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Science, Space & Robotics Posts - Page 11

Google teams up with Oxford University for AI robotics research

Google has added some kick to its artificial intelligence research, hiring at least a half dozen researchers, while also partnering with Oxford University. The Silicon Valley company hopes to make Internet search intuitive by creating sub-atomic quantum chips that were modelled using the human brain. Standard computers today still rely on binary data, but quantum computing-based technologies would be able to encode data using the sub-atomic particles.

 

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"We are thrilled to welcome these extremely talented machine learning researchers to the Google DeepMind team and are excited about the potential impact of the advances their research will bring," said Demis Hassabis, DeepMind co-founder and VP of Google engineering.

 

Google purchased DeepMind, which started as an AI company in Europe, with a focus on neuroscience-based machine learning systems and general-purpose learning algorithms. These partnerships will help create a strong foundation for future AI-based development, using skilled researchers to lend a hand.

Researchers create solar battery able to run powered by light and air

Researchers from Ohio State University are working on a solar battery that is able to store its own power inside of an internal solar cell. The unique hybrid device uses a mesh solar panel that provides an opening for air to enter the battery, and electrons can be transferred between the solar panel and the battery electrode.

 

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"The state of the art is to use a solar panel to capture the light, and then use a cheap battery to store the energy," said Yiying Wu, Ohio State chemistry and biochemistry professor, said in a press statement. "We've integrated both functions into one device. Any time you can do that, you reduce cost."

 

When licensed to companies, this could help companies drop costs up to 25 percent, according to Wu and his students. Light is converted inside of the battery, ensuring almost 100 percent of electrons are saved, as opposed to the 80 percent standard when electrons travel between a solar cell and an external battery.

Illegal drone flights over sports stadiums pose a security risk

Illegal drone flights over sports stadiums in Europe now have organizers worried about potential security concerns, after a drone flew an Albanian nationalist banner over a European Championship soccer qualifier between Serbia and Albania.

 

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Instead of a harmless flag flying over the grounds, UEFA president Michael Platini wondered what would happen if a drone carried a bomb instead of a flag. It is difficult for aviation and security specialists to try to stop small drones flying over stadiums, as they are able to get extremely close to the spectators and sports players before being identified.

 

"It was highlighted as being an emerging issue at sports grounds, with the use of drones at grounds increasing significantly in the last two years," said Caroline Hale, Sports Ground Safety Authority head of communications. "We are reminding clubs that it is worth looking at their contingency plans in light of possible increased use of drones over sports grounds and look at potential risks arriving from a drone accident."

Commercial drones rising in popularity, with major ramifications

It seems unlikely that drones will become commonplace in everyday life for consumers, but that doesn't mean there aren't potential long-term ramifications. An estimated 12 percent of a booming $98 billion for aerial drone spending in the next 10 years will be dedicated to commercial drones.

 

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Looking ahead, companies hope to see drones used to deliver groceries and product shipments, along with agricultural development, and to help conduct high-level construction supervision. Starting in 2015, commercial drone flights - with drones weighing 55 pounds or less - will help offer guidelines and regulation of wide-scale drone use.

 

As more drones take to the skies, there will be continued concern of privacy and safety issues, which will remain a major threat. However, drone-powered applications will be required to meet certain standards to prevent possible invasion of privacy cases.

Research to create robots able to carry out household chores underway

Robotics research is a major effort among private companies and universities, with much of the attention on Japanese research and development, but there is a major effort underway in the United States. Technology is progressing and researchers hope to see robots take a prominent role in the household, helping humans carry out regular tasks.

 

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The Kodiak robot is being developed by a team of researchers from the Cornell University Personal Robotics lab, in an effort to help owners use a robot to conduct basic household tasks. "The real high level goal for this project is basically just to have a robot do all those little things in your house that you don't want to do, said Ian Lenz, researcher and PhD student.

 

Kodiak is intuitive with the ability to learn tasks that it has never done before, able to manipulate a dynamic environment. Meanwhile, Japanese scientists hope robots can assist an aging population, easing the burden on caretakers and family members.

Gigi robot using ultraviolet light to help combat spread of Ebola

The Gigi robot is using its high-powered ultraviolet lights to help combat the spread of Ebola, able to blast UV light 25,000 times more powerful than natural sunlight, researchers say. Priced at $104,000 per robot, there are only a few units currently available, but has great potential in killing DNA in the virus. The robot uses xenon light rather than mercury bulbs, providing a healthier, more environmentally friendly solution.

 

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"We can clean and disinfect a room (by hand) to an 85% level, but when we use the ultraviolet light we can clean that room to 99.9%," said Dr. Ray Casciari, St. Joseph Hospital pulmonary disease specialist. "This is the future of hospitals because 85% is not enough."

 

Due to Ebola cases in the United States, along with thousands of patients dying in West Africa, medical researchers hope technology can help prevent widespread infection. Created by Xenex Disinfection Services, a Texas-based company, Gigi was used in a Texas patient's treatment area to help prevent Ebola from spreading to other locations of the hospital.

Boeing developing new anti-drone laser cannon for US Army

The Boeing High Energy Laser Mobile Demonstrator (HEL MD) successfully shot UAV drones and 60mm mortars from the sky, with tests done in less than ideal weather conditions. Using a 10-kilowatt laser, HEL MD was able to shoot down or disable 150 targets in foggy and windy weather, and a more powerful laser will be used in the future.

 

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Researchers hope to push the laser cannon power up to 50 or 60 kilowatts, which will be used to defend against UAV attacks, mortars, rockets and enemy artillery. Boeing and the U.S. military don't expect to roll out official HEL MD units for a few more years, if testing continues to go well.

 

"With capabilities like HEL MD, Boeing is demonstrating that directed energy technologies can augment existing kinetic strike weapons and offer a significant reduction in cost per engagement," said Dave DeYoung, Boeing Directed Energy Systems director. "With only the cost of diesel fuel, the laser system can fire repeatedly without expending valuable munitions or additional manpower."

Scientists create lab-grown penis, with clinical trials expected soon

Scientists have created lab-grown penises and expect a clinical trial to be conducted within the "next four to five years," with the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine providing additional funding for the project. Wake Forest researchers were able to first grow penile erectile tissues in 2009 for rabbits, and exploring possible human tests were considered.

 

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Researchers rely on a donated penis organ that is broken down to its structural cells, with medical patient cells used to help grown prior to a surgery. The surgery requires a patient's own penile cells, so it will not work for transgender men trying to undergo confirmation surgery - but could help men with erectile dysfunction, penile cancer, or congenital abnormalities.

 

"Think of it like a building," said Dr. James Yoo, a collaborator on the project, in a statement to The Guardian. "If you remove all the furniture and the people, you're still left with the main structure of the building. Then you replace the tenants with new ones. That's the whole idea. It's just that the building is a penis and the tenants are cells."

Mysterious X-37B military space plane returns from two years in space

The mysterious U.S. Air Force X-37B space plane returned back to Earth, landing at the Vandenberg Air Force Base after a 674-day mission in space. The aircraft is 9.5-foot tall and is over 29-feet long, and its wingspan is slightly less than 15-feet.

 

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This was the third flight of the X-37B spacecraft, marking the longest stretch in space for the Air Force aircraft. Its X-37B has solar panels that allow it to recharge its wings after it already is in orbit. It remains unknown what the Air Force was doing with X-37B in space, as exact mission details remain classified.

 

"The 30th Space Wing and our mission partners, Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, Boeing, and our base support contractors, have put countless hours of hard work into preparing for this landing and today we were able to see the culmination of that dedication," said Colonel Keith Balts, 30th Space Wing commander, in a press statement.

Growing number of young people suffering from Internet addiction

A surprising 16 percent of 18- to 25-year-olds might suffer from Internet addiction, according to a survey conducted by the Digital Clarity marketing agency. Most of the 16 percent suffering addiction-related problems spend at least 15 hours per day using the Internet.

 

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The Digital Clarity survey took a look at the following characteristics: how many hours were spent online, whether or not they became irritable if they weren't using the Internet, if they felt guilty spending so much time online, possible isolation due to online activity, and noting a sense of euphoria if using the Internet.

 

Researchers are most interested to see if dopamine in the brain is released the same way for Internet addicts as alcoholics or drug addicts. However, critics of trying to label Internet addiction believe the problem could be related to other psychological issues - and is becoming a more talked about debate in the mental health community.

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