Archive for September, 2019

The Debut Flight of the Volocopter

Flying instead of driving in traffic in the car has become more common than most people imagine, In New York City people use helicopter services that land on rooftops to get them away without having to face the nightmare that is a traffic grid. Now the Europeans are coming around to the same way of thinking.

Urban Air Mobility will get a huge boost with the Volocopter once it begins it’s operations. A commercial air taxi which can be booked by an app on your smartphone. On Saturday, September 15, 2019 the first test run of the Volocopter was conducted in Stuttgart, Germany.

The urban flight debut of the Daimler backed electric air taxi service, was conducted during a presentation at the Mercedes-Benz Museum an event called “Vision Smart City — Experience future mobility today.” Daimler is the parent company for Mercedes-Benz and began funding the science project for the drone technology based Volocopter in 2017.

The Volocopter is capable of vertical take off and landing. The system is limited to a top speed of 100 km/h (62 mph) and a range of roughly 27 km (16 miles). It has 18 motors and nine battery packs plus a fuselage that is robust enough for carrying passengers. Now people can dream of flying into the future instead of simply driving!

Leave a Comment

A “Lifting” Sprint

Humans are not as strong as machines. Computers can calculate faster than the human brain. Robots are better at repetitive tasks than humans, so when we find out that a man actually beat a lift? It makes you feel good that the human body can still do something better than a machine. That’s why Polish climber Marcin Dzienski’s being lauded as a hero in what could be considered a science experiment pitting man against machine.

Marcin Dzienski raced and defeated an elevator on a six floor upwards race. The race took place outside the Westin Hotel in Warsaw at night, against an illuminated elevator. The 23 meters climb was completed by the top speed climber in 12.12 seconds. The 26 year old man is the 2016 speed climbing World Champion. His feat was achieved on a specially designed wall, and his victory was a close one with the elevator.

Speed climbing is a sport that is set to debut at the Olympics next year in Tokyo. It is an indoor rock climbing event which focuses on top speed. The sprint against the lift was a promotional event that Marcin hopes will raise awareness of this sport. He spoke of his childhood spent scaling apple trees in his grandfather’s orchard, which he said helped hone his climbing skills.

Leave a Comment

Do Anxious Moms Have Hyperactive Children?

Folk wisdom always said not to disturb the peace of mind of pregnant women. To have them comfortable both physically and emotionally. As stress for the pregnant mother would result in harm to the infant. Scientists that conducted the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, hoped to find some truth in this folk wisdom.

The long term study was conducted on 3,199 children. The premise was that children who were born to anxious mothers were likely to show signs of hyperactivity when they enter adolescence or were aged 16 years. The mothers were categorized into “high anxiety” and “moderate anxiety” for the study. The study took place over nearly two decades and findings are still being sorted.

Findings of the study established that 11% of the children whose mothers suffered from high anxiety during pregnancy and the early life of the child, were likely to show the symptoms of hyperactivity. Although the link to ADHD was not so conclusive. Even mother showing moderate anxiety had 11% children more likely to be hyperactive.

This scientific study may not have high figures for linking anxiety in pregnant women with hyperactivity in their children as adolescents, but why take the chance? Just keep the mother to be happy!

Leave a Comment

Right Age to Startup

Most successful startups that we have heard about tend to have young entrepreneurs. Mark Zuckerberg was 19 when he began Facebook with his friends. Bill Gates was 19 when he co-founded Microsoft with Paul Allen. Steve Jobs was 21 when he began Apple with Steve Wozniak. Does that mean you have to be young to begin a successful company? Not necessarily.

Researchers took a look at companies that were established between 2007 and 2014 and studied the top 0.1% which showed fastest growth in sales and employment. The idea was to find the startups that were doing well. The research found that the average age the entrepreneurs here was 45 years. That gives you a very different take on reality as compared to your impressions, doesn’t it?

As per the scientific study the fresh faced, wunderkids who hit success on the very first try, were exceptions to the rule, rather than the norm. In most cases the founder of new startups were about 42 years of age. They had acquired experience in the industry and then set out as entrepreneurs. The firms run by these middle aged people were doing well. Their work experience and drive was what actually ensured that they were successful.

Leave a Comment

Artificial Intelligence Passes Grade 8 Exam

In an era where more tasks are being performed by robots than ever before, it’s interesting to see the new challenges being met by Artificial Intelligence. About four years ago nearly 700 computer scientists competed to create a software that could pass the Grade 8 science exam. They were tested on their language and logic skills that students are expected to have at that stage of life.

The most successful system at that time could only score a mere 60%. However, the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Seattle continued to work on the problem. As with all things, their persistence paid off this month. Their sophisticated AI system was able to answer 90% of the eighth grade exam, as well as 80% of the twelve grade exam. Their system is called Aristo and is designed to answer multiple choice questions.

Aristo performed on standard tests which are administered to students in New York. The technology, however, could move in many directions. The science project has a wide range of potential uses available to it in the future. It has definitely taken AI far from the simple chess playing and back gammon winning machines. The new research could move into dimensions which allow robots to have conversations just like human beings would and a lot more.

Leave a Comment

Unmanned Ship for Atlantic Crossing

When the Mayflower crossed the Atlantic ocean it was a landmark event in the history of the world. The Europeans who reached the new continent would change the way the world functioned. Now another cutting edge technology hopes to do the same, once again. The Mayflower Autonomous Ship, is a robotic unmanned ship which intends to cross the Atlantic ocean just like it’s namesake did over four centuries ago.

The catamaran style robotic ship is powered by renewable energy and is going to take it’s pioneering trip of 4425 km in September 2020. The ship is over 100 feet in length and is fitted with three research pods filled with various sensors. The science project is being coordinated with partner ProMare and is likely to conduct persistent, ground-breaking research in meteorology, oceanography, climatology, biology, marine pollution and conservation, and autonomous navigation.

The ship’s voyage will begin from Plymouth on 6 Sept 2020. Currently under construction in a ship yard in Poland, the ship will undergo seaworthy tests in spring 2020 before the final journey across the Atlantic Ocean. It will follow the same route taken by the Pilgrims in the original Mayflower from Plymouth to Plymouth. However it will then proceed to circumnavigate the Earth.

Leave a Comment