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July 13th, 2020 at 5:03 pm

MIT-designed robot can disinfect a warehouse floor in 30 minutes — and could one day be employed in grocery stores and schools

This coronavirus-killing MIT robot could end up in your local supermarket

(CNN)MIT has designed a robot that is capable of disinfecting the floor of a 4,000-square foot warehouse in only half an hour, and it could one day be used to clean your local grocery store or school.

The university’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) worked with Ava Robotics — a company that focuses on creating telepresence robots — and the Greater Boston Food Bank (GBFB) to develop a robot that uses a custom UV-C light to disinfect surfaces and neutralize aerosolized forms of the coronavirus.

Development on this project began in early April, and one of the researchers said that it came in direct response to the pandemic. The results have been encouraging enough that the researchers say that autonomous UV disinfection could be done in other environments such as supermarkets, factories and restaurants.

Covid-19 mainly spreads via airborne transmission, and it is capable of remaining on surfaces for several days. With states across the US reporting a surge in cases and no concrete timetable for a possible vaccine, there is currently no near-term end to the pandemic. That leaves schools and supermarkets looking for solutions to effectively disinfect areas.

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July 13th, 2020 at 4:57 pm

Six experts on how we’ll live, work, and play in cities after COVID-19

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Architects and urban planners from Gensler, Harvard, and Bloomberg Associates explain the changes coming to our shared spaces.

For Fast Company’s Shape of Tomorrow series, we’re asking business leaders to share their inside perspective on how the COVID-19 era is transforming their industries. Here’s what’s been lost—and what could be gained—in the new world order.

This pandemic is challenging us, but it also offers a once-in-a-century chance to change course and undo some of the damage from the traffic and congestion and pollution. I work with mayors around the world to improve the quality of life in their cities, and transportation is at the heart of what we’re doing in response to the COVID crisis. Just 10 years ago, when I was transportation commissioner of NYC, closing car traffic through Times Square for pedestrians was on the front page of newspapers for weeks. Now cities around the world are turning to car-free streets as part of the recovery. Not because it’s fun or because of any political agenda, but it’s because streets that are accessible are better for business and better to live in. And the same things that make biking and walking attractive in a pandemic—that they’re resilient and reliable and affordable and you can be socially distanced—were true before the pandemic. The pandemic can give cities a head start on a new road order.

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July 13th, 2020 at 4:53 pm

Coronavirus: our study suggests more people have had it than previously estimated

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Many people suspect they’ve been infected with COVID-19 by now, despite the fact that only 0.5% of the UK’s population has actually been diagnosed with it. Similar numbers have been reported in other countries. Exactly how many people have actually had it, however, is unclear. There is also uncertainty around what proportion of people who get COVID-19 die as a result, though many models assume it is around 1%.

We believe there has been over-confidence in the reporting of infection prevalence and fatality rate statistics when it comes to COVID-19. Such statistics fail to take account of uncertainties in the data and explanations for these. In our new paper, published in the in the Journal of Risk Research, we developed a computer model that took these uncertainties into account when estimating COVID-19 fatality rates. And we see a very different picture.

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July 12th, 2020 at 11:16 am

Japanese researchers have created a smart face mask that connects to your phone


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Japanese researchers have created a smart face mask that has a built in speaker and can translate speech into 8 different languages

 We live in a world full of technology but it was a world without smart masks, until now!

A Japanese technology company Donut Robotics has taken the initiative to create the first smart face masks which connects to your phone. Of course, we couldn’t have battled coronavirus with a simple mask that still does the job of protecting us perfectly well. We as a race need to bring technology into everything and more so if it does an array of extremely important, life-saving things like using a speaker to amplify a person’s voice, covert a person’s speech into text and then translate it into eight different languages through a smartphone app.

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July 12th, 2020 at 11:11 am

Tiny weed-killing robots could make pesticides obsolete

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This swarm of robots may herald a chemical-free food revolution

The fleet of Greenfield Robotics weedbots ready and waiting for beta test trials. Photos courtesy of Greenfield Robotics.

Clint Brauer’s farm outside of Cheney, Kansas, could be described as Old MacDonald’s Farm plus robots. Along with 5,500 square feet of vegetable-growing greenhouses, classes teaching local families to grow their food, a herd of 105 sheep, and Warren G—a banana-eating llama named after the rapper—is a fleet of ten, 140-pound, battery-operated robots.

Brauer, the co-founder of Greenfield Robotics, grew up a farm kid. He left for the big city tech and digital world, but eventually made his way back to the family farm. Now, it’s the R&D headquarters for the Greenfield Robotics team, plus a working farm.

When Brauer returned to his agricultural roots, he did so with a purpose: to prove that food could be grown without harmful chemicals and by embracing soil- and planet-friendly practices. He did just that, becoming one of the premier farmers growing vegetables in Kansas without pesticides, selling to local markets, grocery store chains, and chefs.

But it wasn’t enough to make the difference Brauer was hoping for. Sure, he was growing a lot of environmentally friendly, pesticide-free vegetables. But a few acres in chemical-free vegetable production was nothing compared to miles and miles of broadacre, arable farmland that make up the majority of America’s agricultural lands.

Brauer was especially intrigued by no-till solutions for soil health. No-till is exactly what it sounds like: farming without using techniques like plowing and cultivation, which “disturb” the soil to kill weeds. Many U.S. farmers, especially those in America’s heartland of corn, soy, and wheat production, have already switched to or are looking to embrace no-till practices. Over 104 million acres were farmed no-till in 2017, an increase of 8% since 2012. Just over 900 million acres, including no-till land, were farmed in the United States in 2017, according to the 2017 Census of Agriculture.

But parking machinery to improve soil health often comes with a trade that didn’t sit well with Brauer: dependence on chemical weed control. No-till works to improve soil health, but the trade-off in chemical use is not much better for the environment than conventional farming. Regardless of the type of farming, the problem is the same.

“You got to start with weeds. It’s the number one thing that farmers are fighting,” Brauer says.

That’s where the robots come in.

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July 12th, 2020 at 10:35 am

Incredible tech to expect in the near future

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It only sounds like science fiction

Artist depiction of what electronic contact lenses of the future could look like.

Moore’s law famously says that computer power doubles every eighteen months or so. This is evidenced clearly when graphing computer chip prices and their relative processing speed, power, and memory. In fact, Moore’s law is true even if one includes technology from as far back as 100 years. This means that every year, video games are twice as powerful as those from the year before. The chip in your birthday cards would have been remarkable to Hitler or Churchill in the 1940’s and yet it’s so common to us that we simply throw it away when we’re done with it. A military supercomputer of 1997, worth millions of dollars, has the same power as your Playstation 3 that runs for $130. NASA placed mankind on the moon in 1969 with less computing power than you have in your cellphone.

These chips are transformative. They greatly empower anything that they touch, like some divine force. When they touched phones we got cellphones in return. Cameras became digital cameras, phonograms became iPods, paper money became credit cards, arcade machines became video games, and airplanes became war drones. Yet their potential still hasn’t been reached. These chips can be integrated into everything from clothes to your toilet and even your brain.

Here I’m going to be taking a look at technology you can expect to see in the next 10 to 50 years.

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July 11th, 2020 at 12:49 am

How many people are actually fleeing to the suburbs permanently?

 

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You’ve seen the headlines: “Coronavirus Escape: To the Suburbs” in the New York Times, “Coronavirus: Americans flee cities for the suburbs” in USA Today, “Will the Coronavirus Make the Suburbs Popular Again?” in Architectural Digest.

The coronavirus pandemic’s stay-at-home orders have residents of dense urban areas like New York City pondering a permanent move to somewhere more spread-out for obvious reasons: more space, more land, lower prices.

Mulling the decision to leave New York has almost reached cliche status (there’s even a Leaving New York” essay genre, as the Times notes points out).

As more New Yorkers leave, it invites near-constant speculation about a “mass exodus” out of cities. But are the folks skipping town getting outsized attention? Are there really that many people moving away—for good?

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July 11th, 2020 at 12:05 am

57% of employees second-guessing careers during COVID-19 pandemic

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Many workers said they are more motivated to be employed at a company that values its staff during unpredictable times, Robert Half found.

More than half (57%) of workers said they have experienced a change in their sentiments toward work during the coronavirus pandemic, data from Robert Half found. During such unpredictable times, some 60% of that number said they want to be employed at an organization that values its staff.

COVID-19 has thrown a major wrench in both the enterprise and economy, resulting in millions of furloughs and layoffs. More than 44.2 million US employees have filed for unemployment claims since the start of coronavirus shutdowns, according to Fortune. Those lucky enough to still have jobs have still been impacted, reevaluating their current employment during such trying times.

“This has been a time of reflection and reprioritization for businesses and people,” said Paul McDonald, senior executive director of Robert Half, in a press release.
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July 11th, 2020 at 12:01 am

Chinese automaker plans satellite network to support autonomous vehicles

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Geely’s constellation will provide connectivity to its next-gen autos.

 One of the most important components in an autonomous vehicle is its communications technology—which allows it to access the data needed to navigate its route. Chinese automobile company Geely has developed a solution to maintain a reliable data feed for its products: making its own satellite constellation.

The giant automaker—which sold 2.18 million vehicles in 2019 and also owns Volvo and a stake in Daimler-Benz—is investing $326 million in a new satellite manufacturing plant in Taizhou, close to its existing assembly lines. The plant will manufacture 500 satellites a year by 2025—with its first launches scheduled for later this year—and will have the capability of producing different satellite models. It will feature modular satellite manufacturing lines, research and testing centers and a cloud computing facility. The facility will be the first private satellite factory in China.

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July 10th, 2020 at 3:54 am

Atom-by-atom assembly makes for cheap, tuneable graphene nanoribbons

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Graphene nanoribbons could serve a variety of purposes, and a new way to produce then could help unleash this potential

The wonder material graphene can take many forms for many different purposes, from transparent films that repel mosquitoes to crumpled balls that could boost the safety of batteries. One that has scientists particularly excited is nanoribbons for applications in energy storage and computing, but producing these ultra-thin strips of graphene has proven a difficult undertaking. Scientists are claiming a breakthrough in this area, devising a method that has enabled them to efficiently produce graphene nanoribbons directly on the surface of semiconductors for the first time.

The wonder material graphene can take many forms for many different purposes, from transparent films that repel mosquitoes to crumpled balls that could boost the safety of batteries. One that has scientists particularly excited is nanoribbons for applications in energy storage and computing, but producing these ultra-thin strips of graphene has proven a difficult undertaking. Scientists are claiming a breakthrough in this area, devising a method that has enabled them to efficiently produce graphene nanoribbons directly on the surface of semiconductors for the first time.

As opposed to the sheets of carbon atoms arranged in honeycomb patterns that make up traditional graphene, graphene nanoribbons consist of thin strips just a handful of atoms wide. This material has great potential as a cheaper and smaller alternative to silicon transistors that would also run faster and use less power, or as electrodes for batteries that can charge in as little as five minutes.

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July 10th, 2020 at 3:48 am

How green sand could capture billions of tons of carbon dioxide

The green sand beach Papakolea, Hawaii

The green sand Papakōlea Beach in Hawaii.

Scientists are taking a harder look at using carbon-capturing rocks to counteract climate change, but lots of uncertainties remain.

PROJECT VESTA

A pair of palm-tree-fringed coves form two narrow notches, about a quarter of a mile apart, along the shoreline of an undisclosed island somewhere in the Caribbean.

After a site visit in early March, researchers with the San Francisco nonprofit Project Vesta determined that the twin inlets provided an ideal location to study an obscure method of capturing the carbon dioxide driving climate change.

Later this year, Project Vesta plans to spread a green volcanic mineral known as olivine, ground down to the size of sand particles, across one of the beaches. The waves will further break down the highly reactive material, accelerating a series of chemical reactions that pull the greenhouse gas out of the air and lock it up in the shells and skeletons of mollusks and corals.

This process, along with other forms of what’s known as enhanced mineral weathering, could potentially store hundreds of trillions of tons of carbon dioxide, according to a National Academies report last year. That’s far more carbon dioxide than humans have pumped out since the start of the Industrial Revolution. Unlike methods of carbon removal that rely on soil, plants, and trees, it would be effectively permanent. And Project Vesta at least believes it could be cheap, on the order of $10 per ton of stored carbon dioxide once it’s done on a large scale.

But there are huge questions around this concept as well. How do you mine, grind, ship, and spread the vast quantities of minerals necessary without producing more emissions than the material removes? And who’s going to pay for it?

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July 10th, 2020 at 12:00 am

Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing launches pilot self-driving robotaxi service in Shanghai

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Didi has raised US$500 million from Japan’s SoftBank for its autonomous driving subsidiary.

 Didi’s launch of robotaxis in Shanghai comes just days after it announced plans to deploy more than one million self-driving vehicles through its platform by 2030

Globally, the market is projected to be worth US$65.3 billion by 2027, according to a report from Market Research Future

Commuters in Shanghai can now book self-driving taxis through Didi Chuxing after the Chinese ride-hailing giant launched its on-demand robotaxi service on the weekend.

Using the new app, passengers can take free rides in autonomous vehicles within designated open-traffic areas in Shanghai’s Jiading District as part of the pilot phase of the project.

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are certificates more valuable than college degrees?