This Finned Robot Can Maneuver Over Land and Through Water

Scientists often use nature as a guide when creating new robots, making machines that mimic the behavior and movements of animals. But if you are copying a fish, that won’t do any good on land. Just like a robot based on a lizard won’t do you any good in the water. So why not build a bot with the best of both worlds?

This unique amphibious robot was created by an engineering firm called Pliant Energy Systems, and has a pair of long, flexible fins powered by eight actuators. These fins let it travel across land-based and through water environments with ease.

While on land, the fins of the Velox robot are like treads, allowing the robot to easily take on all kinds of difficult terrain -even ice. In water, the fins mimic that of a fish, moving through the water like a stingray. The robot can also handle snow and sand, by combining both movement sets.

Right now the robot is a prototype, but I think we can expect to see more of this drivetrain system in the future, maybe even in future vehicles for both land and sea.

[via New Atlas via Gizmodo]

This Drone Can Change Its Shape and Size

Drones are a great search and rescue tool, but they would be even more impressive if they could change their size to fly through small holes. Well, the University of Zurich’s Robotics and Perception Group is showing off a shape-shifting drone that can do just that.

The Morphing Quadrotor Drone is a foldable micro aerial vehicle (MAV) with vision-based navigation that allows it to fly on its own without the help of a human. It uses onboard cameras and inertial sensors to “see” the world around it and to orient itself. There’s no GPS, laser, or any other form of external positioning system, so it can enter and explore damaged buildings and caverns easily.

The coolest thing about this drone is the smart computer vision that allows it to morph. It can detect the size of an entryway and change its size on-the-fly. As a bonus, it can also pick up objects using the folding arms. Very impressive indeed.

The ability to change its size quickly while maintaining stable flight the entire time could be a great aid to search and rescue operations in the future.

[via Mike Shouts]

Amazon extends free holiday shipping offer

Amazon announced its free holiday shipping promotion last month. When it did it waived the minimum purchase requirement for an order to qualify for free shipping for those who are not subscribed to Prime. Customers in the United States usually have to spend $25 to qualify for free standard shipping. This requirement was waived until […]

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California is considering a texting tax

Cell phones are mostly used for texting and watching entertainment these days. And cell phone owners in California could soon pay extra for the privilege of sending text messages, thanks to landline-era legislation and changing usage patterns. Recent public law filings suggest that the state’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is considering a plan that would […]

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This KFC Firelog Smells Like Fried Chicken

KFC knows how to celebrate the holiday season. This year when you sit down by the fire, put one of these fried chicken-scented logs on. I’m pretty sure you don’t want to eat one, but it sure smells good. If you don’t have any fried chicken, burning these in your fireplace will make you want some for sure.

It is called the “KFC 11 Herbs and Spices firelog.” Light it up, smell KFC chicken. The logs will set you back $18.99 each, and are only available while supplies last. This would make a pretty funny Christmas gift, so get one while you can.

It is the latest in KFC’s often bizarre marketing strategy. “At KFC, we have always been proud of our role in bringing loved ones together at the dinner table around a bucket of our world-famous fried chicken,” Andrea Zahumensky, KFC US’ CMO, said. “Now, this winter we’re bringing all the things we love – family, friends and fried chicken – together around the fire with our scented firelog.

All I know is that Santa is going to be sad when he smells this, and there’s no chicken.

[via Business Insider]

This Vending Machine Serves Up Fried Chicken

Food dispensed from a machine is usually not the freshest, but what if we’re talking about a vending machine that serves up fresh fried chicken? That’s what the Lawson Karaage-kun robot does. Naturally, the machine looks like a chicken too, because Japan. A chicken serving chicken? That just seems wrong.

Japanese convenience chain Lawson Inc. is testing out the machine right now at an outlet in Shinagawa Ward, Tokyo. The machine has “state-of-the-art” technology that allows it to fry chicken in a little over a minute. Basically, fried chicken is prepared and kept warm until someone orders it. That’s not my definition of “fresh,” but to each their own.

If the machine proves successful, the company may adapt it to dish out other types of fried foods. Hell, maybe we will see this chicken-faced machine at KFC soon. I hope not because it looks a bit terrifying if you ask me. The trial will only operate during the daytime from now until December 28, 2018, so if you happen to be in Tokyo, you might want to go check it out.

[via The Japan Times via Mike Shouts]

Shadow of the Tomb Raider The Pillar DLC arriving next week

Tomb Raider is alive and well, but many Shadow of the Tomb Raider players want to find out how Lara Croft’s journey is going to progress from here. Well, wonder no more. It has been confirmed that the next DLC for this game titled “The Pillar” is going to be released next week. It will […]

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Police are using fake Amazon boxes to catch package thieves

It sucks to have your packages stolen from outside of your home. The problem is so bad that these thieves have a name: Porch Pirates. Well, police in Jersey City are using a new method to try and catch package thieves. They’re putting fake Amazon boxes outside people’s homes with cameras and GPS in order […]

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You Might Actually Wear These Star Trek Hoodies Every Day

I love many of the Star Trek clothing items that are based on Starfleet uniforms, but most of them are a little too over the top to wear on a daily basis. That’s why I am really digging these hoodies right here. They’re good-looking, quality made, and a bit more down to Earth compared to the average Star Trek garb, while still allowing you to fly your geek flag high.

They are black but with the accent color of your favorite Starfleet division and the Delta logo embroidered on the chest. Wear them with pride. They may not have a phaser or tricorder holster built into them, but they do have a hidden opening for earphone cords in the pocket as well as earphone loops inside.

These hoodies are so understated that you can finally show off your love for Star Trek without going full nerd at warp speed. They only cost about $28 each from BadWolfClothingUK’s Etsy shop. You better order yours now, because I think they will go quickly.

These are just so good looking. They are exactly what I want in a Star Trek hoodie. I may just buy both Command and Engineering. Science is for green-blooded Vulcans only.

[via SciFi Design]

Walmart opens its first online store in Japan

Walmart has now announced the launch of its first online store in Japan. It has teamed up with local tech giant Rakuten. The first e-commerce store called Walmart Rakuten Ichiba Store has been opened on the Rakuten Ichiba internet shopping mall. The teamup combines Walmart’s expertise in delivering U.S. branded products and Rakuten’s dominant position […]

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