Internet retail giant Amazon.com hopes eventually to deliver packages by using flying robots, self-guided drones akin to those used by the military. The concept conjures images of holiday skies clouded with black “octocopters” coming to the rescue of last-minute shoppers. The futuristic plans, announced by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, would deliver small packages within 30 minutes of placing an order and conceivably could begin within four or five years. First, however, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules would have to change.To gain some perspective on the drone-delivery suggestion, the Harvard Gazette talked with Robert Wood, the Charles River Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences, who has been building insect-sized flying robots. GAZETTE: Amazon’s Jeff Bezos said he’s serious about using flying robots to deliver packages, saying that the technology is almost there — within four or five years — and that Federal Aviation Administration [FAA] regulations might permit it by 2015. What was your reaction when you heard this?WOOD: The technology is actually quite close. My first reaction is that the technology is much closer than overcoming the FAA and liability barriers. Of course they will need to refine the vehicle and controller designs to first ensure safety and, second, to verify efficiency and efficacy of this method.“In a laboratory setting, moving an object from one position to another using a flying vehicle is something that has been demonstrated,” said Wood. “When you start to move this out of a lab setting, there are tremendous challenges … But the robotics community is working on solutions to all of these topics.” File photo by Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff PhotographerGAZETTE: How realistic is the scenario of using flying robotic drones to deliver packages? I’m sure it seems completely “out there” for most of the public. Is it?WOOD: I think technically this is quite reasonable. In a laboratory setting, moving an object from one position to another using a flying vehicle is something that has been demonstrated. When you start to move this out of a lab setting, there are tremendous challenges, including weather, turbulence when moving around buildings or objects, dynamic objects in the environment such as people or cars, and imprecise or unreliable sensor information. But the robotics community is working on solutions to all of these topics — [like] the “self-driving car” — so I suspect the answers are not far off.GAZETTE: Is this an extension of military drone use, or is the technology fundamentally different?WOOD: I am not sure of the connections to military drones. I would guess that there are some similarities in some of the technologies and goals.GAZETTE: How does this relate to your own research? Is it mainly a matter of scale, or is it technically entirely different?WOOD: The different scales make these two problems — transporting packages via flying drones versus making flying robots the size of insects — quite different.As you may suspect, when you make things bigger, some things get easier and some get harder. For example, the Amazon drones could use off-the-shelf components for batteries and motors, whereas for our robots everything must be developed from scratch. However, as you get bigger, the robots become more expensive and dangerous, so you have to be extra cautious to avoid people or other objects. As for our robots, if one of them hit you, you wouldn’t feel it any more than you notice a fly that lands on your shirt.GAZETTE: What is the technology coming out of your lab that is closest to deployment, and what would the main use be? How does that fit into what you envision as our robotics future?WOOD: We are far away from having usable flying robotic insects, at least out of a lab setting. But we try to be creative with the technology fallout that comes from the various pieces. For example, our solution to mesoscale manufacturing turns out to be quite useful for a host of interesting applications. And one of my former students started a company, Vibrant Composites Inc., to explore this. Similarly for the sensors and actuators we make. As for robotics in the future, I think this is right in line with robots becoming more ubiquitous and accepted as a useful convergence of multiple technologies.
2. Who is the X-factor for Syracuse and what must they do to take the Orange to the next level?S.B.: Coleman needs to be better and be consistent for Syracuse to be a better team. Right now there are five players that are consistent, solid options. Coleman has shown signs of being that guy, and his presence will always mean something due to size alone. He showed flashes of offensive potential against Wake Forest, only to squander that against Duke. There are moments where you can see the five-star recruit, but there are far too many moments when he’s not that guy. When he’s in at center, Lydon can stretch the floor by moving out to the wing. The Orange is a team that needs more depth, and having Coleman play well is the X-Factor to continued success.J.D.: After Syracuse’s win over Duke on Monday, Roberson was the obvious answer. After Syracuse’s win over Wake Forest on Saturday, it was Cooney. After the nonconference play, Michael Gbinije was the obvious answer. But there is a clear commonality between the Orange’s run in the Battle 4 Atlantis in November and its current three-game winning streak, and that is Lydon’s confidence on offense. When the 6-foot-8 freshman is asserting himself into SU’s half-court offense teams have to respect his high-percentage jump shot and driving lines open up for the guards. When he’s playing passively — like he was during Syracuse’s four-game losing streak to start ACC play — the Orange’s spacing is off and the offense sputters. For that reason, Lydon remains SU’s X-factor two months after he broke out in the Bahamas.M.S.: He may not be flying far enough under the radar to be considered an X-factor, but Malachi Richardson has really shown an increased ability to finish at the rim to complement an already deft touch from deep. He’s perfected the euro-step drive and it created space against the Blue Devils. He also hit a couple clutch 3s late to keep Duke out of reach down the stretch. With Gbinije orchestrating the offense and Roberson handling the inside, even Cooney isn’t as prominent. But Richardson, who tied a team-high with 14 points against the Blue Devils, is just as important. 3. If the season ended today, would Syracuse be in the Tournament?S.B.: You’d have to ask Patrick Stevens or Joe Lunardi. My completely uneducated guess based on limited understanding of bracketology would be that SU is not a Tournament team today. That said, are they good enough to be an at-large team today? Absolutely. They pass my eye test. That’s why they have the rest of the ACC schedule to prove it to all the experts out there as well.J.D.: It’s hard to say, mostly because there are so many good teams in college basketball this season and we really don’t know how much the selection committee is going to weigh Boeheim’s nine-game absence into its decision on Syracuse. With that said, if the regular season ended today I think the Orange would need one or two ACC tournament wins to punch its ticket to the Big Dance. The win over Duke will only become more impressive as the Blue Devils recover from their current skid, which will inevitably happen when Amile Jefferson returns from injury. Now SU has to win the games it’s “supposed to win” and see what others it can steal along the way.M.S.: Yes, Syracuse would just squeak into the NCAA Tournament field thanks to its upset over Duke. Texas A&M is currently No. 10 in the nation and that’s SU’s best win. The Orange also picked up a quality victory against UConn in the Bahamas. And don’t forget, the NCAA said it would weigh Boeheim’s absence — though unknown how much — during SU’s 4-5 stretch, which may give Syracuse even more of a chance. Comments Logan Reidsma | Senior Staff Photographer Logan Reidsma | Senior Staff Photographer Related Stories What we learned from Syracuse basketball’s 64-62 win against DukeTyler Roberson has historic rebounding night at Cameron Indoor StadiumGallery: Syracuse defeats No. 20 Duke, 64-62Dougherty: Being in the ACC provides a double-edged opportunity for SyracuseBlum: Battle 4 Atlantis title was about proving Syracuse could do it Published on January 20, 2016 at 12:34 pm After starting conference play 0-4, Syracuse has turned things around with three straight wins, most recently on the road against No. 20 Duke on Monday night. The Orange’s (13-7, 3-4 Atlantic Coast) season is now somewhat back on track and head coach Jim Boeheim is 3-1 since returning from his nine-game suspension. SU visits No. 13 Virginia on Saturday before starting a four-game home stand. With ACC play heating up, beat writers Sam Blum, Jesse Dougherty and Matt Schneidman discuss three questions surrounding Syracuse basketball.1. Can Syracuse continue to out-rebound ACC opponents?Sam Blum: Can Syracuse out-rebound teams or can Tyler Roberson out-rebound teams? As long as Roberson remains “plugged in” Syracuse is in contention for any rebound. You can just tell there’s a better sense of urgency on the glass in the past couple games. Duke isn’t one of the best rebounding team out there, but North Carolina is, and SU handled the Tar Heels on the glass as well. The short and obvious answer is yes. Syracuse has out-rebounded teams and clearly has the ability to continue to do that, especially with Roberson playing the way he is.Jesse Dougherty: After these four games, why not? There are still going to be teams that are simply bigger and stronger than the Orange — Pittsburgh and North Carolina State immediately come to mind — but Roberson and Tyler Lydon have really stepped it up on the glass. Then factor in that Dajuan Coleman has played the most he has all season since Boeheim’s return from suspension, and you have a frontcourt capable of out-rebounding, or at the very least rebounding with, a handful of SU’s upcoming opponents.Matt Schneidman: Yes, Syracuse can continue to out-rebound ACC opponents. What it will take is a valiant Lydon, who’s been playing bigger than his frame of late, most notably in a nine-rebound effort against Duke. Roberson is a shoe-in to grab 7-12 boards a game, but Lydon will be the key. Not long ago, Boeheim said the freshman wasn’t physically ready to bang with the conference’s top bigs. But against 7-footer Marshall Plumlee on Monday, Lydon held his own and Boeheim showered him with praise in his postgame press conference. Boeheim emphasized simply attacking the ball when it hits off the rim. That grit hasn’t always been there, but as of late it has been and can continue to be.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text Facebook Twitter Google+
Chelsea legend Didier Drogba was full of delight when Chelsea booked their place in the final of the UEFA Europa League on Thursday night.Star man Eden Hazard scored the winning penalty for the Blues in a penalty shootout win over German side Eintracht Frankfurt, after the tie ended 2-2 on aggregate.Chelsea keeper Kepa Arizabalaga was the hero as he saved two crucial spot kicks to give Chelsea victory.Chelsea will face London rivals Arsenal in the final on June 1, after the Gunners overcame Spanish side Valencia in the other semi final.Watch Drogba’s celebration below:Well done My People @chelseafc 💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙Another final!!!on the road to Baku @europaleague Let’s win it NOW pic.twitter.com/s4ONSdJe2e— Didier Drogba (@didierdrogba) May 10, 2019Drogba scored 164 goals in 381 appearances for Chelsea in two spells at the club.
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