WIRED


Self-Driving Car Tech Can Help Another Form of Transport: Wheelchairs

WIRED

Autonomous vehicle technology often prompts discussions about profit, safety, efficiency, jobs, and more. But this innovation can change millions of lives today without introducing a single car to the road. Elizabeth Jameson (@jamesonfineart) is a health policy analyst and an artist who uses neurotechnology, science and art to shift the narrative of chronic illness. Catherine Monahon is an art educator and project manager who works with individuals, small businesses, and nonprofits to tell their stories through various media. I have a progressive disease, multiple sclerosis, which has now rendered me quadriplegic; I no longer have use of my hands or legs.


Gadget Lab Podcast: Pixel Buds, AirPods, and the Future of Ear Computers

WIRED

Headphones aren't really just headphones anymore. Sure, you can use them to listen to music, as always. But they've got touch controls now. They're embedded with custom wireless chips to ease pairing. They also open a direct line to the voice assistant on your phone.


The Moon Express MX-1E Lander Is Heading for the Moon or Bust

WIRED

Google can't resist a moon shot, but this one is literal: A decade ago, the company announced the Google Lunar X Prize--$20 million for the first private firm to build a robot that can soft-land on the surface of the moon, travel 500 meters, and beam hi-def video back to Earth. Now, after multiple extensions and a couple of flameouts, five teams are racing toward the March 2018 launch deadline, and the cutest contender might be the MX-1E, an R2-D2–shaped lander designed by space startup Moon Express. At roughly the size of Danny DeVito, the MX-1E fits inside a launch vehicle from partnering company Rocket Lab; once the craft detaches and shoots moonward, its engine and thrusters slow it down so the moon's gravity can help gently guide its descent. Its legs also help the craft hop across the moon's surface. Bob Richards, a self-described "space entrepreneur" and Moon Express' cofounder and CEO, envisions a future in which the moon is mined for resources--not necessarily for export back to Earth† but to power further space travel, using Luna as a launching point.


What Does Tesla's Automated Truck Mean for Truckers?

WIRED

On Thursday night, Elon Musk rolled out Tesla's biggest gizmo yet: a fully electric semitruck. The Semi can go a whopping 500 miles between charges, hauling 80,000 pounds along the way. The truck comes with Enhanced Autopilot, the second generation of Tesla's semiautonomous technology, equipped with automatic braking, lane keeping, and lane departure warnings. "Every truck we sell has Autopilot as standard," Musk said of the Semi, which goes into production in 2019. "This is a massive increase in safety."


Elon Musk Reveals Tesla's Electric Semitruck

WIRED

Elon Musk has always dreamed big, and tonight he showed off his biggest reverie yet: the fully electric Tesla Semi. Powered by a massive battery, it's capable of hauling 80,000 pounds. It'll even drive itself--on the highway, at least. The big rig, which Musk unveiled at Tesla's design center in Hawthorne, California Thursday night, is just the latest step in his mission to make humanity forget about planet-killing fossil fuels and embrace the gospel of electric power. That is, of course, if he can convince the trucking industry it's time for a new way of moving stuff around--and if he can actually make the thing.


Watch the Boston Dynamics Atlas Robot Do a Backflip. Yes, a Backflip

WIRED

Atlas, the hulking humanoid robot from Boston Dynamics, now does backflips. It's a hulking humanoid that does backflips. Check out the video below, because it shows a hulking humanoid doing a backflip. And that's after it leaps from platform to platform, as if such behavior were becoming of a bipedal robot. To be clear: Humanoids aren't supposed to be able to do this.


stop-the-chitchat-bots-dont-need-to-sound-like-us

WIRED

Bert Brautigam is sick of having conversations with his devices. Like many of us, Brautigam, who works for the design firm Ziba, uses voice assistants like Google's phone AI or Amazon's Alexa. The theory is that voice commands make life more convenient. But these assistants are scripted to emulate every day conversation. And everyday conversation is filled with little pauses and filler words, the "phatic" spackle of social interactions.


Can Soccer-Playing Robots Kick It? Yes They Can!

WIRED

The world may not agree 100 percent on what to call it, but we can all agree that soccer/football is indeed the Beautiful Game. Not just from an individual athleticism standpoint, but also the teamwork: Soccer is a lovely ballet, only with more kicking and tripping and hooliganism. Which makes the robots of the RoboCup all the more impressive. They look a bit like mini Daleks, but they're way more chill and way better at soccer. Individually, they sense their world and scoot around and snag the ball and kick it, which is grand.


Inside the Race to Build a Brain-Machine Interface--and Outpace Evolution

WIRED

In an ordinary hospital room in Los Angeles, a young woman named Lauren Dickerson waits for her chance to make history. She's 25 years old, a teacher's assistant in a middle school, with warm eyes and computer cables emerging like futuristic dreadlocks from the bandages wrapped around her head. Three days earlier, a neurosurgeon drilled 11 holes through her skull, slid 11 wires the size of spaghetti into her brain, and connected the wires to a bank of computers. Now she's caged in by bed rails, with plastic tubes snaking up her arm and medical monitors tracking her vital signs. She tries not to move.


Artificial Intelligence Is Now Your Coworker

WIRED

Last fall, Google Translate rolled out a new-and-improved artificial intelligence translation engine that it claimed was, at times, "nearly indistinguishable" from human translation. Jost Zetzsche could only roll his eyes. The German native had been working as a professional translator for 20 years, and he'd heard time and time again that his industry would be threatened by advances in automation. Every time, he'd found, the hype was overblown--and Google Translate's makeover was no exception. It certainly wasn't the key to translation, he thought.