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Tag Archives: NASA

What is Google Up to Now?

By Ernest Worthman —

August 26, 2015 — I love following what Google is up to. Some of their ideas are just insane, but when you have that kind of money, you can be insane. And every once in a while the behemoth actually comes up with a good idea that doesn’t involve knowing everything about you, what you do and where. But this one I’m not so sure about.

Google is looking at operating drones using LTE frequencies. They have partnered with NASA, under a NASA’s Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA), so they can experiment with unmanned aerial systems (UAS). Funny, that Google can partake in a program originally intended for government agencies. It is supposed to be reserved for public organizations like the military, state universities and police or fire departments.

The experiments could last up to six months and involve transmissions on the LTE radio frequencies used by all the major cellphone companies.

NASA’s Ames Research Center recently released an open call to invite government, industry and academic partners to collaborate with NASA to conduct and identify research needs and to accelerate the development of an air-traffic control system for drones. NASA is also investigating the possibility of drone monitoring via cell technology.

Hmmm…I have a bit of a hard time with this. Call me paranoid, but this smells to me like one of those “let’s see what we can contrive to cover up new government plans to snoop on things.” Involved are Google, NASA and the cell phone carrier.

NASA Robot Goes Wi-Fi

Just think if Hal had been able to move around the space station in 2001: A Space Odyssey.  Obviously not movie buffs, NASA engineers are prepared to use Wi-Fi to allow their robotic astronaut or “robonaut” to move freely throughout the International Space Station (ISS).

The robonaut, which is currently bolted to a pedestal and connected with wires for power and control, will get a complete makeover including legs and batteries.  Control and monitoring will be provided to NASA via Wi-Fi using Digi International’s ConnectCore Wi-i.MX53 wireless module.

The robonaut will be “free” to perform routine maintenance tasks, such as housekeeping and air quality testing in space. This will free up time for astronauts to conduct science experiments and other tasks.

The robonaut may be controlled from within the ISS or at a NASA mission control center on Earth. The wireless link will also transmit video from cameras on the Robonaut, allowing astronauts and NASA to see what the robot is seeing in real-time and control its actions. Eventually, the robonaut will be able to perform tasks outside the space station.