Watch Sony’s new plane-shaped drone tear through the sky

Remember the airplane-shaped drone Sony announced last month? The company’s just taken it for a test flight and posted the results on YouTube.

First impressions are pretty good, with the flying machine shown performing a vertical take-off before tearing across the sky at speed and returning for a smooth landing. The drone incorporates a rotor in the center of the craft, while the video also shows movable flaps as part of the wing design to aid control.

But if your fingers are already twitching in anticipation of a fun weekend fiddling with the drone’s controller, then hold up – this one’s for business, not consumers. The plan is to offer it to industries looking for an efficient and reliable way to carry out tasks such as measuring, surveying, observing, and inspecting land or equipment.

Collaboration

The plane-like copter is the result of a collaboration between the Japanese tech giant and ZMP, a Tokyo-based firm that develops autopilot technology.

The new enterprise, called Aerosense Inc., combines  Sony’s camera, sensing, telecommunications network, and robotics technologies with ZMP’s automated driving and robotics technologies, as well as its business experience in the relevant industries.

According to its website, the new drone weighs 15.5 pounds (7 kg) and has a maximum load capacity of 22 pounds (10 kg). It can reach speeds of just over 100 mph and fly for up to two hours on a single charge.

The flying machine, which has a wingspan of 2.2 meters, is designed to carry out tasks autonomously, relaying gathered data to operators back at base via its on-board camera.

Aerosense wants to start selling its creation to interested businesses from early next year, though their use will of course depend on local regulations for commercial drone flights.

Playing catch-up

Aviation bodies in most countries are still playing catch-up when it comes to setting guidelines for commercial drone flights, with the Federal Aviation Administration, for one, still working on new rules for such flights in the U.S.

The FAA’s seemingly slow response to the fast-developing technology has frustrated a number of U.S. companies, including Amazon, which is keen to use autonomous drones to deliver goods to customers.

Even NASA has been getting involved, working with a slew of companies to develop an air traffic control system that could one day monitor and manage potentially thousands of commercial drones flying above our cities at any one time.

Emerging Tech

Want to know which drones are flying near you? There’s an app for that

Want to know what that mysterious drone buzzing over your head is up to? A new system developed by AirMap, Google Wing, and Kittyhawk.io could soon tell you -- via a map on your phone.
Mobile

Benchmark results show Snapdragon 855 destroys previous-generation chip

Almost exactly a year after the launch of the Snapdragon 845, Qualcomm took the wraps off of its next-generation mobile platform, the new Snapdragon 855. The new chip puts an emphasis on A.I. performance.
Emerging Tech

Drones: New rules could soon allow flights over people and at night

With commercial operators in mind, the U.S. government is looking to loosen restrictions on drone flights with a set of proposals that would allow the machines greater freedom to fly over populated areas and also at night.
Emerging Tech

The enormous ‘Flying Bum’ moves toward a commercial design

A prototype of the world's largest aircraft is being retired as the company behind it prepares to build a production model. The new Airlander 10, also known as the "Flying Bum," could be ready for commercial use by 2025.
Emerging Tech

Face-scanning A.I. can help doctors spot unusual genetic disorders

Facial recognition can unlock your phone. Could it also be used to identify whether a person has a rare genetic disorder, based on their facial features? New research suggests it can.
Emerging Tech

Lasers and bovine breathalyzer help determine how much methane cows produce

Cow farts and belches don't sound like catastrophic threats, but they contribute to the massive amounts of methane in the atmosphere. Recently, scientists set out to establish the numbers.
Emerging Tech

Yamaha’s new app lets you tune your motorcycle with a smartphone

It used to be that if you wanted to tune your motorcycle’s engine and tweak its performance, you needed specialized tools and even more specialized knowledge. Yamaha’s new Power Tuner app changes that.
Emerging Tech

Researchers discover a way to make 3D printing 100 times faster using light

Researchers at the University of Michigan have invented a new method of 3D printing which is up to 100 times faster than conventional 3D-printing processes. Here's how it works and why it could prove a game-changer for 3D printing.
Emerging Tech

Why wait? Here are some CES 2019 gadgets you can buy right now

Companies come to CES to wow us with their cutting edge technology, but only a few products are slated to hit the market right away. Here is our list of the best CES 2019 tech you can buy right now.
Emerging Tech

Short film celebrates New Yorker’s amazing robot costumes

New York City resident Peter Kokis creates stunning robot costumes out of household trash. His designs are huge, heavy, and extremely intricate, and never fail to turn heads when he's out and about.
Emerging Tech

In a first for humankind, China is growing plants on the moon

Having recently landed a probe on the far side of the moon, China announced that it managed to grow the first plant on the moon, too. Here's why that matters for deep space travel.
Emerging Tech

Ford’s sweaty robot bottom can simulate 10 years of seat use in mere days

Ford has developed 'Robutt,' a sweaty robot bottom that's designed to simulate the effects of having a pair of human buttocks sitting on its car seats for thousands of hours. Check it out.
Emerging Tech

CES 2019 recap: All the trends, products, and gadgets you missed

CES 2019 didn’t just give us a taste of the future, it offered a five-course meal. From 8K and Micro LED televisions to smart toilets, the show delivered with all the amazing gadgetry you could ask for. Here’s a look at all the big…
Emerging Tech

A Japanese hotel fires half its robot staff for being bad at their jobs

Japan’s oddball Henn na Hotel has fired half of its 243 robot staff. The reason? Because these labor-saving machines turned out to be causing way more problems than they were solving.