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Comment: Re:Mercedes, BMW engineers are dimwits. (Score 1) 300

by Animats (#46783889) Attached to: Mercedes Pooh-Poohs Tesla, Says It Has "Limited Potential"

They saw diesel electric locomotives replace steam engines in just one decade in 1950s.

The reason was different. Diesels cost about 3x as much as steam locomotives pre-WWII. But by the 1950s, diesel engine manufacturing was a production line process and the price had come down.

The real advantage of diesel over steam was that steam locomotives are incredible maintenance-intensive. Here's daily maintenance. That's what had to be done every day, by a whole crew. That's just daily. Here's 120,000 mile maintenance, done about once a year for a road locomotive. This isn't an oil change; this is a full teardown, boiler replacement, and rebuild.

Electric cars don't have that big an edge over IC engines at this point.

Comment: Re:Militia, then vs now (Score 1) 1531

by Jeremiah Cornelius (#46782791) Attached to: Retired SCOTUS Justice Wants To 'Fix' the Second Amendment

The US president is a Spokesmodel.

The last vestiges of Presidential authority as actual executive were blown out of JFK's skull, 50 years ago. The real rulers have allowed the cosmetic changes of politics, without substantial challenge to policy or imperative.

That's why you can argue successfully to let fags into the imperial legions, but not if such legions should be withdrawn from the globe and disbanded.

False conservatism, false progressive/liberalism. Everybody in the US takes a hot shower and drives to the mall, on the burnt bodies and broken future of a million dead babies - hidden in Congo and Yemen and Indonesia and...

Comment: Should we say hello? (Score 1) 209

by Animats (#46782353) Attached to: Kepler-186f: Most 'Earth-Like' Alien World Discovered

We could send radio signals that far, with the big dish at Arecibo. If they have intelligence, and radio, we can communicate with a 1000-year round trip time. Maybe we should transmit some of the proposed canned messages to other civilizations every month or so.

If there is other intelligent life out there, it looks like they're a very long way away. Too far to talk to round trip, even at light speed. None of the known extra-solar planets within a few light years look promising.

Comment: Re:Festo has been doing this for years. (Score 1) 36

by Animats (#46781831) Attached to: The Squishy Future of Robotics

Right. Traditional pneumatics is rather dumb - most of the time it's on/off, with air cylinders pushed up against hard limit stops. Positional control of pneumatic cylinders works fine, but it takes proportional valves, feedback sensors, and a fast control system. Until recently, industrial systems tended not to get that fancy.

I was interested in using pneumatics for running robots back in the 1990s, but the available proportional valves back then were big and expensive. One useful model of muscles is two opposed springs, and a double-ended pneumatic cylinder can do just that. You can change both position and stiffness, separately. You can simulate a spring, and recover energy. Someone did that at CWRU a decade ago, but the mechanics were clunky. Festo does that elegantly with their new kangaroo. Very nice mechanical engineering.

Shadow Robotics has a nice pneumatic robot hand. Shadow has been doing pneumatic flexible actuators for many years, but now they have good controllability.

Comment: Re:wouldn't matter if it weren't canned (Score 2) 365

Don't forget about all the Bush admin people that lied us into the Iraq war. Lots of those folks were the ones that STARTED all these surveillance programs.

You have the same government that you started this century with.

They just changed spokesmodels - while you felt like you had a say in the matter... Your coup happened in many stages, over many decades - but defining moments happened with the Truman/Eisenhower/Kennedy years - with a decisive event in Nov 1963...

Comment: Re:wouldn't matter if it weren't canned (Score 1, Insightful) 365

Putin is under no compunction to tell the truth. And there's no reason to expect he would.

Obama is under no compunction to tell the truth. And there's no reason to expect he would.

Hillary is under no compunction to tell the truth. And there's no reason to expect she would.

Kerry is under no compunction to tell the truth. And there's no reason to expect he would.

Comment: Festo has been doing this for years. (Score 5, Interesting) 36

by Animats (#46777325) Attached to: The Squishy Future of Robotics

Every year, Festo, the German robotics company, builds an exotic new kind of robot as a demo. Many of their robots have been "soft".

Here's their whole list of experimental projects. They've been doing "soft robots" since 2007. Others were doing "soft robots" before that, but the control usually wasn't that good. Festo builds soft robots with smooth, precise control. Festo's specialty is precise control of pneumatic systems, so they know how to do this.

Mathematics deals exclusively with the relations of concepts to each other without consideration of their relation to experience. -- Albert Einstein

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