Monday, 24 August 2015


Tasty Tech Eye Candy Of The Week (August 23)
By Tracy Staedter,
Discovery News, 23 August 2015.

Quite a few autonomous technologies, including vehicles, boats, cars and even golf carts, popped up this week - perhaps on their own.

1. Autonomous Research Ship


On the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower from England to the New World, an autonomous research vessel of the same name will set sail from Plymouth, United Kingdom. Developed by scientists at Plymouth University, the Mayflower Autonomous Research Ship (MARS) will explore the ocean via wind- and solar-powered propulsion. GPS and an on-board collision-avoidance system will help the ship navigate.

"It is intended to house one or more modular payload bays, much like a Space Shuttle, into which a diverse range of mission equipment will be fitted to support the various research tasks," Brett Phaneuf, Managing Director at M Subs, told Gizmag. A year of testing will take place before official launch.

2. Autonomous Helicopter


Helicopters are also going pilotless. Copter manufacturer Sikorsky was just awarded additional funding from the Department of Defense - US$9.8 million to be exact - to continue developing a helicopter that can fly autonomously. We say "continue" because the company has gotten funding from the DOD previously for such a project, and has already demonstrated that it can use a tablet computer to control its S-76 helicopter. It's just a matter of time before the aircraft is flying on its own.

3. TransWheel


There's been a lot of talk lately about using aerial drones to deliver packages for places like Amazon, but this delivery concept takes the notion to the street. It's called TransWheel, a futuristic autonomous unicycle conceived of by Kobi Shikar, an engineering and design student at the Shenkar School of Engineering and Design in Ramat Gan, Israel.

A single wheel, which balances in a way similar to a Segway, would use GPS to navigate and face recognition to deliver a single package to the correct person. Several TransWheels would come together to haul larger shipments, such as those contained in a shipping container. Watch the video see more about how it works.

4. Autonomous Car from Ford


Of course, cars are going autonomous as well. Recently, the United States Patent and Trademark Office approved a patent application for Ford to develop an autonomous car with reconfigurable seats. It means that when the car is in the self-driving mode, the interior can be converted to accommodate a business meeting or simply some relaxation time. PatentYogi explains how such a car would here.

5. Autonomous Golf Cart


Before the highways are running rampant with self-driving cars, the technology will likely mature in more contained environments, such as theme parks, university campuses, resorts and retirement communities. Nalin Gupta and his colleagues at Aurobots and Santa Clara University in California, are working on a golf cart that's almost ready for prime time. That's because the the technology required to manage such a vehicle in a closed system is somewhat easier than the open road because the layout is less complex, more predictable, has lower speed limits, and presents fewer traffic snarls.

6. Solar-Powered Catamaran


The Celtic Sea, off the south coast of Ireland, is home to many marine predators, but no one knows why. To find out, scientists at Britain’s National Oceanography Centre launched C-Enduro, a long-distance autonomous catamaran equipped with GoPro cameras, acoustic detectors and a meteorological station. The vehicle will use a combination of solar, wind and diesel to study fin whales and other marine mammals in the area.

7. P51 Combat Fighter Motorcycle


Birmingham, Alabama-based Confederate Motors is known for their butt-kicking bikes and their latest, the P51 Combat Fighter is no exception. Transparent side panels offer a view of the 200-hp engine and gas tank. Confederate plans to build 61 of these motorcycles, with about half of them available in aluminium and the others anodized in black. Price tag starts at US$113,900. Save US$10K by putting down a deposit by Sept. 7.

8. 100-Percent Solar-Powered Resort


For the 1 percenter who cares about the planet, there's Finolhu Villas, a 5-star resort on Kaafu Atoll in The Maldives, that's 100 percent solar-powered. It was designed by New York City-based Yuji Yamazaki, who incorporated a desalination plant into the layout as well as an efficient waste management system and a footprint that minimizes erosion. The solar power panels generate about 1 MW of energy per day.

9. Flocking Satellites


The paths of hurricanes and major storms are seldom easy to predict, but a new move by NASA could help us track their paths with better accuracy than ever before.

The government agency is creating a flock of eight microsatellites capable of forecasting the severity of storms from space. The Cyclone Global Satellite System (CYGNYSS) will be the first to look at the inner core of a storm, which will provide a better estimate of wind speeds and the path of air currents.
This new technology could help improve preparedness for major storms and hopefully curtail the devastating impacts. NASA expects the satellite flock to launch in late 2016.

10. Glass-Bottom Pool


London is about to become home to the world's first suspended swimming pool designed to span two buildings. The 115-foot-high "sky pool," designed by Arup Associates, will give swimmers a pool length of 82 feet in which to practice their strokes. The 7.8-inch-thick glass walls will give street-level pedestrians a unique view of a swimmer's technique.

Top image: The Mayflower Autonomous Research Ship. Credit: Shuttleworth Design.

[Source: Discovery News. Edited. Top image and some links added.]

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