Sramana Majumdar

"Violence, Identity and Self-determination: Narratives of conflict from the Kashmir Valley" 4:15 PM, Monday 18 Nov Room 239, BYC Bryn Mawr College

Exposure Index

Tired of paper and pencil questionnaires about integration and intergroup contact? Try the new and improved EXPOSURE INDEX (click tab above on this page).

Who’s afraid of driverless cars?

Among other comments, this article describes how people might take advantage of a driverless car’s superior collision avoidance.

Military Lags in Push for Robotic Ground Vehicles

The article predicts that the army will wait until civilian unmanned vehicles have been proven before deploying any themselves, and further that this is a “radical turnaround” of the normal process.  However, we at the Asch Center consider this civilian-applications-first development cycle to be standard for logistics technology, as seen with the automobile and airplane.

Air Force wants technology that will let drones sense and avoid other aircraft

Collision avoidance might seem an obvious area of interest for UAVs, but the Air Force has often seemed to be dragging its feet when it comes to increasing the deployment of drones.

German chancellor’s drone “attack” shows the threat of weaponized UAVs

A small UAV was dropped at the chancellor’s feet, an effective statement by a member of the opposition party.  The potential for a more bloodthirsty application (assassinations and has raised many concerns, possibly to the detriment of the potential benefit of unmanned vehicles.  The article suggests directed energy weapons as an active defense against such flying weapons, but despite science fiction dreams, lasers have yet to demonstrate practicality for this kind of thing.

Falcon UAV Supports Colorado Flooding Until Grounded by FEMA

Falcon UAV was getting some good PR by helping map the rapidly changing contours of the flooded areas of Colorado.  However, when FEMA arrived, they grounded the drones.  This story is entirely based on the company-written article linked from this post, but apparently the weather has often made manned flights impossible, and manned flights are unable to turn fast enough or fly low enough to provide decent mapping data.  This story neatly encapsulates both drones’ potential and regulatory uncertainty.

Preflight Turbulence for Commercial Drones

The article examines the “moral hazard” of drone surveillance: airplane surveillance is expensive, drones significantly decrease that cost-effectiveness barrier.

Drone and Taliban Attacks Hit Civilians, Afghans Say

The drone strike killed four suspected militants – and a dozen civilian passengers in the truck.  Whether intentional or not, such strikes imply a lack of concern for bystanders that explains the heavily negative perception of drones in the region.

U.S. documents detail al-Qaeda’s efforts to fight back against drones

Notable is that some of the proposed responses include al-Qaeda building their own drones.  While most drones today are dependent on major power’s global communications reach and strong technological/industrial base, UAVs are remarkably simple for today’s technology and small, cheap versions can be obtained or built by anyone.  Terrorist and insurgent groups of all kinds will start using drones, which makes the precedents the U.S. is setting on proper use especially important.

Remote-Controlled Model Helicopter Fatally Strikes Its Operator

Accidental deaths of this sort are a certainty as UAVs become more popular.  Previous accidents such as the German drone near-collision with an passenger liner in Afghanistan  are avoidable with improved integration and air traffic control methods – unfortunate accidents of this sort are far less avoidable.

Will Robots Replace Rent-a-Cops?

This particular application requires using all of robotics’ worst skills: sensor analysis and human interaction.  While the idea is closer to reality than in Asimov’s day, it’s still a long way away.