Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Amazon Changes Course - Outsources Drone Manufacturing

Amazon is reportedly laying off dozens of staff working on its delivery drone project, Amazon Prime Air, turning to external manufacturers to help build the devices instead. 

The jobs would be lost in research and development as well as in manufacturing, the Financial Times reported Thursday, citing a person familiar with Amazon's plans.

The online retailer has reached tentative deals with Spain's Aernnova Aerospace and Austria's FACC Aerospace to manufacture component parts of its drone, according to the FT.

Friday, November 6, 2020

Need to Get Around in Barcelona? Take a Robot Helo-Taxi

Enaire, Spain’s air navigation authority, has announced plans to begin demonstrating flying taxis in Barcelona and Santiago de Compostela in 2022.

“We need to move urban mobility into the third dimension: airspace. And we need to do it as efficiently and sustainably as we can,” the authority’s director general, Ángel Luis Arias, told an online conference this week.

 Ehang, a Chinese drone company, announced a new product at CES it's calling the Ehang 184, an all electric quadcopter scaled up from a drone so that it's large enough to carry a passenger. Ehang calls it an autonomous aerial vehicle, I prefer personal pilotless helicopter, but if you need to explain what it is to anyone, just say it's a driverless car for the sky.

Ehang says the 184, which is all electric, can carry a single passenger up to 10 miles or roughly 23 minutes of flight. The person in the cockpit doesn’t do any piloting, they just input their destination and enjoy the ride. The aircraft claims to be able to autonomously take off, fly a route, sense obstacles, and land. And if anything goes wrong, a human pilot is supposed to step in and take over the controls from a remote command station.Read 

more over at the Guardian...

Monday, November 2, 2020

Green Screen Technology Gets Improved with LEDs

Green Screen is a cool way to composition in the background for motion graphics in films. But LED panels -- that use the same technology as video game engines -- place a realistic-looking world behind the actors, in a giant leap forward in special effects tech.

The result is a huge improvement, as green screens actually have drawbacks. Removing the green screen is never as quick as VFX artists would hope, and it also casts green light over the set and the actors. Even green-screen substitutes, like projecting an image onto a screen behind the actor, fail to dynamically respond to camera movements the way they would in the real world. ILM's solution fixes a lot of those problems. 

It also led to creative breakthroughs in which the old Hollywood order of making a TV show or movie -- wherein VFX came last -- was suddenly reversed. Now, artists such Charmaine Chan work alongside actors, set designers, and other crew members during filming. That collaboration means this technology doesn't just eliminate a screen -- it eliminates a creative barrier. As a compositor for venerable visual-effects house Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), Charmaine Chan has worked on films like The Last Jedi, assembling various digital elements into a beautiful, seamless image. While working on The Mandalorian, one of the first shows to use ILM's upgrade for the green screen, she saw some huge advances.

Here's a video to see how the improved approach works...