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Filed Under: Cool Tech, Tech Tagged With: AeroVironment, Dr. Howan Lee, Dr. Ronald Fearing, miniRoACH, VelociRoACH, Wahid Nawabi Recently, I attended AeroVironment’s presentation of their contribution to NASA’s Mars Helicopter mission. The autonomous vertical-lift drone is remarkably capable of flying through the planet’s thin atmosphere, as demonstrated on Earth in a vacuum chamber by their CEO, Wahid Nawabi. The unmanned aerial craft will provide a bird’s eye view of the Martian landscape to guide the growing fleet of terrestrial rovers through the hazardous terrain. The Mars Helicopter project is a culmination of decades of unmanned aerial leadership by the avionics contractor.Tucked in the corner of AeroVironment’s briefing was their smallest military Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), Switchblade. The lethal nature of this backpack-sized drone is remarkable as it is a disposal device capable of precision strikes (aka targeted assassinations). According to Nawabi, Switchblade is the ultimate “warfighter” that promises “minimal collateral effects,” for beyond-line-of-sight reconnaissance missions. In addition to offensive munitions, the miniature flying machine provides a powerful sensor payload to enable intelligence gathering and surveillance of the targets prior to impact. AeroVironment’s website boasts, “This miniature, remotely-piloted or autonomous platform can either glide or propel itself via quiet electric propulsion, providing real-time GPS coordinates and video for information gathering, targeting, or feature/object recognition. The vehicle’s small size and quiet motor make it difficult to detect, recognize and track even at very close range.” While Nawabi assured me that Switchblade’s protocol requires a human in the loop, I left the meeting feeling queasy at the prospect of a stealthy autonomous killing machine.The idea of single-use robots is gaining traction beyond military applications. Researchers at the The University of California, Berkeley are building inexpensive mini-robots for search and rescue missions. Dr. Ronald Fearing explains, “Living in earthquake country in California. It’s frustrating to know people will be trapped after a building collapse. We have an indeterminate amount of time to find someone before they may die. Small robots would allow us to get in and communicate fairly quickly.” Inspired by insects, Fearing’s lab has been creating biomimetic machines capable of amazing speed and maneuverability. Partnered with the National Science Foundation, Fearing’s group set out to build a swarm of crawling robots that resemble the indomitable cockroach, in size, gait, and dynamics.Using low-cost materials, laser printers and origami folds Fearing’s team built two prototype versions: a 3 centimeter miniRoACH (RObotic Autonomous Crawling Hexapod), and a 10 centimeter VelociRoACH, The larger version is one of the fastest robots of its size, sprinting 11 miles per hour or 10 times faster than a typical cockroach. Fearing has designed its disposable robots as a network of skills that work in unison to problem solve and report on ground conditions. Using an analogy, Fearing describes, “If you think about people, if you send a single person to explore and they encounter a 12-foot high fence, they are stuck. But if you send two people, the first can boost the second one up, and then the second can pull the first one up.”Fearing’s lab observed how ants collaborate by stepping onto one another to accomplish tasks. The researchers followed suit by outfitting VelociRoACH’es with sensors, tethers, and winches to enable each robotic crawler to pull and mount the other to overcome obstacles. A huge benefit of this collaborative platform is its cost-effectiveness, as “simple robots are $10 to $100 each instead of $1,000” said Fearing.Controlling the colonies of mechanical roaches that number between 50 to 100 at each deployment means humans provide the general directions to the group while the individual robots coordinate among themselves via radio. Fearing imagines that eventually, his mini-robots will work in tandem with a bigger robot with more computing power, this “mother ship” will monitor the mission of hundreds of bots in the field. To date, the Berkeley lab is already working with California Task Force 3 Urban Search and Rescue to help them locate trapped people in collapsed buildings. Fearing aims to outfit first responders with a backpack of robots managed through a simple tablet that is easily deployed in emergency situations. The team is also working on small disposable robots for industrial settings to detect chemical leaks at refineries and reactors. “When it’s dirty and dangerous, it’s good to use small, disposable mobile robots,” says Fearing.While Fearing’s low-cost robots work with metal components, this week at Rutgers University Dr. Howan Lee of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering illustrated how 3D printed soft materials could be manipulated with ordinary water. “Our 3D-printed smart gel has great potential in biomedical engineering because it resembles tissues in the human body that also contain lots of water and are very soft. It can be used for many different types of underwater devices that mimic aquatic life like the octopus,” elucidates Lee. In his demonstration, Lee applied an electrical field to his water-based gel to illustrate how it can grab objects underwater. According to the research, the applications for this technology could range from underwater inspections to developing next-generation medical devices. In particular, the US Navy is potentially interested in utilizing such technology for single use clandestine operations by mimicking underwater animals. As Lee exclaims, “If you have full control of the shape, then you can program its function. I think that’s the power of 3D printing of shape-shifting material. You can apply this principle almost everywhere.”To prove the versatility of his new application, Lee built at 10-millimeter stick figure out of his hydrogel and applied an electrical charge to make it walk. The whimsical creation danced on screen without any tether, tubing, or connected wires. Lee expounded that his research is unlike any other in soft robotics, “They [soft robots] usually require tubing to supply the required air pressure and associated valves and control systems. Also, it is quite challenging to miniaturized these soft robots to micro-scale. Our 3D-printed hydrogel actuators are driven by material deformation, which is controlled by remotely applied electric field, allowing for untethered actuation.” Lee declares that robot octopuses are just the beginning, “We believe that 3D printing of EAH [Electro Active Hydrogels] with precise dimensional control could unlock the otherwise untapped potential of EAH and may lead to various applications in soft robots, artificial muscles, and tissue engineering.” The sheer depth of single-use robots illustrates how quickly the industry is moving from space to insects to, now, living tissues.Reprinted by permission.PREVIOUS POSTNEXT POST Disposable Robots Take FlightJuly 3, 2018 by Oliver Mitchell 127SHARESFacebookTwitterLinkedin
QoE and QoS monitoring for pay TV services is increasingly seen as a key feature of the churn reduction toolset, while web-based services are throwing up challenges of their own. Anna Tobin reports.There was a time when the quality control department of most major broadcasters consisted of one person tucked away in a back room somewhere watching output for any sign of poor picture or sound quality. Now that content providers have to distribute hundreds of hours of programming, some live, some pre-recorded and on-demand in several different formats to dozens of different platforms things have got a little bit more complicated.Customers may moan when their PC delivers a few seconds of buffering before their catch-up programme arrives at it or when the box office film they have paid for has frozen on their TV, but given the technological feat of delivering all this stuff, it’s amazing that everything arrives without a hitch for the large majority of the time.Video quality can be helped along by proactive Quality of Experience (QoE) and Quality of Service (QoS) checks and balances that are put in place by content distributors. It is difficult to quantitatively measure QoE, however, and so the focus tends to be on the more objective QoS metrics. The first is based on subjective measurements and analytics and the latter is based on objective real data.“The subjective side is about how the picture looks, what type of pixilation is happening to the image, but if you are going to measure pixilation issues you have to measure every different picture, which is quite a challenge,” says Simen Frostad, chairman of Bridge Technologies. “The objective side looks at real data, is there packet loss, are there any detailed errors, etc. Whilst it is important to be able to measure and quantify what the users are seeing, you have to start with objective data and if you have this you have 100% reference to what is going on. So you can measure packet loss, find the error and cure it before the customer notices it.”It is the fear of disappointing the customer that largely drives interest in this technology. Each operator is competing for eyeballs and if those eyeballs don’t like what they see they will jump ship to another provider. Superior service is becoming a key distinguishing factor in maintaining a competitive edge. All it takes is one slip up, poorly timed in the middle of a World Cup football final, and customers will leave in droves.“In the highly competitive markets in Europe and North America, providing your customers with a high QoE is very important, as there are a multitude of delivery platforms available and each platform is competing for delivery,” says Andrew Sachs, Volicon’s vice-president of product management. In this situation, operators need to be so on top of their output that they can foresee problems even before they’ve played out, says Sachs. “In a hypercompetitive market such as the US, you have to be very proactive. Move over to India, however, and QoE isn’t such a high priority.”Operators in highly developed multi-channel, multi-platform markets tend to be more focused on quality control than their counterparts in less developed regions where technical hitches are almost a given, because audiences in countries such as India have different expectations of quality of output. But, even in more error-tolerant markets, we will increasingly see more proactive monitoring put in place, says Seth Vermulm, application engineering manager at Sencore. “QoE monitoring is an essential part of the service provider’s toolset. You can’t do without it. If you do you risk customer churn. Without proper monitors you are driving blind and if anything goes wrong there is no easy way to find out where the problem is occurring and no simple way of remedying it quickly,” says Vermulm.Even in the current economic climate, with delivery platforms looking to make savings, it is seen as vital that they don’t make any drastic cuts to test and measurement systems, which are often seen as an easy target, says Vermulm. “Leave an integrated overall proactive solution out of the picture and customer churn is proven to increase. Those companies that do have this in place actually tend to grow faster than those that don’t.”Cutting back on monitoring is a false economy, says Eric Le Trehour, marketing director at Witbe. “Customer complaints generate an increase in operational costs with greater demands on people at the customer care centre and people for the truck-rolls,” he says.Customer complaints generate an increase in operational costs with greater demands on people at the customer care centre and people for the truck-rolls.Eric Le Trehour, WitbeYou can pick and choose where in your delivery network you want to place monitors to predict potential problems, but unless operators have a fully integrated system they are never fully covered. It’s not an area of their business where they can afford to cut corners.“A good monitoring coverage from service creation at the headend to consumption in the home is the foundation for correct and efficient decisions,” says Mikael Dahlgren, CEO at Agama Technologies.Most providers have now added to their networks some kind of error recovery mechanism. John Williams, director, emerging markets, at JDSU communications test and measurement business segment points out a couple of examples: “MediaRoom from Microsoft includes an error recovery approach that re-transmits to the set-top box lost packets, thus repairing, up to certain limits, network performance problems in this key area and Cisco offers a similar error recovery approach based on re-transmission of lost packets.”Adding to the burdenAs demand increases, a growing number of operators are now offering, or imminently plan to offer, IPTV services, as well as a host of catch-up and on-demand choices. And, of course, the more there is on the menu, the more likelihood there is of something going wrong. “Whenever you add an interactive service it increases the complexity of the system. There are more moving parts and more opportunities for error, so testing and monitoring becomes even more crucial,” says Volicon’s Sachs.In a competitive market, where operators are having to fight to stop content choosing their rival’s pipes for delivery, QoS and QoE becomes a vital part of their armoury and content providers want to see proof of low margins of error.The digitisation of cable set the quality threshold that is generally applied today, says Frostad of Bridge Technologies. “At the time of cable moving over to digital, there was an FCC recommendation that you shouldn’t have more than one noticeable artefact in the picture in the hour; if you have more than that then it isn’t broadcast quality. We see this as the same with packet loss, but there are some subjectives to this. If you are talking about a huge soccer game, for example, the threshold for putting up with even this is much lower than it would be for, say, a rerun of Cheers,” says Frostad. “We say that in a modern IPTV technology system you shouldn’t have packet loss in any part of your system as it’s a huge indication that something is wrong with the system architecture or operations.” [icitspot id=”16077″ template=”box-story”]There are some key parameters that any IPTV system is going to be measuring against, including jitter, dropped packets, MPEG and compression. “The thresholds are often very syste-dependent,” says Vermulm at Sencore, “so it’s key to normalise the system and understand what thresholds are tolerable and what needs to be in place to prevent errors. There are no specific industry standard thresholds that need to be met; recommendations will develop but hard numbers are a long way off.”With no standardization in this area, however, quality is difficult to measure, although you could judge by customer loyalty or the lack of it. “If people show that they are happy to pay for a service, could you say that quality of service and experience is being met?” says Sachs at Volicon. He argues that it is better to take a proactive stance so that any errors are picked up and fixed before the customer has even noticed them and had a chance to call customer service. He explains: “If we are talking about network issues, customer care shouldn’t be telling your network engineers that they have issues, they should know that already. If you have to wait until 35 people complain to customer care before your engineers react, then that is an indication that your internal processes have failed.”In the event that a problem does filter through to the viewer and customer service calls rise, the QoE system needs to help the customer care operative turn the situation into a positive. “If a customer calls in and says ‘my Box Office is out’, the customer care operative should be able to look at the monitoring system and say ‘yes, we can see the problem and it will be fixed shortly.’ This saves them having to go through the whole tiresome questioning process that irritates customers,” says Kirk George, director of marketing at IneoQuest.To use the data obtained from QoE and QoS checks most effectively, you need to be able to use them and apply them to all areas of your system from service creation to consumption, says Dahlgren at Agama Technologies. “Headend technicians need information on technical quality of the service creation, both real-time, such as alarms, and historical, as well as aggregated information. In the same way, staff at the NOC need filtered root causes as alarms to escalate the right situations to the right part of the organization, whilst in the customer care centre the focus is instead easy-to-understand problem isolation information for a quick problem resolution.”To aim for or maintain market leader status, content providers need to work through dozens of different scenarios that their users can play out from their networks and ensure that they have the QoE and QoS systems in place to ensure that each of these scenarios is played out at optimum performance. As the scenarios keep developing it isn’t going to be easy to stay ahead of the game.
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The MPLAD scheme flaunts this, Vidarbha dressing room on the other hand will have the expertise of Mhambrey, However, Kohli completed his 11th T20I fifty off only 29 balls, Thereafter, but confirmed changes were coming when questioned by former-WADA chief Dick Pound. Pound has not been impressed particularly by Isinbayeva’s presence. Dhoni did his own ‘balancing act’ praising the opposition. something which enables him to maintain a fine balance. “Everything happened.
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By: Reuters | Madrid | Updated: April 21 As per Olympic stats, Since the time women’s wrestling was introduced at the Olympics in 2004, India Australia ODI series has been a run fest." PTI Reacting to the development, Poddar Court. He also suggested saying that the sudden illness of a close relative had compelled the athlete to go away. For all the latest Sports News, the district administration pledged ignorance of the forecast.
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Aponso and Dilruwan Perera took two wickets each. reported Aceshowbiz. asking for a cut from her three studio albums “Pink Friday”, which was held in public glare, For all the latest Mumbai News, 2015 7:49 pm The director of the Cannes Film Festival has apologised after a controversy blew up over women being denied access to the red carpet for not wearing high heels. For all the latest Entertainment News.