Robotics

Hitchhiking Robot's Cross-Country Trip Ends In Philadelphia 178 178

An anonymous reader writes: A hitchhiking robot that successfully traveled across Canada in 26 days last year and parts of Europe, has met its demise in Philly. Created as a "social experiment," hitchBOT started its journey in the U.S. in Marblehead, Massachusetts, on July 17 with its thumb raised up and tape wrapped around its head that read "San Francisco or bust." After about two weeks in the U.S., someone in Philadelphia damaged the robot beyond repair. "Sadly, sadly it's come to an end," said Frauke Zeller, one of its co-creators. The Independent reports: "The robot was designed to be a talking travel companion and could toss out factoids and carry limited conversation. A GPS in the robot tracked its location, and a camera randomly snapped photos about every 20 minutes to document its travels."
Power

Solar-Powered Flight For 81 Hours: a New Endurance World Record 34 34

Hallie Siegel writes: A team of researchers from ETH Zurich have just set a new endurance record for solar powered flight of an unmanned autonomous aircraft, achieving over four days of solar-powered flight in a range of weather conditions. Being able to demonstrate more than 24 hours of endurance is important because overcast skies can inhibit recharging and poor weather or high winds can effect power consumption. Nice achievement for this class of aircraft.
AI

Answering Elon Musk On the Dangers of Artificial Intelligence 218 218

Lasrick points out a rebuttal by Stanford's Edward Moore Geist of claims that have led the recent panic over superintelligent machines. From the linked piece: Superintelligence is propounding a solution that will not work to a problem that probably does not exist, but Bostrom and Musk are right that now is the time to take the ethical and policy implications of artificial intelligence seriously. The extraordinary claim that machines can become so intelligent as to gain demonic powers requires extraordinary evidence, particularly since artificial intelligence (AI) researchers have struggled to create machines that show much evidence of intelligence at all.
Intel

10 Years of Intel Processors Compared 98 98

jjslash writes to Techspot's interesting look back at the evolution of Intel CPUs since the original Core 2 Duo E6600 and Core 2 Quad processors were introduced. The test pits the eight-year-old CPUs against their successors in the Nehalem, Sandy Bridge and Haswell families, including today's Celeron and Pentium parts which fare comparably well. A great reference just days before Intel's new Skylake processor debuts.
Networking

$340 Audiophile Ethernet Cable Tested 356 356

An anonymous reader writes: Ars Technica has posted a series of articles attempting to verify whether there's any difference between a $340 "audiophile" Ethernet cable and a $2.50 generic one. In addition to doing a quick teardown, they took the cables to Las Vegas and asked a bunch of test subjects to evaluate the cables in a blind test. Surprise, surprise: the expensive cables weren't any better. The subjects weren't even asked to say which one was better, just whether they could tell there was a difference. But for the sake of completeness, Ars also passed the cables through a battery of electrical tests. The expensive cable met specs — barely, in some cases — while the cheap one didn't. The cheap one passed data, but with a ton of noise. "And listeners still failed to hear any difference."
Cellphones

Samsung Wants To Bring Back the Flip Phone With Bendable Screens 59 59

redletterdave writes: A new patent filed last April but published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office earlier this month suggests Samsung might be working on a smartphone that can bend in half like a flip phone. The biggest problem, according to the patent, is all the strain that accumulates by continually folding the display, or keeping the display folded for a long period of time, which can result in deformations and imperfections, Samsung notes. But Samsung's patent also describes how the phone could keep track of how long it's been in the folded and unfolded states, so as to alert the user of any strain that needs to be relieved. This could help extend the lifetime of the phone and its display.
NASA

NASA's Drone For Other Worlds 30 30

An anonymous reader writes: A group of engineers is building a new drone. What sets this apart from the hundreds of other drone development projects going on around the world? Well, these engineers are at the Kennedy Space Center, and the drone will be used to gather samples on other worlds. The drone is specifically designed to be able to fly in low- or no-atmosphere situations. Senior technologist Rob Mueller describes it as a "prospecting robot." He says, "The first step in being able to use resources on Mars or an asteroid is to find out where the resources are. They are most likely in hard-to-access areas where there is permanent shadow. Some of the crater walls are angled 30 degrees or more, and that's far too steep for a traditional rover to navigate and climb." They face major challenges with rotor and gas-jet design, they have to figure out navigation without GPS, and the whole system needs to be largely autonomous — you can't really steer a drone yourself with a latency of several minutes (or more).
Portables

NVIDIA Recalls Shield Tablets Over Heat Risk 27 27

An anonymous reader writes: NVIDIA has issued a recall for 88,000 units of its 8-inch Shield tablet sold in the past year. Predictably, it's because of the battery. There have been reports of overheating, including two reports that the tablet got so hot it damaged the floor it was resting on. Oddly, the company is requiring anyone returning the tablet to update its OS to the latest release.
Robotics

A Robot That Can Walk and Jump On Water 39 39

Taco Cowboy writes: Researchers from Seoul University and Harvard have constructed tiny robots that can walk across the surface of standing water, and even jump into the air. The robots were designed to imitate the way pond-skimmer insects take advantage of surface tension to maneuver on top of still bodies of water. After studying the insects, the researchers found their legs started with a small amount of movement before gradually accelerating downward into a jump. The insects also sweep their legs inward during the jump to maximize the amount of time they stay in contact with the surface (abstract). "Using these principles, the researchers developed an ultra light robot made out of nickel titanium with a 2 centimeter long body inspired by origami. Its 5 centimeter long wire legs are curved at the tips like a real water strider's and coated with a material that repels water." Pictures of the robots are available here and here, as well as this animated gif.
Intel

Why Micron/Intel's New Cross Point Memory Could Virtually Last Forever 175 175

Lucas123 writes: As they announced their new 3D XPoint memory this week, Micron and Intel talked a lot about its performance being 1,000X that of NAND flash, but what they talked less about was how it also has the potential to have 1,000X the endurance of today's most popular non-volatile memories. NAND flash typically can sustain from 3,000 to 10,000 erase-write cycles — more with wear-leveling and ECC. If Micron and Intel's numbers are to be believed, 3D XPoint could exceed one million write cycles. The reason for that endurance involves the material used to create the XPoint architecture, which neither company will disclose. Unlike NAND flash, cross point resistive memory does not use charge trap technology that wears silicon oxide over time or a typical resistive memory filamentary architecture, which creates a statistical variation in how the filaments form each time you program them; that can slow ReRAM's performance and make it harder to scale. Russ Meyer, Micron's director of process integration, said 3D XPoint's architecture doesn't store electrons or use filaments. "The memory element itself is simply moving between two different resistance states," which means there's virtually no wear.
Robotics

Robots Must Be Designed To Be Compassionate, Says SoftBank CEO 110 110

An anonymous reader writes: At the SoftBank World conference in Tokyo, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son has made a case for robots to be developed so as to form empathic and emotional relationships with people. "I'm sure that most people would rather have the warm-hearted person as a friendSomeday robots will be more intelligent than human beings, and [such robots] must also be pure, nice, and compassionate toward people," SoftBank's Aldebaran tech group will make its empathic "Pepper" robot available for companies to rent in Japan from October at a rate of $442 per month.
Transportation

Hacker's Device Can Intercept OnStar's Mobile App and Unlock, Start GM Cars 54 54

Lucas123 writes: Security researcher Samy Kamkar posted a video today demonstrating a device he created that he calls OwnStar that can intercept communications between GM's RemoteLink mobile app and the OnStar cloud service in order to unlock and start an OnStar equipped car. Kamkar said that after a user opens the OnStar Remote Link app on his or her mobile phone "near the OwnStar device," OwnStar intercepts the communication and sends "data packets to the mobile device to acquire additional credentials. The OwnStar device then notifies the attacker about the new vehicle that the hacker has access to for an indefinite period of time, including its location, make and model. And at that point, the hacker can use the Remote Link app to control the vehicle. Kamkar said GM is aware of the security hole and is working on a fix.
Displays

Ask Slashdot: Best Wireless PC-to-TV Solution? 157 157

jez9999 writes: I have a slightly unusual requirement. I don't want to use some console like an Xbox, Steam Machine, etc. I just have a desktop PC which I use for most of the stuff I do (gaming, video, work, etc.), and it's upstairs. From time to time, I'd like to use it downstairs. Is there a wireless solution that will let me take control of the PC from downstairs, using the TV (HDMI) as the screen, and the TV's speakers to replace my desktop speakers? Ideally there would be a wireless transmitter in the PC, and a downstairs wireless receiver box into which I could plug the keyboard, mouse, and of course, the TV via an HDMI cable. Obviously Bluetooth wireless peripherals won't do for this as there's no line of sight between downstairs and the upstairs PC, and besides, I prefer wired peripherals anyway which I can actually plug in to something (no battery recharging needed).
Bug

Samsung Finds, Fixes Bug In Linux Trim Code 181 181

New submitter Mokki writes: After many complaints that Samsung SSDs corrupted data when used with Linux, Samsung found out that the bug was in the Linux kernel and submitted a patch to fix it. It turns out that kernels without the final fix can corrupt data if the system is using linux md raid with raid0 or raid10 and issues trim/discard commands (either fstrim or by the filesystem itself). The vendor of the drive did not matter and the previous blacklisting of Samsung drives for broken queued trim support can be most likely lifted after further tests. According to this post the bug has been around for a long time.
Databases

Oracle To Debut Low-Cost SPARC Chip Next Month 91 91

jfruh writes: Of the many things Oracle acquired when it absorbed Sun, the SPARC processors have not exactly been making headlines. But that may change next month when the company debuts a new, lower-cost chip that will compete with Intel's Xeon. "Debut," in this case, means only an introduction, though -- not a marketplace debut. From the article: [T]he Sparc M7 will have technologies for encryption acceleration and memory protection built into the chip. It will also include coprocessors to accelerate database performance. "The idea of Sonoma is to take exactly those same technologies and bring them down to very low cost points, so that people can use them in cloud computing and for smaller applications, and even for smaller companies who need a lower entry point," [Oracle head of systems John] Fowler said. ... [Fowler] didn’t talk about prices or say how much cheaper the new Sparc systems will be, and it could potentially be years before Sonoma comes to market—Oracle isn’t yet saying. Its engineers are due to discuss Sonoma at the Hot Chips conference in Silicon Valley at the end of the month, so we might learn more then.
Power

Britain Shuts Off 750,000 Streetlights With No Impact On Crime Or Crashes 294 294

Flash Modin writes: English cities are hard up for cash as the national government dolls out cuts. And in response, the country's councils — local governing bodies — have slashed costs by turning off an estimated 750,000 streetlights. Fans of the night sky and reduced energy usage are happy, but the move has also sparked a national debate. The Automobile Association claims six people have died as a direct result of dimming the lights. But a new study released Wednesday looked at 14 years of data from 63 local authorities across England and Wales and found that residents' chances of being attacked, robbed, or struck by a car were no worse on the darker streets.
Graphics

On Linux, $550 Radeon R9 Fury Competes With $200~350 NVIDIA GPUs 81 81

An anonymous reader writes: Earlier this month AMD released the air-cooled Radeon R9 Fury graphics card with Fury X-like performance, but the big caveat is the bold performance is only to be found on Windows. Testing the R9 Fury X on Linux revealed the Catalyst driver delivers devastatingly low performance for this graphics card. With OpenGL Linux games, the R9 Fury performed between the speed of a GeForce GTX 960 and 970, with the GTX 960 retailing for around $200 while the GTX 970 is $350. The only workloads where the AMD R9 Fury performed as expected under Linux was the Unigine Valley tech demo and OpenCL compute tests. There also is not any open-source driver support yet for the AMD R9 Fury.
Microsoft

Windows 10 App For Xbox One Could Render Steam Machines Useless 170 170

SlappingOysters writes: The release of Windows 10 has brought with it the Xbox app -- a portal through which you can stream anything happening on your Xbox One to your Surface or desktop. Finder is reporting that the love will go the other way, too, with a PC app coming to the Xbox One allowing you to stream your desktop to your console. But where does this leave the coming Steam Machines? This analysis shows how such an app could undermine the Steam Machines' market position.
Power

Sharp Announces Sales of DC Powered Air Conditioner, Other Products To Follow 237 237

AmiMoJo writes: Sharp has announced that sales of DC powered air conditioners will begin by the end of the year. Most appliances use the standard AC electricity supply in homes, but as solar panels become more common switching to DC can save on conversion losses. Solar panels produce DC, which is then typically converted to AC before being fed into the house's wiring, and then converted back to DC again by appliances. Sharp has announced that it intends to produce a range of DC powered appliances for home use.
Medicine

Beyond Safety: Is Robotic Surgery Sustainable? 54 54

Hallie Siegel writes: The release last week of the study on adverse events in robotic surgery led to much discussion on the safety and effectiveness of robotic surgical procedures. MIT Sloane's Matt Beane argues that while the hope is that this dialogue will mean safer and more effective robotic procedures in the future, the intense focus on safety and effectiveness has compromised training opportunities for new robotic surgeons, who require many hours of 'live' surgical practice time to develop their skills. Beane says that robotic surgery will likely continue to expand in proportion to other methods, given that it allows fewer surgeons to perform surgery with less trauma to the patient, but no matter how safe we make robotic surgical procedures, they will become a luxury available to a very few if we fail to address the sustainability of the practice.