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Science, Space & Robotics Posts - Page 11

Drones will be used by London police to monitor airports

Airports in London will use drones as part of airport security, after an 18-month study by the National Counter Terrorism Policing Headquarters discovered drones may end up being "transformative."

 

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A one-year trial was successful at Gatwick airport, and now drones will be deployed for use at Heathrow, Luton, Stansted and City. Drones and related technology will be issued to police agencies over the next 18 months, according to officials.

 

Even with police interested in drone flights, with the same officials responsible for complaints related to drone misuse, privacy experts are worried about this latest development.

Continue reading 'Drones will be used by London police to monitor airports' (full post)

JAXA space agency wants to head to the moon in 2018

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) wants to launch an unmanned spacecraft to the moon in 2018, in an important first step towards a possible manned mission to the same target. Even if a manned launch doesn't occur, JAXA hopes to use collected data for a possible mission to Mars.

 

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JAXA previously reached the moon's orbit in 2008 with the SELENE spacecraft, helping collect information about the lunar surface. The space agency hopes the Smart Lander for Investigating Moon (SLIM) will launch onboard the Epsilon rocket, which is a solid-fuel rocket with only one live launch.

 

"This is an initial step and a lot of procedures are still ahead before the plan is formally approved," said a JAXA spokesperson in front of the media. A mission to the moon could cost anywhere from $83.4 million up to $125 million, and the Japanese government is working on a proper project roadmap.

Continue reading 'JAXA space agency wants to head to the moon in 2018' (full post)

Tesla will unveil its home battery product on April 30

Tesla is hosting an even on April 30, where we have just been made aware that the company will be revealing its home battery, as well as a "very large" utility-oriented battery.

 

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We don't know much else other than that little bit of info, but we should see a home battery unveiled that will take in the power from your solar panels, and keep it to use for when the sun isn't shining, or at night. We don't know how Tesla will change things up, how much the cost will be, or anything outside of this news, but it is incredibly exciting to be just over a week from finding out.

Humanoid robot deployed in Tokyo department store to help shoppers

Aiko Chihira, a humanoid robot developed by Toshiba, is now helping visitors of the Mitsukoshi department store in Tokyo - a first step towards Toshiba's goal of having humanoids assist in a number of day-to-day scenarios for citizens.

 

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The humanoid has 43 servomotors and a custom algorithm that gives it the ability to communicate in Japanese sign language. Toshiba hopes a software development kit (SDK) will give third-party developers the chance to create even more interactive functionality for Aiko Chihira.

 

"It would be good if we can have her provide guidance, or recommend various things in Chinese," said Hitoshi Tokuda, manager of new business development at Toshiba, in a statement published by Reuters. "People can be looking around and think, 'Oh if Aiko is around, she can speak Chinese.' That's what I hope will happen."

Continue reading 'Humanoid robot deployed in Tokyo department store to help shoppers' (full post)

Legality of fully autonomous weapons proves rather complicated

The growing use of semi-autonomous weapon systems have many military experts and researchers wondering about the future of fully autonomous technology.

 

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The Human Rights Watch defines a fully autonomous weapon as one that is able to identify, select and engage targets with no human interaction - which could revolutionize warfare, but poses great challenges.

 

"If these machines did come into existence, there would be no way to hold anyone accountable if they violated international law," warned Bonnie Docherty, Harvard Law School lecturer and senior researcher of the Human Rights Watch, in a statement to the MIT Technology Review. "The programmer, the manufacturer, the commander, and the operator would all escape liability under existing law."

Continue reading 'Legality of fully autonomous weapons proves rather complicated' (full post)

NASA says private space efforts to reach Mars will need support

There is a next-generation space race brewing, as government space agencies and private companies set their sights on the Red Planet of Mars.

 

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Even though the private sector has greatly aided NASA, which is without a space shuttle - and has fought in recent years for every penny in its budget - there doesn't seem to be a realistic way to reach Mars without support from NASA: "No commercial company without the support of NASA and government is going to get to Mars," said Charles Bolden, NASA administrator, in a recent statement published by Engadget.

 

NASA would like to send a manned mission to Mars, especially after recent findings offer insight that large bodies of water once existed on its surface. NASA's biggest ambition is to reach Mars, with researchers interested in trying to land there sometime in the 2030s - and learn what happened on the planet while it was possibly habitable in its history.

Researchers, Houston Zoo give Smaug the Komodo dragon an orthosis

The Houston Zoo and Baylor College of Medicine teamed up to help Smaug, a 16-year-old Komodo dragon, use his right foot more effectively. The custom spring-loaded and rubberized orthosis is made of a flexible material that can be easily taken off and off by zoo caretakers.

 

 

The 7-foot, 200-pound animal struggled because he was unable to use his muscles to pull his right foot forward properly, and would land awkwardly - essentially causing him to roll his wrist underneath of his heavy weight with each foot step.

 

"About a year ago, we noticed that Smaug wasn't using his right, front foot normally and that occasionally he was flipping it underneath and walking on the top of his toes," said Dr. Lauren Howard, associate veterinarian of the Houston Zoo. "So that started the last year-and-a-half of our diagnostic investigation into what was going on with him. We're still trying to determine why he's not holding his foot the right way, but in the meantime our goal is to keep him holding his foot upward so he doesn't continue to walk on the tops of his toes."

Continue reading 'Researchers, Houston Zoo give Smaug the Komodo dragon an orthosis' (full post)

NASA chief scientist expects signs of alien life by 2025

NASA chief scientist Ellen Stofan said the first signs of alien life could be discovered by 2025, and additional evidence will be revealed in 20 to 30 years.

 

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Even if humans aren't alone in the universe, don't expect aliens from Hollywood films, as it's more likely researchers will find "little microbes."

 

"I think we're going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade, and I think we're going to have definitive evidence within 20 to 30 years," Stofan recently said during a panel discussion. "We know where to look. We know how to look. In most cases we have the technology, and we're on a path to implementing it. And so I think we're definitely on the road."

Continue reading 'NASA chief scientist expects signs of alien life by 2025' (full post)

FAA grants USAA insurance company's request for drone research

The USAA has been granted approval by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to use drones in an effort to accelerate insurance claims after natural disasters. The FAA also will allow the USAA and its drone partner to develop best practices for safe commercial drone flights.

 

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The USAA will use small drones, manufactured by PrecisionHawk, with trained pilot and air crew using line-of-sight and making sure no aircraft fly higher than 400 feet in altitude. USAA officials and PrecisionHawk will work together to develop safety and privacy standards, while also working on best practices for drone flights.

 

"Our members have grown accustomed to seeing us pave the way for innovative solutions that streamline the claims process," said Alan Krapf, president of the USAA Property and Casualty Insurance Group. "We're proud to be among the first insurers approved to test this technology. It's our responsibility to explore every option to improve our members' experience."

Scientists claim HIV spreads in similar fashion to computer viruses

Network security experts and HIV medical specialists have teamed up at the University College London (UCL) to find that HIV travels through the bloodstream and into cells in a similar fashion as a computer worm infecting new systems.

 

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Researchers discovered computer worms and HIV both use "hybrid spreading," and has allowed medical researchers to more accurately identify a patient's progression from HIV to AIDS. Hybrid spreading is an extremely accurate method to track - and predict - HIV's progression, highlighting the demand for fast medical treatment.

 

"I was involved in a study looking in general at spreading of worms across the Internet and then I realized the parallel," said Professor Benny Chain, infection and immunity division researcher at UCL, in a statement to The Guardian. "They have to consistently find another computer to infect outside. They can either look locally in their own networks, their own computers, or you could remotely transmit out a worm to every computer on the Internet. HIV also uses two ways of spreading within the body."

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