Driverless toaster delivers pizza

❝ In an abandoned lot on the outskirts of Sacramento, R1, a domed gray vehicle half the size of a Toyota Corolla, is practicing driving itself…as other self-driving vehicles do on test courses in Silicon Valley, Detroit, and China. But R1, made by a startup called Nuro, doesn’t need to be as good. It can make a jolting brake if it sees something on the road or cruise untroubled over a small bump — wrinkles that companies building autonomous taxis work tirelessly to remove. Nuro spent less time on this, because its robots aren’t designed to ferry people. “A lot of those problems can be solved when you remove the passenger,” says co-founder Dave Ferguson. “The pizza doesn’t care if you’re going a little slower.”

❝ Almost every company making self-driving cars, including Alphabet’s Waymo, General Motors, and Ford Motor, says the second move will be delivery vehicles. Nuro, whose co-founders spent years on Waymo LLC’s car project when it was still part of Google, is focused on delivery first…

❝ Without human labor costs, Nuro’s robot has a better chance to make on-demand delivery profitable than the string of failed startups that have littered Silicon Valley in recent years…but it will take a little getting used to…for consumers.

RTFA. Poisonally, I can hardly wait for my favorite pizza delivery spot to send one of these to our driveway.

World’s first graphene battery — real soon now

China has a love affair with Graphene. Some companies work on utra-thin flexible displays and others on batteries. Dongxu Optoelectronic Technology unveiled today in Beijing in a big show the G-King graphene battery. This is the world’s first graphene battery

The demonstrated graphene battery has a capacity of 4,800mAh, which is a typical capacity of laptop battery. The company showed the G-King’s super-fast charging time. It only takes 13 to 15 minutes compared to several hours a conventional Lithium-Ion battery needs. That’s 10 to 20 times faster.

Dongxu Optoelectronic Technology says that the G-King graphene battery supports 3,500 charge and discharge cycles. This is 7 times higher than Li-Ion batteries.

These new graphene batteries could change the future of electric cars, which are held back by today’s battery technology. The report out of China does not reveal how close the G-King battery is to mass production. It should be close, considering the stage show the company pulled off.

Watch this space.

Maersk trials drone delivery to ship at sea

Click to enlargePhoto/Maersk Tankers

Maersk Tankers says that it has completed the first drone delivery to a vessel at sea as part of a test to see whether or not drones can become a part of the supply chain.

The company says the test delivery took place near Kalundborg in Denmark and involved a drone dropping a small parcel to one of its tankers. Due to weather, the drone could not be launch from shore as planned, but rather was launched from a nearby tugboat, which dropped the package from a height of 5 meters above deck.

Maersk Tankers is hopeful that the by using drones it can significantly reduce the cost of delivery of small parcels filled with urgent spare parts, mail or medicine, when compared to using traditional methods of delivery

The usual CYA-statements are included, e.g., safety, security, blah, blah. Actually, there are beaucoup uses for these wee flying robots at sea. Surely a better way to carry a line from ship-to-ship than anything that uses gunpowder. 🙂

Wal-Mart applies for permission to test drones for home delivery

Wal-Mart Stores applied Monday to U.S. regulators for permission to test drones for home delivery, curbside pickup and checking warehouse inventories, a sign it plans to go head-to-head with Amazon in using drones to fill and deliver online orders.

The world’s largest retailer by revenue has for several months been conducting indoor tests of small unmanned aircraft systems – the term regulators use for drones – and is now seeking for the first time to test the machines outdoors. It plans to use drones manufactured by China’s SZ DJI Technology Co Ltd.

In addition to having drones take inventory of trailers outside its warehouses and perform other tasks aimed at making its distribution system more efficient, Wal-Mart is asking the Federal Aviation Administration for permission to research drone use in “deliveries to customers at Walmart facilities, as well as to consumer homes,” according to a copy of the application reviewed by Reuters.

The move comes as, Google and other companies test drones in the expectation that the FAA will soon establish rules for their widespread commercial use. FAA Deputy Administrator Michael Whitaker said in June that the agency expected to finalize regulations within the next 12 months, faster than previously planned. Commercial drone use is currently illegal, though companies can apply for exemptions…

Wal-Mart spokesman Dan Toporek said, “Drones have a lot of potential to further connect our vast network of stores, distribution centers, fulfillment centers and transportation fleet,” he said. “There is a Walmart within five miles of 70 percent of the U.S. population, which creates some unique and interesting possibilities for serving customers with drones.”

Cripes. Looking at Apple Maps, we just squeak in for 5 miles as the crow flies. I’ll see if I can sign up our little compound for test flights.

Of course, straight-lining it would take them through every flight path over the Municipal Airport. 🙂

Royal Mail suspends deliveries in Elgin — dangerous seagulls!

Royal Mail has suspended deliveries to homes in the Scottish town of Elgin, claiming its postwoman was being attacked by seagulls…residents have been told they will have to collect their mail from the post office until the nesting season ends due to what are described as “swooping attacks”.

The Royal Mail was adamant its staff member been “attacked” while attempting to deliver mail there. The gulls are protected by law and next on the roofs of homes on the road.

George McPhee, 66, said: “The seagulls are a bloody pest, but I have been 41years in the same house and they have never hurt anybody – and that’s including kiddies, dogs and cats.

“Even during The Blitz everybody was getting their post. If they have to issue them hard hats then so be it,” he said.

He has offered to accompany the postmen and women to prove the birds pose no danger.

Newspaper and milk deliveries are unaffected.

Perhaps the seagulls aren’t expecting to receive any mail; but, do enjoy occasional deliveries of milk and the TELEGRAPH. Or the Royal Mail may have new delivery staff who have seen too many Alfred Hitchcock movies?

Pic of the Day

In this photo taken from the International Space Station, the European Space Agency’s Automated Transfer Vehicle-3 (ATV-3) is seen on approach for docking. The unmanned cargo spacecraft docked to the space station at 6:31 p.m. EDT on March 28, 2012.

The ATV-3 delivered 220 pounds of oxygen, 628 pounds of water, 4.5 tons of propellant and nearly 2.5 tons of dry cargo. Among other items, the station crew received experiment hardware, spare parts, food and clothing.

The six-member Expedition 30 crew adjusted its sleep schedule to accommodate the ATV-3 docking. The crew stayed up late to monitor the approach and docking.

Those lights below are cities on Earth. How cool is that?

Barack Obama, the Secret Service, and the plane full of grass

Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

A pair of F-16s were scrambled to divert a Cessna aircraft after it entered the airspace of Marine One, the military helicopter ferrying the American president during a trip to California.

The small plane was forced to land at Long Beach airport, just south of Los Angeles at around 11am, where it was met by police.

A search of the aircraft uncovered 640 ounces of cannabis, the Associated Press reported, a motherlode worth around $160,000.

The unfortunate pilot and at least one passenger were handed to over to local police after being interviewed by US federal agents. The pilot has not been identified and it is not known whether they have been charged with any crime.

What do you think?

The US Secret service said Mr Obama was never in any danger during the incident.

Not even a contact high. American presidents never inhale.

The president was on the West Coast for a string of fundraising events ahead of November’s election…

…and a speech at Boeing Aircraft, today, on rebuilding America’s manufacturing business especially technology. Pretty good speech actually. Unlike Republican candidates for his job he doesn’t think this requires more tax breaks for wealthy corporations.

Italian Carabinieri gets snazzy special response cars

There have been a number of contenders for the title of world’s coolest police car featured on gizmag over the years, among them a number of Lotus models. This time the British marque is venturing away from home soil and into the heart of sportscar land where it will join the Italian Carabinieri.

The two specially equipped Lotus Evora S cars will join the Arma dei Carabinieri (which is actually a division of the Italian army) in Rome and Milan to provide rapid response and deliver essential emergency services.

In preparation for their planned two year stint in Italy, the cars have been fitted with a portable refrigeration compartment behind the front seats for transport of vital organs and blood during medical emergencies along with the EVA (Enhanced Vehicle Automation) system – an always-on touch screen and voice command system developed for the Arma dei Carabinieri that controls functions like flashing signals, sirens, geocoordinates, despatch, routing and communication with the control center.

In order to better take control of the 172 mph, 3.5 liter, mid-mounted V6 sportscar Lotus is also teaching Carabinieri drivers new high speed driving skills.

Rule #1: Don’t crash!