New AI-Based Navigation Helps Loon’s Balloons Hover in Place

Candido and his team have been working on this problem for several years, since the company was first launched as part of the Google X research lab in 2012. Loon is now a subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet.

The big advancement since then has been applying reinforcement learning, something previously used in video games, to a real-world challenge, according to Marc Bellemare, lead author on the Nature paper and a research scientist at Google Canada. “Machine learning refers to the idea of taking data and making predictions about outcomes,” Bellemare says. “With reinforcement learning we are focusing on the decision part. How do we go up or down based on that data? Not only is [the AI controller] making decisions, but making decisions over time.”

Some experts believe the AI-powered balloons can also be used to monitor Earth’s environmental vital signs, such as checking on melting in the Arctic

Read More

Experimental, simulation results reveal how coaxial, co-rotating rotors may lead to a quieter hover — ScienceDaily

Imagine a silent helicopter stealthily moving troops and supplies around a future battlefield. U.S. Army researchers look to helicopter noise reduction technology as a top priority in aircraft design.

At the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, now known as DEVCOM, Army Research Laboratory, researchers collaborated with Uber and the University of Texas at Austin to investigate the acoustic properties of electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, which use distributed electric propulsion to power flight.

These eVTOL vehicles may aid the Army with important tasks such as aerial surveillance and cargo transport; however, they feature smaller rotors than traditional helicopters. As a result, eVTOL rotors may emit a different sound signature that researchers will have to take into consideration.

“The noise you hear from these smaller rotors is generated through fundamentally different physical mechanisms,” said Dr. George Jacobellis, Army research engineer at the laboratory’s Vehicle Technology Directorate. “Traditional modeling techniques

Read More

Hover secures $60M for a 3D imaging platform used to assess and fix properties

The US property market has proven to be more resilient than you might have assumed it would be in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic, and today a startup that’s built a computer vision tool to help owners assess and fix those properties more easily is announcing a significant round of funding as it sees a surge of growth in usage.

Hover — which has built a platform that uses eight basic smartphone photos to patch together a 3D image of your home that can then be used by contractors, insurance companies and others to assess a repair, price out the job, and then order the parts to do the work — has raised $60 million in new funding.

The Series D values the company at $490 million post-money, and significantly, it included a number of strategic investors. Three of the biggest insurance companies in the US — Travelers, State

Read More