Flying robots to start serving in restaurants by end-2015

TODAY reports: Infinium-Serve, the autonomous flying robotic waiters, will be first launched at one of Timbre Group’s five outlets in Singapore.

SINGAPORE: Restaurant-goers in Singapore can expect to be served by autonomous flying robots – the world’s first commercial attempt – by the end of next year.

Infinium-Serve, the autonomous flying robotic waiters, will be first launched at one of Timbre Group’s five outlets in Singapore. Infinium Robotics CEO Woon Junyang estimated the project to cost a “low seven-figure sum” for the five outlets, subject to final negotiations and certain variables of the actual deployment of the robots.

Infinium Robotics signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Timbre Group on Oct 31. Both companies are seeking productivity-related government grants to help offset deployment costs.

Mr Woon said he is confident that such robotic solutions will help alleviate the Singapore’s labour crunch. Introducing this technology into restaurants would take away mundane tasks of serving food and drinks, and allow human waiters to focus on higher-value tasks such as getting feedback from customers, he said.

“This will result in an enhanced dining experience which will eventually lead to increased sales and revenue for the restaurants,” he added.

A prototype of Infinium-Serve was showcased to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the inaugural launch of the National Productivity Month in early October.

Army Developing Micro Rotor Drone

This Is The Army’s New Pocket Drone

This Is The Army's New Pocket Drone

The Cargo Pocket Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance program, known also as CP-ISR, is a new nano-drone concept dreamed up by the folks at the Army’s Natick Soldier Research Center. Where as most unmanned aircraft look to provide info as to what is going on over the next hill, or far over horizon, CP-ISR is all about looking around the next doorway or hedge.

You can read all about what the future of micro combat drones will look like by clicking here.

This Is The Army's New Pocket Drone

The whole idea is to bring the unmanned surveillance concept down to the individual squad, and eventually the individual soldier level, and to do so in an affordable and expendible package. The Black Hornet is still in development, and a hardened, more powerful military grade data-link is on the way, along with low light video capabilities and improved controlability for operating in indoor, and other dense environments.

Eventually, these little humming bird sized craft will be able to follow special forces teams into high-threat indoor environments, or scout behind barriers and into dark windows for sniper teams. Who knows, eventually they may even become deadly weapons themselves.

Other similar systems are being developed by different military R&D houses and defense contractors, but the Black Hornet seems to be one of the most developed and well regarded at this time. Regardless of if it makes it into widespread production and deployment, it is safe to say that the age of micro drone technology has arrived, and life will never be the same again because of it.

Image source: US Army

Tyler Rogoway is a defense journalist and photographer who maintains the website Foxtrot Alpha for Jalopnik.com You can reach Tyler with story ideas or direct comments regarding this or any other defense topic via the email address Tyler@Jalopnik.com

Hearing Aid Tuned to Translate Wifi Signals

A Man Going Deaf Can “Hear” Wi-Fi SignalsA Man Going Deaf Can "Hear" Wi-Fi Signals

Losing your hearing can be a frighteningly isolating experience. But instead of trying to replace the audible landscape he began losing at age 20, science writer Frank Swain decided to find a way to listen in on something humans can’t hear: the hum of Wi-Fi all around us.

In this essay for New Scientist, Swain talks about how he worked with sound designer Daniel Jones to build a tool that makes Wi-Fi audible. The project, named Phantom Terrains, works by translating the language of a wireless network into sounds. Each Wi-Fi element—router names,data rates, encryption modes—are assigned their own sonic tones, which are then streamed to Swain’s phone where he can pick them up through his hearing aids:

The strength of the signal, direction, name and security level on these are translated into an audio stream made up of a foreground and background layer: distant signals click and pop like hits on a Geiger counter, while the strongest bleat their network ID in a looped melody.

So what does the internet sound like? Here’s a walk that Swain took with the various Wi-Fi networks mapped along the way. Stronger network signals are shown as wider shapes, the different colors denote the router’s broadcast channel, and the pattern references the security level:

A Man Going Deaf Can "Hear" Wi-Fi SignalsEXPAND

Now here’s what the same walk sounds like:

While the cosmic blips and static pops are certainly beautiful (and somewhat creepy at the same time), there are some larger implications for why this kind of work could be important. Swain equates it to a kind of auditory “prosthetic” which can actually enhance the range of normal hearing, transforming him into a kind of superhuman who can actually “hear” the landscape in a way that most people will never experience. We don’t normally think of VR as including sound, but this is augmented reality for the ear. [New Scientist]

Top image: Artistic depiction of what Wi-Fi signals would look like if we could see them, byNickolay Lamm

Nixie: A Wearable Camera Drone in Development

Nixie The Wearable Camera That Flys On Demand

nixie-wearable-drone

This just may take the cake in the selfie department. Nixie is a tiny drone that you wear on your wrist. When released, the drone flies around you shooting video, eventually returning back. Winner of Intel’s Make It Wearable contest, the Nixie wearable flying camera may just be a prototype at the moment, but with a powerful team and money behind them, you can expect to see it come to market soon.

Nixie is the first wearable and flyable camera that you carry on your wrist like a watch. A swiveling camera sits at the middle of four flexible bands, each with an extendable propeller. To launch the wearable drone, simply unfold the bands from beneath your wrist and Nixie is ready for takeoff.

Once aloft, the drone is designed to detect your presence and fly around you, pointing the camera at you in order to film your adventures. Nixie was built on Intel’s Edison wearables development system that gives it enough computing power to do things such as track you and avoid obstacles.

Check out the cool footage below that was captured on the Nixie prototype. Now let’s see how quickly these get banned in National Parks….

http://flynixie.com/

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Samsung SGR-A1 Robot Sentry Is One Cold Machine

samsung sgr a1A Samsung Group subsidiary has worked on a robot sentry that they call the SGR-A1, and this particular robot will carry a fair amount of weapons that ought to make you think twice about crossing the borders of South Korea illegally – as it has been tested out at the demilitarized zone along the border over with its neighbor, North Korea. The SGR-A1 will be able to detect intruders with the help of machine vision (read: cameras), alongside a combination of heat and motion sensors.

The whole idea of the Samsung SGR-A1 is to let this military robot sentry do the work of its human counterparts over at the demilitarized zone at the South and North Korea border, so that there will be a minimal loss of life on the South Korean side just in case things turn sour between the two neighbors.

First announced in 2006 (where obvious improvements have been made since, and I am not surprised if much of it remained as classified information), this $200,000, all weather, 5.56 mm robotic machine gun also sports an optional grenade launcher. It will make use of its IR and visible light cameras to track multiple targets and remains under the control of a human operator from a remote location. Basically, it claims to be able to “identify and shoot a target automatically from over two miles (3.2 km) away.” Scary! When used on the DMZ, this robot will not distinguish between friend or foe – anyone who crosses the line is deemed as an enemy.

Filed in Military >Robots. Read more about Samsung.

Remote-control cannon installed atop wall near Bethlehem

Wall north of Bethlehem, from this site

detail of photograph of wall north of Bethlehem

Update: Since we posted the story below, it appears that our suggestion that the gun fires live ammunition was in error. Ryan Rodrick Beiler has posted pictures on twitter pointing to the idea that the gun is a water cannon, designed to spray skunk water for riot control. Beiler tweets a picture showing the device was there during last week’s Palestine marathon.

Tom Suarez also says that it is a water cannon. “I live right there,  and our understanding has been that it is a water cannon (this coming from a Palestinian here who does some journalism). I see it swivel around, but have never seen it ‘work’”.

Beiler also tweets his photo of a gun atop the Erez crossing at Gaza that he says is the real thing: a remote-controlled machine gun that fires ammunition at people.

Original post: 

The above device, fixed lately to the top of the separation wall north of Bethlehem, is a remote-controlled machine gun, according to Palestinian sources. Ma’an News published a report on the device three days ago, saying it’s “unprecedented” and is causing anxiety among Bethlehemites. A Facebook page called “Bethlahem Today” has the same report.

Here’s a crude automatic translation of the Arabic report:

Israeli occupying forces erected Sunday, machine guns equipped with cameras on top of the security wall surrounding the Bilal bin Rabah mosque, North of Bethlehem.

Israeli forces provided each machine gun cameras from large high-capacity and possibility of photography relatively long distances and to Bethlehem in the direction of the education of the old junction.

This allows the cameras to Israeli soldiers monitor the city of Bethlehem and targeting citizens far below that reveal themselves and sees them one using special monitors in the occupied area of the mosque and surrounded by walls from all directions.

Jareer Kassis, an Arabic speaker in the States, says:

The reports are consistent with this article in Wired, 2007, on Israel developing remote controlled machine guns.

For years and years, the Israeli military has been trying to figure out a way to keep Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip from crossing over into Israel proper. The latest tactic: create a set of “automated kill zones” by networking together remote-controlled machine guns, ground sensors, and drones along the 60-kilometer border.

Thanks to Alex Kane and Icarus Verum.

Mondoweiss

A Drone That Can Intercept your Cell Signal from the Air

Scary New Drone Can Hack Your Phone From the Air

Imagine you’re walking around, enjoying the early spring sunshine, and looking for a Wi-Fi network. You hear a whirring sound above you, look up, and there’s a drone, just chilling. Did that drone just take your picture? Nah. It just stole all the precious passwords from your smartphone.

This is a real—however somewhat distant—possibility. We know that it’s technically possible thanks to some London-based SensePost security researchers who built new software called Snoopy that turns drones into data thieves. Essentially, Snoopy works on drones that seek out the signal that your smartphone broadcasts when it’s looking for a Wi-Fi network to join. The drone intercepts the signal and tricks the phone into thinking it’s a trusted network, then Snoopy gains access to all kinds of data on the phone.

It’s not just passwords. The researchers say that Snoopy can retrieve credit card numbers, location data, and usernames, too. They’ve successfully stolen Amazon, PayPal, and Yahoo credentials from random Londoners. The technology is not dissimilar to some of the gadgets in the NSA’s spy gear catalog that enable them to break into Wi-Fi networks from a distance. Whereas the NSA can do it from eight miles away, however, Snoopy evidently needs to be as close as two feet.

So the data-stealing drone is real, but it’s not like they’re flying all over cities around the world right now. SensePost did the drone project in the name of better security and are presenting their findings at the Black Hat Asia conference next week in Singapore. In the meantime, maybe it’s best to just turn off that automatic Wi-Fi network-finding feature. It’s clearly vulnerable. Furthermore, it drains your battery like whoa. [CNN Money via ThinkProgress]

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