September 30, 2014

2:00 PM | Space Combat Won't Look At All Like 'Star Wars'
Concept Art For A Space Weapon National War College, via Wikimedia Commons If humanity brings war into space, what will those battles look like? Well, if our understanding of physics is anything close to correct, they won’t look at all like Star Wars. In this six minute clip by PBS Digital Studios, host Joe Hanson explores the physics of space battles. Space battles in fiction, especially television and movies, resemble World War II aerial dogfights or naval battles […]

September 29, 2014

6:45 PM | Robot Orb Could Scan Cargo Ships With Ultrasound
Screenshot Of EVIE Demonstration Animation Courtesy of the researchers Inspecting a ship’s cargo is a dull, tedious, time-consuming task. So a pair of researchers at MIT, including graduate student Sampriti Bhattacharyya and her advisor Harry Asada, created a small robot that resembles a squished foam ball to inspect ship cargo quickly, cheaply, and silently. They presented their findings earlier this month at the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and […]

September 26, 2014

9:15 PM | The Week In Drones: Drones Fight Ebola, Iranian Dogfighters, And More
Satellite Image Of The Hollywood Sign United States Geological Survey, via Wikimedia Commons Here's a roundup of the week's top drone news: the military, commercial, non-profit, and recreational applications of unmanned aircraft. Unprepared Skies The future moves faster than bureaucracy. When the Federal Aviation Administration, responsible for the safety of America’s skies, started building its NextGen air traffic control system in 2003, drones were mostly […]
5:31 PM | Camera-Toting Drones Are Coming To Hollywood
Hexarotor Filming Mountain Climbers In Haute-Savoie, France Tangopaso, via Wikimedia Commons After four years of lobbying by the Motion Picture Association of America, the Federal Aviation Administration announced yesterday that movie producers can fly drones to shoot film. This is good news for commercial drone use in the United States, but it might be too little, too late. As the FAA stalls on defining drone regulations, leaving commercial UAVs grounded throughout […]

September 25, 2014

9:00 PM | For Car Buyers, The Repo Man Is Just A Click Away
A Dodge Magnum SE 2007 raul, via Wikimedia Commons The problem with cars is that they move. For lenders interested in making sure loan repayments happen on schedule, moving collateral can present an investment risk. Recently, Popular Science reported on how, in an effort to mitigate this risk, repo men are scanning billions of license plates, putting drivers' privacy at risk in order to track down repossessed vehicles. Now The New York […]

September 19, 2014

6:53 PM | The Week In Drones: Robots Piloting Robots, Indiana Drones, And More
Triton Drone Completes Its First Flight Alex Evers, via Wikimedia Commons Here's a roundup of the week's top drone news: the military, commercial, non-profit, and recreational applications of unmanned aircraft. Robot Pilots Most drones are actually human-piloted, with the controls elsewhere and the pilot steering remotely. In this video, the pilot is itself a humanoid robot, learning how to fly an airplane in a flight simulator. With a panel of controls in its mechanical […]
4:45 PM | China Shows Off Less Deadly Rocket Launcher
DZJ08 Rocket Launchr This rocket launcher is similar to the new Shoulder-Launched Rocket with Low Collateral Damage. Baike.Baidu It’s not often that a military advertises a weapon on what it doesn’t do, but at the Africa Aerospace and Defence exposition in Pretoria, South Africa, that’s exactly what Chinese arms manufacturer Poly Technologies did. The “Shoulder-Launched Rocket with Low Collateral Damage” is a weapon designed to […]

September 18, 2014

7:00 PM | U.S. Army Wants A Parachuting Tank
A CH-47 Chinook With Japan's Self Defense Forces PD-self, via Wikimedia Commons After years of service in wars -- from Iraq to Afghanistan to Iraq again -- the Humvee is on its way out. Officially named the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, (HMMVV) its acronym and stature is so iconic that it launched a series of commercial vehicles. Now the Army wants to fill its light and fast shoes, and to do so, they looked at three different vehicles last […]

September 17, 2014

8:00 PM | Lockheed Laser Brings Turrets Back To Airplanes
ABC Laser Turret In Test Flight Air Force Research Laboratory In World War II, mighty bombers came equipped with gun barrels, manned by gunners at the ready to protect the plane from attacking fighters. The B-52 Stratofortress even came with a tail gun for self defense and last used it in combat over Vietnam in 1972. The change in fighter weapons from guns to missiles made tail guns obsolete, but now Lockheed and DARPA are bringing them back. As freakin’ […]

September 16, 2014

9:00 PM | Scientists Test Yacht As Miniature Research Vessel
Indigo V On Leg Three Of The Journey Indigo V Expeditions The ocean is vast and full of data. Getting that data, however, is tricky. A new paper published in the journal PLOS Biology argues that there’s a cheap and easy way to get more information about more of the ocean: citizen scientists. Equipping the people already travelling the ocean with simple tools to document the world around them could mean more data and a better scientific understanding of the […]

September 15, 2014

8:30 PM | Drone Brain Makers Want To Create The DOS Of Flying Robots
Still From An Airware Video The idea is that the same red autopilot box works with all sorts of drone bodies. Drones soon may be bound together by a common code. Airware, a commercial drone software company with MIT roots, hopes to unify drones in a shared code architecture. Airware already makes an autopilot, but that’s just the first step to creating a drone operating system, allowing hardware from different manufacturers to communicate with one […]

September 12, 2014

8:00 PM | The Week In Drones: Whale Snot, Tower Inspectors, And More
Sperm Whale Mother And Child Gabriel Barathieu, via Wikimedia Commons Here's a roundup of the week's top drone news: the military, commercial, non-profit, and recreational applications of unmanned aircraft. Whale Stress Testers  Want to see if a whale is stressed? Just fly a drone over it! Students from Olin College of Engineering are doing just that, using a drone to collect whale snot as it's blown out of its blowhole. Whale snot contains health indicators about the […]
2:00 PM | Watch This Squishy Robot Get Run Over By A Car
Soft Robot Screenshot from Youtube video courtesy of R&D Magazine The archetypical robot is a man of metal, a harsh mechanical construct contrasted sharply with the soft fleshiness of the humans that built it. A team of engineers, led by Michael T. Tolley of the Harvard Microrobotics Laboratory, created instead a soft robot. Using a flexible body, the robot moves like a flailing starfish over all terrain. Their work was recently published in the journal Soft […]

September 10, 2014

9:45 PM | Quantum Mechanics Saves Grandfathers From Time Travelers
Chrononauts Time Travel Card Game Mess up enough history, and the paradoxes will overwhelm the space-time continuum, ending the world. EUS, via Wikimedia Commons Mention time travel at a nerd party, and other guests will immediately respond with a grim conundrum: What happens if a time traveler goes back in time and kills one of his ancestors? This is the “Grandfather Paradox.” In a simulated environment, a team of mathematicians tested the […]

September 09, 2014

9:55 PM | Your Robot Chauffeur Has Arrived
NAO in BMW teeny, tiny BMW RobotsLAB Not so fast, driverless cars. In the future, we might combine the aristocratic with the automated in a robotic chauffeur. This combo pack of Nao robot and electric BMW  is available to drive you around for $9,990, provided you can fit into a tiny electric BMW, and you're willing to teach the robot how to drive it. Nao is a companion robot that responds to verbal commands, first made in 2006. The robot can see with cameras, […]
5:14 PM | Flight MH-17 Investigation Points To An Attack
Investigation Of MH-17 Crash Site Investigated here by Dutch and Australian police officers Netherlands Ministry of Defense, via Wikimedia Commons On July 17th, Malaysian Airlines flight MH-17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur fell out of the sky over eastern Ukraine. The crash killed everyone on board the plane, including 15 crew members and 283 passengers. Today, less than two months after the fact, the Dutch Safety Board published their preliminary […]

September 08, 2014

8:15 PM | Wind Turbines Learn From Warplanes To Not Block Radar
Small wind farm near Caen, Normandie Like this, but invisible to radar. Olivier Tétard, via Wikimedia Commons Wind turbines stand on horizons like strange colossuses. Their distinctive shape and great size make them hard to miss -- even by radar systems. The giants can obstruct signals, giving countries the uncomfortable choice of either not having radar somewhere or passing up on renewable energy. To bypass this issue, French turbine makers EDF Energies […]

September 05, 2014

7:55 PM | The Week In Drones: Chinese Pterodactyls, Ram Attacks, And More
Grand Prismatic Spring And Midway Geyser Basin From Above Brocken Inaglory via Wikimedia Commons Here's a roundup of the week's top drone news: the military, commercial, non-profit, and recreational applications of unmanned aircraft. Through A Scan Eagle Darkly The ethics of drone warfare are coming to the silver screen. “Good Kill,” a film starring Ethan Hawke and directed by Andrew Niccol, focuses on an American drone pilot based in Nevada. The film […]
5:45 PM | Should Tanks Should Be More Like iPhones?
Iraqi Army Soldiers In Light Armored Vehicles, 2007 U.S. Marine Corps. photo by Lance Cpl. Julian Billmair, via Wikimedia Commons When Iraq’s American-equipped army fled their posts in Mosul last June, they left that American equipment in the hands Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the attacking violent insurgent group. Since then, the U.S. Air Force destroyed some of the captured vehicles. Jonathan Zittrain, director of Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet […]

September 04, 2014

8:49 PM | NASA Scientists Study The Sun By Listening To It
Solar Activity From August 1st, 2010 NASA, via Wikimedia Commons What’s the fastest way to understand space? According to NASA, it’s listening to the music of the spheres displayed as actual music. A program that converts astronomical data into sound is letting researchers blaze through years of data with ease. At NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, University of Michigan doctoral candidate Robert Alexander listens to audio files made from satellite […]
3:16 PM | The Rise Of The Tank Before World War II
New Giant Tanks The answer, it turns out, is "War Brutes." Popular Science In 1935, Popular Science announced the age of the tank with these words: “Fast, powerful land battleships may speed up the net war by preventing trench stalemates, or even make war an impossibility.” While the second half of that prediction failed to materialize, 75 years ago this week, the first part became crushingly real as a German offensive, spearheaded by 2,000 tanks, […]

September 02, 2014

8:45 PM | Pentagon Wants Artificial Intelligence In Future Fighters
Advanced Navy Strike Fighter Concept Art Boeing The Department of Defense wants future generations of fighter aircraft to come with copilots already installed. According to the U.S. Naval Institute, both the Navy and the Air Force want their next generation air superiority fighter to have Artificial Intelligence. From USNI: “AI is going to be huge,” said one U.S. Navy official familiar with the service’s F/A-XX effort to replace the Super Hornet […]
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