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industrial robot

Danish designers envision autonomous 3D printing robots for fixing the environment

Three Danish companies, GXN Innovation, the research wing of 3XN; Map Architects and The Danish AM Hub, the additive manufacturer have collaborated to form an initiative named Break the Grid. According to Break the Grid, coastlines and buildings could be maintained by autonomous 3D printers that have the ability to fix problems. It has proposed that by making 3D printers which can move and act independently problems such as damaged infrastructures and erosion of coastlines can be tackled. The 3D printers are visioned to have the power to move across all three forms of physical communication, land, sea and air.

Kasper Jensen, GXN founder said that it could be a revolution if 3D printers would be “freed” for tackling the challenges. If 3D printing robots are made to crawl, fly and swim then environmental threats can be handled at much lower costs with increased efficiency.

For tackling three separate cases, the companies have developed three different concept designs. In all the situations, the environment is scanned autonomously by the robots and the problems are then identified for the implementation of solutions.

In one of the designs, the robot can move underwater and construct artificial reefs. This can protect the coastlines from erosion and also provide habitat to aquatic creatures. It would function by extruding a mixture of sand from the ocean floor and glue which is inspired by a natural adhesive produced by oysters. In the meantime, a six-legged robot would scan the cities for micro-cracks and repair them. By detecting them early, the damage could be fixed before water further creeps in causing corrosion.

The land-based robots are visioned to 3D print a porous filler with a mixture of Trichoderma reesei, promoting the formation of calcium carbonate which creates a self-healing material. It can also patrol the infrastructure in urban areas remotely.

Another concept is drones operated in the air which can detect the damages in old buildings and then swoop in to repair the damages. It is based on the research that thermal insulation can be built using a customized composite of polymers and glass. The team has already been working on modifying the existing 3D printers for building the prototypes.

Mads Kjøller Damkjær, CEO of Danish AM Hub said that new approaches to construction can be built using converging technologies. New possibilities can be visualized only by the change of current ways of thinking which needs a combination of technology and design. Recent 3D printing developments have involved a plan for the 3D printed village and a stage for dance performances built by ETH Zurich students.


Researchers develop implantable device which produces energy with the help of ultrasound

Scientists affiliated with different institutions in the Republic of Korea have created a type of implantable device which produces energy with the help of an external ultrasound source. It was then tested on animal tissue and scientists reported it in a paper which has been published in the Science journal.

Although pacemaker has saved many lives, it has several risks for the patient who have them implanted into the chests. They have to be replaced at periodic intervals of time which creates an additional risk of infection in the patients along with a degree of pain and irritation in the bodies. There might be bruising, bleeding or swelling at the generator site, which is more if the patient has been taking blood thinners.

Pacemaker-mediated tachycardia (PMT) is also another form of complication of artificial pacemakers. Because of these reasons, researchers have searched for techniques to produce power inside the body which will make the batteries unnecessary. As a new result, scientists have designed a generator which develops power when it is exposed to an ultrasound source.

The generator is a kind of triboelectric generator. These type of generators harvest energy from the triboelectric effect. In this effect, contact electrification occurs when two dissimilar materials touch and are then pulled away. An example of this effect is static electricity. The team used the generator which had two squares of material inside that were forced together in exposure to ultrasound. After the removal of the ultrasound signal, the objects got separated and a small electricity amount was generated which was captured in the generator. Along with this, the team added several other components to the device which allows interfacing with other devices. Scientists also had to make sure that it could withstand when implanted inside a living being.

For testing the generator, the team of researchers implanted it into pig tissue at different depths and then emitted ultrasound through the skin. They reported that at a depth of five millimeters, electricity was produced by the generator with a value of current up to 156 microamperes and a voltage of 2.4 volts. And at depths of one centimeter, the generator managed to develop 98 microamperes and 1.9 volts. Researchers identify the prospect that if they manage to run the different kinds of pacemakers and implantable devices with the generator then it would save the patients of the pain to replace it at periodic time intervals with the help of surgery.

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US PlayStation HQ

Gaming companies launch streaming platforms indicating a change in the industry

The immersive battles in the world of video games will now be heading to the cloud as the gaming industry is now switching to streaming services. The Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles will be hosting blockbuster gaming titles but the more important question is how will users play these super rich games.

The gaming sector generated last year 135 billion US dollars out of which 43.4 billion was in United States. As per Entertainment Software Association, 164 million people play video games in the United States, and there is a video game player in three out of four households in America.

Major internet giant Google will be launching a video game streaming service named Stadia in 14 nations in the coming November. It will be selling a “founders edition bundle”, a hardware combo pack for 129 US dollars along with a monthly subscription fee of 9.99 US dollars. The price in Europe will be 129 euros and 9.99 euros per month respectively. The subscribers can play free games as well as buy titles. Shooter game Destiny 2 will be the first freely available title for download from developer Bungie. Hit games such as Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Ghost Recon Breakpoint from Ubisoft will also be available for purchase. Google CEO Sundar Pichai commented that the main motive of Stadia is to provide a gaming platform for everyone.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has started testing its game streaming technology, Project xCloud through its employees. Microsoft has set the vision for letting people play Xbox games with their desired people on the devices users are most comfortable in. It has also updated several of its Azure datacentres in Asia, Europe and North America for synchronizing with xCloud. As per Microsoft, there are nearly 1900 games that are currently in development for its Xbox One, all of which can also run in its upcoming Project xCloud.

Another gaming giant Sony started its PlayStation Now service five years ago which allowed games to be streamed in its consoles or Windows-powered computers. It also allows users to download games to their PlayStation 4 devices. Sony along with its rival Microsoft will be using the Azure cloud platform for supporting gaming and digital content streaming. Chief Executive of Sony Kenichiro Yoshida said that their mission is to evolve the PlayStation platform into a platform through which players can experience top-notch gaming entertainment irrespective of time and place.

Apple will also be launching their own service Arcade where 100 titles will be available initially in the debut. It will allow smooth gaming experience across all Apple devices according to its website.

With all these companies launching game streaming platforms, it will be interesting which one catches the attention of the maximum number of users.

Amazon Go prototype

Amazon working on wearable device to sense human emotions

Amazon is reported to be developing a voice-enabled wearable gadget that can recognise human emotions. If the company is successful in manufacturing it then it could help it in improving its target advertisements. Besides this, it can also make improved and refined product recommendations and advise human beings on how to be nicer to each other while interacting.

A few internal papers have revealed some details about the upcoming product. The device can be worn on the wrist, so its appearance could resemble that of Apple Watch or a Fitbit. It is being produced by a collaboration of Amazon and Lab126, a firm which was responsible for making other Amazon products such as Kindle, Fire mobile phone and the smart speaker Echo.

As per Bloomberg, the device will be working in sync with a smartphone application and will come with microphones paired with software which can determine the emotional condition of the customer from his or her sound. It is not yet confirmed if Amazon has future plans to make the device available for mass consumption. However, it is clear that the company is working on a large ecosystem of electronic devices with inbuilt speech recognition facility.

Amazon has come a long way from a simple online company selling books, founded in a garage to a major e-commerce company and a cloud services giant. It is also the first company to reach a valuation of one trillion dollars. It recently launched a chain of automated convenience stores, Amazon Go. It enables the customers to make purchases without going through the regular checkout by a cashier. Till now it has been launched in 11 locations across the United States. Amazon plans to launch further stores depending on the functioning of the current stores.

Apart from the wearable device, it is also reported to be working on a humanoid robot “Vesta”. Named after the goddess of the home, family in Roman mythology, this robot could be able to perform cleaning operations, set up alarms. It will be equipped with highly developed cameras, computer vision software and move around homes like a self-driving vehicle. Amazon is also planning to compete with Apple’s AirPods by developing its own earphones powered by Alexa.

Although it sounds futuristic, devices capable of monitoring emotions is not improbable. As per the research company Gartner, within 2022, almost 10% of devices will have AI abilities to detect emotions either through the device or with the help of cloud technology.

Would you like to use such devices and let companies know about your emotions? Tell us with a short and quick comment.

Read: Scientists announce the possibility of wearable technology to monitor brains


Tesla Autopilot Engaged in Model X

Tesla announces self-driving chips along with a ride-sharing network of driverless cars

Tesla has revealed its plans of launching a cab sharing network consisting of only self-driven cars. Tesla held an ‘Autonomy Day’ for promoting the driverless system to its investors. Apart from this, they also revealed the “Full Self Driving” computer chip which is the best chip right now according to its CEO Elon Musk.

This self-driving machine has been in the discussion for years now and the company also declared that the previously named “Autopilot Hardware 3.0” is in production and it has been already installed in the Model S and X vehicles. Pete Bannon, Head of Tesla Autopilot Division said during the presentation that the hardware developed by them possesses an improvement factor of 21 in fps processing against the previous model.

The chip production is being handled by Samsung in Austin, Texas. The CEO is optimistic about Tesla that the software which will have everything needed to conquer the self-driven system will be completed by the end of this year. He also explained that this version will need a bit of attention of a driver but he says it will stop by Q2 2020. After this Tesla will start working on a fully driverless system and Musk is sure that this will be released by the end of next year. Tesla has planned to launch a Robotaxi network by providing an update to its present mobile application.

The Tesla owners can also add their cars and earn money from the app or they can choose any random Tesla car to pick or leave them in their destination. Musk studied very intensely in economics about the fully self-driven car from both the Tesla perspective and Tesla’s owner’s perspective. Now Tesla’s vehicle’s hardware is developed as per his studies and what he presumes to achieve the goal of the fully self-driven car by giving updates to the software. He also approximated that the values of the cars based on self-driven networks are of $200,000 minimum whereas Tesla is selling cars having values of the maximum range of $50,000. He also roughly calculated that these cars can be seen everywhere by the end of next year.

Musk also said that buying any self-driven cars other than Tesla can be a loss to the buyers because there will be no fully self-driven car other than this. Tesla convinced very well by giving their presentation on how fully self-driven system is more safer than normal cars. The self-driving space is getting quite competitive as companies such as Google, Uber have made decent moves already.

boston dynamics spotmini

Latest video released by Boston Dynamics shows its robot dogs pulling a truck

Do you know the quantity of sports robots required to construct a big truck?  Well, just 10! Apparently, ten canine-inspired machines linked and well connected to sled dogs like box truck, pulling it across the parking lot of Boston Dynamics with nearly one-degree uphill slope as shown by them in their video clip titled “Mush, Spot Mush!” posted on YouTube . Although during demonstration there was a driver behind the wheels in order to prevent accidents from happening, the vehicle itself was all neutral.

Boston Dynamics is an American robotics and engineering company which was started in 1992 by Marc Raibert, originally as a M.I.T spinoff. It is currently owned by the Japanese conglomerate group, SoftBank. It is quite popular for the humanoid robot, Atlas and BigDog, a quadruped robot which was meant for the United States military funded by DARPA.

It built the all-electric SpotMini , which is basically a quadruped robot that weighs approximately 66 pounds. It has only 17 joints and is equipped with a robotic arm which has a 5 degree-of-freedom and extends like a crane from its head. The machine has the capacity to run for up to 90 minutes, which definitely depends on the kind of work it does in that period, however it needs to be noted that the battery life is indeed shorter than an hour-and-a-half when it is hauling trucks SpotMinis are equipped with amazing three- dimensional vision cameras, as well as a suite of sensors in order to make it capable of navigation and mobile manipulation. The robotics company- Boston Dynamics said that it is the least noise producing machine it has ever produced, which now is almost out for sale as it comes out on the production line, being available for a variety of appliances.

Since these SpotMinis can carry insanely heavy payloads up to thirty one pounds, they have an arm that is potentially made to handle objects and carry them up and down the stairs. This makes these SpotMinis useful for warehouses and search and rescue missions in near future. Therefore, we can definitely conclude that Boston Dynamics is true to its slogan of changing our ideas regarding what robots can do!

We are not yet aware of what these robots would look exactly like or how much spot power will they be able to carry but the strength and rigidity definitely sets a benchmark in the robotics industry and challenges the newer generation of robots yet to come!

Drone AK-47 Russian Patent

Russian patent shows strange idea of flying drone with built in AK-47

The Russian Federal Service has just emerged with a new patent of a flying drone which can be thought of as an assault rifle with wings. Though the drone is designed around a classic Kalashnikov’s AK-47, which has a timeless design and substantial recognition in warfare, the only thing missing was it to fly.

This patent was originally presented by the Russian state-owned company, Almaz Antey which is an air and defense corporation involved in the business of making arms and ammunition. The patent emerged by Almaz Antey displays a spectacle and shows images of a minimalist drone that is formed around the Kalashnikov-styled rifle.

There is no specific pattern to how the aircraft looks, but with fairly evident propellers on either side, which may support propulsion, it seems to have a large control surface which is built into vertically rear stabilizers and towards the gun’s barrel which lies at the front of the aircraft. It has a protruding and jutting barrel system in the front. The Rifle seems to be built into the fuselage between two glider-like wings on either side facing the propellers. The aircraft-gun shows no signs of a streamlined body or aerodynamically pleasing appearance.

Drone with AK-47 labelled image

This gun drone was designed by a Russian defence contractor (Source: thesun.co.uk)

With no active propellers and stabilizers, the unmanned aircraft surely seems to pose an evident threat to the world of warfare. An assault rifle usually works against a group of people or targets that remain unarmored. It becomes hard to imagine a scenario which would require Russia to need small flying assault rifle aircraft to shoot people mid-air. The wedged frame of the iconic AK-47 has no obvious way of propelling itself. The patent seems to propagate the idea that the rifle can fire more than 30 rounds at a time, but unless it has a hidden capacity to change the magazines in-flight, each drone gun would not be able to fire accurately more than 30 rounds. There also seems no way to keep a track of targets during shooting. It is definitely a worrisome concept that has been unleashed onto the world. The gun’s recoil during shooting would also likely cause the light aircraft to spin wildly out of control as the plane is not in control of a pilot and could pose danger.

It is unclear to the audience that how effective the assault rifle would perform in a combat situation during an actual war. With the presence of serious design flaws, questions remain unanswered whether the drone would fly back when it runs out of magazines or keep track of targets? Defense contractors for arms and ammunitions routinely file patents for a variety of innovations and don’t always follow through with them, so it’s unclear if we’ll ever see this strange assault rifle actually flying around. We can only wait for the patent to be accepted or for the company to pursue its idea in the future if it wants to, but the point is, this idea should not be unleashed as it poses a large threat to the civilians.

Google Stadia announcement at GDC

Google showcases its cloud based gaming platform Stadia

During the school days, we have always have played games on our play stations during the summer vacations or on holidays. As technology advances, now there are various other gaming boxes which are available in the market. But gaming boxes also have their own limitations. A technology has been showcased by Google called “Google Stadia”.

This new product was unveiled by Google at the Game Developers Conference (GDC). However not much is known about the product since it is still in the development stage.

There are certain details that are provided to us for example- The game is available on YouTube and Chrome. YouTube is one of the major platforms through which “Google Stadia” will get publicized. The various gaming experts can recommend their viewers to search for this new product and the viewers would be able to find the various games on YouTube. As YouTube and Chrome are to be used for gaming and streaming, it clearly indicates that this product has been developed for the YouTube generation.

Chrome as well plays a very important role in order to promote this new member of the Google family. “Stadia” would be available to play on Google Chrome, Chromecast and on all Android devices. Google has already demonstrated this service on their devices during the keynote. However, it is pretty unclear as to on how many browsers would this be available.

Google is using Linux as its operating system and the disadvantage that it provides is that game creators will have to upload new games on “Stadia” for Linux platform, and not any game that you own on different gaming portal. In the GDC, Google only showed certain games, it failed to answer certain questions like when it will be launched, will this be subscription based and many more.

The biggest question that Google has to answer is the internet connectivity that “Stadia” requires to play different games. Currently, Google is using its own compression technology to stream games in 1080p or 4K to devices. However, in order to access “Stadia” the most active and reliable internet connection would be required. According to Google, a connection of  “approximately 25 Mbps” for 1080p resolution at 60 fps will be required.

In an interview with Kotaku, Google Stadia boss Phil Harrison said, “We will be able to get to 4K, only if we raise the bandwidth to about 30 Mbps.” However, we don’t know the exact bitrates of Stadia just yet, but watching a regular HD Netflix stream uses around 3GB per hour, and this more than doubles for 4K streams.

Google Stadia Controller

Google Stadia Controller (Source: 9to5google.com)

The biggest advantage that Google has is due to its cloud infrastructure, but if you are not present in the area where the data center is located, then you’ll not get the most ideal experience. In order to play these games, Google is launching its own “Stadia Controller” which will be connected directly to the server you’re playing on over Wi-Fi, but it has no control over the thousands of ISPs and how they route this traffic to its data centers.

All of this makes Stadia look like an early beta for what will be a part of the future of gaming. Google has hired a lot of industry talents for this ambitious project. Phil Harrison, a former Sony and Microsoft executive, is leading the Stadia project, and Jade Raymond, who has previously worked at Sony, Electronic Arts, and Ubisoft, is heading up the company’s first-party games. Xbox Live Arcade creator Greg Canessa is also working on Stadia, alongside former Xbox gaming partnerships lead Nate Ahearn. All of this experience should help Google in its cloud gaming fight.