After 11 years and dozens of models, the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner has seen plenty of improvements. iRobot has just unveiled the 800 series, and the cleaner-bot has a significant design change: no more big brushes.
The Roomba 880 has a pair of rubber rollers that make it outperform its predecessor, the 790.
The 880's AeroForce cleaning technology is the subject of what's probably the most over-the-top robotic vacuum cleaner video ever produced, embedded below. The music alone makes it worth a watch. … Read more
Making a panoramic image by taking one photo after another is so 2013.
On Tuesday, Panono, a startup based in Berlin, launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise money to develop its throwable camera, a small, ball-shaped device built with 36 integrated lenses that is designed to capture a high-quality 360x360-degree image all at once.
The idea is simple: A user tosses a Panono in the air, and just at the moment it reaches its peak height, all 36 lenses fire simultaneously. Immediately, a low-res version of the image is viewable on a smartphone app, and within a couple of minutes, … Read more
Imagine having a few drinks to ease your nerves before a key meeting or a big date. Maybe you even get a little tipsy, but right before show time you take a special antidote, and within minutes all traces of impairment are gone and you're fully sober and good to go.
That's similar to the experience that leading British neuro-psychopharmacologist David Nutt claims to have had after sampling from an "alcohol surrogate" compound -- one of five Nutt has identified as a possible "safer version of alcohol." … Read more
Thanks to a curious accidental discovery from Harvard Medical School and Boston Children's Hospital researcher George Daley, we may be closer than we previously thought.
While conducting cancer research, Daley clipped holes in ears of mice that were genetically engineered with the Lin28a gene so he could quickly tell them apart from the control group. But the holes kept healing. So he clipped their toes, but they grew back. He then waxed their backs, but their fur grew back more quickly than usual. It appeared that Lin28a -- a gene that scientists think regulates the self-renewal of stem cells -- gave the mice special regeneration abilities. … Read more
There's that old saying that goes, "It's better to be pissed off than pissed on." That is, unless you're a robot.
Researchers from the UK have created a device that works like an artificial heart to pump urine into a microbial fuel cell that would power robots, making it possible for them to turn the waste into electricity.
"In the future, we hope the robots might be used in city environments for remote sensing," where they could help to monitor pollution, temperature, humidity, and waste water quality, said Peter Walters, an industrial designer at the University of the West of England and lead author of the study that appears in the journal Bioinspiration and Biomimetics.
"In the city environment, they could recharge using urine from urinals in public lavatories," Walters added. "In rural environments, liquid waste effluent could be collected from farms." … Read more
The experimental, unmanned X-47B continues to get its sea legs.
The US Navy over the weekend resumed at-sea testing of the X-47B, also known as the Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator (UCAS-D), which has put a gleam in the Pentagon's eye about someday equipping carrier strike forces with autonomous aircraft. Before that day comes, the Navy needs to be very, very sure that robo-planes can work smoothly and safely amid all the other activity on and around an aircraft carrier's flight deck.
In an unspecified number of 45-minute flights, the Northrop Grumman-built X-47B performed catapult launches and arrested … Read more
Robert Dennard, who invented fast memory technology still at the heart of computing and who captured the chip industry's march of progress in an idea called Dennard scaling, has received the prestigious Kyoto Prize.
In a ceremony Sunday, the Inamori Foundation awarded Dennard, an IBM fellow, the Kyoto Prize for advanced technology for the 1968 invention of DRAM. The award comes with $500,000.
Dynamic random access memory, or DRAM, is able to store information so a chip can retrieve it rapidly. It's central to the operation of everything from mobile phones to mainframes. Indeed, it's become … Read more
UPDATE: The ESA now says that GOCE reached "atmospheric interface" above an area between the tip of South America and Antarctica, near the Falkland Islands. According to ESA's Space Debris Office: "This would put the main area over which any possible GOCE remnants fell to the southernmost regions of the Atlantic Ocean."
At some point on Sunday evening, the European Space Agency's Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer -- also known as GOCE or the "Ferrari of Space" for its sleek shape -- broke up and crashed back to Earth after spending four years in a low orbit precisely mapping our planet's gravity.
As for the obvious question about where exactly it crashed, well, there's been no sightings of fireballs in the sky or reports of damage from falling space junk just yet, but the official word from the ESA is that it re-entered the atmosphere somewhere between Antarctica and Siberia. Turns out that mapping GOCE's demise is done with a little less precision than the mapping the satellite itself once did.… Read more
The passengers onboard a 12-person Dassault Falcon 900B were traveling at nearly 500 mph, yet they still had only 1 second to witness the totality, or the moment during a total solar eclipse when the moon entirely obscures the sun and ushers in a special kind of darkness across a narrow track 100 miles wide on the Earth's surface.