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Science, Space & Robotics Posts - Page 4

Crazy enthusiasts have fired fireworks from a drone at themselves

It was only a matter of time - some crazy drone enthusiasts have weaponized a copter by strapping Roman Candles onto it, flying it around and seeing them shoot as targets. Filmed in POV mode, don't try this at home.

 

 

This is only the first step, next we'll be seeing gattling-gun drones and sharks with lasers hunting the human population one-by-one. The video was produced by a small-time YouTube channel called PIEROGRAM, with the video in question already topping 680,000 views at the time or writing this article.

Continue reading 'Crazy enthusiasts have fired fireworks from a drone at themselves' (full post)

Don't worry, Microsoft doesn't think AI will kill us anytime soon

Professor Stephen Hawking and other leading experts might be concerned that artificial intelligence could pose a threat to mankind - but don't count Microsoft Research chief Eric Horvitz as one of the skeptics. Instead, Horvitz believes AI will be extremely beneficial to humans in the long-term, as AI research ramps up.

 

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"There have been concerns about the long-term prospect that we lose control of certain kinds of intelligences," Horvitz said in a statement to BBC. "I fundamentally don't think that's going to happen. I think that we will be very proactive in terms of how we field AI systems, and that in the end we'll be able to get incredible benefits from machine intelligence in all realms of life, from science to education to economics to daily life."

 

Microsoft has more than 1,000 scientists and engineers engaged in projects with its research department, and Horvitz disclosed a quarter of resources and focus are dedicated to AI-based projects.

Obama Administration wants more drone oversight, regulations

A day after a small quad-copter drone crashed on White House property, President Barack Obama discussed the lack of drone regulation by his government. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is working on guidelines and is creating future restrictions, while Obama also has tasked other government regulators to help streamline creating rules for drone flights.

 

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"You know that there are companies like Amazon that are talking about using small drones to deliver packages... there are incredibly useful functions that these drones can play in terms of farmers who are managing crops and conservationists who want to take stock of wildlife," Obama recently told CNN. "But we don't really have any kind of regulatory structure at all for it."

 

Several US agencies are engaging with "stakeholders" to ensure a new drone infrastructure is created, preventing the violation of people's privacy, according to Obama.

Oops, I meant sunny side up! Scientists can now unboil eggs

Scientists from UC Irvine have figured out a method to 'unboil' egg whites, turning them from a solid back into liquid form. There is a real application to this however, as it is claimed that the process behind this can "help lower the production cost of cancer drugs and other expensive medications" as explained by Gizmodo.

 

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Cancer drugs don't directly correlate to egg whites, however the process between the two is similar and helps show off how powerful and complex the process really is. The process shows that these scientists can now "use and recycle molecular proteins that have a tendency to "misfold" into tiny shapes and structures when produced that actually make them unusable." This basically means that the proteins produced by these scientists generally end up as a spongey-solid, similar to that of a hard-boiled egg, whereas scientists need it to be a liquid - with no easy solution previously available to make this happen, they put in the effort and produced a new method.

 

The scientists have laid out the process, explaining that "To re-create a clear protein known as lysozyme once an egg has been boiled, he and his colleagues add a urea substance that chews away at the whites, liquefying the solid material."

Continue reading 'Oops, I meant sunny side up! Scientists can now unboil eggs' (full post)

NASA says SpaceX, Boeing one step closer to launching astronauts

SpaceX and Boeing successfully completed milestones in their effort to launch astronauts into space, according to NASA during a press conference to discuss the Commercial Crew Program.

 

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"I don't ever want to have to write another check to Roscosmos," said Charles Bolden, NASA administrator, during the press conference. SpaceX hopes to begin launching personnel into space starting in early 2017, and wants to fly 50 Falcon 9 missions before reaching its ambitious goal.

 

As NASA continues to develop its next-generation space shuttle, the US government has called upon private sector companies to help fill the void. Following political tensions, NASA stopped relying on the Russian government to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). NASA previously relied on SpaceX launches to help resupply the ISS, as additional private sector companies try to jump into the business.

Quadcopter drone crashes on White House grounds, Secret Service says

A government employee crashed a small quad-copter drone on the South Lawn of the White House on early Monday morning, telling the Secret Service he didn't intentionally fly it near the complex. President Obama and Michelle Obama are on a three-day visit in India, but Malia and Sasha are still in Washington.

 

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The drone was reportedly being flown around 3:00 a.m. near 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but the pilot lost control and it crashed near the White House.

 

"There is a device that has been recovered by the Secret Service at the White House," said Josh Earnest, White House press secretary, in a statement to the media. "The early indications are that it does not pose any sort of ongoing threat to anybody at the White House."

Continue reading 'Quadcopter drone crashes on White House grounds, Secret Service says' (full post)

Australian man fined for illegal drone flight thanks to YouTube upload

A man from Queensland, Australia has just received a harsh reminder of the drone flight regulations after receiving an $850 fine thanks to uploading drone flight videos to YouTube - in which he displayed illegal activities.

 

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The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) rang up the Queensland resident, notifying him of multiple breaches he had conducted. He's gotten off lightly as according to CASA, with the investigator stating that "while each individual breach was not major in itself, the number of breaches has caused me concern," as seen on EFTM.

 

As a quick recap of the basic rules, CASA states that non-commercial drone flight must not be conducted:

 

  • Within 3 nautical miles of an airport
  • Above 400 feet in controlled airspace (large towns and cities)
  • Over populous areas
  • Within 30 meters of people
  • At night

Continue reading 'Australian man fined for illegal drone flight thanks to YouTube upload' (full post)

Researchers developing wearable brain scanner able to measure activity

Researchers are working on a portable positron emission tomography (PET) scanner that can be worn to show brain activity throughout the day. Normal PET scanners used in hospitals are large and unable to provide a better understanding of brain function and neurological disorders - but the new device could change that.

 

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Using a helmet that has PET detectors located in a ring, the helmet can help monitor stroke patients while they do rehab, or study when someone with autism has to interact in social environments. If released to hospitals and other researchers, there are a number of different uses for the portable PET scanner.

 

Tested using a brain slice tagged with a radiotracer chemical, the scanner successfully worked, despite capturing images that were a bit fuzzy - which researchers will work to improve

Continue reading 'Researchers developing wearable brain scanner able to measure activity' (full post)

Private drone pilots taking to the skies, but safety concerns mount

Many first-time drone pilots are taking to the skies in the United States, and that has increased safety concerns regarding drone crashes. One such concern is a "flyaway" when the small drones catch a jet stream and simply blow away - and pilots are unaware of how to regain control of the flying craft.

 

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Most consumer drones weigh around 2.2 pounds, and if it was being flown at 400 feet, can yield more than 900 pounds of force if it slammed straight into the ground.

 

"There's just too many people that just have no idea what they're doing flying with their cool cameras," said Bill Stockwell, drone flight instructor at McHenry County Community College, in a statement to the Chicago Tribune. "I fly a competitive 7-foot helicopter that goes about 140 mph. If it was flying at 400 feet, which is legal, it would hit the ground with 2,200 pounds of force. Can you imagine what that would feel like?"

NASA is testing helicopter drones that could be used to explore Mars

Exploring Mars has proven to be a beneficial yet extremely tricky operation for NASA, with the Mars rovers helping yield a lot of insightful knowledge - and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory hopes to use the Mars Helicopter to add to exploration.

 

 

The Mars Helicopter would be able to travel up to three times the distance that either rover can travel in a single Martian day, along with pinpointing new locations for the rovers to explore.

 

The light craft could weigh just 2.2 pounds and measure 3.6 feet from the tip of one blade to the other - and the prototype body looks similar to a medium-sized tissue box. The JPL is currently testing the proof-of-concept in California, with no possible launch dates discussed.

Continue reading 'NASA is testing helicopter drones that could be used to explore Mars' (full post)

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