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Science, Space & Robotics Posts - Page 4

Canadian intelligence accurately identified French Babar malware

The Communication Security Establishment Canada (CSEC) documented a French language cyberespionage piece of malware. Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked the CSEC documents, which were published by the Le Monde French publication and German Der Spiegel newspaper.

 

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The sophisticated Babar malware could record and transfer keystrokes and monitor data and audio conversations - it was a well-made, complex piece of software, according to cybersecurity experts. The Remote Access Tool (RAT) was the second piece of software tied to the Snowglobe spyware campaign.

 

"Babar is a highly developed spyware program that could only have been manufactured by very well-trained developers," said Eddy Willems, security evangelist at G DATA Software AG. "Babar is designed to work specifically in networks belonging to companies, authorities, organizations and research institutes and to steal sensitive data from them. As a result, audio conversations such as Skype chats, for example, can be recorded. Even a targeted attack on individual seems conceivable. A mass distribution of such malware, however, is very unlikely."

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US military testing GuardBot robot ball for surveillance duties

American Unmanned Systems wants to see its amphibious GuardBot used for surveillance missions by the US military, with the unique robot able to travel across land and water. The GuardBot can travel up to 20 miles per hour along the beach and cross water at speeds up to 4 mph, according to American Unmanned Systems.

 

 

The unique robotic ball can vary in sizes, from 10cm up to 9 feet, controllable by one operator or programmable via GPS. The GuardBot was created for non-intrusive surveillance and is extremely quiet as built-in cameras and sensors provide feedback from inside the sealed sphere physical casing. The team is looking to develop software supporting geographic information system data to increase autonomous activity.

 

American Unmanned Systems has a cooperative research development agreement (CRADA) with the US Navy, so they are able to use government research labs and resources to help develop the GuardBot. It was first presented to the military at Marine Corps Base Quantico in 2012, traveling through a volleyball pit - and was shown again in 2014 at the Naval Amphibious Base, deploying and returning to a naval craft.

Continue reading 'US military testing GuardBot robot ball for surveillance duties' (full post)

Ukrainian-Americans helping send drones, other supplies to battlefield

The Ukrainian military wants to use drones in its intensifying military battle against pro-Russian separatists, but has not received much support from NATO countries. Poland will help provide FlyEye mini-UAVs, and current efforts underway rely on private groups to help try to fill the void.

 

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The Ukrainian government has asked foreign governments for access to drones, but hasn't found many willing participants. The Chicago Automaidan, a pro-Ukrainian group, is now sending Phantom 2 drones for the Ukrainian military to use - which could be used to spy on pro-Russian rebels or aid Ukrainian checkpoints.

 

"Members of the military unit 3002 Ukraine Lviv National Guard would like to thank Chicago Automaidan," as the group continues to supply drones and other military equipment. "We are very grateful to Ukrainians from around the world who are doing everything for our victory."

Poll results show that most Americans wouldn't take a free space trip

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.

 

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Farmers hope to use drone flights to help survey land, maximize output

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.

 

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"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.

These robot tendons are surprisingly effective

Designed to mimic the human hand, this robot device with tendons can rotate two Baoding balls with ease - simulating the same process completed by your body.

 

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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.

Continue reading 'These robot tendons are surprisingly effective' (full post)

Drone makers, owners benefit from clarified FAA flying rules

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.

 

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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."

Israel expects unmanned vehicles, robots to play bigger military role

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is embracing unmanned ground vehicles and robots, expecting the newer technologies to have a major role on the battlefield.

 

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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."

Continue reading 'Israel expects unmanned vehicles, robots to play bigger military role' (full post)

Researchers show concern about robots possibly taking high-tech jobs

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.

 

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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.

Continue reading 'Researchers show concern about robots possibly taking high-tech jobs' (full post)

Smart implants making major impact in the medical world

There is a blend of technology and modern medicine helping save lives, as smart medical implants are being used in select cases.

 

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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."

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