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Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin, a space venture company, successfully test launched its New Shepard spacecraft last week. The New Shepard reached 307,000 feet, powered by a 110,000-lbf thrust liquid hydrogen, liquid oxygen BE-3 engine. The boundary between Earth and space is 62-miles above the Earth's surface, so the New Shepard maximum altitude of 58 miles was close to the limit.
"Any astronauts on board would have had a very nice journey into space and a smooth return," Bezos said in a blog post. "In fact, if New Shepherd had been a traditional expendable vehicle, this would have been a flawless first test flight."
The space capsule demonstration was successful, but the reusable rocket booster was unfortunately not recovered. Bezos said his company is working on an improved hydraulic system, and hopefully the next launch will not lose pressure during its descent.
Small businesses want to see if robots are able to drive sales and increase productivity, unfortunately at the expense of human workers.
Robots are estimated to carry out 25 percent of all industrial tasks by 2025, according to the Boston Consulting Group - and almost half of US jobs face "high risk" of being automated in the next 10 to 20 years, according to co-directors of the Oxford Martin Programme on Technology and Employment.
"Automation is having a big impact. It's both positive and negative," said Martin Ford, author of the "Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future" book, which will be published later this month, in a statement to CNBC. "Business will need to hire no people or fewer people. You can literally have one person start a manufacturing business."
The Toshiba ChihiraAico humanoid robot was first shown off during CEATEC last year, and recently completed a 15-minute singing performance alongside humans. Although Toshiba designed the robot to speak to department store guests, including using Japanese sign language, a singing performance was a unique way to promote the robot.
Robots are being featured in an expanding role, especially in Japan, with designers hoping to show off their humanoids without scaring off visitors.
"We chose a very realistic appearance and movement, which can be used for the service industry," said Hitoshi Tokuda, marketing head for the business development division at Toshiba, in a press conference earlier in the year. "We plan to extend our technology to an automatic response. We plan to use [ChihiraAico] with elderly people who have conditions such as dementia and she can be connected to a counselor or doctor."
Drones are being used for a lot of new and innovative purposes, and a few rather questionable activities. It looks like drone graffiti could be a future trend, with a tagger taking aim at a billboard featuring a Kendall Jenner ad.
"KATSU" used a drone with a can of red spray paint attached to the side, successfully vandalizing the billboard in SOHO, between Houston and Lafayette streets. He had this to say about graffiti drone 1.0, when speaking with WIRED: "It turned out surprisingly well. It's exciting to see its first potential use as a device for vandalism."
Graffiti removal is a costly effort in metropolitan areas, so this certainly could push the boundaries even further. It may take some time for KATSU and other taggers to develop a stable platform for drone graffiti, but it certainly may end up a major headache for a lot of people.
National space programs have shown new interest in lunar exploration, and it's possible robots could roam the moon's surface. The German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) has created an iStruct Demonstrator, also known as "Charlie," a robotic ape that can you different locomotion styles.
Using four-legged locomotion adds stability, but bipedal is best for speed and ability to maneuver - so having the robot be able to choose how to move is absolutely huge.
"We chose the ape because it allows us to study several locomotion modes," said Daniel Kuhn, DFKI researcher, in a statement to CNN. "For example, they have quite good quadrupedal walking abilities but they can also perform stand-up motion and walk on two legs - their ability to do this is greater than other animals. This change in posture and walking form interested us."
Military technology has become absolutely fascinating in the past few years, with autonomous drones, robots, smart technology, and exoskeletons advancing nicely.
The Russian military is reportedly developing mind-controlled exoskeletons, multiple Russian news outlets claim. If there is any truth to the reports, soldiers could carry up to 600 pounds of additional weight. What makes this announcement curious is the idea that Russia is five years away from being able to include a neuroelectronic interface so the suit's wearer has a unique controlling mechanism.
"The Russian Army is set to receive mind-controlled exoskeletons," the Russian Sputnik media source said. "The wearable robots will be controlled by brain waves and will increase the strength and endurance of the serviceman wearing it by several times."
The 'Eve' robot is being utilized at the University of California, San Francisco, Medical Center at Mission Bay, a new facility that opened in February. The robots can help humans, make test sample deliveries, and ensure each room has supplies as needed.
UCSF purchased 25 robots from Aethon for $3.5 million, and then invested an additional $2.5 million to prepare the robots and hospital. The hospital expects to break even within two years on its robotic investment, while also freeing up staff to conduct other tasks.
"The hospital is set up almost as a virtual railroad... if they encounter an obstacle along the way, that's when they use their various sensors, laser, sonar and infrared to navigate around those items and continue on their path," said Brian Herriot, director of Mission Bay operations planning for the UCSF Medical Center, in a statement published by NBC News.
After quite a while of teasing, Tesla has unveiled its home battery: Powerwall. Tesla's new Powerwall home battery system allows people to disconnect from the power grid for a few hours, which isn't perfect, but it will have significant power savings for countless people around the world.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that the new Powerwall is a "whole integrated system that just works and is connected to the Internet". Powerwall is packed with lithium-ion cells and a liquid thermal-control system, with Powerwall being tested with specific customers for the past year. The home battery connects to the Internet so that it can track power usage and share the information with utilities.
How much will Tesla's Powerwall set you back? Right now, the 10kWh system is offered to installers for $3500, while the 7kWh will cost people $3000. These two systems do not include the cost of a DC-to-AC inverter, but if you've already got solar panels, you won't need that additional DC-to-AC inverter. Distributors can lease the Powerwall to consumers, with the Tesla-made device including a 10-year guaranteed life with warranty, and will begin shipping in late summer.
More than one-third of babies are interacting with touchscreen tablets and smartphones before they are able to crawl, walk and talk. Specifically, 36 percent of children have experience with touching or scrolling before age one, with 15 percent using apps by the same age, according to the Einstein Medical Center's pediatrics department.
Mobile technology becomes more common place, and while there are plenty of educational apps available, researchers are most concerned about children from zero-to-two years old. It's a critical time for brain development, in which human interaction is absolutely vital.
"On the one hand, we have lots of experience with television, and we know that it has some pitfalls and some dangers for children in terms of their educational learning," said Laura Jana, an Omaha-based pediatrician, in a statement to CBS News. "Some benefits as well. Mobile devices, when we're talking about screens and things, are so new that this is a really important survey that has given us some initial information about just how prevalent the use is in very young ages."
Audi has created high-quality liquid "e-diesel," a synthetic diesel mainly made of water and CO2, according to the German automaker.
Researchers first heat steam so it is broken down into hydrogen and oxygen, at temperatures above 1,472 Fahrenheit, and then mix the hydrogen with carbon dioxide. The result is a blue crude, something similar to crude oil, which is then refined into e-diesel. Unlike traditional diesel fuel, there is no sulfur or aromatic hydrocarbons which are bad for the environment.
"If we can make widespread use of CO2 as a raw material, we will make a crucial contribution to climate protection and the efficient use of resources, and put the fundamentals of the green economy in place," said Johanna Wanka, German Education and Research minister, during a press conference.