Mind the Gap! Robots Deliver Goods in London
Self-driving robots will begin delivering goods and groceries in the UK over the next six months in preparation for the launch of pilot delivery services later this year. Starship Technologies, a company launched by the co-founders of Skype, says it will begin trials of its six-wheeled robots in a district of London. The robot is designed for delivery of products within a three-mile radius in 30 minutes or less. Parcels and groceries are stored in Starship's hubs and delivered when clients request a delivery via a mobile phone app. The robots will drive autonomously but are monitored by human remote controllers who can take over control at any time. The robots use sidewalks and can detect obstacles, adjust speed, stop and safely cross streets.
Supersonic Jet Without the Boom
NASA has awarded a contract to a team led by Lockheed Martin to design a “low-boom” demonstration aircraft capable of flying at supersonic speeds. Lockheed Martin will receive approximately $20 million over 17 months for preliminary design work on a Quiet Supersonic Technology jet that emits a "soft thump" rather than the disruptive boom currently associated with supersonic flight. The Lockheed Martin team includes subcontractors GE Aviation and Tri Models. Lockheed will develop baseline aircraft requirements and a preliminary aircraft design, with specifications, and provide supporting documentation for concept formulation and planning. This documentation will be used to prepare for the detailed design, building and testing of the jet. Performance of this preliminary design must also undergo analytical and wind tunnel validation.
Spherical Tire to Aid Autonomous Vehicles
Goodyear has unveiled a spherical tire concept that it says would give autonomous cars maneuverability, connectivity and biomimicry. The company's Eagle-360 concept envisions ball-like tires suspended from the car by magnetic fields—the frictionless maglev system resulting in a smooth, quiet ride for passengers. Spherical-shaped tires would allow cars to change direction without requiring reorientation of the vehicle body itself, according to Goodyear. Such mobility could contribute to the safety of the vehicle's occupants and help drivers in coping with space limitations, such as tight parking spaces. Embedded sensors further increase safety by "communicating road and weather conditions to the vehicle control system and other nearby cars," Goodyear says. Wet or icy conditions, for example, would send a signal to the engine to reduce speed. Tread and tire pressure monitoring technology would continually reposition tires to optimize their wear and extend mileage.