She was charged for the airline ticket, but the mid-flight viewing of a space shuttle launch was free.
Stefanie Gordon of Hoboken, N.J., woke up on Delta Air Lines flight 2285 Monday traveling from New York's LaGuardia Airport to West Palm Beach, Fla., in time to watch the space shuttle Endeavour break through some cloud cover on its way to the International Space Station.
"The captain made an announcement that we would probably see it," Gordon told CBSNews. "I really couldn't hear what he was saying, and then all of a sudden people started getting up and going over to the windows."
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla.--Running two weeks late because of an electrical glitch, the repaired shuttle Endeavour finally blasted off and rocketed into orbit for the last time Monday, putting on a spectacular, if brief, show for the several hundred thousand spectators who were estimated to have come to watch NASA's next-to-last shuttle launch.
Carrying a $2 billion particle physics experiment, critical supplies, and spare parts bound for the International Space Station, Endeavour's three main engines flashed to life and throttled up to full power while computers monitored their performance 50 times per second.
European research group Fraunhofer has developed an inertial sensor system which, together with a handheld remote control, lets people program the movement of a robotic arm simply by moving their own arms, in a sort of "follow the leader" fashion.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing, Engineering, and Automation in Stuttgart, Germany, devised algorithms governing the interactions of inertial sensors in the input device, which can be used to control the six-jointed robot arm.
The algorithms "fuse the data of individual sensors and identify a pattern of movement. That means we can detect movements in free space," the institute's Bernhard Kleiner said in a release.
Potential applications include easier programming of industrial robots: instead of teaching an assembly robot what to do by guiding it with a baton that it follows with laser tracking, workers could instruct the robot by simply moving their own arms.
A potential medical application is regulating the movements of active prostheses. The inertial sensor system could be attached to a patient's upper thigh and control the motors in a prosthetic foot to achieve a smoother gait.
The technology will be shown off at the Sensor +Test 2011 trade fair, June 7-9 in Nuremberg, where visitors will be able to control the robot using their arms, and make it catch a ball. … Read more
The primary goal of the research is finding a way for a robot to sort, grasp, and identify objects with minimal programming. To make this work, a 3D sensor on PR2 takes a picture, and from that single frame, the robot is able to use the raw depth data to pick up an item.
The team coined the phrase "autonomous checkout clerk," which is exactly what follows, as the robot locates the bar code by spinning the object in its hands, reading the numeric code, and then putting the item in a bag. No training or model programming is required, and the research revealed a grasping success rate of 91.6 percent when picking up 100 various items.
Just don't let it handle the eggs. As you can see in the video below, the integrity of the item is in question once it leaves the robot's mechanical hand. … Read more
After soaring into the skies early this morning, the solar-powered Solar Impulse plane has completed its first international flight, traveling from its home of Switzerland to Brussels in about 13 hours--without the need for fuel and without producing any pollution.
Flown by pilot Andre Borschberg, the plane took off from its home base at Payerne Airfield at 8:40 a.m., a bit later than planned due to foggy weather conditions. Climbing to an altitude of more than 3,800 meters (approximately 12,467 feet, or 2.36 miles), the plane headed toward France and Luxembourg, and landed in Brussels airport at 9:38 p.m. The plane was originally due to land at 9 p.m., but the early-morning delay extended the arrival time.
The first international flight was expected to be especially challenging. Not only does the Solar Impulse rely on the power of the sun to keep it aloft during the day, but the plane was also set to navigate through standard commercial air traffic and possible turbulence as it soared over the different countries.… Read more
As Advanced Driver Assistance Systems become more prevalent in the vehicle industry, their market value will grow at an exponential rate, a new study from ABI Research has found.
This year alone, the market value of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), which are built by vendors, is expected to hit $10 billion, the research firm reported today. ABI Research forecasts the ADAS market to reach a value of $130 billion in 2016.
Advanced Driver Assistance Systems offer several important functions for drivers, including adaptive cruise control that speeds up or slows down the car based on road conditions; warnings when the vehicle starts to drift into another lane; and low-speed collision mitigation. ADAS has been available in some luxury vehicles for well over a decade. However, this year, ADAS will start making its way to "higher-volume" cars, ABI Research says, including the Ford Focus and Mercedes Benz C-Class.
The shift to more popular cars is the result of the improvement ADAS has undergone over the years. Aside from delivering better functionality, the systems are becoming easier to produce. That combination of better performance and lower production cost is helping to bring more car makers into the ADAS game.
New features in ADAS systems are also helping to attract new-car buyers. As ABI Research pointed out, simple warnings when a car drifts into another lane are no longer the norm for ADAS. Now, automakers are installing systems that can turn the car back into the lane. The systems are also capable of maintaining speed limit information to keep drivers informed.… Read more
Imagine logging in to Facebook or eBay with just a blink of an eye. A new gadget for consumers may soon make that possible.
Designed by the Hoyos Group, a device called EyeLock uses iris-recognition as an alternative to passwords to log you in to password-protected Web sites and applications. Although similar eye-scanning devices are already used in the business and industrial markets, Hoyos calls EyeLock "the first and only portable iris-scanning device for consumers."
The scanning device, which resembles a wand, plugs into a base that connects to your PC via a USB port. After you install the software and choose the sites and applications that you want to iris-protect, you pass the scanner in front of your eye. A snapshot is taken of your iris to confirm your identity. Assuming you're the real you, you're then granted immediate access to the secure Web site or application.
With security always a primary concern, the company boasts that the device is unhackable.
"Every time you log in, it reads your iris and creates a unique key, which is a series of numbers, and this key changes every time you log in, so no one can hack it," Tracy Hoyos, assistant marketing director, said in an interview with CNN.… Read more
I've tended to avoid Russian airlines over the years, even when I lived in Warsaw.
Perhaps it's irrational. Perhaps it didn't help when a tale emerged of a Russian flight in which a 15-year-old happened to be at the controls. It didn't end well.
So when I saw the video that I've embedded, my rational and emotional sides held a dogfight. Was this for real? Could this be excellent trick Russian photography? Was this another case of some rather interesting Russian aviation?
I searched around some of the more serious aviation sites to see what … Read more
Ever stand in front of an old TV and move your body around to get better reception? It's a bit like using a Kinect. Apparently, your body and home can become a Kinect of sorts by using electromagnetic fields, according to research at Microsoft and the University of Washington.
The researchers are working on a new system that could turn your home into a big input device. Unlike with the Kinect, however, the player does not have to stand in front of a camera--the controller works with nearly all surfaces and electric appliances in the building.
As outlined in a paper (PDF) presented to the Conference on Human Factors in Computing (CHI 2011) in Vancouver, the researchers' system makes use of electromagnetic noise to detect a person's position or gestures.
Every home is covered with an electromagnetic field created by power lines and some household appliances. In experiments, conductive pads were placed on the necks of subjects to measure the voltages of electromagnetic signals radiating from walls and power lines.
The pad was connected to a data acquisition device and a laptop carried around in backpacks. The researchers found that they were able to turn nearly any surface or electrical device in the home into an interactive input system. … Read more
Rumor had it that Apple or Google was going to release this vaguely humanoid robot, and of course rumor was wrong. Turns out it's a California telepresence company called RoboDynamics.
The robot is named Luna and is intended to be a programmable, open-source household companion. SchultzeWorks, also in California, did the design.
There's little information about Luna on the RoboDynamics Web site other than a description of it being "the world's first personal robot," which would have Sony's Aibo spinning in the pet cemetery. Actually, there are several claimants to that title.
According to IEEE Spectrum, however, Luna is just over 5 feet tall and weighs 65 pounds. It has an 8-inch LCD screen, camera and microphone systems, as well as 10-bit wheel encoders and a PrimeSense 3D Sensor.
It runs on a Linux-based system called LunaOS and can operate for four to eight hours on a full battery charge. It seems to be able to navigate autonomously. If you adjust its arms, it can carry a tray like a waiter.
As seen in the PR video below, it uses the LCD screen to display facial expressions. (If you're going to introduce a humanoid robot, I think Vangelis makes for dubious theme music. Well, maybe the "Blade Runner" soundtrack would work for androids). … Read more