Eagles Are Out and Registration Is Back In a Not-Fun-Week for Drones

No more anti-drone eagle squads?

8 DIY Leather Gifts That Don’t Take Forever to Make

Linn at Darbin Orvar shares 8 simple and lovely DIY leather gift ideas.

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The post 8 DIY Leather Gifts That Don’t Take Forever to Make appeared first on Make: DIY Projects and Ideas for Makers.

Computer systems predict objects’ responses to physical forces

New research examines the fundamental cognitive abilities that an intelligent agent requires to navigate the world: discerning distinct objects and inferring how they respond to physical forces.

World’s biggest motor maker Nidec will show lineup at CES 2018

Cars, drones, robots, and much more will be on display at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) — a show that’s come to be known as the place to see the latest technological machines, parts, and gadgets. Cutting-edge drones and the latest robots are joined by autonomous-driving technologies … all which rely on electric motors.…

The post World’s biggest motor maker Nidec will show lineup at CES 2018 appeared first on The Robot Report.

Software enables robots to be controlled in virtual reality

Researchers have developed software that lets users control robots over the internet with off-the-shelf virtual reality hardware.

Engineers program tiny robots to move, think like insects

While engineers have had success building tiny, insect-like robots, programming them to behave autonomously like real insects continues to present technical challenges. Engineers have recently been experimenting with a new type of programming that mimics the way an insect’s brain works, which could soon have people wondering if that fly on the wall is actually a fly.

The Massive Project to Clean Up the Ocean With a Two-Kilometer Screen

Every year, eight million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean, threatening just about every marine species and ecosystem. As the global population grows and countries develop, this is only going to increase, eventually threatening us as well—if it isn’t already.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch swirls between Hawaii and California, made up of microparticles from plastics of all types finding their way into the ocean and being broken down by sun, wind, waves, and microbes. Four other patches of similar size exist in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, as the plastic gets trapped in the rotation of convection currents.

This staggering amount of plastic is wreaking havoc. Many marine animals, from seagulls to sharks, mistake the plastic for food, which not only causes blockage or perforation of the intestinal tract, but leaches toxic chemicals into the food chain. The National Academy of Sciences estimates 90 percent of seabirds have ingested plastic.

Heavy metals like mercury, cadmium, and antimony, which are used during production, are also released as the plastic is broken down. If the plastics make their way to a landfill or a body of water, for instance, the heavy metals they contain may pollute drinking water or have other environmental repercussions.

The good news is, someone is finally cleaning it all up.

Founded in 2013 by Boyan Slat, an 18-year-old from the Netherlands, The Ocean Cleanup has been dubbed “the largest cleanup in history.” With the help of a growing list of international partners as well as some advanced technology, Ocean Cleanup’s mission is to help remove the five trillion pieces of plastic currently in the ocean, with deployment scheduled for next year.

Image Credit: Erwin Zwart / The Ocean Cleanup

In August 2017, the project finalized the design for a u-shaped buoy made of high-density polyethylene nearly two kilometers in length, with a screen extending a few meters below. The system will be positioned based on a series of data points like ocean currents, weather, and location of the plastic and nets. These data points are fed into an algorithm to determine the buoy’s ideal point of deployment.

At this point the system will be free to float autonomously, meaning it needs no source of power and has a much longer lifespan when compared with a fixed structure. Also, because most plastic floats on the ocean’s surface, the buoy will be able to work effectively without impeding sea life.

As currents push the plastic and nets, the buoy will be positioned to capture it, and the u-shaped design will funnel it towards the center, at which point it can be collected by a specialized vessel for recycling and resale, which will help fund the project in the future.

Two main challenges were overcome to get the project to this point: modeling and materials. Modeling involved understanding the source, flow, and current position of the plastic. To collect this data, researchers used drifting sensors that provided two million data points per day, and this was compiled into some of the most complex 3D models developed.

The challenge for the buoy and screen was determining the optimal shape and material composition to ensure they would be rigid enough to retain their u-shape, flexible enough to bend with the waves, and durable enough to still function after years of floating.

Despite years of mathematical modeling, materials analysis, and rigorous testing, the team says their work is not finished, pointing out that a similar system has never been built before, and therefore its engineering process necessarily entails constant questioning and testing.

The project has been in development for three years, involving government, universities, corporations, and individuals from around the world. In fact, much of the initial funding came from individual donations.

Image Credit: Erwin Zwart / The Ocean Cleanup

The project’s website states that the project raised $2.2 million from 38,000 people in 160 countries, “becoming the most successful non-profit crowdfunding campaign to date.” The donations helped fund both marine and aerial expeditions to map the distribution of the plastic, scale model testing, and launch a prototype in the North Sea in 2016.

The expeditions produced the most accurate data on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, including high-resolution images, all of which will be published in early 2018, as they are still under scientific review.

The system is scheduled to be deployed in May 2018, and its creators claim it will be able to clean up half the patch in just five years. By 2020 they aim for a full-scale deployment into each of the five patches.

While this project seems like a promising solution to the ocean’s garbage problem, the team at Ocean Cleanup stresses it might not be enough. Specifically, to be effective the cleanup should be combined with a reduction in disposable plastic use on land.

Even if we were to halt plastic production immediately, though, the impact of the vast amount of plastic pollution already present might never go away. An article in Nature states, “Plastic will have left its mark as layers of tiny particles embedded in sediment on the ocean floor. Over time, this plastic will become cemented into the earth—a legacy of the plastic era.”

Image Credit: Rich Carey / Shutterstock.com

Corindus touts 1st Corpath GRX system installation outside the US

Corindus Vascular Robotics (OTC:CVRS) today touted the first commercial installation of its CorPath GRx robotic surgical system outside of the US. The CorPath GRX platform, a robot-assisted system for percutaneous coronary interventions such as stenting, was purchased and installed at the Ahmedabad, India’s Apex Heart Institute, the Waltham, Mass.-based company said. Corindus said that it will…

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Robotics researchers track autonomous underground mining vehicles

QUT robotics researchers have developed new technology to equip underground mining vehicles to navigate autonomously through dust, camera blur and bad lighting.

How Clinical Trials Are Making the Case for MDMA in Psychotherapy

In an interview at Exponential Medicine in San Diego, speaker Brad Burge discussed the innovative applications of MDMA (commonly known as ecstasy or molly) in psychotherapy. Burge is the director of strategic communications at non-profit MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies).

Historically, MDMA has been known as a psychedelic drug and was criminalized in 1985. Because of this, we mostly hear about its use recreationally, yet most recreational variations of the drug are in fact much different than pure MDMA. This also means the effects of pure MDMA compared with recreational varieties are drastically different.

“MDMA expands awareness and produces feelings of trust and intimacy. It also reduces fear. All these things could make it really helpful for psychotherapy,” Burge said.

Only recently, Burge explained, is the drug entering medical studies. MAPS is creating programs to do this and to blend psychotherapy with supervised administration of MDMA.

“This is not a ‘take three pills and call me in the morning’ kind of situation,” Burge said, “At no point will people go to the pharmacist, for example, and pick up a bunch of MDMA and go home and try it…Rather, this is a 12-week course with introductory psychotherapy sessions and then MDMA combined with psychotherapy in whole-day treatments.”

MAPS is currently working to push MDMA through FDA approval and is aiming to enter Phase 3 trials in spring of 2018.

Image Credit: Maya2008 / Shutterstock.com