Thursday, August 28, 2014

Inside Google’s Secret Drone-Delivery Program

from theatlantic.com: A zipping comes across the sky. A man named Neil Parfitt is standing in a field on a cattle ranch outside Warwick, Australia. A white vehicle appears above the trees, a tiny plane a bit bigger than a seagull. It glides towards Parfitt, pitches upwards to a vertical position, and hovers near him, a couple hundred feet in the air. From its belly, a package comes tumbling downward, connected by a thin line to the vehicle itself. Right before the delivery hits the ground, it slows, hitting the earth with a tap. The delivery slows, almost imperceptibly, just before it hits the ground, hardly kicking up any dust. A small rectangular module on the end of the line detaches the payload, and ascends back up the vehicle, locking into place beneath the nose. As the wing returns to flying posture and zips back to its launch point half a mile away, Parfitt walks over to the package, opens it up, and extracts some treats for his dogs. 

The Australian test flight and 30 others like it conducted in mid-August are the culmination of the first phase of Project Wing, a secret drone program that’s been running for two years at Google X, the company’s whoa-inducing, long-range research lab.

Though a couple of rumors have escaped the Googleplex—because of course Google must have a drone-delivery program—Project Wing’s official existence and substance were revealed today. I’ve spent the past week talking to Googlers who worked on the project, reviewing video of the flights, and interviewing other people convinced delivery by drone will work. 

Taken with the company’s other robotics investments, Google’s corporate posture has become even more ambitious. Google doesn’t just want to organize all the world’s information. Google wants to organize all the world.

CONTINUE @ SOURCE

Sunday, August 24, 2014

SpaceX Falcon 9-R Rocket Suffers Malfunction, Self-Destructs During Test Flight

from dailytech.com: The SpaceX team suffered a setback yesterday when its experimental Falcon 9-R (F9R) reusable rocket experienced a malfunction during a test flight in Texas. According to SpaceX, an “anomaly was detected” during the test flight, and as a result, the flight was auto-aborted and the rocket F9R was instructed to self-destruct.

In a statement released via Twitter, the company explained:
 
With research and development projects, detecting vehicle anomalies during testing is the purpose of the program. Today’s test was particularly complex, pushing the limits of the vehicle further than any previous test. As is our practice, the company will be reviewing the flight record details to learn more about the performance of the vehicle prior to our next test.

Luckily for SpaceX, they already have a second F9R already in production, so not all is lost when it comes to its reusable rocket platform.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Auraya Granted U.S. Patent Rights For Voice Biometric Technology

from biometricupdate.com: Auraya Systems announced that it has been granted patent protection in the USA from the U.S. Patent Office for its core Speaker Adaptive Voice Biometric technology, quickly following its patent from the Australian Patent Office.

The announcement comes a month after Auraya’s win of the “best and most innovative solution” in the iAwards new product category for its flagship voice biometrics product ArmorVox10.

Assigned US Patent No. 8,775,187, Auraya’s voice biometric technology provides the foundation of its ArmorVox language independent voice biometric product.

The technology enables Auraya to automatically boost performance to the language, accent and telecommunications environment into which it is deployed.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Probe Makes Space History With Rendezvous With Comet

from spacedaily.com: The space probe Rosetta made a historic rendezvous with a comet on Wednesday, climaxing a 10-year, six-billion-kilometre (3.7-billion-mile) chase through the Solar System, the European Space Agency (ESA) said.

"We're at the comet," Rosetta's flight operations manager, Sylvain Lodiot, declared in a webcast from mission control in Darmstadt, Germany.

It marks the first time a spacecraft has been sent into orbit around a comet, a wanderer of the Solar System whose primeval dust and ice may hold insights into how the planets formed. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Feds Doled Out Millions Towards #Tor Online Anonymity Tools

from RT.com: The National Security Agency may be working to crack the anonymous Tor browser, but the US government actually donated close to $2 million to the project in 2013. In fact, the large majority of the money gifted to the Tor Project has its origins in the State Department and the Department of Defense.
 
According to the Guardian, the US government delivered a little more than $1.8 million to Tor last year – an increase over the $1.2 million given in 2012. Some of that money was direct – the State Department issued $256,900 while the National Science Foundation donated $100,325 – but most of it was delivered through third parties and non-profit organizations. “The two largest single grantors of federal money were SRI international, a non-profit research and development centre that aims to bridge the gap between abstract research and industry, and Internews Network, an international non-profit that funds programmes supporting democracy and human rights,” wrote Alex Hern at the Guardian. “The latter gave $555,413 in funding originally from the US Department of State, while the former gave $830,269 in funding ultimately stemming from the US Department of Defense.”

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

NASA: Humans Will Prove ‘We Are Not Alone In The Universe’ Within 20 Years

from cbslocal.com: NASA predicts that 100 million worlds in our own Milky Way galaxy may host alien life, and space program scientists estimate that humans will be able to find life within two decades.

Speaking at NASA’s Washington headquarters on Monday, the space agency outlined a plan to search for alien life using current telescope technology, and announced the launch of the Transiting Exoplanet Surveying Satellite in 2017. The NASA administrators and scientists estimate that humans will be able to locate alien life within the next 20 years.

“Just imagine the moment, when we find potential signatures of life. Imagine the moment when the world wakes up and the human race realizes that its long loneliness in time and space may be over — the possibility we’re no longer alone in the universe,” said Matt Mountain, director and Webb telescope scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, which plans to launch the James Webb Space Telescope in 2018.

“What we didn’t know five years ago is that perhaps 10 to 20 per cent of stars around us have Earth-size planets in the habitable zone,” added Mountain. “It’s within our grasp to pull off a discovery that will change the world forever.”

GCHQ's Dark Arts: Leaked Documents Reveal Online Manipulation and Facebook, YouTube Snooping

from zdnet.com: GCHQ has developed a toolkit of software programs used to manipulate online traffic, infiltrate users' computers and spread select messages across social media sites including Facebook and YouTube. The UK spy agency's dark arts were revealed in documents first published by The Intercept, and each piece of software is described in a wiki document written up by GCHQ's Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG). The document, which reads like a software inventory, calls the tools part of the agency's "weaponised capability."

Some of the most interesting capabilities of the tools on the list include the ability to seed the web with false information — such as tweaking the results of online polls — inflating pageview counts, censoring video content deemed "extremist" and the use of psychological manipulation on targets — something similar to a research project conducted with Facebook's approval, which resulted in heavy criticism and outrage levied at the social media site.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

‘Diplomatic Earthquake’ As Germany Halts Spy Cooperation With U.S.

from intelnews.org: The German government has instructed its intelligence agencies to limit their cooperation with their American counterparts “to the bare essentials” until further notice, according to media reports. The move follows news that Berlin requested on Thursday the immediate removal from Germany of the United States Central Intelligence Agency chief of station —essentially the top American official in the country. The request came after two German citizens, one working for the BND, Germany’s main external intelligence organization, and one working for the country’s Federal Ministry of Defense, were allegedly found to have been secretly spying for the US. German media reported on Thursday that the temporary halt in Berlin’s intelligence collaboration with Washington applies across the spectrum, with the exception of areas directly affecting tactical security concerns for Germany, such as the protection of its troops in Afghanistan, or defending against immediate terrorist threats. Sources in the German capital claimed that the removal of the CIA station chief was technically a “recommendation for his departure”, and did not constitute an official diplomatic expulsion. However, German observers described the incident as a “diplomatic earthquake”, which would have been unthinkable as a policy option for the German government, barring actions against “pariah states like North Korea or Iran”.