Special Coverage

Transducer-Actuator Systems for On-Machine Measurements and Automatic Part Alignment
Wide-Area Surveillance Using HD LWIR Uncooled Sensors
Heavy Lift Wing in Ground (WIG) Cargo Flying Boat
Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems
Bringing New Vision to Laser Material Processing Systems
NASA Tests Lasers’ Ability to Transmit Data from Space
Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators
Automating Optimization and Design Tasks Across Disciplines
Vibration Tables Shake Up Aerospace and Car Testing
Supercomputer Cooling System Uses Refrigerant to Replace Water

Would you use drones for home security?

This week's Question: A new home security technology called the Sunflower Home Awareness System deploys a drone to patrol one’s property. The combination of intelligent outdoor sensors and an aerial drone-based camera detects motion, vibration, and sound, and provides users with a view of the home’s real-time surroundings. By analyzing the sensor data, the system can distinguish between a human, a car, and animals. The drone streams video to a smartphone, allowing homeowners to see if their property is at risk. What do you think? Would you use drones for home security?

Posted in: Question of the Week, Aeronautics
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Will we see a flying car transportation service?

This week’s Question: Ride-hailing company Uber recently released a white paper outlining its new transport service: the flying car. The company envisions a “network of small, electric aircraft that take off and land vertically.” The proposal aims to use airspace to relieve transportation congestion on the ground. Although the company believes the flying car technology will mature within five years, many obstacles exist, including regulations, vehicle performance and reliability, pilot training, and safety.

Posted in: Question of the Week, Aeronautics, Aerospace, Aviation
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Will artificial intelligence do more good than bad for humanity?

This week's Question: World-famous physicist Stephen Hawking recently warned that the creation of powerful artificial intelligence will be “either the best, or the worst thing, ever to happen to humanity.” Hawking noted the risks of creating superintelligence with a will of its own, while also mentioning AI's ability to "undo some of the damage done to the natural world" and eradicate disease and poverty. What do you think? Will artificial intelligence do more good than bad for humanity?

Posted in: Question of the Week, Automation, Software
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Can algorithms create a pop-music hit?

This week's Question: Sony Computer Science Laboratory (CSL) in Paris is developing a system of algorithms which can create songs that cater to the user's taste, based on styles adapted from existing music. Starting with a sheet-music database of more than 13,000 existing songs, users choose several titles with the sound or feel that they would like the new song to incorporate.

Posted in: Question of the Week, Software
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Will selfies become the primary mode of authentication?

This week's Question: MasterCard has tested facial biometrics for payment authentication and has now begun rolling out its MasterCard Identity Check, or "selfie pay," to a greater number of users. The biometric authentication app is available throughout Europe, including Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the UK. MasterCard’s Identity Check app also supports fingerprint biometrics, offering customers a choice of authenticating a mobile payment with either their face or finger at the point of purchase. What do you think?

Posted in: Question of the Week
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Will solar road panels catch on?

This week's Question: Solar Roadways — a startup developing solar powered road panels — will soon install the first solar road tiles in Sandpoint, Idaho. The transparent solar road panels contain colorful LEDs, which can be controlled by a computer to create the impression of signs and lines, without the need of paint. The panels also include heating elements that prevent the accumulation of ice and snow on the road panel's surface. The solar devices can also generate enough energy to power nearby restrooms and fountains. Founder Scott Brusaw says that there are more than 28,000 square miles of paved surface that, if covered with panels, could produce three times more energy than what is needed. What do you think?

Posted in: Question of the Week
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Will ground-based delivery robots catch on?

This week's Question: This fall, Starship Technologies, an Estonia-based startup created by two Skype co-founders, will begin testing its autonomous delivery robot in Washington, D.C. Washington is the first U.S. municipality to approve ground-based robots to traverse city sidewalks. Starship aims to bring packages from its fulfillment center directly to customers' homes. Ground-based delivery, Starship’s founders say, is an easier delivery option compared to drones, which require compliance with FAA regulations. What do you think?

Posted in: Question of the Week
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Will you watch drone racing?

This week's Question: The Drone Racing League announced on Wednesday that it had signed deals to broadcast a 10-episode season on ESPN and ESPN2, along with the European stations Sky Sports Mix and 7Sports. According to league officials, stationary pilots will use headsets and joysticks to steer the drones through obstacle-filled courses — at up to 80 miles per hour. Tiny cameras mounted on the drones offer the human controllers a cockpit-like view. What do you think?

Posted in: Question of the Week
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Can AI be used to make a good movie?

This week's Question: In early September, Concourse Media and Productivity Media, Inc. (PMI) announced the acquisition of Impossible Things, a feature-length film with a screenplay written via artificial intelligence. Greenlight Essentials, a company founded by Jack Zhang, uses AI software to create plot frameworks for target markets within the entertainment sector. What do you think?

Posted in: Question of the Week
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Will "cool" clothes catch on?

This Week's Question: Today's lead INSIDER story highlighted a low-cost, plastic-based textile that could cool the body efficiently when woven into clothing. What do you think? Will "cool" clothes catch on?

Posted in: Question of the Week
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