Weekend Stories: The Falcon Has Landed, Festo Flying Object, and Romeo Can Walk

Falcon 9 landing at sea

Falcon 9 first stage rocket successfully landed

I dare to say that we are living history in the making. Yesterday, at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, SpaceX launched a resupply mission to the International Space Station. There was however a secondary purpose, while the Dragon CRS-8 spacecraft has the mission to deliver its 3.2 Ton cargo and inflatable habitat – another premiere – to the ISS on Sunday, the Falcon 9 first stage rocket had to be retrieved in one piece soon after, by propulsion landing it on their “Of Course I Still Love You” drone ship at sea. It was a complete success and a remarkable achievement, further supporting the concept of reusable rockets and bringing all of us one step closer to consumer space travel. Watch the webcast replay in case you missed it, or read more about the CRS-8 mission.

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Sweep: An Affordable Scanning LIDAR Sensor for any Mobile Robot

Sweep is a low-cost 360 degree scanning laser sensor capable of delivering advanced sensing capabilities for a retail price of only US $249. The sensor is also compact and lightweight making it an ideal candidate for almost any type of robotic application – be it a multirotor drone, self-driving car, or advanced tracking and positioning system. Sweep has already proven itself in beta testing, and by the time it reaches the market drivers and SDKs will be available for all major development platforms.

Sweep scanning LIDAR sensor

Sweep scanning LIDAR sensor | Image credit: Scanse

The sensor is the product of many years of research and has been created by Scanse – a team of two engineers from San Leandro, California with a background in developing outdoor consumer robots. With less than three days to go the project has been successfully funded, having surpassed the US $230,000 campaign goal.

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Microsoft Announces Linux Shell Integration on Windows 10

Microsoft is making a bold and surprising move by integrating the popular Bash shell into Windows, once again demonstrating the company’s developer oriented approach adopted only a few years back. The Linux command line will be native to the OS and is the fruit of Microsoft’s partnership with Canonical – the company behind the Ubuntu Linux distribution. It will be introduced as part of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update which will be rolled out this summer.

Ubuntu Bash shell comes to Windows 10

Image credit: Microsoft

The announcement was made at the Build 2016 convention, held this week in San Francisco, by Director Kevin Gallo and received thunderous applause from the audience as well as immense appreciation worldwide.

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Raspberry Pi 3 vs Raspberry Pi 2: A Real-World Performance Comparison

Raspberry Pi 2 and Pi 3

It is time to compare the newly released Raspberry Pi 3 Model B against its predecessor the Pi 2. Obviously the Pi 3 is faster, it has proven itself in benchmarks, however I wanted to find out what are the actual performance gains in real world usage scenarios. I devised a series of tests in which the boards were set up as general purpose computers running the standard Raspbian distribution, as media centers running Kodi, and also I tested network speeds over their wired and wireless interfaces.

As you might already know the new Pi 3 sports a more powerful ARM CPU, built-in wireless LAN and Bluetooth interfaces, and a higher clocked GPU. You can view the specs of the Pi 3 and the Pi 2 Model B boards as a quick reminder. This being said let’s continue to the first topic of this comparison which is by no means exhaustive but rather and insight on out of the box performance increases.

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Raspberry Pi 3 Adds WiFi, Bluetooth and a Powerful 64-bit CPU for the Same Price

The new Raspberry Pi 3 was released today to celebrate exactly four years since the original board was released. The third iteration of this highly popular development platform now comes with a powerful 64-bit ARM CPU as well as integrated WiFi and Bluetooth LE connectivity for the same price of US $35. The new board retains backward compatibility with all previous versions and is accompanied by the current 32-bit Raspian OS.

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B | Image credit: Raspberry Pi Foundation

The layout is fairly similar to previous Model B boards, real differences however are taking place under the hood. This is the first 64-bit board in the Raspberry Pi lineup, and is built around the Broadcom BCM2837 SoC which integrates a new ARMv8-based CPU. The new board is roughly 1.5 times as fast as the Raspberry Pi 2 in 32-bit mode, according to the Foundation.

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MWC 2016 Roundup: Robots, Smart Things and new Technologies

MWC 2016 Roundup

The Mobile World Congress took place in Barcelona, Spain this week setting the stage for tech and telecommunications giants as well as smaller companies and startups to show off their newest products and innovations. Separation of various areas of the consumer electronics market is not that clear anymore, most of this being attributed to the ever growing adoption of the Internet of Things paradigm. Even the most mundane devices are getting more intelligent and interactive, allowing for functionality barely thought of only a little while ago.

This year we are witnessing an explosion in connected gadgets and accessories ranging from fairly advanced cameras, smart watches, or entertainment systems to the simplest wearables, some of which are nothing but very basic sensors glued together with some type of communication interface.

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Boston Dynamics Showcases Next Generation ATLAS Humanoid Robot

A short while ago Boston Dynamics released a video featuring the newest iteration of their ATLAS robot which sports very significant upgrades – to say the least – over the previous generation. Its most impressive feature is the fact that it can maintain its balance over virtually any type of terrain even when pushed or kicked, and it is also able to lift itself up unassisted in case of a fall or otherwise. The robot can operate in fully untethered fashion, and it can also accomplish certain tasks such as opening doors or maneuvering larger objects.

The new ATLAS robot is much more compact, lightweight and robust compared to the first version introduced in last year’s DARPA Robotics Challenge. The robot tips the scale at 82 kg or 180 lbs, which represents a little over half of what the previous edition weighted, and is also 15 cm shorter at 1.75 meters (5’9″).

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