Gates-backed Lumotive upends lidar conventions using metamaterials

Pretty much every self-driving car on the road, not to mention many a robot and drone, uses lidar to sense its surroundings. But useful as lidar is, it also involves physical compromises that limit its capabilities. Lumotive is a new company with funding from Bill Gates and Intellectual Ventures that uses metamaterials to exceed those […]

Intel and Cray are building a $500 million ‘exascale’ supercomputer for Argonne National Lab

In a way, I have the equivalent of a supercomputer in my pocket. But in another, more important way, that pocket computer is a joke compared with real supercomputers — and Intel and Cray are putting together one of the biggest ever with a half-billion-dollar contract from the Department of Energy. It’s going to do […]

Tiny claws let drones perch like birds and bats

Drones are useful in countless ways, but that usefulness is often limited by the time they can stay in the air. Shouldn’t drones be able to take a load off too? With these special claws attached, they can perch or hang with ease, conserving battery power and vastly extending their flight time. The claws, created […]

Opportunity’s last Mars panorama is a showstopper

The Opportunity Mars Rover may be officially offline for good, but its legacy of science and imagery is ongoing — and NASA just shared the last (nearly) complete panorama the robot sent back before it was blanketed in dust. After more than 5,000 days (or rather sols) on the Martian surface, Opportunity found itself in […]

Koala-sensing drone helps keep tabs on drop bear numbers

It’s obviously important to Australians to make sure their koala population is closely tracked — but how can you do so when the suckers live in forests and climb trees all the time? With drones and AI, of course. A new project from Queensland University of Technology combines some well-known techniques in a new way […]

Prototype prosthesis proffers proper proprioceptive properties

Researchers have created a prosthetic hand that offers its users the ability to feel where it is and how the fingers are positioned — a sense known as proprioception. The headline may be in jest, but the advance is real and may help amputees more effectively and naturally use their prostheses. Prosthesis rejection is a […]

Climate change kills off clouds over the ocean in new simulation

We all know climate change is affecting weather systems and ecosystems around the world, but exactly how and in what way is still a topic of intense study. New simulations made possible by higher-powered computers suggest that cloud cover over oceans may die off altogether once a certain level of CO2 has been reached, accelerating […]

Ubiquitilink advance means every phone is now a satellite phone

Last month I wrote about Ubiquitilink, which promised, through undisclosed means, it was on the verge of providing a sort of global satellite-based roaming service. But how, I asked? (Wait, they told me.) Turns out our phones are capable of a lot more than we think: they can reach satellites acting as cell towers in […]

These hyper-efficient solar panels could actually live on your roof soon

The clean energy boffins in their labs are always upping the theoretical limit on how much power you can get out of sunshine, but us plebes actually installing solar cells are stuck with years-old tech that’s not half as good as what they’re seeing. This new design from Insolight could be the one that changes […]

Watch the historic first private mission to the Moon launch Thursday night

For the first time later this week, a privately developed moon lander will launch aboard a privately built rocket, organized by a private launch coordinator. It’s an historic moment in space and the Israeli mission stands to make history again if it touches down on the Moon’s surface as planned on April 11. The Beresheet […]