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Entries in Surveillance (23)


Researchers Create Life-like, Autonomous Robot Jellyfish 

This is too cool: Researchers from the Virginia Tech College of Engineering just unveiled an autonomous robotic "jellyfish" that is amazingly life-like. It's the size and weight of a grown man, 5 foot 7 inches in length and weighing 170 pounds, and it's part of a U.S. Navy-funded project.

"Cyro," the robotic jellyfish prototype, directly copies the motions of real-life jellyfish to move fluidly and efficiently. It's designed to be left in the ocean for weeks or even months to do anything from cleaning up oil spills to conducting military surveillance.

Robots that are created to move like jellyfish and lizards? We can't wait to see what emerges next.


Drones to be Used to Monitor U.S. Highway Network

Drones are about to come home to roost - in a big way.

Sure, they'll still be used for missions overseas. But now they'll also be employed by the Federal Highway Administration to help human workers safeguard the United States' 4 million miles of highways, according to Discovery News. Their main tasks would probably be watching for major traffic jams and accidents, keeping an eye on aging bridges and roads, and surveying lands with laser mapping capabilities.

As Discovery reports:


"Drones could keep workers safer because they won't be going into traffic or hanging off a bridge," said Javier Irizarry, director of the CONECTech Lab at the Georgia Institute of Technology. "It would help with physical limitations of the human when doing this kind of work."


Irizarry gave the example of the spherical drones that mapped a huge alien base in the 2012 science fiction film "Prometheus" as an analogy for how today's larger drones could aid in above-ground laser mapping.

"We're going to look at the different divisions that has and see how they do things like surveying, safety monitoring or using traffic cameras," Irizarry told TechNewsDaily. "Maybe they could be using drone technology for a similar purpose."

Meanwhile, many states are competing to become flight-test regions for the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, which is a step on the agency's path to opening U.S. civilian airspace to drones by 2015.



Paraswift, the Base-jumping Robot

Robots are already smarter and faster than most of us. Now, they're even more adventurous.

Check out Paraswift, the first generation of a new base-jumping robot. The droid can climb the walls of tall buildings, jump off and deploy a parachute to soften its landing.

Although Paraswift was created for entertainment value, it definitely has some potential in the fields of surveillance and 3-D mapping.


Crime Cameras in San Fran Helping the Innocent 

San Francisco's attempts at citywide surveillance over the years have been complicated, expensive and, at times, counterproductive. But there's no denying the fact that surveillance cameras have helped decrease crime by up to 24 percent in certain areas of the city.

Originally, supporters of the surveillance network touted it as a way to decrease the frequency of violent crimes, not just non-violent burglary, purse-snatching and the like. However, since the camera system isn't monitored live, the video is really only helpful as evidence, not prevention. (Unfortunately, the city's strict privacy controls prohibit real-time monitoring.)

However, the San Francisco Examiner recently revealed another, unexpected role that the suveillance cameras are playing.

The new trend has San Francisco defense lawyers using video footage to exonerate falsely-accused clients. Several defendants have been cleared of charges thanks to the cameras, which proved their alibis or disproved others’ accounts of the incident.

And the trend is growing. In fact, nearly one-third of the 109 requests to view the footage last year came from defense attorneys, the Examiner reports.

“We’ve incorporated the existence of surveillance tapes into our practice,” Public Defender Jeff Adachi said, adding that his office has a list of all the city surveillance cameras and his attorneys are trained to request the footage.

“It is hit or miss. You have an obligation to secure that evidence,” Adachi said. “They have proven valuable in some cases.”

In one high-profile case, the cameras helped exonerate a man accused of murder. The video footage showed that he had in fact been acting in defense of a disabled woman when he unintentionally killed an attacker.


Qatar to Build Robotic Clouds to Cool World Cup Stadiums

Imagine playing an exhausting 90-minute soccer game on a hot field in Qatar, where summertime temperatures often reach 106 or more. Wouldn't you give anything for at least 10 degrees of relief?

Enter the UAV cloud. Qatar University researchers are developing a unmanned aerial vehicle whose sole purpose is to provide shade to the players and fans below. The goal is to cool stadiums during the 2022 World Cup. But these artificial clouds might also serve as aerial communication and security hubs. 

The clouds will be constructed of carbon fiber and solar panels and filled with helium. Although the prototype, set to be completed later this year, will only be 4 by 3 meters, the final clouds will be about the size of a large jet. The researchers say the devices could cool soccer stadiums by 10 degrees or more.