FLYING ROBOTS

Category
  • Flying Robots - WK1 Blog Assignment

    WK1 Assignment:Look into what’s been done using flying robots. Post links to two works that you found successful, and two you found unsuccessful.


    Successful:
    -Matternet.us


    Matternet is a system that uses UAV's to deliver medicine and other aid to people in communities who don't have access. But rather then large shipment aid like Red Cross, it can be on-demand delivery of prescriptions and necessary tools.

    There are two powerful ideas here. One is serving inaccessible communities with important aid efficiently. The other is contriving a scheme where the ability and ubiquity would be improved by networking the behavior. Charging/relay stations advance the mobility and extend the flight duration of an important package. The conceit of dropping a payload has been characterized as a lone messenger making it to the drop zone. Matternet would make it more like the Harlem Globetrotters.

    Is this happening already? Is success defined by intent or implementation. How will this good intent get bastardized or commodified? Would commodification yield a larger footprint of communities who could receive aid? Or would access to the service benefit premium users. I'm thinking of food deserts here. What are some obstacles? Who would stand in the way?



    -Meat Packing Plant Investigated

    This article is about a UAV hobbyist whose camera picked up an image of a blood red pond near a meat packing facility. Apparently there was some blood/bio waste drain out of the facility. This pond also ran off via a creek into the nearby Trinity River, a river well known for its toxicity and foul smells. The man reported what he saw to the EPA and Texas Commision on Environment Quality and they immediately responded and have been monitoring the plant's activities.

    This pilot happened upon this scene. But what about pilots who seek out bad behavior from environmental polluters, poachers, waste dumpers etc.? Watchdog groups, citizen journalists and activists can make a big impact with this utility. But how much is too much? What if NRA members want to patrol airspace around schools? Or pilots become suspicious of the activity of individuals rather than corporations/institutions? How much is too much?



    Unsuccessful:

    - Cat Copter


    This is a perfect example of "just because you can do something doesn't mean that you should." The pairing of intention with drones is somewhat novel and incidental. There is nothing drone-culture-specific about this "art" other than there is a drone in it. I'm not really satisfied by the detail that the dead cat "Orville" and its brother "Wilbur" were named after the Wright Brothers. In fact, I am somewhat doubtful that is even true. But ultimately, who gives a shit.

    I am not an animal rights activist, though I roundly reject inhumane treatment of animals. I am agnostic as to the spiritual importance of the physical shell left after an animal dies, but for the rest of us living, I think there are appropriate and inappropriate uses of the decaying matter. We're not talking about Piss Christ, we're not talking about Damien Hirst. I think this piece is cavalier and "one note". And ultimately, who gives a shit.


    -Drone crashes mount at civilian airports overseas


    Technical problems happen. We can be critical of mechanics, engineering and especially of operators. The truth is that statistically, the number of drones that do not crash outweigh the incidents of crash. This is still a problem. But this article/story is sort of a portal to a broader set of narratives about the use of drones by the US government. There is nearly no accountability for actions, though the video discusses the current moratorium on the Seychelles. But since this article was published, new stories about the US' installation of "secret" drone bases in the region as well as the latent, complex effects of our drone war, its questionable legitimacy/legality, and of course, the gross lack of transparency and due process in kill lists and the primacy of Obama's authority to kill US citizens. There's a lot to talk about here. UAV's have proven themselves to be very successful at deploying weapons and surveillance. The machine is plenty successful. But the success of the motivations, methods and effects of using them have proven to be unsuccessful to many.