Opensource Dronecode Project Announced

The Dronecode Project, administered by the nonprofit Linux Foundation, aims to establish common technology for use across the industry. The concept behind Dronecode is to create an open hardware and software stack, where companies can plug in modules for enhanced performance whether it be sensors, piloting, mission planning or other functions. The Android ecosystem is their model.

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Chris Anderson, who started DIY Drones and later 3D Robotics, is behind Dronecode. It utilizes open source hardware and software and includes the APM/ArduPilot UAV software platform and associated code. Examples of Dronecode projects include APM/ArduPilot, Mission Planner, MAVLink and DroidPlanner.

Founding members include 3D Robotics, Baidu, Box, DroneDeploy, Intel, jDrones, Laser Navigation, Qualcomm, Skyward.io, Squadrone System and others.

PX4 ​is an independent, open-source, open-hardware project aiming at providing a high-end autopilot. The PX4 from 3D Robotics, for example, features advanced processor and sensor technology for controlling any autonomous vehicle.

ArduPilot (also ArduPilotMega – APM), was created in 2007 by the DIY Drones community, based on the Arduino open-source electronics prototyping platform.

H.265 encoding, available on Qualcomm’s 810 smartphone processor can reduce HD bandwidth by 50%. Portland’s Elemental Technologies can do the number crunching in the cloud, bring real-time video to all manner of displays.

OpenVX provides mobile developers with an industry standard API to deliver embedded computer vision and computational imaging chipsets that can keep UAVs on track.

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“Open source software and collaborative development are advancing technologies in the hottest, most cutting-edge areas. The Dronecode Project is a perfect example of this,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation.

“By becoming a Linux Foundation Collaborative Project, the Dronecode community will receive the support required of a massive project right at its moment of breakthrough. The result will be even greater innovation and a common platform for drone and robotics open source projects.”

See: Columbia River Drones

GM & Ford to Build Self-Driving Cars for Michigan Testbed

General Motors announced Sunday it plans to introduce Cadillac models in two years that incorporate hands-free driving and Wi-Fi-enabled vehicle-to-vehicle communications with similarly equipped vehicles, reports C/Net. GM brands, Chief Executive Mary Barra announced the initiative in a speech at the Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress in Detroit on Sunday.

In May, Google unveiled a two-seater prototype vehicle that uses built-in sensors and a software system to safely maneuver the vehicle rather than a steering wheel and accelerator and brake pedals.

Google has been leading the charge in developing self-driving technology over the past couple of years, but several automobile manufacturers have also gotten into various aspects of the autonomous driving game, including Audi, Mercedes Benz, Ford, Nissan, Delphi, Toyota, and Tesla.

GM’s “Super Cruise” semi-automated technology will automatically keep a vehicle in a specific, properly equipped freeway lane, making necessary steering and speed adjustments in bumper-to-bumper traffic or long highway trips. The feature, which was unveiled in 2012, is expected to debut in a high-end Cadillac in 2016 on a 2017 model, and will eventually trickle down to other GM brands. It would likely use the 5.9 GHz band for Dedicated Short-Range Communication (DSRC).

The Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I) system would act as a natural complement to the active traffic management projects that are up and running in European countries like England, Germany, Greece and The Netherlands, according to Barra.

For example, the M4 and M5 Smart Motorways near Bristol, England now include things like variable speed limits, dynamic routing and lane markings, and improved traveler information systems.

GM is joining the University of Michigan and the state of Michigan to develop vehicle-to-infrastructure driving corridors on 120 miles of metro Detroit roadways. State officials said Ford is also part of the effort. If a driver in a V2V-equipped car brakes suddenly in heavy fog, for example, every other V2V-enabled car around it will know, MDOT notes.

When the new corridor goes on line, 9,000 V2V-equipped cars are expected to be on the road as part of the program.

The University of Michigan’s Mobility Transformation Center (MTC), a major public-private R&D initiative that aims to revolutionize the movement of people and goods in society the university announced Friday. Plans call for implementing a working system in Ann Arbor by 2021.

Here’s My Proposal for self-driving cars in Portland. See Dailywireless stories on Vehicle-to-Vehicle Network Proposed for United States, Vehicle to Vehicle Communications: Moving Forward?, FCC Moves to Add 195 MHz to Unlicensed 5 GHz band, World Congress on Talking Cars, and 5.9 GHz Hits the Road, Inside Google’s Driverless Car, Driverless Cars Rolling Out in UK, Autonet Does Control and Diagnostic Apps, Verizon Forms Connected Car Venture, Automotive Telematics Goes 4G, Ford Lowers SYNC Costs, Google’s Driverless Car Explained, World Congress on Talking Cars, Connected Car Conference

Vehicle-to-Vehicle Network Proposed for United States

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is seeking input about a possible federal standard for vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications, which would let cars automatically exchange information, such as whether they’re close to each other.

On Monday, the NHTSA published a research report and issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) in hopes of collecting a lot of feedback before issuing a full NPRM in 2016.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said the technology holds the potential to significantly reduce crashes, injuries and deaths on the nation’s streets and highways.

Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications utilizes a wireless network where automobiles send messages to each other. Traffic signals or other stationary devices are called V2I, or vehicle to infrastructure.

A transponder would continually transmit the vehicle’s position, heading, speed and other information 10 times per second in all directions. It has a range around 1000 feet or about 10 seconds at highway speeds.

Vehicle-to-vehicle communications uses dedicated short-range communications (DSRC), using the 5.9GHz band, which is close to the new, higher power 5 GHz WiFi band authorized by the FCC. Proposed FCC rules would increase power for the U-NII-3 band–5.725-5.850 MHz, but it is drawing heavy criticism from highway advocates and wireless ISPs. The highway administration is concerned about possible DSRC interference from more powerful outdoor WiFi in the adjacent 5 GHz band.

The Association of Global Automakers has expressed concerns about more power in the adjacent 5 GHz WiFi band.

The TIA believes that the FCC acted correctly to promote use of the 5 GHz band by unlicensed devices, including allowing operations up to 5850 MHz which is adjacent to the automakers’ DSRC / U-NII-4 spectrum (5850-5925 MHz)

V2V would be a mesh network, meaning every node (car, smart traffic signal, etc.) could send, capture and retransmit signals. Five to 10 hops on the network would gather traffic conditions a mile ahead. That’s enough time for even the most distracted driver to take his foot off the gas. On the first cars, V2V warnings might come to the driver as an alert, perhaps a red light that flashes in the instrument panel, or an amber then red alert for escalating problems.

The intelligent highway communications network (using the 5.9 GHz band) is not directly connected to a car’s infotainment system which uses Bluetooth, WiFi and 4G commercial networks for passenger entertainment.

Five years ago infotainment ranked 27th on a list of features most cars shopper wanted. Now it’s in the top five.

According to research firm Analysys Mason, 11.5 million connected cars will ship this year, growing to around 170 million in 2023. General Motors’ OnStar service currently has 6 million customers. Worldwide sales of HUD-equipped cars will increase from 1.2 million units in 2012 to 9.1 million in 2020.

Here’s My Proposal for self-driving cars in Portland. See Dailywireless stories on Vehicle to Vehicle Communications: Moving Forward?, FCC Moves to Add 195 MHz to Unlicensed 5 GHz band, World Congress on Talking Cars, and 5.9 GHz Hits the Road, Inside Google’s Driverless Car, Driverless Cars Rolling Out in UK, Autonet Does Control and Diagnostic Apps, Verizon Forms Connected Car Venture, Automotive Telematics Goes 4G, Ford Lowers SYNC Costs, Google’s Driverless Car Explained, World Congress on Talking Cars, Connected Car Conference

Tour de France 2014

The 101st Tour de France (NY Times, Wikipedia and Twitter), began on Saturday July 5, 2014 and continues until July 27, 2014.

The 21-stage race began in Yorkshire, U.K., and stretches across Europe including Spain and Belgium. The race spans a total of 3,664 kilometers (or approximately 2277 miles).

Some 3.5 billion people watch some part of the 4,700 hours of television coverage. It’s the most-watched sports event in the world after the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup. Unlike the other two, the Tour de France does not stay put in a few stadiums.

Broadcasting live to more than 180 countries from 21 stages over the course of a month is one of the most difficult challenges in broadcasting. Almost 200 riders compete over huge distances, many of which snake up and down isolated mountain passes.

This year they have experimented with fitting small cameras to riders, even though the footage can only be accessed after the race. Virgin Media used Siklu’s tiny Gigabit 60GHz radio for backhauling WiFi hotspots in Leeds, England.

Orange, a French communications multinational supplied infrastructure for the event. Cycling fans can follow live each of the stages directly on their PCs via the Orange portal. There are lots of apps, of course, on the Google Play and Apple’s Appstore

Fans have been risking life and limb to snap a selfies at the 2014 Tour.

Comcast’s NBC is charging $4.99 a day for live coverage.

Every morning, 25 engineers start building a communications headquarters from scratch, based in four trucks that travel from town to town. One truck is for the press, the second for photographers, and the third for broadcasters. The fourth truck is the heart of the communications infrastructure for the world’s media. The Orange Event trucks connect fiber to the France Telecom network and via satellites.

The feed is sent to one of two identical trucks provided by Orange, which provides all the communications infrastructure for the Tour. It is piped into high-bandwidth fiber optic lines and sent back to France, from where it is beamed to 185 countries and broadcast live with a delay of less than a second. Networks can add their own commentary on top.

Orange in partnership with EuroMedia France (formerly SFP), manages the Tour’s TV broadcasting.

EuroMedia provides motorcycle cameras, helicopters and aircraft in order to ensure broadcast (especially in the mountains). Images from motorcycle cameras are transmitted via high-frequency links to helicopters flying at 600 meters altitude that then retransmit them to aircraft flying at 3000 meters.

The aircraft then broadcast the image to the town where the finish line is located, via 4 HF aerials mounted on a crane 50 meters up. Out of the 4 aerials, 2 are used exclusively to receive images, while the other 2 are used to coordinate helicopters and motorcycle cameras with the production team.

Coverage of the race inside the 1750 m long Croix-Rousse tunnel in Lyon was made possible thanks to the special receiver system installed inside the tunnel.

NBC has online coverage of the Tour de France. Live video is shown in the upper left, but one can toggle the video to full screen.

The text column on the right has frames showing the peloton and other rider groups and a curated, Twitter-like news feed. The graphic frame at the bottom has five optional modes.

Orange telecom customers can access exclusive content on their mobile phones and tablet. Orange launched LTE-A this month in select cities, utilizing carrier aggregation encompassing frequencies in the 800MHz and 2600MHz bands, which will provide downlink transmission speeds of up to 75Mbps (800MHz) and 150Mbps (2600MHz) respectively, to deliver a combined download rate of 225Mbps.

Orange is installing Ericsson RBS 6000 base stations in Paris, as well as in the south-west and north-east regions of France. Orange plans to deploy LTE-A in early 2015 in 14 of the most densely populated cities, and expand outward. Orange expects 4G roaming will be available across Orange’s European footprint by the end of 2014.

The announcement came on the back of the commercial launch of rival Bouygues Telecom’s LTE-A network in Lyon, Bordeaux, Grenoble, Vanves, Issy-les-Moulineaux, Malakoff and Rosny-sous-Bois in June. It aggregates frequencies in the 800MHz, 1800MHz and 2600MHz spectrum bands. Residential users can access the LTE-A network using the Bbox Nomad mobile hotspot (above).

France is forecast to hit 10 million LTE connections within five years, accounting for close to one in eight of the country’s total connections by 2017.

More Tour de France news is available from Cycling News, BBC, ITV, Sky Sports, Reddit’s Page, NBC Facebook page and NBC’s $15 app. Digital Trends explains how to watch the 2014 Tour de France.

GoAntenna: 10 Mile Cell Communications – Without Towers

GoTenna has developed a 6-inch-long antenna that connects to iPhones and Android phones via Bluetooth low energy. The antenna then transmits the data to other GoTennas through proprietary protocols, at 151-154 MHz. You can send text messages up to 160 characters as well as share your location on offline maps.

The gadget is available for preorder at $150 for two devices, since it takes two devices to form a peer-to-peer network.

It uses the Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS), an unlicensed personal radio service in the 150 MHz band. The goTenna is dependent on FCC approval and is currently undergoing FCC testing. If it doesn’t pass, money would be refunded, says the company.

According to the company, you can send & receive messages for free:

  • Share locations on detailed, offline maps (also for free!)
  • Instantaneous transmission within range
  • Automatic message retry & delivery confirmation
  • Individual & group messaging
  • “Shout” broadcasts to anyone within range
  • Proximal friend map & location pinging
  • Emergency chat
  • End-to-end encryption (RSA-1024) & self-destructing messages
  • Compatible with iOS & Android devices

When cell towers and wifi aren’t available, goTenna makes the phone you have in your hand useful. CEO and co-founder Daniela Perdomo told GigaOM that GoTenna’s range is limited only by the horizon, or up to nine miles in open environments. In a heavily wooded area, the signal would travel a shorter distance, but still about four miles. A goTenna can only be paired to one phone at a time.

The part-95 radio services (FRS/GMRS/MURS) is available for unlicensed use in the United States. It is intended for short-range local voice or data communications.

The 150 MHz VHF band, used by the Multi-Use Radio Service (MURS), propagates better outdoors. The 450 MHz UHF band is used by the Family Radio Service (FRS) has a maximum output of 500 mW while the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS uses the lower 7 channels of FRS, in the 462 MHz range, with a maximum of 5 watts ERP. It requires a valid GMRS license, but propagates better in buildings and urban areas.

In Portland this Saturday cargo biking was utilized in the Disaster Relief Trials. Cell phones were turned off. Cyclists used paper maps and pedal power to move supplies.

Riders were required to haul 100 pounds of cargo over a 30-mile, obstacle-strewn course. In the more family-friendly Replenish Class, riders will be required to carry one passenger on a 15-mile “post-disaster household supply run.”

The Portland Bureau of Emergency Management and Multnomah County Emergency Management agencies were on-site at the Oregon Museum of Science to track the riders via radio. Representatives from the FEMA Region 10 staffed checkpoints.

Maybe next year goTennas and smartphones will enable real-time tracking and messaging.

Orbcomm Launches Space-based Vessel Tracking Satellites

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched six LEO comsats to modernize Orbcomm’s orbital fleet of messaging satellites. ORBCOMM says the six satellites’ solar panels and antennas deployed properly, and are connecting to their Gateway Earth Stations around the world.

The flight was supposed to take off in early May, but persistent technical issues with the Falcon 9 rocket and the Orbcomm satellites kept the launcher grounded until July.

With the six satellites launched Monday and 11 more spacecraft on the way, Orbcomm expects its 889,000 subscribers will see better service in the coming months. Each second-generation satellite has six times the data capacity and twice the transmission rate of one of Orbcomm’s existing satellites.

The OG2 communications system offer transfer rates up to four megabits per second at VHF frequencies between 137 and 153 megahertz. Each vehicle also carries an Automatic Identification System (AIS) receiver to track ships in the open ocean. Orbcomm intends to sell this data to coastguard services.

Companies like Orbcomm, exactEarth, SpaceQuest, and government programs like ESA’s ship-tracking satellite program have deployed AIS receivers on satellites, but currently most all AIS is terrestrial-based and dependent on radio towers. Consequently, AIS vessel tracking is available only along rivers or along coast lines, and is not generally available in the open ocean.

The new platforms will join 25 operational first-generation Orbcomm satellites, plus a pair of small ship-tracking spacecraft used by Orbcomm. The new satellites were built by Sierra Nevada and Boeing, and should begin machine-to-machine communications and maritime tracking services within 60 days, according to an Orbcomm press release.

Orbcomm’s messaging satellites, unlike the Iridium Next constellation or GlobalStar’s 32 LEO satellites don’t allow global voice communications with continuous connectivity. They store and forward messaging.

Both the Iridium and GlobalStar satphone constellations plan new M2M services, in competition to Orbcomm, allowing independent contractors to “piggyback” independent hosted services on their satellite platforms.

Iridium NEXT, their second-generation platform, is expected to launch beginning in 2015 and is expected to be fully operational in 2017. The Iridium NEXT satellite network will consist of 66 in-orbit satellites, with six in-orbit and nine on-ground spares. The 48 spot beams from each satellite antenna will collectively cover an area roughly the size of the United States. The constellation will begin launching in 2015 will offer greater bandwidth and data speeds.

Iridium will host payloads designed by other entities. Space is now fully allocated to two companies, Aireon for its space-based aircraft surveillance application and Harris Corporation for additional auxiliary payloads.

Aireon will use the Iridium NEXT hosted payload space to develop the world’s first space-based global aviation monitoring system.

ADS-B will be replacing radar as the primary surveillance method for controlling aircraft worldwide. Enabled by Harris’ 81 space-qualified ADS-B receivers, the system relies on two avionics components—a GPS navigation source and a datalink (ADS-B unit). This allows controllers to guide aircraft into and out of crowded airspace with smaller separation standards than it was previously possible.

Here’s the real-time vessel traffic world-wide posted on MarineTraffic.com, a mashup which was developed and hosted by the University of the Aegean in Greece.

Related DailyWireless Space and Satellite News includes; Cluster of 37 Satellites Launched, Google Buys Skybox Imaging for $500 Million, exactEarth Gets Partner for Space-based AIS , Satellite Swarms Revolutionize Earth Imaging, Google Buying Drone Company Titan, Facebook Announces Connectivity Lab, Iridium Announces Hosted Payloads, ExactEarth Launches 5th AIS Satellite, ExactEarth Launches AIS Satellite, Arctic Technology, Orbcomm: World’s Largest Container Tracker, Space-Based Vessel Tracking, AIS Space Race, Orbcomm’s Space-based AIS Fails,