Light Start – Blue Origin chutes, GPS tractors, a Sorting Hat, and NASA’s electric plane


Blue Origin’s failsafe tests have completed, bode well for eventual passengers

Got an hour spare? Of course you do, it’s Monday morning. So check out Blue Origin’s capsule crash-test. At the same time, the company launched and landed their New Shepard rocket (again) safely but it’s the parachute-drop for the main capsule that we’re really interested in. The short version is that Blue Origin sent their rocket up, detached the capsule (which will one day have people inside it) and then landed the rocket. The capsule returned to Earth with some parachute cushioning, though one of them intentionally failed. Even so, it made a relatively soft landing. If you want to see this weekend’s test but you’re short on time this Monday morning, then skip right to the 35-minute mark in the video above. That’ll drop you in just prior to the launch and you can get the whole thing finished in about 10 minutes.

Source: Blue Origin

Tractors have been driving themselves longer than cars have – Here’s how

GPS TractorWhen you’re thinking of a technological hive of innovation and modernisation, the last place you’re going to think of is a farm. Unless, that is, you’re a farmer. But the modern farm bears no resemblance to the places we’ve built in our minds. Driving a tractor is something that’s… kinda optional these days, provided you have enough money for one of John Deeres’ GPS-fitted tractors that can navigate a field autonomously. They haven’t been doing this for months, either, the farming industry has had self-driving and otherwise smart implements for almost a decade so far. Motor vehicles, on the road, are only just starting to catch up. For a closer look at how the modern farm uses tech to be more efficient than ever, jump through the link below.

Source: via Ars Technica

Father makes a working Watson-powered Sorting Hat for his kids, minus the mind-reading

People love to bring pieces of fiction to life. It’s why we’re holding out hope that a lightsaber might be in our future at some point. This is a little less lethal: A father has used IBM’s Watson AI, some gadgetry and a whole lot of imagination to create a working Sorting Hat. You know, that hat that sorts Hogwarts students into their houses? Harry Potter? Ah, you’re hopeless. For those still with us, the hat works, though it uses natural language programming to decide which House to place its wearer in rather than reading your mind. There’s a limit to what you can build at home, after all. And if you’d like to try your own hand at making a Sorting Hat, creator and IBM engineer Ryan Anderson has a tutorial hub right here so you can try it out.

Source: via The Next Web

Meet NASA’s X-57 X-plane, a fourteen-rotor electrical aircraft

NASA X PlaneNASA may be concerned mostly with space travel but with private companies shouldering some of the load, they’ve also got time to work on more terrestrial things. Things like the X-57, codenamed Maxwell, a unique plane design that uses unusual wings (a single, very thin wing) as well as a fourteen-rotor engine allocation. All fourteen engines are electrical, being part of a drive to make flight more efficient while reducing noise and emissions. This also marks the first X-plane in NASA’s stable for a while. The X-1, back in the day, was the first aircraft to break the sound barrier so we’re expecting some interesting results from the X-57. According to the agency, “NASA’s aeronautical innovators hope to validate the idea that distributing electric power across a number of motors integrated with an aircraft in this way will result in a five-time reduction in the energy required for a private plane to cruise at 175 mph.”

Source: NASA


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