MIT’s new robot, developed by researchers at the MCube lab, led by Alberto Rodriguez, uses machine-learning and sensory hardware to learn how to play the game Jenga. This technology could be used in robots for manufacturing assembly lines. Simply put, it’s equipped with a soft-pronged gripper, force-sensing wrist cuff, and an external camera, all of which it uses to see and feel the tower and its individual blocks. As the robot carefully pushes against a block, a computer takes in visual and tactile feedback from its camera as well as cuff, and then compares these measurements to moves that the robot previously made. “It also considers the outcomes of those moves — specifically, whether a block, in a certain configuration and pushed with a certain amount of force, was successfully extracted or not. In real-time, the robot then “learns” whether to keep pushing or move to a new block, in order to keep the tower from falling,” according to the paper. Read more to see it in-action.
If you’ve ever been in extremely cold weather and tried to use a mobile phone, it probably shut down or could not be turned on. This is because Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) batteries used in all iPhones and most other smartphones do not allow charging below freezing temperatures. “Low- or high-temperature conditions might cause the device to change its behavior to regulate its temperature. Using an iOS device in very cold conditions outside of its operating range might temporarily shorten battery life and could cause the device to turn off,” said Apple. Read more for another video and additional information.
Nekteck’s 4-Port 72W USB Wall Charger with Type-C 60W power delivery is the best travel accessory a mobile warrior can have with them at all times. You can throw it in any bag, as the device is roughly the same height and thickness as Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Pro charger while only being 0.7-inches longer. Featuring three 12-watt USB-A charging ports alongside its USB-C charging port – also includes a USB-C charging cable and a long power cord for those hard-to-reach outlets. Many new Android smartphones, tablets and laptops are equipped with USB-C charging ports, MacBooks included, so you can simply use this to power them all up. Product page. Read more for our full review.
Microsoft has teamed up with MIT might to develop a model that uses artificial intelligence to catch virtual “blind spots”. Basically, the AI compares a human’s actions in a given situation to what it would have done, and modifies its behavior based on how closely it matches the response. Put simply, if a self-driving car doesn’t know how to pull over in an emergency situation, it could learn how to do so by simply observing a human driver moving to the side of the road. However, if the AI is wrong, a human driver can also step in to correct it. “The model helps autonomous systems better know what they don’t know. Many times, when these systems are deployed, their trained simulations don’t match the real-world setting [and] they could make mistakes, such as getting into accidents. The idea is to use humans to bridge that gap between simulation and the real world, in a safe way, so we can reduce some of those errors,” said first author Ramya Ramakrishnan from Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT. Read more for a video and additional information.
Celebrity Edge, the latest vessel from Celebrity Cruises, features a first-of-its-kind, 90-ton passenger platform, called the “Magic Carpet”, hanging over its side that serves a range of functions as it moves up and down the ship. This tangerine-colored structure can be used as an open-air lounge or restaurant with breathtaking sea views when positioned along higher decks. Lowered to Deck 2, it can be used as a “tender platform” where passengers catch boats to shore. Read more for an in-depth look at the Magic Carpet and for a full tour of the ship.
Xiaomi president and co-founder Lin Bin has confirmed that the company will be releasing a folding mobile phone by posting a teaser on Weibo earlier this week. Unlike similar devices previewed by its competitors, this flexible device can fold on both sides, and the UI automatically adjusts. “After tackling flexible folding display, four-way folding hinge, flexible cover tech, MIUI adaptation and other technical challenges, we have made the first foldable phone, and should also be the world’s first dual-folding phone. This symmetrically dual-outer-folding form factor perfectly merges the experience of a tablet and a phone, it’s both practical and beautiful. Even though it’s still a prototype, we’re showing it to you all. Feel free to share, comment and like. If you all like it, we will consider mass producing it. Also, we would like to give this prototype a name. What do you think? I have two: Mi Dual Flex, Mi MIX Flex. Suggestions are welcome,” said Bin’s post on Weibo. Read more a collection of fascinating images from around the web.
Photo credit: HOLGER LANGMAIER / MATT SEYMOUR / TAG HARTMAN-SIMKINS via Science Alert
MIT Lincoln Laboratory researchers have devised a way to send secret whispers directly into a person’s ear by simply pointing a laser at someone from a distance. That person then hears the transmitted audio but others in the same area do not. These special laser systems can transmit tones, music, and recorded speech at a conversational volume to specific people who don’t need to wear any special equipment. Read more for a video and additional information.
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory engineers in Pasadena, California, have begun transmitting a new set of commands to the Opportunity rover in hopes of reviving the silent 15-year-old Martian explorer to contact Earth. These new commands, which will be sent to the rover during the next several weeks, address low-likelihood events that could have occurred to prevent it from transmitting after the last communication with Earth on June 10, 2018, as a planet-wide dust storm blanketed the location. Read more for another video and additional information.
Boeing aims to take on rival Airbus SE and numerous other companies developing small self-flying vehicles capable of vertical takeoff and landing with their own autonomous Passenger Air Vehicle (PAV). Measuring 30-feett-long, this aircraft is part helicopter, part drone and part fixed-wing plane. It successfully lifted a few feet off the ground and made a soft landing after going airborne on Tuesday at an airport in Manassas, Virginia. “This is what revolution looks like, and it’s because of autonomy,” said John Langford, president and chief executive officer of Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences in a news release. Read more for a video, additional pictures and information.
Amazon.com has started testing Scout, a six-wheeled, self-driving blue robot that delivers packages. The company is currently field testing six Scout robots in a neighborhood of Snohomish County in Washington, during weekday daylight hours. Scout robots are “the size of a small cooler, and roll along sidewalks at a walking pace,” according to Amazon. “We are delighted to welcome Amazon Scout into our community. Similar to Amazon, we are always looking for new ways to better deliver service to our residents. From the latest Amazon innovation to cutting edge technology, Snohomish County is a great place for entrepreneurial creativity,” said Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers. read more for a video and additional information.