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8
Sep

I ran into LG’s Cloi robot at the airport in South Korea. Here’s what happened



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Cloi airport robot

Kim Wetzel/Digital Trends

Cloi airport robot

Kim Wetzel/Digital Trends

Cloi airport robot

Kim Wetzel/Digital Trends

Cloi airport robot

Kim Wetzel/Digital Trends

Cloi airport robot

Kim Wetzel/Digital Trends

Cloi, the airport robot, is staring at me patiently, her large robot eyes blinking.

The approximately four-foot-tall automaton doesn’t seem flustered or annoyed that I don’t have my plane’s gate number readily available when it requests it. Nor does it flinch when I touch its “stomach,” where the robot’s computer touchscreen is located. Not that it’s supposed to, but Cloi reminds me of a robot Pillsbury Doughboy, and I was hoping it would grab its tummy and giggle. No luck.

I retrieve my boarding pass from my pocket and give Cloi (LG Electronics, its creator, spells it CLOi, and it’s pronounced like the name Chloe) the information it’s requesting. Almost immediately, a map appears on the screen showing me the correct path to my gate. Entranced and enchanted by Cloi’s cute blinking eyes, I peel my eyes away from its (her?) robotic gaze.

LG’s Cloi Airport Guide Robot, with its blinking eyes, roaming body, and futuristic form, is a hit at Incheon International Airport.

There’s a crowd gathering around me, waiting their turn with the robot, so I quickly memorize where I’m supposed to go, and then wave good-bye. I hang back and watch as a family opt to use Cloi’s built-in camera to take a family pic. A few minutes later, a woman changes the language of the bot to English (Cloi can speak basic phrases in English, Korean, Chinese, and Japanese, in a feminine voice) and then gets instructions for where to find the nearest bathroom.

There’s no doubt about it: LG’s Cloi Airport Guide Robot, with its blinking eyes, roaming body, and futuristic form, is a hit at Incheon International Airport, the largest airport in South Korea and the primary gateway into the capital, Seoul.

But is Cloi a novelty or a bona fide helper? I mean, Incheon is full of computer screens and other signage telling people where to go; it’s about the easiest international airport to navigate (it’s been voted as one of the world’s best airports, according to Skytrax). And, I don’t need a robot to take a selfie for me — I can do that with the phone in my pocket.

For LG’s robotics initiative, which oversees Cloi’s development, the answer to that question doesn’t really matter — at least, not yet. For now, it’s about the advancement of technology, as well as good fun. After all, who doesn’t like a talking, moving, helping robot to remind us of sci-fi flicks we watched as kids?

Real-life Rosie the Robot

Cloi debuted at CES 2017, along with a cleaning robot that is currently scrubbing floors at Seoul’s city hall, just like Rosie the Robot from The Jetsons. (The model I saw at the airport is different from the one LG showed off at CES 2017.)

The Cloi lineup expanded at CES this year, with the announcement of serving, shopping, and porter robots, although they have yet to make a public appearance in action. But the point of the robotic initiative, according to LG, is to showcase what the bots can do down the road.

“As an important part of our future growth engine, LG is committed to expanding its portfolio of robots that can deliver real convenience and innovation in our customers’ lives,” Rye Hye-jung, head of the smart solution business division for LG’s Home Appliance and Air Solutions Company, told Digital Trends in January. “We will continue to develop a wide range of products across commercial and home robots while seeking new opportunities to contribute to the advancement of the robotics industry.”

The LG bots do have their limitations — Cloi the home robot famously got stage fright during LG’s press conference at CES 2018 — but that doesn’t mean they aren’t cool.

Cloi embodies what most of us probably thought the future would be like when we were kids: robots running around, doing our bidding for us.

Possibly more than any other robot, Cloi embodies what most of us probably thought the future would be like when we were kids: robots running around, doing our bidding for us. But as the technology becomes more advanced, the reality of a full-fledged mechanical robot seems almost antiquated, as companies are creating smaller pieces of technology to assist us through things like phones and smart speakers.

Still, actual moving robots, if they ever were to become mainstream, would provide that last bit of automation lacking in our homes and offices. It’s cool to be able to start your washing machine from an app on your phone, but how much cooler would it be to have a robot load your laundry into the machine, take it out and put it into the dryer, and then fold those clothes and put them away? Now we’re talking.

Observing Cloi at work

Although I was on a press trip for LG (its global headquarters is in Seoul) when I ran into Cloi at the airport, our meeting at Incheon was total happenstance. The robot makes the rounds, offering assistance to passengers who look lost. I wasn’t lost, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to interact with the bot in its intended environment (and not under the supervision of its LG overlords).

Cloi airport robot Kim Wetzel/Digital Trends

I saw Cloi near the ticketing desk, pausing in front of people and asking if it could be of assistance, and then I saw it again as I wandered the terminal looking for my gate. I have no idea how the bot snuck through security with all that metal and technology running through its wires.

But I discovered that Cloi was mostly used as a large, expensive camera for taking selfies. The bot had a healthy group of followers who were easily entranced by its robot-ness.

Maybe I should stop comparing real-life robots to the ones I’ve seen in movies. We’ve all seen Terminator and what can happen.

I’m sad to report that while I enjoyed my interaction with Cloi the robotic airport employee and watching it in action, I came away wishing for more of a robust experience. Maybe I was hoping it would take my hand and say something like, “Come with me if you want to live.” Or, more suited for the airport, “Come with me if you want to find the way to the secret luxury lounge with free wine, massages, and Michelin-starred food.”

Maybe I should stop comparing real-life robots to the ones I’ve seen in movies. Because we’ve all seen Terminator and what can happen when technology takes over.

At this time, the Cloi robots are in concept form and are not available to purchase. If they do become available, I’ll hold out for Cloi the Laundry Sorting, Folding, and Putting the Clothes Away robot. And in the meantime, I’ll continue to look at those airport screens to figure out how to get to my departure gate.

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8
Sep

Apple Permanently Bans ‘Infowars’ App From the App Store


Apple has removed the Infowars app from the App Store, just a day after controversial Infowars radio show host Alex Jones was permanently banned from Twitter.

Apple confirmed the app’s permanent removal to BuzzFeed late on Friday, but instead of giving a specific reason for taking action now, Apple simply cited its own general App Store guidelines, which prohibit content that is “offensive, insensitive, upsetting, intended to disgust, or in exceptionally poor taste.”

Early last month, Apple removed the entire libraries of five Infowars podcasts from its Podcasts platform and said it had chosen to do so on the grounds that it does not tolerate hate speech.

At the time, the tech giant defended its decision not to remove the Infowars app, saying that the App Store is a place for “all points of view” as long as apps are respectful to users with differing opinions. However, Apple also noted that it continues to monitor apps for violations of its guidelines and will remove them if necessary.

Apple’s initial stance struck some observers as odd, given that the Infowars mobile app allowed users to live stream the same programs that were removed from the Apple Podcasts platform. The app’s continued availability also allowed it to benefit from the publicity surrounding Apple’s removal of the podcasts.

However, that’s no longer the case, and as of Friday evening, searching for the app within the App Store only returns apps related to Infowars, while the official app is nowhere to be seen.

Apple’s removal of the Infowars app follows Twitter’s decision on Thursday to permanently suspend Alex Jones and Infowars. The social media network said the suspension was based on new reports of tweets and videos posted that violate its abusive behavior policy, in addition to the accounts’ previous violations.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Tag: App Store
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8
Sep

Engineered sand could remove nasty toxins to produce drinkable water


Water is one of our most underappreciated resources. For people with steady access to this life-giving liquid, it’s absence can seem like a distant dystopian nightmare. But some 783 million people lack clean water worldwide, according to the World Health Organization, and even in the United States, parched communities suffer from prolonged droughts.

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley are working on a low-cost solution to make better use of the water at hand. They’ve engineered sand, coating the grains in compounds that react with and help destroy organic pollutants found in stormwater. The solution could be used to help support local sources of potable water for water-stressed communities.

“In all but the most arid places, enough rain falls within the city limits to provide the water we drink and use in our homes,” David Sedlak, a civil and environmental engineering at UC Berkeley who advised on the project, told Digital Trends. “Unfortunately, we cannot build reservoirs in a crowded city and rain barrels are too small to hold all of the water that we need. To capture the rainwater that falls in our cities, engineers have developed new approaches for infiltrating rainwater into the ground, where it can be stored in groundwater aquifers.”

The problem is that a lot of rainwater drains off rooftops, sidewalks, and parking lots, which pollute it with organic gunk and chemicals, and make it utterly unusable.

Sedlak and graduate student Joseph Charbonnet developed what they hope may provide a low-cost solution for decontaminating stormwater for drinking and household use. Coating sand in two kinds of manganese that react to form manganese oxide produces engineered sand thatbinds to chemicals like herbicides and pesticides and pulls them out of the water.

“If we are going to treat [water] as it infiltrates into the ground, we need to apply technologies that are simple, inexpensive, and do not require a lot of oversight,” Sedlak said. “Rainwater is typically introduced to aquifers by allowing it to percolate through sand. We have invented a new way of coating the surface of sand grains with a thin layer of manganese oxide.”

The research team’s idea is to add an engineered sand to current water reclamation basins, where standard sand is currently used. The stormwater would then be partially decontaminated as it percolates through the sand and into an aquifer. During rainy months, the aquifer would replenish, providing a source of water through the dry season.

The Berkeley team’s engineered sand doesn’t remove all contaminants, meaning it would need to be used in conjunction with other types of purification systems to make it potable. Sedlak pointed to the complementary work at the National Science Foundation’s Engineering Research Center for Reinventing the Nation’s Urban Water Infrastructure, where they create materials to remove toxic metals and pathogenic microbes.

A paper detailing the research was published last month in the journal Environmental Science & Technology,

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8
Sep

Incredibly ambitious Ocean Cleanup project is launching this weekend


Big problems call for equally big solutions. That maxim will be put into practice this weekend when a multimillion dollar project called The Ocean Cleanup launches a giant floating vessel aimed at removing the largest accumulation of plastic in the world from a stretch of ocean referred to as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

The brainchild of 24-year-old Dutch inventor Boyan Slat, The Ocean Cleanup is a foundation that develops technology for extracting plastic pollution from our oceans. It has been working toward this goal for several years now, but Saturday marks the day the initiative begins in earnest. That’s when the organization will unleash its giant 2,000 foot, U-shaped passive collection system, intended to gather up garbage consuming around 600,000 square miles of ocean between California and Hawaii.

Using just this one trash collector, the goal is to extract around 50 tons of plastic from the ocean each year. This will then be removed from the water, and shipped off for recycling. Eventually, the goal is to have an entire fleet of similar vessels, capable of pulling a combined 14,000 tons of plastic from the oceans every year.

The Ocean Cleanup

To mark the launch of the first trash-collecting leviathan being towed towed through the San Francisco Bay, underneath the Golden Gate Bridge on its way to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the organization is hosting a press conference on Pier 41. The event is being livestreamed at 11 a.m. PT on Saturday for anyone interested in viewing the start of what should be a transformative mission.

“The reason that we are livestreaming the event is that we want to share this important moment with as many people as possible,” a spokesperson for The Ocean Cleanup told Digital Trends. “Six years of testing and developing has led up to this. During this time, the Ocean Cleanup has evolved from a sketch on a paper napkin by a 16-year-old to an organization that has raised millions, and has more than 80 staff. This is a unique moment in history, and we are finally starting this ambitious project.”

Will it work as planned? We’ll have to wait and see. One thing that’s for sure, though, is that there’s no shortage of ambition on display here. If that can be translated into results, then the world’s oceans are about to become a much cleaner, less trash-filled place.



8
Sep

How to change your Google background


Google’s app design is fairly plain, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. One way to spice it up is by changing the Google search background (and adjacent components). Listed below is also a way to change the new tab page in the newest version of Chrome.

Before doing any of this, you’ll of course want to make sure you have the Google Chrome browser. It won’t work with Microsoft Edge or Firefox. Then again, it’s the best browser you can download anyways, so you should probably install it anyways.

Step 1: Head to your Appearance settings

Open up Chrome and look in the upper right corner of your browser window for three dots. Click these to open up the the primary Chrome drop-down menu. Toward the bottom of the drop-down, you will see an option to go to “Settings.” Select this, and you’re on your way.

In a new browser tab for all your Chrome settings, you’ll see that it’s divided into various sections. Take a look at the second section, which should be called “Appearance.” This is where you can control what your Google window looks like. The first option in this setting should be “Themes.”

Changing your theme will automatically change your Google background to match, so this is the option you want to select. With no theme picked, you should see an open to “Open Chrome Web Store.” Select this.

Step 2: Pick your theme

Chrome should now take you directly to the Chrome themes section. Here you can browse the many, many available themes for your Google experience, divided by broad content type. The primary image that you see is typically the image that will appear as your Google background, so you can use this as a guide.

Each section shows only the top rated images for that content type, but you can take a closer look by choosing “Select All” if you find a section you like.

Once you select a theme, make sure to check out its preview images and reviews. Note that most themes extend their colors and patterns throughout the browser window and browser tabs, so take a look at the full appearance. Checking the “Related” tab will show you more themes by that particular developer.

If you find something that you like, just click on the “Add to Chrome” button in the top right corner.

Step 3: Add it to Chrome

The theme should be automatically added and enabled. You can watch your browser tabs change along with the theme, and if you head to a new Google search page or open a new tab, you should be able to see the primary image. A notification will pop up at the top of the window to let you know that the theme has been enabled. This notification also includes an “Undo” button for reversing the theme if you want to make a quick change.

See if you like the overall theme — sometimes you may like the image, but not like what the theme does your tabs or other colors that it adds throughout the browser. In this case, hit the undo button on the notification, or head back to “Appearances” in “Settings” and revert to the default theme there. You can choose and disable as many themes as you want as you look for the right one!

Using a custom image

Maybe the themes aren’t cutting it for you this time, and you would rather have a customized background of some family photos or an amazing nature scene you shot. You can do this too, but it will take an extra extension.

Head over to the Chrome Web Store and download the Background Image extension. Add this free extension to your Chrome browser. Now you have the ability to choose a downloaded image to put up as your Google background. This image will not affect your tabs or other browser components, and it’s a great way to personal the background with a beloved photo if you can’t find a theme that you like.

In addition, you can also swap out the photo for your blank new tab page in Google Chrome, which can add some more personality to the Chrome browsing experience.

This is a feature only available in the newest version of the Chrome browser, so you’ll want to make sure you have that downloaded

All you need to do is click the “Settings” gear at the bottom right corner of the screen. From here, you’ll have the option of either uploading your own image or one of Google’s stock photos.

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8
Sep

Dozens of iPhone Apps ‘Constantly’ Sending Location Data to Data Monetization Firms


Dozens of popular iPhone apps are sharing the location data of millions of mobile devices with third-party data monetization firms, according to a group of security researchers called GuardianApp (via TechCrunch).

The apps in question are mostly news, weather, and fitness apps that require access to location data to work properly, but then share that data to earn money.

According to security researchers, the apps send both precise location and other sensitive customer data to data monetization companies “at all times, constantly” sometimes without customers being aware of the location data collection. The information is used for purposes like creating databases for ad targeting.

Researchers used tools to monitor network traffic to discover apps collecting Bluetooth LE data, GPS longitude and latitude, WiFi SSIDs, accelerometer information, battery charge percentage, location arrival/departure timestamps, and more.

While the apps say that personally identifiable information is not included in the data collection, one of the researchers, Will Strafach, told TechCrunch that latitude and longitude coordinates can provide information on a person’s home or work. Many customers who agree to provide apps with location data may not be aware of the extent of the information being collected and shared.

Apps that were found to be collecting location info and sending it to data monetization firms include ASKfm, NOAA Weather Radar, Homes.com, Perfect365, C25K 5K Trainer, Classifieds 2.0 Marketplace, GasBuddy, Photobucket, Roadtrippers, Tapatalk, and more, with a full list available on the site.

The data is being sent to companies that include Reveal, Sense360, Cuebiq, Teemo, Mobiquity, and Fysical. These companies denied wrongdoing, suggested customers were able to opt out at any time, and said that developers are required to inform customers about the data collection.

Some of the apps in question do indeed have clear data collection notices when opening them up for the first time, but data monetization firms do not make sure apps are following disclosure policies and not all do.

“None of these companies appear to be legally accountable for their claims and practices, instead there is some sort of self-regulation they claim to enforce,” said Strafach.

iPhone users who want to avoid having their location data shared with data monetization firms should be wary of the third-party apps they install that are using location services. Limiting ad tracking in Privacy settings by going to Privacy > Advertising is recommended.

GuardianApp also suggests users use a generic name for router SSIDs and turn off Bluetooth functionality when Bluetooth is not in use.
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8
Sep

Urbanear Lotsen Speaker Review: A better “smart” speaker clone?


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Urbanears has been an audio company for a long time now. It focuses mainly on aesthetics rather than creating the highest audio quality for only prestigious “audiophiles”. The company’s newest project includes a 3-tier family of smarter, connected speakers. These include the Baggen at the high end, Stammen in the middle, and the Lotsen on the low end. I’ve received the Lotsen to review. This family of speakers seems to rival the similar families from Sonos (Play series) and Bose (Soundtouch series).

I’m already heavily invested in Sonos’ lineup. So, while not only reviewing this speaker, I got the chance to compare it to its biggest rival.

Setup and Features

The initial setup of the Lotsen wasn’t tricky at all. Plug in and turn on for the physical speaker, and app setup was pretty straightforward. The app, ‘Connected Speakers’ which you download for free on Google Play, allows for a host of settings changes. You can set up the preset channels or change music quality, and directly stream music from your device.

Speaking of preset channels, the Lotsen features a second dial on top that allows you to switch from Bluetooth, wifi, or preset channels. The Bluetooth and wifi selects are pretty self-explanatory and work as advertised.

Channels are something unique to the Lotsen speaker. You can (using the app) assign Spotify playlist, radio channels, and more to a set channel. From there, you can then turn the dial to start up that particular choice without using a device. I’ve set mine up to a few different Spotify radio playlists. Now I can leisurely listen to music without having got pull out my phone first.

With the ability to do Bluetooth, Aux, Wifi, Airplay, Google Cast, and a somewhat native Spotify, there isn’t a connectivity feature I miss.

Sound

Urbanears Lotsen speaker is designed to fill a similar space that a Sonos One would, on a side table, bookshelf, or pair up in stereo in separate corners of a room. The Lotsen does a good job filling a room with sound, but honestly, I was hoping for more regarding quality.

The Lotsen contains a primary driver and a tweeter to the front, so no surround or 360 sound. For someone like me that listen to a lot of urban (RnB, Hip Hop, etc.) and electronic genres, I like some bass in my audio devices.

It doesn’t deliver super deep bass, especially at quieter volumes. The bass and even the treble of this speaker is “safe.” It doesn’t wow the audio geek in you, but it does perform at a standard level. Unfortunately, it isn’t only the lower levels that suffer, but the highest levels suffer a bit too. Not that you wouldn’t want to listen to the Lotsen at higher volumes, but it’ll start to get messy.

With all that said, this speaker is solid in sound for what it is. Especially when you consider the features it offers (Airplay, Google Cast, Bluetooth, AUX, AND without a phone) for the price it’s set. Looking at the Losten reveals a speaker that fills a room in a variety of ways that can support any general consumer. Overall the audio is balanced but teeters off at super low or super loud volumes.

Design and Availability

While offering a decent sound signature that can easily fill a bed or living room, the Urbanears Lotsen has a unique look. The Lotsen is a rectangular brick of a speaker with four small feet on the bottom to raise it for that the power cable. That brick design is made of plastic and covered with fabric to hide what I assume is a speaker grill. The fabric does add a nice aesthetic touch though. It comes in 5 different colors and doesn’t scream ‘smart speaker.’ This technique is evident in all of Urbanear’s products, where the company may not cram all of the latest specs into its product, contemporary design is also at the forefront.

The Lotsen is available to purchase for $200 at Urbanears website, Amazon, and a host of other online stores. Again for that price, you could buy a competitor’s speaker. You may then would have to sort through a pro/con list to make sure of your decision. Urbanears also offer the Stammen and Baggen speakers of the family for 250 and 350 respectively. For only $50 more, it’s hard not to see if the Stammen improves on the Lotsen’s audio shortcomings.

Conclusion

In the end, this speaker is for a customer who cares about modern design as much as a decent sound. That person doesn’t want to always fiddle with their phone to hear some of their favorite music. They also may host a small party mode type of environment, including being able to host a variety other devices. If you solely care about audio quality and are ok with losing out on some unique features the Urbanears Lotsen is not for you.

8
Sep

Apple Urging Major Newspapers to Join Texture Subscription Service


Apple has been talking with major U.S. newspapers about adding their content to the Texture magazine app that Apple purchased in March, reports Recode.

Eddy Cue and other Apple executives have spoken with the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post about joining the Texture service.

All of these newspapers limit the number of stories people can read without a paid subscription. The Washington Post, for example, charges $10 a month for access, while The New York Times costs $15 per month and The Wall Street Journal costs $37 per month.

Apple’s Texture app provides access to more than 200 popular magazines like People, The New Yorker, Time, National Geographic, Shape, Newsweek, and more, all for a $9.99 per month fee.

According to Recode, it’s not yet clear if Apple is aiming to add stories from the newspapers to the same $9.99 subscription service or offer the content as a paid add-on, and it’s not known if the news sites are interested.

Newspapers likely won’t make as much through Texture as they do through their own subscriptions and may not want to be part of a bundled service. It is possible, however, that the news providers will opt in to Texture given Apple’s active install base of more than 1.3 billion devices.

An additional worry for the papers, says one executive familiar with the conversations, is that being part of a bundle of publications is less attractive than a one-to-one relationship with subscribers. It also leaves open the possibility that Apple could drop them from the bundle down the road.

Rumors have previously suggested that Apple is aiming to create an all-in-one subscription service that would offer access to digital magazines and news, Apple Music, and original television content, and adding newspaper content to Texture could be the first step towards that goal.

Tags: Apple News, Texture
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8
Sep

Refreshed Surface Pro 6 could arrive at Microsoft’s October 2 event


In addition to launching its major Windows update — the aptly named Windows 10 October 2018 Update — next month, Microsoft is also slated to unveil a refresh to its Surface lineup. The Surface-maker sent out invitations with the phrase “A moment of your time” to media outlets for a press event scheduled for October 2 in New York City at 4 p.m. local time. The event, according to The Verge, will focus on Microsoft’s hardware, software, and services.

It’s widely anticipated that Microsoft will use its New York venue to unveil refreshes to the Surface Pro convertible tablet and the Surface laptop with Intel’s latest processors. The timing makes sense, given that Intel recently announced its new 8th-generation mobile processors at IFA. The chip-maker’s Whiskey Lake U-series processor and energy efficient Amber Lake Y-series processors could be making their way into Microsoft’s new Surface laptop and the Surface Pro at the event.

Beyond new processors, it’s unclear what other changes Microsoft will add, if any, to these two PCs. Previously, it was speculated that Microsoft is working on completely redesigning its Surface Pro tablet, but according to The Verge, that redesign won’t be ready by October. This means that we’ll likely have to wait until next year to see what Microsoft has in store for a redesigned Surface Pro.

Another Surface product that could benefit from a refresh is the Surface Studio. Microsoft’s all-in-one desktop PC was launched more than a year ago, and the computer could be made more competitive if Microsoft updated the processor and graphics card.

Other products in the Surface lineup include the Surface Book — which Microsoft updated earlier this year with new processor choices, better graphics, and support for the USB-C port — and the more affordable Surface Go tablet, which was announced this summer. Microsoft also announced its Surface Hub 2 earlier this year, but the device won’t be available until 2019.

This will be a busy fall season for tech announcements. Apple’s iPhone announcement is scheduled for September 12, while Google will announce its new Pixel phones — and potentially even updated Pixelbook 2 models — at a New York event on October 9. Additionally, Microsoft could also use the venue for its October event to showcase some of the major new features from its Windows 10 2018 Update.

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8
Sep

Do we call it a roboat? An autonomous sailboat successfully crosses Atlantic Ocean


Offshore Sensing AS

The first unmanned and autonomous sailboat has successfully crossed the Atlantic Ocean, completing the journey between Newfoundland, Canada, and Ireland. The 1,800 mile journey took two and a half months. It was part of the Microtransat Challenge for robotic boats, and bolsters the possibility of unmanned boats being used for long-haul missions. This could include everything from ocean research to surveillance.

“This has never been done before,” David Peddie, CEO of Norwegian-based Offshore Sensing AS, which built the vessel, told Digital Trends. “The Sailbuoy [robotic boat] crossed this distance all by itself without incident. The significance of this is that it proves that one can use unmanned surface vehicles to explore the oceans for extended periods and distance. This greatly reduces the cost of exploring the oceans, and therefore enables a much more detailed knowledge of the oceans than is possible using conventional manned technology.”

According to Peddie, the journey was surprisingly uneventful when it came to dealing with major challenges. That’s a significant departure from the 20 previous unsuccessful efforts made by teams trying to complete the challenge since it started in 2010.

“We had to wait a while for the right wind conditions to deploy safely; otherwise, the crossing has been normal with not too much wind and waves,” he said. “We had to avoid some oil platforms, but this is not unusual since we test in the North Sea.” He also noted that an effort was made to stay away from other ships, since there was a risk that the boat may have been picked up by passing traffic.

Sailbuoy ships cost $175,000 each and are powered by on-board solar panels. They send constant GPS data to reveal exactly where they are located.

Peddie told us that he has no immediate goals to follow this feat, although he is interested in doing more testing to see how much wind the boat can stand. “We would like to try and see how it behaves in hurricane conditions,” he said. “But most of our efforts these days is [focused on testing] the performance of sensors mounted on it and how well it functions as an sensor platform.”

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