A House committee on Thursday approved an amendment to a bill that would clear NASA to launch an additional shuttle flight next summer to deliver critical supplies and equipment to the International Space Station.
The move came as the House Committee on Science and Technology was reviewing its version of NASA's $19 billion 2011 funding package. The Senate version of the appropriations legislation already included the additional flight. But major differences remain in other key areas, including how much money goes to support development of a new private-sector manned launch industry, the timetable for development of a NASA heavy-lift … Read more
Are you dreading upgrading your graphics processor yet again just so you can get lost in the alien-infested urban jungle of Crysis 2? Rest assured that the immersive power of these state-of-the-art video processors is now being used for more than just visual pleasure.
The research is being presented this week at the American Association of Physicists in Medicine's 52nd annual meeting in Philadelphia.
Lead author Xun Jia, a UCSD postdoctoral fellow, based his team's work on recent advances in compressed sensing by developing a CT reconstruction algorithm for graphics processing unit platforms (GPU cards being used for 3D computer graphics, often in video games), thereby increasing computational efficiency to reconstruct a cone beam CT scan in just minutes.… Read more
Everything from high-tech imaging gear to plastic bags with screens is being tested by a "skunk works" team at BP set up to evaluate cleanup methods in the Gulf of Mexico.
The oil company's High Interest Technology Team, based in Mobile, Ala., is currently sifting through thousand of proposals to fix the leak or reduce damage to the environment. BP recently began testing some new products, including a machine that removes oil from sand and an oil-water separator made from hardware store components, including plastic bags, mesh from lawn furniture, and plastic pipes.
One good robot deserves another. That's why Japan's robot toilets would love a British bot that poops with clockwork regularity.
Ioannis Ieropoulos and other researchers at Bristol Robotics Laboratory in the U.K. have created a marvel of modern science--a robot that can feed on biomass and excrete waste. The EcoBot III has an artificial gut that allows it to survive on fluid food and water for seven days without human intervention.
The robot is powered by 48 small microbial fuel cells (MFCs) and moves along a steel track between sources of liquid food and water (see time-lapse … Read more
Self-driving electric vans have begun an epic journey from Italy to China that will take them through Siberia and the Gobi Desert in a quest to demonstrate autonomous driving technology.
The VisLab Intercontinental Autonomous Challenge began in front of the Milan Cathedral on Tuesday with a goal of traveling 8,000 miles to Shanghai by the end of October (follow the trek at the VIAC blog here).
The two heavily modified Piaggio Porter Electric vans will play various roles en route to Shanghai. Both, however, carry technicians who take control when needed.
Team members will take control of the lead vehicle "every time a decision on the road has to be taken," according to the organizers, but it drives autonomously most of the time. The main function of the lead vehicle is to navigate, since there are no maps for some parts of the route.
The lead vehicle will send out GPS locations via radio that will be picked up by the follower van, which also uses its cameras and laser scanners to aid navigation and avoid obstacles like cars and people (see details here). Drivers will take control in emergency situations.
The vans are topped with solar panels that power the computer processors, sensors, and driving actuators, but not the vans themselves, which retain their original electric power systems.
The vans have a top speed of 37 mph and are expected to drive only four hours a day due to recharging needs; the engineers will use gasoline generators if they can't find a power outlet in remote regions. A truck carrying alternate vans is part of the convoy. … Read more
British scientists claim to have solved one of the great mysteries of life, the universe, and everything in it: The chicken came before the egg, they say, and they're not mincing words.
"It had long been suspected that the egg came first, but now we have the scientific proof that shows that in fact the chicken came first," Sheffield University's Colin Freeman, according to a report in the Metro.
Researchers from Scotland and England used a supercomputer called HECToR to look in such detail at a chicken eggshell that they were able to determine the vital … Read more
If there's anything worse than imagining that your ornery homeroom teacher has come back to haunt you, it's imagining that she's come back as a robotic head. One that can never die.
Bina48 is an interactive robotic head whose appearance and personality are based on those of a real woman, Bina Rothblatt (I'm not implying Rothblatt is ornery or a teacher, but her uncanny doppelganger reminds me of a severe former nun I had in grade school).
Bina48 can link to the Internet to retrieve information and chat with users by referencing dozens of hours of interviews with the human Bina. In a crude fashion, it enshrines her personality and allows her to exist beyond her years in robot form. The bot even admits to wanting to be more like the real Bina.
As seen in The New York Times interview in the video below, however, it has underwhelming conversational abilities, typical of android heads and chatbots. Its movements can be jerky, even zombielike, evoking the dreaded Uncanny Valley, a design issue that can make humanoid robots and characters repugnant.
Bina48's backstory, though, is interesting. According to the Times' Amy Harmon, Hanson created the $125,000 mecha-bust of Rothblatt for her spouse, millionaire entrepreneur Martine Rothblatt in an attempt to give Bina some degree of immortality. … Read more
The walls have ears, the saying goes--but at some point, so might people's clothes. With the help of fiber research at MIT, fabrics of the future could both hear and make noises.
Yoel Fink, an assistant professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his colleagues developed fibers that are active where most are passive. Specifically, through a new application of widely used technology called piezoelectrics, fibers can convert sound waves into an electrical signal and vice versa, MIT announced Monday.
Piezoelectric speakers have been around for a long time--beeping digital watches and those musical greeting cards use them, … Read more
Boeing on Monday unveiled a potential new eye in the sky, this one powered by hydrogen fuel.
The Phantom Eye, an unmanned aerial vehicle from the company's Phantom Works division, is expected to make its first flight early next year. Boeing is pitching the demonstrator UAV as a "first of its kind" aircraft that "could open up a whole new market in collecting data and communications."
A decade into the 21st century, surveillance drones are nothing new considering the now long-running successes of aircraft such as the Predator and the Global Hawk. What sets the … Read more
Wearables are largely aimed at the person who just wants to maintain a good weight, sleep enough, and maybe get in a little cardio. CNET's Brian Cooley tells you why 2014 could be the breakout year for wearable tech.