Category Archives: technology

Meet the first Robotic Waiter of Pakistan

This restaurant in Multan is providing Robotic Waiter service to its customers

A pizza place in Multan, Pizza.com, is all set to provide robotic waiter service to its customers. The amazing thing is that this robot in question and all of its underlying technology is completely made from the ground up in Pakistan.

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The face behind this technology
The main force behind this whole operation is Syed Usama Aziz, an electrical engineering graduate from NUST. He is the son of restaurant’s owner and has a keen interest in the field of Robotics.

Source of motivation
Usama enrolled in Electrical Engineering department of NUST in 2011 and graduated in 2015. He wanted to study further and explore the field of Robotics by going abroad. His father, the owner of Pizza.com, encouraged him to stay in Pakistan and prove his mettle here.

Upon failing to convince his parents on going abroad for further studies, he decided to follow his passion right here in Pakistan. In order to improve his fathers’ hotel, he struck the notion that whole serving process should be automated to increase efficiency by many folds.

But when he realized that the cost of importing an automatic serving machine from other countries would set him back millions of rupees, he decided to develop one in Pakistan from scratch.

Meet the first Robotic Waiter of Pakistan
After 8 months of hard work, and investment of around 0.4 million Pakistani Rupees (4 lakh Rupees/ around 4 thousand dollars), Pakistan’s first robotic waiter is finally ready to be put to work. Usama is currently beta testing the robot in Multan branch of Pizza.com.

Read more » Tech Juice
See more >> https://www.techjuice.pk/this-restaurant-in-multan-is-providing-robotic-waiter-service-to-its-customers/

The Fourth Industrial Revolution: what it means, how to respond

Written by Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum

We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before. We do not yet know just how it will unfold, but one thing is clear: the response to it must be integrated and comprehensive, involving all stakeholders of the global polity, from the public and private sectors to academia and civil society.

The First Industrial Revolution used water and steam power to mechanize production. The Second used electric power to create mass production. The Third used electronics and information technology to automate production. Now a Fourth Industrial Revolution is building on the Third, the digital revolution that has been occurring since the middle of the last century. It is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.

There are three reasons why today’s transformations represent not merely a prolongation of the Third Industrial Revolution but rather the arrival of a Fourth and distinct one: velocity, scope, and systems impact. The speed of current breakthroughs has no historical precedent. When compared with previous industrial revolutions, the Fourth is evolving at an exponential rather than a linear pace. Moreover, it is disrupting almost every industry in every country. And the breadth and depth of these changes herald the transformation of entire systems of production, management, and governance.

The possibilities of billions of people connected by mobile devices, with unprecedented processing power, storage capacity, and access to knowledge, are unlimited. And these possibilities will be multiplied by emerging technology breakthroughs in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing.

Read more » World Economic Forum
See more » https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/01/the-fourth-industrial-revolution-what-it-means-and-how-to-respond

SpaceX successfully lands its rocket on a floating drone ship for the first time

By Loren Grush

SpaceX has finally landed its Falcon 9 rocket on a drone ship at sea, after launching the vehicle into space this afternoon. It’s the first time the company has been able to pull off an ocean landing, after four previous attempts ended in failure. Today’s success is a crucial milestone for SpaceX, as it shows the company can land its rockets both on solid ground and ocean.

Read more » THE VERGE
See more » http://www.theverge.com/2016/4/8/11392138/spacex-landing-success-falcon-9-rocket-barge-at-sea

India Wants To Become First Country With 100 Percent Electric Vehicles

By Milafel Dacanay, Tech Times

India is considered as one of Asia’s biggest powerhouses with 7.3 percent economic growth over the last few quarters of 2015, according to Bloomberg Business. In fact, its economy rises so fast it is beating China’s expansion, which is at 6.9 percent.

But the country of more than 1.2 billion people wants to do more by going less on fuel and oil consumption. For example, the government is planning to shift to 100 percent electric vehicles by 2030.

Speaking in a youth conference, Piyush Goyal, the country’s power minister with independent charge for Coal, Power, and New and Renewable Energy, shared that a working group led by Nitin Gadkari, Road Transport and Highways minister, has already been chosen to determine whether such goal is possible. The group is expected to have its initial meeting sometime in the first week of April.

The program is ambitious, to say the least. Goyal wants it to be self-financing, which means the government will not be spending a single rupee on the purchase of these electronic vehicles. But to encourage conversion, the government can provide incentives.

Read more » Tech Times
See more » http://www.techtimes.com/articles/144670/20160328/india-wants-to-become-first-country-with-100-percent-electric-vehicles.htm

Sindhi entrepreneur invents power bank that charges in just 14 minutes

By Osman Husain

Young Pakistani entrepreneur Abdullah Soomro noticed a very real problem while building his first startup, a hyperlocal delivery business. His delivery riders would be on the road for hours on end and in constant touch with customers on their smartphones. This activity drained their batteries far too quickly, but with charging facilities few and far between, there wasn’t an easy solution in sight.

Abdullah, who’s a mechanical engineer by training, didn’t think existing battery packs were a viable solution. They required hours to charge on their own and were too unwieldy to be lugged around. Realising that this was a problem undoubtedly faced by others, he took it upon himself to figure things out.

Pakistani scientist couple leads the way with underwater drones in Australia

After speaking to some professors at his university to validate his idea, Abdullah forged ahead with his plans and started Micropowerlabs with the aim to build a better, more efficient power bank. He was accepted at an incubation program run by the government of Chile, which gave him US$35,000 as seed capital, and spent six months in the country along with his co-founder.

More juice

What he came up with is Flashpack – a power bank that is able to charge fully in just 14 minutes. Abdullah claims he was inspired by the tech behind batteries for electric vehicles as they are capable of charging ten times faster than regular batteries.

However, the tech hasn’t been properly applied for use in smaller, consumer products yet, he says. “I took the technology that was larger in scale, applied the same principles, and shrunk it down,” explains Abdullah.

Read more » The Express Tribune
See more » http://tribune.com.pk/story/1063306/pakistani-entrepreneur-invents-power-bank-that-charges-in-just-14-minutes/

ROBOTS ARE BEING MADE TO REPLACE MEN BY 2025

Futurologist Ian Pearson has some very surprising predictions of what is going to be commonplace, when it comes to s*x, in less than 10 years.

 

According to him, having s*x with humanoid robots will be the new thing by 2025! It will even become more popular than having s*x with one another! One of the leading s*x toy shops in the UK, Bondara, has partnered with this published report by Pearson.

So let’s fast forward a few more years. Remember browsing p*rn on the web? No longer a thing. In 2030 it will be replaced with actually having virtual s*x, instead of just looking at it. Five years later toys will interact with this virtual reality. The rich may actually begin partaking in robot s*x by 2025. Then in 2050, it’s game over. ALL s*x will be with robots!

Read more » Idealist4Ever
See more » http://idealist4ever.com/robots-in-relationships/

Why Stephen Hawking is more afraid of capitalism than robots

by

In October, a Reddit user asked Stephen Hawking if he thinks robots are coming to take all of our jobs.

“In particular, do you foresee a world where people work less because so much work is automated?” the user asked the renowned physicist on an Ask Me Anything thread.

The question isn’t crazy. Computers are getting smarter and more efficient all the time. It’s conceivable that we one day will reach a point where machines’ output is simply much more valuable than humans’.

Hawking didn’t discount the notion that machines may replace us. But he said whether this is good or bad depends on how the wealth produced by machines is distributed. That is, Hawking is more concerned about capitalism than he is about robots. He wrote:

..Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution. So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality.

We could be headed toward a work-free utopia where machine-produced goods and services are cheap and plentiful for all. Or, as Hawking suggests, the coming robot age will just exaggerate the income inequality that’s rampant across the globe. (Hawking is generally ambivalent on the advent of artificial intelligence. “We are facing potentially the best or worst thing to happen to humanity in history,” he has said.)

Read more » Vox
See more » http://www.vox.com/2016/2/27/11119804/stephen-hawking-robots

Freedom 251 ‘Cheapest Smartphone’ to Launch on Wednesday

Considered a luxury not too long ago, smartphones have reached a point that they can now be considered a commodity. But on Wednesday, things will reach a whole new level.

By Manish Singh

As part of its attempt to connect every Indian, local smartphone manufacturer Ringing Bells ‘with immense support’ from the India government will launch an affordable smartphone called the Freedom 251 on Wednesday. The Freedom 251, touted as India’s cheapest smartphone -and likely the most affordable smartphone in the world as well – will sport a price tag below Rs. 500 (approximately $7).

Read more » NDTV
See more » http://gadgets.ndtv.com/mobiles/news/indian-company-to-launch-7-smartphone-on-wednesday-802668

 

Engineer proposes hypersonic jet that could fly from New York to London in 11 minutes

How’s 20,000 km/h sound?

 

Imagine a 10-seater private jet that uses rocket boosters to take off, detaches these at an altitude of 12km, fires its supersonic engines to hit speeds of Mach 24 (20,000 km/h), and gets you from New York to London in 11 minutes.

That’s the idea behind the Antipode, a next-level concept jet by Canadian inventor and engineer, Charles Bombardier. The concept comes just months after Bombardier unveiled his designs for the Skreemr, a four-winged scramjet that could carry 75 passengers at speeds of up to Mach 10 – so, 10 times the speed of sound and five times faster than today’s Concorde jets.

Read more » Science Alert
See more » http://www.sciencealert.com/engineer-proposes-hypersonic-jet-that-could-fly-from-new-york-to-london-in-11-minutes

Netflix has extended its services to Pakistan

Pakistani users can rejoice because now they will be able to consume a lot ofNetflix content through its official presence in Pakistan. Netflix has opened its service for all the world including Pakistan. The announcement was made by the CEO of Netflix Reed Hastings at the keynote at CES Tech Show in Las Vegas.

For the uninitiated, Netflix is an on demand video streaming service, a better alternative to traditional television channels for watching movies, dramas and videos on your own terms.

Reed Hastings also confirmed that the service will begin offering HDR content in a few months time.

Read more » TechJuice
See more » http://www.techjuice.pk/netflix-pakistan-service-launch/

Israel-Indian missile system Barak 8 carries out successful trial in Indian Ocean

“Trial will benefit both the Indian and Israeli navies,” CEO of IAI says.

The Israeli-Indian developed Barak 8 missile system carried out two successful interceptions from an Indian Navy ship over the past day.

Israel Aerospace Industries said that the weapons system successfully hit its target and completed a series of three tests that demonstrate its readiness.

Yossi Weiss, CEO of IAI, said the interceptors were fired from the heart of the Indian Ocean from an Indian Navy ship, striking their targets successfully.

Weiss described the trial as a “most impressive technological achievement” that will benefit both the Indian and Israeli navies, both of which are expected to receive the system in a fully operational mode soon.

The Indian ship used to fire the interceptors is significantly larger than the Sa’ar 5 type Israel Navy corvette used for a similar recent trial of the Barak 8.

The Barak 8 missile system is designed to protect naval ships and offshore gas rigs from hostile aircraft, missiles and rockets.

Read more » Jerusalem Post
See more » http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Israel-Indian-missile-system-Barak-8-carries-out-successful-trial-in-Indian-Ocean-438821

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More details » BBC urdu
Read more »  http://www.bbc.com/urdu/regional/2015/12/151230_india_new_missile_test_zh?ocid=socialflow_facebook

Tim Cook says this is the real reason Apple products are made in China

BY SHAWN LANGLOIS

“It’s skill,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in response to a question on “60 Minutes” Sunday from Charlie Rose as to why the company’s products are made in China.

Rose clearly wasn’t buying it. “They have more skills than American workers? They have more skills than German workers?” he pressed.

“The U.S., over time, began to stop having as many vocational kind of skills,” Cook explained. “I mean, you can take every tool and die maker in the United States and probably put them in a room that we’re currently sitting in. In China, you would have to have multiple football fields.”

Read more » Market Watch
See more » http://www.marketwatch.com/story/tim-cook-apple-doesnt-make-its-products-in-china-because-its-cheaper-2015-12-20

Russia is Developing a 6th Generation, Pilotless Fighter Jet

It will also display its Su-35S 4++ gen and T-50 PAK FA 5th gen fighter jets at the MAKS air show this week.

By Zachary Keck

Russia is developing a sixth-generation aircraft even as it continues developing its fifth-generation designs.

On Tuesday the 2013 MAKS air show opens up in Moscow and Russia is pulling out all the stops for the event.

Ahead of the airshow on Monday, Pyotr Deinekin, a former Russian Air Force chief, said that Russia is actively developing a sixth-generation aircraft, and it will most likely to pilotless.

“The sixth generation of aircraft will most likely be pilotless. Naturally, we are actively working on this,” Deinekin told the Russian newspaper, RIA Novosti in an interview.

He added that Moscow could not skip a generation and would therefore complete all its fifth-generation designs before moving onto the 6th generation fighters.

Read more » The Diplomat
See more ‘» http://thediplomat.com/2013/08/russia-is-developing-a-6th-generation-pilotless-fighter-jet/

Driverless buses on the way

Could driverless buses replace some of our rural bus services? Photo: Alamy

Claire Perry reveals one major company has already held talks about introducing computer-controlled buses in UK

By , Transport Correspondent

Driverless buses could soon be unveiled in Britain with one major operator already in discussions about introducing the first automated services, the Government has revealed.

Claire Perry, the Transport Minister, said that operating buses without drivers could help companies provide “better and more frequent” services, particularly in rural areas.

She also revealed that work is already under way to identify any problematic “regulatory issues” which could prevent the vehicles being rolled out on roads across Britain.

Speaking at the Driverless Vehicles Conference at Thatcham on Wednesday, Mrs Perry said she could “see a future where driverless buses provide better and more frequent services”.

“A major component of rural transport is the cost of the driver – and so a truly driverless bus could transform rural public transport in the future,” she said.

“I understand that one of the country’s major bus companies is already interested in driverless buses.

Read more » The Telegraph
See more » http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/road-and-rail-transport/11180429/Driverless-buses-on-the-way.html

Where does Pakistan stand as India chases digital dreams?

BY ALEEM BAWANY

Dubbed as the hub of start-ups, India has done immensely well for itself over the past few decades in the IT sector, and has a number of things going for it that Pakistan has yet to catch up on. Most of these are top-down investments. The biggest is the raw engineering talent that is coming out of India each year.

Take a look: Modi heads to Silicon Valley chasing a digital dream

For example, 1.3 million students sit in for Indian Institute of Technology (IITs) admission tests. This doesn’t factor in the national and regional institutes which further add to the engineering talent base. Pakistan needs far more engineering institutes than it currently has.

Following the swelling of the engineering talent pool, India has also seen a large uptake in Venture Capital (VC), driven largely by healthy returns in technology. A lot of this is fuelled by Indian alumni working overseas and having established themselves in enviable executive positions — the CEOs of Google, Microsoft and Adobe are all of Indian origin. Bollywood has also jumped on the bandwagon with most actors going beyond just endorsements and actually taking partnerships in tech start-ups.

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1209941/

India’s new Operating system developed by Defence Research and Development Organization, DRDO

Welcome India’s own Operating System – Bharat Operating System Solutions (BOSS)

BY 

The Indian government is all set to launch a new version of its own operating system- Bharat Operating System Solutions (BOSS), which is likely to replace Microsoft Windows in the future.

The new operating system (OS) developed by C-DAC (Centre for Development of Advanced Computing), will be unveiled to all government stakeholders this week, as mentioned in a DNA news article.

After the successful launch of the Digital India and Make in India initiatives by PM Modi’s government, this new OS is targeted to prevail over the vulnerabilities existing in government cyberspace under threat from the Chinese hackers in the past.

The latest version of BOSS, which is soon to be released is code-named ‘Anoop’ and will be the successor to BOSS 5.0 code-named as ‘Anokha’. The latest version was built using the Linux Platform with the help of Gujarat Technical University, DRDO and other private computer manufacturers. This OS will be available in 18 languages including regional languages such as Assamese, Malayalam, Bengali, Marathi, Gujarati and other major Indian languages.

History:

BOSS was initially developed in 2007 by National Resource Centre for Free/Open Source Software (NRCFOSS) of India. At that time, it was available as a free and open source operating system. However its unpopularity was due to lack of adoption and faster upgrades offered by other operating systems. The earlier version was also less user-friendly and had few features as compared to the latest version.

Cyber-attack threat overcome:

The revamped version of BOSS is considered as a vital step by the Centre towards having its own secure operating system. During the past three months of trial undertaken by several government agencies including the Army intelligence, the highly improvised version of BOSS successfully resisted all attempts of cyber-attacks highlighting its efficiency as a secure OS.

“It answers government’s need to have a fully secure network. Fresh codes unique to the system have been written for the OS. Its source code that makes it safe and secure will have to be guarded at all cost,” sources said.

Continue reading India’s new Operating system developed by Defence Research and Development Organization, DRDO

The Smarter Robots are coming to take away your jobs

AI is not new, so why suddenly does it matter?

By 

Here come the Intelligent Machines.

This week on the BBC you may get the impression that the robots have taken over. Every day, under the banner Intelligent Machines, we will bring you stories on online, TV, radio about advances in artificial intelligence and robotics and what they could mean for us all.

We will ask whether smarter robots and more advanced algorithms will take over all sorts of tasks that we thought were the preserve of humans, posing a threat to employment. We will explore the ethical concerns about artificial intelligence, from the fear that computers will come to dominate humans to the question of who is to blame when a self-driving car hits a pedestrian.

We will examine the cultural impact of AI, asking whether a robot could paint a decent picture or compose a symphony, and we will also emphasise all those areas where this technology is making our lives better.

Why now? Well at the end of last year Prof Stephen Hawking told the BBC that full artificial intelligence could spell the end for mankind. “Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution,” he warned, “couldn’t compete, and would be superseded.”

Continue reading The Smarter Robots are coming to take away your jobs

China launches Yaogan-27 remote sensing satellite

By Xinhua

A Long March-4C rocket carrying the Yaogan-27 remote sensing satellite blasts off from the launch pad at the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in Taiyuan, capital of north China’s Shanxi Province, Aug. 27, 2015. The satellite will mainly be used for experiments, land surveys, crop yield estimates and disaster prevention. (Xinhua/Yan Yan)

TAIYUAN, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) — China’s Yaogan-27 remote sensing satellite was sent into space on Thursday at 10:31 a.m. Beijing Time, from Taiyuan launch site in Shanxi Province, north China.

The satellite will mainly be used for experiments, land surveys, crop yield estimates and disaster prevention.

Yaogan-27 was carried by a Long March-4C rocket, the 207th mission for the Long March rocket family.

China launched the first “Yaogan” series satellite, Yaogan-1, in 2006.

News courtesy: People’s Daily
Read more » http://en.people.cn/n/2015/0827/c90000-8942511.html

The Tesla battery heralds the beginning of the end for fossil fuels

BY JOHN MATTHEWS, THE CONVERSATION

While wind and solar power have made great strides in recent years, with renewables now accounting for 22% of electric energy generated, the issue that has held them back has been their transience. The sun doesn’t shine at night and the wind doesn’t blow year-round — these are the mantras of all those opposed to the progress of renewables.

Now the renewable-power billionaire Elon Musk has just blown away that final defence. Last Thursday in California he introduced to the world his sleek new Powerwall — a wall-mounted energy-storage unit that can hold 10 kilowatt hours of electric energy, and deliver it at an average of 2 kilowatts, all for $3,500.
See more » Business Insider
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/the-tesla-battery-heralds-the-beginning-of-the-end-for-fossil-fuels-2015-5#ixzz3jeRuPDIx

Pak-China to cooperate in space as part of Karamay declaration

By APP

PESHAWAR: The Chinese government has agreed to a proposal by the Federal Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal, initiating the collaboration between Pakistan and China in space technology as part of the Karamay declaration under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

At the Pakistan-China forum meeting held in Karamay-Xinjiang last week, Ahsan Iqbal, proposed space technology collaboration between China and Pakistan, an official of the forum told APP.

His proposal was approved and made a part of the Karamay-Xinjiang Declaration. The declaration was later approved unanimously after the two-day meeting.

At the concluding session, Ahsan Iqbal said that bilateral collaboration on space technology would take Pakistan-China relations to new heights. He stressed upon a joint launch of space missions which would consist of astronauts from both countries.

Continue reading Pak-China to cooperate in space as part of Karamay declaration

Next wave of smarter, faster robots coming for many of our jobs

By Robert Riguaux

Will a robot replace you at work? The odds, increasingly, say yes.

The good news is that one recent analysis of the job with a 99 percent chance to be replaced by a machine is … telemarketer. There is admittedly some personal delight in learning that.

I also now understand why parents always cherish the idea that their kid wanted to be a doctor. Not for the prestige or money but for job security. The same analysis gives only a 0.4 percent chance a robot will replace that occupation.

If you keep up on the chatter about the future of work, it’s tough to avoid the buzz about a new wave of automated machines and robots empowered with advanced artificial intelligence. (We’re way past the Roomba automated vacuum cleaner from iRobot, folks.) Next-generation robots will begin to take over not just blue-collar, repetitive-motion jobs, but also white-collar occupations like bankers and, yes, even fashion models.

You may have heard this line of conversation, as I have, in recent weeks. It goes like this:

If we eventually shift to driverless (automated) cars (goodbye, taxi drivers), then in theory we’ll have far fewer collisions (see ya, auto repair shops), ambulance calls (farewell, emergency med techs), less need for auto coverage (so long, insurance agents), attorneys (adios, personal injury lawyers) and certainly their overwhelming barrage of radio and TV ads (adieu, advertising agencies). These jobs won’t disappear entirely, but the growth of work opportunities in these occupations will undoubtedly shrivel.

Versions of this ripple effect from a robotic revolution are going on all around us. We just don’t always recognize it for what it is.

At direct mail marketer Valpak’s building along I-275 in St. Petersburg, one of the most automated materials handling systems in the world stuffs blue envelopes with coupons.

In downtown Tampa at USF Health’s Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation (better known as CAMLS), visiting surgeons can learn robotic surgical techniques.

And some financial advisory firms are easing into the burgeoning automated investment management business — better known as robo-advising. It’s about providing clients with automated investing services that let algorithms do the work of financial advisers, assuring quality control in investment advice without the need to hire more expensive people.

Last year, Aloft Hotels announced an unusual hire at its California location: a robotic butler, or a Botlr, that can deliver room service to its guests.

This is just the beginning.

Two Oxford researchers recently analyzed the skills required for more than 700 different occupations to determine how many would be susceptible to automation in the near future. The news, says an article inthe Atlantic magazine last month, “was not good.” The two concluded that machines are likely to take over 47 percent of today’s jobs within a few decades.

That’s the same analysis that says telemarketers, umpires, lending officers, fashion models, restaurant cooks and manicurists are among many professions that have a 94 percent or higher risk of being replaced by a machine.

Conversely, teachers of younger kids, doctors, occupational therapists and clinical counselors all run a very low risk — less than 1 percent — of a robot taking their jobs, according to this analysis. How did they determine who was more or less at risk? Some aspects of a job are easier to automate than others. It all depends on the tasks.

If your job requires you to be creative, to squeeze into small spaces, to personally help someone or to demonstrate negotiation skills, it’s unlikely a machine will replace you.

The trick, of course, is that robots, automated systems and the rise of algorithms — step-by-step procedures for solving a problem or accomplishing some task by a computer — are getting more capable at a faster clip than human beings are improving their skills. Just look at smartphones and the number of apps we are all so happy to rely on.

Job hunters today, especially younger adults trying to find work at busy companies, must already get by algorithms used to initially screen the thousands of resumes sent online. Certain words or phrases indicating specific job skills, for example, may open the digital door enough to eventually reach a human and possibly an interview. Use the wrong word or phrase and you may be out of luck.

Part of the recent buzz over the coming robot invasion into the workplaces is because of a new book written by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Martin Ford. Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future tells how the use of robots is about to dramatically increase, in part because technology has at last created a standard operating platform — like Android for smartphones or Windows for computers — that can now be built upon efficiently.

“We are at the leading edge of a wave of innovation that will ultimately produce robots geared toward nearly every conceivable commercial, industrial and consumer task,” Ford writes. Robots may even help reduce jobs being outsourced overseas because adding more robots to factories will reduce costs and make U.S.-based facilities more competitive. Ford calls this potential trend “factory re-shoring.”

Continue reading Next wave of smarter, faster robots coming for many of our jobs

Driverless truck corridor from Mexico to Manitoba proposed – Corridor would follow Route 83 from Mexico through U.S., up to Manitoba, Canada

By Clare Clancy

Trucks hauling cargo from Canada through the United States to Mexico and back navigate border crossings without the need for passports, visas or even a driver to steer them.

It’s an idea that’s not too far-fetched, says a group that met in North Dakota last week.

Marlo Anderson with the Central North American Trade Corridor Association says members are working to turn the idea into reality.

The plan is for an autonomous vehicle corridor along Route 83, which runs north-south through Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota. The road then continues into Manitoba.

A study into the feasibility of the project is being planned and Anderson says the group wants to travel to communities along the corridor to gain support.

Read more » CBC
Learn more » http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/driverless-truck-corridor-from-mexico-to-manitoba-proposed-1.3086215

Even Small Businesses Are Jumping on the Robot Bandwagon

BY ELAINE POFELDT

bots aren’t just for corporate Goliaths — now even the little guy on Main Street is adopting them. The goal: to boost sales and productivity. But at what cost?

Take Sam Kraus, a Hungarian immigrant who founded what became Skyline Windows in 1921. In the early days, the tinsmith traveled around with a small cart to do his roofing and waterproofing work by hand.

Fast-forward to today, and the fourth-generation business based in New York City’s South Bronx has left the pushcart era far behind. Skyline, which has evolved into a custom window manufacturer and installer, now relies on robots to do some of its work. In the factory in Woodridge, New Jersey, where it makes its windows, Skyline uses a $150,000 computer-operated machine to automate tasks like cutting holes in the metal and two $20,000 robots to install its windows, which sometimes weigh 600 pounds.

“It allows us to be more efficient—and our plan is to buy more of these robots when we can,” said senior vice president Matt Kraus, whose profitable firm brings in about $70 million in annual revenue and employs about 350 people.

Kraus is one of many entrepreneurs who are discovering that robots can be a powerful tool for growing a small company—even one with its roots in an old-line business. In the manufacturing industry, a recent study by Boston Consulting Group found that by 2025 robots will do about 25 percent of all industrial tasks—and that inexpensive robots are becoming increasingly available to smaller companies. Robotics are also making it possible for more individuals to start businesses in industries where the need for a substantial labor force once posed a big barrier to entry.

“Automation is having a big impact,” said Martin Ford, author of “Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future,” due to be published May 5. “It’s both positive and negative.”

3-D printing is one example. Some tiny firms are already using 3-D printers to make prototypes and even manufacturing products on their own, Ford said. Others are sending their prototypes to China, where they make the products. That makes it easier for business owners to fatten their bottom line, but the flip side will be a decline in traditional jobs.

The future of jobs

“Businesses will need to hire no people or fewer people,” he said. “You can literally have one person start a manufacturing business.”

A decline in traditional jobs could lead to shrinking markets for small businesses, said Ford. “We need consumers out there who will buy what is created by the economy,” he said.

Courtesy: NBC News
Read more » http://www.nbcnews.com/tech/innovation/even-small-businesses-are-jumping-robot-bandwagon-n352186

Drone, helicopter or plane? NASA’s 10-Engine Electric Plane Takes Off and Lands Like a Helicopter

NASA’s 10-Engine Electric Plane Takes Off and Lands Like a Helicopter

BY DEVIN COLDEWEY

NASA researchers took a rather unique prototype aircraft for a spin last week: Greased Lightning, a 10-engine electric plane with rotating wings that allow it to take off and land like a helicopter. Vertical take-off and landing aircraft, or VTOL, are not a new idea, but this particular configuration sure is. The GL-10 has four engines on each wing and one on each tip of its rear stabilizer — that’s much different from the large, tilting rotors of the V-22 Osprey or the rotating jets on a Harrier.

Read more » NBC News
See more » http://www.nbcnews.com/tech/innovation/nasas-10-engine-electric-plane-takes-lands-helicopter-n353556

Tesla Motors’ battery announcement

The 7 Biggest Questions Ahead of Tesla’s Battery Announcement

Tesla Motors Inc. will introduce its line of energy-storage products Thursday night at the company’s design studio in Hawthorne, California. Select Tesla car owners, utility executives and representatives of the solar industry are among those with invitations. The company will announce both a home battery and a “very large utility scale battery,” it said in a note to investors last week. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk has been dropping hints for weeks, drumming up intrigue about “The Missing Piece.” Here’s what to look for in the two-part announcement:

1. Who Markets Home Battery?  
Tesla has already installed roughly 300 batteries in California homes through a pilot project with SolarCity Corp., where Musk is chairman. Will SolarCity continue to be the channel to the residential market for Tesla’s home battery? Or will Tesla offer its batteries to other solar companies hoping to pair solar and storage?

2. Big Enough for Utilities?
In the utility market, a 1-megawatt system is widely viewed as the entry point for most storage applications. So what does Tesla mean when it says “very large?” “In the battery industry, 5 megawatts or 10 megawatts is huge,” says Haresh Kamath, the energy storage program manager at the Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto, California. “But for a utility, that’s small. If Tesla comes out with a 20-megawatt system, that would be enough to get the utility industry excited.”

Read more » Bloomberg
See more » http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-30/the-7-biggest-questions-ahead-of-tesla-s-big-announcement

Commercial drones are ready for takeoff—if only the government will get out of the way

Amazon delivery drone
Amazon delivery drone

Drone On – The Sky’s the Limit—If the FAA Will 
Get Out of the Way

By Gretchen West

In the beginning, drones were almost exclusively the province of militaries. At first little more than remote-controlled model planes used in the World War I era, military drones advanced steadily over the decades, eventually becoming sophisticated tools that could surveil battlefield enemies from the sky. Today, the terms “drone” and “unmanned aircraft system” denote a vehicle that navigates through the air from point A to point B and is either remotely controlled or flies autonomously. While they vary in size and shape, such vehicles all feature a communications link, intelligent software, sensors or cameras, a power source, and a method of mobility (usually propellers).

Inevitably, drone technology spilled out from the military and into other parts of the public sector. In the United States over the last decade, federal researchers turned to drones for monitoring weather and land, the Department of Homeland Security started relying on them to keep an eye on borders, and police adopted them for search-and-rescue missions. Then came everyday consumers, who took to parks on the weekend with their often homemade creations. Outside government, drones were mostly flown for fun, not profit.

Until recently, that is. In the last several years, a new group of actors has come to embrace drones: private companies. Inspired by the technological progress made in the military and in the massive hobby market, these newcomers have realized that in everything from farming to bridge inspection, drones offer a dramatic improvement over business as usual. The potential for the commercial use of drones is nearly limitless. But in the United States, the growing drone industry faces a major regulatory obstacle: the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued overly restrictive rules that threaten to kill a promising new technology in the cradle.

SERIOUS BUSINESS

In the face of a new and poorly understood technology, the FAA refused to allow drones for commercial purposes.

As more and more actors have invested in drone research and development, the vehicles themselves have become cheaper, simpler, and safer. Perhaps even more exciting are the changes in software, which has advanced at lightning speed, getting smarter and more reliable by the day: now, for example, users can fly drones without any guidance and set up so-called geo-fences to fix boundaries at certain altitudes or around certain areas. The economics are now attractive enough that many industries are looking to drones to perform work traditionally done by humans—or never before done at all.

Rea more » Foreign Affairs
See more » http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/143325/gretchen-west/drone-on

China plans huge solar power station in space

By PTI 

BEIJING: China plans to build a huge solar power station 36,000km above the ground in an attempt to battle smog, cut greenhouse gases and solve energy crisis, much on the lines of an idea first floated in 1941 by fiction writer Isaac Asimov, state media reported on Monday.

If realized, it will surpass the scale of the Apollo project and the International Space Station, and be the largest-ever space project.

The power station would be a super spacecraft on a geosynchronous orbit equipped with huge solar panels. The electricity generated would be converted to microwaves or lasers and transmitted to a collector on Earth, staterun Xinhua news agency reported.

In 1941, American science fiction writer Isaac Asimov had published a short story “Reason”, in which a space station transmits energy collected from the sun using microwave beams.

Wang Xiji, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and an International Academy of Astronautics member, says Asimov’s fiction has a scientific basis.

After devoting over 50 years to space technology research, Wang, 93, is an advocate for the station: “An economically viable space power station would be really huge, with the total area of the so lar panels reaching 5 to 6 sq km.”

That would be equivalent to 12 of Beijing’s Tian’anmen Square, the largest public square in the world.”Maybe people on Earth could see at night, like a star,” says Wang.

Wang says the electricity generated from the ground-based solar plants fluctuates with night and day and weather, but a space generator collects energy 99% of the time.Space-based solar panels can generate ten times as much electricity as ground-based panels per unit area, says Duan Baoyan, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.”If we have space solar power technology”, hopefully we could solve the energy crisis on Earth,” Duan said. Wang says whoever obtains the technology first “could occupy the future energy market.” However, many hurdles lie ahead: A commercially viable space power station would weigh 10,000 tons. But few rockets can carry a payload of over 100 tons to low Earth orbit. “We need a cheap heavy-lift launchvehicle,” says Wang, who designed China’s first carrier rocket more than 40 years ago. “We also need to make very thin and light solar panels.”

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