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Category: Gear

DJI won’t let you fly your Spark drone without a safety update

DJI is no stranger to imposing limits on drones unless you take certain actions, and that's truer than ever right now. The company is releasing new firmware for the Spark this week to tackle problems with in-flight shutdowns, and it's giving users an ultimatum: if you don't update the aircraft or battery by September 1st, the drone won't take off. The company says it made the judgment call to "maximize flight safety and product reliability."

It's not hard to see why DJI would make this particular upgrade mandatory. It doesn't want to risk even the slightest possibility of a drone injuring people as it crashes to the ground. However, this is bound to be slightly disconcerting if you're an owner. Effectively, DJI has full control over whether or not your drone works. The company isn't likely to abuse that power (it has strong incentives to keep you flying), but it gives the impression that you don't really own your drone -- you're just paying for permission to fly it.

Via: sUAS News, BBC

Source: DJI (Mynewsdesk)

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Xiaomi’s massive Mi Max 2 is too much of a good thing


Whoever first said size doesn’t matter clearly didn’t try replacing their normal-sized phone with a phablet. I tried, folks, I really did. For the past couple of weeks, I tried to live with Xiaomi’s oversized Mi Max 2 phablet. I don’t care if you think that word is no longer in use; that’s simply the most accurate way to describe a 6.44-inch handset. It’d be easy to just bash the device in this piece if it weren’t half-decent. And that’s where things get complicated. At Rs. 17,000 ($265), the Max 2 offers tremendous bang for your buck with powerful hardware…

This story continues at The Next Web

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The eclipse caused people to look away from their screens

Turns out all it takes for people to put down their phones is a once-in-a-lifetime event. In case you missed it, the eclipse took over the sun (and our lives) yesterday. Flocks of people headed to the towns and cities within the path of totality to catch it in full. As a a result, smartphones, laptops, and even streaming services went unnoticed -- for a little while. People bonded, Trump somehow didn't go blind, and (for a brief moment) the horrid events of the past weeks were drowned out as we took in the awe-inspiring sight.

The exodus was picked up by a number of web giants. Netflix, for example, claims it witnessed a 10 percent drop in plays during the eclipse. Maybe, it was just a case of everyone binging The Defenders and moving on. More likely, however, people got off their asses and went out. Or switched over to livestreams of the event on Twitter and Facebook.

Speaking of President Trump's fave platform, it seems the eclipse wasn't anywhere near as popular as other events on Twitter. The six million tweets it generated were completely overshadowed (ahem) by the likes of the 2015 Super Bowl (28.4 million tweets) and the 2014 World Cup final (32.1 million tweets). Facebook fared better with 240 million interactions, but it has 2 billion members.

Instead of sharing status updates, it seems people were actually more interested in the news. While social media saw a minimal uptick in visitors, media outlets witnessed a 113 percent traffic spike, according to data from Fastly.

Ultimately, it seems we used our phones (and other screens) to read more than post. And, to blare out Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse of the Heart.

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Fixed-wing drone lands on vertical surfaces like a bug

Scientists have borrowed a few tricks from Mother Nature in order to create a drone capable of landing flush against a wall. The Multimodal Autonomous Drone (S-MAD) looks like a small airplane and flies like a glider, but on approaching a flat surface is able to change configuration to make a smooth, ricochet-free vertical landing -- much like a graceful bird or a large, unpleasant insect, depending on how this unsettling robotic behavior makes you feel.

Created by researchers at Canada's University of Sherbrooke, the S-MAD uses microspines to attach itself to rough surfaces. These are commonly used on quadrotor drones, where landing is generally less of a problem. Fixed-wing landing presents more challenges, even before you throw perching into the mix, as the device needs to have slowed almost to a stop to prevent it from bouncing off the surface it's trying to land on. And if the device is moving too slowly, it'll stall. The researchers observed birds' take-off and landing manoeuvres and installed similar mechanisms, and now the device will land successfully on vertical surfaces 100 percent of the time.

The S-MAD is a proof of concept creation, but the team is now working on further features, such as sensors to help with wall contact and thrust-assisted repositioning. It's hoped that with a bit of refinement, the device could become to go-to drone for data gathering in logistically-challenging situations, such as inspecting a building or monitoring an area after an earthquake.

Via: TechCrunch

Source: SpringerLink

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