Can robot dolphins replace real ones in marine parks?

October 19, 2020 by  
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Proponents of swimming with dolphins cite the thrill of feeling a human-animal connection that verges on spiritual and even claim health benefits like reducing stress and boosting T cells. Animal rights supporters claim that promoting dolphin swims is cruel, unnatural, unsafe for people, and ruins dolphin family life. But what if you could swim with robot  dolphins ?  U.S. engineering company Edge Innovations has designed an animatronic dolphin that just might satisfy people’s urge to interact with the marine mammal. The faux dolphins are remote control-operated, cost between 3 and 5 million dollars and are surprisingly lifelike. Related: Free at last: Canada passes Act to prohibit dolphin and whale captivity “When I first saw the dolphin, I thought it could be real,” said a woman who swam with an animatronic dolphin in Hayward,  California . Walt Conti, CEO of Edge Innovations, hopes that animatronic creatures could stand-in for the real thing in theme parks; dolphins are just the beginning. Swimmers could safely  swim  with robotic great white sharks or even recreations of deadly prehistoric sea creatures. Edge has a proven track record for such creations. The company built the animatronic stars of “Anaconda,” “Free Willy” and “Deep Blue Sea.” “There are like 3,000 dolphins currently in captivity being used to generate several billions of dollars just for dolphin experiences. And so there’s obviously an appetite to love and learn about dolphins,” said Conti. “We want to use that appetite and offer kind of different ways to fall in love with the dolphin.” He suggests that people opposed to the treatment of captive dolphins might return to a theme park to see  robots . This animatronic initiative could have worldwide appeal. Twenty  European  countries that have limited or banned the use of wild animals in circuses could welcome robotic dolphins and other critters. Will an encounter with a fake dolphin satisfy people’s desire for interspecies connection with  wildlife ? It obviously won’t be the same. But keep in mind, captive dolphins aren’t really smiling. Their faces are just made that way. Via Reuters Image via Pexels

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Can robot dolphins replace real ones in marine parks?

Win a National Park tour for 2 from Inhabitat!

October 19, 2020 by  
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We’re all itching to get outdoors these days, and visiting National Parks is a safer travel option that allows you to take in the magnificent scenery that the U.S. has to offer. From the towering sequoia trees and granite cliffs of Yosemite to the snowy mountain peaks of Olympic followed by the rust-red canyons and Emerald Pools of Zion, there are many adventures that lie ahead. We’re giving away park passes to these three national parks plus $1,000 toward travel expenses to help you get to the great outdoors. Whether it’s your first trip to a national park or you’re a regular visitor to multiple parks across the country, the varying landscapes are enough to inspire awe in any explorer. On this trip, you can look up to the giant sequoias in Yosemite, then make your way to the dreamy Pacific Northwest for a visit to Olympic National Park. Round out the trip with a day at Zion National Park, where you can take in the otherworldly red cliffs as well as a hanging garden and waterfalls at Emerald Pools. If cabin fever is really setting in, this is a perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in nature all while staying socially distanced. If you’re ready for a breath of fresh air, you can check out our giveaway here . Enter by November 5, 2020 for a chance to win two park passes to Yosemite, Olympic and Zion National Parks plus $1,000 for travel expenses. Terms and conditions apply. The winner will be selected on November 7, 2020 and notified via email. So, what are you waiting for? Good luck, and happy exploring!

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Win a National Park tour for 2 from Inhabitat!

Innovative Future Tree was built by robots and 3D-printing

July 29, 2020 by  
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Robotic construction has taken another step forward with the Future Tree, a recently completed timber canopy built with robots in a project by Gramazio Kohler Research and ETH Zurich . Completed in October 2019, following 2 years of planning and approximately 4 months of construction, the Future Tree is a study of complex timber structures and digital concrete. The tree-like canopy was installed over the courtyard of the office building extension of Basler & Hofmann in Esslingen, Switzerland. An industrial robot was used to fabricate and assemble the Future Tree’s 380 timber elements made from acetylated pine wood and fitted with full-threaded screws and tension cables to form a reciprocal frame. The structure’s canopy-like crown is supported by a single, trunk-like concrete column and anchored to the office building on two sides while cantilevering on the opposite corner. Related: Robots weave an insect-inspired carbon-fiber forest in London “The frame’s geometry is informed by its structural behaviour, differentiating its flexural rigidity by playing with the opening of the reciprocal knots to achieve a higher stiffness in the cantilevering part,” Gramazio Kohler Research’s explained. “To integrate geometric, structural and fabrication concerns we developed a custom computational model of the design.” Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of the project is Future Tree’s reinforced concrete column, which was made with a novel fabrication process called “Eggshell” that combines an ultra-thin, robotically 3D-printed formwork with fast-hardening concrete. As the first built example using this fabrication process, Future Tree “shows [how] non-standard concrete structures can be fabricated efficiently, economically and sustainably,” according to Gramazio Kohler Research. Because the formwork — which is 3D-printed to a thickness of 1.5 millimeters using a robotic arm — is filled with fast-hardening concrete in a layer-by-layer casting process to minimize hydrostatic pressure, it can be recycled and reused after the concrete has hydrated. + Gramazio Kohler Research Images by Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zurich and Basler & Hofmann AG

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Innovative Future Tree was built by robots and 3D-printing

Underwater robots just discovered the world’s biggest dead zone

May 1, 2018 by  
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Underwater robots exploring off the coast of Oman made a devastating discovery this week: the largest dead zone in the world, covering at least the size of Scotland and possibly more. While scientists already knew that there was a dead zone in the Gulf of Oman, they had no idea just how bad it was–until now. Scientists from the  University of East Anglia and Oman’s Sultan Qaboos University launched undersea robots to explore the dead zone, and they published their findings in Geophysical Research Letters . “Our research shows that the situation is actually worse than feared – and that the area of dead zone is vast and growing,” said Dr Bastien Queste, who led the research. “The ocean is suffocating.” Related: Report: meat industry responsible for largest-ever ‘dead zone’ in Gulf of Mexico A dead zone is a place where oxygen is depleted because of climate change and/or chemical run-off from land. Sea life requires oxygen to live, and so, in these areas, nothing can survive. “It’s a real environmental problem, with dire consequences for humans, too, who rely on the oceans for food and employment,” said Queste. Robots ventured 1,000 meters underwater in the Gulf of Oman and spent eight months gathering data. The robots learned that the dead zone exists between a depth of 200 and 800 meters, occupies a zone larger than Scotland, and is continuing to grow. Unless we address the problem, it could have huge consequences for life both in and out of the sea. + Geophysical Research Letters Via IFLScience Images via Google Maps  and Deposit Photos

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Underwater robots just discovered the world’s biggest dead zone

Otherworldly tree sculpture mimics plant growth with glowing veins

May 1, 2018 by  
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Architecture and design practice Orproject has created a striking sculpture in Düsseldorf, Germany that combines biomimicry with innovative technologies. Created to simulate plant growth, Photopsis takes the form of a tree built from 100 CNC -cut and CNC-bent stainless steel panels. And, at night, the fiber-optic cables that branch out across the sculpture light up like glowing veins. Winner of an A’Design Award , Photopsis was created mainly through computational algorithms and digital simulations of plant growth. “This venation algorithm simulates the need of plants to reach the sun light or of veins in leaves to supply every cell with nutrients,” wrote the architects. “In doing so, the growth of the branches or the veins slowly expands to cover a large area.” Related: Orproject Unveils Giant Bubbles Filled With Fresh Air for Polluted Beijing The lighting system projector is hidden in the sculpture’s concrete foundation. The base of the sculpture is also the starting point for a bundle of 200 fiber-optic cables, which gradually branch out to connect to all the nodes on the stainless steel surface, mimicking veins of crawling ivy on a tree. Though the glowing veins are almost imperceptible during daytime, they give Photopsis an otherworldly glow at night. + Orproject Photography: Kateryna Iakovlieva, Orproject

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Apple’s new recycling robot can disassemble 200 iPhones in a single hour

April 20, 2018 by  
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Just in time for Earth Day , Apple has unveiled a new recycling robot — and it can disassemble 200 iPhones in a single hour. Daisy can successfully extract parts from nine types of iPhones — and for every 100,000 devices it can salvage 1,900 kg of aluminum, 770 kg of cobalt, 710 kg of copper and 11 kg of rare earth elements. The robot represents a major step forward in Apple ’s mission to someday build its devices entirely from recycled materials. “We created Daisy to have a smaller footprint and the capability to disassemble multiple models of iPhones with higher variation compared to Liam ” — an earlier iteration of the company’s recycling robotics — Apple said in its 2018 Environmental Responsibility Report . Ultimately, Apple hopes to develop a closed-loop production system in which every reusable part of older devices is utilized in new ones. “To meet our goal, we must use 100 percent, responsibly sourced, recycled or renewable materials and ensure the equivalent amount is returned to market,” Apple said in its report. “Recognizing that this goal could take many years to reach, we remain committed to responsible sourcing of primary materials as we make the transition.” Though Apple has yet to release a timeline for its full transition, it has started active projects to recycle rare earth metals , paper products and more common metals from its supply chain. Related: Apple is now “globally powered by 100% renewable energy” Apple plans to add Daisy robots to several locations throughout the United States and Europe. Because the company is currently only able to incorporate used devices that it receives directly, Apple will emphasize its GiveBack program, in part by offering company credit for returned devices. Thanks to its recycling initiatives, Apple has already reduced its primary aluminum consumption by 23 to 25 percent since 2015. Despite the company’s initial success, some observers have advocated for more fundamental changes in Apple’s model. Greenpeace USA senior IT sector analyst Gary Cook said , “Rather than another recycling robot, what is most needed from Apple is an indication that the company is embracing one of the greatest opportunities to reduce its environmental impact: repairable and upgradeable product design.” Via Business Green Images via Apple

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Apple’s new recycling robot can disassemble 200 iPhones in a single hour

Trump official delays protection of endangered species at oil lobbyist’s request

April 20, 2018 by  
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A top United States Department of the Interior official appears to have used his position to delay the protection of an endangered species at the request of the oil industry. As reported by the Guardian based on acquired documents, Interior official Vincent deVito acquiesced to a 2017 e-mail from the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) asking that the Texas hornshell mussel not be placed under protection for six months in the interest of continued, uninhibited oil industry activity. While the mussel was eventually placed on the endangered species list in 2018, former Interior officials and government watchdogs have expressed concerns over the ethics and legality of deVito’s actions. Of particular concern is the Trump Administration’s seeming disregard to science in favor of political decision making. “Listing decisions under the Endangered Species Act are meant to be entirely science-based decisions that result from – in some cases – years of review by experts in the field, not political appointees,” former Interior associate deputy secretary Elizabeth Klein told The Guardian . “A delay in and of itself might not be the end of the world – but then again it very well could be for an imperiled species.” In response to criticism, Interior press secretary Heather Swift said in a statement that deVito “maintains that he simply responded with an acknowledgment of receipt on the mussel email and maintains he had no role whatsoever in the listing.” Related: New evidence shows oil and coal were central in the decision to reduce Bears Ears There’s a portfolio of instances where DeVito used his official capacity in ways that would appear to be favorable to the fossil fuel industry. For example, DeVito described his close consultation of industry lobbyists before proposing a reduction of royalty rates on offshore oil and gas from 18.75% to 12.5% – a recommendation that was ultimately rejected by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. DeVito was also influential in approving a coal project near the habitat of the endangered Big Sandy crayfish in West Virginia . “It a scientific integrity violation for a political appointee to essentially leapfrog the Fish and Wildlife Service’s process when you have an Endangered Species Act listing involved,” former career Interior scientist Joel Clement told The Guardian . Via The Guardian Images via New Mexico State Land Office and YouTube

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Bottlenose dolphins spotted in Canadian Pacific waters for the first time

April 20, 2018 by  
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Bottlenose dolphins typically reside in tropical or warm-temperate waters around the world — but researchers recently glimpsed a group of around 200 of the dolphins and around 70 false killer whales off northern Vancouver Island’s west coast in Canada. They said this sighting is “the only occurrence of common bottlenose dolphins recorded in Canadian Pacific waters” — and a warming trend could be to blame. In July 2017, Halpin Wildlife Research , working with Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans and Department of Environment and Climate Change , documented the dolphins and whales. In research published this month in the journal Marine Biodiversity Records , the three researchers involved said the sighting “is the most northerly record” for common bottlenose dolphins “in the eastern North Pacific .” Related: A beluga whale living with dolphins learned to “speak their language” Lead author Luke Halpin said in a statement , “The sighting is also the first offshore report of false killer whales in British Columbia. To see the two species traveling together and interacting was quite special and rare. It is known that common bottlenose dolphins and false killer whales seek each other out and interact, but the purpose of the interactions is unclear.” Warming in eastern North Pacific waters between 2013 and 2016 could be the reason for the presence of the dolphins and whales. Halpin said he’s documented warm-water species in British Columbia waters since 2014, including a loggerhead turtle and a swordfish . He said, “With marine waters increasingly warming up, we can expect to see more typically warm-water species in the northeastern Pacific.” + BioMed Central + Marine Biodiversity Records Images via Gregory “Slobirdr” Smith on Flickr and the National Park Service

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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

Elon Musk warns AI could become an immortal’ digital dictator

April 9, 2018 by  
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As if the world didn’t have enough dictators to worry about, Elon Musk  says that our future authoritarian leaders will be AI. Musk has previously warned about the dangers of artificial intelligence , particularly if control of it is concentrated the hands of a power-hungry global elite. He suggests that an AI dictator would know everything about us (thanks to being connected to computers across the planet), would be more dangerous to the world than North Korea and would unleash “weapons of terror” that could lead to the next world war. To top it all off, unlike human dictators, an AI dictator would never die. According to Musk, this dark future awaits us if we don’t regulate AI. “The least scary future I can think of is one where we have at least democratized AI because if one company or small group of people manages to develop godlike digital superintelligence, they could take over the world,” Musk said in the new documentary  Do You Trust This Computer ? “At least when there’s an evil dictator, that human is going to die. But for an AI, there would be no death. It would live forever. And then you’d have an immortal dictator from which we can never escape.” The documentary in which Musk is quoted focuses on several potentially hazardous applications of artificial intelligence, including the stock market, fake news algorithms, and autonomous weapons. In the film, Musk cites Google ‘s DeepMind project as an example of a powerful company in pursuit of superintelligence, or AI that is truly smarter than a human being. DeepMind has already achieved several milestones, including the 2016 defeat of world champion Lee Se-dol by AlphaGo in the board game Go. “The DeepMind system can win at any game ,” explained Musk. “It can already beat all the original Atari games. It is super human; it plays all the games at super speed in less than a minute.” Related: Elon Musk says trips to Mars coming as soon as next year Musk clarifies that this is not necessarily a question of good or evil, at least regarding the AI itself. “If AI has a goal and humanity just happens to be in the way, it will destroy humanity as a matter of course without even thinking about it. No hard feelings,” Musk said. “It’s just like, if we’re building a road and an anthill just happens to be in the way, we don’t hate ants , we’re just building a road, and so, goodbye anthill.” Musk suggests that humans ultimately incorporate artificial intelligence into their very being to avoid becoming redundant. Putting his money where his mouth is, Musk is the co-founder of Neuralink that is reportedly interested in accomplishing Musk’s goal of merging the human brain to a computer. Via CNBC Images via  Steve Jurvetson/Flickr   WebSummit/Flickr and Depositphotos

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