A 100mph drone that destroys enemy unmanned aircraft by smashing into them has been showcased to the Royal Marines
The flying gizmo is loaded with a battering ram that allows it to shunt enemy gadgets out of the sky.
Dubbed the Anvil, it’s designed to counter an array of off-the-shelf drones that terrorists at home and abroad can now use to attach the West.
Last year, ISIS issued a chilling threat to plague the US and the EU with drones loaded with bombs and other weapons.
The extremist group widely used drones bought over the counter when it was defending its so-called Caliphate in Syria and Iraq.
The Anvil, a quadrocopter built by California defence firm Anduril Industries, is equipped with an array of sensors to spot, track, and intercept targets.
It has batteries and motors optimised for short, high-speed flights.
The Anvil attacks enemy drones from below, and is designed to take the impact and survive for future attacks.
To make it smash-proof, Anduril loaded its rotors and other flight-critical components onto the bottom of the craft.
The Anvil is designed for deployment with military personnel, but could also be used to protect locations closer to home that are vulnerable to drone attacks, such as airports.
The need to protect such assets became all-too clear earlier this month when cops foiled an alleged terror plot to bomb an Army base using a drone.
An Islamic State supporter’s “lone wolf” plot to attack British soldiers and cops was rumbled when his landlord found a stash of knives, axes and a home-made drone at his home.
Hisham Muhammad, 25, allegedly researched how to adapt the flying device to carry and drop bombs.
Last Christmas, Gatwick airport was brought to a standstill for three days when a drone was spotted flying over its runways. Gatwick have put up a £50,000 reward to find the elusive culprit.
Russia is building a “ground force” of killer robots – including a deadly swarm of cat-sized bomber drones.
Are you worried about drone technology? Let us know in the comments!
The UK’s drone code – how should you fly?
Here’s the official advice from the CAA…
- Always keep your drone in sight. This means you can see and avoid other things while flying
- Stay below 400 feet (120 metres) to comply with the drone code. This reduces the likelihood of a conflict with manned aircraft
- Every time you fly your drone, you must follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Keep your drone, and the people around you, safe
- Keep the right distance from people and property. People and properties, 150 feet (50 metres) / Crowds and built-up areas, 500 feet (150 metres)
- You are responsible for each flight. Legal responsibility lies with you. Failure to fly responsibly could result in criminal prosecution
- Stay well away from aircraft, airports and airfields when flying any drone. It is illegal to fly them inside the airport’s flight restriction zone without permission. If your drone endangers the safety of an aircraft, it is a criminal offence and you could go to prison for five years
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I’ve reviewed a lot of true wireless headphones in the last few months and I’m back covering the $130 Helm TW5 wireless earbuds today. Of all the headphone sets that have come across my desk, the TW5 was the last one I thought I’d actually like. They’re bulky, ugly, use microUSB for charging, and have a bulbous carrying case. Yet, they sound fantastic. Keep reading for details and photos.
I was really put off by the Helm TW5 as soon as I took opened the box. The storage and charging case for the earbuds immediately jumps out as large and ugly. I’ve become accustomed to small, pocketable, cases like those for the Creative Outlier and Cleer ALLY. Compared to those, the Helm TW5 case is massive and doesn’t comfortably fit in my pockets. And, perhaps worst of all, it has a microUSB charging port. I cannot complain about this enough. It’s almost 2020 and there’s no excuse for new devices to be shipping without USB-C charging. Maybe that won’t matter to you but it really bugs me.
The oversized nature continues on the actual earbuds. They are pretty large themselves. The back of each bud has a diamond texture and there’s one arm that helps hold the earbud in place. Each earbud has a button for play/pause/power/etc. I don’t think the Helm TW5 earbuds are sharp looking. They’re frankly just too large in almost every way. Despite that, they actually fit quite comfortable in my ears and I never felt like they were going to fall out or come loose.
It’s easy to see why I had my doubts about the TW5s. Those doubts gave way once I actually paired them up with my phone and started listening to music. The Helm TW5 sound amazing. They sound rich and full and they support aptX audio. I cannot stress enough how surprisingly rich they are for wireless headphones.
In addition to their sound performance, the TW5 has incredible range. I can walk all around my 1,950 sq ft house and not lose connection. That’s pretty impressive considering that my walls are full of metal studs and I was in rooms closed in by metal doors. Helm claims that the TW5 uses a specially designed antenna that supports connections up to 60 feet and, based on my experience, I do not doubt them.
The final piece to the performance puzzle is battery life. The TW5 lasts about five hours on a single charge and the charging case carries four additional charges. You can get between 25-30 hours which is, frankly, plenty for most applications.
I can just sum things up this way – I like the Helm Audio TW5. I can’t help myself. I’m not a fan of the design, the size, the high cost, or the microUSB charging but they sound really great. I wouldn’t buy them personally because I really don’t want to have to carry around a microUSB charger but if you can get past that you’ll have a very good sounding set of wireless earbuds.
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DJI drones have long dominated the skies, but there are plenty of other options out there. Parrot, which made its name with some very fun toy-like quadcopters, stepped up its game earlier this year with the Anafi, which was capable of shooting 4K video. Read our Anafi review to learn more about its strengths and limitations.
The company is back with a new take on that drone, with the Anafi FPV (first-person view). It adds FPV virtual reality goggles, a convenient backpack, and still manages to keep the price at $800. Compare that with DJI’s Mavic Pro with dedicated VR goggles, which would set you back at least $1,300.
DJI’s Mavic and goggles combo does offer a laundry list of features you won’t find in the Anafi, and Parrot’s headset requires your phone while DJI’s does not, but the savings are substantial. Parrot is betting there’s a class of pilots out there who want the FPV experience, but don’t want to shell out the big bucks to get it.
It’s the Same But Different
The Anafi copter itself is largely unchanged in this release. It just comes with more stuff, like those VR goggles. The design is compact and lightweight with arms that fold in, making it easy to fit in its included backpack, which neatly squares away all the components and is firm enough to double as a launch pad if there’s no flat ground around.
The camera still offers 4K, high-resolution video at up to 30 fps and takes 21-megapixel still images (including RAW), but it doesn’t produce as good of an image as I wish, given its tech specs. The RAW files are fine, but the JPGs straight out of the camera look a little flat to my eye.
The Anafi also has an impressive top speed of 34 mph and manages a range of over two miles, though out of the box it’s much more tightly geo-fenced, so it won’t go far. You’ll need to go into the settings and tweak the geo fence to extend the range to its full potential. Parrot now claims 26 minutes flying time from on a single charge; that’s up one minute from the last version.
Goggle Me Goose
Small tweaks to the Anafi aside, the first-person view VR goggles are the star of this bundle.
Like a good pair of mobile VR goggles, the headset has a relatively comfortable harness that straps to your head and holds a smartphone in front of your eyes. It’s simple to set up, just lock your phone in place, adjust the straps, and you’re ready to go. Parrot has a list of supported devices, though in my testing, so long as you can run the app and your phone fits, you’ll be fine.
Relying on your smartphone as your screen helps Parrot to keep costs down, but it’s not without trade-offs. There’s less hardware to access controls and navigating your way through menus is definitely more difficult than a dedicated headset. There are two hardware buttons, one of which calls up a menu which you then navigate with the joysticks while the Anafi hovers in place. The other button toggles your phone display between the app and your rear camera (so you can see ahead of you), which is useful if you want to take a quick look around without removing the headset.
The buttons in the headset are actually just levers which tap a spot on the phone’s screen. There’s something wonderfully low tech about this approach that I really like, and it eliminates the need for batteries in the headset, which keeps things lightweight.
It’s not the most comfortable thing to wear, though. The lack of focusing options (there are zero) made it difficult for my aging eyes to focus well on the screen for long periods of time. Most every successful VR headset has focusing options, so this is a sad omission. I was still able to fly without any trouble, but I never wanted to keep it on for too long.
I should probably also confess that I have more fun using my drones as flying cameras, rather than racing copters. I understand the appeal of FPV for racing and other scenarios, but it’s not my control method of choice. That said, I did have a lot of fun flying the Anafi in Arcade mode, which makes the flight path follow the camera. This felt the most natural way to use the goggle headset. Pan the camera and the drone follows.
The other main flight mode I enjoyed in FPV was Cinematic mode, which locks the camera’s horizon to the drone’s horizon. More than anything this felt like an easier version of the old PC flight simulator games I played (or tried to play) as a kid.
There’s also a racing preset, which is what anyone with any experience and love of pure drone flying will want to use. I found the responsiveness of the Anafi in this mode to be impressive and on par with DJI’s equivalent settings.
The faster, more responsive modes highlight why I don’t find FPV all that useful—outside of closely controlled situations. You just cannot see anything happening outside the camera’s limited field of view. That’s fine for racing on a controlled course, or flying in an area with no obstructions like trees or buildings, but if you’re flying at your local park, you can accidentally bank into a tree if you’re not careful.
Parrot has wisely defaulted the Anafi to what it calls “film” mode, which gives beginners a nice slow, gentle place to start flying. I’d also like to see Parrot include some object detection and collision avoidance features. These have been standard issue for DJI drones for years now, but the Anafi offers nothing of the sort.
The Parrot Anafi was not our favorite quadcopter. This new version, with a backpack and first-person headset does cost considerably less than a similar drone and first-person goggle bundle from DJI. The trade-off is, you’ll lose a lot of features—including some collision-avoidance features—found in DJI’s offering. That may not be a trade-off you’re willing to make.
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