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Nintendo donates 9500 face masks to emergency services

Eurogamer - Wed, 25/03/2020 - 16:42

Emergency services in the US city of North Bend, Washington have recieved an enormous donation of respirator face masks from an unlikely source - Nintendo.

Nintendo's North American packaging and distribution centre, which boxes up products for delivery across the US, Canada and Latin America, happens to be located in North Bend. And, happily, they happened to have 9500 face masks lying around to donate.

According to North Bend's local government website (thanks, GamesIndustry.biz): "Nintendo representative Jerry Danson contacted Eastside Fire & Rescue to generously donate over 9500 N95 Particulate Respirator masks.

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Categories: Video Games

Apple Blocks Third-Party Cookies in Safari

Slashdot - Wed, 25/03/2020 - 16:42
Starting this week, with the release of Safari 13.1 and through updates to the Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) privacy feature, Apple now blocks all third-party cookies in Safari by default. From a report: The company's move means that online advertisers and analytics firms cannot use browser cookie files anymore to track users as they visit different sites across the internet. But Apple says the move isn't actually a big deal, since they were already blocking most third-party cookies used for tracking anyway. "It might seem like a bigger change than it is," said John Wilander, an Apple software engineer. "But we've added so many restrictions to ITP since its initial release in 2017 that we are now at a place where most third-party cookies are already blocked in Safari."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Control is just £20 in the Deal of the Week on the PSN Store

Eurogamer - Wed, 25/03/2020 - 16:14

Control - Remedy's fascinating supernatural adventure - just on sale for only £20 in the latest Deal of the Week on the PSN Store.

That's the lowest price we've seen for Control on console so far, beating out the previous best offer on a physical copy by £8. A quick search at most stores right now shows the game is either out of stock or still at full price.

Knowing that, if you've been hesitant to pick up the game then this is a great opportunity to get lost in Remedy's latest mind-bender.

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Categories: Video Games

Apple's App Store Rules Limit Rival Gaming Services While Arcade Runs Free

Slashdot - Wed, 25/03/2020 - 16:01
Video-game fans suddenly have their pick of a huge menu of titles thanks to a raft of new mobile subscription services from Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet's Google and Nvidia. But for the more than 1 billion users of Apple's iPhone and iPad, the only real option is Arcade, the subscription service launched by the company in September. From a report: That's because Apple imposes strict limits on the kinds of apps users can access on its devices. For example, App Store guidelines ban services that rely on streaming from the cloud. Arcade adheres to the requirements, in part, because it's included as a feature within the App Store itself. This is the latest example of what critics say are arbitrary rules favoring Apple's own apps at the expense of similar software from outside developers. "There's a fraught relationship between developers and Apple precisely because of rules like this," said David Barnard, a longtime independent developer and advocate at RevenueCat. "In some ways, I am incredibly grateful to their marketplace for helping me make millions of dollars I wouldn't have made without it. On the flip side, them being so heavy handed at times does kill apps and does cause developers to miss out on other potential revenue." If software developers want to reach as many consumers as possible, they have to be on Apple's iOS. The operating system powers more than 1 billion smartphones and tablets and it's the only way to access the iOS App Store, which accounted for 65% of app spending globally last year, according to Sensor Tower. The Cupertino, California-based company can also make or break mobile gaming businesses: More than half of the $62 billion spent on smartphone gaming last year happened on Apple products.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Hackers Hijack Routers' DNS To Spread Malicious COVID-19 Apps

Slashdot - Wed, 25/03/2020 - 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bleeping Computer: A new cyber attack is hijacking router's DNS settings so that web browsers display alerts for a fake COVID-19 information app from the World Health Organization that is the Oski information-stealing malware. For the past five days, people have been reporting their web browser would open on its own and display a message prompting them to download a 'COVID-19 Inform App' that was allegedly from the World Health Organization (WHO). After further research, it was determined that these alerts were being caused by an attack that changed the DNS servers configured on their home D-Link or Linksys routers to use DNS servers operated by the attackers. As most computers use the IP address and DNS information provided by their router, the malicious DNS servers were redirecting victims to malicious content under the attacker's control. "If your browser is randomly opening to a page promoting a COVID-19 information app, then you need to login to your router and make sure you configure it to automatically receive its DNS servers from your ISP," the report says. It also recommends you set a strong password for your router and to disable remote administration. "Finally, if you downloaded and installed the COVID-19 app, you should immediately perform a scan on your computer for malware. Once clean, you should change all of the passwords for sites whose credentials are saved in your browser and you should change the passwords for any site that you visited since being infected."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Half-Life: Alyx adds continuous turning after fan complaints

Eurogamer - Wed, 25/03/2020 - 13:40

Valve has released its first update to Half-Life: Alyx and among the bug fixes and changes is a big improvement for the way the VR game handles movement.

Players can now "continuous turn" with various associated turning speed options, a highly requested feature from fans who have played so far.

The previous turning mechanic, quick turn, has been renamed "snap turn" - which better fits its functionality.

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Categories: Video Games

Animal Crossing: New Horizons is Japan's biggest Switch release ever

Eurogamer - Wed, 25/03/2020 - 12:55

There's no stopping Animal Crossing: New Horizons, our new home and hangout in these troubling times. Earlier this week, we reported on its huge opening sales here in the UK. Now, the sales picture is in from Japan and it's a similar story.

Put simply, Animal Crossing: New Horizons is Japan's biggest Switch game launch ever. In just three days, it sold 1.88m physical copies (thanks, Famitsu).

It ably beat the previous game to hold the Switch's fastest-selling game record - Pokémon Sword and Shield, which managed a combined 1.36m sales over the same time period.

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Categories: Video Games

Someone should make a game about: damn fine seamanship

Eurogamer - Wed, 25/03/2020 - 12:00

Who let the sea-dogs out? From knockabout pirate sim Sea of Thieves to pretty much every Assassin's Creed since 2012, life on the ocean wave has never been more accessible, even if voyaging across azure-blue oceans usually involves little more than holding down a button to sally forth, reducing the complex elemental interplay of tide and sail into something a little more manageable. But these foam-flecked games still evoke something of that salty, swashbuckling spirit of romance and adventure.

I have vestigial slivers of sailing knowledge in my hinterland, having spent a term's worth of secondary school Wednesday afternoons inexplicably in command of a single-sail Topper dinghy patrolling the opaque grey murk of a local loch. While presumably spending hours trying to coax a boom into a tacking turn my most vivid sense memories are of the warming post-session Pot Noodle. But in the many years since, I have devoured the Master and Commander novels of Patrick O'Brian, vicariously experiencing the excitement of life in the Napoleonic age of sail - all tall masts, grapeshot and weevil-infested ship's biscuit - through the daring exploits of "Lucky" Jack Aubrey and his lubberly surgeon sidekick Stephen Maturin.

By god, the O'Brian books are exhilarating. Immersive, too, in that the reader is bombarded with antique sailing terminology and simply expected to keep up. On the page, I have experienced dozens of sea battles at the shoulder of Aubrey, a lifelong mariner with almost preternatural skill when it comes to handling his ship. But while lustily whooping with joy at another daring Lucky Jack victory, I rarely have the foggiest idea of what has actually occurred: how the deployment of a specific sail at a specific time has somehow given our gutsy captain the strategic edge over a less-skilled opponent. (In this, the unsure reader can commiserate with the equally bemused Maturin, who has been known to mutter: "Clearly something terribly nautical and fascinating has just happened.")

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Categories: Video Games

Venezuela's Flagship Communications Satellite Out of Service and Tumbling

Slashdot - Wed, 25/03/2020 - 12:00
Venezuela's first and only state-owned communications satellite has been out of service since March 13 when a series of maneuvers left it tumbling in an unusable orbit. SpaceNews reports: The VeneSat-1 satellite, built by China Great Wall Industry Corp. and launched in late 2008 on a 15-year mission to provide television and broadband services to Venezuela, has been stuck for 10 days in an elliptical orbit above the geostationary arc, according to telescopic observations from two U.S. companies that track satellites. VeneSat-1's operator, the Venezuelan space agency ABAE, had issued no status reports on the satellite as of March 23 and could not be reached for comment March 22 or March 23. In January, ABAE said Venezuela and China planned to develop a replacement satellite, VeneSat-2, that would continue service after VeneSat-1 retired. California-based ExoAnalytic Solutions, which operates a network of satellite- and debris-tracking telescopes, spotted a "significant orbit change" for VeneSat-1 on March 13 at 3:15 a.m. Eastern, when the satellite left its position at 78 degrees West longitude over Venezuela, Bill Therien, ExoAnalytic's vice president of engineering, told SpaceNews. Approximately three hours later, the satellite conducted another maneuver that sent it tumbling westward, he said. Telescope observations from ExoAnalytic and Pennsylvania-based AGI show VeneSat-1 tumbling in an elliptical orbit that at its lowest point is 50 kilometers above the geosynchronous arc where most large communications satellites reside. Venesat-1's highest point, or apogee, is roughly 36,300 kilometers -- or about 525 kilometers above the geosynchronous arc, according to the companies. Bob Hall, AGI technical director for space situational awareness, said VeneSat-1 has drifted 30 degrees from its original orbital slot since March 13. If the satellite drifts another 40 degrees, it will be beyond line of sight from Venezuela, complicating any efforts to restore control of the spacecraft unless Venezuela relies on ground stations in other countries. VeneSat-1 will likely be maneuvered into a so-called graveyard orbit around 300 to 500 kilometers above the geosynchronous belt, where inactive or dead satellites are expected to orbit for thousands of years without colliding with active satellites.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

The priceless work of Make-A-Wish, and the potential of games

Eurogamer - Wed, 25/03/2020 - 10:00

"The one that's most fresh in my mind is George's wish."

I'm talking to Jason Suckley, CEO of the Make-A-Wish Foundation in the UK.

"I met George and his mum a couple of years ago, and he had, at the time, they knew he had a terminal condition, so they created what she called a 'bucket and spade list' because he was too young to have a bucket list. He couldn't speak at that time because he'd lost his power of speech but they were obviously very, very close. And one of the things on the list was to go tobogganing in Austria.

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Categories: Video Games

SpaceX Encounters First Launch Delay Due To Coronavirus

Slashdot - Wed, 25/03/2020 - 09:00
On Tuesday, the Air Force's 45th Space Wing confirmed that the timing for SpaceX's upcoming SAOCOM launch, which was set to take off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on March 30 using a Falcon 9 rocket, has been put on "indefinite" hold due to the impact of the current coronavirus crisis. TechCrunch reports: Vandenberg has declared a public health emergency as of this past weekend, and while there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the base thus far, the Air Force is limiting access to essential personnel, and providing only essential services, in addition to taking additional precautions to protect the safety of those who have to remain on site. The delay comes shortly after the company successfully launched 60 more of its Starlink satellites. The report notes that SpaceX still appears to be on track for its current mid-to-late May launch schedule for the first Commercial Crew mission with NASA.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Researchers Found a Way To Control Bacteria To Transport Microscopic Cargo

Slashdot - Wed, 25/03/2020 - 05:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: Bacteria form the largest biomass in the world, larger than all the animals and plants combined, and they are constantly moving, but their movement is chaotic. The researchers [at the Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen, in collaboration with groups in U.S. and U.K.] pursued the idea that if this motion could be controlled, they might be able to develop it into a biological tool. They used a liquid crystal to dictate the direction of the bacterial movement, and added a microscopic cargo for the bacteria to carry, more than five times the size of the bacteria. Assistant Professor Amin Doostmohammadi at the Niels Bohr Institute explains that in the past, there have been attempts to control the behavior of bacteria. But he and his colleagues adopted a novel approach: "We thought to ourselves, how about we create a track for the bacteria? The way we do that experimentally is to put the bacteria inside a liquid crystal. The trick is that a liquid crystal is not like a crystal, nor is it a liquid, it is somewhere in between. Each molecule in the crystal has an orientation, but doesn't have a positional order. This means that the molecules can flow like a liquid, but they can also align like a crystal at the same time. [...] Strong jets of bacteria moving in a designated direction without fluctuations is the great outcome of the experiment, according to Amin Doostmohammadi. What usually happens if the jets of bacteria are strong enough to be useful, the concentration of bacteria has to be high, and instabilities typically start to appear. The jet becomes unstable and chaotic. But in the liquid crystal pattern, the instabilities can be largely suppressed and prevent the bacterial jets from becoming chaotic. The pattern dictates the direction. This means it is possible to create jets of bacteria strong enough to carry strings of microscopic cargo, each piece of cargo five times the size of the bacteria themselves.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Firefox Is Launching a New Test Pilot With Scroll To Pay Web Publishers

Slashdot - Wed, 25/03/2020 - 03:45
Mozilla and Scroll have made an earlier-announced partnership slightly more official today with the wider release of a browser extension called "Firefox Better Web." It's part of Firefox's ongoing effort to combat tracking on the web, but with the small twist that it includes the option to sign up for Scroll. The Verge reports: Scroll, if you don't recall, is the $5-a-month service that stops ads from loading on certain websites. It's not technically an ad blocker, but rather lets publishers know they shouldn't serve them in the first place when you visit. For a limited time, the subscription will cost $2.50 per month for the first six months. The Mozilla partnership essentially builds Scroll into a package of tools that Mozilla offers as a test pilot. The idea is to see how far Firefox can go blocking trackers and other malfeasance (short of full ad blocking) without fully breaking the web or de-funding publishers. The extension includes Scroll and also a "customized Enhanced Tracking Protection setting that will block third-party trackers, fingerprinters, and cryptominers," according to Mozilla. It will work across different desktop browsers, but of course it is designed primarily to be used with Firefox. The deal with Mozilla should get Scroll a much larger userbase, but neither company would disclose any financial terms. Scroll takes a 30 percent cut of your subscription fee and pays the rest out to its partner publishers based on your web browsing habits. It tracks those habits automatically, and the company tells me that it will soon offer users tools to delete their data -- on top of a pledge to never sell that data. Scroll also pledges to make it easier for small publishers to sign up through an automated system soon.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Microsoft Throttles Some Office 365 Services To Continue To Meet Demand

Slashdot - Wed, 25/03/2020 - 03:15
In response to high demand as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Microsoft has started taking action to preserve overall performance by throttling some services. ZDNet reports: On March 16, Microsoft posted to Microsoft 365/Office 365 admin dashboardds a warning about "temporary feature adjustments" that it might take. That warning told customers that Microsoft was "making temporary adjustments to select non-essential capabilities." Officials said they did not expect these changes to have significan impact on users' experiences. Among the examples of the types of changes Microsoft might take would be things like how often its services check for presence; intervals in which other parties typing are displayed; and video resolution. Today, March 24, Microsoft started cautioning Microsoft 365/Office 365 commercial users of some other "temporary changes" they should expect. The list: OneNote: - OneNote in Teams will be read-only for commercial tenants, excluding EDU. Users can go to OneNote for the web for editing. - Download size and sync frequency of file attachments has been changed. - You can find details on these and other OneNote related updates at http://aka.ms/notesupdates. SharePoint: - We are rescheduling specific backend operations to regional evening and weekend business hours. Impacted capabilities include migration, DLP and delays in file management after uploading a new file, video or image. - Reduced video resolution for playback videos Stream: - People timeline has been disabled for newly uploaded videos. Pre-existing videos will not be impacted.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

The Supreme Court Says States Cannot Be Sued For Copyright Infringement

Slashdot - Wed, 25/03/2020 - 02:45
sandbagger shares a report from PetaPixel: The Supreme Court of the United States dealt a major blow to photographers' copyright protections when it declared that states cannot be sued for copyright infringement because they have "sovereign immunity." The opinion came down as part of a writ of certiorari regarding the case of Allen v Cooper. A writ of certiorari is basically a review of a lower court's decision, and in this case, the Supreme Court has upheld the decision by the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which decided that states are immune from copyright infringement lawsuits. The case began in 2013, when videographer Frederick Allen sued North Carolina for using his videos of the salvage of Queen Anne's Revenge, a shipwreck discovered off the North Carolina coast in 1998, without permission. The state claimed "sovereign immunity," and though they initially lost this argument in the Eastern District of North Carolina, the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed the ruling. Allen appealed one final time, which is how we ended up with today's decision by The Supreme Court. In essence, the Supreme Court agreed with the Fourth Circuit, ultimately striking down the Copyright Remedy Clarification Act (CRCA) of 1990. This 30-year-old amendment to the Copyright Act of 1976 tried to strip states of their sovereign immunity where copyright was concerned, and it was at the core of Allen's lawsuit. If states can't claim sovereign immunity to get out of copyright infringement, then North Carolina had no defense. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court agreed with the Fourth Circuit, stating that Congress lacked the authority to take away State's immunity in the CRCA, passing the buck back to Congress and giving states carte blanche to infringe with impunity (or, as it were, immunity).

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Amazon Prioritizes Essential Products in India, Temporarily Discontinues 'Lower-Priority' Items

Slashdot - Wed, 25/03/2020 - 02:01
Amazon said on Tuesday that it is temporarily discontinuing accepting orders for "lower-priority" products in India and prioritizing servicing urgent items such as household staples, health care, and personal safety products as the e-commerce player -- along with several of its competitors -- grapples with coronavirus outbreak in one of its key overseas markets. From a report: "To serve our customers' most urgent needs while also ensuring safety of our employees, we are temporarily prioritizing our available fulfilment and logistics capacity to serve products that are currently critical for our customers such as household staples, packaged food, health care, hygiene, personal safety and other high priority products," the American e-commerce giant said in a statement. "This also means that we have to temporarily stop taking orders and disable shipments for lower-priority products," it added. Understandably, the company said it did not have a timeline to share for how long this new measure would last. Amazon has taken a similar approach in the U.S. and Italy. The move, which goes into effect today, comes as nearly every Indian state has imposed a lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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SF Businesses Decline Cash, Fearing it Could Spread the Virus

Slashdot - Wed, 25/03/2020 - 01:20
When customers step in for a cup of coffee at Ritual Coffee Roasters on Valencia Street, a sign informs them that cash is no longer welcome. The coffee shop wants customers to use contactless forms of payments to pick up their cups of joe, in an effort to curb the spread of the new coronavirus. More and more businesses are turning away from cash, fearing that the virus could be sitting on banknotes and coins, as it exchanges hands from person to person in everyday transactions. From a report: "Looking at the situation with COVID-19 getting worse, we decided to switch," said Eileen Rinaldo, owner of Ritual Coffee. "Cash is notoriously covered with germs and it's a matter of eliminating that point of contact." The reluctance to take cash is emerging even though San Francisco ordered most businesses to accept cash last year, out of a concern that the trend to cashless payments was shutting out those without access to smartphones and credit cards. The city said it's still enforcing the rule and does not plan to lift it temporarily. "We're not currently engaged in any discussions about a freeze on this important equity policy," said Gloria Chan, spokeswoman for the Office of Economic and Workforce Development. "As a city, we still need to ensure everyone can purchase goods, whether or not they have access to credit or noncash forms of payment." Still, fears of cash abound. Other companies, like food delivery service DoorDash, are providing cashless options for payments. And on Saturday, cash toll collection on all seven Bay Area bridges was temporarily suspended under Gov. Gavin Newsom's orders, to curb the spread of the virus.

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Apple Releases iOS 13.4, iPadOS 13.4, macOS 10.15.4, tvOS 13.4, and watchOS 6.2

Slashdot - Wed, 25/03/2020 - 00:40
Apple today officially released versions 13.4 of iOS, iPadOS, and tvOS to the public, alongside macOS 10.15.4 and watchOS 6.2. While many of their improvements are minor, there are a few standout features across the updates. From a report: One of the most noteworthy additions is a dramatic expansion of iPadOS 13's prior trackpad and mouse support, which was limited solely to an Accessibility option before evolving to full system-wide support across all iPad models capable of running iPadOS 13.4. Now, keyboard-trackpad hybrids (such as the upcoming Magic Keyboard for iPad), standalone trackpads, and standalone mice can create a cursor that highlights and selects on-screen text and objects, paving the way for more Mac-like apps on Apple's tablets. Another major improvement is cross-platform support for a new universal app purchase option, enabling a single app developed using Apple's shared Catalyst framework to be purchased and run across Macs, iPhones, iPads, and Apple TVs. This feature went live for developers yesterday, and it uses the iOS App Store as the base for universal apps. Standalone Mac App Store app listings will likely need to be abandoned for the transition to universal apps.

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Doctors Are Hoarding Unproven Coronavirus Medicine By Writing Prescriptions For Themselves and Their Families

Slashdot - Wed, 25/03/2020 - 00:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ProPublica: A nationwide shortage of two drugs touted as possible treatments for the coronavirus is being driven in part by doctors inappropriately prescribing the medicines for family, friends and themselves, according to pharmacists and state regulators. Demand for chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine surged over the past several days as President Donald Trump promoted them as possible treatments for the coronavirus and online forums buzzed with excitement over a small study suggesting the combination of hydroxychloroquine and a commonly used antibiotic could be effective in treating COVID-19. "It's disgraceful, is what it is," said Garth Reynolds, executive director of the Illinois Pharmacists Association, which started getting calls and emails Saturday from members saying they were receiving questionable prescriptions. "And completely selfish." Reynolds said the Illinois Pharmacists Association has started reaching out to pharmacists and medical groups throughout the state to urge doctors, nurses and physician assistants not to write prescriptions for themselves and those close to them. "We even had a couple of examples of prescribers trying to say that the individual they were calling in for had rheumatoid arthritis," he said, explaining that pharmacists suspected that wasn't true. "I mean, that's fraud." In one case, Reynolds said, the prescriber initially tried to get the pills without an explanation and only offered up that the individual had rheumatoid arthritis after the pharmacist questioned the prescription. In a bulletin to pharmacists on Sunday, the state association wrote that it was "disturbed by the current actions of prescribers" and instructed members on how to file a complaint against physicians and nurses who were doing it. It's important to note that there is little evidence that the drugs work to treat coronavirus, although clinical trials are underway to find out. The report mentions a man in his 60s who died after ingesting a version of the chloroquine commonly used to clean fish tanks. "The man, who thought he might have COVID-19, took a small amount of the substance in a misguided effort to treat his symptoms," reports ProPublica. "His wife was also hospitalized after taking the substance but survived."

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UPS To Develop New Delivery Drones With German Drone-Maker Wingcopter

Slashdot - Tue, 24/03/2020 - 23:20
UPS' Flight Forward subsidiary focused on drone delivery is partnering with German drone-maker Wingcopter to develop the next generation of package delivery drones for a variety of use cases in the United States and internationally. GPS World reports: UPS chose Wingcopter for its unmanned aircraft technology and its track record in delivering a variety of goods over long distances in multiple international settings. As part of this collaboration -- UPSFF's first new relationship with a drone manufacturer since its formation -- both companies will work toward earning regulatory certification for a Wingcopter unmanned aircraft to make commercial delivery flights in the United States. It also is a critical step toward building a diverse fleet of drones with varying capabilities to meet potential customer needs. The Wingcopter drones feature vertical takeoffs and landings in tight spaces, transitioning to efficient, high-speed horizontal flight, enabling ranges suitable for a variety of uses. These capabilities will allow UPSFF to begin developing solutions that, if approved, will go well beyond the healthcare and retail industries to solve long-standing challenges for high-tech, industrial manufacturing, hospitality, entertainment and other customers. [Wincopter's] electric vertical takeoff and landing drones have a patented tilt-rotor mechanism, which enables a seamless transition between two drone modes: multicopter for hovering and fixed-wing for low-noise forward flight. The aerodynamic Wingcopter aircrafts operate with stability even in harsh weather conditions. "Drone delivery is not a one-size-fits-all operation," said Bala Ganesh, vice president of the UPS Advanced Technology Group. "Our collaboration with Wingcopter helps pave the way for us to start drone delivery service in new use-cases. UPS Flight Forward is building a network of technology partners to broaden our unique capability to serve customers and extend our leadership in drone delivery."

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