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Power

$2 Million NASA Power Beaming Challenge Heating Up 98

carstene writes "Qualification rounds for the NASA Centennial Challenge Power beaming contest are underway at the Dryden Flight Research Center. The contest uses a scale model of a space elevator as a race track. Entrants must build a robot to climb a cable, suspended by helicopter, 1 km into the sky without any on board energy storage. The teams are using high power laser beams to transmit power from ground stations to photovoltaic arrays on the robots. If a team can accomplish this at 5 meters per second average speed then they could win up to 2 million dollars. One day this technology could be used to power rovers in shadowed areas of the moon or to recharge electric UAV's in-flight or even a space elevator in the far future. A blog of the event can be found here. Full disclosure: I'm a member of the LaserMotive team that you can follow on twitter, or or via blog."
Power

Vicariously Tour the National Ignition Facility 97

Dave Bullock writes "The National Ignition Facility (NIF) has been discussed several times over the years on Slashdot and just recently fired all of its 192 lasers. LLNL scientists predict NIF will attain ignition (controlled nuclear explosion) in 2010. For now, take a look at the photos I shot of NIF for Wired.com when I toured it earlier this year."
Robotics

Military Robots to Gain Advanced Sight 71

coondoggie brings us a NetworkWorld report discussing iRobot's plans to include Laser Radar technology in their military robots. Quoting: "Specifically the robot-maker is licensing Advanced Scientific Concepts' 3-D flash Ladar which uses laser beams to scan and process targets. The system has the ability to create a virtual 3D picture of an entire area. IRobot ... believes the technology will provide new navigation and mapping capabilities for future generations of robots and unmanned ground vehicles and pave the way for autonomous vehicles to lead convoys into dangerous territory, search contaminated buildings for casualties, or enable bomb squads to safely investigate suspicious objects."

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