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Francis X Govers III

Francis X Govers III
Francis Govers is the designer of over 20 land, sea, air and space vehicles and teaches robotics and the design of self-driving cars. He spent 10 years at NASA, helped design the International Space Station, participated in the DARPA Grand Challenge, and managed the only Zeppelin operating in the US. As a commercial pilot, writer, artist, musician, engineer, race car nut and designer, Francis has a serious addiction to building things that frequently gets him into trouble.

San Francisco-based Stereolabs has launched a new 3D camera that promises to deliver high quality 3D image capture at a less than astronomical price. The compact, lightweight ZED 3D vision sensor can measure distances out to 20 meters (65 feet) and work indoors and out, making it a strong candidate for applications such as large-scale architectural scanning and obstacle detection for self-driving cars and unmanned drones.

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Chris Urmson, director of the Google Self-Driving Car program, has published a post in which he admits that the small fleet (20+) of Google autonomous cars has been involved in 11 accidents over the almost 1.7 million miles (2.7 million km) the cars have traveled in the six years the vehicles have been on the road. However, Urmson was adamant that “not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident” and revealed some of the lessons learned over the journey so far.

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The development of 3D printer technology has been rapidly accelerating, boosted in a large part to the open source community and world-wide sharing of information. There are now literally dozens of brands of 3D printers on the market at all price points, but Buzz Technology Limited, out of London, is looking to stand out from the crowd with its Industrial Revolution III printer (or IR3 for short) that can embed wiring within plastic components using conductive material. Read More
3D Robotics, the company that grew out of the popular DIY drones website and the imagination of Wired Magazine Editor Chris Anderson, has announced a new consumer level quadcopter drone called the Solo. Touting its latest creation as "a breakthrough in intelligent flight," 3DR's new drone leans away from 3DR’s roots in hobbyist, DIY UAV flying in favor of a a slick, packaged, all-in-one consumer-oriented system that works right out of the box with a minimum of fuss. Read More
Entrepreneurs in Denmark have taken another step towards improving the general usability of 3D printers with the Diamond Hotend, a single 3D extruder unit that can mix and melt three filaments together and produce items in a rainbow of colors. Read More
Featured in comic books since 1963, Dr. Octopus, or "Doc Ock" is an enemy of Spiderman with four extra robotic arms attached to his back that assist him in his nefarious plans. That vision of humans with extra limbs – minus the supervillain part – is taking shape at MIT with researchers adding "supernumerary robotic arms" to assist with tasks that ordinary two-armed humans would find difficult. Read More
Greg Brown and Dave Fawcett are working on an design that they hope will yield something we've spent decades waiting for – a flying jet-propelled car. A sleek cross between a business jet with a luxury automobile, the GF7 drives on electric motors while on the ground, then can extend wings and use a 3,500-lb thrust jet engine to fly to 38,000 ft (12,000 m) and speeds of 550 mph (885 km/h). The (obvious) catch: if this ambitious project does get of the ground, it won't come cheap. Read More
A new "entry" version of the Mercedes Benz SL two-seat roadster that will go on sale in Europe in July will feature a twin turbocharged V6 engine that puts out 333 hp and propels the car from 0-62 mph (100 km/h) in 5.2 seconds, on the way to a top speed of 155 mph (249 km/h). Called the SL 400 Sport, its new power plant meets tighter emissions standards than the previous 3.5-liter V6 in the discontinued SL350. Read More
Leddar, short for LED Detection and Ranging, is a new type of detection and ranging sensor that uses LEDs to detect objects and determine their distance. While the Leddar is low resolution, it is also low cost, and it may find new applications in vehicles, traffic management, robotics and safety. Read on for our hands-on review. Read More
FLIR Systems, Inc. announced two new products at CES designed to put thermal imaging into the hands of consumers. The first is a new, consumer-level infrared thermal camera sensor, while the second is a slide-on attachment for Apple iPhone 5 or 5s smartphones that makes use of said sensor. Both could be used to locate lost pets in the dark, look for energy leaking from your house, or to watch for wildlife. Read More
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