These robots assembled an IKEA chair in 20 minutes without having a meltdown

April 19, 2018 by  
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Who hasn’t found themselves ready to throw a half-assembled IKEA chair across the room in a fit of frustration? If you are one of the many humans that still struggle to piece it all together, don’t despair: the robots are coming. In a study recently published in Science Robotics , scientists created two robots that are capable of performing the complex movements and possess the planning skills necessary to construct an IKEA chair. The robots are able to assemble a chair in a little over twenty minutes, with 11 minutes and 21 seconds dedicated to planning and 8 minutes and 55 seconds devoted to actual construction. While computers seem to have surpassed humans in certain cognitive tasks, such as playing chess and Go, until the development of this particular robot, even the most advanced robots struggled to emulate the manual dexterity possessed by humans to complete a complicated task like chair assembly. Additionally, the task requires integration of sight and precise calculation of force necessary to complete a particular step in the process. The team that designed the IKEA assembly robot from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore  utilized 3D cameras and force sensors , combined with full-range robotic arms, to equip their machine with the parts necessary to get the job done. Related: Scientists develop tiny robots that drill into cancer cells to kill them To start, the robots recorded images to properly identify each component of the chair. Next, the robots followed a complex algorithm to plan the movements needed to complete the task without bumping into anything. Finally, the robot arms assembled the parts, guided by sensors to determine the force necessary to secure each component. Although the robots were not fully autonomous, the researchers predict that with ever-advancing artificial intelligence , assembly robots may someday be able to piece together your furniture simply by flipping through the manual. Via Science Magazine Images via Science Magainze

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These robots assembled an IKEA chair in 20 minutes without having a meltdown

Solar outshined all fossil-fuels sources combined in 2017

April 19, 2018 by  
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Last year, the world invested more in solar power than all fossil-fuel sources combined. Investors and governments installed an all-time record of 157 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity, according to a new report from the United Nations (UN). In 2017, the world installed 98 W of solar capacity, nearly half of which was in China. The net new capacity from fossil fuels was only 70W in 2017. “We are at a turning point … from fossil fuels to the renewable world,” UN Environment head Erik Solheim told Reuters . “The markets are there and renewables can take on coal, they can take on oil and gas.” Although renewable energy is clearly the way of the future, fossil fuels remain the dominant source of energy on the planet. Only 12.1 percent of the world’s electricity came from renewable energy sources, an improvement on 5.2 percent in 2007. This boom in renewable energy has been backed by strong investment in recent years. In 2017, global investment in renewable energy rose by two percent. China invested $122.6 billion, 45 percent of global investment and the most of any country, into the industry in the same year. Related: World’s largest solar energy project will be 100 times bigger than any other on the planet Governments and investors have noticed a change in the fundamentals behind renewable energy. “Much lower costs … are the driver of solar investment worldwide,” said report lead author Angus McCrone told Reuters . For example, the cost of energy production through large-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) decreased by 15 percent last year to $86 per megawatt hour. Even with an administration hostile to renewable energy in the White House, the drive towards renewable energy continues. “Trump can no more brake this than those who opposed the Industrial Revolution could stop the Industrial Revolution,” said Solheim. President Trump recently signed a government spending bill that retained many of the existing tax credits for renewable energy in the United States . Via Reuters Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Solar outshined all fossil-fuels sources combined in 2017

UK plans to ban the sales of plastic straws to tackle ocean plastic pollution

April 19, 2018 by  
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8.5 billion plastic straws are tossed out in the United Kingdom every year, according to a recent study cited by the government . They plan to take action — by ending sales of plastic-stemmed cotton buds and plastic drink stirrers and straws in a bid to reduce ocean plastic waste. The UK is cracking down on ocean plastic . The government announced the ban at the summit for the Commonwealth heads of government. Prime Minister Theresa May said, “ Plastic waste is one of the greatest environmental challenges facing the world…the British public have shown passion and energy embracing our plastic bag charge and microbead ban .” Related: Queen of England bans plastic bottles and straws at royal estates The ban won’t take effect immediately; the statement said the government would work with industries to ensure time to adapt and create alternatives. Plastic straws utilized for medical reasons could also be excluded from the ban. May challenged other countries in the Commonwealth, which includes 53 member countries across Africa, Asia, the Pacific and the Caribbean, to battle marine plastic as well. The UK government is committing to £61.4 million, around $87.4 million, in funding for research and better waste management for developing countries , according to May, who said, “The Commonwealth is a unique organization, with a huge diversity of wildlife, environments, and coastlines. Together we can effect real change so that future generations can enjoy a natural environment that is healthier than we currently find it.” The UK government’s microbead ban went into effect in January of this year, and their five pence single-use plastic bag law has resulted in nine billion fewer bags distributed, according to the government. Another statistic the government drew on to back the plastic straw scheme is that one million birds and more than 100,000 sea mammals perish due to eating plastic waste and getting tangled in it. They also said there are more than 150 million metric tons of plastic in the oceans on our planet. + United Kingdom Government Images via Depositphotos and Carly Jayne on Unsplash

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UK plans to ban the sales of plastic straws to tackle ocean plastic pollution

Couple converts $7,000 Joshua Tree cabin into a sophisticated desert oasis

April 19, 2018 by  
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When Kathrin and Brian Smirke decided to buy an abandoned property in the desert landscape of Joshua Tree for $7,000, they knew that they had a massive undertaking on their hands. The old cabin , which dated back to 1957, had been left rotting in the desert for years. But with a lot of vision and hard work, the ambitious duo converted the 480-square-foot homestead into a beautiful desert oasis. The couple chronicled the massive renovation project they lovingly call “The Shack Attack” on their blog, We Are in Our Element . The poor state of the structure meant gutting the interior down to the base boards to start fresh. Over a period of two years, the couple revamped the cabin into a beautiful desert home. “We spent over a year planning, demolishing, building, planning again, building, and then finally decorating this little gem,” Kathrin explains. “What makes this home special is that we did a lot of the work ourselves, including the design, complete demolition, framing, plumbing, trim electrical, and we even built a lot of the interior fixtures and art.” Related: Stunning Lucid Stead Cabin Reflects the Colors and Movements of the Mojave Desert The process was quite detailed, with the Smirkes focused on reducing the project’s footprint at every turn. They also had to deal with several building restrictions included in the sale of the property, namely not being allowed to increase the square footage of the structure. Nevertheless, they were determined to fit a comfortable living room, kitchen, full bathroom, and bedroom that would accommodate a king-size bed into the compact space . Using various reclaimed materials, they converted the space into a light-filled home. Large sliding glass doors in the entrance and the bedroom open the interior up to incredible views as well as an abundance of natural light. Additionally, they managed to salvage some materials from the original building – Brian created a few decorative pieces by repurposing timber from the original structure. In the kitchen, Kathrin and Brian formed and poured the concrete countertops themselves and made the floating shelves out of leftover clear pine and plywood. At the back of the home is a compact sleeping area that fits a comfortable king-size platform bed. Again, multiple windows in the room add a light and airy touch to the small space. To take full advantage of the desert landscape , the couple put a lot of work into creating a seamless connection between the interior and the exterior. A large covered porch offers stunning views. But, without a doubt, the heart of the project is the outdoor bathtub, an old water trough painted white. Surrounded by a wooden deck, this is the ultimate space for relaxing while the desert sun sets. The Shack Attack is available to rent via Airbnb throughout the year. + We Are in Our Element Via Dwell Images via We Are in Our Element

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