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Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) isn't your ordinary school: the final assignment for students of Sertac Karaman's Rapid Autonomous Complex-Environment Competing Ackermann-steering Robot (RACECAR) class is building robots and racing them one by one in a competition for the best time.
The cars, NVIDIA is happy to note, are designed with the company's Jetson TK1 embededded computer, which "helps the 1:10-scale cars deploy the open-source Robot Operating System, assess their environment and develop a language to help them race the fastest while careening around the course."
Karaman, who is the assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT, has extensive education on embedded computer systems found in airplanes, drones, autonomous cars, and other vehicles, so he thought he'd try his hand at robots, too. The results have been a wild success among students, and as such, he'll be putting off an even bigger event next year that will pit cars with GPU-powered stereo cameras and feature detection against each other in a proper Formula 1-style race.
NASA has just opened up the Project Apollo Archive Flickr account, dumping a huge 8,400 photos onto it at 1800 DPI. The photos are also sorted by the roll of film they were on.
The new Project Apollo Archive is also on Facebook, where NASA will be showing off new renderings of some of the best images. NASA is also including some rarer photos, such as the Apollo 11 training photos.
There's times when I'm using my smartphone or computer, and I think to myself "there has to be a faster way of using this, I wish I could just think and my computer/smartphone would do/record/act". Well, we're bloody close.
Scientists in both China and the United States have found a way of injecting a tiny electronic mesh sensor into the brain that fully integrates with cerebral matter, enabling computers to monitor brain activity. Researchers from Harvard and the National Center for Nanoscience and Technology in Beijing have successfully created a flexible electrical circuit that first inside of a 0.1mm-diameter glass syringe in a water-based solution.
When this solution is injected into the brains of mice, the "mesh unfurled to 30 times its size and mouse brain cells grew around the mesh, forming connections with the wires in the flexible mesh circuit. The biochemical mouse brain completely accepted the mechanical component and integrated with it without any damage being caused to the mouse", reports IBT.
But where is the human cyborg part of it? Well, if the "neural lace is able to completely integrate with the human brain, this would enable doctors to treat all sorts of neurodegenerative diseases that are currently difficult to cure" we're going to be one step closer to being a Terminator, kinda. According to Charles Lieber, a nanotechnologist at Harvard University and co-author of the study: "We're trying to blur the distinction between electronic circuits and neural circuits".
Stephen Hawking has no misconceptions about the universe, and reading his answers to interview questions is like wading through a sci-fi novel. In a recent session, the renowned astrophysicist talks about what it'd be like if aliens visited earth, how humanity has to breach the firmament to survive, and computer AI overtaking the world in a not-so-distant future.
In a recent interview, Hawking says that aliens visiting earth would somewhat like the aftermath of Columbus' exploration of the Americas, with interstellar beings completely dominating all life on our home planet. "If aliens visit us, the outcome could be much like when Columbus landed in America, which didn't turn out well for the Native Americans," Hawking told Spanish publication El Pais. "Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonize whatever planets they can reach. To my mathematical brain, the numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational. The real challenge is to work out what aliens might actually be like."
This metaphor resonates with truth for me in particular, as I've long thought that the most deadly gift aliens could deliver wouldn't be their technology, it'd be their space flu. These intergalactic viruses and bacteria could completely devastate our population the same way smallpox spread havoc and death in the New World.
Predator drones are already scary enough, but what if you couldn't see them at all? This is the next step for the US government, with UC San Deigo developing a new camouflage technology that they will submit to the Department of Defense later this month.
The new camouflage material is called "dielectric metasurface cloak", which continues the work from Duke University in 2006. The new material is a thin layer of Teflon studded with ceramic particles and capable of modulating wavelengths of energy along the electromagnetic scale (including both visible light and radar). The study's lead author, Li-Yi Hsu, said in a statement: "Previous cloaking studies needed many layers of materials to hide an object, the cloak ended up being much thicker than the size of the object being covered. In this study, we show that we can use a thin single-layer sheet for cloaking".
This new material isn't there yet, as its thickness is a determining factor into which wavelength it's capable of blocking as the material can only block a single wavelength at one time. Even with the right wavelength, "the system only works if the incoming signal hits it at a 45 degree angle (within 6 degrees or so)," reports Engadget.
Why haven't aliens contacted us? Encryption. That's at least the reason NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has given, which is his explanation to the Fermi paradox.
Snowden had a chat with Neil deGrasse Tyson on his StarTalk podcast (where we're hoping Snowden used encryption, pun intended), where he said that our need for highly encrypted information could be the reason aliens haven't contacted Earth. He said that their communications could be so encrypted that they would be nearly impossible to distinguish from the surrounding noise.
Snowden said: "When you look at encrypted communications, if they are properly encrypted, there is no real way to tell that they are encrypted. You can't distinguish a properly encrypted communication, at least in the theoretical sense, from random noise. So if you have an alien civilization trying to listen for other civilizations, or our civilization trying to listen for aliens, there's only one small period in the development of their society where all of their communications will be sent via the most primitive and most unprotected means"
Within the next five years, there will be fricken' laser beams on US fighter jets, according to the US Air Force. The Air Force expects to have laser weapons, something it calls directed-energy weapon pods, on its jets by the end of the decade.
These directed-energy weapons will be capable of taking out missiles, UAVs and other enemy aircraft out of the sky. Air Force General Hawk Carlisle said at a Fifth-Generation Warfare lecture during the Air Force Association Air & Space conference: "I believe we'll have a directed energy pod we can put on a fighter plane very soon. That day is a lot closer than I think a lot of people think it is".
Which system will the US Air Force deploy on its fighter jets? Right now, it seems like the 150kW HELLADS system courtesy of General Atomics will be the one the USAF will deploy. The system has just kicked off tests on the ground, with HELLADS standing for "High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System". The third-generation prototype is quite small, measuring in at just 1.3 x 0.4 x 0.5 meters, small enough to be fitted onto a Predator C UAV.
Robot ethicist Dr. Kathleen Richardson doesn't want to see robots developed for a primary function of sexual interaction with humans. In her public campaign, Dr. Richardson said developing robots for this use is unnecessary and undesirable, as more advancements progress.
"Sex robots seem to be a growing focus in the robotics industry and the models that they draw on - how they will look, what roles they would play - are very disturbing indeed," Dr. Richardson told the BBC. "We think that the creation of such robots will contribute to detrimental relationships between men and women, adults and children, men and men and women and women."
Some "adult entertainment" companies are implementing robots and electronics into their products, and True Companion is preparing Roxxxy - the first "sex robot" - which is expected to launch sometime in 2015.
Boeing has quite the exclusive on its hands, announcing the world's first satellite that uses an all-electric propulsion system. The new Boeing ABS-3A is a 4,300 pound telecommunications satellite will provide both C- and Ku-band service to South America, the Middle East and Africa.
What makes Boeing's ABS-3A different than other satellites in orbit, is that the ABS-3A doesn't use tanks of inert gas for propulsion and orbit maintenance. This is where the all-electric technology comes into play, with Boeing using the Xenon Ion Propulsion System (XIPS) which blasts out a magnetic field to push ions around, generating thrust.
Boeing's ABS-3A will use just 11 pounds of Xenon annually, which is quite generous considering its 15-year operational lifespan. This is around one-tenth the amount of propellant that a normal satellite would require. The company launched its new ABS-3A abord the Falcon 9 rocket that launched in March, and handed over control to ABS-3A to its new owner, Asia Broadcast Satellite, last month.
Qualcomm has been mostly down and out with its current Snapdragon processor, with Samsung opting for its Exynos 7420 inside of the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge handsets, but the company wants to see its Snapdragon processors inside of drones in the future.
Qualcomm has just announced its new Snapdragon Flight, which is their optimized platform for everything drones and robotics. Snapdragon Flight is a tiny 58 x 40cm circuit board, which will be used on drones and other robotics in the future. The new Snapdragon Flight features Qualcomm's Snapdragon 801 processor, clocked at 2.5GHz.
Senior Vice President of Qualcomm, Raj Talluri, explains: "Today, drones are made from multiple component vendors providing separate solutions for photography, navigation and communications, adding to the cost and bulk of consumer drones. The Qualcomm Snapdragon Flight brings together the technologies that have defined the mobile industry onto a single board, enabling OEMs to build drones that are lighter, smaller, easy to use and affordable with long battery life and superior functionalities".
The new Snapdragon Flight supports:
- Real-time flight control on the Qualcomm Hexagon DSP
- Built-in Qualcomm 2×2 Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity
- Leading global navigation satellite system (GNSS) optimized to support highly accurate location positioning
- 4K Video support
- Robust camera and sensor support
- Qualcomm Quick Charge