Month: February 2019

NASA's lunar outpost will get a robotic helping hand from Canada

NASA

NASA’s Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway has its first international partner. The agency announced today that Canada will be joining the effort to set up the lunar-orbit space station that will help to house astronauts, generate research and eventually enable trips to Mars and beyond.

Canada brings the expertise of space-based robotics to the project. The nation will be tasked with developing a smart robotic system, called the Canadarm3, that will be able to make necessary repairs to maintain the function of the Gateway. Canada has previously contributed to the construction of the International Space Station and repairs to the Hubble Space Telescope. The Canadarm2 is a fixture on the ISS and can perform repairs with minimial human input, in part thanks to a robotic handyman called Dextre — also a creation developed by Canada.

Additionally, the country has pledged a considerable amount of spending on lunar initiatives. That includes $150 million over the next five years that will support a new Lunar Exploration Accelerator Program that will help businesses develop

'Soft' robotic hand runs on air pressure and AI

Festo

We’ve seen examples of robots mimicking humans, but now we’re seeing robots that can autonomously teach themselves how to handle objects. Festo has developed a flexible robotic hand that uses artificial intelligence to deduce how to manipulate an item with its fingers. Such self-learning technology should prove vital towards building robots that can learn to execute tasks by themselves in the workplace, at home and pretty much anywhere.

The BionicSoftHand determines how to perform tasks through trial and error, but without a tedious, time-sapping manual process. Once engineers give the robot an objective, 3D cameras and depth sensors create a virtual copy of an object. The hand’s AI then runs myriad simulations to help it quickly figure out what to do. In a demo video, the robot determines how to roll a dodecahedron between its fingers without dropping it. Without AI, it could take months for the robot to learn how to do so.

AI is only one part of the project. The robot has a soft

Huawei pleads not guilty to stealing US trade secrets

ASSOCIATED PRESS

In a US federal court in Seattle, Chinese tech firm Huawei pleaded not guilty to several charges that allege the company engaged or attempted to engage in theft of trade secrets, the Associated Press reported. US District Judge Richardo S. Martinez, who presided over today’s hearing, has set a trial date for March 2020 for the case. If Huawei is found guilty, it could face a fine of up to $5 million.

Huawei is accused of 10 separate charges, including conspiracy to steal trade secrets, attempted theft of trade secrets, wire fraud and obstruction of justice. According to prosecutors, Huawei stole trade secrets from T-Mobile. The charges primarily stem from a 2013 incident in which Huawei engineers allegedly took photos and measurements of one of T-Mobile’s phone testing robots called Tappy. Huawei used that information to improve its own robot. In 2017, a Seattle jury ruled in favor of T-Mobile in a related suit against Huawei and awarded the telecommunications company $4.8 million.

In addition to the pending

Tesla starts charging $7,000 to add Full Self-Driving features post-delivery

Tesla

Tesla is splitting its self-driving function into two tiers — Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Capability — and charging a few thousand extra dollars for Navigate on Autopilot, Autopark, Summon and other features coming out later this year.

If you buy a new Model S, Model X or Model 3 today, it’s $3,000 to add Autopilot and $5,000 for Full Self-Driving Capabilities. The manufacturer says Autopilot “enables your car to steer, accelerate and brake automatically for other vehicles and pedestrians within its lane.” Meanwhile, FSD includes the ability to have your car find you anywhere in a parking lot (Summon), park on its own (Autopark), and adds the company’s most robust self-driving features (Navigate on Autopilot). Later this year, Tesla expects to introduce the ability to recognize and respond to stop signs and traffic lights, and auto-navigate city streets.

Note that’s the price for these tiers if you’re buying a new vehicle. If you already own one of these Models, or buy one without selecting a self-driving tier, you

Elon Musk: Expect a cheaper Tesla in '2 – 3 years'

Tesla Motors Inc. CEO Elon Musk speaks at the unveiling of the Model 3 in 2016 at the Tesla Motors design studio in Hawthorne, Calif. ASSOCIATED PRESS

While Elon Musk just announced that Tesla’s Model 3 is available for the $35,000 price he’s been promising for years, the plan isn’t to stop there. On a call with the media to announce the move, as well as its new policy of selling cars exclusively online, Musk said that there will be a cheaper Tesla available in 2 – 3 years, but probably closer to three.

Tesla launches orders for the $35,000 Model 3

In a sort of surprise event (CEO Elon Musk tweeted it out two days ago), Tesla announced the $35,000 Standard Range Model 3 is available for order. The automaker has been working diligently to streamline its production line and lower unit costs of the Model 3. You can order it right now.

The rear-wheel-drive car will have a 220-mile range, a top speed of 130 miles per hour and a zero to 60 time of 5.6 seconds.

The $35,000 Model 3 will enter the market that’s becoming increasingly crowded. The Chevy Bolt, Kia Niro EV and Hyundai Kona EV are all in the same price point and have about the same amount of range. But none of them have the cache of the Model 3.

The lower-priced Model 3 will have a few caveats including a new “standard interior.” That means cloth seats, manual steering wheel adjustment, a base trim, basic audio and standard maps and navigation. Gone are the fog lamps and docking ports for a smartphone. But it

Google's new .dev domain opens to all

Google

Google’s .dev domain is open to anyone today, less than two weeks after Google announced the new domain ending. The company envisions .dev as a dedicated space for developers and technology — a way to showcase tools, programming languages, blogs and more.

To claim a .dev, all you need to do is sign up with your registrar of choice (Google, naturally, is an option). As a bonus, Google is offering a free .dev domain to anyone who applied for a ticket to the Google I/O event happening this May. The domains will be secure by default, as they all require HTTPS, and Google has already moved many of its own sites (including web.dev, opensource.dev and flutter.dev) to the domain.

The internet has come a long way from the days of .com, .org and .net. Now, you can get domains ending in anything from .cool to .ninja. And there’s real value in unique domain endings. For starters, they can give visitors a better idea what your site is about, and

Russia is going to test an internet ‘kill switch,’ and its citizens will suffer

Russia is planning to disconnect itself from the global internet in a test sometime between now and April. The country says it is implementing an internal internet (intranet) and an internet “kill switch” to protect itself against cyberwar. The question is, would this actually work?

“This, as a single tactic, would not be sufficient,” explained Bill Woodcock, executive director of Packet Clearing House, via email. “But it hugely reduces their attack surface. So in combination with many other tactics, it’s a component of a reasonable strategy.”

An internet “kill switch” has been in Russia’s legislative plans for some time — though it’s not entirely about defense. Russia sees this drastic move as a means to solve the dual issues of defending itself from cyberwar attacks and more tightly controlling its citizens’ access to information.

As news of the impending shutdown test came originally from Russian-language newswire RBK (and was sloppily reported), it was easy to get the impression that this was a complete, countrywide internet shutdown.

Rather, the country would use Runet, a sovereign, government-run internal web that would keep citizens connected, but only within the country. Runet would

You can get around Medium's paywall by clicking on twitter links

NurPhoto via Getty Images

Medium is putting a gate in it paywall for Twitter users. Company CEO Ev Williams announced that users who are directed to Medium from links on Twitter will not be subject to the standard limits of the paywall. They will be able to read stories for free with no monthly cap.

It would seem that dropping the paywall for anyone would hurt Medium’s odds of turning visitors into subscribers, but the company seems to believe giving Twitter users free access will only help. Williams said Twitter makes up a “relatively small (but important)” part of Medium’s traffic and believes the change will “have a positive impact.” The CEO also said the change is unlikely have any affect on compensation for authors who publish their work on the platform, as that is based on readership from paying members. As long as a member is logged in when they click the link, the author should get paid.

While the paywall may no longer be in effect for Twitter

Wirecutter's best deals: The Instant Pot Ultra 6-quart drops to $100

This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read Wirecutter’s continuously updated list of deals here.

LG B8 55-Inch OLED TV

Street price: $1400; deal price: $1110

While the B8 lags slightly behind our top pick, the C8 (available on sale for $1335 in 55-inch size) in image processing and certain brightness measures, our guide states that most viewers are unlikely to notice any difference in image quality. At $1110, this is within $10 of the low we’ve seen for this size and beats much of the previous pricing we’ve seen from reputable retailers by a few hundred dollars. While we expected to see drops on last year’s OLEDs this spring, it’s a great price and one well worth your notice.

The LG B8 is the runner-up pick in our guide to the best OLED TV. Chris Heinonen wrote, “The LG B8 offers performance almost identical to that of the C8 for a slight cost savings. Because the B8 uses a less powerful system on a chip (SoC), it

Samsung is giving away a screen protector with the Galaxy S10

Chris Velazco/Engadget

If you’re planning to snag a Samsung Galaxy S10 or S10+ when they arrive next week, you might be pleased to see your new phone will already have a screen protector installed. While the plastic protector might not be as tough as other glass-based options, Samsung has a good reason to include it — some third-party protectors may not work with the in-display fingerprint scanner.

This way, at least you can unlock the phone with your fingerprint and still have some peace of mind, perhaps until you install a viable third-party tempered glass or polyurethane protector. Samsung has told Engadget there will be compatible third-party protectors available when it releases the phones. Samsung will also offer its screen protector separately for $30.

The issue does not affect the Galaxy S10e, which uses a capacitive scanner. The higher-end models have an ultrasonic scanner, which is more secure. But some screen protectors may block the soundwaves that scanner uses to read the ridge depth of your fingerprint, making it unusable.

Sony's CFexpress cards will bring blistering speeds to cameras

Sony

Cameras are getting so fast now that it’s hard for regular SD storage cards, even fancy UHS II models, to keep up. Sony has just announced that it’s developing new cards using the all-new CFexpress tech that are up to the challenge. They can read and write data at speeds of 1,700 and 1,480 MB/s, respectively, blowing past every current type of camera storage. Several new cameras on the market, including Nikon’s Z6/Z7 and the Panasonic S1/S1R, will support the cards.

CFExpress uses PCIe Gen tech like SD Express and MicroSD Express, but uses a larger, CompactFlash (CF) format. The SD Association recently announced that MicroSD Express cards would run at 985 MB/s, an incredible speed for a thumbnail-sized card. Other manufacturers like ProGradeDigital have also recently announced CFexpress card development.

Panasonic’s S1 offers both CFexpress and UHS II support

The only cameras that really need that kind of speed are professional RAW cinema cameras from the likes of RED and Arri. Those models offer direct recording to

The Morning After: Huge battery, one very thick smartphone

Welcome back! Now all these new phones are out there, which one is for you? We’ve compared the Class of 2019’s best flagship devices to offer a dispassionate comparison of numbers — and our review of the Galaxy S10 is also on its way. Meanwhile, Stardew Valley is coming to Android, and we found a giant phone that barely ever needs charging. It’s just very, very thick.

Give up charging your phone.
Energizer’s big-battery smartphone is almost three iPhones thick

This thick (thicc?) phone has an insane 18,000mAH battery inside. It’s also the antithesis of all those folding phones. We needed a palate cleanser.

The 20-gigabit port is finally ready for prime time.
Ultra-fast USB 3.2 is coming to desktop PCs in 2019

The speedy USB 3.2 format has technically been ready for the better part of two years, but it’s finally ready for a PC near you. The USB-IF standards body says it will be available later in 2019, hinting that you could see 20Gbps speeds through typical desktop

Nothing more ignorant than cheering for war: Mahira Khan

In the wake of escalating tension between India and Pakistan, Pakistani actress Mahira Khan says there is nothing uglier than a war, and hopes better sense will prevail.

“Nothing uglier. Nothing more ignorant than cheering for war. May sense prevail… Pakistan zindabad,” Mahira, who starred in Bollywood film Raees, tweeted.

Her tweet was a response to a thread on the Twitter wall of Fatima Bhutto, author and grand-daughter of former Pakistan Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

In response to the IAF strike, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan directed the country’s armed forces and citizens to “remain prepared for all eventualities”. Mawra Hocane, who was seen in Indian film Sanam Teri Kasam, feels it is time to put humanity first. “It is time we understand this as humans. The media needs to take charge and stop being provocative. It’s our duty to inculcate peace and use our words for better and not worse. Praying for peace always,” she posted.

Actor Fahad Mustafa also hoped for peace, and said: “War does not determine who is right …Only who is left. Say no to war.”

While many wished for peace, there were some stars who reacted strongly.

Actor Hamza Ali Abbasi posted: “Balakot, well done India. Much improvement from the fake ‘Surgical Strike’ claim. This time yes IAF aircraft crossed LOC 4 to 6 miles at 2.55 a.m. and had to retreat at 2.59 a.m. due to PAF (Pakistan Air Force) scrambling, dropping the load on the way martyring our trees. But now, Pakistan must retaliate.”

Taking a dig at a famous dialogue from Karan Johar’s film My Name Is Khan, Veena Malik said: “My Name is tree…And I’m not a Terrorist.”

Images: Mahira Khan on Instagram
Text: IANS