Hello all! My top engineering technology picks of the week include robots performing household chores, the new SpaceX hovering capsule and self-cleaning windows. Have a great weekend!
- Google’s Atlas Robot Taught to Do Household Chores
- Watch the SpaceX Dragon Crew Capsule Hover Like a Fiery Bee
- This Algorithm Helps Machines Learn as Quickly as Humans
- Watch a Drone Helicopter Release a Driverless Ground Vehicle
- A Window of Opportunity! Self-Cleaning Smart Panes Inspired by Moth Eyes Could Cut Heating Bills by Almost Half
This isn’t anything new: a robot sweeps the carpet. However, Google’s sweeping robot doesn’t just sweep; it is being taught to do all of the housework. Researchers have programmed Atlas to operate a vacuum cleaner and pick up garbage. It can also fold up a ladder. The world’s most expensive housekeeper is still years away from mass production. It still isn’t perfect at walking, as it has fallen over in other competitions and doesn’t fully recognize stationary and mobile objects, such as having the issue of turning an arm and hitting someone in the head. The battery life is also extremely limited.
SpaceX showed off its hovering space capsule during recent tests. The “jet pack” engines produce 33,000 pounds of thrust that help the capsule float for a few moments. The main goal was to demonstrate vehicle control. This is another positive step in the private space exploration company’s process.
This Algorithm Helps Machines Learn as Quickly as Humans
Robots and artificial life continue to advance in range of abilities that they can perform. However, the next significant step seems to be creating a living, breathing AI that can learn quickly and understand their surroundings. Scientists are working on reducing the time and repetitions it takes a robot to learn. By creating a special “Bayesian Program Learning” framework that shortens learning time by reducing complicated concepts and reducing them to simple computer programs.
Watch a Drone Helicopter Release a Driverless Ground Vehicle
It isn’t science fiction anymore – robots could play a significant role in future wars. There are already some drones and robots in use and in development for the military. However, most have to work in tandem with soldiers. One project is attempting to create autonomous vehicles that assist each other, possibly to explore extremely hot zones or other locations dangerous for soldiers. A few months ago, an autonomous helicopter dropped an autonomous ground vehicle during a test.
One of my least favorite chores of the year is cleaning windows. Thankfully, scientists are trying to reduce my chores. Using pencil-like microscopic structures in the glass, it forces water to simply roll off the panes, picking up dirt, dust and other contaminants which clean the window as the particles are carried away. The thin layer of material also shows early results with preventing heat loss in cold weather and prevents heat from raising the internal temperature during warm weather.