Posted 6 days ago

Supersonic - the world is still looking for a successor to the Concorde, but sonic boom and overflight noise remain the tallest hurdle. Both Lockheed Martin and Boeing are working with NASA exploring concepts which enable dramatically reduced noise levels, making a modern supersonic jetliner a possibility.

Since the Concorde’s final landing at London’s Heathrow Airport nearly a decade ago, commercial supersonic air travel has been as elusive as a piece of lost luggage. However, this hasn’t stopped NASA from continuing the quest […]

"There are three barriers particular to civil supersonic flight; sonic boom, high altitude emissions and airport noise. Of the three, boom is the most significant problem,” said Peter Coen, manager of NASA’s High Speed Project with the agency’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate’s Fundamental Aeronautics Program.

Previous research by NASA, the military and the aircraft industry has determined that a variety of factors, from the shape and position of aircraft components to the propulsion system’s characteristics, determine the make-up of a supersonic aircraft’s sonic boom. Therefore, engineers are able to tune or “shape” a boom signature through design to minimize the loudness of the boom it produces in flight.
Posted 1 week ago

Robot Octopus - this robotic limb is straight out of scifi, mimicking the movements of an elephant’s trunk or Doc Octopus’ bionic arms (depending on whether you prefer cute or super villain). Powered by pneumatics and made from soft materials, it is designed to safely coinhabit a human’s workspace, but there is something vaguely creepy about it.

I am in Jochen Steil’s lab, grasping a segmented, whiplashing tentacle that resists and tries to push me away. It feels strangely alive, as though I am trying to throttle a giant alien maggot. In fact, I am training a bionic elephant’s trunk to do real-world jobs like picking apples or replacing light bulbs – something non-experts haven’t been able to do until now.

Designed to bring the dexterity of an elephant’s trunk to industrial robots, the appendage I am wrestling was launched by German engineering firm Festo as a proof-of-concept in 2010. The design showed that a trunk formed of 3D-printed segments can be controlled by an array of pneumatic artificial muscles.

Posted 1 week ago

Tron’s Legacy - this concept motorcycle showcased by Kawasaki at the Tokyo Motor Show is equal parts Tron lightcycle and Akira transforming bike, with the added advantage that it exists in real hardware rather than just techno gloss animation. While it’s not clear yet if/when it might be available for sale, it most certainly is a stunning design.

Entirely lacking handlebars, the J instead has a pair of arms affixed to its twin front wheels, which riders are meant to grip. The design is reminiscent of something between that of a Star Wars speeder bike and the glowing light cycles seen in TRON: Legacy. Riders will be able to swing the arms low for a speedy “Sport Mode” stance, or raise them up for a more ergonomically-pleasing “Comfort Mode.” These modes will also affect the width of the gap between the front wheels, allowing for better handling no matter what speed the rider is travelling at.

The J will be powered by a bank of high-capacity nickel-metal hydride batteries, but there’s no word yet on what range or top speed they might afford. As for production units hitting the streets, we’ll have to wait and see what potential buyers think of this strange beast before Kawasaki makes a final decision on whether or not to give it the green light.

Many more gorgeous images on the original post.

Posted 1 week ago

Deus Ex: Human Revolution - a scifi short film with some amazing special effects and design elements, loosely based on the Deus Ex video game story line. While any movie is ultimately a platform to tell a story, the amount of effort that goes into the world building and design of a good scifi has become an art all in of itself. This clip being a proof of concept for a proposed feature film, it doesn’t get very far into the story (see below for background), but the technology design on display and the execution are truly impressive.

This short film dives into the world of Adam Jensen, a Sarif industries’ security consultant that gets augmented after an incident that almost took his life away. Although the film doesn’t follow the narrative of the game exactly, it remains true to the theme while focusing on the relationship between Adam Jensen, and his ex girlfriend Megan Reed, a scientist hand picked by Serif Industries to head Cybernetic Augmentations.

Megan is taken by the Illuminati and is asked to assist them in turning on a mysterious device but she refuses to cooperate. Jensen has been looking for Megan since she was kidnapped and has finally pinpointed her location. Adam faces a complication that he did not account for; Yelena Federova, an Augmented assassin is at the facility where Megan is being held. The film also taps, even if briefly, into Adam’s mind and the struggle he must face on daily basis.

Posted 1 week ago

Robot School - what if automated systems could learn from each other? Researchers have set up a classroom where one robot can enable others to learn from its experiences. The ultimate subject on the lesson plan is how do deal with those pesky humans. Enabling knowledge transfer between otherwise very dissimilar systems makes it possible for a machine to learn from human/robot interaction experiences in a wide variety of environments and situations.

The time is soon approaching when you will show up for class, and instead of a human behind a desk, your professor will be a robot. Taught by generations of robots before it, your professor will be the ultimate font of knowledge in its chosen subject.

[…]

The idea behind Taylor’s research is the creation of a true robot teacher, one whose hardware and software don’t have to be the same as its student’s for it to impart knowledge. Existing solely as virtual robots at present, Taylor’s creations teach by giving advice to their equally virtual students. By letting the robot profs give pointers and allowing the student robots time to implement their latest lesson, Taylor states that he has not only seen the transfer of knowledge, but that the student robots actually learn to surpass their teacher’s abilities.