February 26, 2007

FAA Clarifies UAV Rules

cluster bombs in an afghan elementary school
Cluster bombs in an Afghan elementary school

The FAA is trying to clarify exactly what guidelines apply to UAVs.

The FAA recognizes that people and companies other than modelers might be flying UAS with the mistaken understanding that they are legally operating under the authority of AC 91-57. AC 91-57 only applies to modelers, and thus specifically excludes its use by persons or companies for business purposes.

The FAA has undertaken a safety review that will examine the feasibility of creating a different category of unmanned ``vehicles'' that may be defined by the operator's visual line of sight and are also small and slow enough to adequately mitigate hazards to other aircraft and persons on the ground. The end product of this analysis may be a new flight authorization instrument similar to AC 91-57, but focused on operations which do not qualify as sport and recreation, but also may not require a certificate of airworthiness. They will, however, require compliance with applicable FAA regulations and guidance developed for this category.

FAA cracks down on use of model aircraft rules for UAVs”:

The notice is a direct response to increasing efforts by US law enforcement agencies and some small UAV manufacturers to introduce systems into operational service on the back of model aircraft regulations.


Davis singled out the St. Petersburg, Florida-based Cyber Defense company as an example of firms providing incorrect policy advice to potential users about the status of the FAA's model aircraft regulations.

Cyber Defense has attracted high profile attention in the USA in recent weeks as a result of a sale of its Cyber Bug parafoil system to the Brevard County, Florida sheriff’s department. That system is to be delivered in March. The FAA has advised the law enforcement agency that it will not be permitted to operate the system - a move which the sheriff’s office is publicly advising it intends to challenge.

Police drone plan draws fire”:

FAA officials were steadfast in saying Palm Bay's unmanned vehicle should be grounded until further notice from the federal agency.

“We control the airspace, and we control who can fly what, where,” said Les Dorr, a spokesman for the federal agency. “Our primary concern is the safety of the airways. If (the police department) starts using the unmanned vehicle then they run the risk of being told ‘no, they can't do it.’”

The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department also ran afoul of FAA rules after attempting to put its own unmanned vehicle into service last year. Their unmanned vehicle remains grounded.

But CyberDefense Systems, a St. Petersburg-based company that markets the Cyberbug said the aircraft -- like a model plane -- flies below 400 feet and would not interfere with flight patterns.

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February 20, 2007


LAFD fighting a fire at 4th and Broadway LAFD fighting a fire in Cahuenga Pass

The story of Slug Cola could almost be a companion to Damien Katz' Volkswagen Lisp bit.

Alan Kay on the name “Smalltalk”:

The name was also a reaction against the “IndoEuropean god theory” where systems were named Zeus, Odin, and Thor, and hardly did anything. I figured that “Smalltalk” was so innocuous a label that if it ever did anything nice people would be pleasantly surprised.

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First Nontrivial Arc Application

startup news, arc style

Arc's first nontrivial, public application is the hello world of 2006.

Later: From the announcement:

And of course another reason we made this site is that last summer we wrote the first reasonably efficient implementation of Arc, and we were looking for something to build with it.

More Later: Edward O'Connor points out PG's comments in the reddit thread.

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February 18, 2007

Robot Bombing Game

seven enemy flat-tops sighted 80 miles off the coast!

From the 1945 Popular Science book, Complete Home Workshop Cyclopedia: 868 Things to Make and Do at Home.

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February 16, 2007

Lisp at xkcd

today's xkcd is about lisp

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February 14, 2007


crossing the ohio near louisville

Earlier today when I was searching for discussion of the Evolution Robotics deal I found something weird at Technorati. The first page of search results for “ERSP” is filled with German pages that don't contain the term ERSP.

But the posts do contain “erspüren”, “erspäht”, “erspähe”, “erspüre”, “erspähen”, etc.

No, they're not doing substring matching. Yes, they seem to be tokenizing words very poorly for any language that isn't using straight ASCII.

Neverending shoddiness over there.

Later: Ha! Sphere tokenizes in the same wrong way.

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February 13, 2007

Taiwan Standardizing on ERSP

rich white guys with guns in new orleans

Evolution Robotics announced that Taiwan is moving to standardize on their robotics software platform [via Robot Gossip]:

Pasadena, Calif. – February 8, 2007 – Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) announced today that it has selected the Evolution Robotics Software Platform (ERSP) to provide a standard architecture for robotic application development in Taiwan.


By adopting the ERSP Architecture, ITRI supported organizations in Taiwan will not only have fully working software for building and running their applications, they will also have a common standard for integrating technologies with each other as well as companies around the world.

“Well over 100 different companies and universities have licensed the ERSP platform for research and commercial development,” said Dr. Paolo Pirjanian, President and CEO of Evolution Robotics. “Now, with ITRI’s forward-looking efforts to establish standards in the market, a company in Taiwan that develops a new telepresence control application could easily license that to a company in Europe that has a mobile robot on the market running the ERSP architecture.”

“We believe this coordinated approach using our SDK and the ERSP architecture will lead to much more rapid innovation of new technologies, faster time to market for new products, and overall, a stronger competitive position for Taiwan in robotics,” said Mr. Pao of ITRI.

I don't know enough about Taiwan's robot industry or ITRI's role in that industry to have a good idea of the significance of this announcement, but I'm always excited by the prospect of a lot of people using software I've worked on (though apparently it has its detractors).

And if Taiwan does choose to focus on security robots, I'm pretty sure I'll be able to leverage my intimate knowledge of the software to acquire my own for-real robot army.

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