Sunday, July 15, 2018

China has Launched two new Type 055 Destroyers Simultaneously

Two 10,000-tonne Type 055 destroyers were launched simultaneously by the Dalian Shipbuilding Industry Company (DSIC) on 3 July in a move that reflects the rapid pace at which China is building this new class of warship. The latest ships are the third and fourth to be launched, with all four entering the water in a little over a year.

These are far closer in role and capability to our Ticonderoga class cruisers rather than the Burke class destroyers.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Robopocalyse Report #105


Aergility is moving its cargo carrying UAV work to the full scale prototype stage.

Amazon patented 'hack proof' delivery drones.

Aspen, Colorado swapped its fireworks display for a drone show for the 4th of July.

AT&T and Verizon are testing using drones as emergency cell towers.

The British Drones Bill may finally be working its way through Parliament.  At least to the public consultation stage.

British researchers have a pothole filling drone.

Bularia has developed a cargo drone.

Are cargo drones the way to go for the shipping industry?

Colombia is planning on using drones to wipe out the coca plant.

One Colorado lawmaker wants to make it a felony to fly a drone over a wild fire.

The Commercial Drone Alliance will meet with the House of Representative's Subcommittee on Aviation.

Delft Dynamics is developing a tugboat towline delivery drone.

DJI has partnered with a South Korean telecom to stream drone video.

Drone photography from the POV of architect.

Drones can be used to detect butterfly mines after wars.

Drones are learning to fly themselves.

Drones launching fireworks is a bad idea.

Drones are being used to survey African wild life.

Drone Harmony has an app that automates inspections of cell phone towers.

Dropcopter's drones can improve pollination 60% in 'bad' bee years.

Two drug dealers who were delivering by drone have pled guilty.

Exyn is going to release a drone in a South American mine to map it...without using GPS.

The FAA's new program, LAANC, will cut the time to getting a commercial permit for drones.

The FAA has banned drone flights above prisons and US Coast Guard stations.

Green Peace crashed a superman shaped (yes, superman) into a French nuclear reactor building to 'prove a point.'

An Idaho Falls police officer has been tapped to create a roster of all Idaho state agencies using drones.

Indiana's first responders are increasingly using drones.

Intel's Shooting Star drones were used at Travis AFB in California for a 4th of July celebration.

The International Drone Racing Association has selected the drone for this year.

KT Telecom has unveiled an airship drone for search and rescue.

Medical supply drone delivery company Matternet just got a $16M investment from Boeing.

MIT has developed a chip for micro drones.

Mystic is a bot powered drone that follows you and recognizes gestures.

NASA has flown one of its drones in public air space in a solo flight.

New Zealand is seeking stricter rules for hobbyist drone users.

NOAA is using drones in the Arctic to monitor the environment.

Ohio is testing using drones to monitor traffic.

Pilsner Urquell used a drone to inspect its beer bottling plant.

Reykjavik residents will see drone delivery of goods expand soon.

A Swedish woman encountered a peeping drone.

Switzerland is seeing a disturbing increase for the number of drone-aircraft incidents.

UNICEF is calling on companies to deliver vaccines via drone in the South Pacific.

The University of Tokyo has created the Dragon drone that can autonomously decide what shape it needs to navigate through terrain.

The USGS is using drones to monitor the craters of the active volcanoes in Hawaii.

Vicksburg, MS' police department got permission from the FAA to use drones.

Volvo is using Luminar's lidar.

Wisconsin police used a drone to save a man from self harm.

Hundreds of drones are on display at the 2018 World Drone Congress.

Wichita police bought a drone for search and rescue, but some are skeptical.

World Economic Forum has launched a drone policy group.

Self Driving Cars:

The gov has blocked a device that can fool the Tesla Autopilot.

Members of the self driving industry have created a group to study the impacts of the technology on society.

A societal impact for self driving cars might be the massive loss of parking fees.

How much could a family potentially save by giving up its car to use a driverless car sharing service?

There are calls for the gov to get the regulations for self driving cars, and autonomous vehicles in general, right.

Some experts believe self driving cars are much further away than people think.

Self driving cars can have issues telling if people are going to cross the road.  Or not.

Is the hype holiday over for self driving cars?

Apple has hired an ex Waymo engineer for its self driving car development.

An ex Apple Employee was charged with trying to steal Apple data for its self driving car project.  The employee bought a last second plane ticket to China and was attempting to go work for a startup there.  XMotors, the company the employee was hired by, claims no secrets were passed along.

Baidu has built its 100th Apolong self driving bus.

Baidu will be testing 10 of its self driving buses in Japan., George Hotz's latest insanity, has released its Level 2 autonomy software to retrofit Honda Civics to become self driving cars.

Two of Cruise's self driving Bolts bumped each other, possibly providing the first case of self driving cars having an accident with each other.

Daimler has received permission to test its self driving car tech on the streets of Beijing.

Einride has developed an electric, self driving logging truck.

A 1965 Ford Mustang has been modified to be self driving.

Georgia Tech is using scale RC cars to test self driving tech.

Google's Loon and Wings UAVs have been spun off into their own separate companies like Waymo was. is a new, secretive startup that may be getting into self driving semis.  The funky part?  They hired Levandowksi, the engineer in the middle of the self driving car IP theft from Google and Uber.  This is the same Levandowski who started a church stating AI was going to be our Messiah.  Not kidding.

Mercedes will launch its self driving taxis in California next year.  They will be using nvidia's chips and tested somewhere in Silicon Valley.

When will Nissan EVs drive themselves?

nuro and the grocery store Kruger are planning a driverless delivery system.

nuTonomy can now test its self driving cars throughout all of Boston.  Previously, it had been restricted to a single area.

Perceptiva automata is trying to make self driving cars safer for pedestrians.

roborace will attempt its first self driving climb at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

StreetDrone announced an open source self driving car software stack.

Tesla Model S and X's will be able to park themselves with the Summon feature.  There may be some confusion as it is also being said this is coming to the Model 3.

Uber has started increasing its simulations for its "drivionics" for self driving cars since the accident.

The Uber 'driver' behind the wheel of the self driving car was streaming Hulu at the time of the crash.

Uber is going to restart testing its self driving cars this summer.

Uber has laid off 100 of its employees in the self driving division.

Voyage has selected Enterprise to manage its fleet of self driving cars.

One of Waymo's self driving car testbeds was hit by a red light runner in Arizona.

Waymo has added Jaguar I-Pace's to its self driving car fleet.

British startup Wayve claims to have an algorithm that can learn how to drive in 20 minutes.


Say hello to Disney's stuntbot.

Inside the not Boston Dynamics lab, the Caltech AmberLab, making mad robots, too.

China has new UUVs.

fuRo has an awesome mashup of a bot that will follow you and a scooter.  Replace the scooters in SF with these.  geez.  Much better.  Just keep them off the sidewalk.

An autonomous electric ferry is starting service in Norway.

Harvard has developed a cockroach-like bot that can walk on land or water.

Honda has ceased developing the Asimo robot.

KLM has a bot to carry your luggage to the right gate.

A maker created a iphone controlled robot to act as a tug for his Cessna.

MIT's Cheetah bot can now climb stairs with obstacles.

The first MRI guided surgery robot.

Ovis has a self driving suitcase.

Robots have an improved method of picking things up.

Robots still have issues picking up objects.  You can help improve their abilities.

Roboticists are delving into biomimicry a lot.

SmokeBot is a robot for firefighters.

Tesla is touting a new type of factory.

An unmanned underwater vehicle was used by search and rescue to find bodies after a tragedy with an Indonesian ferry.

Volvos wants self parking tech for yachts.

3d Printing:

3d printing photosensitive materials is now possible.

3d printing will radically change factories.  For real this time.

Prellis Biologics has a way of 3d printing tissue with capillaries.

Rice University is working on 3d printed graphene foam.

The Russians have found a new way to 3d print tissue.

The US Army has applied for a patent on a new 3d printable concrete composition.

Researchers have come up with a way to create custom 3d printed polymers.

Data files for 3d printed weapons are protected as free speech.  This is gonna get weird.

USAF is now 3d printing its toilet seats.

Estonian researchers have created a peat mixture to 3d print houses.

Austin based Icon can now 3d print houses up to 800 sq ft in 24 hours.


MIT has an interface that uses brain control and gestures to control rockets.

There is prosthetic skin that can perceive pain and touch.

There is also a prosthetic ankle that can handle rough terrain.

Software Bots:

Adobe is developing a bot that detects shopped images.

Amazon has launched a version of Alexa for hotels, starting with Marriots.

Amazon's Alexa for IoS can now use voice commands.

Amazon's Alexa is losing market share in an amazingly horrible way.

Apple has snatched Google's former head of 'AI.'

Baidu has also developed a software bot to detect tumors.

A British judge has suggested using software bots to review social media data.

The British NHS is asking Google to explain its business model for DeepMind Health.

DARPA is funding development of bots that can design computer chips.

Facebook has acquired Bloombury, a software bot for natural language processing.

Facebook has been sending bots into a virtual NYC to improve.

Fuel3d has started testing its facial recognition software.

Google's Cloud TPU's are online for paying users.

Google is attempting to train bots to be able to predict if and when a patient will die.

Google has trained a bot to create 3d models from 2D pictures.

Google Assistant has an upgrade.

Google Home and Chromecast went down for some users.

Google has started publicly testing its Duplex software bot.

Could Google's voice assistant actually handle your next insurance claim?

If a Google bot decides your use of the cloud for your business should be banned, what do you do?

Google's DeepMind can now play Quake III like a person.

Guess has created a store where Alibaba bots can help you put together outfit combinations.

Hinge is using bots to match people for dates.

IBM developed a version of a bot to debate and present unbiased arguments.  hmm.

IBM is laying off a lot of people at its Watson Health unit.

An Instagram Influencer is nothing more than a software bot: she doesn't even exist.

The IRS wants a software bot to secure its data.

Could the first machine learning algorithm able to correctly project extrapolations been found?

Microsoft's Azure face recognition software now works on more than just caucasians.

Microsoft's software bots may help predict natural disasters.  Sort of.

MIT has developed a software bot to help with medical image analysis.

MIT also has a software bot that can identify and isolate individual instruments in music.

NVidia has released new tools for software bot developers.

Nvidia has added more containers full of computers for software bots.

Nvidia's bot fixes bad photos by looked at other bad photos.

OpenAI entered its bots into a DOTA 2 competition.

Software bots could be a nightmare for the pharmaceutical industry.

Software bots are being used to create phishing links for hacking your computer.

Software bot generated deep fakes can be detected, for now, by the fact they don't get blinking right.

A software bot is getting predictive for food choices.

Software bots are needed to map roads in real time.

A Software bot has built the largest to date library of intercelluar interactions.

Software bots are being used to help study the brain.

Software bots are being used to ID different types of volcanic ash.

Software bots are being used for ecological studies, IDing, counting, etc. animals.

A software bot has been developed to help predict outcomes for schizophrenia treatments.

Software bots have been developed to help spot protein crystals under a microscope.

Should sports switch to bot referees?

Stanford has a software bot that helps predict the side effects of drugs.

Uber has applied for a patent for a software bot that can tell if a passenger is drunk.


Automated systems, including access control, can have drawbacks.

Microsoft is trying to compete with Amazon for personless stores.

The University of Haifa has developed an autonomous system for detecting schools of fish.

Momentum Machines has opened its first burger restaurant in San Francisco.

Why you ought to let a bot make your next meal.


The Robopocalypse might not take your job, but it might make it boring.

One of the potential answers to the robopocalypse has been suggested to be the guaranteed income or universal basic income.  Ontario, Canada is conducting an experiment on what happens when a UBI is used.

A call for creating AI to serve humanity rather than replacing it.

The US House of Representatives wants to know when the robopocalypse is coming.

Can AI have values, but not conscience?

Some economists are getting worried because too much time is being spent on discussing whether or not automation will take what jobs rather than planning for what comes after jobs are taken.

Friday, July 13, 2018

The Russian Space Program Could be in for a Dark Ages

These are not the best of times for the Russian space industry. Due to budgetary reasons, Roscosmos has reduced the number of cosmonauts on the International Space Station from three to two. Because of technical problems with its rockets and cost pressure from SpaceX, the country's once-lucrative commercial launch industry is fading. And soon, conditions may worsen.

As soon as next year, the United States plans to stop paying hundreds of millions of dollars a year to Russia for Soyuz seats, because it is developing its own transport to the space station. And the European Space Agency has signaled that it will stop launching Russian Soyuz rockets from its French Guiana-based spaceport in the early 2020s.

Russian space editor Andrei Borisov has captured the fading zeitgeist of the Russian space program in a lengthy article on the new leader of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, and the changes he has proposed. "The 'Russian Space' Rogozin is trying to create reminds one of the Dark Ages in Europe," Borisov writes on Lenta.Ru, where he serves as editor of science and technology. "In it, there is no place for modernization, there is only the mission of survival."

As a symptom, the next gen crewed Russian Federatsiya space capsule has been making glacial progress at best:
The Russian Federatsiya project – which is preparing the path for the launch of a new crewed spacecraft – passed a major milestone when it recently entered aerodynamic testing. The tests involved a model of the future spaceship and its Launch Abort System (LAS) fitted with numerous pressure sensors. Another milestone was achieved when work on the interior of the spacecraft was conducted, as noted by Roscosmos in recent days.

The development path for this new spacecraft – which is also referenced as “Federation” in its English translation – began in February 2009, when Roscosmos issued a solicitation for a spaceship intended for Lunar manned missions.

They called it PPTS (Prospective Piloted Transport System), which was also known as the Future Manned Transportation System.

Two companies participated in the tender: GKNPTs Khrunichev, the builder of the Proton launcher, and RKK Energiya, which has provided Soyuz spaceships for almost fifty years.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

New Russian Sub Launched Nuclear Missile has Entered Service

Russian press quotes a source in the industry as saying that the Bulava SLBM has been finally accepted for service. That was a long wait.

The work on the Bulava program started almost exactly 20 years ago. It was included in the plan that was approved in 1998, when Russia was struggling to find the way to maintain its strategic forces not much below the START II levels of 3500 warheads - at that point it was expected that START II will come into force. It wasn't an easy process and the MITT emerged with two projects in its portfolio - the Topol-M (which will later become Yars) ICBM and the Bulava SLBM. The R-39UTTH Bark SLBM project - a follow-up to R-39/SS-N-20 - was cancelled after three failed flight tests. Part of MITT's argument was that Bulava will use Topol-M technologies and therefore will be cheaper to produce.

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Paleolithic Papers #21

Genus Homo:

Why are human brains so large?  What genes make our brains grow so much larger than most other animals in relative terms?  Does the size come at a cost?

H. sapiens:

Who were the Nataruk people?

The Zhoukoudian Cave's human habitation is 35 thousand years old.

Mesolithic Mediterranean people's diet has been discovered via analysis of their teeth.

More evidence suggests modern humans colonized the Americas via the coastal route.

Paleogenetic evidence also suggests two different lineages did the colonization.

Mesolithic intestinal parasites have been found in Sweden.

Diets of the Niah Cave residents might be detectable from their mandibles.

The Clovis tech and skeletal remains from the Anzick site are, in fact, from the same time frame at the Holocene/Pleistocene boundary.

The interaction between modern humans and the archaic populations it replaced in Africa as it evolved needs to be examined.

Late Pleistocene tools in Sri Lanka show what plants the locals were eating at the time.

H. neanderthalensis:

How DID Neandertals hunt?  By not throwing, it appears, but by close-quarters thrusts and stabs.

New insights into the Neandertal thorax.


Stone tools from the Denisovan cave were used to butcher animals.

H. erectus:

How H. erectus may have interacted with a lake margin ecology.

H. naledi:

Based on studying the teeth of H. naledi, it definitely appears to be a member of the genus Homo.

H. habilis:

The biomechanics of the OH 8 foot get examined.

Genus Australopithecus:

The cranial thickness of the StW 578 hominin (A. africanus, iirc) gets examined and similarities to modern humans are found, while differences from Paranthropus are uncovered as well.

The DIK-1-1f A. afarensis child has finally been described.  Among the interesting features is the child had ankles and feet that would help it climb trees, unlike the adults of the same species.  The big toe, as a child, was far, far more mobile than as an adult.  This would allow for grasping while climbing.  However, the child would lose this as it grew up.  Even as a child though, the Dikka hominin was definitely bipedal.


The environment of 2 million years ago where hominins lived was wetter than previously thought.

Muscles thought to be uniquely human have been found in great apes.

How hominins leading to humans carved out their unique niche and how it differed from apes.

Studying breakage patterns on bones could have been produced by hominins.

Caution with studying collagen from prehistoric hominin fossils is warranted.

Large size might have evolved already by the time of the last common ancestor of humans and chimps.

Friday, July 06, 2018

NASA Considering Flying Additional SLS Block One Rockets

NASA has started updating plans and schedules for additional SLS Block 1 launches in the early 2020s after Washington added federal budget money for a second Mobile Launcher (ML) platform and umbilical tower in late March.

Construction of a new Mobile Launcher frees the first ML from a three-year long downtime for teardown and reassembly after the first SLS launch of Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), currently projected for mid-2020. Instead of being retired after one launch, the Block 1 configuration could fly multiple times.

The first two candidates to fly on the second SLS launch are the first crewed Orion on a Lunar swingby flight test or the Europa Clipper interplanetary flagship that will repeatedly overfly Jupiter’s moon exploring for signs of habitability. The space agency formally re-assigned both missions to Block 1 last week and will decide in the future which one gets priority.

Both missions will need Block 1’s Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage (ICPS), a modified Delta 4 upper stage, and NASA is now looking at purchasing more stages and human-rating the design for Orion missions.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Collision With a 2 Earth Mass Planet Shaped Uranus' Evolution

Uranus was hit by a massive object roughly twice the size of Earth that caused the planet to tilt and could explain its freezing temperatures, according to new research.

Astronomers at Durham University, UK, led an international team of experts to investigate how Uranus came to be tilted on its side and what consequences a giant impact would have had on the planet's evolution.

The team ran the first high-resolution computer simulations of different massive collisions with the ice giant to try to work out how the planet evolved.

The research confirms a previous study which said that Uranus' tilted position was caused by a collision with a massive object - most likely a young proto-planet made of rock and ice - during the formation of the solar system about 4 billion years ago.

The simulations also suggested that debris from the impactor could form a thin shell near the edge of the planet's ice layer and trap the heat emanating from Uranus' core. The trapping of this internal heat could in part help explain Uranus' extremely cold temperature of the planet's outer atmosphere (-216 degrees Celsius, -357 degrees Fahrenheit), the researchers said.