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Rolls-Royce demonstrates robotic bugs as the future of engine maintenance

Rolls-Royce showed off its new vision for the future of engine maintenance this week at the  Farnborough Airshow, and it might make your skin crawl. As part of its IntelligentEngine vision (which the company announced at the Singapore Airshow earlier this year ), it demonstrated plans for both a robotic snake and swarm of cockroach-like miniature robots that, in theory, will work together to inspect the interior of aircraft engines without removing the entire engine. Neither technology is mature enough to be put into practice yet, but here’s how it should work: In partnership with Harvard University and the University of Nottingham, Rolls-Royce is working to build 10mm miniature, collaborative robots — called SWARM — that will be able to provide to the human operator a live video feed of an engine interior via small cameras.   While scaling these bots down to size will be a challenge for the company and its collaborators, it’s a challenge that Harvard University researchers have been working at for eight years now , according to a statement given by Harvard researcher Sebastien de Rivas at the show. For SWARM to access the engines, these small bots will catch a ride with FLARE — a pair of endoscopic, snake-like robots that can slither inside the nooks and crannies of a large piece of machinery and deposit SWARM at the inspection point. The company also has plans for FLARE to carry out internal patch repairs. In addition to these ambitious plans, Rolls-Royce also displayed slightly more mature technologies, including a network of periscope-like INSPECT bots, which they plan to permanently install inside engines for constant spot maintenance, as well as remote boreblending robots that can be controlled by specialist engineers to assist with complicated maintenance tasks. These kinds of advancements in engineering could help lead to more cost-efficient maintenance of large crafts, where previously maintenance was driven by internal sensor data and carried out manually — a process that can last up to five hours, James Kell, Rolls-Royce on-wing technology specialist,  told The Engineer . With robots like SWARM, Kell told the publication, the process could take as little as five minutes. While the efficiency of these robotic assistants cannot be denied, the accuracy and reliability has yet to be demonstrated, and the level of comfort passengers have knowing their aircraft was inspected by an intelligent swarm of robotic bugs is still up in the air.

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A $225 GPS spoofer can send sat-nav-guided vehicles into oncoming traffic *

Enlarge (credit: Zeng et al. ) Billions of people—and a growing number of autonomous vehicles—rely on mobile navigation services from Google, Uber, and others to provide real-time driving directions. A new proof-of-concept attack demonstrates how hackers could inconspicuously steer a targeted automobile to the wrong destination or, worse, endanger passengers by sending them down the wrong way of a one-way road. The attack starts with a $225 piece of hardware that’s planted in or underneath the targeted vehicle that spoofs the radio signals used by civilian GPS services. It then uses algorithms to plot a fake “ghost route” that mimics the turn-by-turn navigation directions contained in the original route. Depending on the hackers’ ultimate motivations, the attack can be used to divert an emergency vehicle or a specific passenger to an unintended location or to follow an unsafe route. The attack works best in urban areas the driver doesn’t know well, and it assumes hackers have a general idea of the vehicle’s intended destination. “Our study demonstrated the initial feasibility of manipulating the road navigation system through targeted GPS spoofing,” the researchers, from Virginia Tech, China’s University of Electronic Sciences and Technology, and Microsoft Research, wrote in an 18-page paper . “The threat becomes more realistic as car makers are adding autopilot features so that human drivers can be less involved (or completely disengaged).” Read 10 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Peelable circuits make it easy to Internet all the things

Researchers at Purdue University and the University of Virginia are now able to create “tiny, thin-film electronic circuits peelable from a surface,” the first step in creating an unobtrusive Internet-of-Things solution. The peelable stickers can sit flush to an object’s surface and be used as sensors or wireless communications systems. The biggest difference between these stickers and traditional solutions is the removal of the silicon wafer that manufacturers use. Because the entire circuit is transferred right on the sticker there is no need for bulky packages and you can pull off and restick the circuits as needed. “We could customize a sensor, stick it onto a drone, and send the drone to dangerous areas to detect gas leaks, for example,” said Chi Hwan Lee, Purdue assistant professor. From the release: A ductile metal layer, such as nickel, inserted between the electronic film and the silicon wafer, makes the peeling possible in water. These thin-film electronics can then be trimmed and pasted onto any surface, granting that object electronic features. Putting one of the stickers on a flower pot, for example, made that flower pot capable of sensing temperature changes that could affect the plant’s growth. The system “prints” circuits by etching the circuit on a wafer and then placing the film over the traces. Then, with the help of a little water, the researchers can peel up the film and use it as a sticker. They published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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The Rising STAR robot can run, flip, and crawl

A clever little robot made by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev can roll around, flip itself over, and even crawl like a turtle through rough terrain. The robot uses wheels, a set of star-shaped rollers, and cleverly articulated arms to ride along at various speeds. The robot, called Rising STAR , uses wheels and spoked “whegs” to roll around at about one meter per second and it can fold itself flat and pull itself forward when it finds mud or sand. It can also make itself very skinny to ride through tight spots and can even flip itself over if it falls. A weighted “head” can keep the robot balanced as it tools along, allowing it to climb up and over steep surfaces and, the researchers say, even sneak through pipes or between tight walls. Rising STAR is an updated version of the university’s Sprawl-Tuned Autonomous Robot that it displayed in 2013. This new version is far more capable and, thanks to its “whegs” and turtle-gait, far cooler.

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UK’s Information Commissioner will fine Facebook the maximum £500K over Cambridge Analytica breach

Facebook continues to face fallout over the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which revealed how user data was stealthily obtained by way of quizzes and then appropriated for other purposes, such as targeted political advertising. Today, the U.K. Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) announced that it would be issuing the social network with its maximum fine, £500,000 ($662,000) after it concluded that it “contravened the law” — specifically the 1998 Data Protection Act — “by failing to safeguard people’s information.” The ICO is clear that Facebook effectively broke the law by failing to keep users data safe, when their systems allowed Dr Aleksandr Kogan, who developed an app, called “This is your digital life” on behalf of Cambridge Analytica, to scrape the data of up to 87 million Facebook users. This included accessing all of the friends data of the individual accounts that had engaged with Dr Kogan’s app. The ICO’s inquiry first started in May 2017 in the wake of the Brexit vote and questions over how parties could have manipulated the outcome using targeted digital campaigns. Damian Collins, the MP who is the chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee that has been undertaking the investigation, has as a result of this said that the DCMS will now demand more information from Facebook, including which other apps might have also been involved, or used in a similar way by others, as well as what potential links all of this activity might have had to Russia. He’s also gearing up to demand a full, independent investigation of the company, rather than the internal audit that Facebook so far has provided. A full statement from Collins is below. The fine, and the follow-up questions that U.K. government officials are now asking, are a signal that Facebook — after months of grilling on both sides of the Atlantic amid a wider investigation — is not yet off the hook in the U.K. This will come as good news to those who watched the hearings (and non-hearings ) in Washington, London and European Parliament and felt that Facebook and others walked away relatively unscathed . The reverberations are also being felt in other parts of the world. In Australia, a group earlier today announced that it was forming a class action lawsuit against Facebook for breaching data privacy as well.

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Facebook will soon begin testing Stories Highlights, user collections of photos and videos from their Stories Archive, similar to Instagram’s Stories…

Josh Constine / TechCrunch : Facebook will soon begin testing Stories Highlights, user collections of photos and videos from their Stories Archive, similar to Instagram's Stories Highlights   —  Before Snapchat made social media about just today, Facebook made it about forever.  The 2011 “Timeline” redesign of the profile …

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YouTube overhauls how it handles breaking news, adding previews of articles from credible sources, showing info from third parties, testing local news…

YouTube Blog : YouTube overhauls how it handles breaking news, adding previews of articles from credible sources, showing info from third parties, testing local news in TV app   —  The work of trusted journalistic organizations is as critical as ever, especially when it comes to seeking information about current events online.

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Top GOP lawmakers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee write letters to Apple and Alphabet for more info on how they handle data from users’…

John D. McKinnon / Wall Street Journal : Top GOP lawmakers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee write letters to Apple and Alphabet for more info on how they handle data from users' smartphones   —  Letters seek more information on how smartphones collect user location and other data  —  WASHINGTON—House lawmakers sent letters Monday …

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Google may get record penalty this month from the EU, sources say in the billions of dollars, for forcing its search and web-browsing tools onto…

Tony Romm / Washington Post : Google may get record penalty this month from the EU, sources say in the billions of dollars, for forcing its search and web-browsing tools onto Android devices   —  Google could face a new record penalty this month from European regulators for forcing its search and Web-browsing tools …

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Profile of Megvii, a Chinese AI firm which reportedly raised $460M in November for its Face++ facial recognition tech used by 300K developers in 150…

Business Insider : Profile of Megvii, a Chinese AI firm which reportedly raised $460M in November for its Face++ facial recognition tech used by 300K developers in 150 countries   —  - Two Chinese startups, SenseTime and Megvii, are becoming the world leaders in real-world deployment of facial recognition software …

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