Monday, April 30, 2018

The Great Plains may be Growing Eastward

In 1878, the American geologist and explorer John Wesley Powell drew an invisible line in the dirt-a very long line. It was the 100th meridian west, the longitude he identified as the boundary between the humid eastern United States and the arid Western plains. Running south to north, the meridian cuts northward through the eastern states of Mexico, and on to Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, the Dakotas, and the Canadian province of Manitoba on its way to the pole. Powell, best known for exploring the Grand Canyon and other parts of the West, was wary of large-scale settlement in that often harsh region, and tried convincing Congress to lay out water- and land-management districts crossing state lines to deal with environmental constraints. Western political leaders hated the idea-they feared this might limit development, and their own power-and it never went anywhere. It was not the first time that politicians would ignore the advice of scientists.

Now, 140 years later, scientists are looking again at the 100th meridian. In two just-published papers, they examine how it has played out in history so far, and what the future may hold. They confirm that the divide has turned out to be very real, as reflected by population and agriculture on opposite sides. They say also that the line appears to be slowly moving eastward, due to climate change. They say it will almost certainly continue shifting in coming decades, expanding the arid climate of the western plains into what we think of as the Midwest. The implications for farming and other pursuits could be huge.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Orbital ATK Tested a (partially) 3d Printed Hypersonic Warhead

The 50-lb warhead arrived to the test site in the Texas desert in the back of a dust-covered Jeep nestled in an unassuming open, beat-up cardboard box.

Less than 30 minutes later, the warhead exploded from its perch hanging from a couple of 2x4s, driving into the ground below and sending thin metal panels around it — set up to measure fragmentation from the blast — flying backward. A shockwave ripped through the ground and could be felt many hundreds of yards away in a bunker.

When the dust settled, the fragmentation-pocked metal panels lay contorted on the earth and evidence of a warhead test was everywhere including fragmentation embedded deep in random test rigging and the tip of the warhead resting on the ground in the center of the test arena.

“It’s too early to say it’s going to match our model, but it’s what we were expecting,” Richard Truitt, Orbital ATK’s program manager for warhead development programs, told Defense News while surveying the aftermath.

The warhead — designed for hypersonic applications — marks a major first for the company. Three out of five of its major components were made using additive manufacturing. And the March 29 test was the first time Orbital ATK has tested a warhead built partially from 3D-printed materials.

Hypersonic weapons are anything that can exceed Mach 5, which is five times faster than the speed of sound.

The company has developed its Lethality Enhanced Ordnance (LEO) warhead capability and some modeling techniques to help look at fragmentation design on certain target sets, Pat Nolan, vice president and general manager of Orbital ATK’s missile products division, told Defense News in a recent interview before the test.

“Now we’re coupling our rocket motor hypersonic experience with our warhead design experience to design a warhead that can survive at high speeds, high temperatures, when you’re going that fast,” Nolan said before the test. The test will examine what effects the fragmentation will have on various targets.

The warhead went from conception to test in 60 days, according to Truitt. The team began designing the warhead at the start of February, he said, and using additive manufacturing to build a large portion of the components cut out at least a month and a half to manufacture the warhead.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Stealth Saga #74

Sixth Generation Fighters:

The USAF is promoting its vision of what air to air combat will look like in 2030 in an AFRL video.

The Business Insider had someone consider the video and what to expect from 6th gen fighters.

Next Gen European Fighter:

France and Germany are supposed to announce a new fighter program that will replace the Eurofighter and Rafale in 2040.  Airbus and Dassault have signed an agreement to get the bird in the air supposedly by 2035.

There are politics involved with the procurement.


Martin Baker's MK18 ejection seat has been selected for the South Korean KF-X fighter.

Cobham will produce the oxygen system for the KF-X.

Meggitt won a contract for the KF-X, the brakes and landing gear.

Indonesia is considering pulling out of the KF-X.  South Korea has confirmed the possible pullout.


Leonardo is looking to participate in the Turkish fighter effort.

Preliminary agreements have been signed for the production of the TF-X.


Japan denied it will scrap its indigenous 5th generation fighter program.

Even so, Lockheed is said to be offering a new 5th gen fighter with a hybrid of tech from the F-22 and F-35.  It will probably have the bauplan of the F-22 (or close) and the avionics and engines of the F-35.  Some are arguing to restart the F-22 line if there's a hybrid offered.  This ignores the law stated no exports for the F-22.

Japan is weighing different routes to its next fighter, whether through indigenous development or working with a foreign company.  The X-2 may take to the skies again, despite finishing its test program.

Why the F-35 isn't enough for Japan.


Su-57s practicing for the May 9th Parade flyover.

India believes the Su-57 to be inferior to the F-22 and F-35 and is disappointed.

Did the Su-57 deploy to Syria to test its sensors against American stealth aircraft?

The Su-57 will be armed with the Kh-31 family of missiles.

The Su-57 is supposedly to be armed with a recently unveiled standoff "stealthy" Drel bomb.

The Su-57 will participate in the May 9th military parade in Moscow.


India is abandoning the Su-57 derivative, the FGFA: the performance, especially with stealth, is not up to 5th gen fighter standards, according to India.


The Russians are saying the Indians are saying (I know, I know) that the J-20 is detectable by Indian radars.

The Chinese claim to be using metamaterials in the J-20 for stealth.  Given the above, I wonder who is correct.


Is Beijing hinting the H-20 is not a flying wing?  or is this an artist picking up on internet based pictures and using them in a officially blessed publication?

Pop Sci considers China's plans for a strategic bomber and commissioned an artist to do a speculative rendering for what the H-20 might be like.


A bit of a puff piece for the B-21 here.

A patch has emerged that may belong to the B-21 test squadron.

The B-21 has finished its PDR.

The B-21 has had its first software drop.


Three B-2s were filmed over Pittsburg, KS.

A huge exercise of 20 B-2s was conducted.

Model 401:

Scaled Composite's Model 401 had more pictures taken of it.

MQ-25 Stingray:

Lockheed is already pushing a stealthy version of the new tanker drone.


Some patches have come to light about potential RQ-170 operational units.


It has been ten years since the F-117 has been retired.  Officially.


An auditor discusses the changes to the strategy for developing software for the F-22.

Lt. Col. Cheryl Buehn is the only female pilot for the 71st Training Squadron. Her job? To dogfight F-22s.

An F-22 somehow belly flopped at takeoff.

Another F-22 had an engine incident.

F-22s were used in the Syrian airstrikes.


War is Boring still hates the F-35.

The latest report to Congress on the F-35 program.

Spare parts for the F-35 are becoming a serious problem at Elgin AFB.

The Pentagon refused delivery of F-35s until Lockheed ponies up to fix manufacturing defects found in previously delivered aircraft.

The omnibus spending bill passed provided a total of 20 more F-35s than originally asked for: 56 F-35As, 22 F-35Bs & 8 F-35Cs.

The Pentagon plans multiyear contracts starting in 2021 for the F-35.

As production is ramped up all three versions of the F-35 will go below $100M each.

The F-35 JPO is looking to upgrade the LRIP-1 and LRIP-2 F-35 engines.

The F-35 JPO is looking to restructure the sustainment part of the F-35 program rather than cut jets from the procurement.

The F-35 JPO is now launching the Block 4 "premodernization" effort for the F-35.

The F-35 JPO will eventually disband, but some are downplaying the reorg.  In fact, the JPO may not be disbanded until 2035.

The F-35 has completed its development flights without losses or fatalities.  Some are still unhappy.

The US MDA is now stating the F-35A will be ready to help with missile defense in 2025.

The USAF F-35As at Kadena AFB in Japan have been dogfighting with F-15s.  An F-15 made a 'kill' on an F-35.

A pilot talks up the F-35A.

VMFA-122 flew the F-35B for the first time.

The F-35B is expanding its expeditionary envelope.

The F-35B visited CENTCOM HQ in preparation for its first combat deployment.  That deployment will be aboard the USS Essex.

The F-35B is getting 300 GBU-49s for moving targets.

The USMC is experimenting with feeding data from the F-35 to its ground troops.

An USMC F-35B had an emergency landing in Japan.

The USMC F-35B had has an assortment of sustainment problems on its deployment.

There are many lessons learned from the USMC's use of the F-35B.

Lockheed got an $8.5 million contract from the US Navy for the F-35.

The US Navy finished the carrier qualifications the F-35C.

The schedule to declare IOC for the F-35C by the end of the year is in jeopardy.

The F-35C will be deployed to Iwakuni in 2021.

The US Navy finalized JSOW internal integration on the F-35C.  And more info.

The US Navy gave Lockheed two more contract mods for the F-35.

Is Australia shifting from working with the USN to the USAF as noted by the purchase of the F-35As?

Australia received its first fully combat capable F-35A.

Australia's F-35s are getting caught up in the delivery suspension due to manufacturing issues the Pentagon has found.

The British are starting to look at sustainment costs for the F-35.

The Brits have reformed Squadron 617 for the F-35Bs.

Lockheed submitted a bid to Germany to replace the Luftwaffe Tornadoes with F-35s.  Lockheed, thy name is Don Quixote: psst, the Germans prefer the Eurofighter...

Japan wants a multipurpose carrier and to use F-35Bs.

India is supposedly stating they are not interested in the F-35.

There is a report two Israeli F-35Is flew across Syria and Iraq to enter Iranian air space undetected.  Some are more than skeptical.  Russia is denying the F-35s could get around its air defenses.

Israel is going to decide between ordering more F-15s or more F-35s.

Italian F-35s have completed their training deployment to Sardinia.

Italian workers on the F-35 assembly line went on strike.

South Korea's first F-35A had its maiden flight.  The ceremony around the new bird was very low key.  Watch the rollout of the F-35.

A South Korean delegation is pressing the Pentagon to award contracts for MRO&U to Korean companies.

Taiwan still wants F-35Bs.  Two Republican senators are pushing for the Trump administration to sell the aircraft to Taiwan.

The US government is threatening Turkey's participation in the F-35 over the purchase of the S-400 missiles from Russia.  This may be a problem for the F-35 in Europe.  A bill has been introduced in the US Senate to block sale of the F-35s to Turkey.  This is not the first time.


The University of Waterloo claims to have developed a stealth defeating quantum radar.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Boeing's First Test Commercial Crew Flight may Become an Operational One

NASA has updated its Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contract with Boeing, which provides flexibility in its commercial flight tests. Boeing, one of the agency’s two commercial crew partners, approached NASA last year and proposed adding a third crew member on its Crew Flight Test (CFT) to the International Space Station.

The change includes the ability to extend Boeing’s CFT from roughly two weeks to up to six months as well as the training and mission support for a third crew member. Cargo capabilities for the uncrewed and crewed flight tests were also identified.

Exact details of how to best take advantage of the contract modification are under evaluation, but the changes could allow for additional microgravity research, maintenance, and other activities while Starliner is docked to station. Adding a third crew member on Boeing’s flight test could offer NASA an additional opportunity to ensure continued U.S. access to the orbital laboratory.


2nd link.

However, the engines needed for the Atlas V rocket may be cut off by the Russians.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Studying the African Neolithic Transition Through Genetics

Scientists from the Institut Pasteur set out to understand how the demographic changes associated with the Neolithic transition also influenced the efficacy of natural selection. By comparing the genome diversity of more than 300 individuals from groups of forest hunter-gatherers (pygmies) and farmers (Bantu-speaking peoples), from western and eastern Central Africa, they discovered that the reason pygmies did not suffer from excessive deleterious mutations was because of their genetic diversity and their admixture with the Bantu peoples.

Research into the diversity of the human genome and any rare or frequent mutations is vital in identifying mutations that increase susceptibility to "complex" diseases, such as infectious or autoimmune disorders. "The elimination of these mutations that are harmful for human health is largely conditioned by the evolutionary history of populations, especially their demographic fluctuations," explains Lluis Quintana, Head of the Human Evolutionary Genetics Unit and author of the study. Throughout their history, human populations have undergone significant and extremely varied changes in terms of numbers of individuals, giving rise to differences in the number and severity of mutations carried by these populations. The accumulation of disease-causing genetic variants, known as the "burden of deleterious mutations", varies from one population to another depending on its past. "The aim of our project is to understand how demographic events such as the rise and fall in numbers of individuals, as well as genetic admixtures, have had an impact on the efficacy of some evolutionary mechanisms such as purifying selection."

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Linguists or Nationalists: Who was Right About the Origin of Indian Civilization?

A CENTURY and a half ago linguists invented a new map of the world. Their research showed that a single family tree stretches its branches almost unbroken across most of Eurasia: from Iceland to Bangladesh, most people speak languages descended from “Proto-Indo-European”. The philologists had a theory to explain why Sanskrit, the ancient forebear of Hindi, has closer cousins in Europe than in south India. They speculated that at some point before the composition of the Vedas, the oldest texts of Hinduism, an Aryan people had migrated into India from the north-west, while their kin pushed westward into Europe.

Long before the Nazis dreamed of an exalted master race, imperialists seized on what some dubbed the “Aryan invasion” theory to paint Britain’s rule of India as the extension of a “natural” order. Indians, too, found a use for it. Caste-bound Hindu conservatives declared that the paler-skinned intruders must be ancestors of higher-caste Brahmins and Kshatriyas. Such talk stirred a backlash in southern India, where generally darker-skinned speakers of Dravidian languages were urged to see themselves as a separate nation.

Hindu nationalists took a different tack. The West, some said, had made up the theory to set Hindus against each other. Christian missionaries and communists were using it to stoke caste hatred and so to recruit followers, they claimed. Worse, the theory challenged an emerging vision of Mother India as a sacred Hindu homeland. If the first speakers of Sanskrit and the creators of the Vedas had themselves been intruders, it was harder to portray later Muslim and Christian invaders as violators of a purity that good Hindus should seek to restore. So it was that some proposed an alternative “Out of India” theory. This held that the original Aryans were in fact Indians, who carried their Indo-European language and superior civilisation to the West.


An accumulating pile of research using DNA from both ancient human remains and modern people indicates strongly that, beginning around 2000BC, north-west India was indeed infused with new blood. The newcomers appear to have shared the same roots in what is now southern Russia as did the invaders of a similar-sized peninsula to the west called Europe. Strikingly, too, the genetic markers identifying this group seem to be far more prevalent among modern north Indian Brahmins than among other Indians.

Because of the difficulty in collecting ancient DNA, such research has until recently relied on relatively few samples. But an international team of 92 scholars, including David Reich, a geneticist at Harvard University who has pioneered techniques to analyse DNA more quickly and precisely, is set to publish data recovered from 362 “ancient individuals” from across South and Central Asia. Among their conclusions: there was probably an early migration of agriculturalists into India from what is now Iran, around 4000BC, and this was followed two millennia later—just before the Vedic Age—by a large influx from what is now southern Russia.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Paleogenetics Shed Light on Ancestry of the Inca

A multinational South American team from Peru, Brasil and Bolivia led by the Universidad de San Martin de Porres at Lima, Peru, published the first genetic study on the modern descendants of the imperial Inka lineages in the journal Molecular Genetics and Genomics. This work supported by funds from the Genographic Project (Geno 2.0), shows new insights about the Inkas origins and lineages.

The Inka people arrived to Cusco valley and in a few centuries they built the Tawantinsuyu, the largest empire in the Americas. The Tawantinsuyu was the cultural climax of 6,000 years of Central Andes civilizations overlapping modern countries of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, the South of Colombia and the North of Argentina and Chile. In contrast with the richness of archeological and cultural evidence, pre Columbian history vanishes in time as it intermingles with myths due to the lack of writing systems before the arrival of the European chroniclers. Very little is known about the Inka origins and some genetic information could help reconstruct part of their history. Unfortunately the mummies and bodily remains of the Inka emperors, worshiped as gods, were burnt and buried in unknown locations due to religious and political persecution by the Christian Conquistadors and Inquisitors, so no direct material remain to study their DNA. "Thus for now, only the genetic analysis of modern families of Inka descent could provide some clues about their ancestors" remarks geneticist Jose Sandoval, first author, working at Universidad de San Martin de Porres at Lima, Peru.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Evidence of the Importance of Animal Management for the Maya in Ceibal, Guatemala

Earliest isotopic evidence in the Maya region for animal management and long-distance trade at the site of Ceibal, Guatemala 
Sharpe et al 
This study uses a multiisotope (carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and strontium) approach to examine early animal management in the Maya region. An analysis of faunal specimens across almost 2,000 years (1000 BC to AD 950) at the site of Ceibal, Guatemala, reveals the earliest evidence for live-traded dogs and possible captive-reared taxa in the Americas. These animals may have been procured for ceremonial functions based on their location in the monumental site core, suggesting that animal management and trade began in the Maya area to promote special events, activities that were critical in the development of state society. Isotopic evidence for animal captivity at Ceibal reveals that animal management played a greater role in Maya communities than previously believed.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Pakistan has Tested a Nuclear Capable Submarine Launched Cruise Missile

Pakistan announced Thursday that it had successfully conducted another test-firing of a nuclear-capable, submarine-launched cruise missile (SLCM), which has a range of 450 kilometers.

The indigenously developed Babur missile was fired from an underwater platform and “engaged its target with precise accuracy,” a military statement said.

The rocket is capable of delivering “various types of payloads” and provides Pakistan a “credible” second-strike capability.

Military spokesman Major-General Asif Ghafoor, while referring to the country’s archrival India, said the development of Babur was a response to “provocative nuclear strategies and posture being pursued in the neighborhood.” He also released some footage of the testing.

Pakistan said its nuclear and missile development programs are India-specific and have effectively deterred the bigger neighbor, with its larger military power, from imposing another war on the country.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Robopocalypse Report #102


One airline exec is calling for harsher penalties on drone operators for near misses between drones and aircraft.

An alliance has been formed between drone makers.

Amazon got a patent for drones people can wave down.

Aronofsky used drones for filming.

The Borey-10 drone is intended for mapping, monitoring and surveying.

China has issued its first drone delivery permit.

Chinese smugglers were using drones to smuggle $80 million worth of Iphones from Hong Kong to Shenzen.

The Commercial Drone Alliance wants the FAA to regulate hobbyist drone pilots so they can implement a drone air traffic control system.

DJI will allow developers to customize drones.

Delivery by drone may be better for the environment.

Drones are being used to stop poaching.

Drones with computer vision are being used to monitor caribou migrations.

Drones may be part of the security for Coachella 2018.

Drones have an interior life?

A drone pilot was fined for flying over an Ed Sheeran concert.

Your next airline pilot might be drone software.

DroneBase and DroneDeploy have partnered.

The FAI drone racing world cup kicks off in April.

First responders used a drone to save someone's life in the Ozarks for the first time.

You can control drones with a VR headset and an exosuit called FlyJacket.

France's drone registry would require remote ID of drone operators.

Germany had less of an increase in drone related incidents last year than anticipated.

HBO as part of a publicity stunt has delivered pizza via drone to fans of the Silicon Valley TV show.

Irish researchers just received a grant for a drone traffic control system.

Japan will end beyond line of sight regulations for drones by the beginning of 2019.

NASA just completed a TC 3 level test of a UAV traffic management system.  TC 3 means it has a long, long ways to go.

Russia Post's delivery drone went splat on its debut.

Skydio's R1 seems to impress.

senseFly has released new software for drone flight management.

The Trump administration wants to extend the military's rights to down drones to the Department of Homeland Security and Justice Department.

The University of Michigan has officially opened its M-Air Lab for drones.

Using drones as artificial guide stars for adaptive optics in astronomy.

Vapor.IO has teamed up with Hangar to act as a drone ATC system.

Zipline announced faster than ever drone delivery.

Anti drone tech is being used to protect the NASCAR races.

Self Driving Cars:

Self driving cars may be slow to be adopted by car buyers due to liability concerns.

Some are poo-pooing the self driving car hype.

Alibaba is testing its own self driving cars.

Aptiv says Uber kept disabling safety features in its software.

Arizona's governor has suspended Uber's license to test self driving cars in the state.

Aurora, the self driving car company, has hired a SpaceX exec and opened Pittsburgh and San Francisco offices.

Automated electric taxis may be great for the environment.

BMW has opened an autonomous driving lab in Germany.

Britain will not regulate self driving cars until they are market ready.

California's DMV will now allow fully driverless vehicle testing.

California is also proposing regulations for driverless cars picking up passengers.

Connecticut may be the next state to allow testing of self driving cars.

Cruise's CTO has been ousted after only 6 months.

One of Cruise's self driving cars got a ticket.

Cruise just bought, but not for its tech!  But rather for the people.

Einride claims its self driving cargo vehicle will start deliveries this fall.

Ford's self driving car service will launch at scale in 2021.

Intel is responding to the Uber crash.

Mobileye has demonstrated with the video from Uber of the cyclist that their software would have picked up the issue at least a second before impact.

Nvidia has suspended self driving car tests.

Nvidia's Huang is urging caution in judging Uber's engineers.

Nvidia has a simulation framework to test self driving cars virtually before taking to the road.

Nvidia is pitching others to use their self driving car software.

Nvidia's Huang has also clarified that Uber is not using Nvidia's software.

Phantom Auto will be able to drive your self driving car remotely if it gets stuck.

Scotty Labs has raised a round of funding for its remote piloting of self driving cars.

Self driving cars could shrink parking lots.

A Tesla Model X crashed while using autopilot on Highway 101 in California.  The driver was killed.  The driver reportedly repeatedly complained about Autopilot.  The NTSB is rather unhappy that Tesla has been releasing details about the accident while its investigation is ongoing.  The NTSB says they kicked Tesla out of the investigation due to Tesla's habit of revealing information before the investigation was complete.  Tesla says they left voluntarily and then blamed the driver for the crash.  Watch a Tesla under autopilot veer for the exact same spot where the person was killed by the Model X.  There is growing evidence Autopilot doesn't handle lane dividers well.  Here's one take on the Model X crash.

Tesla has made it easier to use Autopilot in the Model 3.

Some are angry over a NYT review of the Model 3's Autopilot.

Tesla's turning lose of autonomy in its cars before its ready could seriously backfire.

Uber will not reapply for its permit to test self driving cars in California.

Uber may have been testing proprietary safety features on its self driving car when the lethal crash took place.  Or was it because there was a blind spot in the lidar?  There are reports Uber reduced the number sensors in the car.

Uber has settled with the family of the woman killed by their self driving car.

The head of Uber Freight is out.

VW will debut self parking by 2020.

Waymo is starting to eclipse Uber in the race to self driving taxis.

Waymo is certain their car tech would have not killed the woman that Uber's self driving car did.

Waymo is continuing with their rollout of the self driving car service.

Waymo is teaming up with jaguar for a high end self driving suv and self driving car service.

Waymo and Honda may team up for an autonomous delivery vehicle.

Waymo has promised not to harvest data from self driving cars.

Waymo has reportedly applied to run its self driving cars without drivers in California.

3d Printing:

A 3d printed house in France will soon have its occupants move in.  It gets reviewed.

A one bedroom 3d printed house was shown off in Italy.

Print the house!

is 3d printing for housing overhyped already?

LBNL is testing a 3d printer for all liquid (!) structures.

LLNL has developed a glass 3d printing tech for optical quality glass.

Mini's head of design talks how 3d printing could change cars.

MX3D's printed bridge is nearing finishing.

NASA's Orion capsule has a lot of 3d printed parts.

A new smart ink adds texture and color to 3d printers' products.

Is 3d printing or CNC machining better for making auto parts?

3d printed bandages are a being developed.

A high end restaurant in the Netherlands is looking at adding 3d printed food to the menu.

A Spanish startup 3d prints houses in 12 hours or less.

What is the future of open source 3d printers?

Nike has developed 3d printed textiles.

Hyundai Mobis is opening a workshop for 3d printed car parts.

Print that!?!


6 River Systems raised $25 million for its warehouse robot business.

Alibaba has a car vending machine.  Not kidding.

Aquabotix just unleashed its swarming, autonomous boat robots.

Autonaut is an autonomous surface vehicle (roboboat).

Autonomous ships will arrive before self driving cars.  Supposedly.

There are now grippers for robots that use artificial muscle.

An Alexa enabled, DIY robot will bring you beer.

Botboxer...anyone remember the scene from Dune, the movie that is...

Festo has unveiled a new generation of robotic animals.

Fetch just added two more robots to its catalog for warehouses.

Gecko inspired coatings are helping grippers for robots.

Honeybot is a honey pot robot for cyber security for industrial robots.

University of Houston has developed a new softbot.

A new company wants to make the Lego Mindstorms for everyone.

Massterly may be the first robotic ocean cargo company.

Monarch is a new surgerical robot.


Watch out, TaskRabbit!  NTU Singapore has a robot that can autonomously assemble an Ikea chair in 20 minutes.

Patients are more likely to accept robotic dentistry for noninvasion procedures.

Playground is betting big on robots.

Researchers have developed a robotic system for picking up irregularly shaped 3d printed parts.

Robots may help grow wine in California shortly.

New software from CMU translate 3d shapes into patterns for a knitting machine on demand.

CMU has teamed up with Sony to research cooking robots.

NIST has two robots to help develop the 5G standard.

Meet Scribit!

Now there's a bot to park your trailer.  Remote controlled for now...

Tapster's bots are designed to touch screens.  whuh?!

Some analysts are saying Tesla is overusing automation in its Model 3 assembly line.  Musk now agrees and states that is what has been slowing down production of the Model 3.  Tesla has temporarily stopped its Model 3 line.

UUV's are being used to map the ocean by sound.


There's now a exoskeleton for skiers.

And there's an exoskeleton for fire fighters.


A FDA approved 3d printed prosthetic arm will go on sale shortly.

DARPA has a memory enhancing brain prosthesis.

A brain implant has returned sensation to a paralyzed man's arm.

Software Bots:

Using AI to predict biological age based on your smartphone and wearable tech.

AI is rapidly changing the location and types of job that is the best paying.

Can AI predict where life is likely on other worlds?

AI is spreading to nontech businesses.

To protect AI, show it fake data.

Can AI predict your life span?

An AI has been created to work on chemistry.

AI might become sexist, racist due to data being fed to it.

Some claim AI needs your data to be useful.

Adobe is starting to use AI in its products.

Amazon's Alexa can play music, podcasts, etc. now.

Alexa can also take charitable donations.

Alexa can control DVRs.

Alexa's hands' free mode is coming to Fire Tablets 7 & 8.

Alexa can now be given new skills without needing to know how to program.

Amazon is shipping DeepLens, a camera intended for use with machine learning, in June.

Apple has stolen Google's head of AI research.

Apple is on a hiring spree for Siri.

What Apple's Siri can learn from Google's Assistant.

Asana has an productivity monitoring AI.  The Computer has a phylogenic basal relative.

Baidu is showing off its pocket translator.

BenevolentAI has just raised $115M for its efforts to use bots to develop energy and

Bots on twitter are the source for 2/3's the popular article shares.

Can Bot stuntmen improve computer games?

A bot makes Flintstone cartoons from textual descriptions.

Can bots make a smart phone into a microscope?!

The Brits are worried about bias in AI.

California is putting forward a bill to force Twitter and Facebook to ID bots on their systems.

Computer vision systems can be tricked by changing the color of the object its meant to ID.

A Deep Learning paper spawned a large online collaboration.

Facebook has delayed its own digital assistant.  Couldn't possibly understand why.

Facebook's Zuckerberg thinks AI will curb hate speech online in 5 or so years.

Facebook is developing its own processors and hardware for its AI work.

France wants to become an AI hub.

Google X Labs is using AI to improve agriculture.

Google is turning to users outside the US to improve its AI.

Google has rolled out a natural language processor called "Talk to Books."

Google's AI can pick voices out of a crowd.

Google AI is being applied to cellular biology.

Google has a DIY AI kit.

HelpSelf is being marketed as an AI app to help with legal problems.

LawGeex is creating a software bot for contract review.

The Linux Foundation has launched a deep learning foundation.

Machine learning with supercomputers is being used for ag as well.

Machine learning helped speed up the discovery of metallic glass.

How to tell if your machine learning algorithm is actually working?

Microsoft now has public courses on AI.

Microsoft is touting a breakthrough for making chatbots more conversational.

Microsoft's AI knows when to politely interrupt a conversation.

Microsoft has a beta Cortana for Android.

MIT has severed ties with the 'always fatal' uploading startup, Nectome.

Nvidia's vision of AI gets discussed.  They want to put it in ARM level chips and in new petaflop computers.

OpenAI is challenging developers to play the 90s classic Sonic the Hedgehog using neural nets.

China's SenseTime startup just raised $600 million.

"The Surprising Creativity of Digital Evolution" is a new paper on arxiv about how algorithms were a bit more complex than their creators realized.

Should we worry about our algorithms, erm, 'mental health?'

The, uh, "case" for an AI to be US President.

Node just grabbed two AI researchers for its bot driven search tool.

Porsche invested in the Israeli company, Anagog.

Pursuing the perfect voice for software bots.

Researchers developed an algorithm for bots to detect face swaps on pictures.

Russia's S7 Airlines is looking at adding bots to improve customer communications.

Sinovation just raised $50M for its AI fund from BBVA.

Software bots are now able to generate 3d models of a person with a few seconds of video.

A new software bot can detect fakes, supposedly, on social networks.

Software bots don't handle crises very well.

Software bots are being used to find malware.

Who will benefit from enterprise level software bots?

A software bot to create chatbots for restaurants.

Using software bots to detect heart disease.

Stripe has developed bots to detect fraud.

Supermarkets will be taken over by AI, at least in the produce aisles.

Suplari is trying to bring "AI" to procurements.

The Univesity of Washington used data from DOGS to train an AI.

Xiaomi has developed its own assistant for China.


Georgia Tech's Gil Weinberg talks robopocalypse in a podcast.

The ex head of Google in China says the list of countries that are going to do well in the Robopocalypse is comprised of two: America and China, everyone else is screwed.

Techcrunch has teamed up with UC Berkeley to present on the Robopocalypse at Zellerbach Hall on May 11, 2018.

Is tricking a bot hacking?

Proposed tariffs by the US against China target robotics.

The Chinese are starting to talk about Universal Basic Income to deal with the Robopocalyptic job genocide in Hong Kong.

However, Finland is scrapping their experiment in Universal Basic Income.

How automation will effect your city (in the US)?

What is the effect of the robopocalypse on innovation?

The EU is struggling with the idea of software being people.

Eastern Europe is embracing the robopocalypse due to a worker shortage.

The British House of Lords is worried about the robopocalypse.

Friday, April 20, 2018

NASA Might Build Multiple Propulsion Modules for the LOPG/Deep Space Gateway

s NASA prepares to request proposals from industry to develop the first element of its proposed cislunar gateway, the agency says it may be open to buying more than one of the modules.

NASA’s Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, previously known as the Deep Space Gateway, will incorporate several modules, starting with one called the Power and Propulsion Element (PPE). That element will provide power for the gateway and also use electric propulsion to maneuver the complex in cislunar space.

During a March 27 meeting of the NASA Advisory Council’s human exploration and operations committee, Michele Gates, director of the Power and Propulsion Element at NASA Headquarters, said the agency was ready to move ahead with procurement of the module after five industry studies wrapped up earlier this month.

The four-month studies, led by Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada Corporation and Space Systems Loral, examined nearly two dozen topics, ranging from the overall design approach for the PPE to specific engineering details.

Some of those companies were involved in previous studies for NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission, which also intended to use electric propulsion on its robotic spacecraft to retrieve a boulder from a near Earth asteroid. “Our strategy is to leverage all of the work that’s been done, including on the Asteroid Redirect Mission,” said Gates, who previously managed those efforts.

For the PPE, NASA plans to develop the module in a public private partnership with industry. Once the module is launched and its performance demonstrated in space, NASA would have the option to then buy the module for use in the gateway.

Gates said that NASA expects to issue a draft solicitation for the PPE in April, with an industry day to take place in late April or early May. A final solicitation will then follow, with proposals due to NASA in late July.

NASA envisions a 2022 launch of the PPE on a commercial launch vehicle. There is “substantial” funding planned to support its development, she said, including $51.5 million for the current fiscal year and $542.1 million projected through fiscal year 2022.

However, NASA is not restricted to buying a single PPE. The proposal synopsis, released in February, states that NASA is planning “potentially one or more contract awards” for PPE development.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

SLS EM-1 Mission Making Progress, but STILL Behind Schedule

Top NASA human exploration administrators briefed the Human Exploration Operations (HEO) committee of the NASA Advisory Council (NAC) on March 26, providing an update on development, testing, and preparations for the first integrated flight of the Orion crew spacecraft and the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) is currently expected to launch in 2020.

The pacing items for reaching launch readiness, referred to as “critical paths” in the schedule, continue to be construction of the first SLS Core Stage and the first Orion European Service Module (ESM). The agency is targeting the end of 2019 as a target launch date, but both critical path items are running around three months behind that schedule.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Orbital ATK Plans Next Generation Launcher Debut in 3 Years

Orbital ATK is preparing for the next phase of development for their Next Generation Launcher (NGL) – a solid and liquid fueled rocket designed for National Security, NASA science missions, and commercial flights. Under the current plan, Orbital ATK intends to introduce NGL from LC-39B at the Kennedy Space Center, FL, with certification flights in early 2021, with operational flights set to begin later that year.

NGL aims for debut in three years:

The progeny of NGL can be traced back to 2004, when then U.S. President George W. Bush announced the Constellation program, consisting of the crew launch vehicle known as Ares I – a five-segment Solid Rocket Booster (SRB) rocket, atop which sat a Liquid Oxygen/Liquid Hydrogen (LOX/LH2) upper stage.

A test flight variant of Ares I, known as Ares I-X, completed a successful test flight on 29 October 2009, shortly after which the Constellation program was cancelled by then U.S. President Barack Obama in favor of developing a more robust rocket that could carry both crew and cargo, the SLS, to locations Beyond Low Earth Orbit and shifting International Space Station crew rotation missions from NASA-made rockets to commercial rockets and capsules – a goal SpaceX and Boeing plan to fulfill.

Despite the Constellation program’s cancellation, Orbital ATK, the predecessor of which would have built the five-segment SRB for Ares I and the company that is now building the five-segment dual SRBs for SLS, continued to see a usefulness for the overall Ares I design. This initially translated in 2011 to the Liberty rocket, a five-segment SRB first stage with an Ariane V core serving as the upper stage.


addendum: the new rocket is called the OmegA.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Hints of China's Space Program Come From National People's Congress

China’s legislature wrapped up its annual session in Beijing in mid-March after making headlines for lifting a two-term limit on the Chinese presidency, making Xi Jinping the People’s Republic’s most powerful leader since founder Mao Zedong.

But in the shadow of the major political stories, the involvement of dozens of space sector officials in the high-profile 18-day long rubber-stamp political gathering also provided a rare opportunity for updates on various aspects of China’s space program and an outline of its reliably nebulous scheduling.

Monday, April 16, 2018

The Russian Gov Issued a Contract for a Nuclear Space Tug

The Russian government has issued a contract to RSC Energia to develop a new class of rockets for lunar exploration and the contract documents indicate that a nuclear-powered space tug will be develop as well.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Did China Approach Vanuatu to Build a Permanent Military Base?

China has approached Vanuatu about establishing a permanent military presence on the tiny Pacific island, Australia’s Fairfax Media reported on Tuesday, a plan that would likely stoke regional tensions.

The report, citing unnamed sources, said no formal proposal had yet been made, but preliminary talks have been held about locating a full military base on Vanuatu. It added that the prospect of a Chinese military outpost so close to Australia has been discussed at the highest levels in Canberra and Washington.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop on Tuesday said she had been assured by Vanuatu officials that there was no formal proposal from Beijing, but she stopped short of addressing whether there had been any unofficial talks.

“The government of Vanuatu has said there is no such proposal, but it is a fact that China is engaging in infrastructure investment activities around the world,” Bishop told Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio.

“I remain confident that Australia is Vanuatu’s strategic partner of choice,” she said.

A spokesman for Vanuatu Prime Minister Charlot Salwai did not immediately respond to emails requesting comment, telephone calls to the Vanuatu High Commission in Canberra were not answered, and the Chinese Embassy in Canberra did not comment.

The Fairfax Media report said the preliminary discussions involved an initial access agreement, under which Chinese naval ships would dock to be serviced, refueled and restocked, and that would eventually lead to a full military base.

Such a plan would mark an expansion of China’s military aspirations beyond its controversial activities in Asia, particularly the South China Sea, where it has been building artificial islands on reefs, some with ports and airstrips.