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.
Jaguar Land Rover claims that potholes cause £2.8 billion (US$4.3 billion) worth of damage every year in Britain alone. Often lurking unseen until it's too late, they can puncture or shred tires, damage wheels and suspensions, and break axles. Now the company is developing the Pothole Alert system, which can not only identify the location and severity of potholes, broken drains, raised manholes, and similar hazards, but can warn other vehicles about them as well.
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.
In the exhibition area at the 2015 DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals, a pair of humanoid prototypes built by SRI and Sandia National Laboratories hit the treadmills to demonstrate new technology that allows robots to operate longer on a single battery charge.
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.
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.
A herd of cattle or a flock of chickens may appear very bucolic, but they're actually ground zero for an ongoing arms race between scientists and disease-causing bacteria. Antibiotics have been a major weapon in the fight against animal infection, but they've also sparked evolutionary forces that create drug-resistant bacteria that render those very antibiotics ineffective, posing a major risk to animals and humans alike. Now a University of Wisconsin-Madison team is developing a method of fighting a major group of animal infections without antibiotics.
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
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.
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.
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.
The Planetary Society's LightSail CubeSat has phoned home. After being "paused" a over a week ago due to a software error, the Society reports that the solar sail technology demonstrator has now rebooted itself.