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Science, Space & Robotics Posts - Page 15

The world's largest telescope will be completed by 2024

The European Southern Observatory's Council has announced that it has approved plans to start construction of the world's largest telescope, which will be built-in Chile, and completed by 2024.




Tim de Zeeuw, the Director General of the ESO said in a statement: "The decision taken by Council means that the telescope can now be built. Major industrial construction work for the E-ELT is now funded and can proceed according to plan". The ESO will build the massive telescope on top of a mountain in Chile called Cerro Armazones, in Chile's Atacama Desert.


Back in mid-2012, the telescope was approved, but construction could only start once 90% of the funding required had been secured. This has now obviously happened, with de Zeeuw adding: "the most powerful of all the extremely large telescope projects currently planned". How big will the telescope be? We should see it featuring a 39m aperture optical and infrared telescope, which means we should see scientists capable of seeing the details of Earth-sized exoplanets, and study star populations in nearby galaxies. de Zeeuw added: "the next few years will be very exciting".

Sen. Feinstein wants drone legislation focused on drone safety

Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) is drafting legislation that would create laws focused on drone flight safety, asking the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to "aggressively confront" the rise in "highly-capable, inexpensive drones" that are being operated by private citizens. The vocal California Senator wants the FAA to make it clear to drone operators that they are responsible for their actions, including ensuring privacy rights are upheld - and that drones don't get too close to aircraft.




"It is my intent to introduce legislation to codify and expand the moratorium on private drone use without specific authority from the FAA that is already in place," the Feinstein letter wrote. "This expanded moratorium would cover any such use that could threaten the airspace, it would require a safety certification for expansions of private drone use, and it would be backed up by substantial criminal penalties if manned aircraft or people are put at risk."


Sen. Feinstein isn't a big fan of drone use in the United States, and previously voiced privacy concerns as the small flying aircraft hit the skies.

Stephen Hawking concerned artificial intelligence might end mankind

Professor Stephen Hawking is concerned that artificial intelligence development will evolve to the point of AI being able to not only match - but surpass - human capabilities, opening up the door to potentially aid in the end of mankind.




"The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race," Hawking recently told BBC. "It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete, and would be superseded."


Despite the concerns shown by Hawking, not everyone is worried about AI: "I believe we will remain in charge of the technology for a decently long time and the potential of it to solve many of the world problems will be realized," said Cleverbot creator Rollo Carpenter.

Continue reading 'Stephen Hawking concerned artificial intelligence might end mankind' (full post)

Nestle using SoftBank's Pepper robot to help sell coffee machines

Nestle will call upon a fleet of Pepper androids made by SoftBank to help sell coffee machines in its Japanese retail stores. Pepper will "help us discover consumer needs through conversations between our customers and Pepper," Nestle and SoftBank said in a joint statement.




SoftBank has received up to 400 inquiries from other companies regarding the Pepper robot, as additional sales announcements are expected in the future. The 4-foot-tall robot is able to predict human emotions based on facial expressions, dance, make jokes, and communicate with customers. Each device retails for around $1,900 - plus additional monthly fees.


SoftBank already is deployed in its retail Japanese phone stores, helping gauge customer opinions.

MIT researchers show off the cheetah robot, able to run and jump

The cheetah robot developed by the MIT biomimetics lab is able to run more than 10 mph, jump over 16 inches high and run for more than 15 minutes using its own power source. The robot uses lightweight yet powerful motors and a customized algorithm to help it decide how much force it should exert while running and jumping.



The MIT project is being funded by DARPA, which also is providing money to Boston Dynamics for a similar robot design. It took more than five years of designing, testing and modifications to the electrical motor and sensors for MIT to create its current prototype.


"This is kind of a Ferrari in the robotics world, like, we have to put all the expensive components and make it really that instinctive," said Sangbae Kim, MIT associate professor and Biomimetics Robotics Lab team leader. "That's the only way to get that speed."

Continue reading 'MIT researchers show off the cheetah robot, able to run and jump' (full post)

FAA administrator wants drone operators to avoid airports

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) wants drone operators to use better common sense and make sure they don't fly drones near airport airspace. There have been more reported incidents between drones and aircraft, with 25 near collisions since February, according to the FAA.




"The thing that I am most concerned about is doing everything we can to avoid conflicts between aircraft - whether they're drones or commercial airliners," said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. "If you're using an unmanned aircraft, you need to stay away from an airport, you need to stay below 400 feet and you need to maintain line of sight."


However, as the number of drone operators is expected to increase in 2015, these type of incidents only seem more likely to occur. The FAA plans to release official rules for drones that weigh less than 55 pounds sometime in December.

Survey finds a lot of Americans want drones to deliver their packages

Amazon wants to make deliveries using drones, and it appears many customers are okay with the unmanned aircraft dropping packages on doorsteps. In a survey, 53 percent of people said they would like drones to deliver holiday purchases for them, according to the CNET report. That number will likely increase as more Americans become familiar with drones and their potential uses.




The US federal government expects drones to become more common among private citizens - but wants to create guidelines for commercial use - and that includes delivery drones. An effort to realistically roll out drone fleets to make deliveries will take a significant amount of R&D effort, but would be a unique way to streamline deliveries.


Would you want a drone to make deliveries to your house?

Flying robots will help deliver your meals and drinks in Singapore

Robotics research has focused on factory automation, greeting customers in malls and shopping centers, but could one day soon have a new purpose: flying your meals and drinks to you while you dine at restaurants in Singapore. Infinium-Serve is the new fleet of autonomous flying robotic waiters that will be able to serve as waiters - and help reduce burden on labor problems in Singapore.




The robotic waiters could be deployed by the end of 2015, with Infinium Robotics currently trying to receive government grants to help pay for the project. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong saw an in-person test of the Infinium-Serve earlier this year, however, it remains unknown where he stands on the research.


"Introducing this technology into restaurants would take away mundane tasks of serving food and drinks," said Woon Junyang, Infinium Robotics CEO, in a statement. "It will allow human waiters to focus on higher-value tasks such as getting feedback from customers. This will result in an enhanced dining experience, which will eventually lead to increased sales and revenue for the restaurants."

Security concerns above French nuclear site buzzed by unknown drones

French authorities are still looking for solutions to prevent future unauthorized drone flights over its nuclear power plant facilities, with 13 different incidents occurring between October 5 and November 2. Despite flying drones one kilometer in altitude - or within five kilometers around nuclear sites - is illegal, these random incidents continued to increase.




As security threats around critical infrastructure, public gatherings, and sporting events increases, trying to detect drone flights remains difficult.


To detect these types of drone flights, using the Spynel, a sensor created by HGH Infrared Systems, provides UAV detection and tracking. The system has a 360-degree infrared thermal imaging camera and uses custom software to detect and track drones up to 11 kilometers away. It has been in use since 2007 - and could prove to be one answer to prevent unauthorized drone flights, helping protect infrastructure and civilians.

Rising number of incidents between drones and aircraft, FAA warns

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has received an increasing number of near-collisions between small drones and airliners. There have been 25 incidents between small drones and pilots, according to commercial airlines, air-traffic controllers, and private pilots. Furthermore, there have been at least 175 incidents where drones were spotted near restricted airspace or near airports.




Most private drones are only a few feet in diameter, and weigh less than 10 pounds, but could be catastrophic if sucked into a jet engine or clips a plane's propeller, flight experts warn.


As more citizens begin to purchase and fly drones, the problem will only increase - leaving the FAA and pilots concerned it could be only a matter of time before a collision occurs.

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