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Video: Power Line Perching UAV Doubles Down on Drone Delivery
7/8/2014

MIT researchers have developed a lightweight unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that can perch on a power line, paving the way for the possibility that the aircraft could recharge its batteries using power lines' magnetic fields.  (Source: MIT)
MIT researchers have developed a lightweight unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that can perch on a power line, paving the way for the possibility that the aircraft could recharge its batteries using power lines' magnetic fields.
(Source: MIT)

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Pubudu
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Re: Drone delivery
Pubudu   7/24/2014 1:07:04 PM
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I also agree with you on this naperlou, this will take time to get authorized from the government. And also circling here and there is a hassle for everyone. 

Elizabeth M
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Re: Autopilot
Elizabeth M   7/21/2014 4:50:09 AM
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You raise a really good point, tekochip, about the effect of automation on actual piloting and driving skills. There are experts working to find a balance between these two things.

tekochip
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Autopilot
tekochip   7/17/2014 9:42:11 AM
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There have been piloting errors caused by humans and caused by machines.  The latest series of air disasters have been caused by a combination of both, and the same theme has been repeated for decades.  Machines can't handle system exceptions well, and pilots are beginning to crash because of their over-reliance on automation.  In the case of Air France 447; I can't imagine the pilot pulling back on the yoke in a full power on stall, all the way to the ocean below in a scenario nearly identical to the 1996 Berginair 301 crash.  
 
Automation is a powerful tool, but it can't get the job done alone, and over-reliance on the systems has caused basic piloting skills to erode to the point of disaster.


Elizabeth M
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Re: Good Idea using carbon fiber?
Elizabeth M   7/17/2014 5:50:12 AM
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You pose some interesting ideas and scenarios, William K. I guess the case can be made for either humans or computers being the best at the wheel depending on the scenario. There are definitely some cases in which I hope someone who has the ability to make snap judgments and decisions is controlling a car or airplane, but other times when human error would make a situation worse, so I think automation might be better. You might want to research the work of Missy Cummings, formerly of MIT and now at Duke University. She is doing a lot of research in this area.

William K.
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Re: Good Idea using carbon fiber?
William K.   7/16/2014 8:53:15 PM
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Probably a computer system can be made to duplicate instincts, and possibly even to select a response based on a situation's context, but the computer system will never be able to make a correct decision in an exception situation. It may work as well as an inexperienced person but never as well as an individual running on experience and instincts. The flying environment is a bit safer than on the crowded roadways, just because there is a lot more room to move, and fewer fixed obstructions above the lower altitudes.

But in motor vehicles we will always have a portion of drivers who never make the best choice, and that will always be a challenge. Even worse if those are the folks who create the vehicle driveing algorithms. 

Elizabeth M
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Re: Good Idea using carbon fiber?
Elizabeth M   7/15/2014 7:02:45 AM
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You make some very good points, William K. It's true in some situations, it takes a human at the wheel to make the swift decision and adapt to conditions. I know systems are being developed to be as intelligent, but I'm not sure the tech is there just yet.

William K.
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Re: Good Idea using carbon fiber?
William K.   7/10/2014 10:10:18 PM
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Elizabeth, it has been my experience that computerized things are unable to handle exceptions. But because I am not a pilot I don't know how much taking advantage of those updrafts depends on "feel". I know how to drift a fast car through a curve by feel, and it is not clear to me that any computer could ever do that. But possibly they can. 

You are right about some drone pilots, but I was talking about autonomus flight conditions. Quite different when it is a computer driving.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Good Idea using carbon fiber?
Elizabeth M   7/10/2014 9:12:02 AM
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Yes, there are definitely challenges to this technology and the way it works, as you and others are pointing out, William K. The only thing I might disagree on is how skillful computer pilots can be. I think drones are highly sophisticated these days. In fact, one very esteemed engineer of them, Missy Cummings of Duke University (formerly of MIT), thinks they are safer and better than human pilots. So I wouldn't count them out of being able to use the wind as human pilots could.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Power Line Perch
Elizabeth M   7/10/2014 8:49:18 AM
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Yes,  PaPaMuski, that is often an issue that comes up when people want to harvest energy from power lines and the like. These are questions that need to be answered down the road as this technology evolves. But you're right, it's exciting to look at from a design and engineering perspective.

Elizabeth M
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Re: Power Line Perch
Elizabeth M   7/10/2014 8:49:16 AM
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Yes,  PaPaMuski, that is often an issue that comes up when people want to harvest energy from power lines and the like. These are questions that need to be answered down the road as this technology evolves. But you're right, it's exciting to look at from a design and engineering perspective.

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