The week’s most interesting Tech Stories
Nasa puts Saturn Launchers up for sale
NASA has decided to put the historic Saturn Rocket Launchers up for sale. Megalomaniacs and world dominators can apply here http://www.nasa.gov/
It will be interesting to see if anyone actually has a spare desert island to put them on. But in all seriousness would it be better for a new space company to use the old units, or build new facilities? Has state of the art moved on? You would have to think NASA has learnt a lot in this time, but I guess in the world of big
The launchers have been in mothballs for some years and have had large quantities of parts removed and reused on newer programs.
The units are up for tender and whilst they have been cannibalising them they have left it intact for a commercial entity who wants to use this to launch a liquid fueled commercial rocket.
The question is, who is going to tow it?
Blade Electric Vehicle launches Pozible.com Campaign
Ross Blade has produced Electric cars for a few years but he now trying to ramp up production. The amazing thing about this is that he has managed to build 50 Electric cars without Government support. You can find the full history of his business here http://blade.id.au/
Ross is trying to get a workshop launched in North Sydney so that he can achieve his goal of producing 250 cars this year.
Whilst they are not that powerful and they are pretty expensive to buy if you power them on off peak electricity it costs about $3 per 100km. That is about 1/3 the cost of petrol. Probably perfect for Council cars and short commutes and as he increases volume no doubt he can drive unit costs down.
My dream is that you have something super sexy that runs off Solar Panels at your house so you could potentially run your car for nothing.
Personally I think Ross should consider retrofitting Mazda MX5s or Lotus Elise with a slightly more powerful version, 100kw would be enough to make them comparable to their original spec and make them sexy, more Tesla and less shopping trolley and more likely to get attention and free marketing (I am interested in this stuff and this is the first I had heard of it)
You can support his campaign here.
Makerbot announces 3D Digitizer
Hot on the heels of the announcement of the Makerbot 2X a bigger faster more accurate version of the original Makerbot Replicator comes the Makerbot Digitizer.
Often the application of 3D printers has been goofy little characters and things that are not particularly useful, primarily because building something useful requires a significant capability in 3D drawing software and some design and fabrication experience to know how to build things.
The Digitizer now makes it possible to put an object in and reproduce it on your Makerbot in a very short time. What it does is uses two lasers to build a point cloud of the object as it rotates, they capture 1000s of points which is then translated into a 3D model.
So if you want to reproduce a set of models or a part it can be done very quickly and easily. While the form factor is still relatively small on the printing side these are getting bigger and faster and using more sophisticated materials with smaller step sizes producing better finishes and great accuracy.
Makerbot is taking orders for $1400 www.makerbot.com
New Porsche Turbo S Released
This is nothing to do with Startups (except you get to buy one if you get a good exit) however I thought it was time for some great car porn. At $441,000 plus on road costs it will want to be a good exit 🙂
Autonomous Quadcopter uses a Smartphone to navigate and make decisions
A Student team from the Vienna University of Technology has designed and built a completely autonomous quadcopter. All the required computing power is provided by an off-the-shelf smartphone.
The quadcopter, which was developed at TU Vienna, can negotiate its way through a room completely on its own. It does not need any human interference, and in contrast to other models, it is not assisted by any external computer or controller. All the necessary computing power in on board; the image processing is done by a standard smartphone.
Quadcopters have become a popular toy for academic research. The small aircraft, powered by four electric engines, are perfect for testing advanced feedback control systems, which make them fly steadily and safely. But beyond that, quadcopters are also used to test how machines can be made to perceive their environment and act autonomously.
The Virtual-Reality-Team at Vienna University of Technology has been working with visual data for many years. “Proceeding towards robotics and mounting a camera onto a quadcopter was just the logical next step for us”, says Hannes Kaufmann (Faculty of Informatics, TU Vienna). Usually, quadcopters are steered by humans or they send their data to a powerful earthbound computer, which then returns the necessary control signals. The Vienna quadcopter, however, does not need any external input.
A Smartphone as the Eyes and Brains
The team decided not to buy an expensive commercial quadcopter-system, but instead to assemble a simple, cost-efficient quadcopter, using carefully selected components. The core element – and the most expensive part of the quadcopter – is a smartphone. Its camera provides the visual data and its processor acts as the control center. The quadcopter’s intelligence, which allows it to navigate, was coded in a smartphone-app.
ArduSat has launched a kickstarter campaign to allow you to run your own Space Experiments
Never thought about it before but it would be difficult to run space experiments without your own platform, I can’t imagine that Governments and major corporates would be that accommodating. Accordingly ArduSat has launched a kickstarter campaign to provide time on their Satellite for experimental purposes and so far has achieved $106,000 on a $35,000 goal with 670~ backers.
Libelium is a company that is using Ardusat to launch their Radiation Sensors and test them, you can see their story here http://www.libelium.com/libelium-sensors-will-reach-the-space-in-5-days/
Space is being democratised
Any stories I missed or if you have a story let me know in the comments or use the contact form