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Science, Space & Robotics Posts - Page 12

US Navy successfully refuels X-47B UAV in-flight, extending range

The US Navy proudly confirmed the X-47B unmanned aircraft and Omega K-707 tanker successfully completed an autonomous aerial refueling (AAR) operation. The UAV received more than 4,000 pounds of fuel and was able to communicate with the K-707 to maneuver a fixed refueling probe into the tanker's drogue.

 

 

"What we accomplished today demonstrates a significant, groundbreaking step forward for the Navy," said Capt. Beau Duarte, Unmanned Carrier Aviation program manager for the US Navy. "The ability to autonomously transfer and receive fuel in flight will increase the range and flexibility of future unmanned aircraft platforms, ultimately extending carrier power projection."

 

It's already challenging enough to have a manned pilot successfully complete aerial refueling operations, but teaching the UAV to do it "creates another layer of complexity." However, the US military has been curious to see if aerial refueling could be done to help refuel UAVs, as more unmanned aircraft are added by the Air Force and Navy.

Continue reading 'US Navy successfully refuels X-47B UAV in-flight, extending range' (full post)

Relief teams using drones for search and rescue missions in Nepal

The death toll continues to rise after a brutal 7.8-magnitude earthquake in Nepal last week, with international search and rescue efforts currently underway. Relief organizations are deploying small drones that can photograph quake damage and hunt for possible survivors.

 

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Some groups are equipping drones with thermal cameras so they can detect body heat of survivors buried under debris. In addition, the Aeryon drone has a high-powered digital zoom camera that can accurately pick up facial details of a person from 1,000 feet away.

 

"You can send them into areas that are inaccessible," said Rajul Singh, executive director of GlobalMedic, in a statement published by Discovery. "If I can't get past the road I can put the UAV up there to see if anyone is there that needs my help. There are not enough helicopters in Nepal right now, and they shouldn't be taking pictures, they should be flying aid."

Air Force's mysterious X-37B will have another test flight next month

The United States Air Force's X-37B space plane will launch on United Launch Alliance's Atlas 5 rocket from Cape Canaveral on May 20, it has been confirmed. The original launch date was May 6, but a payload problem forced officials to push the launch back two weeks.

 

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Exact details about the spacecraft, its payload and what it will be doing are classified - but it looks like the X-37B will help give engineers a better glimpse of an "experimental propulsion system."

 

"We are excited about our fourth X-37B mission," said Randy Walden, director of the US Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, in a statement. "With the demonstrated success of the first three missions, we're able to shift our focus from initial checkouts of the vehicle to testing of experimental payloads."

Continue reading 'Air Force's mysterious X-37B will have another test flight next month' (full post)

Korean researchers create wearable thermoelectric generator tech

KAIST researchers in South Korea are working on creating a thermoelectric generator that can be used to help power wearable electronics. The team developed a glass fabric TE generator that is able to produce electricity based on heat created by the human body.

 

 

"Our technology presents an easy and simple way of fabricating an extremely flexible, light, and high-performance TE generator," said Byung Jin Cho, head of the KAIST research team, in a statement to the media. "We expect that this technology will find further applications in scale-up systems such as automobiles, factories, aircrafts, and vessels where we see abundant thermal energy being wasted."

 

There have been organic and inorganic material TE generators manufactured in the past, while Cho's team is interested in a new concept that is able to be flexible yet not lose much thermal energy. KAIST's design utilizes a self-sustaining structure that is able to accurately trap inorganic TE materials in between upper and lower substrates.

Continue reading 'Korean researchers create wearable thermoelectric generator tech' (full post)

Scientists: 75 percent of very hot days due to global warming

A new scientific report finds three out of four extremely hot days are caused by humans and greenhouse gases - and it's an important metric considering there is more talk regarding climate change.

 

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Researchers took a look at one-tenth of one percent of hot days, picking the hottest and most extreme days - and used 25 computer models to find that these extreme weather days occurred once in three years, assuming there were no greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans. However, when the current level of greenhouse gases is included, the number jumps to four days.

 

"This new study helps get the actual probability or odds of human influence," said Jonathan Overpeck, climate scientist at the University of Arizona, in a statement published by the AP. "This is key: If you don't like hot temperature extremes that we're getting, you now know how you can reduce the odds of such events by reducing greenhouse gas emissions."

Continue reading 'Scientists: 75 percent of very hot days due to global warming' (full post)

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)

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