Self-driving cars are all the rage today, Companies ranging from car manufacturers like General Motors and Toyota to private-hire companies like Uber and even Internet search giant Google are all scrambling to be the first to bring them to market. The efforts are so intense that the University of Michigan has established an entire city to help the cause. Dubbed Mcity, it allows manufacturers to safely test their autonomous cars using human props.
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Pedestrian etiquette – things like not walking into oncoming traffic or keeping to the right of the sidewalk – comes naturally to humans. However, while robots have been programmed to accomplish many things, teaching them to navigate among crowds has proved a challenge because it is hard to accurately predict each person’s path. Now, a team of MIT engineers, led by Steven Chen, have overcome the hurdle with a knee-high autonomous machine that can seamlessly weave itself through pedestrians, paving the way for errand-running and pizza delivering robots.
A week ago, on Tuesday, September 12, Apple unveiled its latest offerings to eagerly awaiting fans. The 2017 product showcase held at Apple Park, the company’s new “spaceship” headquarters in Cupertino, CA, included an upgraded Apple Watch, 4K Apple TV, as well as the next generation iPhones – 8 and 8 plus. Just as the presentation appeared to be drawing to a close, company CEO Tim Cook, took to the podium mouthing the late Steve Job’s familiar, “one more thing . . .” phrase, before introducing the much-anticipated iPhone X (“ten”).
Tony Stark, aka Ironman, constantly seen manipulating 3D holographic images and floating displays projected in mid-air from his phone or tablet. Unfortunately, the rest of us are not as fortunate because the current computer-generated holograms are too bulky to be integrated into our personal devices. However, if a team of researchers from Australia's RMIT University and the Beijing Institute of Technology (BIT) is right, we may all soon be able to mimic Ironman, at least, when it comes to playing with 3D holograms.
Every ocean lover knows the perils of getting caught in a rip current. Experienced swimmers know it is relatively easy to escape the narrow channel of fast moving water by floating and allowing it to drag you further into the ocean or by swimming alongside the shore. However, novice beachgoers often panic, and try to swim to land, placing themselves at risk of drowning due to fatigue. According to the US National Ocean Service, the currents kill about 100 Americans each year and account for 80% of all lifeguard rescues. These scary statistics may soon be a thing of the past, thanks to Clever GIRL (Global Intelligent Rip Locator), a smart buoy that alerts swimmers of the presence of deadly rip currents.
The city-state of Dubai that is home to the world’s tallest building, manmade islands shaped like palm trees, drone taxis, and jetpack wielding firefighters, is fast cementing its reputation as the city of the future. On May 22, Dubai officials added to their list of futuristic accomplishments with the introduction of the world’s first operational robot police officer.
Housing ranks high among the numerous challenges that still need to be overcome before humans can colonize Mars. The brave pioneers that make the six-month voyage to the Red Planet will need a place to reside as soon as they land. While the optimal solution would be to have the structures ready before they get there, it has thus far been a challenge given that most automated construction robots have never made it out of the laboratory. Now, there may be a glimmer of hope thanks to Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) newly unveiled Digital Construction Platform (DCP).
Japan’s newly unveiled Train Suite Shiki-shima that travels at a leisurely pace of 110 kph (68 mph) is a bit of an anomaly in a country known for magnetic levitation bullet trains that can traverse at speeds of up to 603 kph (375 mph). However, the purpose of the luxury sleeper train, which accommodates just 34 guests, is not to get passengers to their destination rapidly but to allow them to the enjoy the country’s beautiful landscapes while being thoroughly spoiled.