AI News, CyPhy Works Exits Stealth Mode with 'Unlimited Duration' Surveillance Drones

CyPhy Works Exits Stealth Mode with 'Unlimited Duration' Surveillance Drones

Ex-iRobot founder Helen Greiner's new company, CyPhy Works, has been doing something secret involving drones for the last several years, and as of today, we've found out what it is: UAVs that can operate for 'unlimited' amounts of time.

rather,if you look closely at the image above, you'll see that CyPhy's UAVs are using a new solution that is actually very old: an unbroken, continuous cable that connects the UAV to its ground station at all times.

CyPhy is probably cringing here because they absolutely hate the 'T' word and call it a microfilament instead, in that the word 'tether' implies exactly what you're thinking: something that restricts movement.

“With the filament, basically you get high-definition video images all the time, and then it has the added advantages in that it can’t be jammed, it can’t be spoofed, it can’t be intercepted.” The tether spools from the vehicle so it won’t get tangled.

microfilament is risky seeing as a well-placed cat could potentially cause serious problems, but the idea is that the robot unspools the tether behind it as it goes, so the tether is not ever actually moving.

CyPhy's drones have already undergone testing with the military, and while the company says that its products are great for civil use too, it seems like the primary focus, at least initially, will be on surveillance.

PARC

The Persistent Aerial Reconnaissance and Communications platform, also known as PARC™, is a breakthrough in drone technology that finally opens the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) market to commercial customers.

CyPhy’s patented microfilament tethered system* provides secure communication and ensures continuous flight, lasting for days, rather than the standard minutes of most battery-powered UAVs.

Capable of flying in adverse weather conditions and high winds, PARC can reach an operational altitude of 400 feet, the current legal limit assigned by the FAA.

This Surveillance Drone Never Needs to Land

Drones could become useful for surveillance and remote monitoring in many industries, and perhaps one day will even ferry the latest Amazon order to your front door.

Parc was launched as a commercial product this week, after CyPhy Works received an exemption allowing customers to fly the drone for commercial purposes.

“You send it up and it stays there.” The six-rotor Parc carries a high-resolution camera capable of producing infrared footage for night vision.

“Technically we could do it earlier, but if you’ve been involved in the struggle with the FAA since the ′90s you would not place a bet that they would allow larger, non-line-of-sight vehicles to fly over populated cities.” Currently, the FAA allows people to fly drones for recreational purposes as long as they maintain a light of sight with the drone, and as long as the vehicle stays below 400 feet, stays at least five miles from an airport, and is flown only in daytime.

Air Force funds pocket-sized drone for surveilling tight spaces

CyPhy will design and deliver a pocket-sized drone for use in search and rescue operations in collapsed buildings, tunnels, and other confined spaces and steep grades that may be difficult for crawling robots to negotiate.

The tiny hexacopter, which measures about seven inches across when fully configured, is based on technology already demonstrated in CyPhy Works' Extreme Access System for Entry (EASE) and Persistent Aerial Reconnaissance and Communications (PARC) flying robot (a tethered, self-flying quadrocopter that provides both remote-controlled high-resolution video and a wireless communications relay capability).

But the tether also gives the aircraft virtually unlimited flight time—the portable base station for the Pocket Flyer has hot-swappable batteries that last for two hours each, or it can be plugged into another power source and flown indefinitely.

There’s a small drone startup helping Facebook build its new internet-beaming helicopter drone

Facebook’s latest plan to help people get online is rather unusual: It involves an autonomous robot helicopter that is tethered to the ground, and specifically built to operate during times of crisis or natural disasters.

Facebook unveiled the drone at the company’s annual F8 developer conference last month, but what we didn’t know at the time is that Facebook has a partner in this endeavor: Everfly, a five-person drone startup that spun out of Otherlab, a firm that houses early-stage hardware companies and funded research projects in San Francisco.

Collaboration helps us increase the pace of innovation, and these types of partnerships continue to play a key role as Facebook iterates and develops next-generation technologies to connect communities when they need it most.” The aircraft Facebook showed off at F8 is just a first prototype, and may evolve along with the company’s plans.

But that version has a wingspan of nearly 14 feet — roughly the length of a Volkswagen Bug — and can be deployed quickly with an antenna system that broadcasts the internet for thousands of people nearby.

The hope is that in a disaster, if severe weather takes down cellphone towers and other infrastructure, the drone can be shot into the air to get people back online faster than it takes to repair a tower.

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