US Air Force To Use Autonomous Flying Cars to Pick Up The Injured

The US Air Force’s flying car

By  Fabienne Lang

Using flying cars and eVTOLs could drastically change the way the U.S. Air Force operates in the future.

They could immensely assist medevac situations, for instance, as they could act as flying ambulances by autonomously flying to a remote airfield, landing vertically so that an injured troop member could hop aboard, strap into its wearable technologies to monitor their condition, and fly off to a site where the person can be safely looked after.

That’s one of the visions that the U.S. Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for strategy, integration, and requirements, Lt. Gen. S. Clinton Hinote, has for the future of the flying car, reported Military.com.

Not only could the flying car save lives, but it could also do so while minimizing the Air Force’s carbon footprint, and while saving the Air Force carting heavy fuel around for its aircraft and cars. They could be used to transport VIPs or during National Guard missions for firefighting, people recovery, search and rescue, and aeromedical evacuation, said Hinote.

On top of that, it would enable people to be picked up from hard-to-reach sites, something that’s integral for the Air Force, not only because air fields and runways are targets for enemy fire, but also because sometimes troops are sent far and wide to remote areas. Typically helicopters have done the job in those areas, but again, they have relied on fuel. 

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HACKROD UNVEILS WORLD’S FIRST VIRTUAL REALITY-DESIGNED, AI-ENGINEERED, 3D-PRINTED CAR

Cali-based digital manufacturing company Hacked has partnered with Siemens PLM software to create the world’s first car designed in virtual reality, engineered with AI and 3D printed, full size, in structural alloy.

The ‘La Bandita’ speedster is intended to serve as proof of concept for an entirely new industrial design to production methodology. Hackrod’s factory of the future, powered by the Siemens Digital Innovation Platform, will enable individuals, start-ups and small enterprises the unprecedented capability to create the product or their needs or dreams as easily as playing a video game.

With multiple tools from Siemens PLM Software including NX software, and the new cloud-based collaboration software Solid Edge Portal, Hackrod has access to the latest design and engineering tools to rapidly design, test and manufacture transport solutions without the need for massive industrial infrastructure or tooling budgets.

Hackrod is developing a platform to enable truly bespoke aesthetic design to prevail with guaranteed engineering solutions. Their platform leverages virtual reality as a design tool, IoT and machine learning to constantly evolve and perfect engineering systems, and industrial 3D printing to produce optimized hardware.

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China Boasts Successful Nuclear Fusion

By Irina Slav 

Chinese media have reported that researchers working on a nuclear fusion project have succeeded in holding plasma of 120 million degrees Celsius for close to two minutes.

Chinese daily Global Times reports that the so-called artificial sun as the Chinese nuclear fusion project is known also succeeded in maintaining plasma at 160 million degrees Celsius for 20 seconds.

These times, while not very long in absolute terms, are records in the quest for nuclear fusion. The next step would be to maintain these temperatures for as long as a week, according to a physics professor from the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen.

China’s nuclear fusion reactor first madeheadlines in 2019 when Beijing said it would soon begin operations. The reactor—the HL-2M Tokamak—was first powered at the end of last year, and its first achievement was maintaining a temperature of 100 million degrees Celsius for 100 minutes.

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China’s “Artificial Sun” Fusion Reactor Just Set a World Record

The reactor got more than 10 times hotter than the core of the Sun. 

By TONY TRAN

Is it hot in here, or is it just the fusion reactor? 

China broke a record with its Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) fusion reactor on Friday when it sustained a plasma temperature of 120 million degrees Celsius for 101 seconds, according to the state-run outlet GlobalTimes. The reactor was also able to sustain a temperature of 160 million degrees Celsius for 20 seconds.

For perspective, the core of our solar system’s Sun “only” reaches about 15 million degrees Celsius, according to Space.com. So, for a moment, EAST got more than 10 times hotter than that.   

This marks a big milestone for the EAST reactor, which has been dubbed the “artificial Sun” for its ability to replicate the natural nuclear fusion process of stars. Doing so could help unlock the mystery to creating sustainable, reliable fusion power.

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Botswana begins medical drone delivery service to prevent maternal deaths

By Ishveena Singh 

This month, Botswana became the first country in southern Africa, and the third in Africa, to begin the use of medical delivery drones. Their aim? To bring down maternal mortality by delivering life-saving health supplies to hard-to-reach communities in a timely manner.

The initiative, called “Drones for Health,” has been made possible through a collaboration between Botswana’s Ministry of Health and Wellness, Botswana International University of Science and Technology (BIUST), and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Unlike Ghana and Rwanda, where US-based drone company Zipline has been delivering on-demand medical supplies to remote areas, the drone delivery ecosystem platform for Botswana has been developed in partnership with Dutch drone engineering company Avy.

The Avy Aera drone can travel a distance of 100 km on a single charge, carrying cargo weighing up to 2 kg. An uber-cool, interactive flight simulation page will show you three drones taking off from a BIUST drone port and flying to different communities of Botswana.

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Space plane aims to take you anywhere on the globe in one hour

Space plane aims to take you anywhere on the globe in one hour

A company called Venus Aerospace Corp. is pursuing a hypersonic space plane that has the potential to take people from Los Angeles to Tokyo in about an hour. The trip in their proposed space plane would take off from the ground like a conventional aircraft and fly up to a high cruising altitude. Once at that cruising altitude, a rocket booster would ignite and push the aircraft to the edge of space at more than 9000 mph.

That’s approximately 12 times the speed of sound. The aircraft would travel at that incredible velocity for approximately 15 minutes before gliding against the atmosphere to slow down and eventually landing at a conventional airport just as it took off. Venus was founded by a pair of former Virgin Orbit LLC employees, and the company currently has 15 employees of its own.

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Scientists look to capture clean energy from our clothing

Could a jacket or a pair of jeans one day power your mobile phone and other electronic devices?

by Craig McManamon , Heriot-Watt University

This is the aim of a multi-disciplined team of scientists including from Heriot-Watt University’s Research Institute for Flexible Materials, who are behind a new project to harvest the kinetic energy generated in clothing through state-of-the-art nano technology.

The academics, all of whom are based in Scotland and Ireland, are attempting to create a friction based wearable autonomous energy system. They will use cutting-edge nanogenerators, which are designed to capture and reuse the kinetic energy in clothing materials created as the wearer moves. If successful, these tiny, unobtrusive devices will be woven into every-day clothing.

The team say their technology could be available as early as 2027 and capable of powering a host of devices such as mobile phones, smart watches and tablets. 

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Tesla has activated its in-car camera to monitor drivers using Autopilot


By Kirsten Korosec

Tesla has enabled the in-car camera in its Model 3 and Model Y vehicles to monitor drivers when its Autopilot advanced driver assistance system is being used.

In a software update, Tesla indicated the “cabin camera above the rearview mirror can now detect and alert driver inattentiveness while Autopilot is engaged.” Notably, Tesla has a closed loop system for the data, meaning imagery captured by the camera does not leave the car. The system cannot save or transit information unless data sharing is enabled, according to Tesla. The firmware update was cited by a number of Tesla owners, industry watchers and bloggers who are active on Twitter.

Tesla has faced criticism for not activating a driver monitoring system within the vehicle even as evidence mounted that owners were misusing the system. Owners have posted dozens of videos on YouTube and TikTok abusing the Autopilot system — some of whom have filmed themselves sitting in the backseat as the vehicle drives along the highway. Several fatal crashes involving Tesla vehicles that had Autopilot engaged has put more pressure on the company to act.

Until now, Tesla has not used the camera installed in its vehicles and instead relied on sensors in the steering wheel that measured torque — a method that is supposed to require the driver to keep their hands on the wheel. Drivers have documented and shared on social media how to trick the sensors into thinking a human is holding the wheel.

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The robot smiles back: Columbia scientists teach robot how to respond to human facial expressions

Columbia Engineering researchers use AI to teach robots to make appropriate reactive human facial expressions, an ability that could build trust between humans and their robotic co-workers and care-givers.

BY MARK ALLINSON 

While our facial expressions play a huge role in building trust, most robots still sport the blank and static visage of a professional poker player.

With the increasing use of robots in locations where robots and humans need to work closely together, from nursing homes to warehouses and factories, the need for a more responsive, facially realistic robot is growing more urgent. 

Long interested in the interactions between robots and humans, researchers in the Creative Machines Lab at Columbia Engineering have been working for five years to create EVA, a new autonomous robot with a soft and expressive face that responds to match the expressions of nearby humans.

The research will be presented at the ICRA conference on May 30, 2021, and the robot blueprints are open-sourced on Hardware-X (April 2021).

“The idea for EVA took shape a few years ago, when my students and I began to notice that the robots in our lab were staring back at us through plastic, googly eyes,” said Hod Lipson, James and Sally Scapa Professor of Innovation (Mechanical Engineering) and director of the Creative Machines Lab.

Lipson observed a similar trend in the grocery store, where he encountered restocking robots wearing name badges, and in one case, decked out in a cozy, hand-knit cap.

“People seemed to be humanizing their robotic colleagues by giving them eyes, an identity, or a name,” he said. “This made us wonder, if eyes and clothing work, why not make a robot that has a super-expressive and responsive human face?”

While this sounds simple, creating a convincing robotic face has been a formidable challenge for roboticists.

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The future of remote work is a lot like living in a video game

BY JOSEPH VOLPE

I didn’t know the closest I’d get to bonding with my coworkers in 2020 would be by strapping a screen to my face. 

I never got to meet the bulk of them — you know, my East Coast work “family” — before lockdown life locked me into the Bay Area. Sure, there was the occasional weekly video chat. But that was really the extent of it. 

“We’ll fly you out for a visit in the New Year,” management told me. That was the plan and I was fine with that. 

Thing is, that New Year — the 2020 that will go down in infamy — brought with it a very unwelcome surprise. (Do I even need to spell it out?) 

Eventually, we all adjusted to our new socially distanced world. Zoom soon became a buzzword even grandmothers knew. Webcams were often out of stock online.  Life became one unending series of scheduled screen time.

Then the novelty wore off, the WFH fatigue set in, the cold winter months approached, and many wondered how we could continue on living and working this way. 

And when would it end?

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SberAutoTech launches its first fully autonomous vehicle

SberAutoTech, a Sber ecosystem company, has revealed a prototype of its own autonomous vehicle for future mobility, which it has named “FLIP”.

By David Rafalovsky, CTO, Sberbank Group; executive vice president, head of technology, Sberbank

The brand-new and fully self-driving vehicle has been developed to match the highest level in international driving automation classification. It pursues the new mobility concept providing quick, safe, and comfortable transportation for passengers through cutting-edge IT and automotive technologies.

There is a proprietary electric platform driven by an electric motor powered by a replaceable battery module at the core of FLIP. Key differentiating know-how is that fast-swappable batteries can be replaced in five minutes.  So the vehicle is ready to continue the journey in time comparable to a fueling of a conventional car.

Fast-swappable batteries is a solution that removes the current challenges of EV market, such as extensive charging time and high battery prices resulting from their expected capacity and range.

Moreover, FLIP is designed to be powered from both electricity and other alternative fuels like natural gas and hydrogen.

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How Emotion AI Can Make the World a Better Place

By Jenna Delport 

Most of us take it for granted that we can read another person’s emotions through subtleties such as body language, yet this is a real struggle for many others. Enter emotion AI.

Researchers at Stanford University modified Google’s augmented reality glasses to read emotions in others and notify the wearer. The glasses detect someone’s mood through their eye contact, facial expressions and body language, and then tell the wearer what emotions it’s picking up.

“Emotion AI taps into the individual,” explains Zabeth Venter, CEO and co-founder of Averly. “If you think about facial recognition, which is a kind of emotion AI, I can pick up if you like what I’m saying by whether your smile is a smirk or a real genuine smile.”

Such nuances go deeper. Another example is polling: what is your favourite colour? Maybe it’s purple. But did you say that enthusiastically? Did you hesitate? Did you just say it to say something? Did you even understand the question?

We simply can’t get this level of context from the available surveys, sales data and the many other ways we try to understand humans through information. But through emotion AI, we can grasp incredible nuance.

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