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Science, Space & Robotics Posts - Page 18

Police officers in California, Texas testing networked guns

YardArm is working with several police agencies in California and Texas, testing a mobile network-connected technology that sends signals when an officer unholsters and fires their weapon. The company originally developed a consumer technology that could monitor a weapon's location - but didn't find many interested customers. Instead, the company revamped and wanted to develop new solutions that could be used for potential police and military use.

 

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"You have a social demand for smart gun technology, but not necessarily a market demand," said Jim Schaff, VP of marketing at YardArm. "As a consumer product, it's going to be a long road."

 

YardArm also is developing new methods to send wireless data of which direction a weapon is pointing, offering data that can be viewed via smartphone and fed to dispatch. If implemented, YardArm's technology could help prevent public outrage - and clear officers of wrongdoing - when officers use their weapons accordingly.

Social robots used to help children suffering from medical issues

The multi-million-Euro project ALIZ-E, spearheaded by Plymouth University and funded by the European Commission, hopes to create artificial intelligence that can better interact with children suffering from diabetes. The ALIZ-E Nao robots stand about 60 centimeters tall and uses speech recognition software to provide personalized responses to children.

 

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The ALIZ-E project was started in 2010 with the aim to develop AI for small robots that can gauge how kids interact with these robots. Developing AI that can personalize interactions with individual children, suffering from a wide variety of mental and physical medical problems, has proven difficult - but current tests across Europe are proving successful.

 

"This is not just about a novelty factor catching the youngers' attention, it is about the robots engaging in a way the children accept and giving them information they can understand and be motivated by," said Tony Belpaeme, ALIZ-E academic lead and Professor of Cognitive Systems and Robotics. "In many cases where a child has diabetes, you notice their confidence has been knocked and the robot can help restore that."

Knightscope hopes to build generation of robotic security guards

Silicon Valley startup Knightscope has developed the five-foot-tall, 300-pound K5 robot designed to serve as security robots for businesses wanting a new twist on traditional security patrols. The robots are currently being tested by Knightscope and will launch at a Silicon Valley company that can detect movement and behavior - and report back to a security center.

 

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The K5 uses cameras, sensors and navigation equipment, giving the autonomous robot the ability to patrol while also avoiding obstacles. In addition to four high-definition cameras, the K5 has a license-plate recognition scanner, weather sensor, GPS, internal laser ranging instruments, four microphones, and Wi-Fi to communicate with operators.

 

"This takes away the monotonous and sometimes dangerous work, and leaves the strategic work to law enforcement or private security, depending on the application," said Stacy Stephens, Knightscope co-founder and VP of sales and marketing.

TAC executive sits inside of vehicle as it is shot with AK-47

The Texas Armoring Corporation (TAC) believes in its product so much that company CEO R. Trent Kimball sat in the driver's seat of a Mercedes-Benz while sales manager Lawrence Kosub shot the windshield with an AK-47. The 240fps slow-motion video shows Kimball getting into the vehicle as Kosub shoots one dozen rounds directly into the windshield.

 

 

"When it comes to assuring our clients' safety, we take product testing very seriously," Kimball says in the YouTube video.

 

The company says it produces the world's lightest weight armored vehicle passenger vehicles, and sets the standard for luxury, and our vehicles provide the absolute finest finishing available on the market."

Continue reading 'TAC executive sits inside of vehicle as it is shot with AK-47' (full post)

Department of Homeland Security uses drones to patrol US-Mexico border

The United States has found trying to keep its borders, especially the US-Mexico boundary, secure from drug smuggling, illegal immigration, and potential terrorism rather difficult. Although manned patrols, high-resolution cameras, ground sensors and fences are used in more populated areas - trying to keep patrols active in desolate stretches has proven to be difficult.

 

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There is more than 700 miles of fencing along the border that spans almost 2,000 miles - with more than 18,000 patrol agents and drones helping patrol the US side of the border. The Predator B drones patrol remote mountains, rivers and canyons using high-resolution video cameras, and all data is evaluated by analysts.

 

"You have finite resources," said R. Gil Kerlikowske, Customs and Border Protection commissioner, in a statement. "If you can look at some very rugged terrain (and) you can see there's not traffic, whether it's tire tracks or clothing being abandoned or anything else, you want to deploy your resources to where you have a greater risk, a greater threat."

Pentagon wants aircraft-based drones for future recon, attack missions

The Pentagon has tasked the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) with finding new methods for drones to be able to launch from aircraft, including the B-1, B-52, C-130, and other large aircraft. Drones would be able to launch from aircraft, conduct their missions, and return to the aircraft so the host plane can fly away from potentially dangerous airspace.

 

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Here is what the DARPA request says: "The agency envisions a large aircraft that, with minimal modification, could launch and recover multiple small unmanned systems from a standoff distance."

 

"We want to find ways to make smaller aircraft more effective, and one promising idea is enabling existing large aircraft, with minimal modification, to become 'aircraft carriers in the sky,'" said Dan Patt, DARPA program manager. "We envision innovative launch and recovery concepts for new [unmanned aerial system] designs that would couple with recent advances in small payload design and collaborative technologies."

Elon Musk teases SpaceX will soon launch its own micro-satellites

Does Elon Musk ever sleep? It seems now, as The Wall Street Journal is reporting on rumos that Musk is building an internet-via-satellite project, with Musk replying that SpaceX is "in the early stages of developing advanced micro-satellites operating in large formations".

 

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We're still months away from official details, but the rumors do suggest that SpaceX is working with Greg Wyler, who used to work for Google/O3b Networks, where they'll launch a total of 700 satellites. What would SpaceX be doing differently? Well for starts, their fleet of satellites would be 10x the size of the largest currently in orbit, with the individual satellites being much smaller than what is used for communications right now.

Google signs 60-year lease with NASA for its own airfield

Google's Planetary Ventures division has signed a massive agreement with NASA for the Moffett Federal Airfield, an airfield that has three hangars, two runways, and a golf course.

 

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The company signed a giant 60-year lease, which will cos them $6.3 million per year, or $1.16 billion in total. Google has also agreed to pledge $200 million to both restore the hangars, as well as create a previously promised educational building that will show off the airfield's role in Silicon Valley's past.

 

What will Google be doing with the hangar? That's not known yet, but I'm sure the search giant will unveil everything soon enough.

BAE Systems benefits from virtual reality before manufacturing begins

Engineers from BAE Systems are using virtual reality to better design Royal Navy warships, hoping to create designs more effectively and cheaply. Using virtual models offer a more real-world glimpse of a ship over traditional wood or cardboard designs that were previously used.

 

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Here is what Mick Ord, BAE Systems Naval Ship managing director recently said: "Visualization technology is transforming the way we design, build and deliver complex warships. By creating a virtual prototype, we can mature and optimize a ship's design and gain a real understanding of the vessel and the experience of those serving on board before manufacturing begins."

 

Three offshore patrols are being used by the virtual reality platform, and that number could increase in the future. BAE Systems has installed the virtual reality suite at facilities in Bristol, Portsmouth and Glasgow.

Robots being relied upon to help fight Ebola, other dangerous viruses

Medical researchers are developing new robots with the ability to fight Ebola and other dangerous viruses that could pose future health risks across the world. Development is advancing rapidly, but very few models are available to actually fight these risks - but doctors can deploy telepresence robots to remotely communicate with medical patients, along with clean up and decontamination of hospital rooms and other locations.

 

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"People have an expectation that the robots are going to go in and do something dramatic," said Ken Goldberg, University of California, Berkeley engineering professor. "The capabilities are limited right now. There's a lot of research that needs to be done. We just want to set expectations. This is not going to save the day. These are some tools that we hope will be useful in both the near term and long term."

 

The United States Air Force is using an Ebola-zapping robot at a Langley hospital to help kill the virus and prevent it from spreading. In addition, the Xenes Disinfection Services robots are being used in private hospitals, as a method to prevent the spread of Ebola - by ensuring ultraviolet rays help kill the virus.

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