Light Start – SpaceX go boom, GoPro Karma, Montblanc paper, and talking Kawas


SpaceX’s Falcon 9 explodes on the launchpad, taking Facebook’s satellite with it

Usually when we talk about SpaceX it’s because they’ve done something awesome, like landed a rocket on a barge (or only just missing it). It’s been a while since something’s gone properly wrong but that’s space travel for you. A Falcon 9 rocket, set to launch from Cape Canaveral, exploded on the launch pad yesterday. A static test, where the engines are fired on the launch pad, was in progress when the propellant being loaded into the rocket ignited. The results… well, you can see those in the video above but they were spectacular. Facebook probably doesn’t think so, however, as the Falcon 9 was carrying the company’s AMOS-9 satellite. Facebook isn’t bearing the $95 million cost alone, it’s a joint satellite with Spacecom, Eutelsat and Facebook all being involved in using the tech. Well, they were going to use it… As for SpaceX, an investigation into the cause of the rocket explosion will have to take place, likely delaying their other missions. If it turns out to be a freak accident then they could be back in action quickly but if they need to redesign the Falcon 9…

Source: via The Verge

GoPro’s Karma drone will be making its first appearance on 19 September

GoPro KarmaWe’ve been waiting on GoPro’s first drone, even though the company has been forced to delay the hardware a little this year. It seems that their reveal window might have opened up, as the company has announced that we’re finally going to see the Karma drone this month. On 19 September, in fact. The actual launch could still happen at the end of this year, around the time that we see the GoPro Hero5, but we’ve been waiting to get a look at the drone for some time. It’ll be great to finally see what Karma can do (outside of the cryptic demonstration videos GoPro keeps putting out).

Source: GoPro (Twitter)

Just what we needed — smart (and expensive) paper from Montblanc

MontblancWait, people still use paper? Actually, yes, and that’s why it’s still being updated. By the likes of luxury pen-maker Montblanc, no less. They’ve show off their Augmented Paper pen and notebook set, which starts at $725 (R10,600), at this year’s IFA conference. Basically, the set is a Montblanc StarWalker pen, suitably tweaked to work with their special notebook (covered in Italian leather) to recognise your handwriting and transfer your notes onto a smartphone or tablet. It’s much the same as a LiveScribe set, only a lot more expensive — because of the materials used, we guess. As for availability, look for it with luxury importers. South Africa is not of the list of release countries this year.

Source: Engadget

Because we’re not in the future until this happens, Kawasaki is making a talking, intelligent motorcycle

Talking KawaDon’t expect this in next year’s Ninja but Kawasaki is working on something unusual for their motorcycles. Called the Kanjo or Emotion Engine, the company is planning on inserting an intelligent, talking AI into their bikes. It’ll respond to natural language once the feature is done, letting riders alter settings just by talking to their bikes. It’ll learn rider preferences and suggest tweaks based on riding behaviour as well. We can see this going one of two ways — either riders are going to get a lot better, thanks to the assistance, or a lot worse, because they’re relying on a computer to do all the thinking. We’re obviously hoping for the former but it’ll be a while before the Kanjo Engine hits the road. Kawasaki says it is still in the early stages.

Source: Kawasaki via CNET


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Brett writes for Stuff's digital platform and edits Stuff's print magazine, in between reading science fiction and every Batman comic he can get his hands on.

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