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How NASA Built a Self-Driving Car for Its Next Mars Mission


Later this month, NASA is expected to launch its latest Mars rover, Perseverance, on a first-of-its-kind mission to the Red Planet. Its job is to collect and store geological samples so they can eventually be returned to Earth. Perseverance will spend its days poking the Jezero Crater, an ancient Martian river delta, and the samples it collects may contain the first evidence of extraterrestrial life. But first it has to find them. For that, it needs some damn good computers--at least by Martian standards.

After Math: Space toilets and long-haul hybrid pickups


You're just a few precious miles from home when heavy traffic and those three cups of coffee hit at the same moment. There isn't a bottle mouth big enough to handle the cold brew you've got gurgling in your gut. While we've all been caught out like this at some point down here on Earth, this week we have a glimpse at how NASA will provide bathroom facilities on the moon. Tesla may push the boundaries of automotive technology but its production process is a bit of a mess. In a recent initial quality survey from JD Power and Associates, Tesla customers reported 250 build defects (misaligned body panels, shoddy paintwork, things of that nature) per 100 vehicles.

NASA's Mars 2020 rover passes its driving test by showing it can move under its own weight

Daily Mail - Science & tech

NASA's Mars 2020 rover has successfully'passed its driving test' in a major mission milestone that saw it move under its own weight ahead of its launch next year. The rover will leave for Mars in July or August 2020 from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and will travel aboard the new Space Launch System rocket. NASA's robotic vehicle had to demonstrate it could move forwards, backwards and pirouette during the more than 10-hour marathon'driving test' on Tuesday. The next time the Mars 2020 rover drives, it will be rolling over Martian soil. The semi-autonomous vehicle will search for signs of ancient microbial life within the Jezero crater, which contains a dried up lake once filled with water.

Dodging drone traffic jams: Is integrated air traffic control finally arriving?


Fifty years ago, Mike Sanders watched with awe and anticipation as the crew of Apollo 11--Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins--splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. Landing men on the moon and returning them safely to the earth was a seminal moment in the history of flight, and it had a profound effect on then 7-year-old Sanders, who now heads the Lone Star UAS Center of Excellence & Innovation at Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi. Looking back, Sanders says he never expected the day to come when he would be working with NASA on anything, let alone another chapter in the history of flight. But this year, he landed in the middle of one of the most important aeronautical projects of this generation: an effort to build a safe and effective unmanned aircraft system traffic management (UTM) platform. In August, Texas A&M–Corpus Christi's Lone Star UAS Center of Excellence and its partners' workers stood alongside NASA scientists and engineers as they flew 22 small physical and digital drones above and between tall buildings in five areas of Corpus Christi.

NASA is close to finalizing its drone traffic control system for cities


NASA is ready to put its drone traffic management system to the ultimate test and has chosen Nevada and Texas as its final testing sites. The agency, together with the FAA, has been developing an Unmanned aircraft Traffic Management (UTM) system over the past four years in an effort to figure out how to safely fly drones in an urban environment. Now that the project is in its last phase, it has teamed up with the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems in Las Vegas and the Lone Star UAS Center for Excellence & Innovation in Corpus Christi, Texas to conduct a final series of technical demonstrations. NASA and the FAA are planning to demo a big list of technologies, including their interface with vehicle-integrated detect-and-avoid capabilities, vehicle-to-vehicle communication and collision avoidance, as well as automated safe landing technologies. All those will help NASA understand the challenges of flying in an urban environment and conjure up ideas for future rules and policies.

Machine learning and AI to usher a new era of space exploration


As automation, Machine Learning and AI leave their indelible imprint on multiple and diverse fields, including image analytics, workflow management, construction, autonomous vehicles, agriculture and the future of communication systems, it does seem that very soon these technologies will blast us off to the stratosphere. And the metaphor is quite fitting! AI and Machine Learning solutions are being increasingly researched and implemented in the space sector for a space age of the future, whose mainstay would be advanced robotics and which might resemble a robotic inter-galactic adventure. Application of AI is being extensively researched in the domain of satellite operations, especially in supporting the operational mechanism of huge satellite constellations, which usually includes many facets – relative positioning, communication, if cycle management etc. Machine Learning is being used for analyzing and processing high-resolution satellite imagery and for getting exact and precise visual representations.

AI Feast at Baidu Create 2018: Level 4 Autonomous Bus, Apollo 3.0, DuerOS 3.0


The second annual Baidu AI Developers Conference, officially known as Baidu Create 2018, opened in Beijing today. Baidu unveiled China's first cloud-to-edge AI chip, Kunlun, and many other upgraded versions of Baidu's AI products this morning on the first day of this two-day event. Li Yanhong, known as Robin Li, the founder and CEO of Baidu, introduced Baidu's latest research achievements in artificial intelligence (AI) field. Started in 2013, the autonomous driving project was mainly lead and developed by the Baidu Research Institute. At the 2017 Baidu World Congress in November last year, Robin Li stated that Baidu's Level 4 self-driving bus "Apolong" would be mass-produced by July 2018.

Unmanned Nasa plane flies solo through public airspace

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Nasa has flown a large, remotely piloted predator drone equipped with detect-and-avoid technologies through the national airspace system for the first time without a safety chase plane following it. The space agency says the'milestone' flight over California moves the US closer to normalising unmanned aircraft operations in airspace used by commercial and private pilots. The test used a non-military version of the Air Force's MQ-9 Predator B called Ikhana that is 36 feet (11 meters) long and has a 66-foot (20-meter) wingspan. It paves the way for large remotely-piloted aircraft to be used in all kinds of services, from fighting forest fires to providing emergency search and rescue operations, according to Nasa. The flight took off from Edwards Air Force Base in California and entered controlled air space almost immediately.

Star Wars-inspired flying robots joining space station crew


Astronauts aboard the International Space Station will soon be joined by a crew of free-flying mini-robots inspired by the Jedi training droids that Luke Skywalker practiced his light saber skills with in Star Wars. NASA's one-foot-cube Astrobees will be packed with cameras, sensors, and other tools and travel around the space station; its tasks will be far more mundane, however, than the movie training droids. The bots will help with tasks like measuring noise levels, testing carbon dioxide concentrations, or shooting video of astronauts at work. Ground crews will be able to remotely control the robot, sending it to various station waypoints, or even giving it a set of tasks to carry out largely autonomously, says Trey Smith, a research scientist in NASA's Intelligent Robotics Group. "In the end, it should be able to depart from its dock, do an entire survey of several modules, and then return to its dock at the end of it," he says.

NIAS, NASA UTM Completes TCL3 Testing – DEEP AERO DRONES – Medium


The Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems (NIAS), in partnership with NASA UTM, conducted multiple drone tests at the Nevada UAS test site at the Reno-Stead Airport. The technology capability level 3 (TCL 3) focused on airspace management technologies seeking to enable the safe integration of UAS into the National Airspace Systems. The research areas during the testing covered UAS ground control interfacing to locally manage operations, communication, navigation, surveillance, human factors, data exchange, network solutions and BVLOS architecture. "The state of Nevada will be known for its significant contribution in this journey through its pioneering work with the FAA, NASA and private partners like ourselves, facilitating safe and effective integration into national airspace," says Mike Richards, President and CEO of Drone America. NASA, FAA and its partners, and NIAS are working on the innovations and the industry growth while respecting aviation safety traditions.