Category Archives: Science and Technology

Sci-Tech videos: MIT’s blind cheetah + Boston Dynamics Atlas, MiniSpot, & CEO

A couple of videos about progress in robotic creatures:

** “Blind” Cheetah 3 robot can climb stairs littered with obstacles | MIT News

** Boston Dynamics: “Getting some air, Atlas?

** An interview with the Boston Dynamics founder and CEO Marc Raibert:

** Boston Dynamics: “SpotMini Autonomous Navigation”:

SpotMini autonomously navigates a specified route through an office and lab facility. Before the test, the robot is manually driven through the space so it can build a map of the space using visual data from cameras mounted on the front, back and sides of the robot. During the autonomous run, SpotMini uses data from the cameras to localize itself in the map and to detect and avoid obstacles. Once the operator presses ‘GO’ at the beginning of the video, the robot is on its own. Total walk time for this route is just over 6 minutes. (The QR codes visible in the video are used to measure performance, not for navigation.)

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Sci-Tech videos: Updates on Martin Jetpack and Urban Aero + A hydrofoil vehicle for Uber on water

New transport for air and water:

** Martin Jetpack – Been awhile since I posted videos of the New Zealand company’s one person Vertical Takeoff and Landing with a ducted fan design

According to the 2017 annual report (pdf), the current engine requires more maintenance and has a shorter working life than needed for commercial operations in most markets.  However, the company’s majority shareholder, KuangChi Science (KCS), has determined that the vehicle is “sufficiently advanced to generate revenue via repeatable show concept demonstrations and sales into the first responder market in China”

** Cormorant Urban Aero/Tactical Robotics – I’ve also posted here several times over the years about this large vertical takeoff and landing UAV with a unique approach to a ducted fan vehicle. The Israeli based company remains focused on emergency services and military applications rather than civilian transport –

** SeaBubbles is developing a water taxi with hydrofoils intended to provide Uber style personal transport services on waterways with a fast and stable ride –   SeaBubbles reveals its latest ‘flying water car’ as it brings in a new wave of cash – The Verge

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Sci-Tech Videos: Uber Elevate Summit 2018 – Latest on eVTOL flying taxi technology

Uber Elevate is Uber’s program to support development of electric powered flying taxis that take off and land vertically. The second Uber Elevate Summit was held this week in Los Angeles and companies from around the world presented the status and plans for the vehicles. Infrastructure, regulatory issues, battery technology, electric power supply, and other issues surrounding such services were discussed.

Here are videos of the presentations on the first day. See the schedule for a list of the session.

Here is a video from Uber showing a generic version of the service they would like to provide to urban customers:

** Here is a video of the talk given by Aurora Flight Sciences Founder & CEO John Langford on how “Aurora is building the certifiable autonomous systems that will enable all of tomorrow’s intelligent aircraft – of any shape”:

** Bell Helicopter presented their concept for an air taxi, though their video shows only the interior of their design:

** Pipistrel introduced a new eVTOL design at the event – At 2nd UBER elevate summit Pipistrel reveals new eVTOL Concept and strategic partnership with Elan

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Sci-Tech videos: A sprinkling of 21st Century technologies

** Boston Dynamics – “Getting some air, Atlas?”

** Boston Dynamics – “SpotMini Autonomous Navigation:

SpotMini autonomously navigates a specified route through an office and lab facility. Before the test, the robot is manually driven through the space so it can build a map of the space using visual data from cameras mounted on the front, back and sides of the robot. During the autonomous run, SpotMini uses data from the cameras to localize itself in the map and to detect and avoid obstacles. Once the operator presses ‘GO’ at the beginning of the video, the robot is on its own. Total walk time for this route is just over 6 minutes. (The QR codes visible in the video are used to measure performance, not for navigation.)

** General Fusion – “Inside a General Fusion Power Plant”

General Fusion’s magnetized target fusion (MTF) approach uses compression to heat hydrogen plasma fuel to the 150 million degree Celsius temperatures required to release energy from fusion. This energy is then captured in the liquid metal lining the walls of the chamber, allowing it to be converted to electricity.  This approach draws on new technologies such as additive manufacturing and high speed electronics to remove the traditional barriers to commercial fusion energy, opening a pathway to clean energy, everywhere, forever.

** EHang – “EHang Egret’s 1374 drones dancing over the City Wall of Xi’an, achieving the Guinness World Records”

** Tesla 2018

** 3Dhome.org – “3D Printed Homes for the Developing World”

** NanoRacks – “CubeSat Deployer Program-1 releasing satellites from the ISS”

** Gran Telescopio CANARIAS –  “Meet the Giant – A night at the 10.4m Gran Telescopio CANARIAS”

** Nature Video – “CRISPR: Gene editing and beyond”

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The Breakthrough Junior Challenge offers $250,000 prize for a student with a great science or math idea

The Breakthrough Junior Challenge is

an annual global competition for students to inspire creative thinking about science. Students ages 13 to 18 from countries across the globe are invited to create and submit original videos (3 minutes in length maximum) that bring to life a concept or theory in the life sciences, physics or mathematics. The submissions are judged on the student’s ability to communicate complex scientific ideas in engaging, illuminating, and imaginative ways. The Challenge is organized by the Breakthrough Prize Foundation.

If your video is selected as the winner, you will receive a $250,000 college scholarship, $50,000 prize for your teacher, and $100,000 for your school’s laboratory facilities. In addition, a get a free trip for you and a parent or guardian to receive your award at the live televised Breakthrough Prize Ceremony in November of 2018 (date to be announced).

Here is a video about the competition:

The competition began on April 1, 2018 and will end on July 1, 2018 at 11:59 pm PDT. This video describes the registration process:

Check the Breakthrough Junior Challenge website and FAQ for further details.