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Robotics

Uber Hires a Robot To Patrol Its Parking Lot and It's Way Cheaper Than a Security Guard (fusion.net) 263

Fusion's Kashmir Hill is reporting about a five-foot-tall, white, egg-shaped robot that one can find at the company's inspection lot near Mission Bay in San Francisco. The K5 robot is a stand-in for a human security guard, and it sports multiple high-definition cameras for 360-degree vision, a thermal camera, a laser rangefinder, a weather sensor, a license-plate recognition camera, four microphones, and person recognition capabilities. The report adds:If someone suspicious comes into the lot, or starts messing with a car, the robot can't tase them or break out any weapons. Instead the robot can set off an alarm, send a signal to human security personnel, and record everything that person does to be used against them later by police. Customers of Knightscope, the company that manufactures the aforementioned robot don't buy the machines. They rent them, usually two at a time, so one can charge its battery while the other patrols. The cost is $7 an hour. "For the cost of a single-shift security guard, you get a machine that will patrol for 24 hours a day 7 days a week," said Stephens, citing wages of $25 to $35 hour for a human security guard.
Robotics

Siemens Now Commands An Army Of Spider Robots (dailydot.com) 119

An anonymous reader quotes this article about Siemens' army of autonomous spider robots -- each one the size of a microwave, communicating with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to create "a collaborative mind": It's expensive to build an automated factory, and even more pricey to repurpose one. German manufacturing giant Siemens wants that to change, and they've developed an army of robot spiders to make it happen. Utilizing what Siemens calls "mobile manufacturing", researchers in Princeton, New Jersey have built prototype spider-bots that work together to 3D print structures and parts in real time.
Siemens hopes to build even larger spider robots than can weld cars.
Google

Google Files Patent For Injecting A Device Directly Into Your Eyeball (gizmodo.com) 51

An anonymous reader writes: It's no secret Google and their parent company Alphabet are interested in developing smart contact lenses for monitoring diabetes. Well, Google-parent Alphabet has filed a patent which takes their development to another level. The patent specifically covers a method for "injecting a fluid into a lens capsule of an eye, wherein a natural lens of the eye has been removed from the lens capsule." It's powered by "radio frequency energy" received by a small antenna inside. The gadget even has its own data storage. Forbes reports, it is designed to help the focusing of light onto the retina, resulting in the correction of poor vision. Samsung is one of the most recent companies to receive a patent for smart contact lenses. Their lenses are for experimenting with new methods of delivering augmented reality interfaces and data.
Robotics

Chinese Security Robot Draws Dalek, Terminator Comparisons (abc.net.au) 111

An anonymous reader writes: China's first "intelligent security robot," which reportedly includes an "electrically charged riot control tool" and an SOS button for people to notify police, has been compared to the killer Dalek from Doctor Who after being shown off at a tech fair. Intelligence agency whistleblower Edward Snowden shared the news on Twitter with the caption: "Surely this will end well." The robot, unveiled at the 12th Chongqing Hi-Tech Fair, is 1.49 metres tall, weighs 78 kilograms, has a claimed top speed of 18 kilometres per hour and an operating duration of eight hours between charges, according to a report by People's Daily Online. Dubbed AnBot, it was built by the National Defence University in China and has "sensors that mimic the human brain, eyes and ears." The report said AnBot represented breakthroughs in "key technologies including low-cost autonomous navigation and intelligent video analysis" and would play an important role in anti-terrorism and anti-riot operations. AnBot has an SOS button for people to use to notify police of a problem, but it is unclear what criteria AnBot uses to assess threats autonomously.
Australia

Leaked Emails Reveal Widespread Corruption in Global Oil Industry (theage.com.au) 204

Nick McKenzie, Richard Baker, Michael Bachelard, and Daniel Quinlan report on a widespread corruption in the global oil industry for The Huffington Post: In the list of the world's great companies, Unaoil is nowhere to be seen. But for the best part of the past two decades, the family business from Monaco has systematically corrupted the global oil industry, distributing many millions of dollars worth of bribes on behalf of corporate behemoths including Samsung, Rolls-Royce, Halliburton and Australia's own Leighton Holdings. A massive leak of confidential documents has for the first time exposed the true extent of corruption within the oil industry, implicating dozens of leading companies, bureaucrats and politicians in a sophisticated global web of bribery and graft. After a six-month investigation across two continents, Fairfax Media and The Huffington Post can reveal that billions of dollars of government contracts were awarded as the direct result of bribes paid on behalf of firms including British icon Rolls-Royce, US giant Halliburton, Australia's Leighton Holdings and Korean heavyweights Samsung and Hyundai.
Android

Chinese QQ Browser Caught Sending User Data To Its Servers 68

An anonymous reader writes: A report from the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto reveals that the popular QQ Browser is collecting sensitive user information and sending it in an insecure manner to its servers. The Android version is collecting data such as the user's search terms, browsing history, nearby Wi-Fi networks, and the user's device IMSI and IMEI codes. For the Windows version of QQ Browser, the app was caught collecting data such as the user's browsing history, hard drive serial number, MAC address, Windows hostname, and Windows user security identifier. All of this is sent unencrypted, or with a weak encryption, to Tencent's servers, QQ Browser's manufacturer. Additionally, the update process is flawed and delivered in an insecure manner that allows others to manipulate upgrade patches with malicious software. This is the third browser caught exhibiting this behavior after UC Browser and Baidu Browser.
Businesses

Comcast Failed To Install Internet, Then Demanded $60,000 In Fees (arstechnica.com) 139

Earthquake Retrofit writes: A Silicon Valley startup called SmartCar in Mountain View, California signed up for Comcast Internet service. After hearing Comcast excuses for months, company owner Katta finally got fed up and decided that he would find a new office building once his 12-month lease expires on April 20 of this year. Katta told Comcast he wanted to 'cancel' his nonexistent service and get a refund for a $2,100 deposit he had paid. Instead, Comcast told him he'd have to pay more than $60,000 to get out of his contract with the company. Comcast eventually waived the fee—but only after being contacted by Ars Technica about the case.
Iphone

Apple Court Testimony Reveals Why It Refuses To Unlock iPhones For Police (dailydot.com) 231

blottsie writes: Newly unsealed court transcripts from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York show that Apple now refuses to unlock iPhones for law enforcement, saying "In most cases now and in the future, the government’s requested order would be substantially burdensome, as it would be impossible to perform." “Right now Apple is aware that customer data is under siege from a variety of different directions. Never has the privacy and security of customer data been as important as it is now,” Apple lawyer Marc Zwillinger said at the hearing. “A hypothetical consumer could think if Apple is not in the business of accessing my data and if Apple has built a system to prevent itself from accessing my data, why is it continuing to comply with orders that don’t have a clear lawful basis in doing so?”
The Military

Seismic Data From North Korea Suggest a Repeat of 2013 Nuclear Test 136

Lasrick writes: Seismologist Jeffrey Park has done an initial analysis of the seismic data from North Korea's reported nuclear weapon test and found 'an uncanny resemblance to the signals recorded for the February 12, 2013 detonation.' Park's analysis pretty much destroy's the North Korean claim that they detonated a hydrogen bomb, and he postulates that P'yongyang is desperate for attention during the US presidential election cycle.

Siegfried Hecker, one of the world's top experts on the North Korea nuclear program, is nonetheless concerned that the DPRK has now completed its fourth test, and with it a greater sophistication in their bomb design. Hecker is also skeptical that the test was an H-bomb. However, as he says, "We know so little about North Korea's nuclear weapons design and test results that we cannot completely rule it out."
Earth

Scientists Begin Another Attempt To Drill Through the Earth's Crust 171

schwit1 writes: An expedition to the Indian Ocean is about to begin an effort to drill a core down through the Earth's crust and into its mantle. Geologists have been trying to drill through the contact between the crust and the mantle, called the Moho, since the 1960s, with no success. Either the projects have gone way over budget and been shut down, have failed due to engineering problems, or were stopped by the geology itself. This last issue is maybe the most interesting: "Expeditions have come close before. Between 2002 and 2011, four holes at a site in the eastern Pacific managed to reach fine-grained, brittle rock that geologists believe to be cooled magma sitting just above the Moho. But the drill could not punch through those tenacious layers. And in 2013, drillers at the nearby Hess Deep found themselves similarly limited by tough deep-crustal rocks." This new project hopes to learn from these past problems to obtain the first rock samples from below the Earth's crust. (Here's an eccentric introduction to the Hess Deep rift.)
Yahoo!

Yahoo Denies Ad-blocking Users Access To Email (washingtonpost.com) 328

JoeyRox writes: Yahoo is running an A/B test that blocks access to Yahoo email if the site detects that the user is running an Ad Blocker. Yahoo says that this a trial rather than a new policy, effecting only a "small number" of users. Those lucky users are greeted with a message that reads "Please disable Ad Blocker to continue using Yahoo Mail." Regarding the legality of the move, "Yahoo is well within its rights to do so," said Ansel Halliburton an attorney at Kronenberger Rosenfeld who specializes in Internet law.

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