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Australia Postal Department to use drones for parcel delivery

Australian Postal Department is one step ahead to its goal of being the first delivery agent in Australia to deliver small parcels by drone. It is undertaking closed-field trials for the new technology, hoping to bring it just a little bit closer to being a reality

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Aside from your everyday customers, AusPost have targeted a few more specific situations in which drone delivery could really make a difference. In rural areas, for example, properties can often be a number of kilometers down a driveway from the actual road — and a drone could fly the package right down to the front door. Otherwise, they suggest it could be used for delivery of medication or other time-critical packages.

The Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) is the result of a collaboration with local start-up ARI Labs, a company that specialises in automation and drone technology. It’s also part of an effort on Australia Post’s side to explore new innovations and keep up with the tide of technology — the drone delivery in particular is in part a response to the huge rise in online shopping.

“Australia Post has been adapting to changing customer needs and new technological advancements for over 200 years. This trial is another exciting example of how we’re looking to the future with emerging technologies to make life easier for our customers,”said AuPost Managing Director Ahmed Fahour. “We’re excited to be the first major parcels and logistics company in Australia to test RPA technology for commercial delivery applications. We will put this innovative technology through its paces over the coming weeks and months to understand what it can deliver, how far it can travel, and ultimately, how our customers could receive a parcel.”

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15 Things every LiPo battery user should know

LiPo batteries are more eco-friendly and safer than other radio control toy batteries like NiCd and NiMH. LiPo batteries are the most common and high performance radio control toy battery and are used in R/C cars, boats, planes, helis, multirotors and more. This is a simple guide for safe usage of LiPo battery. This guide applies to all LiPo batteries including all DJI Smart Batteries used in the Phantom 2, 3, 4 series and Inspire 1. You can buy LiPo batteries here: http://www.cnkits.in/product-category/drones-multirotors/batteries-chargers/

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1. Never charge, discharge, use, or store a damaged or punctured or swollen LiPo battery.

2. Do not purchase used LiPo batteries. The life of a LiPo battery depends on the usage and charging methods. You never know what the way the previous user used them and they could already be badly maintained.

3. Always use a correct LiPo battery balance charger when charging your LiPo batteries. You can buy  the balance  charger http://www.cnkits.in/product/1535/. It is crucial that all cells in a LiPo battery maintain the same voltage across all cells at all times.

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If the voltages across the cells deviate too much from each other (5mV ~ 10Mv), the battery can become unstable and dangerous.

4. Always use a fire proof LiPo safety bag when you are charging or storing your LiPo batteries. While LiPo fires are rare, they can happen incredibly quickly and can do a lot of damage. All it takes is an internal short circuit to set the battery off. There is no way to predict when it will happen. It does tend to happen more often when batteries are fully charged, being overcharged, or while being discharged, but it can happen to any LiPo at any time.

5. Do not use your flight case/travel case for long term LiPo storage. The foam and plastic in these cases can help spread a LiPo fire. Always use a fire proof container such as a fire proof safe for storage.

6. Never leave your LiPo batteries charging while unattended. If a battery starts to become puffy, smoke, or catches fire you need to be able to immediately handle the situation. Walking away for even just 5 minutes can spell disaster.

7. A LiPo fire is a chemical fire. Always keep a Class D fire extinguisher nearby your battery charging/discharging and storage area. The battery charging/discharging and storage area should be free from any materials which can catch fire such as wood tables, carpet, or gasoline containers. The ideal surface for charging and storing LiPo batteries is concrete or ceramic.

8. Never overcharge a LiPo battery. Typically a full charge is 4.2v per cell. Never “trickle” charge a LiPo battery.

9. Never discharge a LiPo battery below 3.0v per cell. Ideally you never want to go below 3.2v per cell to maintain a healthy battery. 2.9v per cell and lower is causing permanent damage.

10. Never leave your LiPo batteries sitting around on a full charge for more than 2-3 days. If by the 3rd day you realize you are not going to use your battery today, you need to discharge your battery down to 3.6v-3.8v per cell for safe storage until you are ready to use the battery again. You can buy LiPo battery monitor here: http://www.cnkits.in/product/lipo-battery-voltage-tester-1-8s-with-low-voltage-buzzer/

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11. Always store your LiPo batteries at room temperature. Do not store them in a hot garage, or in a cold refrigerator. Even though a cold battery has less chemical reaction taking place which can prolong its lifespan, taking a battery out from a cold fridge can cause condensation to occur on the inside of the battery, which can be very dangerous.

12. Always remember that heat is the number one enemy of LiPo batteries. The hotter your batteries get, the shorter their lifespan will be. Never charge a battery that is still warm from usage, and never use a battery that is still warm from charging.

13. Depending on how they are used, most LiPo batteries typically do not last longer than 300 charge cycles. Leaving them around on a full or depleted charge all the time, running them completely dead, or exposing them to high temperatures will shorten this lifespan dramatically.

14. LiPo batteries do not work well in cold weather. The colder it is, the shorter your run times will be due to the slowing down of the chemical activity within the battery. If it is below 14F (-10C), LiPo usage is not recommended at all. Your battery could cause your R/C vehicle to suddenly fail without warning in these temperatures.

15. Always pack your LiPo batteries in your carry-on bag and never in your checked baggage when traveling on an airplane.

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DJI Phantom 4 is announced – Can dodge obstacles and track humans

We can say Phantom 4 the first consumer drone that can see the world around it and adjust accordingly and this is the next big step towards a truly autonomous drone. Try and drive it into a wall, the Phantom 4 will put on the brakes. If you ask it to fly from your position to a spot across a river, and there is a bridge in between, it will make a judgement call: increase speed to clear the obstacle or, if that isn’t possible, stop and hover in place, awaiting your next command.

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The Phantom 4 accomplishes this feat with the help of five cameras: two on the front and two on the bottom, plus the main 4K camera that has always been on board to capture video. The images captured by these cameras are run through computer vision software which constructs a 3D model of the world around it that the drone can intelligently navigate.

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“With the Phantom 4, we are entering an era where even beginners can fly with confidence,” said DJI CEO Frank Wang. “People have dreamed about one day having a drone collaborate creatively with them. That day has arrived.”

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Avoiding crashes is a great new feature, and something you can have switched on all the time. Expert pilots can turn it off if they need to fly in close quarters. But DJI is using the computer vision technology to do more than just that. A new feature called TapFly eliminates the need to learn the two-stick controller. Push one button to take off, set a maximum distance the drone can travel, and just tap on the live video feed that appears on your screen. The drone will move towards the horizon in the direction.

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This feature is especially nice for helping to smooth out video footage. Now you can tap on your screen and the drone will automatically adjust its orientation with a single, smooth motion. Combining TapFly and obstacle avoidance also let me capture much tighter close-ups of faraway buildings, passing overhead with just a few feet of buffer, a much riskier shot than I would feel comfortable capturing manually.

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The new sensors also make the Phantom 4 more stable when hovering. It now has two cameras and two ultrasonic sensors on its belly, twice what the last version had. DJI says that overall the new unit is five times as good at holding its position. Previous version of the Phantom would stay in place, drifting and correcting a few inches depending on wind. The Phantom 4 looks as though it is frozen in air.

The second new autonomous feature, ActiveTrack, is even more impressive. Trace a circle around a subject you want to keep it in frame: a runner, race car, or mountain bike. The Phantom’s onboard computer builds a 3D model of that subject and then automatically tracks to keep it in frame. The pilot can use the remote to make fine-grained adjustments to the focus, framing or camera settings, or they can just sit back and let the drone do all the work.

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While it’s moving forward, the Phantom 4 can track and avoid obstacles at the same time. It can also do it from much closer in. Follow modes that use GPS typically have an effective range of 10 to 15 feet. With ActiveTrack that shrinks to just 4 to 5 feet.

With ActiveTrack you just pick a subject and hold left or right on the stick to execute a perfect orbit. It’s fairly mind-blowing to set yourself as the target, then capture a perfect tracking orbit of a conversation while walking across a field.

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Drones to spot sharks and rescue victims in Australia

Drones are being used by rescue authorities in Australia to spot sharks in the water and to help rescue any victims of a shark attack.

The camera-equipped drones are being trialed in New South Wales this week as 14 people were involved in shark attacks along the News South Wales coast last year, with one incident being fatal. The drone is named as ‘The Little Ripper’, can transmit HD images from the ocean to computers on the ground station.

The drone also include a drop-down pod hat includes medical equipment, shark repellent, and an inflatable raft that can carry up to three people. About 40 other drones will be deployed across the area, If the trial is successful.

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The Game Changers in Future Wars – DRONES

In this Jan. 8, 2009, photo provided by the Mesa County, Colo., Sheriff's Department, a small Draganflyer X6 drone makes a test flight in Mesa County, Colo. with a Forward Looking Infrared payload. The drone, which was on loan to the sheriff's department from the manufacturer, measures about 36 inches from rotor tip to rotor tip, weights just over two pounds.

In this Jan. 8, 2009, photo provided by the Mesa County, Colo., Sheriff’s Department, a small Draganflyer X6 drone makes a test flight in Mesa County, Colo. with a Forward Looking Infrared payload. The drone, which was on loan to the sheriff’s department from the manufacturer, measures about 36 inches from rotor tip to rotor tip, weights just over two pounds.

Down the ages weapons of war have become increasingly lethal providing an operational edge to the side which possessed technological superiority. World War I witnessed the introduction of aircraft that were employed as a platform initially for reconnaissance and later for bombing, aerial combat and chemical warfare. In World War II, the use of aircraft to shatter the morale of adversaries proved to be a game changer. This was witnessed in the bombing of London by Nazi planes, the devastation of Dresden by the British and the nuclear devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the US that led to surrender by Japan.

The game changer for any future war will be the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), also known as “drones”. Armed drones such as the Predator are already in use by the US against the Al Qaeda in Yemen and Pakistan. The Israeli armed forces believe that the drone is the future war-horse and the country with the best drone technology would be the winner in a future war. The Israeli Air Force has therefore been re-equipping fighter squadrons with UAVs. So far, the USA, Britain and Israel are the only nations to have fired missiles from drones.

UAVs are also shifting from purely military to civilian roles such as aerial survey, weather monitoring, disaster management and law enforcement. The US Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems has estimated that the commercial drone industry will create over 100,000 jobs and generate over $82 billion over the next decade. The use of drones has however raised serious concerns about safety of civilian air traffic as also infringement of privacy. Regulations need to be suitable modified to address these concerns.

Several countries employ drones today. China monitors Japanese activities near the disputed islands in the South China Sea as also industries violating pollution laws. Turkey tracks Kurdish activity in Northern Iraq, Bolivia locates cocoa fields in the Andes and Syria monitors activities of rebels. National borders are now monitored by drones in many countries.

In all, 87 nations in the world today possess drones and conduct surveillance either over their own territories or beyond. Of these, 26 have either purchased or developed drones equivalent in size to the US MQ-1 Predator. Considerable work is also being done on Micro Air Vehicles that are small aerial vehicles with flapping wings. Israel is the second largest drone manufacturer after the US. India too is developing drones that will fire missiles and fly at 30,000 feet. Already operating Chinese drones for surveillance, Pakistan now plans to acquire armed drones from China. Iran has a drone that Ahmadinejad the former President described as the “Ambassador of Death”. Iran brought down an American drone by hacking into its communication nodes. The US is developing a carrier-based drone to provide sea-based support in the Pacific.

Dutch scientists have developed the world’s smallest autonomous flapping-wing drone, the DelFly Explorer, a dragonfly-like machine. Using two tiny low-resolution video cameras, replicating 3-D vision and linked to an onboard computer, it can avoid flying into obstructions. The DelFly Explorer has a wingspan of 28 cm and like an insect, can fly around plants enabling it to detect ripe fruits or pest infestation.