The Planetary Society today confirmed that its LightSail satellite successfully deployed its Mylar solar sail, achieving the main objective of the mission after 19 days in low-Earth orbit. The CubeSat, which is about the size of a loaf of bread, completed transmission of its first image to a ground station at Poly San Luis Obispo in California, showing the sail open and partly spread out.Read More
David Szondy is a freelance writer based in Monroe, Washington. An award-winning playwright, he has contributed to Charged and iQ magazine and is the author of the website Tales of Future Past.
The 2015 DARPA Robotics Challenge has come to a close with South Korea's Team KAIST and its DRC-HUBO robot taking first prize in the US$3.5 million competition. The US Department of Defense's project to develop robots that can help responders in disaster areas saw KAIST beat 23 other teams from around the world in front of a crowd of 10,000 people.Read More
A sporting event where a contestant opens a door, promptly falls on their face, and then stands up again sounds like less than riveting, but on Friday some 10,000 people at the Fairplex in Pomona, California, cheered and screamed encouragement as exactly that happened. Of course, the fact that the contender was a robot called Tartan Rescue and the competition was the first day of the DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC) Final 2015 had something to do with it. Aimed at creating robots that may one day help responders during major disasters, the two-day Challenge is host to 23 international teams competing for US$3.5 million in prizes.Read More
Drunk driving is a serious problem and – despite being conscientious – at a certain point in the evening, trusting one's own judgement means trusting someone who isn't sober enough to make the call. While inexpensive breathalyzers costing less than US$30 are available, they're not the most reliable, while the more professional models need to be sent back to the factory on a regular basis for recalibration. Recently, we got hold of an AlcoMate Revo by AK GlobalTech. The device is aimed at the consumer market, and uses a replaceable sensor module that eliminates the need for recalibration. We put it through its paces.Read More
Smartglasses, or augmented reality glasses, may have found niches in military and industrial circles, but haven't really caught on with consumers for a number of reasons – a major one being that they're extremely conspicuous. To help rectify this, the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering (IOF) in Jena, Germany, has developed technology that allows for a more unobtrusive design, while also providing improved functionality.Read More
One of the biggest events at the recent 2015 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in Seattle was the first Amazon Picking Challenge, in which 31 teams from around the world competed for US$26,000 in prizes. The challenge set entrants with the real-world task of building a robot that can do the same job as an Amazon stock picker.Read More
The city of Seattle saw a robotic population explosion this week as the 2015 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) descended on the Washington State Convention Center. The IEEE Robotics and Automation Society’s flagship conference ran the gamut of all things robotic, from showcases of new technology to forums on government policies as they relate to robotics. Here's our look at the highlights.Read More