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Science, Space & Robotics Posts - Page 14

Study indicates addictive social media use linked to substance abuse

Excessive use of social media in itself can be addicting, especially as access to Twitter, Facebook and other sites is readily available, but the habit also shows links to substance abuse and other impulse control disorders. In a study that was published in the "Addiction" journal, researchers from the University of Albany discovered 10 percent of users suffer from "disordered social networking use," with people addicted to social media more likely to have drinking problems.




Survey respondents who suffered from disordered social networking use also reported problems related to emotion regulation and poor impulse control. These respondents also had strong urges to browse Facebook, and became irritable when they were unable to reach the social networking website.


"Our findings suggest that disordered online social networking may arise as part of a cluster of risk factors that increase susceptibility to both substance and non-substance addictions," said psychologist Julia Hormes, who led the University of Albany study, in a statement.

Sir Richard Branson shelves Virgin Oceanic to explore deep waters

Sir Richard Branson wanted to explore the deepest oceans in the world, but has scrapped those plans to put his energy into Virgin Galactic. Originally announced in 2011, the Virgin Oceanic wanted to conduct five dives at the deepest depths across the world, but the company's DeepFlight Challenger was unable to withstand stress tests.




Here is what Branson said in an open letter published in August: "Starting new ventures takes a 'screw it, let's do it' attitude - business is also knowing when to change tack. We are still highly passionate about exploring the bottom of the ocean. However, we are now widening the focus and looking for new technology to help us explore the ocean."


Meanwhile, a catastrophic event struck its Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo, and his team will closely analyze an investigation report from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

Sumo robots throw down in first unique Japanese tournament

The Fujisoft-organized annual robot sumo competition occurred over the weekend, and featured remote-controlled and autonomous robotic sumo bots throwing down. The event hosted in Tokyo featured teams from 10 different countries, and continually grows in popularity.




The Mirai Robo Koken team from a Japanese high school won the radio-controlled portion of the event, which featured 10 different robots. Operators used remote controls to help guide their respective robots in the sumo tournament.


The Robotu Skola team from Latvia capturing the autonomous tournament - featuring 31 different robotic sumo models. Autonomous sumo robots were required to use pre-programmed movements to help find rival robots and push them out of a small ring.

Continue reading 'Sumo robots throw down in first unique Japanese tournament' (full post)

Have a medical emergency? The ambulance drone could be there to help

Interest in drones continues to transition from military and government purposes towards commercial and private use, and there is great potential in potential life-saving drones. Alec Momont from the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands showed off a prototype drone that swiftly delivers a defibrillator to a person suffering a heart attack.



The ambulance drone can reach a location based on GPS from a mobile phone within 4.6 square miles in just one minute, with emergency personnel speaking to people on the scene using audio and video. Of course, there will be safety concerns, even with first responders on the way - as you're never really sure who will be using the defibrillator - but this type of technology can be fine-tuned - and shows great potential.

Continue reading 'Have a medical emergency? The ambulance drone could be there to help' (full post)

DARPA creates self-guiding, mid-flight-changing .50-caliber bullet

DARPA has developed something that is quite amazing: a self-guided, mid-flight-changing .50 cal projectile. This allows snipers to hide behind cover, and still hit their target with accuracy - even if they move.



The project comes from DARPA's "Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordinance" (EXACTO), with the team having the job of "developing more accurate military artillery that will enable greater firing range, minimize the time required to engage with targets, and also help reduce missed shots that can give away the troops' location".


A few months ago now, DARPA tested the .50 cal bullet at a distance of 1.2 miles, with the projectile using optical sensors on its nose to pull in-flight information. It also featured an internal electronic system that controls the fins on the projectile, which fling out in-flight, as they can't be seen in EXACTO photos. The video above shows a live testing of DARPA's impressive guided bullet, with the rifle intentionally aimed to the right of the target. The video shows that the projectile finds its target, changes its flight path on-the-fly, and then connects. DARPA's EXACTO team recently conduced the first successful live-fire tests using the in-flight guidance of .50-caliber bullets, which means it could be close to being used by snipers in the field.

Continue reading 'DARPA creates self-guiding, mid-flight-changing .50-caliber bullet' (full post)

Japanese firm shows off GPS-guided robotic lawn mower for golf courses

Japanese company Mamiya-OP plans to begin selling a pricey robotic lawn mower that will be able to autonomously take care of golf courses. Mamiya-OP partnered with Jacobsen, a company that manufacturers golf course lawn mowing products, to create the "Robot Mower for Five Successive Fairways."




Mamiya-OP said customers could be able to pay off purchasing one unit within three years, as the robot mower is able to travel up to 6 m.p.h. along a preset route. Utilizing a GPS, three-axis gyroscope and encoder, the robot mower has sensors so it is able to spot - and avoid - humans and other obstacles on the course.


The lawn mower utilizes a custom autonomous driving system and each unit will cost between $70,000 and $90,000.

US Navy creating Silent Nemo robotic fish for surveillance, defense

The US Navy is progressing in its Silent NEMO Rapid Innovation Cell (CRIC), with the GhostSwimmer unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV), an underwater craft that is 5-feet in length and weighs almost 100 pounds. Silent Nemo can operate in water as shallow as 10 inches down to depths of 300-feet, providing additional low-visibility intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) to keep ships safe - and to conduct hull inspections.




Silent Nemo is able to mimic the same swim motion as a regular fish, oscillating its tail back and forth, according to developers.


"GhostSwimmer will allow the Navy to have success on more types of missions, while keeping divers and sailors safe," said Michael Rufo, Boston Engineering director of the Advanced Systems Group program. "The unit is a combination of unmanned systems engineering and unique propulsion and control capabilities."

US Army building airport at Fort Bliss just for drones

The US Army is building a custom airport for its Gray Eagle and Shadow drones at Fort Bliss, located in Texas. The location will include a 50,000 square-foot hangar, 1,000-ft. runway for Shadow aircraft, and a 5,000-ft. runway for Gray Eagle drones. The Army Corps of Engineers issued a $33-million-dollar contract to a private contractor, which will also build a maintenance facility and a hazardous waste disposal facility.




In addition to surveillance and reconnaissance missions, the Gray Eagle can carry up to four hellfire missiles while traveling faster and at higher altitude than the Predator. However, it has a window of just 25-hours of flight time, 15 hours shorter than the Predator.


The Army hopes to use its custom facility to research and better understand how to improve its drones.

NASA's OPALS system provides broadband Internet in space

NASA hopes the International Space Station (ISS) will have better Internet courtesy and communications access courtesy of the laser-based Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS) instrument. A SpaceX Dragon cargo vehicle delivered OPALS to the ISS in April, and has successfully completed four months of testing - with a focus on minimizing atmospheric turbulence that leads to increased data loss.




OPALS uses four individual lasers to send a beam down to the JPL's Optical Communications Telescope Laboratory ground station in California. The ground station is able to send four lasers and deliver a payload, and is working on daytime testing.


"OPALS has shown that space-to-ground laser communications transmissions are practical and repeatable," said Matthew Abrahamson, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory OPALS mission manager, in a statement published by "As a bonus, OPALS has collected an enormous amount of data to advance the science of sending lasers through the atmosphere. We look forward to continuing our testing of this technology, which sends information to and from space faster than with radio signals."

Researchers want to study sleep disorders by using your smartphone

Researchers from Florida State University and the Stevens Institute of Technology teamed up for a six-month study that used earbuds equipped with an in-line microphone and an Apple iPhone. Participants' breathing habits could be accurately recorded within half a breath per minute while using the smartphone and earbuds next to the bed, even when compared to a chest-worn respiration monitor.




A custom smartphone app will be released sometime next year. Using the app would be an accurate and significantly cheaper method to track quality of sleep - and could help identify sleep apnea and other potential health problems. Researchers will present their paper during the IEEE Infocom conference next April.


However, it could be difficult to accurately measure respiratory signals if there is more than one person sleeping in the bed, according to Andrew Campbell, a co-director of the Dartmouth Networking and Ubiquitous Systems Laboratory.

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