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It seems that the professionals of the past have lied to us. If 1960's-1980's knowledge is anything to go by, we should be cruising around in flying cars, skating on our hover boards and letting robots serve us gourmet food produced within their metal bellies by now. The disappointment is so strong that popular Australian rapper Seth Sentry even dedicated a song to our apparent lack of Marty McFly technology.
However, how would you feel if a trip into space was a real thing and free? Monmouth University has just released some poll results, asking members of the public if they would be happy to take a trip up to the stars through a private company offering. This resulted in 69% of the people replying that they would pass up the opportunity.
This follows the results that only 17% of polled participants in 1966 would have liked to be the first to step foot on the moon - granted, it was extremely unproven technology in that day-and-age.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently outlined commercial drone flight rules, but it will take anywhere from 18 months to two years before the rules are official. However, farmers are excited about being able to legally use drones to help with day-to-day farming activities.
"The overall goal is to assist the crop scouts and to see where the [crop] stresses are that they might not even know existed," said Erik Johnson, from the Leading Edge Technologies, in a statement published by the Northfield News. The ability to analyze crop deficiencies and other aspects will greatly speed up the current process, Johnson notes.
Agricultural representatives will work with the FAA to discuss possible drone rule exceptions - as some farmers discussed the possibility of nighttime drone flight to help spur extra growth of crops, for example.
We're told by Gizmodo that this task isn't exactly easy for just anyone to complete, further adding to the complexity displayed within this exercise. Most robots are clunky and stiff in their movements, however through the use of human-like tendons, this simulation is able to make light work of this difficult and nimble task.
Created through an extensive process, first the researchers created a dummy hand, then tracked and measuring six separate hand poses in which were used to rotate the ball, finally designing this tendon system to control the fake hand.
Businesses hoping to conduct drone flights as part of their business operations have a bit of clarity after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released flight guidelines. Guidelines for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) opens the door to the industry and customers, according to a veteran aviation attorney.
The FAA wants drone operators to continue providing feedback for additional changes along the way - it's still a new and relatively unknown industry for businesses and the government alike. Real estate agents and other companies using hobbyist drones will now be regulated, with manufacturers tasked with discussing regulations to customers.
"Regulatory clarity could be a boon to makers and sellers of small UAS, in particular," said Tim Adelman, head of the SeClairRYan practice group. "However, as the industry grows we can expect corresponding growth of FAA enforcement actions. UAS operators should take care to avoid running afoul of the FAA."
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is embracing unmanned ground vehicles and robots, expecting the newer technologies to have a major role on the battlefield.
G-NIUS Autonomous Unmanned Ground Vehicles is expanding away from the Guardium, promoting the Border Patroller UGV. The ground vehicles will be deployed to patrol the border with Gaza, able to detect and identify insurgent activity - and inform manned patrols.
"Its communications systems will be improved [compared to those of the Guardium], and the control aspect will be different," said Maj. Lior Tarbelsi, director of the Robotics Division in the Ground Forces Command's Weapons Department, in a statement published by The Jerusalem Post. "A robot can be risked, and it doesn't have to deal with a lack of lighting. It doesn't have to breathe, and it won't have to worry about getting shot."
More jobs and human workers are at risk of robots one day taking over their roles in the workplace, and much of the concern has focused on low-tech workers. However, researchers from Columbia University and Boston University are worried that high-tech employees could also be at risk as demand for robots accelerates in the years to come.
Supporters note that humans are needed to help program the robots and carry out required maintenance - but there is growing criticism that much-needed jobs are at risk. However, researchers note that sophisticated code writing may be necessary at first, but legacy code will grow while these robots are able to autonomously learn tasks.
Companies have embraced robotics technology in manufacturing facilities to help streamline operations, reduce labor costs, and maintain high-levels of production.
There is a blend of technology and modern medicine helping save lives, as smart medical implants are being used in select cases.
The US government is throwing its weight behind smart implant research, with the DARPA Electrical Prescriptions (ElectRX) program. University researchers also have received additional financial support to develop smart implants that can be used to enhance medicine. Doctors and researchers have successfully created hardware for the human heart, esophagus and other critical areas - but trying to make implants for the brain remains extremely tricky.
"We're like the Wright brothers at the stage where they were first trying to build an airplane," said Tim Denison, director of the Medtronic neuromodulation division, in a statement published by NBC News. "Before they could do it, they had to build a wind tunnel to understand the principles of flight."
Researchers are looking forward to the future of medical technology that could have major life-changing impact, with great breakthroughs in bionic vision. During the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference last week, medical researchers discussed everything from telescopic contact lenses to prototype bionic prosthetics.
New technology developments greatly aid patients suffering from vision impairments - and varying levels of blindness - giving them the chance to better distinguish the world around them.
"Retinal implants have moved from sci-fi into reality over the last few years," said Daniel Palanker, professor of ophthalmology at Stanford University, in a statement to the San Jose Mercury News. "Now we are in the race of improving resolution, improving image processing, dynamic range (of light intensity) and levels of gray - and will keep improving."
DARPA is constantly working on various things that we'll see in the next couple of decades, but one of them is something that started out as "supervision" contact lens for soldiers. But as things progressed, it was looking like it was better suited to age-related macular degeneration.
The latest version of the 'supervision' contact lens has bulked up a bit from its first iteration which was 1.17mm, to 1.55mm. The added thickness could have something to do with adjusting the reflective bits inside of the lens itself, or that there's a different material used in its construction.
When asked about the added thickness, researcher Eric Tremblay said that out of the five patients that have used the lens, said it was light enough and more than comfortable to wear around for daily use. The contact lens itself works as a pair of liquid crystal glasses that the user wears, where winking your right eye turns on the magnification, while winking the left eye turns it off. Blinking, does nothing. The big issue now is getting oxygen through the lens, and to the users' eye. Without oxygen to the eye, the contact can only be worn for around half an hour. The team is already working on fixing this, with current experiments leading them to use tiny channels cut into the contact that feed oxygen as well as add reservoirs of oxygen-rich fluids.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) shook up the aviation industry by making commercial drone flights acceptable with a few requirements: operators must be at least 17 years old, pass a written exam covering FAA rules, and operators will need to observe safety requirements.
Drones must be less than 55 pounds, fly below 500 feet, and travel less than 100 mph, while being operated within sight of the primary drone operator. In addition, the FAA said drone flights cannot take place near airports or over private citizens not involved in the commercial flight of the drone.
"We have tried to be flexible in writing these rules," said Michael Huerta, FAA Administration, in a statement published by USA Today. "We want to maintain today's outstanding level of aviation safety without placing an undue regulatory burden on an emerging industry."