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Science, Space & Robotics Posts - Page 11

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."

SoftBank CEO: Robots will be smarter than humans in 'near future'

Softbank founder Masayoshi Son recently gave a speech in front of 561 new employees in Japan, when he said that machines will be smarter than humans in the "near future." He didn't give an estimate as to when that would happen, but Japanese companies are well known for their support of robotics and artificial intelligence.

 

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SoftBank will start selling humanoid robots to consumers beginning this summer, with the robot said to be able to sense human emotion.

 

"You may think that computers and robots are mechanical while human brain cells are capable of expressing subtle emotions," son told The Wall Street Journal last year. "But I believe there will come a time when computers will perform intellectual activities, collecting all manner of information to process, assess and provide wisdom."

Continue reading 'SoftBank CEO: Robots will be smarter than humans in 'near future'' (full post)

F-35 head continues to defend his program, amid major budget issues

Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher Bogdan, head of the chaotic and expensive F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program, has consistently heard criticism and complaints. Bogdan says the F-35 program is better than what the public perceives, despite schedule delays, technical and design issues, and huge cost problems.

 

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Lockheed Martin, the F-35 JSF manufacturer, and Pratt & Whitney, the F-35 engine maker, are fighting for support - and urging the Pentagon not to slash budgets.

 

The cost of production has more than doubled, and the problem doesn't seem to be getting any better. Once the kinks are worked out, the F-35A for the Air Force will cost upwards of $110 million each, an F-35B for the USMC will be $134 million, and the Navy F-35C has a $129 million price tag.

Continue reading 'F-35 head continues to defend his program, amid major budget issues' (full post)

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