Heathrow airport: Drone sighting halts departures

Flights from the west London airport resumed about an hour after police said a drone had been seen.

A Heathrow spokeswoman had said it was a “precautionary measure” to “prevent any threat to operational safety”. It comes after last month’s disruption at Gatwick Airport which saw thousands of people stranded when drones were sighted.

The spokeswoman said: “We continue to work closely with the Met Police to respond to reports of drones at Heathrow. Based on standard operating procedures, working with Air Traffic Control and the Met Police, we have resumed departures out of Heathrow following a short suspension. We continue to monitor this situation and apologise to any passengers that were affected by this disruption.

Read entire post Heathrow airport: Drone sighting halts departures | BBC

QUT launches ‘RangerBot’ the barrier reef protector drone

Equipped with a high-tech vision system which allows it to ‘see’ underwater, and operated using a smart tablet, RangerBot is the low-cost, autonomous robot concept that won the 2016 Google Impact Challenge People’s Choice prize, enabling QUT roboticists to develop innovative robotics technology into a real-life reef protector.

Launching RangerBot at Townsville’s Reef HQ Aquarium today, QUT Professor Matthew Dunbabin said after almost two years of research, development and testing, RangerBot’s industry-leading technology is now ready to be put through its paces by those working to monitor and protect the Reef.

This ‘Swiss army knife’-style robo reef protector, the RangerBot Autonomous Underwater Vehicle, will provide reef managers, researchers and community groups extra ‘hands and eyes’ in the water.

> Read entire article QUT Launches ‘RangerBot’ the Barrier Reef Protector Drone | Phillip Smith | DroneBelow

First UK airport trial of a drone surveillance system takes place at London Southend (and it can even find the location of the user)

The technology can track drones that are being flown too close to the airport and establish exactly where the ‘rogue’ drones are being controlled from.

A series of ‘tame’ drones were then deployed near the airport in order to test how the equipment worked in an ‘as live’ situation. The technology was able to spot the drones and even establish where they are being operated from – which offers airport operators the chance to identify them before they venture into dangerous areas.

Their system, called IPS-Metis Skyperion not only spots drones much sooner than previously possible and allows them to be tracked, but it also identifies exactly where the operator is located, something which has previously been almost impossible.

Read entire article First UK airport trial of a drone surveillance system takes place at London Southend (and it can even find the location of the user) | DailyMail | Jennifer Newton

San Francisco just put the brakes on delivery robots

It’s 2017. And in the Bay Area, robots currently drive cars, conduct home tours, clobber each other in prize fights, and guard area dogs. But machines must step lightly if they try to step onto a San Francisco sidewalk.

The SF Board of Supervisors voted on Tuesday, December 5 to severely restrict the machines, which roll on sidewalks and autonomously dodge obstacles like dogs and buskers. Now startups will have to get permits to run their robots under strict guidelines in particular zones, typically industrial areas with low foot traffic. And even then, they may only do so for research purposes, not making actual deliveries. It’s perhaps the harshest crackdown on delivery robots in the United States—again, this in the city that gave the world an app that sends someone to your car to park it for you.
Actually, delivery robots are a bit like that, though far more advanced and less insufferable. Like self-driving cars, they see their world with a range of sensors, including lasers. Order food from a participating restaurant and a worker will load up your order into the robot and send it on its way. At the moment, a human handler will follow with a joystick, should something go awry. But these machines are actually pretty good at finding their way around. Once one gets to your place, you unlock it with a PIN, grab your food, and send the robot on its way.

Because an operator is following the robot at all times, you might consider the robot to be a fancied-up, slightly more autonomous version of a person pushing a shopping cart. “But that’s not the business model that they’re going after,” says San Francisco Supervisor Norman Yee, who spearheaded the legislation. “The business model is basically get as many robots out there to do deliveries and somebody in some office will monitor all these robots. So at that point you’re inviting potential collisions with people.

The harshest crackdown on delivery robots in the United States

The ordinance, allows the Department of Public Works to issue permits for the testing of “Autonomous Delivery Devices” with a long list of rules in place, including but not limited to:

Autonomous delivery devices would not be allowed to travel more than three miles per hour.

A human operator would be required to remain within 30 feet of the device during testing.

Permittees would only be allowed to test autonomous delivery devices on sidewalks that (A) are located in zoning districts designated for Production, Design, and Repair (“PDR”) uses, (B) are not identified as a high-injury corridor.

Autonomous delivery devices would be prohibited from transporting waste or hazardous materials (such as flammables or ammunition)

Autonomous delivery devices would be required to emit a warning noise while in operation.

When not in use for Testing, each permittee would be required to dock autonomous delivery devices on private property and not on a city sidewalk or in the public right of way.

Read ordinance

On Tuesday, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in favor of strict regulation that bars autonomous delivery robots from most city sidewalks.

Read complete article
San Francisco just put the brakes on delivery robots | Wired

How drones are changing humanitarian disaster response

While so much of the news coverage about drones lately has focused on their negatives, like interfering with air traffic and the use of armed drones, they have also quietly been finding far more positive application in the humanitarian sector.

The United Nations launched its first unarmed surveillance drones in December 2013, flying them over the Democratic Republic of Congo and then Rwanda. The UN drones are used not only for actual surveillance and monitoring tasks, but also to hover at low altitude in full visibility of hostile fighters, as a deterrent to remind them they are being actively observed.

Yet, it is the experimental applications of drones for humanitarian disaster relief that are pushing the boundaries of how aerial imagery technology can reshape our ability to respond to disasters rapidly. Early applications using large volunteer teams to identify wildlife in satellite imagery and train computer algorithms to conduct basic wildlife censuses have evolved into large-scale disaster triage efforts using drone imagery. Under one pilot application, live drone imagery would be streamed to a remote team of volunteers who would click on the video feed to identify damaged locations. Areas receiving large numbers of clicks would be highlighted on the screen for drone operators to investigate further, offering realtime feedback. During one test over 100 volunteers collectively provided 49,706 identifications that were 87% accurate.

Given the enormous volume of imagery that can result from just a single drone flight, significant advances are occurring in the algorithmic assessment and identification of aerial imagery. Earlier this year drone imagery was used to construct an interactive 3D model of a refugee camp. This work has continued to develop, with a video released last week showcasing 3D reconstruction of key earthquake-damaged areas of Nepal.

All of these approaches have long histories in the classified imagery intelligence community, in fields with acronyms like GEOINT, IMINT, and MASINT. What makes their emerging humanitarian deployment so exciting is that as the civilian sector has gained access to the same kinds of high-resolution taskable satellite and realtime drone imagery, the landscape of potential applications and technological solutions has exploded. In a world where you can browse your neighbor’s backyard or walk around Times Square without ever leaving your desktop, the ability to zoom into a hilltop in conflict-stricken Eastern Ukraine is almost taken for granted.

With civilian drone deployments becoming increasingly routine in disaster areas, the rise in the availability of aerial imagery is prompting an influx of fresh ideas and technological approaches. Especially exciting are the potential applications of autonomous flight and coordination technologies. A recent MIT prototype drone demonstrated the ability to autonomously navigate through a lightly forested area at over 30 miles per hour, at a cost of just $1,700 to build and weighing just one pound.

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Using autonomous flight and coordination capability, the drones would all take to the skies, fanning out in grid formation to image the entire affected area. A subset of drones would use base maps to prioritize critical infrastructure like roadways and hospitals, flying the length of all major roads, rail lines, and other transport corridors and generating updated transit network data that can be uploaded in realtime to logistics planning software to coordinate relief delivery. Using neural network image recognition and online comparison with previous base imagery, hotspot analysis could rapidly identify all of the areas with potential damage.

Source: Forbes

Using drones for Emergency Management

With new technology comes a variety of applications that can have tremendous benefits to organizations, society – and, of course, the way we handle emergency management.

Technology gives emergency management a new way of handling the given crisis, and perhaps, a new perspective for how to use resources a bit more effectively. Drones have been in the news a lot lately with some of the policies that have come about about their uses in the federal government. Similar to other pieces of technology that are developed for the military, drones have an interesting application in emergency management and are giving emergency personnel new ways to manage a developing crisis.

Emergency Management Applications for Drones

Prior to the creation of drones, emergency managers would often figure out the overall scope of a crisis using information from emergency personnel on the ground, and through the chain of command created through the Incident Command System. Drones, however, allow for Emergency Managers to evaluate a serious situation with the use of a drone potentially complimenting the information they have from personnel.

In other circumstances, the use of drones prevents personnel from entering a potentially hazardous scene before emergency managers understand exactly what they’re dealing with. To this end, drones can be used by the fire department as described by Frank Schroth in an article published by Drone Life. Drones are also being used by Police departments and by Search and Rescue departments with clever uses depending on the given emergency. Drones can also come with infrared imaging that can be tremendously helpful in a large variety of incidents.

A Different Perspective

Drones provide a very different perspective to an emergency manager reviewing all of the information for an incident. Used as a complimentary tool, drones can provide a lot of information for a large variety of incidents. In some cases, drones tremendously assist with the rescue efforts of people that may have been more difficult to rescue without its assistance. One elderly man was rescued because of an individual using a drone. They were able to find him when the drone provided aerial footage 200 feet above the ground enabling a Search and Rescue team to rescue him.

Source: EMD Digest

Digital business means big changes for Supply Chains

Chief supply chain officers have an opportunity to lead business transformation by influencing three changes in the digital world.

Opening the Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference, Peter Sondergaard, senior vice president and global head of research at Gartner, told the audience of supply chain strategists, that there are three things that will change in the digital era:

  • The way power is distributed among and within businesses
  • The way technology impacts the supply chain
  • The way to establish leadership

CSCOs must react to these changes and learn to control and influence all three.

Peter Sondergaard, global head of research at Gartner, highlights three things that will change in the digital era during the Gartner Supply Chain Conference.

“Simply stated, every business unit is a technology start up. There is a shift of demand and control toward digital business units closer to the customer, where business units, such as the supply chain organization, are taking on more technology spending,” said Mr. Sondergaard. “In leading organizations, one quarter of enterprise costs will be devoted to the digital transformation. About 20 percent of that will be allocated directly to supply chain transformation. Digital spending by business functions is directly impacting the ability of the CSCO to achieve a higher level of demand-driven value network maturity. This is the power shift.”

The second area to change is technology. Digital technology is reshaping the supply chain. The CSCO of the past was most concerned with enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementations and master data management. Now, supply design and supply chain analytics are in the top five priorities for leading enterprises.

But technologies are not just for incremental improvement. They can be disruptive too. Take, for example, a drone. The drone will not only do last-mile package delivery, but will monitor disruptions upstream in the supply chain. There are enormous applications for these devices – from agricultural and geographical survey to oil and gas pipeline inspections to disaster response and recovery.

The third area of change is leadership. Talent is the key to digital leadership, and leaders must focus on talent and organizational strategy. Focus on talent that understand sales and operations planning, analytics and the emerging world of smart machines.

“The best leadership advice is to make your bosses’ priorities your priorities,” said Mr. Sondergaard. “Gartner’s 2015 CEO Survey showed that CEO’s top priorities are information technology and talent. Make those your top priorities.”

Video replays from the Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference will be available on Gartner Events On Demand.

Source: Gartner


Addressing food security in a changing world

When it comes to ensuring food security and sustainable agriculture, there simply is no “one size fits all”. Many interventions that have attempted to address the challenges of food security have not considered adequately the intricacies of the problem. The issues at hand are complex and require a multi-pronged approach.

For several decades, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has been at the forefront of work for sustainable agriculture. ISOfocus sat down with FAO’s Assistant Director-General, Dr Ren Wang, to discuss the challenges that stand to affect agriculture today and in subsequent generations. He spoke about the role of International Standards in support of sustainable agriculture and how their use can help create the conditions for a food-secure future.

ISOfocus : If agriculture is to continue to feed the world, it needs to become more sustainable. What are the key ingredients to reinvent the way we grow food in favour of a more sustainable farming model? Can you explain how ISO standards could bring added value?

FAO’s Assistant Director-General, Dr Ren Wang, started his career as a researcher at the Institute of Biological Control of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences where he pioneered China’s programme for managing invasive exotic plants using the classical biological control approach.

Dr Ren Wang: FAO promotes sustainable agricultural systems built on five principles: improving efficiency in the use of resources; conserving, protecting and enhancing natural resources ; protecting and improving rural livelihoods, equity and social well-being; enhancing the resilience of people, communities and ecosystems ; and creating responsible and effective governance mechanisms.

Take, for instance, the recent proliferation of environmental certifications and claims. These can be confusing for consumers and can limit access to markets, especially for smallholders and developing countries. ISO can be useful in the establishment of agreed standards facilitating the mutual recognition of schemes as well as their use by companies when developing social and environmental responsibility claims and

The 2016 FAO report “Innovative Markets for Sustainable Agriculture” highlights how innovations in market institutions encourage sustainable agriculture in developing countries. What benefits do you see here in terms of International Standards for smart farming technologies (i.e. self-driving tractors, drones, etc.)?

This publication focuses on innovative ways of connecting smallholders to local markets for sustainable products in developing countries. Most of the innovations presented are institutional like participatory guarantee systems, community-supported agriculture and multi-actor innovation platforms.

This last example could play a role by enabling greater experimentation with technologies locally before trying to create International Standards that might close down options for alternative applications too soon in the innovation process. It is important to note that the 15 case studies presented in the report show that International Standards must be re-appropriated and redefined at a local level to be adopted by farmers.

How do the two standards-setting bodies hosted by the FAO Agriculture and Consumer Protection Department contribute to FAO’s efforts to promote sustainable food and agriculture?

FAO hosts the secretariats of two standards-setting bodies: the Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex) and the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), which complement our efforts to achieve food security for all. Collectively, we work on making agriculture more productive and sustainable, improving food systems and food safety. Both the IPPC and Codex are recognized by the World Trade Organization (WTO) under the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) as plant health and food safety standards-setting organizations, respectively.

In their discussions of food safety and quality issues, the 188 Codex members, covering 99% of the world’s population, take decisions on issues that affect the global food supply chain, including complex topics such as biotechnology, pesticides, food additives, contaminants and labelling.

Source: ISOFocus Magazine

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Facebook helicopter-drone to provide wireless internet to disaster areas

Facebook thinks it can do more to help in times of crisis.

On Wednesday April 19, Facebook revealed test results to the F8 developer conference from its efforts to get rural regions around the world online, and function as a source of disaster relief. The social platform created a small helicopter that’s connected to a power source and an internet cable (called a Tether-tenna) which in turn connects it to existing fiber lines.

It can then fly above ground, serving as a tower during emergencies. Although this tech is a long-term plan for now, Facebook says it could eventually provide connectivity for months at a time while communities rebuild in the wake of disasters.

The high-speed corollary for populated areas, Terragraph, is being tested in downtown San Jose. Terragraph, which launched last year, boosts wireless in places with denser internet use. Facebook is making progress with the tech but says there’s still work left to do.


Facebook’s first flight of the Aquila drone — built for beaming internet service using millimeter wave technologies to provide faster data speeds — also took place in 2016. Although, the drone suffered a “structural failure” during its landing, triggering a National Transportation Safety Board investigation. Test flights will continue in 2017.

Source: Futurism

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Adidas and Amazon re-write the rules on supply chain management

In an amazing twist, technology is rendering the old fundamentals of supply chain management obsolete.

In Russia, Adidas increased sales in Moscow by double digits in 24 hours, thanks to a supply chain initiative. At the same time Amazon is now looking at using drones to deliver products, a very expensive move, but one the company says will increase sales.

Experts would usually claim that supply chain management is about delivering the right quality at the lowest cost, with the agreed service level, right? Well, not anymore. As the two examples above show, it is also about increasing sales and profits; the supply chain is no longer just about efficiency, working capital reduction and inventory management. So, what happened?

Adidas is the leading sports’ shoe brand in Russia with more than 1,200 stores. As part of its strategy to please customers, Adidas is implementing an omni channel strategy, allowing people to buy in a number of ways (on-line or in the physical store) any product that is available anywhere in Russia (whether in an Adidas shop, distribution center or warehouse), and for it to be delivered in any way (at home, at the store or at a pick-up point). This is possible thanks to the use of RFID identification chips, “ship from store” tools, a digital “click and collect” solution and “endless aisle” technology.

Initially, Adidas implemented a trial of click and collect in Moscow expecting that just a few consumers would choose this option – to buy on-line and collect the product at a store. They expected around 10 to 20 orders per week, but consumers embraced the idea and orders reached 1,000 per week. Adidas was forced to stop the experiment and build the supply chain infrastructure needed to support such demand. Today, up to 70% of online sales are through click and collect.

For Adidas Russia, the supply chain is no longer about reducing costs: It is – more importantly – about increasing sales. All of this is possible thanks to the technology being used in the supply chain. Most of these technologies belong to Industry 4.0, a high-tech strategy promoting the computerization of manufacturing. Adidas applies these technologies to the supply chain rather than just to manufacturing. This is why we call it Supply Chain 4.0, a term initially coined by supply chain professional Anne Wyss.

For Adidas Russia, the supply chain is no longer about reducing costs: It is – more importantly – about increasing sales.

Something executives always knew

Executives have always known that improving supply chains ultimately improves sales. However, because the impact was very difficult to evaluate, companies traditionally approved investments in supply chains based only on the expected reductions in costs and working capital. The digitalization of supply chains, with the breadth of sales and ordering data available, now makes it possible to calculate by how much supply chain improvements are increasing sales and profits, and the numbers are often amazing.

In the case of Adidas Russia, one executive was both head of IT and supply chains – one executive with a holistic view of the business and with the goal of pleasing consumers and increasing sales. This combination made possible these developments. He justified investments by increased sales.

Source: Supply Chain Digital

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From parcels to pizza: are drones the future of delivery?

From medical supplies to pizzas to your Amazon packages, the idea of drone deliveries has captured the public’s imagination and many companies want to be the first to offer regular drone delivery globally. However, because drone regulations are still holding companies back from pursuing that goal, is drone delivery as close to the horizon as it seems?

Yes, according to a 2016 Gartner report. It predicts widespread drone delivery by 2020. According to researcher Ivar Berntz, we’ll likely see at least three “Uber for drones” drone-sharing platforms able to broker arrangements between drones and companies to move goods.

Drones to Deliver Humanitarian Aid

In March of 2016, Flirtey, a Nevada-based startup, beat drone enthusiast company, Amazon, in delivering the first FAA-approved package to a residence via drone—as well as the first pizza delivery by drone in New Zealand! Their initial package delivery included bottled water, emergency food and a first aid kit to a residence in Nevada which marked the first fully autonomous urban flight.

Much like Flirtey, forward-thinkers are envisioning the benefit of autonomous delivery of medical supplies and disaster relief. Countless humanitarian organizations, for instance, have experimented with Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to deliver medical supplies in countries such as Malawi and Rwanda. They’ve also begun to utilize drones to revolutionize medical testing and treatment by delivering medical samples and test results.

UAS Applications Transforming the Manufacturing Industry

In addition to medical supplies and the life-saving opportunities drone delivery can provide across the globe, UAS could also significantly transform the manufacturing and consumer goods industries for the better. One of the most obvious commercial applications for drones is autonomous delivery. Several major companies, from Walmart to Google to UPS, have requested permission from the FAA to test drone deliveries.

In 2015 for example, Amazon received permission from the FAA (with a special “experimental airworthiness certificate”) to begin testing their delivery drones in the U.S. By December 2016, the tech giant’s Prime Air initiative completed its first successful drone delivery. The package was transported to a customer and made it to their house in just 13 minutes after the order was placed.

Companies such as Amazon have been experimenting with UAS technology to deliver packages with incredible speed and precision in heavily populated areas. The potential to transform how companies ship products and the time it takes to receive them could revolutionize approaches to supply chain management. What’s more, the ability to receive an order with same-day service could forever change retail operations.

However, the FAA’s exemption to Amazon requires that the drones remain in line of sight of the pilot at all times. And operators must have a minimum of a private pilot’s certificate and current medical certification. Although restrictions like these may be necessary for initial testing, they could prevent the rollout of any scalable commercial operations if they remain in place, since they severely limit the use of autonomous drones over a meaningful distance.

The ability to receive an order with same-day service could forever change retail operations

Augment Drone Technology with Operational Intelligence

The benefits of drone technology for delivery can be augmented further with operational intelligence (OI). However, how quickly we begin to reap the benefits of drone delivery will depend heavily on the regulations set to monitor this technology. Simulyze’s Mission Insight technology can help businesses move forward while remaining compliant and ensuring safety in the national airspace. Built on their OI platform, Mission Insight provides the situational awareness needed to fly over heavily populated areas and rugged terrain. While the platform can help businesses, restrictions still need to be relaxed to expedite critical tasks like emergency medical supply delivery, or commercial applications, like record-breaking delivery times for Amazon package deliveries.

Source: simulyze

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