Most Read: Independence Day Drone Shows, Greece’s Futuristic Smart City

Also inside, a Waymo vehicle found driving on the wrong side of the road, plus, Germany’s first Level 4 autonomous vehicle trials

Ben Wodecki, Junior Editor - AI Business

July 5, 2024

5 Min Read
Pyro drone show displayed a red, white and blue Eagle
Sky Elements

Here are this week’s most-read stories in IoT World Today:

Fourth of July Drone Shows Replace Fireworks Across the US

Skies above cities and towns across the nation will once again light up for the Fourth of July, but in many areas, fireworks are being replaced by drones. 

Drone shows have spiked in popularity over the past couple of years with impressive shows everywhere. Last year alone, they helped ring in the queen’s jubilee and the king’s coronation

They were also breaking Guinness World Records and helping a Texas family win the “Great Christmas Light Fight.”

Even Disney cashed in on the action, launching its new drone show “Disney Dreams That Soar” in the sky over Disney Springs in May.

Fourth of July Festivities across the U.S. followed suit. 

Sky Elements had 35 public Fourth of July drone shows on deck this year all over the country. The company’s drone shows featured between 100 and 500 drones and took to the skies from Florida to Washington State. 

Read more about the drone-led Independence Day celebrations >>>

Abandoned Greek Airport Transforms Into Futuristic Smart City

A new smart city complex is set to rise on the site of the former Hellinikon airport in southern Greece, transforming the once-abandoned airfield into a vibrant urban hub. 

Related:Researchers Use GPT-4 to Control Humanoid Robots with Natural Language

The Hellenikon Metropolitan Park, also known as The Ellinikon, will feature cutting-edge entertainment venues, business centers, residential buildings, and green spaces, just a 20-minute drive from Athens. This project aims to embody the 15-minute city concept, where all essential amenities are within easy reach, including parks, marinas, hospitality sites, health care and education facilities.

The Ellinikon will be one of Europe’s newest smart cities, complete with 6,200 acres dedicated to urban living and a further 600 acres for green spaces.

The urban redevelopment project was meant to begin in the mid-2000s but the plans were shelved due to the global economic crash, which hit Greece hard.

The Ellinikon project is now well underway, with its developers promising a “state-of-the-art smart district that pioneers the future of home, work, and entertainment.” 

Uncover more about Greece’s smart city projects >>>

Phoenix Police Officer Bemused After Pulling Over Driverless Waymo Taxi

The potential confusion self-driving taxis can cause police officers has been highlighted again following a bizarre incident in Phoenix. 

As bodycam footage published by the website shows, an officer was left bemused when he pulled over a car, only to find there was no one driving it.

Related:Robotics, Virtual Reality to Aid Tremor Patients' Rehabilitation

That’s because the vehicle in question was one of Waymo’s converted autonomous Jaguar I-Pace SUVs, which have become an increasingly familiar sight as the company’s presence in the city has grown over the past couple of years.

The AV was stopped because – as the officer is seen in the video explaining to Waymo’s remotely based support hub – it “drove into oncoming lanes of traffic.”

The taxi was traveling eastbound in a westbound lane near Seventh Avenue and West Osborn Road in the city. As was recorded in subsequently revealed police dispatch records, the AV also ran a red light and according to the officer who witnessed the incident, “freaked out.”

Learn more about the runaway robotaxi >>>

Germany Launches Fully Autonomous Self-Driving Taxi Transit Trial

Germany’s first trial of Level 4 autonomous vehicles for public transport is underway.

The KIRA project is taking place in the Rhine-Main region, in the city of Darmstadt and in the western part of the Offenbach district, and initially will see six autonomous vehicles (AVs) tested on defined routes in public roads.

Ultimately, the hope is that it can pave the way for an autonomous on-demand shuttle service in the region.

The AVs initially being tested are self-driving taxis in the form of NIO ES8 SUVs fitted with the Mobileye Drive autonomous driving system. Coincidentally, this is the same tech that will feature in the Rimac-backed Verve robotaxi that was announced a matter of days ago and is being planned for launch in Zagreb, Croatia in 2026.

The NIO ES8s are also equipped with radar and lidar sensors, and can drive autonomously at normal speeds of up to 81 mph. The EV has a range of approximately 249 miles and will be able to seat three passengers in the KIRA trial.

Find out more about Gerrmany’s self-driving taxis >>>

Flying Taxi Startup Partners With China Airlines Company

Air taxi company EHang Holdings in China has signed an agreement with China Southern Airlines General Aviation Company to create operation demonstration sites for low-altitude tourism and flight services.

The companies plan to create sites for flying EHang’s EH216-S pilotless aerial vehicles at Zhuhai Jiuzhou Airport and the Zhuhai Chimelong Ocean Kingdom.

The partnership agreement also includes the development of use cases for pilotless electric electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicles. Use cases could include inter-island cargo transportation, emergency response and medical rescue transportation services.

“We are thrilled to enter into this strategic partnership with CSGAC,” said Zhao Wang, chief operating officer of EHang. “As a frontrunner in the eVTOL industry, we believe that the safe operation of pilotless eVTOL aircraft is crucial to the industry’s development.”

Read more about the partnership >>>

About the Author(s)

Ben Wodecki

Junior Editor - AI Business

Ben Wodecki is the junior editor of AI Business, covering a wide range of AI content. Ben joined the team in March 2021 as assistant editor and was promoted to junior editor. He has written for The New Statesman, Intellectual Property Magazine, and The Telegraph India, among others.

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