Weekend Roundup


This Week in the Unmanned Systems and Robotics World

The Airborne Law Enforcement Association (ALEA) has announced the adoption and release of the Standards for Public Safety Small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS) Programs, which were developed by the Public Safety Aviation Accreditation Commission (PSAAC), “under contract to ALEA for use by the public safety aviation community.” Public safety agencies considering using small UAS as a part of their operations are encouraged to use these standards as a guiding document. Public safety agencies already using small UAS as a part of their operations are encouraged to “review these standards and perform an internal gap analysis to determine their compliance with industry best practices.” (ALEA)

The National Science Foundation has given a three-year, $400,000 award to a team of researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, Massachusetts. The money will go towards developing autonomous snake-like robots that can be used to navigate through difficult conditions such as rubble, confined spaces, and rough terrain left in the aftermath of a disaster, so that they can send images and information to search and rescue teams. (Worcester Polytechnic Institute)

In Arizona, a Yavapai College UAS instructor was recently asked to use a UAS to help battle a fire at an old sawmill site. Using the UAS' camera, areas where the water had not reached in the site were pinpointed, and the camera showed which direction the fire was spreading. The UAS’ thermal imaging camera was also able to identify the location of hotspots, and show firefighters how far the water from the truck was penetrating, which ultimately led to a second truck being sent for further assistance. (The Daily Courier)

In a recent set of experiments, an autonomous robot surgeon called the Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot (STAR) showed that it was able to make more precise cuts than expert surgeons, while damaging less of the surrounding flesh. For the experiments, which centered on a cutting task in pig skin, STAR and the surgeons were asked to cut a straight 5-centimeter line. STAR outperformed the surgeons based on all forms of judgement of the task. (IEEE Spectrum)

15 colleges and universities in Michigan have signed an agreement to create the Academic Consortium of the American Center for Mobility (ACM). The goal of the consortium is to train the next generation of high-tech talent in the latest connected and automated vehicle (CAV) technologies. (Lawrence Technological University)

Texas A&M's department of mechanical engineering is hoping that its work on fully autonomous self-driving vehicles could one day result in a fleet of golf cart-style vehicles on the campus that could help transport students with disabilities and injuries to and from classes. 12 capstone students in the mechanical engineering department are intently focused on features of the shuttles that would help disabled students, especially those who are wheelchair-bound or vision impaired. (The Eagle)

In Switzerland, the city of Sion will expand its autonomous bus service. Through the expansion, the length of the bus service’s route will be doubled, and the service will be offered until the end of 2018. (Swissinfo.ch)

Mitsubishi Electric Corporation has announced that since May 2016, its xAUTO vehicle and related autonomous-driving technologies for self-sensing and network-based driving have been undergoing expressway-based field testing. The company’s autonomous driving technologies have been developed under the concept of “Thinking of people at any time.” (Mitsubishi Electric)