ATLAS gets an upgrade

AtlasAtlas, that cool bipedal robot from Boston Dynamics, has received a pretty significant upgrade.  Most everything above the knees has been redesigned and improved, and it now has a battery pack to enable it to roam freely.  It has also been equipped with rotating wrists to enable it to open doorknobs.  This is all part of the Darpa Robotics Challenge, which regardless of intent seems to be making rapid progress towards creating a real-life Terminator.   Cool but rapid advances in this area of technology can be scary if and when AI takes off.  Read more at the Darpa link above, or over at TechCrunch.

Drones to be banned in National Parks

yosemite-vernal-fallsGood news!  The National Park Service issued a new order banning unmanned aircraft from being launched, landed, or operated in all national parks.  Reasons were what you’d expect…concern about disturbing wildlife and bothering other park visitors.  Which raises an interesting point…I think there’s a big market for a quiet unmanned aircraft, something people won’t notice if it’s a couple dozen feet overhead.  A blimp might seem like the obvious answer, but even they need separate propulsion devices which are inherently loud.  Hmm…

(via Techcrunch)