Weekly Recap: Phantom IV drone, Raspberry Pi 3, Spot robot, Google car crash, etc.

DJI’s new Phantom 4 drone is here

This week, DJI launched its latest drone, version 4 of the Phantom series, featuring new capabilities that fans will love. Typically, drone piloting is tricky, while crashing is all too easy. But DJI put its engineers to work on a user-friendly piloting solution. With the new Tap Fly function, the drone calculates its trajectory and flies itself to the destination the pilot indicates by simply tapping on the control screen. Thanks to its cameras and ultrasound distance sensors dedicated to environment recognition, Phantom 4 autonomously dodges obstacles in its way: no more climbing trees to get your drone back! Even better, with the Active Track function, just point to any moving target on the screen (an athlete in motion, an animal, a vehicle, etc.), and the drone will track it thanks to its visual recognition capability. Advertised in-flight autonomy is 28 minutes and maximum speed 70 km/h (45 mph). Finally, the improved on-board camera boasts 4K at 30 fps and 1080p at 120 fps, over a 94° field of vision. Price: USD1399 (about CAD1890).

The Verge, “DJI’s revolutionary Phantom 4 drone can dodge obstacles and track human.”

New Raspberry Pi: Same Price, More Power

Raspberry Pi 3

On 29 February 2012, UK foundation Raspberry Pi launched its first nanocomputer. Since then, it has shipped over 8 million units, making it the best-selling UK computer in history, ahead of such landmark products like the BBC Micro or the Sinclair ZX81. In celebration of its fourth birthday, the new Pi 3 is being launched. With a new SoC (BCM2837) chip and 1.2 GHz 64-bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A53, the Pi 3 promises ten times the power of 2012’s Pi 1 and a 50% improvement over its immediate predecessor. It’s also the first Raspberry to communicate wirelessly thanks to an integrated 802.11n wireless LAN and Bluetooth 4.1 (antenna integration required the relocation of the activity diodes). And all of this for the same low price of USD35. The Raspberry Pi 1 B+ and Pi 2 B models remain available for purchase (at USD25 and USD35 respectively).

Raspberrypi.org, “Raspberry Pi 3 on sale now at 35 $.”

Fido vs Spot

Boston Dynamics’ Atlas robot, which we introduced to our readers last week, has a friend called Spot. This four-legged robot made the acquaintance of Fido — or, to be more precise, Cosmo, the terrier of Android cofounder Andy Rubin. It remains to be determined whether Cosmo thinks Spot is a play buddy or an odd-looking electric sheep! (Filmed by Steve Jurvetson.)

YouTube, “Fido vs Spot — Animal vs Robot.”

Google Car-Bus Crash

Google car Lexus RX450h

A self-driving Google car hit a bus in Mountain View, California. This is the first time a Google self-driving car is determined to be at least partly at fault for a traffic accident. It would seem that the on-board computer erroneously analyzed the situation. The Google car, a Lexus RX450h, swerved to avoid sandbags lying on the side of the road, incorrectly assuming that the bus coming up behind it would slow down. At the time of the accident, both vehicles were travelling slowly, and damage is minor. Google is learning from its mistakes to improve its software: “From now on, our cars will more deeply understand that buses (and other large vehicles) are less likely to yield to us than other types of vehicles, and we hope to handle situations like this more gracefully in the future.”

Engadget, “Google self-driving car crashes into a bus.”

59.55 mph on an electrical longboard!

Thrill-seeker Mischo Erban, 32 years old, recently took extreme skateboarding up a gear when he reached a breath-taking 95.83 km/h (59.55 mph) on a modified longboard — racing into the record books with an all-new Guinness World Records title for the Fastest speed on an electric skateboard. The modified longboard is created by NGV, a Slovenian start-up technology company. The NEXTBoard is a four-wheel-drive motorised longboard, powered by four Scorpion motors (one in each wheel) and two Tattu 6S batteries in series.

Guinness World Records, “Video: Fastest speed on an electric skateboard .”

Other links

Cherry–picked by Mathieu Villegas.