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?
The researchers at CERN have just released an insane 300TB of data from the Large Hadron Collider, with the data itself from 2011.
A physicist who works on the Compact Muon Solenoid detector, Kati Lassila-Perini explains: "Once we've exhausted our exploration of the data, we see no reason not to make them available publicly. The benefits are numerous, from inspiring high school students to the training of the particle physicists of tomorrow. And personally, as CMS's data preservation coordinator, this is a crucial part of ensuring the long-term availability of our research data".
The raw data from the detectors, as well as the "derived" data sets can be used with tools released by CERN. There's even an entire CERN Linux environment, where you can boot up a virtual machine and start playing with scripts and apps.
China's National Space Administration officially began planning its mission to send a Martian rover into space back in January. In the three months since, the project has been picking up more and more steam, and now it's ahead of schedule with a projected launch of 2020.
If successful, China would join the US and Europe as the only countries to land an object on the Red Planet, assuming Europe is also successful with its ExoMars rover landing in 2019.
China is no stranger to space: it landed a rover on the Moon two years ago, attempted to orbit Mars with a spacecraft in 2011 (but failed), and sent astronaut Yang Liwei into space for a day in 2003.
DJI has been making some seriously good professional drones over the years, with its impressive Phantom series, but has just unveiled its latest is the Matrice 600, a hexacopter that is capable of adjusting how it flies automatically, depending on what camera is attached.
The M600 costs $4599, and is the latest drone in DJI's huge professional lineup that is a successor to its current "Spreading Wings" series, which are higher-end craft that include retractable landing gear, and a foldable design. The new M600 features dust-proof propellers, as well as self-cooling motors.
DJI's new M600 launches with an improved, robust A3 flight controller that will change flight parameters depending on what it's carrying, and the amazing Lightbridge 2 camera link. Lightbridge 2 delivers higher frame rates over 1080p live-streamed video back to the pilot, at up to 3 miles away.
We all know the future is filled with robots, so it should come as no surprise that the University of Science and Technology of China is showing off its impressively realistic robot, Jia Jia.
Jia Jia looks more human than previous robots, and is capable of interacting with real humans, and can make realistic facial impressions. Jia Jia can tell you if she senses that you're taking unflattering pictures of her, where she'll say: "Don't come too close to me when you are taking a picture. It will make my face look fat".
The researchers spent three years designing Jia Jia to make sure that her mouth moves when she speaks, and that her eyes glance around the room naturally. Jia Jia can't laugh or cry just yet, and her hands still don't look super realistic, yet. The next version of Jia Jia will look better, with the researchers continuing to work on the robot without any plans of mass production. Team leader Chen Xiaoping said they hope to give her deep learning and facial recognition in the near future.