The Marine Corps is developing a self-driving Jeep

The Marine Corps is developing a self-driving Jeep

The United States Marine Corps has competed the first live tests of a new autonomous off-road vehicle called Ground Unmanned Support Surrogate (GUSS). It was developed by TORC Robotics, Virginia Tech University, and the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD).

The purpose of the GUSS is to transport gear and evacuate injured soldiers without putting additional Marines at risk. It’s based on the Internally Transportable Vehicle, which is small enough to be carried inside a Chinook helicopter, and looks very similar to a Jeep.

The GUSS comes equipped with a LIDAR scanner, cameras, and highly advanced mapping computers which enable it to operate entirely on its own, or be directed remotely by a Marine who’s using a Tactical Robotic Controller. It also has exceptional situational and environmental awareness thanks to its numerous electronic eyes, which enable it to avoid obstacles even in dense wilderness areas.

In a normal operation, the GUSS will lock onto a beacon that’s being carried by a marine and will drive alongside the unit at a walking pace. It can haul over 1600 pounds of equipment which would lighten the burden carried by each Marine by at least 40 pounds. Operators of the vehicle can also send the GUSS to a target location, fully unmanned, to ship needed supplies to troops or evacuate the wounded from the front lines. Despite its ability to function on its own, it’s unlikely that the GUSS would ever be left unsecured while it’s carrying supplies or wounded soldiers.

While the GUSS looks promising, it’s still a prototype project and has at least another couple of years of testing before it’s actually ready to be considered for deployment. However, the team behind the vehicle say that the technology could be ready to be put on the field as early as 2020.

Read more about the story at Ars Technica.



Enter into the mind of Professor X with the Oculus Rift

Enter into the mind of Professor X with the Oculus Rift

Comic-Con attendees will have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to enter the mind of Professor X. 20th Century Fox has created an “X-Men”-themed virtual reality stunt especially for the pop-culture convention, which kicks off Thursday in San Diego. The interactive digital experience utilizes the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, which is not yet available to consumers, to simulate the fictional Cerebro technology used to track down mutants by the character portrayed by Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy in the “X-Men” films.

Each participant will be immersed in a three minute, panoramic VR presentation on a quest to find nudest of all mutants, Mystique, with the best reactions recorded on a GoPro for Facebook posterity. On top of the VR experience, Fox is offering a limited-edition, thousand-run of X-Men: The Cerebro Collection in a replica Cerebro helmet on pre-order for $80, or $90 with X-Men: Days of Future Past. The latter will also be up for pre-order at $23 alone and both will arrive October 14th, with the Digital HD version set to come on September 23rd.

It won’t be the only use of an Oculus Rift headset at Comic-Con. Outside the convention center at an interactive zone at Petco Park, Fox is also employing the VR technology to transport users to the fictional town depicted in the TV series “Sleepy Hollow.” The second season of the supernatural series is set to debut on the network this fall. Fox’s use of the technology at Comic-Con is the latest example of how Oculus is making in-roads with Hollywood. HBO similarly used the technology to promote “Game of Thrones” with a virtual rendition of the fantasy series’ icy 700-foot-tall wall during a recent exhibition.

Google has to face a U.S. lawsuit over its user data policies

Google has to face a U.S. lawsuit over its user data policies

A California court has allowed a privacy class action suit against Google to continue, though only in part. After evaluating each claim of each sub-class in the suit, Magistrate Judge Paul S. Grewal has allowed two claims of the “Android Application Disclosure Subclass,” which includes all persons and entities in the U.S. that acquired an Android-powered device between August 19, 2004 and the present, and downloaded at least one Android application through the Android Market or Google Play.

On March 1, 2012, Google introduced a single, unified policy that allows the company to comingle user data across accounts and disclose it to third-parties for advertising purposes. This move triggered the class action lawsuit in March, 2012 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose division, which argued that by switching to the less-restrictive privacy policy without user consent, Google violated both its prior policies and consumers’ privacy rights, according to court records.

Users also called this a violation of privacy, saying Google made the changes to how their data was used without their consent and without a way to opt out. They said Google’s actions amounted to a reaction to competitors like Facebook and other social media companies “where all of a consumer’s personal information is available in one site.” This violation of privacy, users said, exposes names, email addresses, geographic locations, and increases the possibility of harassment or identity theft by third parties.

The suit was filed over two years ago and since then the court twice dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims. Google moved for a third dismissal. The claims allowed by the judge includes a breach of contract claim that Google breached terms of the contract by disclosing user data to third parties following every download or purchase of an app, resulting in damages in the form of resource consumption. The second claim is under California’s Unfair Competition Law. Read more about the story here.

NASA is closer to finding another Earth than ever before

James Webb Space Telescope

There’s good news for those of you who believe that there’s extraterrestrial life somewhere in the vast immensity of the universe, top NASA scientists agree with you. Even better than that, apparently NASA is “very close” to discovering another earth-like planet, closer than it’s ever been before.

At a panel discussion on Monday, Former astronaut and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden set the tenor of the hour-long conversation about how NASA planned to look for life on other planets in his introductory remarks. “Do we believe there is life beyond Earth?” he asked. “I would venture to say that most of my colleagues here today say it is improbable that in the limitless vastness of the universe we humans stand alone.”

Seated on the panel were some of NASA’s top scientists, which included Ellen Stofan, NASA’s chief scientist; John Grunsfeld, a former astronaut and NASA’s associate administrator; John Mather, senior project scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope; and Dave Gallagher, director of astronomy and physics at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Most of NASA’s attempts to find extraterrestrial life have been directed at areas within our solar system, especially Mars, but recently there have been major, ongoing efforts to find life on planets outside of our solar system. According to data collected by the Kepler Space Telescope, launched in 2009, scientists now estimate that nearly every star in our galaxy has at least one planet circling it.

The launch of the James Webb Space Telescope in 2018 will grant scientists the ability to determine whether any of those billions of planets have the right chemical fingerprint to suggest they harbor life. Specifically, they are looking for gases in the planet’s atmosphere that could only be produced by life. Read more about this story here.

Bits of Life Video Shows Every Day for 10 Months, 1 Second at a Time

Bits of Life Video

For being the first video posted to his channel, Michał Mikołaj Wojtunik didn’t leave a lot of room for improvement. His video, Bits of Life, is exactly what the title implies. For 10 months, he took video clips daily and compiled them into a four-minute montage of scenes that each last one second.

It’s modern art that takes advantage of the quality of our technology today as well as the infrastructure necessary to allow many of us to experience such a full existence. Travel, people, animals, events – they’re all packed into this video. The song plays well, but we would rather have heard the original version of Lykke Li’s Little Bit rather that Drake’s remix.

Cannonball Run Record Shattered by Lamborghini Salesman… in a Mercedes

Cannonball Run Car

In the movie, The Cannonball Run, there are amazing cars, strange identities, cop-busting motives, and a Lamborghini whose drivers ended up winning the big cross country race. In the real world, the Cannonball Run record has been broken by a guy who sells Lamborghinis for a living, but he did it in a highly modified Mercedes Benz.

The old record was just over 31 hours set in 2006. The new record achieved by Ed Bolian, Dan Huang, and Dave Black  is now under 29 hours. They fitted the old Benz with two additional fuel tanks, three radar detectors, two GPS systems, a police scanner, two laser jammers, and a bedpan.

Perhaps the best part of their story is that they took a wrong turn down a one-way street in NYC and ended up getting pulled over with a warning. The drive started off poorly but ended in great success.

According to CNN:

Beginning in 2009, about the time he started working for Lamborghini Atlanta, Bolian researched cars, routes, moon phases, traffic patterns, equipment, gas mileage and modifications.

Read More: CNN

The Moulin Rouge in Full Color a Year Before it Burned Down

A rare color photograph by Albert Kahn of the original Moulin Rouge in Paris, a year before it burned down. 1914

In this rare color photograph by Albert Kahn of the original Moulin Rouge in Paris, we see the famous cabaret a year before it burned down in 1915. It was built in 1889 and inspired many spinoffs, homages, and even an Academy Award nominated movie. After the fire, it was rebuilt and officially reopened in 1921.

According to Wikipedia:

The house was co-founded in 1889 by Charles Zidler and Joseph Oller, who also owned the Paris Olympia. Close to Montmartre in the Paris district of Pigalle on Boulevard de Clichy in the 18th arrondissement, it is marked by the red windmill on its roof. The closest métro station is Blanche.

Chinese Government, Photoshop Masters

Chinese Government Photoshop

It’s not just bad. It’s not even a subtle mistake. This is arguably the worst attempt ever by a government to simulate something that never happened. The proportions are clearly off. The guy on the right looks like one of the siblings on Marty’s picture in Back to the Future. It’s overall about as creepy as you can get.

The worst part is that this was deemed easier and more effective than having government officials actually visiting an old lady. Unfortunately, it’s not the first time that they’ve tried to work some sort of Photoshop magic putting government officials where they never actually visited…

Chinese Government Photoshop 2

Einstein’s Brain was Physiologically Different from Almost Everyone Else

Young Albert Einstein

We might have never been able to understand the things that made Albert Einstein one of the most intelligent people ever known on the planet had it not been for an ambitious and crafty doctor performing his autopsy. You see, he stole Einstein’s brain. He didn’t tell the family. He didn’t tell the world for decades. He took it, photographed it, stored it, and sliced it up.

[Read more...]

Fishermen in Somalia

Fishermen in Somalia

If you think you’re a good fisherman, you should take your skills to Somalia. Just remember to bring a bigger boat.