-ASI)

Meanwhile, High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS) unmanned aircraft are back in the news with what appears to be a crash during the sensitive take-off/climb-out regime. The Airbus Zephyr aircraft — with an 82-foot wingspan, but weighing less than 75 pounds — was engaged in a test campaign in Western Australia when the ground abruptly intervened on March 15.

Airbus is working with the UK Ministry of Defence to demonstrate the operational capabilities of the UAV and its anticipated payload options. Once airborne, Zephyr is intended to climb out to upwards of 65,000 feet into the stratosphere — previously achieving a maximum altitude of 74,000 feet — and has so far been able to remain airborne for almost 26 days. The object is to create a commercial, reusable, reconfigurable satellite-like capability for communications and surveillance applications.

Preparing the Zephyr UAV for take-off. (Photo: Airbus)

Preparing the Zephyr UAV for take-off. (Photo: Airbus)

Airbus and MoD are undertaking a crash investigation to determine what exactly happened and how to prevent future recurrence. The incident occurred about four hours into a demonstration flight, and (reading between the lines) may have been related to rapid weather changes that destabilized the UAV while in the take-off and climb-out phase. An automated launch system is in the works — currently Zephyr is man-handled for take-off.

Other HAPS programs include AeroVironment and Japan’s Softbank, Astigan and the UK Ordnance Survey, BAE Systems and Prismatic, and Boeing’s Aurora Flight Sciences. Thales, meanwhile, is apparently focusing on an approach using an autonomous airship.

So some good news, some not so good. Lots of attendees are expected in Chicago for the AUVSI Xponential show, with new developments in unmanned aircraft, robotics, and unmanned ground and water systems anticipated in the exhibition hall. There will be lots of people in the industry with whom to exchange ideas and conduct business to conduct, hopefully just as spring arrives in the windy city.

Meanwhile, over the coming months Airbus will no doubt continue to work out how to overcome the latest problems in HAPS technology and operations.

TomTom Launches Dedicated Page for US National Park Maps

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Next to driving directions, outdoor activities like hiking are where GPS devices get the most use. Although any experienced outdoors enthusiast will tell you that a paper map is a must-have when exploring, a GPS device can be great for finding your way to and from camp and exploring different trails in the area. Recently,read more

The post TomTom Launches Dedicated Page for US National Park Maps appeared first on GPS Tracklog.

How Google Maps helps amateur and professional archaeologists ponder the mysteries of Stonehenge’s burial mounds

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My journey into mapmaking started when I came across a 200-year-old reference to an oddly deformed, 5,500-year-old skull buried in one of the 300 Neolithic and Bronze Age barrows (burial mounds) found within walking distance of the Stonehenge prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, England. When I can spare time away from my software business, I offer tours around this unique landscape and study the barrows myself. It’s fascinating to imagine who the barrows’ inhabitants were—like the one with the intriguingly deformed skull—and what their lives were like thousands of years ago.

Photo provided and licensed by http://www.stonesofstonehenge.org.uk

In the countryside around Stonehenge, one challenge is finding barrows and identifying them against records and maps that were created over a 200-year period. Early 1800s researchers published excellent guides to the barrows, but there were no authoritative maps and surveys of the area in those days. If you tried now to find a barrow using 200-year-old guides, modern databases wouldn’t have the same reference numbers. And, of course, there were no online sources that correlated and matched the barrow location data.

This was frustrating, so I pulled together a Google Sheets listing the barrows’ latitudes and longitudes and the numbering systems used by different authorities. I thought somehow this data could be visualized on a map. After some online searching, I discovered that I could use the Maps JavaScript API and the Google Charts “Map” visualization to pull the data from the spreadsheet, and I built the Stonehenge Barrow Map showing all the barrow locations.

It only took two days for me to create the basic map using the Charts visualization. After that, I spent one evening per week, over six months, adding barrow descriptions and images to the Google Sheet. The developers in the Google Maps forums were quick to answer my questions, such as when I needed help customizing pop-up boxes with information about each barrow. When users click on a point on the map, an info window appears with reference numbers and descriptions from 19th-century and modern-day researchers, links to data from government agencies and historical societies, and images of artifacts removed from barrows.

Using the Visualization Query Language, I added a search box to the map, where people can enter keywords to find barrows by all kinds of criteria, including what artifacts were found. Almost all the barrows have been plundered for their contents in the past few centuries, but happily a great many of these treasures eventually found their way into the wonderful museums in Devizes and Salisbury

Stonehenge enthusiasts and I use the Google Map when we’re carrying out research or conducting tours, and anyone can use it just to explore the barrows for themselves. We can enter the modern reference number for a barrow, like “Wilsford G30” or “MWI12489”, find it was known to the 19th-century antiquaries as barrow “Normanton 173,” and that it was the one which contained that very odd skull.

Not only are all the research links in one place, but we also get a visualization of the barrows around the Stonehenge landscape. That helps us ponder questions such as why barrows were clustered together, and which materials were buried where and at different times in prehistory.

I’ve had people ask me to expand my map to include the barrows in the Avebury landscape, or even those in the neighbouring counties of Dorset and Hampshire. That’d be an enormous undertaking, so it’s a project for someone else. To help anyone interested in pursuing that goal, I’ve kept the map code as simple as possible. I’ve posted the Google Docs barrow spreadsheet for download so other people can use it as a template for their own maps.

While much about the barrows remains a mystery—such as what happened to the skeleton of the person with the deformed skull—I’d like to think that future researchers, using Google Maps like mine, may help to uncover some of the answers.

Falling Fruit helps urbanites forage for food using Google Maps Platform

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We don’t typically think of cities as places to forage for food. But there is fresh food ready for picking on our city streets if you know where to find it. We created Falling Fruit to help people recover food that would otherwise go to waste. The interactive maps on our website and mobile apps are built using Google Maps Platform, helping us create the bridge between our users and the large amounts of data we collect on food-bearing trees, plants, and other foraging opportunities.

My co-founders and I blew minds everytime we harvested fruit in Boulder, Colorado (where we all lived at the time). People said, “Is that edible?” and “I never noticed those were apples!” Excited by our delicious discoveries, and dismayed by the perceptual divide between city dwellers and their food, we were determined to shine light on food growing in cities everywhere.

Falling Fruit is a type of matchmaking service for urban foragers. People enter an address to find the foraging opportunities that surround them – from fruits and nuts like apples (Malus sp.), plums (Prunus sp.), and pecans (Carya illinoinensis) to edible flowers like elderberry (Sambucus sp.) and black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia), and spices like lavender (Lavendula sp.) or pink peppercorns (Schinus molle, Schinus terebinthifolius).

While we encourage users to submit new listings, most of our data comes from cities and universities, which often make their tree inventories publicly available. Our worldwide map lists more than 2,300 types of edibles in more than 1.3 million locations. Although most locations are publicly accessible, private property owners sometimes add themselves to the map to share their harvest with others.

Using Google Maps Platform, a small, volunteer-driven nonprofit like ours can create maps and integrate data sets in less time. We use the Maps JavaScript API to display foraging locations within detailed interactive basemaps on our website and mobile apps. The Geocoding API converts between map coordinates and human-readable addresses, so, for example, users can add or search for locations based on a street address, and we can list new locations by city. We use the Directions API to allow users to build custom routes between locations.

With locations in 111 countries and 6,340 cities (and users scattered across the globe), we rely on other Google APIs to help us break through language barriers. We use the Cloud Translation API to give human translators a head start in translating our user interfaces (the website is available in nine languages). In our larger effort to build a multilingual dictionary of species common names, we use the Custom Search API to determine which “common names” for a species in a particular language are in fact the most common.

With help from Google, we can continue to use the Maps APIs without stretching our small budget too thin. The Google Maps Platform credit covers the usage cost as we attract more users to Falling Fruit. The APIs’ accurate documentation also helps us run Falling Fruit more efficiently. Tasks like converting between map coordinates and addresses now run automatically in the background, which frees up time that we can devote to other projects – like adding new features to the mobile app, importing new city tree inventories, and partnering with nonprofits with similar missions, such as Community Fruit Rescue.

Once you start looking for food-bearing plants in your city, you’ll realize that you’ve been surrounded by them all along. We’re excited that Falling Fruit is helping to reimagine cities as a source of food. Over half of the world’s population lives in urban areas: We want them to realize that there is edible bounty ready to be harvested, just down the street or around the corner. As the popularity of urban foraging grows, I hope that we can organize ourselves to cultivate increasingly more food-bearing (rather than just decorative) plants in our cities.

VIDEO: Evolve Tests Bilstein B6 EDC Dampers on the F80 BMW M3

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If you’ve seen Evolve Automotive’s F80 M3, code-named “Project Vyper”, you’d know that it’s been tuned quite a bit. Everything from an engine tune to bigger turbochargers (both of which help it make 605 hp, by the way) to aerodynamic tweaks have been fitted to the ‘Vyper’. However, the suspension remained relatively untouched. So Imran at Evolve decided to change that.

The only suspension modification done to the incredibly green BMW M3 was a set of Intrax springs. The stock electronically-adjustable dampers remained. In both purely stock and lowered forms, Imran wasn’t happy with the suspension setup of the BMW M3. He felt that it wasn’t compliant enough while also not being stable enough. So he decided to replace them with a set of Bilstein B6 EDC (Electronic Damper Control) dampers.

Bilstein has been one of the premiere names in suspension tuning forever and it’s hard to go wrong with any of its setups. But Imran was still a bit curious as to whether or not it would make much of a difference. Turns out, those B6 dampers make a world of a difference.

Because they work with the car’s stock suspension modes, you can adjust them from Comfort to Sport or even Sport Plus, just like the standard M3 suspension. In Comfort mode, the Bilstein B6 dampers, with the same Intrax springs as before, apparently feel significantly better. It’s far more comfortable and compliant than before while also feeling more stable and eliminating most of the car’s body roll.

In Sport  and Sport Plus modes, it’s the car obviously becomes stiffer and stiffer but it’s still compliant enough for everyday use. So the new suspension setup really transforms the car. It also helps keep the rear end more planted, allowing it to put down its substantial power better. Have an M3 and feel that it’s a bit too sketchy, a bit too tail-happy to drive quickly? Try a new suspension setup.
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEck2-kuq9s]

The article VIDEO: Evolve Tests Bilstein B6 EDC Dampers on the F80 BMW M3 appeared first on BMW BLOG

Claimed Factory-Built 6-Wheeler: 1991 Dodge Ram Conversion Van

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This 1991 Dodge Ram van (VIN 2B6HB21Z7MK439484) runs dual rear axles, reportedly factory-built at the request of an LA-based dealer. Only one of the axles is driven, with the extra, rearmost tag unit suspended on a simple beam. The fifth and sixth wheels lend what’s otherwise an unusually well preserved conversion van a wild period custom look, while inside it’s standard issue red velour, captains chairs, wood trim, overhead cabinets, tables and recessed lighting. Power comes from a 360ci V8/automatic combo, and the seller says both front and rear A/C still work. Find it here on eBay in Tuscon, Arizona with a $13k BIN. Special thanks to BaT reader Kyle K. for this submission.

Claimed Factory-Built 6-Wheeler: 1991 Dodge Ram Conversion Van

Dodge produced B-series from 1971 until 2003, and offered the vans in a wide variety of lengths and configurations. We’d have guessed this was a custom build, though the seller says it’s fully factory and made at the request of a Los Angeles Dodge dealer–unfortunately no documentation backing this claim is provided.

Claimed Factory-Built 6-Wheeler: 1991 Dodge Ram Conversion Van

Here’s a better look at the dual axle rear, and a careful look shows where the van body was stretched to accommodate the extra set of wheels and tires. Paint looks pretty good overall, but decals and finish do show scattered wear when viewed up close. Wheels aren’t great and we’re not digging the sidewall stickers either–a period set of Centerlines or even Torq-Thrust-style items would be a big improvement.

Claimed Factory-Built 6-Wheeler: 1991 Dodge Ram Conversion Van

For many of us the factory original interior may bring back childhood memories with its overhead and floor mood lighting, swivel seats, fold down rear bench, small CRT TV and 6×9″ speakers. Both front and rear A/C reportedly still work.

Claimed Factory-Built 6-Wheeler: 1991 Dodge Ram Conversion Van

More cushy velour and wood is visible up front, though timbers up here are plastic. The doghouse covering the 360 looks to offer a good deal of storage, and those padded covers are something else. We’d be curious to see if the dash mat is covering any cracks. Interestingly, the dash design is one of relatively few subtle differences between these later models and the 1973 example featured here recently. Only the modern head-unit appears non-original.

Claimed Factory-Built 6-Wheeler: 1991 Dodge Ram Conversion Van

Here’s a view looking towards the front of the van, and we’d guess that the tag axle was probably originally created for box trucks or cab-only configurations. With a simple beam axle and an extra set of shocks it probably doesn’t impact driving down the road too much, but it is cool.

Claimed Factory-Built 6-Wheeler: 1991 Dodge Ram Conversion Van

Don’t you miss badging like this?

What Are Car Tracking Devices Used For?

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The foremost purpose of a GPS automobile monitoring tool is to help you recognize where your automobile is always, and there are a whole lot of exclusive situations in which that can be useful. For instance, if your automobile was stolen, but you had a tracker hooked up, you may offer the police with its exact area. GPS trackers for …

Why Every Motorcycle Owner Should Use A GPS Tracker

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Get a gps tracker low priced

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Get a gps tracker low priced Technologies have gone very far in which issues monitoring someone something like that by the sat. In the 80s this was a fantasy but humankind has slowly and gradually but continuously transferred in this direction and has had immense success in which monitoring is worried. It was first made by the army and GPS …