Gigantic drones may be the key to low-cost air shipping

Wonder why some companies still ship products on boats instead of speedy aircraft? It’s because air freight is much more expensive — the costs of the crew and fuel quickly add up. Natilus, however, thinks drones might offer a solution. The startup is prepping enormous, 200ft-long drones (roughly the size of a Boeing 777) that would haul up to 200,000lbs of cargo over the ocean. They’d theoretically reduce the cost of air freight in half by eliminating the crew and improving fuel efficiency. And while the drone likely wouldn’t be cleared to fly over populated areas, that wouldn’t matter — it’s designed to land on water and unload its goods at a seaport.

The idea is ambitious, to say the least, but there is a practical roadmap for making it a reality. A 30-foot prototype is poised to fly near San Francisco this summer. If that goes well, the next steps are finishing a full-scale prototype (due in 2020) and taking customers.

The main obstacle? Funding. As Fast Company explains, Natilus is currently a tiny company with three regular employees and under $1 million to its name. It’s going to need a lot of interest from investors to make its drones a reality. Thankfully, that might not be too hard. If the project works as planned, it could cut overseas shipping times down to less than a day without leading to absurd costs. You’d be more likely to get your online orders quickly, and it would be more practical to ship time-sensitive products like food.

Via: Fast Company

Source: Natilus

from Engadget

Elon Musk’s Neuralink will plug AI into your brain

Somewhere between rolling out new Teslas, launching re-usable rockets and digging a tunnel under Los Angeles, Elon Musk managed to start yet another new company. According to a Wall Street Journal report, Musk’s latest project is called Neuralink and its goal is to explore technology that can make direct connections between a human brain and a computer.

As the Journal reports, Musk has an "active role" in the California-based neuroscience startup, which aims to create cranial computers for treating diseases and, eventually, for building human-computer hybrids. During a conference last summer, Musk floated the idea that humans will need a boost of computer-assisted artificial intelligence if we hope to remain competitive as our machines get smarter.

Neuralink is registered in California as a medical research company and has reportedly already hired several high profile academics in the field of neuroscience: flexible electrodes and nano technology expert Dr. Venessa Tolosa; UCSF professor Philip Sabes, who also participated in the Musk-sponsored Beneficial AI conference; and Boston University professor Timothy Gardner, who studies neural pathways in the brains of songbirds.

Like Tesla or SpaceX, the company plans to present a working prototype to prove the technology is safe and viable before moving on to the more ambitious goal of increasing the performance of the human race. In this case, the prototype will likely be brain implants that can treat diseases like epilepsy, Parkinson’s or depression. Musk himself told Vanity Fair that he believes the technology for "a meaningful partial-brain interface" is only "roughly four or five years away." But even if that proves successful, there’s still a long way to go before we’re plugging an AI directly into our brains.

Source: Wall Street Journal

from Engadget

MakeVR Lets You Create 3D Models in Virtual Reality with Real CAD

There’s a new 3D modeler in VR town and it feels like a game-changer — MakeVR was released today by Vive Studios and Sixense. We tested early versions on the HTC Vive system and I can testify it’s an amazing experience, very intuitive and so natural feeling — you just […]

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from MAKE