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Project Wing: Google’s drones could one day drop your groceries from the sky

Posted by wicked August - 29 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

google project wing drone

Google’s latest moonshot could revolutionize the way we move stuff from point A to point B. As Google [X]’s Captain of Moonshots Astro Teller puts it, “Project Wing aspires to take a big chunk of the remaining friction out of moving.”

To achieve this lofty goal, Google has developed delivery drones that are able to carry a small package, fly autonomously to their destination, and lower the package to the ground through a thin cable. The drones are 1.5 meters wide and 0.8 meters tall and can take off from a fixed spot, like a helicopter, and then switch to flying like an airplane midflight.

google project wing drone WSJ

According to an extensive profile in The Atlantic, a few dozen Googlers have been involved with the project since its inception two years ago. In its initial phase, Project Wing was led by Nick Roy, a roboticist on a sabbatical break from MIT; following Roy’s return to his regular job, drone expert Dave Vos took over.

Over the past year, Google has tested Project Wing in Australia, a country that has more permissive regulations concerning drones compared to the US, where the FTA issued a blanket ban on commercial development of unmanned air vehicles. The video below is a glimpse of the testing – Australian cattle rancher Neil Parfitt “orders” a package including dog food, from project lead Nick Roy, who promptly dispatches a drone with the package.

As you can see, Google is pretty confident that it solved all the major challenges of the project, though delivery drones are in no way ready for commercial deployment yet. Google still has tons of technical issues to solve, from designing a software interface for users to call drones, to finding a way to avoid dangerous obstacles like power lines, to tweaking the drone’s navigation software for a myriad of edge cases.

One of the biggest problems that Google needs to surmount is obtaining clearance to operate the drones. To do so, the company says it “wants a seat at the regulatory table.” Commercial drone operation may be illegal for now in the US, but Google has experience in clearing regulatory hurdles – see self-driving cars and smart contact lenses for proof.

What’s the end goal for Project Wing? Google says it initially thought about speeding up the process of delivering defibrillators to victims of heart attacks in remote places. But it found that integrating drone delivery in the emergency response system would cancel the speed advantage offered by using a drone in the first place.

Imagine receiving your Play Store order in 30 minutes or less

So Google is now focusing on speedy delivery of goods – the company’s Shopping Express retail service could greatly benefit from super-fast deliveries. Customers could order their groceries (or, why not, a smartphone from the Play Store) and have them in their front yards within minutes. Amazon is exploring the same idea, while Domino’s experimented with drones for pizza deliveries. But we’re still probably years away from scenarios like these.

For an in-depth look at Project Wing, check out The Atlantic’s article by Alexis Madrigal.


Source: The Atlantic;

Google unveils ‘Project Wing’, a drone-based delivery system

Posted by wicked August - 29 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

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Amazon already unveiled their future drone-based delivery system a few months ago, but you didn’t think Google didn’t have something similar planned did you? It’s seems to be the perfect application for Google X Labs, and it is.

They just unveiled “Project Wing” which is exactly that. Apparently they have already conducted 30 test flights in mid August as part of the first phase. The video below shows successful deliveries to farmers in Australia.

Google’s drone design during this phase consists of a hybrid plane and a helicopter called a tail sitter. It takes off vertically, then flies around after rotating to a horizontal position. When it’s ready for delivery, it hovers and winches packages down to the ground. An “egg” detects when the package has hit the ground, then releases the delivery, and goes back up into the body of the drone.

Of course, this system isn’t completely reliable just yet, but Google feels they are well on the way to making this happen. Check out the video below and let us know what you think.

Click here to view the embedded video.

source: The Atlantic

Come comment on this article: Google unveils ‘Project Wing’, a drone-based delivery system

Project Wing revealed to be Google’s drone deliver moonshot

Posted by wicked August - 29 - 2014 - Friday Comments Off

Google, or to be specific, Google X, really loves stretching the boundaries of technology, and maybe the law as well. Seemingly taking after Amazon’s own drone-powered delivery plans, Google X has revealed it has its own “Project Wing” delivery system already in the works, with a slight twist.

To be fair, Wing isn’t really an imitation of Amazon’s drone dreams. Project Wing was said to have been in development for already two years now. And it wasn’t initially conceptualized to deliver packages. It was first intended for emergency situations, delivering defibrillators to heart attack victims, where speed of deployment is of the essence. Unfortunately, the red tape involved in integrating it with a 911 system and other considerations negated whatever speed benefits Project Wing had to offer. And since Google has already started its own same-day express delivery service, why not reuse Wing for something less life critical and more sensational?

Project Wing neatly ties into Google’s latest obsession: automation and robots. Unlike most commercial drones in the market, though, Project Wing is quite unique, part plane, part helicopter. Like a helicopter, it takes of vertically, almost like a rocket with its nose pointed up. Then it rotates on its pitch to a conventional lateral position as it flies to its destination. You might imagine it would then fly down to your door (and maybe even ring your doorbell) to deliver the package, but not so. It remains hovering in the air and will instead lower the package to the ground with a cable.

The public reveal of Project Wing was prompted by growing rumors and leaks, but Google hasn’t said yet if it’s ready to be delivered. Even if it technically ready, it still has to pass one of the hardest and most painstaking hurdle of all: getting it legally certified. At the moment, Google X is conducting its Project Wing tests in Australia, where drones aren’t yet the subject of government scrutiny the way it has lately been in the US.

SOURCE: The Atlantic
VIA: SlashGear

Good Read: History of Motorola – From Marty Cooper to the OG DROID and Sanjay to Today

Posted by Kellex August - 28 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

If you were looking for a solid article that covers the history of Motorola from its glorious days of inventing the first mobile phone to its eventual fall, rise again thanks to the original DROID, to its landslide decline again before being sold to Google and then to Lenovo, Chicago Magazine has you covered. In a piece released at the beginning of the week, the story of one of America’s most innovative companies is detailed from the good times to the bad. We’re talking from its founding days in 1928 as Galvin Manufacturing Corp to its current up-in-the-air status with a Lenovo acquisition looming over their new downtown Chicago headquarters.

You should really go read the full article if Motorola’s history interests you at all, but for the sake of saving a bit of time and grabbing your attention, we have pulled out a couple of excerpts on events that stood out to us, starting in the 70s.  

The introduction of the first phone by Marty Cooper:

Of all Motorola’s inventions, none were as transformative as the cell phone. A request from Orlando Wilson, Chicago’s police chief from 1960 to 1967, provided the impetus. Violent crime in the city was surging. Wilson wanted his patrol officers out of their cars and on foot, but he didn’t want them on the street without a way to stay connected.

Cooper, among others, envisioned a solution: a handheld phone that functioned on a wireless cellular network. Bob Galvin realized that the market for such a device could extend well beyond law enforcement. So he committed $100 million to developing it. In 1973, Cooper made his first call—to a rival at AT&T’s Bell Labs—on a boot-size prototype.

On the massive success that Motorola once had in the cellphone business, before being lapped by Nokia:

Indeed, thanks largely to its still-growing cellular business, in 1994 Motorola rose to 23rd on the Fortune 500 list of the nation’s biggest public companies, with revenues of $22 billion and profits of nearly $2 billion. By 1994, 60 percent of the mobile phones sold in the United States were Motorolas, with the wireless business making up nearly 65 percent of the company’s revenues.

But Motorola was about to fall off a cliff. Because Finnish rival Nokia had wisely retooled for digital, by the time Gary Tooker’s four-year run as CEO ended in 1997, Nokia had surpassed Motorola as the world’s largest mobile phone maker. It had become a newly powerful competitor in building networks, too. Nokia would remain the world’s largest maker of mobile phones by volume—if not by revenue—for the next 15 years.

On Motorola essentially teaching Steve Jobs how to make the ultimate smartphone:

Meanwhile, in arguably one of the worst decisions ever made by a major corporate CEO, Zander struck a deal with his Silicon Valley friend Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple. Together their companies created a Motorola iTunes phone, the first phone connected to Apple’s music store. “We can’t think of a more natural partnership than this one with Apple,” Zander said at the time. Named the Rokr, the phone launched in the fall of 2005. Jobs, who introduced it, called it “an iPod Shuffle right on your phone.”

Zander says he believed that by working with Apple, Motorola could become cool again. But much as it had taught the Chinese to compete with it years before, Motorola was teaching one of the most creative, competitive, and consumer-savvy companies of all time how to make a phone.

On choosing Android for the original DROID:

The presentation, held in early 2009, grew heated. One top Motorola executive declared that choosing Android over Windows Mobile was madness. Google’s system wasn’t ready for prime time, he argued, whereas Microsoft was one of the most powerful software companies in the world.

Jha would not budge. Motorola’s board faced two options: go with Jha’s recommendation or shut down the mobile phone business altogether.

By a vote of 4 to 3, the board members chose the former. Quickly, Arshad handpicked a team of 200 in-house engineers to work closely with a Google team led by Andy Rubin, who had created the Android system. “They wanted Motorola to be successful and to prove everyone wrong,” says Arshad. “To save the company.”

The article goes on and on, so this is just a taste. It’s good stuff, again, especially if you are interested at all in the history of Motorola.

To read the whole article, head over to Chicago Magazine.

Cheers Robert!

Good Read: History of Motorola – From Marty Cooper to the OG DROID and Sanjay to Today is a post from: Droid Life

Google Glass gets access to Pandora

Posted by wicked August - 28 - 2014 - Thursday Comments Off

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Google Glass owners now have access to Pandora Internet Radio via their wearable device. Users get access to their existing stations or they can create a new station using voice commands. However, several other controls still require the use of the touchpad, including play/pause controls, favoriting tracks and dismissing tracks.

The Glass version of Pandora was spawned by a Hack-a-thon earlier this year. The hack ended up working well enough that Pandora decided to share it with Google so it could be made available to Glass owners.

If you have Google Glass, just head over to the Glassware page or use the MyGlass app to find Pandora. Turn the app on, sign in and grant the requested permissions, and it will be added to your device.

source: Google Glass

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Google could launch two Nexus smartphones this year

Posted by wicked August - 27 - 2014 - Wednesday Comments Off

Nexus_5_Nexus_Logo_TA

It just might be the last year of the Nexus, and if it is, it could go out with a bang. We already know about the Nexus X, but is it going to be a 5.2-inch model or a 5.9-inch model?

It’s expected that the Nexus X will in fact be 5.9-inches, but we also know that Motorola is testing two Moto S devices, a 5.2-incher and a 5.9-incher. It’s unclear whether Motorola will release both devices, but a source close to the supply chain is saying that Google is readying the unused device. So If Motorola releases the 5.9-inch version under the Moto S name, Google would then take the 5.2-incher and make it a second Nexus device.

I’m not really sure why it matters what Motorola does here. If Google wanted to release both the 5.2 and 5.9, I don’t see why it makes a difference whether Motorola releases it under the Moto S name or not. More importantly, what would Google call it? They already used the Nexus S name a few years ago.

I guess we will have to wait and see. Google has never released two Nexus smartphones in the same year so this would be a big change. I think it makes sense to offer two sizes though since 5.9-inches won’t be attractive to a lot of people. What do you guys think?

source: Phone Arena

Come comment on this article: Google could launch two Nexus smartphones this year

[APK] Google News and Weather Gets Material Design Makeover, Minor Maps Updates

Posted by Will Verduzco August - 27 - 2014 - Wednesday Comments Off

Google News and Weather 2

Although Google has somewhat gotten out of the habit of their previously unrelenting Update Wednesday sessions, the middle of the week is still prime time for first party Android application updates. Today, we have been graced by not one, but two updates. And surprisingly, one of the two is for an app that hasn’t received a formal app update in… well… ever.

The first update, which actually started making its way out to devices yesterday afternoon, is for Google News and Weather. For those who don’t remember, this application has essentially remained unchanged ever since the Android 2.x days. Although over the years it received a minor color scheme update, its core functionality has been unchanged since its inception.

Now, Google News and Weather version 2 (up from 1.3) has made its debut in the Google Play Store, and it brings essentially an entirely new user experience. For starters, there’s now a slide-out “hamburger menu” available from any screen, which lets you shift between news categories. Sliding left and right still takes you through the categories, though there’s no longer a tabbed indicator up top. There’s also a new main screen, complete with top stories and a better weather indicator. The app also gives a new information screen when opened the first time to show you all of the new features. Finally, the UI itself has been fully updated to make use of the now nearly ubiquitous Material Design-styled colors that Google’s first party Android apps are starting to follow.

In addition to the massive Google News and Weather update, we have a minor update to Google Maps. Coming in at version 8.3.1 (up from 8.2.0), this is primarily a bugfix update from what we can see.

The Google News and Weather update is available for all supported devices straight on Google Play, but for some reason it doesn’t appear to be available in all regions and for all devices. As such, we’ve gone ahead and mirrored both APKs on our Google Drive for your early access, sideloading pleasure:

[Many thanks to XDA Portal Supporter MihirGosai for the APKs and info!]

The post [APK] Google News and Weather Gets Material Design Makeover, Minor Maps Updates appeared first on xda-developers.

Cyanogen Inc. Working on “Something Really Cool” With Ex Google, HTC and Apple Employees

Posted by Tim-o-tato August - 27 - 2014 - Wednesday Comments Off

“Something really cool” is getting worked on, as announced by Cyanogen Inc. and Nextbit, a not-so-new startup focused entirely on mobile devices and cloud computing. Nextbit’s team is comprised of former Google (original Android team engineers), Dropbox, Amazon, and Apple employees, and last night, the company announced they are to bring on former HTC Senior VP Scott Croyle as Vice President of Design and Product. 

While the something really cool is quite an unknown, Cyanogen posted to Google+ that they are looking for alpha testers, aka people who are willing to wipe their devices to try out whatever it is they are working on.

Purely speculation, but with Nextbit’s heavy focus on hardware and design, coupled with Cyanogen building a custom OS for it, we could be looking at the makings of a new US-based OnePlus-type device.

The only type of explanation or peek into what Nextbit is working on comes from their CEO, Tom Moss. In the press release, he states, “As an industry, we’re really just getting started with mobile. At Nextbit, we are building a world class engineering team to tackle big technical problems. We know Scott [Croyle] is the right person to guarantee that all the technology we build focuses on creating unique mobile experiences for users.”

If down the road we can expect some type of device from this team, would you be looking forward to it?

Via: Engadget | +Cyanogen Inc. | Nextbit

Cyanogen Inc. Working on “Something Really Cool” With Ex Google, HTC and Apple Employees is a post from: Droid Life

Google updates News and Weather app to look like Google Now

Posted by wicked August - 27 - 2014 - Wednesday Comments Off

In keeping up with the transformation of its basic apps into their “Material” design language, Google has now updated the look of its News and Weather app. The panel and card-type design now makes the app, which is built-in for some devices, look like Google Now. It also seems to be more competitive now with other news apps like Flipboard, News360 and even Google’s own Google Play Newsstand.

The News and Weather app comes pre-installed into the newer Android devices, particularly those that have Ice Cream Sandwich, Jelly Bean, Kitkat and Honeycomb (okay now we’re craving for sweets). The panels now look more like your cards on Google Now and you will be able to add certain news sites on different categories to keep updated on your favourite sites without going to each of them everyday. You just swipe through the headlines and articles that you want (or not want) to read.

You can also add columns for topics that you want to keep updated on, like the latest social media news or all the Star Wars updates and rumours that you could possibly need. And if the news you want is location-based, you can also add specific places that you want to keep track of. The app also has a widget that you can easily add to your home screen for easier access to your News and Weather. There are also different languages to customize your news and of course, shareability is an important feature in any news app, and so it is very present here.

If News and Weather isn’t built-in your smartphone or tablet already, you can also download it for free from the Google Play Store. However, it is incompatible with several devices, including some Samsung ones, so better check first before getting all excited about having the app. In case it doesn’t work on your device, we’ve written about our recommended news apps for Android devices, so you might want to check them out too.

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VIA: SlashGear

Nexus 9 confirmed to sport a 64-bit Tegra K1

Posted by wicked August - 27 - 2014 - Wednesday Comments Off

Nexus_9_Screenshot_Tegra_k1-64-bit

Screenshots of the upcoming Nexus 9 has leaked online revealing that it is going to be pretty darn powerful. According to one of the screenshots, it will back a 64-bit Tegra K1. This could very well be the first tablet to sport the SoC. The Shield Tablet features the Tegra K1, but it’s only the 32-bit version.

NVIDIA unveiled the 64-bit version a couple of weeks ago. This chip sports the same 192-core Keplar architecture-based GPU in the 32-bit version, but it’s paired with NVIDIA’s own 64-bit, dual core “Project Denver” CPU. It also supports up to 8 GB of RAM.

Click here to view the embedded video.

The big question, other than when this tablet will get released, has to be how much this bad boy is going to cost?

source: TKTechNews

 

Come comment on this article: Nexus 9 confirmed to sport a 64-bit Tegra K1

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