Terrafugia, a developer of "roadable aircraft"--otherwise known as flying cars--released a scale model and computer-generated mockups of its redesigned "Transition" vehicle on Monday that the company says bring it a step closer, engineering-wise, to a deliverable product late next year.
The design tweaks, Terrafugia explained, were based on the results of a successful test flight last year at Plattsburgh International Airport in New York. Some of the improvements include a touch-screen cockpit interface and better-optimized wings with a new folding mechanism that helps them retract for road driving. It'll still run on gas station … Read more
It took 100 years to discover all the physics particles that have thus far been observed. It took the Large Hadron Collider four months.
That's the report Monday from the International Conference on High-Energy Physics in Paris, where LHC researchers announced they've successfully retraced the steps of earlier particle accelerators. The final step was the likely view of a super-heavy and short-lived particle called the top quark, first seen in 1995 at Fermilab's Tevatron accelerator near Chicago.
"They have re-found all the known particles in the standard model," the successful but ultimately insufficient explanation that … Read more
FARNBOROUGH, U.K.--Most trade shows will fit inside any old convention center big enough to accommodate the vendor booths, sales reps, and keynote speeches. But the Farnborough International Airshow needs a runway, too.
This weeklong show west of London is where the aviation industry goes to buy and sell airplanes, helicopters, and everything needed to build them. By Thursday, $47 billion worth of business had taken place as airlines placed orders for dozens of expensive jets. That may not match 2008's record level of $88.7 billion, but it's nothing to sneeze at.
Between 1966 and 1967, the U.S. launched a series of five unmanned Lunar Orbiter missions that photographed and mapped 99 percent of the lunar surface. The spacecraft, equipped with a dual-lens Kodak camera, captured both a 610mm high-resolution image and a 80mm wide-angle low-resolution image and placed the two exposures on a single roll of 70mm film.
In orbit, the onboard system developed the film, scanned the images into a series of strips, and the analog data was then transmitted to NASA back on Earth where it was written to magnetic tape, stored away, and nearly forgotten.
How many tries does it take for a robot to screw in a lightbulb? How about flip a pancake? If the video below is any indication, IHOP won't be robotized anytime soon.
Sylvain Calinon of the Italian Institute of Technology is into teaching robots skills by first taking the bots through the steps involved. For a cooking class on pancakes, Calinon and colleagues used a seven-axis Barrett WAM robotic arm and a simulated pancake with four tracking markers.
As the video shows, the arm needs more than a bit of practice to get the right touch--it finally manages to … Read more
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