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BrightSource Energy has just confirmed where the world's largest solar thermal plant is: California. The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System has just been enabled in the state.
The solar array is backed up by both Google and NRG Energy, producing a total of 392MW of power from its 173,500 multi-mirror units. Generating this much energy, the massive solar farm can power 140,000 nearby homes, and represents 30% of all the solar thermal energy in the United States. The solar farm takes up a massive 5.5 square miles of space, and is unfortunately creating trouble for nearby wildlife and birds.
When China launched its first lunar probe into space, there was great joy all over the world as yet another nation joined the space exploration club. Unfortunately, what followed was a string of failures for Yutu,the Chinese Lunar Rover. Yesterday, Chinese officials declared that the small rover was no longer functional and was being considered a total loss.
"A mechanical control abnormality occurred to Yutu because of the complicated lunar surface environment," said China's State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense. Issues due to the harsh lunar environment are not isolated to China either. Back during the Apollo program, NASA experienced several issues with spacecraft and lunar vehicles due to the razor sharp lunar dust and soil that clings to everything. While the failure of Yutu is definitely tragic, it should provide some valuable insight into what China will need to prepare for if they wish to visit the Moon again.
The US military is getting ready to test out its first prototype Iron Man armor, announced by the head of US Special Operations. Navy Adm. William McRaven stated that three unpowered prototypes of the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit, or TALOS, are currently being assembled, with an expected delivery date of June.
McRaven talked about the suit's potential to save lives during a special conference in Washington DC, where he said: "That suit, if done correctly, will yield a revolutionary improvement in survivability and capability for special operators".
TALOS should feature its on on-board computer, health monitors, and MIT-developed liquid armor that is capable of hardening itself in a matter of milliseconds. The end result should see TALOS being able to sustain gunfire, just like Tony Stark in Iron Man. Right now, the armor is being worked on by 56 corporations, 16 government agencies, 13 universities, and 10 national laboratories.
Taiwanese hardware maker Foxconn and Google have partnered up so they can work on technologies to improve robotic automation efforts to benefit both companies. Beyond autonomous vehicles, Google's exact plans for its growing collection of robotic-related research remain unknown.
In 2013 alone, Google purchased eight robotics companies and created a robotics research group - and Google reportedly has a large interest in electronics assembly, trying to compete with traditional retail powerhouses.
Foxconn is a company familiar with robotics development, as the company reportedly uses robots in its own manufacturing facilities overseas. With raising labor costs in China, Foxconn has been able to reduce its manned workforce and use robotic technology to help keep its narrow margins intact, with automated processes greatly helpful.
There is great potential for Foxconn and Google to help each other, as Google can send much-needed funds and research to Foxconn, which can provide robotics hardware and mature technologies.
The Obama administration is having a difficult time internally battling whether or not to launch a coordinated air strike against a U.S. citizen reportedly planning attacks as an active al-Qaida member. The CIA has the unnamed citizen under surveillance, but the Justice Department still hasn't built a strong enough case for the strike.
"An American citizen who is a member of al-Qaida is actively planning attacks against Americans overseas, U.S. officials say, and the Obama administration is wrestling with whether to kill him with a drone strike and how to do so legally under its new stricter targeting policy issued last year," an official told Associated Press.
However, the target is reportedly located in a well-guarded, remote region, so manned missions to capture him are unlikely.
The use of drone strikes continues to be a controversial topic, with officials in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other nations publicly voicing displeasure over UAV attacks. To complicate matters further, many U.S. citizens don't like the idea of targeting U.S. citizens for immediate execution without arrest and trial.
PG&E will build fences around critical power substations after its Metcalf power substation located in South San Jose was hit with numerous gun shots. During the nighttime attack last April, there was 19 minutes of shooting with more than 100 rounds fired, hitting 17 transformers which took more than a month to properly repair. Prior to the shooting, those responsible also cut through AT&T fiber-optic cables, with phone service temporarily disrupted.
The FBI said the PG&E power station attack doesn't appear terror-related, from domestic or international terrorists, but is a significant security issue that must be properly addressed. Even if this case wasn't direct terrorism, some PG&E officials are concerned the San Jose shooting attack was a precursor for a bigger, more sophisticated future attack.
This attack, which went largely unnoticed by most Americans, was "the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred", said Jon Wellinghoff, former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman.
You might have heard of the brand Dyson - which makes some of the best-engineered vacuum cleaners and hand dryers - with British entrepreneur, Sir James Dyson, outlining his latest vision for what he sees as the future of households: advanced household androids.
Dyson envisions a future where this autonomous robots will clean your house, guard your property, and as the technology improves, many more household tasks. Dyson has announced a new $8.2 million robotics center at Imperial College London, where the inventor says the technological revolution is coming, and he sees a future where every home in Britain is filled with "robots that understand the world around them".
Dyson's team of engineers are now working on the first multi-purpose household android with scientists in Japan, where researchers at Waseda University have just unveiled their Twendy-One robot, which is capable of obeying voice commands, cooking, and providing nursing care. Dyson employs close to 2,000 engineers and scientists, with his plans involving the new center to overcome the problem with robotic "vision", so that the androids could see, and react to everything around them.
Medical researchers are working on a military-funded project to find ways to stop wounded soldiers from bleeding out, the top killer of wounded on the battlefield, according to the U.S. military. The RevMedx-created XStat uses a small injector that implants 92 sponges able to stop bleeding in a mere 15 second, with the sponges expanding to put pressure on the wound.
"If you pack gauze into a wound and take your hands off, there's no pressure on the [blood] vessel," said John Steinbaugh, RevMedx VP, in a press statement. "Every minute you're holding pressure, that's time a medic can't treat someone else because he's trying to stop bleeding."
An Army study two years ago found blood hemorrhages made up 90 percent of cause of death in survivable battlefield wounds - and despite casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan - contractors continue to improve military technology. Officials have showed higher interest in using XStat for wounds in which tourniquets aren't as effective, including locations on the arms and legs.
The United States Marine Corps and U.S. Army are now testing the Mobile Detection Assessment Response System (MDARS), a futuristic automated intrusion system for use by the Department of Defense.
Moving objects are detected via onboard radar system, with multiple laser systems used to autonomously drive the vehicle during security patrol. Infrared and color cameras help the MDARS identify friendly forces and enemy combatants.
"We are trying to use it to its full capabilities and (further improve) our defense," said Sgt. Timothy Hanla, Platoon Sergeant, Air Base Guard Force. "It will help reinforce certain areas and catch things our eyes can't catch."
Starting in October 2010, there has been continued MDARS testing on U.S. military bases, offering a continued security presence at an affordable price. These systems could also provide an additional layer of defense when used in overseas combat regions, aiding manned and automated defenses.
It feels like something right out of the NBC show Revolution, but Google engineering director Ray Kurzweil has said that by the 2030s, we'll have "millions, billions of blood cell-sized computers in our bloodstream... keeping us healthy, augmenting our immune system, also going into the brain and putting our neocortex onto the cloud".
The nanobots in your brain will give you instant access to the cloud, where Kurzweil explains: "In 2035, I see somebody approaching me and I want to impress them and I want to think of something clever... I'll be able to access additional neocortex and think of something clever".
Kurzweil believes that over the next 30 or so years, we'll see technology reach a point where we are capable of immortality.