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Science, Space & Robotics Posts - Page 35

Humanoid robonaut 2 learning how to handle medical space emergencies

NASA researchers are developing a humanoid robonaut, called Robonaut 2, which could be able to one day work with astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS). The Robonaut 2 is a $2.5-million device that will also be able to contribute to general tasks as well.

 

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Robonaut research for medical purposes is still in its early stages, so don't expect the humanoids to be in space providing health support immediately. The R2's camera-equipped head lets controllers on Earth see a medical process, and the robonaut has extremely good dexterity so the appropriate amount of pressure could be used during treatment.

 

"I would say that within an hour I trained him more than with other students I'm working for a week, so I think that he's learning really fast," said Dr. Zsolt Garami, from the Houston Methodist Research Institute, in a recent interview with Space.com.

 

Astronauts stationed aboard the ISS often are from the United States, Europe or Russia, and come from different backgrounds - the ability to have a robonaut available to either handle all medical issues, or lend a hand, would be greatly beneficial. As space nations look towards potential manned trips to Mars, having a robotics platform with the specialized ability to help with medical emergencies.

US Navy embraces lasers and electric guns on ships

The United States Navy is ready to begin rolling out next-generation futuristic weapons that sound like something out of your favorite Sci-Fi movie - but will play an important role in the development of modern warfare.

 

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The new laser system will be deployed on the USS Ponce later this year, and can be controlled by a single person. The laser will be used with a focus on defense against aerial drones, speed boats, and any type of threat to allied warships. Although it's cheaper than missiles or traditional smart bombs, and can fire continuously at targets, it won't be as effective in poor weather conditions.

 

In addition to the laser, Navy officials want to deploy an electromagnetic rail gun by 2016, which could one day replace regular firearms - and include the ability to launch projectiles almost seven times the speed of sound, according to military sources.

 

Installing new weapons systems on US military ships helps the Navy "fundamentally change the way" warfare is conducted on an evolving battlefield.

Kate Upton takes to zero gravity for her latest modeling shoot

Zero G is one of those companies that I sincerely hope I get a chance to do business with one day. Their zero gravity experience is something I really hope to experience at least once in my life, but these new photos of Kate Upton posing for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, while on a Zero G flight may hold me over until I can experience the flight myself.

 

 

To keep on the topic of Science & Space, let me let Zero G explain how the zero gravity flights work. Below is an excerpt from their website.

 

Aboard our specially modified Boeing 727, G-FORCE ONE, weightlessness is achieved by doing aerobatic maneuvers known as parabolas. Specially trained pilots perform these aerobatic maneuvers which are not simulated in any way. ZERO-G's passengers experience true weightlessness.

 

Before starting a parabola, G-FORCE ONE flies level to the horizon at an altitude of 24,000 feet. The pilots then begins to pull up, gradually increasing the angle of the aircraft to about 45 degrees to the horizon reaching an altitude of 34,000 feet. During this pull-up, passengers will feel the pull of 1.8 Gs. Next the plane is "pushed over" to create the zero gravity segment of the parabola. For the next 20-30 seconds everything in the plane is weightless. Next a gentle pull-out is started which allows the flyers to stabilize on the aircraft floor. This maneuver is repeated 12-15 times, each taking about ten miles of airspace to perform.

Continue reading 'Kate Upton takes to zero gravity for her latest modeling shoot' (full post)

New mobile apps informs users when a U.S. drone strike takes place

A new Apple iPhone app gives users the chance to track unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) attacks launched by the U.S. military on targets overseas. Drone strike location, date, and victims of each strike will be shared - along with a map visually identifying the geographic location. The app is available for free in the iTunes store.

 

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The app was submitted to Apple for approval five times before it was finally allowed into the app store. Until designers renamed it from "Drones+" and removed published drone information, Apple was more receptive of supporting the app.

 

"The drone program amounts to little more than death by unreliable metadata," app creators recently said.

 

There is still a large amount of controversy related to drone attacks, so it's curious to see an iPhone app like this released. Recent drone strikes in Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan have raised U.S. political tensions in the continued battle against Islamic-based terrorist groups.

Send a 'selfie' and avoid a trip to the doctor's office?

Using a smartphone can lead to an easier time for medical experts to offer remote medical consultations with patients, according to JAMA Dermatology.

 

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Since many hospitals don't have inpatient dermatologist services available to patients, it can be difficult for patients to receive treatment frequently. Using the term of "teledermatology," in-person doctors and remote specialists can work together to more accurately determine possible medical issues.

 

"Triage decisions were as follows: if the in-person dermatologist recommended the patient be seen the same day, the teledermatologist agreed in 90 percent of the consultations," according to the study abstract. "If the in-person dermatologist recommended a biopsy, the teledermatologist agreed in 95 percent of cases on average."

 

Doctors and patients could find one day easier methods to diagnose medical issues such as skin disorders without being forced to visit the office.

California is now home to the world's largest solar thermal plant

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.

 

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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.

China announces loss of Lunar Rover after mechanical failure strikes

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.

 

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"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.

US Army to begin testing 'Iron Man' armor this June

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.

Continue reading 'US Army to begin testing 'Iron Man' armor this June' (full post)

Google, Foxconn partner up to create robotic workforce for factories

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.

 

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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.

Obama administration considering another drone attack on U.S. citizen

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.

 

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"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.

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