fraunhofer

Team studies drone strikes on airplanes by firing them into a wall at 500 MPH

Posted by | drones, fraunhofer, Gadgets, hardware, robotics, science, UAVs | No Comments

Bird strikes are a very real danger to planes in flight, and consequently aircraft are required to undergo bird strike testing — but what about drones? With UAV interference at airports on the rise, drone strike testing may soon be likewise mandatory, and if it’s anything like what these German researchers are doing, it’ll involve shooting the craft out of air cannons at high speed.

The work being done at Fraunhofer EMI in Freiburg is meant to establish some basic parameters for how these things ought to be tested.

Bird strikes, for example, are tested by firing a frozen poultry bird like a chicken or turkey out of an air cannon. It’s not pretty, but it has to be done. Even so, it’s not a very good analogue to a drone strike.

“From a mechanical point of view, drones behave differently to birds and also weigh considerably more. It is therefore uncertain, whether an aircraft that has been successfully tested against bird strike, would also survive a collision with a drone,” explained Fraunhofer’s Sebastian Schopferer in a news release.

The team chose to load an air cannon with drone batteries and engines, since those make up most of any given UAV’s mass. The propellers and arms on which they’re mounted are generally pretty light and will break easily — compared with a battery weighing the better part of a kilogram, they won’t add much to the damage.

drone testing

The remains of a drone engine and battery after being propelled into the plate on the left at hundreds of miles per hour

The drones were fired at speeds from 250 to 570 miles per hour (115 to 255 meters per second by their measurement) at aluminum plates of up to 8 millimeters of thickness. Unsurprisingly, there was “substantial deformation” of the plates and the wingless drones were “completely destroyed.” Said destruction was recorded by a high-speed camera, though unfortunately the footage was not made available.

It’s necessary to do a variety of tests to determine what’s practical and what’s unnecessary or irrelevant — why spend the extra time and money firing the drones at 570 mph when 500 does the same level of damage? Does including the arms and propellers make a difference? At what speed is the plate in danger of being pierced, necessitating additional protective measures? And so on. A new rig is being constructed that will allow acceleration (and deceleration) of larger UAVs.

With enough testing the team hopes that not only could such things be standardized, but simulations could be built that would allow engineers to virtually test different surfaces or materials without a costly and explosive test rig.

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This autonomous 3D scanner figures out where it needs to look

Posted by | 3d printing, 3d scanning, artificial intelligence, Europe, fraunhofer, Gadgets, hardware, TC | No Comments

 If you need to make a 3D model of an object, there are plenty of ways to do so, but most are only automated to the extent that they know how to spin in circles around that object and put together a mesh. This new system from Fraunhofer does it more intelligently, getting a basic idea of the object to be scanned and planning out what motions will let it do so efficiently and comprehensively. Read More

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Germans are doing deep scans of ancient instruments to uncover their secrets

Posted by | bach, baroque, fraunhofer, Gadgets, handel, Music, science, TC | No Comments

 I don’t know if you’re into baroque music, but I can tell you that Germans sure are. So it’s no surprise that German R&D outfit Fraunhofer has turned its considerable resources towards learning about and conserving every little detail of the instruments for which the likes of Bach and Handel composed their music. Specifically, they’re putting them into an enormous… Read More

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We’re one step closer to the Holodeck with this 20-camera 3D body-capture setup

Posted by | 3d, Depth Sensing, fraunhofer, Gadgets, science, TC, Virtual reality, VR | No Comments

fraunhofer_holodeck Have you ever been in a VR conference call and thought, well, I know what everyone looks like from the front, but what about the other sides? The Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications has your back — and theirs. Researchers there have created a powerful multi-camera setup that captures every aspect of someone in 3D and dumps it straight into a VR experience. Read More

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In-car cameras let autonomous vehicles track passengers as well as pedestrians

Posted by | AI, artificial intelligence, automotive, autonomous vehicles, Computer Vision, fraunhofer, Gadgets, self-driving cars, TC | No Comments

A member of the media test drives a Tesla Motors Inc. Model S car equipped with Autopilot in Palo Alto, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. Tesla Motors Inc. will begin rolling out the first version of its highly anticipated "autopilot" features to owners of its all-electric Model S sedan Thursday. Autopilot is a step toward the vision of autonomous or self-driving cars, and includes features like automatic lane changing and the ability of the Model S to parallel park for you. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images Powerful sensors and software have made autonomous cars impressively aware of their surroundings — but it isn’t just obstacles, pedestrians, and other cars that a vehicle’s AI needs to watch out for. It also needs to know what’s going on inside itself, and researchers from Fraunhofer are hard at work making that happen. Read More

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