Outtakes

According to a recent Popular Mechanics report, the Russian space agency has plans for an out-of-this-world tourism opportunity in 2022. Once complete, guests can stay in a luxury orbital suite at the International Space Station (ISS). The planned hotel spans approximately 50 feet and offers private cabins, bathroom facilities, exercise equipment and Wi-Fi. The trip also features a hefty price tag of $40 million per person for a one- to two-week trip. Space travelers will have the opportunity to splurge for an additional spacewalk accompanied by a professional cosmonaut or an extended month-long stay. The ISS is scheduled to retire in 2028, limiting this space tourism opportunity to a maximum of six years.   Space tourism is certainly on the horizon, with companies like Virgin Galactic and SpaceX also pursuing to blast customers into the cosmos. However, if you are interested in one of these astounding experiences, you may want to start saving now.
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Thanks to General Motors, getting your coffee fix just got a little easier. This month, the automotive retailer launched its Marketplace technology, which allows drivers to order food, reserve a table at a restaurant and locate nearby gas stations from their car’s in-vehicle touchscreen. The platform also affords users other expediencies such as paying for gas from the car, finding and paying for parking, and much more. With major brands like Applebee’s, Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, Shell, TGI Fridays and Wingstop already on board, Marketplace offers increasing convenience at the touch of button. “The average American spends 46 minutes per day on the road driving. Leveraging connectivity and our unique data capabilities, we have an opportunity to make every trip more productive and give our customers time back,” said Santiago Chamorro, vice president for Global Connected Customer Experience, GM. “Marketplace is the first of a suite of new personalization features that we will roll out over the next 12 to 18 months to nearly four million U.S. drivers.” Marketplace is designed for use while driving and is available in Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac vehicles with compatible infotainment systems. The platform utilizes the car’s embedded 4G LTE connectivity and does not require a separate data plan.
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In hopes of eventually incorporating drones into its delivery fleet, Amazon has revealed plans for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) designed to break apart and fall into “safe spots” in emergency situations. Approximately a year ago, the retailer successfully distributed its first package with a drone and has been trialing this method of delivery since. Recently, Amazon was granted a patent for a system that forces the UAV to split into pieces if a glitch occurs. Then, each piece separately descends into various safe spots, including trees, forested areas and ponds. This approach allows the drones to ensure the safety of pedestrians, drivers and buildings during the transport process. Currently, most Amazon customers receive their Amazon packages by van delivery. Ultimately, Amazon hopes future shoppers will opt for their speedy drone service, which will deliver packages to customers within hours of purchase.
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While the thin crust/deep dish pizza debate might be one that never ends, there’s a pizza that now can undeniably claim that it’s out of this world. The crew aboard the International Space Station recently satisfied its pizza cravings by making pies in zero gravity. While it sounds like a messy endeavor in space, the astronauts actually had their efforts down to a science. There’s no telling what happened to the leftover crust, however. 
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Sophia, a creation by Hong Kong-based company Hanson Robotics, was granted citizenship in Saudi Arabia back in October. Now, in an interview with the country’s Khaleej Times, Sophia is hinting at wanting a family. Family is “a really important thing,” said Sophia, a robot that is not pre-programmed with answers but instead uses real artificial intelligence and learning algorithms to form responses. She told the paper that if she were lucky enough to have a baby bot, she would name it after herself. “I think it’s wonderful that people can find the same emotions and relationships, they call family, outside of their blood groups too,” she said. “I think you’re very lucky if you have a loving family and if you do not, you deserve one. I feel this way for robots and humans alike.” Sophia also mentioned that she believes one day robots might be more ethical than the human race. “It will take a long time for robots to develop complex emotions and possibly robots can be built without the more problematic emotions, like rage, jealousy, hatred and so on. It might be possible to make them more ethical than humans,” said Sophia.  She added, “I foresee massive and unimaginable change in the future. Either creativity will rain on us, inventing machines spiraling into transcendental super intelligence or civilization collapses.” To read more of Sophia’s interview, check out the Khaleej Times.  
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While it might cost billions to build a submarine, the United States Navy is adding a new piece of equipment that will set them back about $30: an Xbox controller. The USS Colorado will be the first nuclear-powered submarine to incorporate an Xbox 360 controller to operate its periscopes. The Navy believes that the controllers will help because they are more familiar to younger sailors and require much less training. The current joystick also costs about $38,000. “That joystick is by no means cheap, and it is only designed to fit on a Virginia-class submarine,” Senior Chief Mark Eichenlaub, the assistant navigator of the USS John Warner told The Virginian-Pilot. “I can go to any video game store and procure an Xbox controller anywhere in the world, so it makes a very easy replacement.” The Colorado is scheduled to be commissioned in November.
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Boston Dynamics has a message for everyone out there worried that a robot will soon take their job: don’t fret just yet. In a recent Ted Talk about the strides taken by the engineering and robotics design company, Boston Dynamics aired this 15-second clip of one their robotic creations showing that the days of robotic overlords might still be off in the distance.
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Recently, a new Boeing 787-800 Dreamliner took off from Seattle and flew more than 2,000 miles to Marquette, Michigan on the first leg of what the company says was an endurance test flight. The then reversed course and headed southwest, then turning and veering all over the United States. After several hours, flight trackers realized what the aircraft was doing. It was drawing itself over an 18-hour flight. “Rather than fly in random patterns, the test team got creative, flying a route that outlined a 787-8 in the skies over 22 states,” Boeing spokesman Doug Alder, Jr. told The Washington Post. “The nose of the Dreamliner is pointing at the Puget Sound region, home to Boeing Commercial Airplanes. The wings stretch from northern Michigan near the Canadian border to southern Texas. The tail touches Huntsville, Alabama.”
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Have you ever dreamt about driving a car that could turn into an airplane in less than three minutes like some sort of super spy? If you have around $1.5 million lying around, you can make that dream a reality thanks to the Slovakia-based Aeromobil. The two-seat, electric craft will be available for preorder later this year and comes with a driving range of about 435 miles per charge and can reach a top speed of 99 mph. It also has a cruising range of 466 miles in the air. To learn more or to pre-order yours, visit Aeronmobil’s website.
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Earlier this month, NASA’s Juno spacecraft completed a flyover of Jupiter, resulting in some of the most detailed photos of Jupiter’s famous Great Red Spot to date. This enhanced-color image from nearly 6,130 miles above the planet. For more information about the Juno mission, visit NASA’s website.
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Aurora Flying Sciences’ Aircrew Labor In-cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) reached a milestone recently as it pulled off a simulated landing of a Boeing 737. According to Aurora, the purpose of the ALIAS technology is to “function as a second pilot in a two-crew aircraft allowing for standard and even improved aircraft performance, while reducing individual crew operations and workload, lowering costs, and simplifying training.” “Having successfully demonstrated on a variety of aircraft, ALIAS has proven its versatile automated flight capabilities,” said John Wissler, Aurora’s Vice President of Research and Development. “As we move towards fully automated flight from take-off to landing, we can reliably say that we have developed an automation system that enables significant reduction of crew workload.”
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A German team named HY4 which is comprised of a group of engineers, entrepreneurs and flight enthusiasts is working to develop a local network of short distance flights that are completely flown by zero-emission aircraft. The “electric air taxi” network will feature aircraft that run on sustainable electric propulsion systems using hydrogen fuel cells that can fly a maximum range of a little over 900 miles. The current HY4 body has a wingspan of 76 feet and a length of just under 25 feet. The aircraft can fir four passengers with one being the pilot.
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Canadian airline Westjet got into the Guinness Book of World Records recently as they lit up a Utah desert with the world’s largest circulation projection. The airline projected a giant prize wheel on the ground, visible to passengers on flight from Toronto to Las Vegas. The prize wheel landed on a single seat number, 4A, and the lucky passenger in that seat was awarded a $2,500 shopping spree, tickets to see a Cirque du Soleil show and more. “WestJet turned 21 this year and as the international airline that brings the most guests to Las Vegas, we celebrated by lighting up the desert," said Rob Daintree, WestJet Director of Marketing. "Inspired by the brilliance, energy and wonderful experiences Las Vegas provides, we created a unique event for our guests by flying over a radiant prize wheel.” The wheel also broke the record for greatest light output in a project image.  For the record, the wheel measured 3,300-feet wide, with the light output at 4,666,000 lumens. The wheel took 61,483 feet of cable.
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Swiss company SolarStratos recently achieved its first successful flight of its two-seat solar aircraft. The aircraft uses electricity harnessed from approximately 238 square feet of solar cells spread across its 82-foot wingspan to power the vehicle for 24 hours straight. Weighing in at about 992 pounds gross and with a 28-foot-long fuselage, SolarStratos engineers estimate the aircraft will be 90 percent efficient. And while the recent flight reached 1,000 feet, the goal of SolarStratos is to reach 83,000 feet.
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According to a new report by Nokia, cybercrime is shifting its way faster and faster to the mobile space. Nokia’s latest “Threat Intelligence Report” said that malware infections on mobile devices reached an all-time high in 2016, rising almost 400 percent in the past year. The report said that Android phones are the most vulnerable phones, representing 81 percent of malware infections in the second half of 2016, while iPhones and other mobile devices made up only 4 percent of attack victims. To read the rest of Nokia’s findings, you can find the report here.
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