Boeing’s Echo Voyager Can Last Six Months Underwater

Boeing is known for creating a wide range of devices. A surveillance drone here, a giant rocket there and a sprinkling of the world’s lightest metal all over creates a company that seems to explore everything on this planet and beyond. That seems to continue to be true with the Echo Voyager’s, a craft capable of lasting six months underwater.

The Echo Voyager is the latest in a long-range of underwater exploration vehicles from Boeing. The big difference in the latest 51-foot version, compared to its smaller cousins the 31ft Seeker and the 18ft Ranger, is the use of a rechargeable power system. Measuring at 7.4 miles per gallon, the volt uses a diesel generator to recharge its lithium-ion or silver zinc batteries when it reaches the surface (this avoids the exhaust being pumped into the water).

The Echo Voyager is designed for commercial release, giving companies and individuals alike to explore the depths of the ocean. Built to use standard commercial interface and satellite links, you could own your own remote-controlled underwater explorer.

Typically underwater vehicles could only spend a few days away from a ship before needing to resupply and recharge, some even opting for an “umbilical cord” solution of constantly providing the resources needed via a cable or tube. The Echo Voyager could see groups operating more autonomous from larger vessels, opening up new ways to explore the mysteries of the deep.

NASA to Send Humanoid Robots to College

Hardly the typical vision of a model student, the latest high-tech admittance to MIT and the Northeastern University of Boston is 6-feet tall, weighs 290 pounds and goes by the names Valkyrie and R5. This new student is a robot, developed by NASA’s JSC team who have sent Valkyrie out into the world of academia to prepare it for the extreme environments it would have to handle in the process of space work and exploration.

Designed as part of the DARPA Robotics Challenge to develop robots that would be able to assist humans in crisis situations, R5 was revealed to the world back in 2013 when it was put through a series of tasks, that while mundane to a human are challenges to a humanoid robot. The end-goal of Valkyrie’s development team was to send it to Mars, to pioneer technologies that would allow for manned missions to Mars to go ahead. By cooperating with fellow entrants of the DARPA Robotics Challenge to combine R5 hardware with their AI and software developments, they hope to give Valkyrie a future in space.

The two teams selected to work with the R5 are MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory’s “Robust Autonomy for Extreme Space Environments” and Noetheastern University’s “Accessible Testing on Humanoid-Robot-R5 and Evaluation of NASA Administered (ATHENA) Space Robotics Challenge.” Both of the teams will be provided $250,000 per year for the two-year scheme to put towards their research as well as access to the units themselves.

They share the joint aims of entering their systems and algorithms into NASA’s Space Robotics Challenge, which will see both teams R5 units compete in a number of activities performed by astronauts in space, such as operating an airlock and ladder to reach a terrestrial surface and repair or replace damaged components on complex equipment. All of these are part of a process to see the R5 into a role of assisting astronauts on missions with tasks too dangerous for humans. Maybe in future send out whole armies of R5 units as maintenance assistants and exploration units to all manner of moons and planets.

Who knows, the future of space exploration could be in the hands of this slick Iron Man-like robot, and I for one look forward to the day we see humanoid robots that can operate on two legs as well as a human.

Far Cry Primal Announced

Far Cry has seen players jump from the peaks of the Himalayas to driving through jungle islands and deserts. You’ve fought off pirates, mercenaries and even cyborgs, all the while searching for and finding your path through the modern-day (or even a cybernetic world based around the 1980’s TV everyone’s grown to love). So where could they throw you next? How about the Stone Age?

Far Cry Primal will once again see you play a survivor, named Takkar, as he recovers from an ambush on his hunting group. Not only will Primal see the return of a crafting system utilising everything from wild resources and bones and including a new feature.

Much like those in the Ice Age you will be responsible for protecting your tribe as you search to defend fierce predators and even rival tribes. The game looks to carry on the tradition of taking the last game and stepping everything up.

With a clear step on the graphics and a whole twist on how you will have to play to survive a savage environment and even more savage company. Personally I’m looking forward to the game, a mix between Turok and Far Cry, how about yourselves? What was the last Far Cry game you played? What was the last game set back in the stone age you played?

Thank you Polygon for the information. 

Image courtesy of Lazy gamer.
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Valve VR Demo Looks Similar to Myst, Only Extremely Detailed

Valve’s virtual reality setup only allowed you to walk in areas the size of small rooms. This is really an issue today, since a lot of titles, especially fantasy ones, come in vast environments full of rich graphics.

The solution seems to come from Cloudhead Games’ The Gallery: Six Elements, which is all about interaction. The demo can be experienced using the HTC Vive’s hand controllers in order to grip all sort of objects, having the objective to fix a creaky machine. However, there is also danger in this quest, and it comes under the shape of a giant tree monster.

“The Gallery: The Six Elements is a first­person fantasy/exploration game built from the ground up for virtual reality, using the Unity engine; incorporating various VR and interaction hardware devices. This title will present a rich narrative experience fuelled by intuitive physical interaction puzzles, nestled within a deeply immersive environment. Drawing from our inspirations of 80′s adventure movies and classic games such as Monkey Island and Myst, the player must journey through foreign and fantastical worlds, collecting elemental powers and items that will aid them in discovering the mystery of the Machine.”

It is said that there are a few different environments in the demo as well, giving the user a lot of places to explore aside from things to collect. Though The Gallery is not yet available, it is said that it will be released along with Valve and HTC’s system at the end of this year.

Thank you Kotaku for providing us with this information

Move Over Felix – Google Exec Breaks Sky Jump Record

Google’s Vice-President Alan Eustace has just plummeted to the earth from a height of 135,890 feet to smash Felix Baumgartner’s world record set in 2012. The 24th of October marks the official record date, seeing Eustace ascend to toward space in a helium balloon and free-fall plummet back toward earth at over 820 miles per hour. This means he was not only able to break the sound barrier, but also knocked Baumgartner’s speed record off the top too.

The 57-year old tech executive wore a pressurized space-like suit during his two-hour climb to his great height, however the descent took a mere 15 minutes over the New Mexico desert.

I’m sure you’re wondering why you had no idea this was going on, especially seeing as Baumgartner’s record in 2012 was highly publicized and even live streamed. We’ve been told that this attempt was part of a project by the Paragon Space Development corporation, set as an exploration of the stratosphere – rather than a marketing stunt.

We’ve been told that Google did not have any part to play in this jump, Eustace decided to walk this one alone.

Image courtesy of AFP

The Multiplayer Exploration Game, World of Diving, Now in Steam Early Access

It’s been over a year since we first reported about World of Diving, this was back when the game was launched as an Indigogo campaign. Now the alpha version of this multiplayer underwater exploration game has made it to Steam’s Early Access program, as well as some other game platforms.

Back then Vertigo, the creators of this game, promised to develop it tightly with it’s founding helpers, and they have done just that. Listened to their users feedback and created features based on them. On of the cool things worth mentioning right away about this game, is the virtual reality support it gains via the Oculus Rift. An amazing feature in such an exploration game.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OYWJMt9zuDM[/youtube]

This is not a game about killing stuff or going head-to-head with some killer shark, it’s all about exploration, discovering sunken treasures and ship wrecks. You can take photos and join up in multiplayer with your friends for some cooperation. Of course, like almost any game these days, you can customize your characters appearance to your liking, whether it might be a ripped washboard stomach, a tiny bikini or maybe you’re even one of the few who would chose a full-body suit.

This is an early access alpha game, but already has a lot of features such as a mission editor, a diving base, historical sunken ships and aircrafts to discover and much more. The next update will see German WW2 Battleship the Bismarck added while the eventual full release will boast animal companions and more fully featured multiplayer.

The game is available now on steam for a price of $19.99 / € 19.99 / £ 14.99. A relative high price considering the state of the game, but that’s the deal with early access.

Thank you Steam for providing us with this information.

Images and video courtesy of Vertigo.

 

Voyager 1 Now Confirmed to be in Interstellar Space

Voyager 1 as many will know has been on its mission to explore the far reaches of our solar system since it was launched way back in 1977 and in the following years it has captured data about unknown planetary systems as it travels further and further away from the earth. Late last year NASA made an announcement to say that Voyager 1 had crossed a point known as the heliopause at which point it moves in to interstellar space.

As Voyager 1 continues to move further and further away from us at a rate of 17km/s (or around ~38028 miles per hour for reference) NASA has reported the probe has experienced a new tsunami wave for the third time which allows them to confirm for sure that it is really in interstellar space and out of our solar system for good.

Although the probe is a jaw dropping distance from us (where writing down the numeric distance is too long to comprehend) and it continues to move 325 million miles further each year, NASA predicts that Voyager 1 will still be able to continue its mission and report back to earth until 2025 (that’s another 3.5billion or so miles) at which point its generators will no longer be able to power the probes instruments and it will be left to move deeper into space alone.

Source: space.com

NASA Reveal The True Mystery Behind Mars “Pinnacle Island”

You may remember that over the last week or so there has been a lot of debate about an object on the Martian surface, a rock like object that was nicknamed “Pinnacle Island” by scientists at NASA. When the Mars rover Opportunity first inspected the area there was nothing there, twelve days later this thing is sat right in front of them and speculation was fierce over what it could be, with NASA saying it’s either a very close call with a meteor or something kicked up by the rovers tracks, to one astrobiologist actually suing NASA for not investigating it further, as he believed it could be a mushroom like fungus.

Turns out NASA were right on the money with their second guess, after they had finished investigating the rock they discovered they had driven over a larger rock of the same composition and that the “Pinnacle Island” rock was just a broken off part. Not to be disappointed by the strange rock ” “Opportunity’s instruments have revealed that [Pinnacle Island] has high levels of sulfur and manganese, water soluble ingredients that may have been concentrated in the rock thanks to the action of water.” said NASA while speaking to LA Times.

There are a lot of huge discoveries just waiting to be found on Mars and while this wasn’t one of them, you never know what rock they might turn over next.

Thank you Arstechnica for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Arstechnica.

Billion-Pixel Gaia Space Telescope Snaps It’s First Picture

While the first image taken by the Gaia Space Telescope may not look incredible, it really is an incredible first step in what will be one of the most impressive technical achievements in space exploration. The billion-pixel space telescope snapped its first picture this week and while it is a little blurry, the teams at the UK Space Agency and ESA say that there is much more to come as the machine is still learning how to focus.

The picture may be off, but the mission is right on track and we can’t wait to see what this thing can really do when it gets its lens lined up. When fully operational, the Gaia telescope is going to work on creating the most accurate map of the Milky Way ever conceived. It’ll be able to make precise measurements of about 1% of all the 100 billion stars in our galaxy, unlocking more history and knowledge about the space around us than ever before.

“Seeing the first magnificent images from Gaia’s UK-built billion pixel camera first of all generates a huge vote of thanks to all those scientists and engineers who have worked so hard to make this happen. Second, it provides just a tiny taste of the excellence and challenges ahead, to turn Gaia data into human understanding of the Milky Way’s origins. One substantial step for astronomy, one huge leap still to come.”

Gaia will scan a billion suns 70 times each over the course of five years, tracking them, mapping them and photographing them from its current orbit of around 1.5 million kilometres from the earth and today’s test image is just the first step as the team bring the telescopes bring the various sensors online.

Thank you Huffington for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Huffington.

Another Win For Technology As Curiosity Finds Water On Mars!

The red planet is ever full of surprises recently, now Curiosity has found that the planet actually contains 2% water by weight, which I’ll have you know is a lot! So much so that you could extract roughly 2 pints (1 liter) of water out of every cubic foot of Martian dirt.

This is effectively a huge moment in Mars exploration, it’s one of the big questions answered and it will now leave many more questions to be answered, it may even be the thing that opens up the door to sending people to mars for exploration and beyond.

Curiosity was sent to find if mars was ever habitable enough for microbial life, something it proved was possible last March, albeit it was habitable billions of years ago.

Laurie Leshin, of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. said “SAM [one of the sensors on the rover] also determined that the soil water is rich in deuterium, a “heavy” isotope of hydrogen that contains one neutron and one proton (as opposed to “normal” hydrogen atoms, which have no neutrons). The water in Mars’ thin air sports a similar deuterium ratio. That tells us that the dirt is acting like a bit of a sponge and absorbing water from the atmosphere.”

Unfortunately the soil also contains a lot of Perchlorate, which isn’t exactly good for humans but it’s just one of many obstacles we could face on the planet should we ever explore there. At least we’ve got a head start on water supplies.

Thank you Space for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Space.