A brand new all-electric boat racing series begins in 2023


Powerboat racing events have traditionally focused on high-speed, gas-guzzling watercraft, but a gradual shift into electrified racing boats is taking place thanks in part to the introduction of the RaceBird, a fully electric powerboat designed to compete in the all-electric E1 Series starting in 2023.

This electric shift is aiming to inspire others to “electrify marine mobility.” The electric RaceBird has a top speed of 58 mph thanks to its 150 kW outboard motor from Mercury Racing. It’s equipped with hydrofoil technology, which reduces drag and maximizes energy. Powering this electric race boat is a 35 kWh battery, which will need to be charged twice during a race. The series begins in 2023 and includes 12 teams competing in 10 events per racing season. Learn more at e1series.com      

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September 29, 2022 at 05:11PM

It’s Time for Cities to Ditch Delivery Trucks—for Cargo Bikes


If you’ve visited London recently, you might know that Amazon has launched its first fleet of cargo bikes in England, the latest move in a growing trend: DHL has been trialing cargo bikes in Edinburgh. UPS has deployed a small number of them globally. And this month, FedEx became the first global courier brand to invest in a North American fleet.

These vehicles—akin to regular pedal bikes, but with a large box, platform, or basket for transporting goods built into the frame—are on a roll. And it’s just as well. Urban freight transport accounts for roughly 10 to 15 percent of miles traveled in cities, and is often the most expensive and polluting section of the logistics chain, having traditionally been carried out by vans and trucks running on fossil fuels, even when the goods carried are light and small.

The problem is worsening as home deliveries soar. The ground covered by vans in urban areas has been rising, spurred by online shopping, with the number of delivery vehicles in cities projected to increase by 36 percent by 2030 if we don’t become more efficient at getting goods to people’s doors. In London, up to 9,500 people die annually due to health complications related to air pollution, and a large chunk of these pollutants come from delivery vehicles. But Amazon and the like could have stumbled across a solution.

“Cargo bikes have a cascade of positive effects, including the reduction of air and noise pollution and the improvement of public space,” says Ersilia Verlinghieri, senior research fellow at the Active Travel Academy at the University of Westminster in London. “They’re more efficient and a lot cleaner than using vans.”

It’s estimated that cargo bikes could replace around 51 percent of all motorized freight trips in European cities. And this number could be higher if cargo bikes with electric assistance are used. According to a recent study, in Paris it’s technically possible to pick up and deliver as much as 91 percent of freight using ecargo bikes.

But just because a company could use a cargo bike courier doesn’t mean it will. The Paris study also found it would only be economical to use cargo bikes 67 percent of the time, compared to using a fleet of electric vans.

Efficiency of movement is key to keeping things cost-effective, and this is something that Verlinghieri and her colleagues have looked into. Last year, they found that services provided by cargo bike company Pedal Me were 1.61 times faster than those of an equivalent van service, because the bikes were able to move at higher average speeds through dense urban environments. Whereas cargo bikes can bypass traffic jams, take shortcuts through streets closed to cars, use bus lanes and bicycle paths, and ride to customers’ doors, vans are hindered by congestion and the search for parking. Admittedly, these advantages are greater in European cities with narrow, winding streets compared to the wider roads of North America.

via Wired Top Stories https://www.wired.com

September 21, 2022 at 06:14AM

Iran’s Internet Shutdown Hides a Deadly Crackdown


In the Iranian city of Shahrud, surrounded by hundreds of protesters, two women climb onto a platform and defiantly wave their hijabs above their heads in an act of public defiance. The scene, caught on video, is posted online by the 1500tasvir Instagram account. In recent days, the account has published dozens of videos from Iranian towns and cities as thousands of people protest the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who died in police custody after being arrested by Iran’s “morality police.”

In another video shared by 1500tasvir, women burn their headscarves while chanting for freedom. Protesters are shown confronting police officers in another. And other videos claim to show people bleeding, injured, or dead, following brutal clashes with police officers as protests have spread to more than 80 cities across Iran. “They stood against the police, who are armed, and they [protesters] just shout at them,” says one person behind the 1500tasvir Instagram account, whom WIRED is not naming to protect their safety.

The 1500tasvir account was set up in 2019 following widespread protests in which hundreds of people were killed by police. During those protests, Iranian officials totally shut down the internet, stopping people from organizing protests and limiting the information flowing in and out of Iran. Now history is repeating itself. But this time, more people are watching.

As thousands of people have taken to the streets to protest the death of Amini this week, Iranian officials have repeatedly shut down mobile internet connections and disrupted the services of Instagram and WhatsApp, two of the most popular social media services in the country. The internet shutdowns are the largest since November 2019 and raise fears about further atrocities. So far, more than 30 people have reportedly been killed, while the Iranian government has admitted to 17 deaths.

“Shutting down mobile internet service has become a go-to for the Iranian government when dealing with civil unrest,” says Doug Madory, director of internet analysis at monitoring firm Kentik, who has been following the shutdowns. “People were using these services to share videos of the protests and the government’s crackdown, so they became targets of government censorship.”

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September 23, 2022 at 10:49AM

Watch this team of drones 3D-print a tower


A mini-swarm’s worth of drones have been trained to work together to 3D-print some simple towers. One day, the method could help with challenging projects such as post-disaster construction or even repairs on buildings that are too high to access safely, the team behind it hopes.

Inspired by the way bees or wasps construct large nests, the process has multiple drones work together to build from a single blueprint, with one essentially checking the others’ work as it goes. One drone deposits a layer of building material, and the other verifies the accuracy of everything printed so far. The drones are fully autonomous while flying, but they are monitored by a human who can step in if things go awry. 

To demonstrate the drones’ capabilities, the researchers got them to use foam and a special lightweight form of cement to build structures with heights ranging from 0.18 meters to 2.05 meters. They were constructed to within 5 millimeters of the original blueprint. 

Then, to show that the system could work on more complex formations, the team used the lights on the drones to create a light-trail time-lapse sequence as they simulated making a tall dome-like structure. Their work is described in a paper in Nature today. 

Mirko Kovac, director of the Aerial Robotics Laboratory at Imperial College London, who led the research, says the method could be used to construct buildings in the Arctic or even on Mars, or simply to help repair tall buildings that normally would require expensive scaffolding.

The technique is limited for now because drones struggle to carry heavy loads, need regular charging, and still require human supervision. However, the researchers say they’re hoping to alleviate some of these issues by automating the charging of drones during projects, a process that is currently handled by humans.

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September 21, 2022 at 11:03AM

Reusable ‘Susie’ spacecraft could launch future European deep-space missions


Rocket-launching firm ArianeGroup plans to bring astronauts to space aboard ‘Susie.’

The European rocket-launching giant announced a new upper stage designed to carry out crewed or uncrewed missions on Arianespace rockets in Earth orbit or even to the moon

The upper stage is called Susie (Smart Upper Stage for Innovative Exploration) and will be mounted on the forthcoming Ariane 64 rocket, which the company says will herald fully reusable rockets in the coming years.

Related: NASA looks to private outposts to build on International Space Station’s legacy

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(Image credit: ArianeGroup)

As the space community reaches for private space stations and moon missions, ArianeGroup said a flexible, reusable and modular spacecraft would best fit the needs of multiple clients. (Arianespace is the launching entity under ArianeGroup, a joint venture between Airbus and Safran.) 

“Susie is an entirely reusable rocket stage project,” ArianeGroup wrote in a Sept. 16 release (opens in new tab). “It is capable of going into space and carrying out many different types of missions there — whether automated or crewed — and coming back to land on Earth.”

The crewed version of Susie would carry up to five astronauts with an abort system designed to work at any point during the mission. Payload capacity could flex as required for “essential missions in space”, which ArianeGroup suggests will continue to increase as NASA and its partners reach for crewed Artemis program missions on the moon in the coming decade.

Video: Meet Ariane 6 and Vega C: Europe’s New ‘Rideshare’ Rockets 

ArianeGroup’s Susie spacecraft  could take crews or payloads to lunar orbit, as seen in this artist’s impression. (Image credit: ArianeGroup)

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Following missions, Susie would come back to Earth for a soft landing and would be repurposed for future flights, as the spacecraft is fully reusable. The various missions it is envisioned for include satellite servicing, manufacturing orbital facilities, dealing with space debris or sending essential items to astronauts on deep-space missions. 

“This is a project built on all the existing know-how at ArianeGroup and within European industry. It is consistent with ongoing or future technological developments in the field of space transport and reuse,” Morena Bernardini, ArianeGroup’s head of strategy and innovation, said in the same statement. 

The company noted Susie will be able to use several launchers, including the upcoming Ariane 6, which may fly as soon as 2023. Susie was designed so that its 60-foot (12-meter) length, along with its 15-foot (five-meter) diameter can fit the Ariane 6 launcher.

Further in the future, Susie fits into the European Space Agency’s vision of reusable, modular launchers under the New European Space Transportation Solutions (NESTS) initiative, which seeks to build launchers around common building blocks to save on cost and development. 

Depending on mission needs, ArianeGroup said future missions will fly to space hubs and then on to their destination, rather than directly point to point.

Susie was unveiled at the International Astronautical Congress in Paris, which runs through Thursday (Sept. 22). 

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September 20, 2022 at 03:29PM

You Can Still Get DVDs From Netflix (and Maybe You Should)


Photo: karen roach (Shutterstock)

Am I the only one who didn’t know Netflix still offered DVDs? The company has been all-in on streaming for so long, I guess I assumed its physical media fell away at some point between House of Cards and Squid Games. However, even in 2022, you can mail yourself movies and TV shows directly from Netflix, so long as you have a device that play discs. And if you do, you might actually want to.

Wait, Netflix has DVDs?

Depending on your age, it might surprise you to learn that Netflix started out as a DVD service way back in 1997. You placed an order online for the movies you wanted to watch, and Netflix would mail you the DVD, one at a time. You watched the DVD, mailed it back, and another would magically appear in your mailbox. It was Blockbuster without leaving your home, which is why everyone blames Netflix for killing the video store chain (even though Blockbuster had their own DVD mail-in service, as well).

Once their streaming service took off in popularity, they tried to split the two into two distinct options: Netflix (streaming), and Qwikster (DVDs). If you’re wondering what the hell Qwikster is, that’s because Netflix abandoned the name after less than a month. Now, Netflix owns the domain dvd.com, which is a much better name.

What Netflix offers with its DVD service

Although Netflix’s current DVD service isn’t well known (or, at least, not well known to me), it isn’t all that cheap. There are three tiers, with the only difference being the number of DVDs you receive at any given time. For $9.99 per month, you get one DVD; $14.99 nets you two; and $19.99 earns you three. Universal perks include unlimited discs per month, no due dates or late fees, and no charge for shipping or returns (although there is an asterisk next to that entry with no explanation anywhere on the support page).

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Screenshot: Jake Peterson

Still, it might be worth the money depending on who you are. For starters, it restores Netflix’s status as the service with “everything.” We used to think that of Netflix: Just about anything you could think to watch, you could find. In recent years, however, as more and more studios want their own streaming services, Netflix lost more and more shows and movies. Now, you search for something to watch, and, more often than not, Netflix recommends you “similar” titles, since it doesn’t have the thing you’re actually interested in.

That doesn’t change when something leaves Netflix, either. Breaking Bad, a show propelled by Netflix, will eventually leave the platform. But even after that, you can order up the show, season by season, and enjoy it one disc at a time. Netflix doesn’t report how many titles they have to offer you, but they do say you can watch “almost every movie and TV show you want to,” with movies from the 1910s until now. That’s a lot of discs.

Speaking of discs, it’s not all DVDs over at Netflix. While DVDs still have their place, Netflix also offers Blu-rays for no extra charge. It doesn’t seem like Netflix offers 4K Blu-rays, so you will miss out on the extra resolution and HDR. However, 1080p Blu-rays still look excellent, and are way more of a visual jump from 480p DVDs than 1080p is to 4K. Plus, with physical media, there’s no need to worry about a slow internet connection ruining your movie night. There’s no buffering with a Blu-ray.

While the price is a little steep on the surface, it isn’t that bad if you’re someone who watches a fair amount of movies. If you’re constantly renting the latest flicks from services like Apple TV or Google Play, you’ll find Netflix’s offering to be much cheaper. For example, if you rent Where the Crawdads Sing and Jurassic World Dominion for $5.99 each, you’re already spending more than a month’s worth of discs from Netflix. Those titles are currently available on Netflix’s DVD service, by the way, so you can watch much of the same content for less.

As we’ve talked about before, there’s still a place for physical media. Netflix might not advertise its DVD service much in 2022, opting instead to spend its marketing budget on its streaming content. But dvd.com is something every movie and TV buff should consider. You can choose to add the service to your current Netflix plan, or subscribe to it by itself. $9.99 per month doesn’t sound so bad if you ditch Netflix proper for $19.99/month.

How to subscribe to Netflix’s DVD service

If you already have a Netflix account, sign into netflix.com, click your profile in the top right, then choose “Account.” Click “Add DVD plan,” and follow the on-screen instructions. If you don’t have a Netflix account, you can simply sign up for a Netflix DVD account through dvd.com or dvd.netflix.com.


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September 28, 2022 at 09:23AM

How Does Walmart’s New AR Virtual Try-on Work?


Returning clothes I bought online because they weren’t what I was expecting is one of the few things in this world that really wracks me with guilt, mainly because I start thinking about the damage my returns are causing the planet, all because my lazy ass didn’t want to go to the store.

To give you a better idea of how many of us do this not-very-good thing, returns of clothing in 2020 accounted for 12.2% of the overall $428 billion in returns, according to the National Retail Federation.

Hoping to stave off the financial loss incurred by paying for customers’ complimentary return shipping and repackaging (or trashing) their returned items, Walmart unveiled “Be Your Own Model” last week, a new feature on its app that uses the same algorithms and machine learning models used in topographic maps to allow customers to take a picture of themselves to virtually try on clothes. Walmart claims that Be Your Own Model offers a more realistic try-0n experience that doesn’t look like old-style magazine cutouts. Whether Walmart keeps the pictures customers take of themselves is unclear.

via Gizmodo https://gizmodo.com

September 21, 2022 at 03:23PM