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Drone News Roundup: Intel and Walmart Team Up for Holiday Drone Light Shows, Drone Finds Missing Dog, and More!

BY Zacc Dukowitz
4 December 2020

This week we’re covering Intel and Walmart’s collaboration on a series of eight drone light shows for the holiday season—the first one is tonight in Kansas City, Kansas.

We’re also covering a story about a drone being used to find a lost dog after it was missing for ten days, a unique drone that uses gas sensors to help scientists improve predictions about when volcanoes will erupt, Sony’s entrance into the drone market, and Percepto’s partnership with Boston Dynamics for autonomous inspections.

Now on to the links!

Intel and Walmart Announce Series of Drone Light Shows for the Holiday Season

walmart-intel-drone-light-shows
Image credit: Walmart

Using Intel’s light show drones, Walmart will be hosting a series of eight free drone light shows for the holidays throughout the month of December. The light shows will be offered in person and live-streamed for those who can’t attend. Each light show features almost 1,000 drones, creating 3D seasonal shapes and characters like reindeer, Santa Claus, snowflakes, and snowmen. The first light show takes place tonight in Kansas City, Kansas—click the link below to see the full schedule, and to learn more about live streaming and/or getting free tickets to a holiday drone light show near you.

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Drone Finds Lost Dog After 10 Days Missing

After seeing a flyer for a missing one-year old dog named Meadow, a good samaritan named Brian James of Cairo, New York decided to use his drone to see if he could help find her. At that point, she’d been lost in a wooded area for over a week. Given that the dog was white and the snow hadn’t yet fallen, he figured she would stand out against the dark wooded background. And he was right—after flying over the area where she was last spotted he saw a small patch of white. After that, he was quickly able to find the dog and reunite her with her owners.

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Drones Outfitted with Gas Sensors Help Scientists Better Predict Volcanic Eruptions

Above and Beyond: Measuring volcanic emissions with drone technology

A team of scientists from the U.S. and seven other countries has developed a way to use drones to better predict when a volcano will erupt. Called the Above Project, the team uses drones to fly close to vents in volcanos—much closer than a human could safely go—and collect samples that allow them to calculate the ratio of sulfur and carbon dioxide the volcano is giving off. The team tested this approach to predicting volcanic eruptions last year at Papua New Guinea’s Manam volcano, using a DJI Phantom retrofitted with miniature gas sensors and spectrometers. The findings from that mission were recently published in an article in a journal called Frontiers in Robotics and AI.

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Sony Teases Upcoming Entrance to Drone Market with Airpeak

Airpeak | Sony Launches Drone Project

In a recent press release, Sony announced that it plans to enter the drone market via a new brand called Airpeak. The release was somewhat vague, and seemed to indicate that Sony may make both a consumer and a commercial drone play. Sony already owns Aerosense, which specializes in surveying and creating maps from visual drone data, and it makes cameras, so this move makes sense. It will be interesting to see if they can claw their way into a position in the market—be it for consumer drones, enterprise drones, or both—when they launch in the spring of next year.

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Percepto Raises $45M, Teams up with Boston Dynamics for Autonomous Inspections

percepto-and-spot
Photo credit: Percepto

Percepto’s autonomous inspection Sparrow Drone will be teaming up with Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot for inspection work. The partnership has helped Percepto raise $45 million in Series B funding, which brings the company’s total investment to $72.5 million. Spot is the first commercially available robot from Boston Dynamics. Percepto plans to outfit the robot with its Autonomous Inspection & Monitoring (AIM) platform so that it can work in tandem with the Sparrow for industrial inspection applications. Our first thought? This sounds expensive. But maybe it will prove cost-effective for those industries that require routine inspections as part of their maintenance procedures—it will be interesting to see which companies, and which industries, adopt this solution first.

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