A fire that destroyed a Tesla electric car near Seattle began in the vehicle's battery pack, officials said Wednesday, creating challenges for firefighters who tried to put out the flames. The driver says he struck debris, smelled burning and the vehicle was disabled. The liquid-cooled 85 kW-hr battery in the Tesla Model S is mounted below the passenger compartment floor and uses lithium-ion chemistry.
Cell phone cameras improve with every new model, but are still lacking in the fine resolution department. A team of researchers have created a miniature system that has the same quality as a full-size, wide-angle lens but is about the size of a walnut. The new system could be used to build a camera that pans and zooms with no moving parts.
Product development firm Cambridge Consultants is helping conservationists protect some of the world’s most rare and endangered species. As part of the Instant Wild project, new satellite-connected and motion-triggered cameras are beaming near-real-time images of animals from the remotest areas of Africa. A mobile app allows users anywhere in the world to view the photos, providing early warning of illegal poaching activity.
As cars become more like PCs on wheels, what's to stop a hacker from taking over yours? In recent demonstrations, hackers have shown they can slam a car's brakes at freeway speeds, jerk the steering wheel and even shut down the engine — all from their laptop computers. The hackers are...
When NASA’s Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration (LLCD) begins operation aboard the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE), it will attempt to show two-way laser communication beyond Earth is possible, expanding the possibility of transmitting huge amounts of data. This new ability could one day allow for 3-D high-definition video transmissions in deep space to become routine.
Made in Texas, Motorola’s new Moto X is the first smartphone to carry the "Made in the U.S.A." designation. Labor costs are higher in the U.S. compared with Asian factories, where phones are typically made. But IHS said the Moto X is about 5% cheaper to make than Samsung Electronic Co.'s flagship Galaxy S4 phone.
A new report by biometric researchers at NIST uses data from thousands of frequent travelers enrolled in an iris recognition program to determine that no consistent change occurs in the distinguishing texture of their irises for at least a decade. These findings inform identity program administrators on how often iris images need to be recaptured to maintain accuracy.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is a significant problem for construction workers because it can build up quickly in enclosed spaces from use of gasoline-powered tools. New research calls for the use of a wearable computing system installed in a helmet to protect construction workers from this type of poisoning.
Few are more excited about Lego's new Mindstorms sets rolling out next month than Silicon Valley engineers. Ostensibly geared toward children age 10 and over, the new Mindstorms will also appeal to professional hackers. The sets will use open source software, Linux, for the first time, and controller apps are integrated for tablets and mobile phones.
This week, Agilent Technologies Inc. launched a new calibration center in Phoenix, Ariz. Owners of Agilent electronic measurement instruments in the area can receive true local OEM calibrations, with measurements performed using OEM procedures for every warranted specification.
Electron beam (e-beam) lithography enables researchers to write very small patterns on large substrates with a high level of precision. In the Nano3 cleanroom facility at the Univ. of California, San Diego’s Qualcomm Institute, a new Vistec e-beam writer is helping to develop nanoscale transistors for integrated electronics, as well as neural probes for brain diagnostics.
Kirobo—derived from the Japanese words for "hope" and "robot"—was among five tons of supplies and machinery on a rocket launched Sunday from Tanegashima in southwestern Japan. The childlike robot was designed to be a companion for astronaut Koichi Wakata and will communicate with another robot on Earth, according to developers.
High speed oscilloscopes are vital tools in the development of high-speed digital networks. Teledyne LeCroy, a subsidiary of Teledyne Technologies Inc., this week demonstrated the world's first 100 GHz real-time oscilloscope by successfully acquiring and displaying live signals at 100 GHz bandwidth
The Powerwall Theater (PWT) at Los Alamos National Laboratory is an innovative facility that enables researchers to view the complex models and simulations they have created using some of the world’s fastest supercomputers. Recently, PWT was upgraded with 40 double-stacked Christie Mirage 3-D LED projectors that will provide seamless, integrated 3-D visualization.
The European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) and the U.S. Dept. of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) this week agreed to expand their current scientific cooperation to include new areas of research, such as energy, health care and clinical measurements, and food safety and nutrition.
Antennas that are capable of transmitting radio waves turn components into intelligent objects. Researchers in Germany have now found a way to embed these antennas in fiber composites. As a result, the technology also works with carbon and glass fibers.
A*STAR Institute of Microelectronics in Singapore and OPUS Microsystems Corp., a Taiwan-based company specializing in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) scanning mirror devices, have signed an agreement to refine and develop a MEMS scanning mirror for smartphones applications. The goal is to shrink the MEMS micromirror to allow a pico-projector level of operation.
By pinpointing locations on Earth from space, GPS systems have long shown drivers the shortest route home and guided airline pilots across oceans. Now, by figuring out how messed up GPS satellite signals get when bouncing around in a storm, researchers have found a way to do something completely different with GPS: measure and map the wind speeds of hurricanes.
Honda's robotics technology, although among the most advanced for mobility, has come under fire as lacking practical applications and being little more than an expensive toy. The latest example is its walking, talking interactive Asimo robot, which is now acting as a museum guide in Tokyo. In addition to glitches that have interrupted its operation, it lacks voice recognition.
Apple Inc. has applied for a trademark in Japan for "iWatch" as rumors suggest it may be developing a smart wrist watch. The company is rumored to be working on a smart watch that would run on a version of the operating system used by its iPhone and iPad.
A team of scientists at the University of Southern California (USC) has verified that quantum effects are indeed at play in the first commercial quantum optimization processor. The team demonstrated that the D-Wave processor housed at the USC-Lockheed Martin Quantum Computing Center behaves in a manner that indicates that quantum mechanics plays a functional role in the way it works.
Digital systems are an everyday routine for more and more passengers, and even Internet is now available. But pilots are largely cut off from this development with a system that is separate and largely analog. Under development in Germany is a new system that will digitally transmit air traffic and weather communications with the ground and via satellite at high speeds.
Relief may be on the way for airline passengers who can't bear to be separated even briefly from their personal electronic devices. The government is moving toward allowing gate-to-gate use of music players, tablets, laptops, smartphones and other gadgets. Howeveer, restrictions on cellphone calls and Internet use and transmission are not expected to be changed.
This week, Sandia National Laboratories is hosting the seventh annual Western National Robot Rodeo and Capability Exercise, a challenging five-day event that draws civilian and military bomb squad teams from across the country to see who can most effectively defuse dangerous situations with the help of robots. The competition provides an opportunity to practice using robots and new technology in a low-risk, but competitive environment.
Engineers in California have developed new image processing techniques for rapid exploration and characterization of structural fires by small Segway-like robotic vehicles. Thermal data recorded by the robot’s small infrared camera is maps it onto a 3-D scene created by a pair of stereo cameras, producing a virtual reality picture that can be used by first responders as the robot navigates a building.