Eye in the Sky

Drone operators are making the case for public use of the unmanned vehicles, particularly in emergency situations (see Flight of the Drones, p. 30). In a real-time use case during the recent Kilauea volcano eruptions on the island of Hawaii, one eagle-eyed drone spotted people who needed help. In a live-streamed video by the U.S. Geological Survey, an unmanned drone spotted a resident in distress very close to the hot lava flow. USGS then used the drone to direct emergency responders to the resident’s location and to chart a safe path away from the danger zone. USGS was originally using the drone to safely monitor the flow of lava as it progressed around the eruption site and its surrounding areas. Source: Digital Trends

Smart City Security

While the popularity of smart cities projects grows, there remain some areas of major security concern, according to a recent study by the Information Systems Audit and Control Association (ISACA). In a poll of 2,000 global respondents earlier this year, the survey found the energy sector to be the infrastructure system most at risk of a cyberattack, with 71 percent of participants labeling it as such. Communications (70 percent) and financial services (64 percent) took second and third place as most at-risk sectors. The results are particularly interesting given that experts predict energy to be one of the sectors most likely to benefit from smart city tech. Source: isaca.org

Robot Buzz

As fears grow about the potential extinction of bees and the impact on our food supply, researchers are looking into ways to pollinate plants without the winged creatures. At West Virginia University, Professor Yu Gu is designing a pollinating robot called the BrambleBee. While other engineers are developing different kinds of pollinators, like tiny, flying drones, Gu sees a rover traveling on the ground between plants as the best option, and he created his prototype in partnership with an entomologist. First, the BrambleBee creates a 3-D map of the greenhouse in which it’s being tested. Then algorithms estimate the size and shape of flowers, and the robot’s arm brushes against the plants’ pollen. Source: Fast Company