Ford wants this creepy robot to bring its autonomous deliveries to your door

https://www.engadget.com/2019/05/22/ford-wants-this-creepy-robot-to-bring-its-autonomous-deliveries/

Autonomous deliveries and self-driving vehicles may be the future, but there are still a few gaps that need to be addressed — namely that it’s not always possible for people to leave their homes to retrieve deliveries from the roadside (and if you’re hungover and ordering take out, you definitely don’t want to). Ford is working on a solution for this final stretch, though, and it’s come right out of a sci-fi movie.

Agility Robotics

"Digit" is a two-legged robot created by Agility Robotics, designed to get your delivery from a car to your door. Announced earlier this year but now operational, the robot folds up in the back of a self-driving vehicle, ready to unfurl itself in a Lovercraftian manner when it arrives at the delivery destination. According to the press release, "Digit not only resembles the look of a person, but walks like one, too." We’ll let you make up your own mind on that one.

Agility Robotics

Digit can lift packages that weigh up to 40 pounds, walk up and down stairs and across uneven terrain, and can maintain its balance in the event of a bump. It makes the journey from the car to the door by tapping into data obtained by the self-driving vehicle. The car builds a detailed map of its surroundings, then wirelessly shares that with Digit. Through this data exchange, Digit and the vehicle can even work collaboratively to identify the most efficient delivery pathway.

Digit looks creepy, there’s no two ways around that. But it might not be that long before you see the robot — or some kind of iteration of it — scuttling around your neighborhood. After all, a number of US states have formally permitted the use of delivery robots on sidewalks, and numerous other companies are working on — and have launched — their own autonomous delivery solutions. None of them look quite like Digit, though.

via Engadget http://www.engadget.com

May 22, 2019 at 06:06AM

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Numerous ride-hailing cars have open safety recalls, says CR

https://www.autoblog.com/2019/05/21/ride-hailing-cars-open-safety-recalls/

It’s one thing to be alarmed by

the surprising amount of germs to be found in a ride-share car

, but there’s another health and safety aspect to jumping into an

Uber

or a

Lyft

.

As Consumer Reports found out

, a significant number of ride-hailing cars have not had their recall work done.

CR

went through the records of 94,000 vehicles on both coasts, in the NYC and Seattle areas, and found out that one in six Uber or Lyft cars has unaddressed safety defects. The issues include

the notorious Takata recall

as well as fire hazards or sudden power loss, depending of the vehicle. Some vehicles have several open recall tickets simultaneously, as many as eight in one case.

The article notes that the rate of open

recalls

is roughly the same as the estimated rate for all vehicles on the road, and there is no certainty whether any open recall has caused injury to ride-hailing customers or drivers, but while it’s certainly crucial to

repair

a private car that’s not being used for Uber driving, any ride-hailing car should at the very least have the recalls addressed — just like regular taxi cabs. 1,274 of the reviewed vehicles were found to have potentially dangerous

Takata

airbags still fitted.

Consumer Reports

states that neither Uber or Lyft has taken the necessary steps to ensure open recalls are being taken care of — Uber told

CR

it encourages and reminds drivers to get their recall work done, blocking vehicles that have been issued “DO NOT DRIVE” tier

NHTSA

warnings, but

CR

says this accounts for only a thin percentage of all vehicles with open recalls.

CR

also noted that some of the vehicles it checked were older than the accepted age for ride-sharing use.

CR

quotes Jason Levine, executive director for the Center for Auto Safety: “Uber and Lyft have the ability to have zero recalled cars on their platforms at the push of a button. […] They both claim to be technology companies yet refuse to use that technology to take this obvious step to decrease the danger from unrepaired recalls on their drivers and customers.”

In addition,

CR

attempted to access the VINs of Chicago-area

cars to review

their recall statuses, but the City of Chicago denied

CR

‘s request, saying the disclosure of VIN information could cause “competitive harm.” Meanwhile, NYC publishes a list of VINs affiliated to ride-hailing, and King County in Washington had no problem giving up the data.

While it’s not extremely likely that a Uber or Lyft driver would gladly reveal whether their vehicle has an outstanding recall,

CR

recommends that passengers check the VIN via the

myCarfax app

to make sure it’s safe to ride in.

If the companies do not enforce the recalls getting taken care of, it’s only down to the drivers to make sure their vehicles are actually roadworthy — and with pressure from the platforms to keep downtime to the minimum, recalls might not be the first thing on a driver’s mind.

via Autoblog http://bit.ly/1afPJWx

May 21, 2019 at 10:31AM

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Stanford students’ robot dog does backflips for (relatively) cheap

https://www.engadget.com/2019/05/20/stanford-doggo-robot/

Robots with dog-like talents are nothing new, but it’s not exactly practical to buy one that can do more than the basics. The new Aibo is cute, for instance, but not very athletic. A group of Stanford students might have a better solution. They’ve created Doggo, a four-legged bot that can dance, backflip, jump and trot without requiring exotic hardware. The mechanical canine is made of readily available supplies that achieve the intended acrobatics at minimal cost — less than $3,000. Instead of using springs to bounce around, it uses force-sensing external motors that continuously determine the levels of force and torque needed for each movement. If the robot’s ever out of position, the motors are ready to counteract.

It’s tiny, but it’s also more powerful than you might think. As it’s both very light and dense, it can jump as high as 3.5 feet in the air.

This isn’t the most sophisticated robot. It requires manual control, and it’s not about to hold the door for you. The relatively affordable off-the-shelf parts make it far more accessible than other projects, though. And more importantly, it’s open source. Anyone with enough engineering know-how could expand on what Doggo offers, whether they want to make a courier robot or a social companion. At the least, this shows that you don’t need a well-funded tech company or a huge research grant to produce an athletic robot of your own.

Source: Stanford

via Engadget http://www.engadget.com

May 20, 2019 at 10:06PM

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Android’s Live Transcribe gets sound alerts and transcript saving

https://www.engadget.com/2019/05/16/android-live-transcribe-sound-alerts/

Google is making Live Transcribe, its Android app for easy voice transcription, a lot more useful. Now, in addition to jotting down spoken words, it’ll also make you aware of things like a dog barking or audience clapping. It’ll give deaf and hard of hearing users even more context around their environment. Additionally, you’ll also be able to copy and save transcripts locally for up to three days. That’ll be useful when you’re juggling several conversations, or if you’re using the app to transcribe a class or meeting. And of course, it’ll give you a bit of time to move that text to a more permanent location for safe-keeping.

Android Live transcribe
The new features will hit Live Transcribe next month, and the app is available on 1.8 billion Android devices. Google is mainly leaning on its cloud-based machine learning and speech recognition tech for the app, so it can easily run on less powerful phones.

This is an area where Google is also competing heavily with Microsoft, which reached near-human accuracy with its speech recognition engine in 2016. Since then, it’s brought similar transcription capabilities within Teams, Skype, and Office apps. Given the growing importance of voice controlled assistants and UI accessibility, expect to see tech companies focusing even more on accurate speech recognition over the next few years.

Source: Google

via Engadget http://www.engadget.com

May 16, 2019 at 04:12PM

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Black Hawk helicopters have a flight plan to go autonomous

https://www.popsci.com/autonomous-black-hawk-helicopter?dom=rss-default&src=syn

black hawk

Self-flying helicopters could be in the Army’s future.

A Black Hawk down to fly itself.

via Popular Science – New Technology, Science News, The Future Now http://bit.ly/2k2uJQn

May 16, 2019 at 10:16AM

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Here is the world’s first 3D printed hypercar

https://www.autoblog.com/2019/05/15/here-is-the-worlds-first-3d-printed-hypercar/

Transcript:

The world’s first 3D printed hypercar. This sleek looking vehicle could be a glimpse at the future of manufacturing. Blade is a four-wheel drive

hybrid

that was made using 3D printing. Divergent 3D designed the hypercar to showcase its printing capabilities. Blade is printed from Divergent made aluminum alloys and aerospace grade carbon fiber. Blade’s entire 3D printed chassis only weighs 102 lbs. Inside the Blade you’ll find an inline jet fighter seating position. We have no word yet on speed or pricing for Blade.

via Autoblog http://bit.ly/1afPJWx

May 15, 2019 at 06:45PM

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Tonight’s SpaceX Starlink Launch Could be the Start of a New Internet

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/d-brief/?p=34508

Tonight, SpaceX will launch the first flock of their Starlink satellites to space. These are the vanguard of what CEO Elon Musk hopes will eventually become a network of 12,000 orbiting devices providing cheap, global internet coverage.
The launch window opens at 10:30 p.m. E.T. The satellites, which are densely packed inside the cargo hold already, will be delivered to space on a Falcon 9 rocket. The weather forecast for Cape Canaveral, SpaceX’s standard launch site, looks promising for

via Discover Main Feed http://bit.ly/1dqgCKa

May 15, 2019 at 04:03PM

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