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

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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Bottlenose dolphins spotted in Canadian Pacific waters for the first time

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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Elon Musk warns AI could become an immortal’ digital dictator

The CO2 intensity of the US power sector just hit a record low

April 9, 2018 by  
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Renewable energy is winning again. The Power Sector Carbon Index just revealed that carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions intensity is the lowest on record. Thanks to government policy, market forces and new technologies, energy companies have moved away from carbon-intensive coal and towards cleaner, greener energy like renewables and natural gas. And the numbers aren’t insignificant – 13 years ago, carbon intensity was nearly 27% higher than it is now. Carbon emissions intensity is the rate of emissions produced relative to the amount of energy that we get from it. Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) released their 2018 Carnegie Mellon Power Sector Carbon Index — which tracks power producers’ environmental performance in the United States, and compares today’s emissions to over 20 years of historical data. Assistant professor Costa Samaras said in a statement , “The Carnegie Mellon Power Sector Carbon Index provides a snapshot of critical data regarding energy production and environmental performance. We’ve found this index to provide significant insight into trends in power generation and emissions. In particular, the data have shown that emissions intensity has fallen to the lowest level on record, as a combination of natural gas and renewable power have displaced more carbon-intensive coal -fired power generation.” Related: 104% of Portugal’s electricity consumption in March came from renewable energy Specifically, emissions of power plants in America averaged 967 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour (MWh) last year. That figure is 3.1 percent lower than 2016, and 26.8 percent lower than in 2005, “often used as a benchmark year for measuring progress made in reducing emissions,” according to the university. The 2017 fourth quarter (Q4) update from the university, also posted in early April, offers more insight into how renewables are playing a role. In Q4, power plant emissions actually averaged 952 pounds of CO2 per MWh. And compared against 2016 Q4, in 2017 Q4 coal generation dropped six percent, natural gas was up four percent, nuclear up four percent, hydro up one percent, wind up 13 percent, and solar up 30 percent. MHPS Americas CEO Paul Browning said, “The power industry has made significant progress in reducing emissions for over a decade, as new technology, state and federal policies and market forces have increased power generation from natural gas and renewables, and decreased power generation from coal.” + Power Sector Carbon Index + Carnegie Mellon University College of Engineering + Power Sector Carbon Index — 2017 Q4 Update Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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The CO2 intensity of the US power sector just hit a record low

The world’s first 3D-printed steel bridge looks like it came from another planet

April 4, 2018 by  
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Dutch technology company MX3D  just officially unveiled the world’s first  3D-printed stainless steel bridge . It took four robots , nearly 10,000 pounds of stainless steel , about 684 miles of wire, and six months of printing to build the sinuous, undulating structure, which looks like it’s straight out of a science-fiction movie. The MX3D Bridge, designed by Joris Laarman Lab , is around 41 feet by 20 feet, and it’s made from a new kind of steel. 3D-printing created a ribbed surface as robots added layers upon layers; Gizmodo said it could be buffed out, but MX3D plans to keep the unique, rough look. Related: World’s first 3D-printed bridge opens in the Netherlands Laarman told Gizmodo it’s strange to glimpse the bridge in their workshop: “It’s a little bit like being in a science fiction story because it looks so different than everything else around. We work in a highly industrial shipyard where everything is geometric in shape, but this bridge doesn’t have a single straight line.” MX3D’s goal for the bridge project is “to showcase the potential applications of our multi-axis 3D-printing technology,” according to their website. They say they serve architecture , maritime and offshore, and heavy duty industry markets. There’s that spark of sci-fi on their About page too: their ultimate vision is robots creating lightweight constructions — not just bridges, or buildings, but Mars colonies as well. The company credits Arup for structural engineering, Heijmans as their construction expert, and AcelorMittal for metallurgical expertise, to name a few; several other companies and universities have been involved in the bridge project. MX3D’s bridge is to be installed over the Oudezijds Achterburgwal canal in Amsterdam , possibly in 2019. Before that, the bridge will undergo load tests. Co-founder Gijs van der Velden told Gizmodo they recently tested it with 30 people, and it behaved as it should. He told Gizmodo, “[Amsterdam city officials] have collaborated with us, Arup, and Imperial College London to define a method for evaluating the safety of the bridge as, of course for a novel production like this, there is no standard code. Their open attitude towards such a new and unconventional project was essential to make this project a success.” + MX3D + MX3D Bridge + Joris Laarman Lab Via Gizmodo Images courtesy of MX3D, Joris Laarman Lab, Adriaan de Groot, Thijs Wolzak, and Olivier de Gruijter

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The world’s first 3D-printed steel bridge looks like it came from another planet

Antibiotic-resistant "nightmare" bacteria are spreading across the US

April 4, 2018 by  
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A new breed of “nightmare” bacteria resists pretty much all of our antibiotics – and it’s rapidly spreading across the US. The bacteria – called carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) – is different from your run-of-the-mill antibiotic-resistant bacteria because it is incredibly deadly, with 50 percent of infected patients dying. Not only that, but it is spreading like “wildfire” with over 200 cases identified in 27 states. Researchers at the CDC said that last year they tested  5,700 samples of resistant bacteria, and of those samples, 221 were CRE or similar bacteria. That’s a full 15 percent. “I was surprised by the numbers” of bacteria with unusual antibiotic resistance, Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, said. “This was more than I was expecting.” Once researchers detected these bacteria, they tested other patients in the same facility to see if the bacteria had spread. It turned out that 1 in 10 people had what scientists call a “silent” infection, where they have the bacteria in their bodies but aren’t showing symptoms. Related: Flesh-eating bacteria might be spread by mosquitoes in Australia Fortunately, doctors have a plan. They are working hard to stop the spread before it becomes common. To that end, the CDC created the Antibiotic Resistance Laboratory Network (ARLN) to test and track for these dangerous bacteria. Using an aggressive containment strategy, researchers have been able to control the infection. But the danger isn’t over – doctors and scientists will have to be vigilant to stay ahead of the antibiotic-resistance trend as bacteria continue to evolve and change to evade our efforts. Via Live Science Images via Deposit Photos ( 1 , 2 )

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Antibiotic-resistant "nightmare" bacteria are spreading across the US

Uravu’s zero-electricity Aqua Panels produce gallons of water from thin air

April 4, 2018 by  
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Uravu , a startup based in Hyderabad, India, has created a device that can produce water from an unlikely source–the air itself. The company’s affordable, electricity-free Aqua Panels use solar thermal energy to convert vapor into usable water – and they should be available to the public within two years. “There’s no need of any electricity or moving parts,” Uravu co-founder Swapnil Shrivastav told Quartz India . “It is just a passive device that you can leave on your rooftop and it will generate water. The process starts at night, and by evening next day you’ll have water.” Uravu is named after a Malayalam word that sometimes refers to freshwater springs and can be translated as “source.” While the technology behind Uravu’s system is not new, it did have some problems. “You need high humidity and energy consumption (involved) is high,” said Shrivastav, referring to the outdated technology. “There are a lot of moving parts. What we wanted to do was have a simple modular device.” The company found inspiration in the fact that the atmosphere is constantly holding various amounts of moisture. “So that got us thinking why this resource isn’t being utilised,” said Shrivastav. “[Water vapor] also doesn’t limit itself to desalination which happens only in the coast. Or rainfall which doesn’t happen everywhere.” Related: Giant curtain built in Peru to study climate change in the cloud forests To produce drinking water , users will have to supplement their device with an attachable mineral cartridge. The current prototype generates approximately 50 liters (13.20 gallons) daily, though the team hopes to someday develop a machine capable of producing 2,000 liters (528.34 gallons) per day. “Initially we’ll be working with governments and strategic partners, and we want to reach places where there is water scarcity , such as parts of Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh, and rural areas,” explained Shrivastav. “We will be trying to start with a household device and aim at community-level projects.” + Uravu Via Quartz India Images via Depositphotos and Uravu

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Uravu’s zero-electricity Aqua Panels produce gallons of water from thin air

NASA has a plan to put robot bees on Mars

April 3, 2018 by  
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NASA has announced the funding of a new research effort that will explore the possibility of using robot bees to study the Martian surface. NASA has appropriately called the concept the Marsbee, and the team hopes to develop a model that is capable of navigating the thin atmosphere of Mars in swarms, gathering information with various sensors. “The objective of the proposed work is to increase the set of possible exploration and science missions on Mars by investigating the feasibility of flapping wing aerospace architectures in a Martian environment,” explains University of Alabama researcher Chang-kwon Kang in a statement . A research team at the University of Alabama will work in collaboration with an as-of-yet unannounced team in Japan to create what may be a more efficient means to explore Mars. While the Mars rover has proven to be a reliable exploration machine, it does suffer from slow speeds. A swarm of robotic bees would not have this problem as it scours the surface of the Red Planet. The body of the Marsbee would be similar to that of an actual bumblebee, while its larger wings will be about the size of a cicada. Researchers are currently exploring the most effective mode of flight, whether flapping through flapping, fixed-wing or rotor. The collaborating group of Japanese scientists has already created their own wing-flapping robot, the hummingbird micro-air vehicle (MAV). Related: Elon Musk says trips to Mars coming as soon as next year The Marsbees would be bound to a mobile “hive,” in the form of a traditional rover. The rover would serve as a home base at which the Marsbees would recharge and store data. The Marsbees would also be capable of sending information whilst in-flight through Wi-Fi technology. The Marsbee is still very early in development. NASA expects feasibility studies to last a decade before the project moves onto Phase II. The challenges that must be overcome before the Marsbee takes flight include designing a potentially autonomous navigation system, determining flight style, and inventing a means to keep dust out of the Marsbee. Via Phys.org Images via NASA

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