Tesla CEO Elon Musk showcases humanoid robot at event

Tesla CEO Elon Musk showcases humanoid robot at event
Billionaire Elon Musk unveils the humanoid robot ‘Optimus’ at an event at a Tesla office in Palo Alto, California, on Friday. (Screen grab from Elon Musk's Twitter video)
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Updated 01 October 2022

Tesla CEO Elon Musk showcases humanoid robot at event

Tesla CEO Elon Musk showcases humanoid robot at event
  • Musk says Optimus will be an “extremely capable robot,” unlike other humanoid robots that don’t have the intelligence to navigate the world by themselves

SAN FRANCISCO: Tesla CEO Elon Musk showcased his much-touted humanoid robot ‘Optimus’ at the electric vehicle maker’s “AI Day” event on Friday.
The billionaire has said a robot business will be worth more than its cars, hoping to expand beyond self-driving cars that have not yet become a reality despite his repeated promises.
A prototype of the robot walked on stage and waved to the seated audience. A video of the robot carrying a box, watering plants and moving metal bars in the automaker’s factory was shown.
“Our goal is to make a useful humanoid robot as quickly as possible,” Musk said at the event being held at a Tesla office in Palo Alto, California.
“There’s still a lot of work to be done to refine Optimus and prove it.”
Musk said currently humanoid robots are “missing a brain,” saying they don’t have the intelligence to navigate the world by themselves, and they are also very expensive and made in low volume.
By contrast, he said, the Optimus will be an “extremely capable robot,” to be made in very high volume, probably, ultimately millions of units and is expected to cost much less than a car, at under $20,000.
Musk is also expected to discuss Tesla’s long-delayed self-driving technology. In May, Musk said that the world’s most valuable car maker would be “worth basically zero” without achieving full self-driving capability, and it faces growing regulatory probes, as well as technological hurdles.
“There will be lots of technical detail & cool hardware demos,” Musk wrote on Twitter late on Wednesday, adding the event was aimed at recruiting engineers.

Tesla’s live demonstration record is mixed. Launches typically draw cheers, but in 2019 when Musk had an employee hurl a steel ball at the armored window of a new electric pickup truck, the glass cracked.
The key test for the robot is whether it can handle unexpected situations.
Musk announced Tesla’s plan for humanoid robots at its AI day in August last year and delayed this year’s event from August to have its robot prototype working, with a plan to start production possibly next year.

Tesla teased the unveiling of the bot on social media with an image of metallic robotic hands making a heart shape. But building human-like, versatile hands that can manipulate different objects is extremely challenging, said Heni Ben Amor, a robotics professor at Arizona State University.
Initially, Optimus, an allusion to the powerful and benevolent leader of the Autobots in the Transformers media franchise, would perform boring or dangerous jobs, including moving parts around Tesla factories or attaching a bolt to a car with a wrench, according to Musk.
“There’s so much about what people can do dexterously that’s very, very hard for robots. And that’s not going to change whether the robot is a robot arm or whether it’s in the shape of a humanoid,” Jonathan Hurst, chief technology officer at Agility Robotics, a humanoid robot firm, told Reuters.
Musk has said that in the future robots could be used in homes, making dinners, mowing the lawn and caring for the elderly, and even becoming a “buddy” for humans or a sex partner.
He is due at Friday’s event to give updates on Tesla’s much-delayed plan to launch self-driving cars, and on its high-speed computer, Dojo, which was unveiled last year and the company has said is integral to its development of self-driving technology.
Musk has said he expects Tesla will achieve full self-driving this year and mass produce a robotaxi with no steering wheel or pedal by 2024.
At an “Autonomy” event in 2019, Musk promised 1 million robotaxis by 2020 but has yet to deliver such a car. 


Robotic suit gives paralyzed children gift of walking

Robotic suit gives paralyzed children gift of walking
Updated 20 October 2022

Robotic suit gives paralyzed children gift of walking

Robotic suit gives paralyzed children gift of walking
  • David Zabala uses a wheelchair due to his neurological condition, which also left him deaf and reliant on sign language
  • The exoskeleton enabled children who use wheelchairs to walk during muscle rehabilitation therapy

MEXICO CITY: Wearing a robotic exoskeleton designed specially for children, an eight-year-old boy with cerebral palsy walked through a therapy room in Mexico City, smiling triumphantly at the once-unthinkable feat.
David Zabala uses a wheelchair due to his neurological condition, which also left him deaf and reliant on sign language.
But thanks to the Atlas 2030 exoskeleton, which won its creator a European Inventor Award this year, he was able to walk and stand in front of a mirror where he drew smiling faces with colored marker pens.
“He’s taking his first steps. That’s a joy for him,” said the boy’s mother, Guadalupe Cardoso, 41.
“At first it scared him and his hands were very tense, and now I see that he’s already holding the marker pen and starting to draw or (play with) the ball,” Cardoso added.
It makes the exhausting, near two-hour journey from their home in the south of Mexico City to the therapy center totally worth it, she said.
The exoskeleton was designed by Spanish professor Elena Garcia Armada to enable children who use wheelchairs to walk during muscle rehabilitation therapy.
The mechanical joints of the battery-powered titanium suit adapt intelligently to the motion of each child, according to the European Patent Office, which presented Garcia with the European Inventor Award.
Giving paralyzed children the opportunity to walk “not only extends their life expectancy and enhances their physical well-being, but also improves their self-esteem,” it said.

Mexico is the third country, after Spain and France, where the Atlas 2030 has been used to treat children.
The suit helps “to achieve in record time rehabilitation goals” that would take months to achieve with conventional therapies, said Guadalupe Maldonado, director of Mexico’s Association for People with Cerebral Palsy.
The benefits include muscle strengthening, improvement of the digestive and respiratory systems and — above all — a major mood boost, Maldonado said.
The private organization, founded in 1970, has already seen positive results two weeks after acquiring its first exoskeleton, she said.
A second device, worth around $250,000, is due to arrive in Mexico City next month.
The association’s initial goal is to offer rehabilitation to about 200 children with cerebral palsy.
“We want to continue working and empowering, so that more children in the city and the country have access to this type of rehabilitation... that radically changes their lives,” Maldonado said.
The sessions also give joy to the therapists, who carefully fit the exoskeleton using its special corset, cuff and shoes and celebrate the children’s progress with smiles and applause.
“It motivates us a lot as therapists that we will be able to achieve many things in the future,” said Arturo Palafox, 28.
 


NASA spaceship fast approaching target in key test to redirect asteroids

NASA spaceship fast approaching target in key test to redirect asteroids
Updated 24 September 2022

NASA spaceship fast approaching target in key test to redirect asteroids

NASA spaceship fast approaching target in key test to redirect asteroids
  • Spaceship programmed to strike asteroid moonlet Dimorphos on Sept. 26 at roughly 23,000 kph
  • Dimorphos not a threat to Earth but the experiment is in preparation for an actual need 

WASHINGTON: Bet the dinosaurs wish they’d thought of this.
NASA on Monday will attempt a feat humanity has never before accomplished: deliberately smacking a spacecraft into an asteroid to slightly deflect its orbit, in a key test of our ability to stop cosmic objects from devastating life on Earth.
The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spaceship launched from California last November and is fast approaching its target, which it will strike at roughly 14,000 miles per hour (23,000 kph).
To be sure, neither the asteroid moonlet Dimorphos, nor the big brother it orbits, called Didymos, pose any threat as the pair loop the Sun, passing some seven million miles from Earth at nearest approach.
But the experiment is one NASA has deemed important to carry out before an actual need is discovered.
“This is an exciting time, not only for the agency, but in space history and in the history of humankind quite frankly,” Lindley Johnson, a planetary defense officer for NASA told reporters in a briefing Thursday.
If all goes to plan, impact between the car-sized spacecraft, and the 530-foot (160 meters, or two Statues of Liberty) asteroid should take place at 7:14pm Eastern Time (2314 GMT), and can be followed on a NASA livestream.
By striking Dimorphos head on, NASA hopes to push it into a smaller orbit, shaving ten minutes off the time it takes to encircle Didymos, which is currently 11 hours and 55 minutes — a change that will be detected by ground telescopes in the days that follow.
The proof-of-concept experiment will make a reality what has before only been attempted in science fiction — notably films such as “Armageddon” and “Don’t Look Up.”

As the craft propels itself through space, flying autonomously for the mission’s final phase like a self-guided missile, its main camera system, called DRACO, will start to beam down the very first pictures of Dimorphos.
“It’s going to start off as a little point of light and then eventually it’s going to zoom and fill the whole entire field of view,” said Nancy Chabot of Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), which hosts mission control in a recent briefing.
“These images will continue until they don’t,” added the planetary scientist.
Minutes later, a toaster-sized satellite called LICIACube, which separated from DART a couple of weeks earlier, will make a close pass of the site to capture images of the collision and the ejecta — the pulverized rock thrown off by impact.
LICIACube’s picture will be sent back in the weeks and months that follow.
Also watching the event: an array of telescopes, both on Earth and in space — including the recently operational James Webb — which might be able to see a brightening cloud of dust.
Finally, a full picture of what the system looks like will be revealed when a European Space Agency mission four years down the line called Hera arrives to survey Dimorphos’s surface and measure its mass, which scientists can only guess at currently.

Very few of the billions of asteroids and comets in our solar system are considered potentially hazardous to our planet, and none in the next hundred or so years.
But “I guarantee to you that if you wait long enough, there will be an object,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA’s chief scientist.
We know that from the geological record — for example, the six-mile wide Chicxulub asteroid struck Earth 66 million years ago, plunging the world into a long winter that led to the mass extinction of the dinosaurs along with 75 percent of species.
An asteroid the size of Dimorphos, by contrast, would only cause a regional impact, such as devastating a city, albeit with a greater force than any nuclear bomb in history.
Scientists are also hoping to glean valuable new information that can inform them about the nature of asteroids more generally.
How much momentum DART imparts on Dimorphos will depend on whether the asteroid is solid rock, or more like a “rubbish pile” of boulders bound by mutual gravity, a property that’s not yet known.
We also don’t know its actual shape: whether it’s more like a dog bone or a donut, but NASA engineers are confident DART’s SmartNav guidance system will hit its target.
If it misses, NASA will have another shot in two years’ time, with the spaceship containing just enough fuel for another pass.
But if it succeeds, then it’s a first step toward a world capable of defending itself from a future existential threat, said Chabot.
 


Chinese astronauts go on spacewalk from new station

Chinese astronauts go on spacewalk from new station
Updated 18 September 2022

Chinese astronauts go on spacewalk from new station

Chinese astronauts go on spacewalk from new station
  • China is building its own space station after being excluded by the US from the International Space Station because its military runs the country’s space program

BEIJING: Two Chinese astronauts went on a spacewalk Saturday from a new space station that is due to be completed later this year.
Cai Xuzhe and Chen Dong installed pumps, a handle to open the hatch door from outside in an emergency, and a foot-stop to fix an astronaut’s feet to a robotic arm, state media said.
China is building its own space station after being excluded by the US from the International Space Station because its military runs the country’s space program. American officials see a host of strategic challenges from China’s space ambitions, in an echo of the US-Soviet rivalry that prompted the race to the moon in the 1960s.
The latest spacewalk was the second during a six-month mission that will oversee the completion of the space station. The first of two laboratories, a 23-ton module, was added to the station in July and the other is to be sent up later this year.
The third member of the crew, Liu Yang, supported the other two from inside during the spacewalk. Liu and Chen conducted the first spacewalk about two weeks ago.
They will be joined by three more astronauts near the end of their mission in what will be the first time the station has six people on board.
China became the third nation to send a person into space in 2003, following the former Soviet Union and the United States. It has sent rovers to the moon and Mars and brought lunar samples back to Earth.


NASA’s mega-moon rocket ready for liftoff on eve of debut Artemis mission

NASA’s mega-moon rocket ready for liftoff on eve of debut Artemis mission
Updated 29 August 2022

NASA’s mega-moon rocket ready for liftoff on eve of debut Artemis mission

NASA’s mega-moon rocket ready for liftoff on eve of debut Artemis mission
  • NASA’s giant next-generation rocket is about to start its Artemis moon-to-Mars program 50 years after the end of the Apollo era
  • If the first two Artemis missions succeed, NASA is aiming to land astronauts back on the moon

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida: Launch teams at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida spent a final full day of preparations ahead of Monday’s planned liftoff of NASA’s giant next-generation rocket on its debut test flight, kicking off the agency’s Artemis moon-to-Mars program 50 years after the end of the Apollo era.
NASA officials said on Sunday that all systems appeared “go” for liftoff, and weather forecasts called for an 80 percent chance of favorable conditions at the top of Monday’s two-hour launch window, starting at 8:33 a.m. EDT (1233 GMT), diminishing to 60 percent toward the end of that period.
If the countdown clock is halted for any reason, NASA has set Sept. 2 and Sept. 5 as potential backup launch dates.
“Everything to date looks good from a vehicle perspective,” said Jeff Spaulding, senior NASA test director for the landmark mission, called Artemis I. “We are excited, the vehicle is ready, it looks great.”
Although lightning rods at the launch site were struck during a storm on Saturday, Spaulding said he has not “seen anything on the ground systems that give us any concerns.” NASA said there was no damage to the spacecraft or launch facilities.
The Space Launch System (SLS) rocket is set to propel an uncrewed capsule named Orion around the moon and back on a six-week test flight designed to put both vehicles through their paces before flying astronauts in a subsequent mission targeted for 2024. The SLS-Orion combo, standing 322 feet (98 meters) tall, form the centerpiece of the US space agency’s successor to the Apollo moon program of the 1960s and 1970s.
Billed as the most powerful, complex rocket in the world, the SLS represents the biggest new vertical launch system NASA has built since the Saturn V flown for Apollo, which grew out of the US-Soviet space race of the Cold War era.
If the first two Artemis missions succeed, NASA is aiming to land astronauts back on the moon, including the first woman to set foot on the lunar surface, as early as 2025, though many experts believe that time frame is likely to slip by a few years. The last humans to walk on the moon were the two-man descent team of Apollo 17 in 1972, following in the footsteps of 10 other astronauts during five earlier missions beginning with Apollo 11 in 1969.
The Artemis program seeks to eventually establish a long-term lunar base as a stepping stone to even more ambitious astronaut voyages to Mars, a goal that NASA officials have said will probably take until at least the late 2030s to achieve.
SLS has been under development for more than a decade, with years of delays and cost overruns. But the Artemis program also has generated tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in commerce under the primary contractors Boeing Co. for SLS and Lockheed Martin Corp. for Orion.
One issue NASA officials were eyeing on Sunday before the maiden flight of SLS concerned a potential — but minor — helium leak in launch pad equipment, though Spaulding told reporters during a launch-eve news conference that he did not expect any technical show-stoppers to the countdown.
“This is a test flight, remember that,” NASA chief Bill Nelson said in a Reuters interview that was interrupted by an unexpected phone call from US Vice President Kamala Harris, who will be in Florida to see the rocket launch in person.
“She’s excited!” Nelson said after the call. 


Review: Prequel - Photo & Video Editor

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Photo/Supplied
Updated 20 June 2022

Review: Prequel - Photo & Video Editor

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  • The homepage has all themes organized in folders for your choosing such as horoscope, autumn vibes, summer vibes, fairycore, cinematic and more

Prequel is my favorite photo-editing application because of its cool retro filters that are not available on any social media application.

I had so much fun taking my Instagram photos to the next level with edits that look like a vintage photoshoot.

It also has video effects, and it is available on both the App Store and Google Play.

Some of the most popular effects are VHS, Kidcore, Teal, Dust, Canvas, Grain, and Renaissance.

My personal favorite photo filter is Disco#1 for its vintage lens effect and sparkles.

I attended a concert recently, and used the VHS effect for a video that I took of the band, which added a lot of edge to the video.

The homepage has all themes organized in folders for your choosing such as horoscope, autumn vibes, summer vibes, fairycore, cinematic and more.

Prequel does not just serve vintage aesthetics, it also has modern effects that I personally like; I cartoonized a group photo and sent it to my friends who loved the result.

There are festive filters for occasions such as Christmas, Halloween and Easter.

The application has more than 500 filters and effects with color correction too, giving you the opportunity to customize and adjust the effects to your desire.

You can create 3D moving pictures easily as well.

Import and edit any of your videos with retro designs from the 1920s, 1960s, 1980s, 1090s and early 2000s.

You are allowed to speed up, slow down, trim and crop your videos to your preference.

Prequel also offers fun stickers and fonts for any texts you would like to add to your photos.

If you join Prequel Gold, you will have unlimited full access to all filters and effects, advanced editing tools and retouch toolkits.