Robots, Incorporated

Microsoft’s best and brightest are quietly trying to bring robotics into the mainstream

14 min read
Robots, Incorporated
Photo: Brian Smale

img Photo: Brian Smale

Software pundits and tech analysts can be forgiven for overlooking Microsoft’s new robotics group. Compared with the company’s billion-dollar businesses—Windows, MSN, Xbox, and more—robotics is nonexistent. Microsoft is giving the group’s software away for free for noncommercial use. In other ways, robotics is merely minuscule. And indeed, the company is hardly betting the farm on it, having devoted only 11 of its 76 000 employees to creating Robotics Studio 1.0.

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Before Ships Used GPS, There was the Fresnel Lens

This bright idea revolutionized lighthouses and saved lives

3 min read
 A Fresnel lens at the Seguin Island Light Station in Maine.

The Fresnel lens used in the Seguin Island Light Station in Georgetown, Maine.

Edwin Remsberg/AP

Ships today use satellite-based radio navigation, GPS, and other tools to prevent accidents. But back at the beginning of the 19th century, lighthouses guided ships away from rocky shores using an oil lamp placed between a concave mirror and a glass lens to produce a beam of light.

The mirrors were not very effective, though, and the lenses were murky. The light was difficult to see from a distance on a clear night, let alone in heavy fog or a storm.

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Researchers Develop Smaller Photonic Topological Insulator

A novel device covers a wider range of frequencies and could boost 5G, radar, and quantum computers

3 min read
Illustration shows a gold surface marked to show non-overlapping clock generator 12.5% duty cycle clocks and to the left 2GHz cock input. Rising from 4 sections each containing 4 triangles are 12 cylinders .

Conceptual diagram of the Floquet TI implemented in a 45 nm silicon-on-insulator CMOS process.

CUNY/Nature Electronics

Novel devices known as photonic topological electromagnetic circuits may one day support 5G wireless broadband networks and advanced radar systems, a new study finds.

Topology is the branch of mathematics that explores what features of shapes may survive deformation. For instance, an object shaped like a doughnut can be deformed into the shape of a mug, so that the doughnut’s hole forms the hole in the cup’s handle. However, the object couldn’t lose its hole without changing into a fundamentally different shape.

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Automating Road Maintenance With LiDAR Technology

Team from SICK’s TiM$10K Challenge creates system to automate road maintenance

4 min read

Developed by a team of students at Worcester Polytechnic Institute as part of SICK's TiM$10K Challenge, their ROADGNAR system uses LiDAR to collect detailed data on the surface of a roadway.

SICK

This is a sponsored article brought to you by SICK Inc..

From advanced manufacturing to automated vehicles, engineers are using LiDAR to change the world as we know it. For the second year, students from across the country submitted projects to SICK's annual TiM$10K Challenge.

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