Weekly 'Pulse' Issue 61

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Eyes in the Sky

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A revolutionary Australian life-saving drone has been put into action for the first time while out for what was initially intended to be a training exercise.

Local lifeguards in northern NSW were familiarising themselves with The Westpac "Little Ripper" unmanned drone when they received news that 2 teenagers were stuck in a dangerous current. The drone was able to locate the swimmers and deploy an inflatable pod to assist them as they made their way to shore. This process, which would normally take lifeguards up to 7 minutes, was completed in only 70 seconds. 

The Westpac Little Ripper drone program is run in conjunction with Lifesaving Australia and the NSW Government for the combined purpose of shark monitoring and rescue missions such as this, and a prime example of its life-saving potential. 

Read more here. 

How could can unmanned technologies augment human interventions and extend the capabilities of over-extended public services?  


'Self Driving' Takes Flight

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Hovering a little higher above the surface, drones capable of carrying passengers are now a reality, for those with $300,000 to spare. 

The Ehang184 is named as such because it carries 1 passenger, has 8 rotors and 4 arms. It has been receiving a lot of attention after it released a video of a manned flight to deliver Christmas presents to local children in Guangzhou, China. 

The fully automated drone has a cruising range of 25 minutes at up to 60km/h. Flight paths are pre-programmed prior to flight and the drone uses a variety of sensors to bring itself back down to Earth safely. 

Watch it in action here. 

How could autonomous transportation change the way we navigate, experience and engage with urban cities?


Powering Life on Mars

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Further afield, NASA scientists are testing a compact, transportable new design for a nuclear reactor hoped to one day power early habitation on Mars.

Traditional power systems require impossible amounts of "fuel" to be transported into space in order to provide sufficient electricity to live and eventually return back to Earth - one of the most significant barriers to our exploration further into space.

The Kilopower reactor is designed to be easily transported and simple to use for our future planetary neighbours. Each atom splitting device (and the nuclear material within it) is compact and reliable enough to safely and efficiently make the voyage to Mars. One generator will be capable of generating 10kw of electricity, comparable to the use of 2 large households. NASA estimate that a single landing ship will be able to carry the 4 systems needed to power an entire early habitation. 

Read more here.

How could alternate sources of energy transform not just our traditional transportation and urban infrsutructure, but how and where we live altogether?