Here’s an example of Tango allowing developers to move onto what a robot does as opposed to telling the robot where it is.

More from The Verge, 

An experimental NASA robot could get a big upgrade thanks to Google. The two parties have been working together to integrate Google’s Project Tango smartphone prototype — which can detect and map the world around it using a series of sensors — onto NASA’s SPHERES — brightly colored, volleyball-sized robots designed to float around the International Space Station and assist astronauts. Right now, the SPHERES can perform basic navigation inside of a limited section of the ISS by using ultrasound and detecting infrared light, but using Tango’s more detailed detection methods, NASA hopes to let the robots explore more of the station and navigate entirely on their own.

Google’s Project Tango, amazing. 

Ability to navigate indoors, which Tango apparently has, is going to fast forward functional robots. It will make it exponentially easier to build a robot that can work around the house, shop, wherever. 

Why? Because a robot can’t really do anything intelligently if it doesn’t know where it is. Outside this is relatively straightforward to solve via GPS. But inside, it gets much more difficult. If Project Tango solves the indoor navigation issue, the development can focus on what the robot does as opposed to how it will know where it is. 

On the topic of asteroids exploding in Russia, 

This network has detected 26 multi-kiloton explosions since 2001, all of which are due to asteroid impacts. It shows that asteroid impacts are NOT rare—but actually 3-10 times more common than we previously thought. The fact that none of these asteroid impacts shown in the video was detected in advance is proof that the only thing preventing a catastrophe from a ‘city-killer’ sized asteroid is blind luck. 

I wonder if the number of impacts is going up, and if so, why?

Read more at:

Asteroid over Russia…

Tags: Matt Space

Dragon chasing the ISS!
Spotted this cool photo from Failedprotostar on my Twitter feed.

Dragon chasing the ISS!

Spotted this cool photo from Failedprotostar on my Twitter feed.

In an earlier post I highlighted some of the payload Dragon was recently carrying to the ISS. I missed the High Definition Earth Viewing payload of 4 HD cameras. Here’s a few details, 

The High Definition Earth Viewing (HDEV) experiment places four commercially available HD cameras on the exterior of the space station and uses them to stream live video of Earth for viewing online.  The cameras are enclosed in a temperature specific housing and are exposed to the harsh radiation of space.  Analysis of the effect of space on the video quality, over the time HDEV is operational, may help engineers decide which cameras are the best types to use on future missions. High school students helped design some of the cameras’ components, through the High Schools United with NASA to Create Hardware (HUNCH) program, and student teams operate the experiment.

More info

via The Verge

What would our world be like without paper? According to the renegade scientist in “Scattered,” a sci-fi short film adapted from a story by author Ken MacLeod, it’d be a place freed from the restrictions of human history. Without the original source documents, mankind would have a clean slate. In this world, “we look to the future, not the past,” and some sort of modern human existence could be created based on all of the advancements that have brought us to where we are today.

I read through this article and it more or less seems like a dramatic pitch to buy into Steve Omohundro’s AI development plan. This plan is,

The best solution, he says, is to slow down in our building and designing of AI systems, take a layered approach, similar to the way that ancient builders used wood scaffolds to support arches under construction and only remove the scaffold when the arch is complete.

Any proposal that starts with “slow down” is laughable IMO, when has that ever happened? 

The basic argument outlined for a robot uprising is that at the moment AI seeks to maximize a goal and will take whatever actions result in more and better reaching of goals. This could lead to a robot deciding to not let itself be turned off. 

Meh, that seems simplistic. If this really is a problem, then it seems like constraints could be built into the code telling the robot that it isn’t allowed to take certain actions. 

Declaring that there will be a robot uprising based off one person’s opinion, when said person clearly has something to sell, is not compelling to me. 


Tags: Matt Space

Here’s some details of Dragon’s scientific payload,

One of the new investigations aboard SpaceX’s capsule is the Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS). OPALS tests the use of laser optics to transfer information to the ground. Using a laser beam instead of radio frequency could improve communication data rates by a factor of 10 to 100. 

Apparently for the OPALS experiment they only have 100 seconds per demonstration. This is because the space station and the ground station need to be in line of sight for the laser to work. 

Also, T-Cells

Another new study launching in March is the T-Cell Activation in Aging investigation, which seeks to identify the defect in T-cell activation — an immune response used to fight foreign antigens —during microgravity exposure. T-cells are a type of white blood cell that are coated with chemical receptors that must activate together to run the body’s immune system properly.

As people age, immune function deteriorates over a long period of time and results in a significantly reduced ability to fight infection and disease. The reasoning for this is not understood fully, but these same types of changes in immune response are found to occur in healthy crew members during spaceflight. Changes in immune cells influenced by microgravity are found to occur rapidly at the molecular level. With this discovery, microgravity provides an excellent platform to investigate functional changes to immunity that normally take place over a period of time.

Then, veggies,

The Vegetable Production System (Veggie) is a new investigation with “edible results” heading to the space station. Veggie is a deployable plant growth unit capable of producing salad-type crops to provide the crew with appetizing, nutritious and safe fresh food and support crew relaxation and recreation. It will serve as a new space station facility as well and will provide a venue for future plant growth research.