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Robot Car Intersections Are Terrifyingly Efficient

In the future, robots will blow through intersections without stopping, and you won't be able to handle it

2 min read
Robot Car Intersections Are Terrifyingly Efficient

Last time we put our life in the hands of a robot car, it managed to park itself without crashing or abducting us. Robot cars also know how to drive like maniacs, and even how to powerslide. These are all very neat tricks -- tricks that might save your life one day. But what's going to happen when all cars are this talented? Efficiency. Scary, scary efficiency.

It's not just the sensor-driven skills that will soon be common to individual cars that will shape the future of automotive transportation, but also the ability for cars to communicate with each other, sharing constant updates about exactly where they are and where they're going. And with enough detailed information being shared at a fast enough pace between all vehicles on the road, things like traffic lights become completely redundant: 

Seriously, just watching this simulation (which comes from Peter Stone, a computer scientist at the University of Texas at Austin) makes me more than a little nervous. I'd have to go through that intersection with my eyes closed and probably screaming, but on the upside, I'd get through it without stopping, saving time and gas and (as long as all the robots behave themselves) actually preventing accidents.

So, how close are we to something like this? It's hard to say. In a lot of ways, we're just about there: we have cars that can drive themselves just about as reliably as a human can, and many automakers are working at inter-car communication. But as we've discussed before, there are a lot of legal and social issues standing in the way of widespread adoption, and it's going to take a concerted effort to provide a framework in which we can safely allow progress to be achieved.

Via [ The Atlantic ]

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The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

The prosthetics industry is too focused on high-tech limbs that are complicated, costly, and often impractical

12 min read
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A photograph of a young woman with brown eyes and neck length hair dyed rose gold sits at a white table. In one hand she holds a carbon fiber robotic arm and hand. Her other arm ends near her elbow. Her short sleeve shirt has a pattern on it of illustrated hands.

The author, Britt Young, holding her Ottobock bebionic bionic arm.

Gabriela Hasbun. Makeup: Maria Nguyen for MAC cosmetics; Hair: Joan Laqui for Living Proof
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In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship.

The story of the Baltimore Gun Club propelling themselves to the moon is about the extraordinary masculine power of the veteran, who doesn’t simply “overcome” his disability; he derives power and ambition from it. Their “crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc [rubber] jaws, silver craniums [and] platinum noses” don’t play leading roles in their personalities—they are merely tools on their bodies. These piecemeal men are unlikely crusaders of invention with an even more unlikely mission. And yet who better to design the next great leap in technology than men remade by technology themselves?

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