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SpaceX has confirmed it has sent its next-generation rocket engine, codenamed Raptor, in for testing at a facility in Texas.
The new Raptor engine could be up to 3x as powerful as the current Merlin engines that power SpaceX's Falcon 9 and upcoming Falcon Heavy rockets, but details on the next-gen Raptor engine are thin right now. SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell made the announcement of the testing of Raptor at the Small Satellite Conference in Utah.
SpaceX founder and real life Tony Stark, Elon Musk, has said that Raptor could have a thrust of around 500,000 pounds, which puts it in the same category as the main engine on a space shuttle. But unlike the shuttle, which uses three main engines and two booster rockets, the future Mars Colonial Transporter would be powered by nine Raptor engines, giving it plenty of power.
SpaceX could have an unmanned vehicle on Mars by 2018, with humans set to land on the planet by 2024. We live in an incredibly exciting time, don't we?
150 oceanographers are on board for a 14-year long project that will map the Earth's unknown ocean floor. The plan is to use sonar-equipped ships, unmanned submarines, and other vessels to create a Google Maps-style guide to the mountains, valleys, and volcanoes deep below sea level.
The project will be overseen by the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (which has the backing of the UN), and will see Google helping.
A primary goal of the project is to help submarine captains avoid crashes; the USS San Francisco struck an underwater mountain 525 feet beneath the Pacific Ocean in 2005, killing one crew member and injuring 97 others.
Google is getting all six degrees of separation with parent company Alphabet, and its life sciences company Verily - yeah, see - has announced it entered a new joint venture with GSK, one of the pharmaceutical powerhouses, called Galvani Bioelectronics.
Galvani Bioelectronics will be working on experimental medicine that uses will use electric signals and much smaller devices, in comparison to the current system of chemical drugs in order to treat chronic diseases. Verily, owned by Google along with GSK said they would invest over $700 million across 7 years, with GSK owning a 55% equity in the newly formed Galvani Bioelectronics. GSK is already familiar with bioelectronics, as it began work in the exciting new field back in 2012.
Verily has been working with much smaller medical devices, such as smart contact lens right after Google's X research labs formed. Verily has worked with another large part of big pharma, with a joint venture into medical robots with Johnson and Johnson. There have been reports from biotech insiders and former staff that have not agreed with Verily for working on too many 'far-fetched health care projects without focus", reports Recode.
Google co-founder and Alphabet executive Sergey Brin has said that Verily is profitable on a cash basis, which doesn't matter because Google can afford to lose hunderds of billions in this market and probably come out on top if it really put its foot the floor with R&D.
In the future, all of our houses might be 3D printed - especially if it takes just 45 days, like the world's first 3D printed house that was recently build in China.
According to the reports, the entire house was 3D printed in one go, rather than being built with multiple pieces. Experts over at Huashang Tengda in China oversaw the project, which took 45 days to complete in Beijing's Tongzhou District.
After 45 days, what we have is a large 400-square-meter home, with the two-story villa featuring walls that are up to 8.2 feet thick. Each flooor has a height of 10 feet, so you can be super tall and not have to worry about getting around the house. The 3D printing side of things was completed by the company, with specialists overlooking the project, but there wasn't much physical work to be done as it did most of it on its own.
SpaceX has been on a roll lately with three consecutive successful rocket launches and landings. It all came to an end yesterday though when its Falcon 9 rocket failed to land on a floating drone ship at sea and promptly exploded (or suffered a "rapid unscheduled disassembly" as founder Elon Musk puts it), but not before it successfully launched two satellites into orbit.
Musk says the explosion was caused by low thrust in one of the rocket's three primary engines, and that the company is now working on upgrades to the rocket in order to handle the same situation in the future.
SpaceX has a carg resupply mission for the International Space Station next month, followed closely by a Falcon 9 ground landing in Cape Canaveral, Florida and a satellite launch in August.
China's current five-year economic plan came to light in March, and in it saw mention of the country's intent to build a manned deep-sea platform nearly 10,000 feet underwater. Now authorities have examined the particulars and decided to accelerate the project.
The purpose of the lab is multi-fold: to help hunt for treasure, evaluate mineral deposits (particularly oil), and to put it to military use (likely within the field of sensor and communication systems).
"Having this kind of long-term inhabited station has not been attempted this deep, but it is certainly possible," said Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. "Manned submersibles have gone to those depths for almost 50 years. The challenge is operating it for months at a time."
Apple supplier Foxconn has replaced 60,000 of its 110,000 employees with robots since 2014, according to the local Kunshan, China government's publicity department. As many as 600 other companies in the region are expected to follow suit.
Foxconn and 34 other Taiwanese companies spent a total of about $610 million on artificial intelligence last year.
An industrial explosion in Kunshan in 2014 -- blamed on lacking safety standards and "haphazard industrialisation" -- caused economic harm and cost the region some pride, and is believed to be the primary cause of the shift to automation.
Our robot overlords are well and truly on their way, with former McDonald's USA CEO Ed Rensi, saying that it's better to buy $35,000 robots than it is to hire teenagers for $15 an hour.
During an interview with FOX Business Network's Mornings with Maria, Rensi said: "I was at the National Restaurant Show yesterday and if you look at the robotic devices that are coming into the restaurant industry -- it's cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who's inefficient making $15 an hour bagging French fries -- it's nonsense and it's very destructive and it's inflationary and it's going to cause a job loss across this country like you're not going to believe".
He added: "It's not just going to be in the fast food business. Franchising is the best business model in the United States. It's dependent on people that have low job skills that have to grow. Well if you can't get people a reasonable wage, you're going to get machines to do the work. It's just common sense. It's going to happen whether you like it or not. And the more you push this it's going to happen faster".
It makes sense, especially when we look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers, with 1.3 million people earning the current minimum wage of just $7.25 per hour, and 1.7 million with wages below the federal minimum back in 2014. These three million workers combined, make up 3.9% of all hourly paid workers. Rensi added that they could push away the federal minimum wage, and leave it to the states. He added: "I think we ought to have a multi-faceted wage program in this country. If you're a high school kid, you ought to have a student wage. If you're an entry-level worker you ought to have a separate wage. The states ought to manage this because they know more [about] what's going on the ground than anybody in Washington D.C.".
Google has announced during its Google I/O event that it has built a custom chip exclusively for machine learning, with the new Tensor Processing Unit being an "order of magnitude" faster in AI than conventional processors at similar power requirements.
The new TPU is super-small as well, with Google making the TPU small enough that it will fit into the HDD bays of data center racks. TPU has been very quietly using these custom chips for over a year, with the TPUs improving map quality, to securing AlphaGo's victory over the human Go champion.
Google's new custom processor could be faster, and predict further ahead than previous designs, too.
We're doomed, all of us
China seems to have beat us to the punch when it comes to enlisting robots and AI to help fight crime. It's not quite on the level of Robo Cop, but the autonomous machine is still slightly deadly.
The Chinese National University of Defense has created a low-cost slightly intelligent robot that can patrol streets all on it's own. the 1.49-meter tall and 78kg robot can patrol the mean streets of China for about a maximum of 8 hours on battery at a speed of 18km/hour. It has a suite of sensors that can detect dangers so that it can even make actual arrests.
It's not just to patrol, either. In case of even greater threats, they've added a taser device to provide some electrical assistance to get people to comply. Thankfully, just in case it made the wrong choice, you can press the SOS button that's on the robot itself to get actual human assistance. I can't be the only one that sees a resemblance with the Dalek, right?