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Nick Lavars

Robotics

No pain no gain: Hurting robots so they can save themselves

It's probably not something you'd say to a person writhing in agony on the floor, but physical pain can have its benefits. It is after all how kids learn to be wary of hot surfaces and carpenters to hit nails on the head. Researchers are now adapting this exercise in self-learning to an artificial nervous system for robots, a tool they believe will better equip these machines to avoid damage and preserve their – and our – well-being. Read More

Drones

Xiaomi's debut drone does 4K aerial video on the cheap

China is already home to the world's largest drone manufacturer in DJI, so in a way it seems only natural for one of the country's biggest electronics players to come in for a slice of the pie. Xiaomi has just revealed its debut consumer drone, a modular quadcopter with a handy suite of autonomous features and a price tag that might make its local counterpart a little uneasy.Read More

Drones

Tethered drone provides a hovering watchtower to troops on the ground

From Gengis Khan and his Mongol commanders to jihadis hiding in the Afghan mountains, fighters have always gravitated towards elevated vantage points to better prepare for incoming enemies. Technology has changed the face of warfare but the benefits of holding the higher ground remain the same, even if it's a flying robot doing the legwork for you. Looking to further boost to its surveillance capabilities, the US military has begun testing a tethered drone system that hovers in the air and streams continuous aerial views to troops on the ground. Read More

Wearables

"Total-encapsulation" headphones promise wireless audio and language translation

Some pretty imaginative personal audio gear is already riding in on the wave of improving wireless connectivity, but there's none more ambitious than the so-called Sound program from startup Human Inc. Its debut earphones may look like somebody spray-painted sea-shells and asked you to tune into the sounds of the ocean, but if they perform as planned they'll be useful not just for wireless listening, but as portable speakers and language translators, too.Read More

Drones

Shark-detecting drones to keep beachgoers safe

Drones are becoming quite a valuable tool in conservation efforts around the globe. We've seen them used to monitor killer whales, watch over parks in Africa and fend of illegal fisherman in Belize. Now researchers are using the technology to track shark behaviour along coastal waterways, a project that could not only teach us more about the animals and their environments, but one day protect beachgoers, too.Read More

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