By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Robo-Drop department
Starship Technologies has begun testing their on-demand delivery robots in cities around the world -- including Washington, D.C. -- to manage the "last mile" for small deliveries. Slashdot reader Okian Warrior quotes the Starship Technologies site: Capable of carrying the equivalent of two grocery bags, the robots can complete local deliveries within 5-30 minutes from a local hub or retail outlet, for 10-15 times less than the cost of current last-mile delivery alternatives. Customers can choose from a selection of short, precise delivery slots -- meaning goods arrive at a time that suits them. During delivery, shoppers can track the robot's location in real time through a mobile app, and on arrival only the app holder is able to unlock the cargo. Created by two Skype co-founders, the company uses ground-based delivery drones equipped with nine cameras, two-way audio capability, and GPS, according to ABC News, which has video of the robots in action. "When confronted with any kind of issue or trouble, a human at Starship can take over. The remote operator can have a two-way conversation with those around the robot... They hope to make the robots available for 24/7 delivery and for only a $1 fee." What could go wrong?Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's making-a-resolution department
An anonymous reader writes:
"The United Nations officially condemned the practice of countries shutting down access to the internet at a meeting of the Human Rights Council on Friday," reports the Register newspaper, saying Friday's resolution "effectively extends human rights held offline to the internet," including freedom of expression. "The resolution is a much-needed response to increased pressure on freedom of expression online in all parts of the world," said Thomas Hughes, Executive Director of Article 19, a long-standing British human rights group which had pushed for the resolution. "From impunity for the killings of bloggers to laws criminalizing legitimate dissent on social media, basic human rights principles are being disregarded to impose greater controls over the information we see and share online."
Thirteen countries, including Russia and China, had unsuccessfully urged the deletion of the text guaranteeing internet access, and Article 19 says the new resolution even commits states to address "security concerns on the Internet in accordance with their obligations to protect freedom of expression, privacy and other human rights online." But they also called the resolution a missed opportunity to urge states to strengthen protections on anonymity and encryption, and to clarify the boundaries between state and private ICT actors.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's trendy-traffic department
Slashdot reader Bob768 writes: Over the last 20 months, with the rise of virtual reality technology, the number of Google searches for the phrase 'VR Porn' have soared nearly 10,000%. The leading country for these searches is Norway.
Last November searches for the term experienced the "spike of all spikes", according to a post on the VR Talk forum, which also identifies the top cities (two in Australia) for the searches -- Helsinki, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Singapore, Tel Aviv, and Seoul.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's low-in-fiber department
"Network operators like Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and ATT, in cahoots with [real estate] developers and landlords, routinely use a breathtaking array of kickbacks, lawyerly games of Twister, blunt threats, and downright illegal activities to lock up buildings in exclusive arrangements," reports Harvard Law Professor Susan Crawford.
itwbennett writes: Eight years ago, the FCC issued an order banning exclusive agreements between landlords and ISPs, but a loophole is being exploited, leaving many tenants in apartment buildings with only one choice of broadband service provider. The loophole works like this: Instead of having an exclusive agreement with one provider, the landlords refuse to let any other companies than their chosen providers access their properties...
"This astounding, enormous, decentralized payola scheme affects millions of American lives," Crawford writes, revealing Comcast's revenue-sharing proposals for property owners and urging cities (and national lawmakers) to require broadband neutrality in residential buildings. Other loopholes are also being exploited, Crawford writes, and "it's why commercial tenants in NYC pay through the nose for awful Internet access service in the fanciest of commercial buildings... We've got to take landlords out of the equation -- all they're doing is looking for payments and deals...and the giant telecom providers in our country are more than happy to pay up."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's accepting-a-commit department
On the second day of the Red Hat Summit this week, attendees found themselves invited to a wedding during one of the general sessions. The groom was Matt Hargrave, a Red Hat client from Texas, and, it probably goes without saying, a huge fan of the company. The bride was Shannon Montague, a sign language interpreter, and "maybe the most understanding bride ever," jokes Slashdot reader itwbennett:
"Pushing a commit to github isn't the same as committing to a life partner. There is no forking this project," Red Hat EVP Paul Cormier told a Texas couple, as he united them in holy matrimony... Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst was ring bearer. You can watch the ceremony on YouTube.
"After today your relationship will have newly architected infrastructure. And, of course, collaboration is...critical." I'm wondering if Slashdot readers can suggest more geeky marriage vows -- or have any other geeky wedding stories to share.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's food-for-thought department
The New York Times reports:
More than 100 Nobel laureates have a message for Greenpeace: Quit the G.M.O.-bashing. Genetically modified organisms and foods are a safe way to meet the demands of a ballooning global population, the 109 laureates wrote in a letter posted online and officially unveiled at a news conference on Thursday in Washington, D.C...
"Scientific and regulatory agencies around the world have repeatedly and consistently found crops and foods improved through biotechnology to be as safe as, if not safer than those derived from any other method of production," the group of laureates wrote. "There has never been a single confirmed case of a negative health outcome for humans or animals from their consumption. Their environmental impacts have been shown repeatedly to be less damaging to the environment, and a boon to global biodiversity."
Slashdot reader ArmoredDragon writes: As an echo to that comment, one of the key benefits of GMO is increased crop yield, which means a reduced need for deforestation to make way for farmland. GMO food such as Golden Rice, which improves the micronutrient content of rice, and Low Acrylamide Spuds, which are potatoes engineered to have reduced carcinogen content compared to their natural counterparts, can possibly solve many health problems that are inherent with consuming non-GMO produce. And for those concerned about patent-related issues, many of these patents have recently expired, which means anybody can freely grow them and sell the seeds without the need to pay any royalties.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's galaxy-far-far-away-where-no-man-has-gone-before department
HughPickens.com writes: In the Star Trek world there is virtual reality, personal replicators, powerful weapons, and, it seems, a very high standard of living for most of humanity, while in Star Wars there is widespread slavery, lots of people seem to live at subsistence, and eventually much of the galaxy falls under the Jedi Reign of Terror. Why the difference? Tyler Cowen writes about some of the factors differentiating the world of Star Wars from that of Star Trek: 1) The armed forces in Star Trek seem broadly representative of society. Compare Uhura, Chekhov, and Sulu to the Imperial Storm troopers. 2) Captains Kirk and Picard do not descend into true power madness, unlike various Sith leaders and corrupted Jedi Knights. 3) In Star Trek, any starship can lay waste to a planet, whereas in Star Wars there is a single, centralized Death Star and no way to oppose it, implying stronger checks and balances in the world of Star Trek. 4) Star Trek embraces egalitarianism, namely that all humans consider themselves part of the same broader species. There is no special group comparable to the Jedi or the Sith, with special powers in their blood. 5) Star Trek replicators are sufficiently powerful it seems slavery is highly inefficient in that world.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's end-of-parallel-parking department
An anonymous reader writes: Canadian man William Liddiard invented a wheel that allows vehicles to move sideways. "True all-way drive for anything with wheels," Liddiard says in an online writeup for his successful prototype of "omni-directional" wheels. They consist of a specialized roller-equipped rim that can move horizontally and a tire that is rounded like a donut. "This is a world first bolt-on application for anything with wheels," wrote Liddiard. "Now you can drive in all directions, and turn on the spot, when needed." His demo video titled "you've never seen a car do this...," has received more than 1.1 million views since it was uploaded on May 10th. The wheels are a "proof of concept" prototype right now, but Liddiard says the design would allow them to be made as durable and safe as standard automotive wheels. Omni-directional wheels are nothing new, though they are typically only used in wheelchairs, robotics and other small-scale applications. Honda Motor Co. debuted an omni-directional wheel at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show, but it wasn't for a full-sized car -- it was for a Segway-style mobility device. "My wheel can hold ten times more than the other [wheels], while maintaining speed," Liddiard told Postmedia in an interview earlier this year. He's currently trying to sell his invention to a major tire or automotive company.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's Hogwarts-School-of-Witchcraft-and-Wizardry department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: A digital video disc player was found in the Tesla car that was on autopilot when its driver was killed in a collision with a truck in May, Florida Highway Patrol officials said on Friday. "There was a portable DVD player in the vehicle," said Sergeant Kim Montes of the FHP in a telephone interview. She said there was no camera found, mounted on the dash or of any kind, in the wreckage. A lawyer for a truck driver involved in the accident with the Tesla told Reuters his investigators had spoken to a witness who said the DVD player was playing a "Harry Potter" video after the accident, but the lawyer was unable to verify that beyond the witness account. Lawyers for the family of the victim, 40-year-old Joshua Brown, released a statement Friday saying the family is cooperating with the investigations "and hopes that information learned from this tragedy will trigger further innovation which enhances the safety of everyone on the roadways." Lawyers for the family of the victim, 40-year-old Joshua Brown, released a statement Friday saying the family is cooperating with the investigations "and hopes that information learned from this tragedy will trigger further innovation which enhances the safety of everyone on the roadways." Tesla said in a statement Friday, "Autopilot is by far the most advanced driver assistance system on the road, but it does not turn a Tesla into an autonomous vehicle and does not allow the driver to abdicate responsibility."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's breaking-news department
An anonymous reader writes: Three months after Facebook announced a platform for building bots that operate inside its Messenger app, Messenger chief David Marcus said in a blog post that more than 11,000 bots have been created. He also said 23,000 more developers have signed up to use tools provided by Wit.ai, a Facebook acquisition that automates conversational interactions between users and businesses. Facebook has yet to announce any numbers regarding how many users actually use the bots, but developers appear to be actively engaged. Facebook has said that bots will rapidly improve as more developers create them. Marcus did announce several new features for the platform. Bots can now respond with GIFs, audio, video, and other files "to help a brand's personality come across," Marcus said. They can now link Messenger profiles to customer accounts, such as a bank or online merchant. They're also getting some new UI elements: "quick replies" that suggest interactions for the user to help them set their expectations, and a "persistent menu" option for bots that displays available commands at all times so users don't have to remember them. A star system is now in place for users to rate bots and provide feedback directly to developers.Read Replies (0)