Weekend Roundup

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This Week in the Unmanned Systems and Robotics World

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Waymo recently applied to test cars without drivers on California roads. Waymo's application was submitted to the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Thus far, only two companies have applied for such permits, but the identity of the other company has yet to be publicly revealed. (San Francisco Chronicle)

The UPS Foundation is awarding 2018 grants and “in-kind support” totaling more than $16 million to non-profit, non-governmental organizations and United Nations agencies for humanitarian relief, community resilience and safety programs worldwide. One of the programs that the UPS Foundation is expanding its work with is Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and Zipline, the California-based robotics company utilizing UAS to deliver life-saving blood, medicines and vaccines to remote communities like Rwanda. (UPS Pressroom)

In China, a company called Alibaba is currently conducting road tests of autonomous cars on a regular basis and has the capabilities for open road trials. The company, which is looking to hire 50 more self-driving specialists for its AI research lab according to an Alibaba spokeswoman, wants to achieve Level 4 autonomous capability, meaning the car can self-drive in most conditions without human intervention. (South China Morning Post)

Officials with Houston's METRO bus system are working with the city of Houston and others to look into driverless bus programs. A METRO spokesman says that a three-month pilot program will take place on the campus of Texas Southern University. (ABC13)

A Purdue University researcher named Dharmendra Saraswat led a team that developed a free, web-based application that will allow UAS users to easily log their flight-related data. Known as the UAS User Log, the application is a digital log book available worldwide to serve those using UAS for a variety of purposes including research, crop production, and spray applications. (Purdue University)

Baidu Inc. has unveiled the latest version of its open autonomous driving platform, Apollo 2.5, which now supports autonomous driving on geo-fenced highways. According to the company, Apollo 2.5 offers “more efficient development tools,” including a visual debugging tool, a data collector for HD maps and a simulator for cloud-based autonomous driving, to further enhance developer efficacy. (GlobeNewswire)

Little Arms Studios has partnered with Skip Fredricks, a renowned Hollywood cinematographer, to launch an updated version of its Zephyr Drone Simulator that includes the basics of UAS cinematography. Built into the Zephyr Drone Simulator are a progressive training curriculum and real-life flight physics, making it the “ideal starting point for novice sUAS pilots,” according to the company. (UASweekly)

In an effort to expand its UAS forensic capabilities, MSAB has partnered with URSA Inc. According to the companies, URSA provides the “most accurate understanding of drone telemetry data and metadata” to support academic, law enforcement, insurance, and intelligence investigations in the UAS and robotics ecosystem. (MSAB)

Raytheon has been awarded an $83 million contract for the “design, test and deployment” of an “expendable, autonomous unmanned underwater vehicle” known as the Barracuda mine neutralization system. The Barracuda mine neutralization system is intended to “identify and neutralize” bottom, near surface and drifting sea mines. (Raytheon)

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