breakthrough technologies that will influence the lives of everyone in 2017

An aerial robot capable of changing its shape in full flight

the Quad-Morphing robot

This is a world first: researchers from the Institut des Sciences du mouvement Étienne Jules Marey (CNRS/Aix-Marseille University) have drawn inspiration from birds to design an aerial robot capable of changing its shape in full flight. It can change the orientation of its arms, equipped with engines and blades to propel itself like a helicopter, to reduce its wingspan and navigate in full spaces. This work, published in Soft Robotics Journal on May 30, 2018, paves the way for a new generation of massive robots capable of sneaking through narrow passages, an ideal new tool for exploration and rescue missions.

Winged birds and insects have a formidable ability to perform rapid maneuvers to avoid obstacles they encounter during their flight. This great agility is necessary to navigate in very dense places such as forests or very crowded environments. Nowadays, miniature flying machines are also able to adapt their posture (in roll or pitch for example) to pass through a narrow opening. However, there is another type of strategy that is just as effective in allowing birds to cross a narrow passage at high speed despite its imposing wingspan: they can suddenly change their morphology during the flight by folding their wings back and thus pass easily through all kinds of obstacles.

Flying robots will increasingly have to operate in very crowded environments for rescue, exploration or mapping missions. These robots will, therefore, have to avoid the many obstacles and cross passages more or less cramped to fulfill their mission. With this in mind, researchers at the CNRS/Aix-Marseille University Institute of Motion Sciences have designed a flying robot, capable of reducing its wingspan in full flight to pass through an opening without having to fly aggressively, too expensive in energy.

This new robot, called Quad-Morphing, is equipped with two arms on which are fixed two engines each equipped with blades that allow it to propel itself like a helicopter. Thanks to a mechanism mixing flexible and rigid cables, it can modify the orientation of its two arms, that is to say to orient them parallel or perpendicularly to its central axis, and this in full flight. It thus manages to reduce its span by half, to cross a narrow passage, and to redeploy itself, all at a very high speed for an air robot (9 km/h).

The Quad-Morphing’s agility is currently determined by the precision of its autopilot, which triggers a change in arm orientation when approaching a small obstacle based on its position provided by a 3D location system developed in the laboratory. However, the researchers equipped the robot with a mini-camera capable of capturing images at high frame rates (120 frames per second), which will enable it in the future to estimate the size of the obstacle and make the decision whether or not to hold back. Testing of this new version of the Quad-Morphing began in May 2018.

Blockchain and online voting!

blockchain and voting

The blockchain offers a secure voting tool, the result of which is transparent and auditable by everyone. Neither the voting administrator nor other individuals may modify the vote a posteriori.

At least three elements are necessary to carry out a vote on a blockchain: a programmable asset, a protocol to make the vote live; and a cryptographic key called a token, a kind of digital electoral card, to guarantee the voter’s identity.

Above each bitcoin transaction is metadata that can represent a digital asset: this asset can be a vote, a financial asset, or a physical asset (an object) that would be recorded on a blockchain, which would provide proof of existence.

A vote is a critical transaction: it must be executed quickly by the network. To do this, transaction fees are added to remunerate miners which are securing the network.

They start by processing the transactions with the highest fees and then handle the subsequent operations in descending order. If the network is saturated when a vote is a cast, minors will tend to defer this vote to the next blocks. Therefore, the idea is to put transaction fees of about 10 euro cents (depending on the bitcoin price) to be more or less sure that the network will process the vote.

The voting administrator (which may be an association, or a company organizing an AGM with its shareholders, or even a state) places as many tokens as there are votes cast on a specific protocol. It transmits these tokens to all voters, who have access to an electronic wallet to hold the tokens.

Candidates have access to a digital ballot box.

afsgdbndcnvmfgihkglllllllllA wallet, with a public address. When the voter issues his or her voting token, he or she transfers both the bitcoins that include transaction fees and the metadata that represents the vote. At the end of the vote, the winning candidate is the one who received the most chips.

To complete this process, a digital electoral map is necessary to ensure that whoever presents himself to his wallet is the owner of this wallet. One part of the key is public, the other private: you can draw a parallel in the traditional banking world with the RIB, which you can communicate to anyone, and the PIN code, which must not be shared.

The projects dedicated to voting on the blockchain are still in the experimental stage. One of them, Boule, estimates that a traditional vote costs about 5 dollars and that this cost could be divided by 2 or even 3 using the bitcoin block chine.

However, there are still some obstacles to be overcome if the vote on the blockade is to take place.

The cost of transactions: in the case of a vote of 1 million people, with transaction fees of 10 cents, the cost of organizing the vote would be 100,000 minimum…

The speed of transactions: today it is estimated at 7 transactions per second on the Bitcoin network. For example, it would take an average of 23 operations per second to get 1 million voters to vote within 12 hours.

Protection of the digital electoral map against malware attack, which could corrupt the vote. However, a parade is conceivable: not to store the cryptographic key on software but hardware, i. e. in a physical way, like the key proposed by the start-up Ledger.

We’ll see where this ends I guess over the course of the next few months/years…

These 5 Breakthrough Technologies will Influence the life of everyone in 2017

These Technologies will have an effect on everybody.  It will affect politics and the economy, improve medicine and even influence culture.  Some are new at the moment and some are developing at the moment and will develop further through decades to come.  These Technologies all have the possibility of staying power. Technology now and developing for the future:

  1. Medicine: Reversing Paralysis; remarkable progress has been made to restore freedom of movement, caused by spinal cord injuries, through using brain implants.  This technology will be available to all in 10 to 15 years time.
  2. Photography: Spherical images made by Inexpensive Cameras; are opening a whole new world of taking pictures and sharing stories.  An ecological researcher needed a system to broadcast images continuously to collect data and devised a camera that can create 360-degree pictures.  This technology is available now for all to take their 360-degree selfies, etc.
  3. Education: Computers are experimenting and figuring out how to perform things a programmer would be able to teach them.  This approach is known as, “Reinforcement Learning”, and is not done through programming in a conventional way, at all.  The computer is learning to perform certain tasks, etc. simply by practicing.  This technology will be freely available in 1 to 2 years time.
  4. Economy: Self-Driving Trucks; Tractor-trailers without drivers might soon be passing you on the highway.  Many technical problems still exist, but it is claimed that self-driving trucks will be less costly as well as safer.  Availability will come in about 5 to 10 years time.  This is also the time in which the world can think about what this technology will mean for the millions of truck drivers that will lose their jobs.
  5. Environment: Hot Solar Cells; converting sunlight into heat firstly and then turning it back into light-energy, focused in beams, can dramatically increase efficiency.  This smaller solar device, smaller than the usual solar panels, can absorb more energy and could create continuous, cheap power.  This will only become available within 10 to 15 years from now.

Most of these technologies are future technologies, still in the developing phases, but it is good to know about them.  It will give time to consider the influences, good or bad, that it might have on the world and its inhabitants.