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NASA's Mars helicopter gets ready to make history

National Geographic

NASA is nearly ready to attempt the first flight on another planet. The space agency's small helicopter, called Ingenuity, has been deposited in a flat area on Mars, and it is running through a series of final tests before it tries to lift into the thin Martian air. Ingenuity's first flight was originally slated for April 11, but the mission hit a snag during a pre-flight test. While trying to spin the helicopter's rotors at full speed without leaving the ground, Ingenuity's onboard computer ended the test early. NASA says the helicopter is safe and communicating with Earth.


How to shut down Spot the robot 'dog,' should you ever need to

Mashable

Let's say, just hypothetically, that a surveillance robot styled after a dog was giving you a hard time. In this situation, you'd want to shut the thing down, and quickly. Thankfully, when it comes to Boston Dynamic's Spot robot, there are several ways to do just that. The robots, marketed for industrial use and used for viral hijinks, evoke a robot dystopia in the public imagination -- a fact compounded by an April viral video of the NYPD trotting out its very own customized Spot. The first reported instance of police using Spot was in November of 2019, when the Massachusetts State Police leased at least one of the robots for a three-month trial period.


Here's What It Takes to Fly a Drone on Mount Everest

WIRED

On the morning of July 10, 2018, a cook at K2 Base Camp in Pakistan was looking through his binoculars toward Broad Peak when he spotted something that looked like a body about 2,000 feet below the summit. The cook shared his discovery with Bartek Bargiel and his brother Andrzrej, members of a Polish expedition hoping to make the first ski descent of K2, the world's second-highest mountain. At first, the Poles thought they were looking at a corpse. But after more careful study they realized that it was a man in distress, clinging to the side of the mountain with an ice axe. There was no communication between the teams in the two separate base camps, so the Poles immediately dispatched one of their teammates, who took off running to the other camp, which was five miles down-glacier.


Sonos Roam review: the portable speaker you'll want to use at home too

The Guardian

Sonos's new smaller and cheaper Roam portable speaker is one that won't end up relegated to a drawer collecting dust as it sounds great at home too. The £159 Roam joins the much bigger and heavier £399 Move as the second of firm's battery-powered models and proves itself as one of the best options in a saturated market. The speaker has both wifi and Bluetooth and is triangular in shape, like a Toblerone, but only about the length of a 500ml bottle. It weighs 430g so won't drag down a bag and is easy to grip for carrying about the house. The front is a metal mesh, the back is high-quality mat plastic and the end caps are rubber to help absorb impacts if you drop it.


Siri will no longer have a 'default' voice in iOS 14.5

Engadget

For as long as Apple has offered Siri, the digital assistant has defaulted to a female voice in North America. With the latest iOS 14.5 beta, TechCrunch reports Apple is introducing two English-speaking voices for Siri and making it so that you can pick the voice you like best when setting up an iOS or HomePod device. "We're excited to introduce two new Siri voices for English speakers and the option for Siri users to select the voice they want when they set up their device," Apple told the publication. "This is a continuation of Apple's long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion, and products and services that are designed to better reflect the diversity of the world we live in." Apple recruited new talent for the two voices and then ran them through its Neural text to speech engine.


Government invests £30m into electric and hydrogen car production

Daily Mail - Science & tech

The Government is set to pump another £30million into the development of electric cars in the UK, it has been revealed today. Pioneering research into battery technology, the electric vehicle supply chain and hydrogen cars will be backed by the substantial taxpayer funding. Investment minister Gerry Grimstone said: 'We have set an ambitious target to phase out the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030. 'To support that it is crucial we invest in research so we can power ahead with the shift to electric vehicles as we build back greener from the pandemic.' Some £9.4million of the investment will be spent across 22 studies.


Robot Race: The World s Top 10 automated countries

Robohub

The average robot density in the manufacturing industry hit a new global record of 113 units per 10,000 employees. By regions, Western Europe (225 units) and the Nordic European countries (204 units) have the most automated production, followed by North America (153 units) and South East Asia (119 units). The world s top 10 most automated countries are: Singapore (1), South Korea (2), Japan (3), Germany (4), Sweden (5), Denmark (6), Hong Kong (7), Chinese Taipei (8), USA (9) and Belgium and Luxemburg (10). This is according to the latest World Robotics statistics, issued by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR). "Robot density is the number of operational industrial robots relative to the number of workers," says Milton Guerry, President of the International Federation of Robotics.


International Space Station releases 2.9-TON pallet of batteries into orbit that 'should burn up'

Daily Mail - Science & tech

The International Space Station (ISS) has discarded its largest piece of space junk to-date – a 2.9-ton pallet of 48 nickel-hydrogen batteries. A robotic arm attached to the craft released 265 miles above Earth's surface, which is set to spend the next two to four years in low orbit'before burning up harmlessly in the atmosphere.' NASA, however, does not have data about how many fragments might survive re-entry, NASA communications specialist Leah Cheshier told Spaceflight Now. Dumping the pallet was not the original plan, as it was set to make a return trip aboard the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV), but it was left behind last year due to a failed 2018 Soyuz launch that disrupted spacewalk schedules. The pallet is moving just 4.8 miles per second and is not expected to survive the intense heat when it reaches Earth's atmosphere and NASA's ballistic officers'indicate no threat.' The International Space Station (ISS) has discarded its largest piece of space junk to-date – a 2.9-ton pallet of 48 nickel-hydrogen batteries Cheshier told Spaceflight Now in an email: 'The External Pallet was the largest object--mass-wise--ever jettisoned from the International Space Station at 2.9 tons, more than twice the mass of the Early Ammonia Servicing System tank jettisoned by spacewalker Clay Anderson during the STS-118 mission in 2007.' NASA began replacing the craft's 48 nickel-hydrogen batteries with 24 lithium-ion units in 2016, with the final swap last year.


Now Machine Learning Helps In Interpreting Battery Life

#artificialintelligence

A study carried out jointly by Stanford University, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Toyota Research Institute (TRI) demonstrated the use of machine learning algorithms to understand the lifecycle of lithium-ion batteries. Until now, machine learning in battery technology was limited to identifying patterns in data to speed up scientific analysis. The latest discovery will help researchers in designing and developing longer-lasting batteries. The research team has been working to develop a long-lasting electric vehicle battery that can be charged in 10 minutes. "Battery technology is important for any type of electric powertrain. By understanding the fundamental reactions that occur within the battery we can extend its life, enable faster charging and ultimately design better battery materials. We look forward to building on this work through future experiments to achieve lower-cost, better-performing batteries," said Patrick Herring, a senior scientist of Toyota Research Institute.


Beyond Tesla: electric cars shift into the fast lane

#artificialintelligence

Kaitlyn Murphy, Wenjie Ge & Chris Buchbinder (Capital Group) Ladies and gentlemen, start your batteries. Sure, we've been hearing about the advent of the electric car for a long time. But evidence is mounting that it has already arrived -- ahead of schedule. Consider this: General Motors announced in January that it will stop manufacturing gas- and diesel-powered cars by 2035. This after Volkswagen, Europe's largest automaker, disclosed plans to invest $86 billion to develop electric vehicles, digital factories and self-driving cars over the next five years.