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SpaceX successfully flies its Starship prototype to a height of around 500 feet - techcrunch

SpaceX successfully flies its Starship prototype to a height of around 500 feet

SpaceX has been developing Starship, its next-generation spacecraft, at its site in Boca Chica, Texas. The company has built a number of different Starship prototypes to date, include one prior version called the Starhopper that was essentially just the bottom portion of the rocket. Today, the company flew its first full-scale prototype (minus the domed […]
techcrunch - 4 hours ago
‘Mulan’ is coming to Disney+ on September 4, for an additional price of $29.99 - techcrunch

‘Mulan’ is coming to Disney+ on September 4, for an additional price of $29.99

Those wondering whether The Walt Disney Company would eventually give up on a traditional theatrical release for “Mulan” now have their answer. Until now, Disney had repeatedly delayed “Mulan”‘s release due to theatrical closures in the U.S. and around the world, with “Mulan and Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” expected to be the first big movie releases […]
techcrunch - 7 hours ago
Disney+ grows to more than 60.5M subscribers - techcrunch

Disney+ grows to more than 60.5M subscribers

Disney+ had more than 60.5 million paying subscribers as of yesterday, according to The Walt Disney Company’s CEO Bob Chapek. Chapek shared the number during a call to discuss the company’s latest earnings report, which covered the company’s most recent quarter ending on June 27. He was essentially offering an update on the 57.5 million […]
techcrunch - 7 hours ago
Software stocks set new records despite earnings, pandemic - techcrunch

Software stocks set new records despite earnings, pandemic

You might have missed it, but amidst the current political-M&A-pandemic-election-disinformation news cycle we find ourselves in this week, SaaS and cloud companies reached new public market records. Yesterday, the Bessemer-Nasdaq cloud index closed at 2,035.54, a new record finish for the basket of software companies. And, today, the index broached the 2,040 mark before ceding […]
techcrunch - 9 hours ago
Apple’s veteran marketing chief Phil Schiller moves to smaller role - techcrunch

Apple’s veteran marketing chief Phil Schiller moves to smaller role

After more than three decades climbing Apple’s ranks, marketing chief Phil Schiller is taking a step back at the company, being replaced by a long-time product marketing leader inside Apple. Schiller is taking on a new role as an Apple Fellow where he will continue to lead the App Store and the company’s events, a […]
techcrunch - 10 hours ago
More thoughts on growing podcasts - techcrunch

More thoughts on growing podcasts

Plus: how to monitor and fix Facebook/Instagram ad fatigue, and using mobile app ads to drive landing page conversions.
techcrunch - 11 hours ago
Qualified raises $12M make websites smarter about sales and marketing - techcrunch

Qualified raises $12M make websites smarter about sales and marketing

Qualified, a startup co-founded by former Salesforce executives Kraig Swensrud and Sean Whiteley, has raised $12 million in Series A funding. Swensrud (Qualified’s CEO) said the startup is meant to solve a problem that he faced back when he was CMO at Salesforce. Apparently he’d complaining about being “blind,” because he knew so little about […]
techcrunch - 11 hours ago
Decrypted: How a teenager hacked Twitter, Garmin’s ransomware aftermath - techcrunch

Decrypted: How a teenager hacked Twitter, Garmin’s ransomware aftermath

A 17-year-old Florida teenager is accused of perpetrating one of the year’s biggest and most high-profile hacks: Twitter. A federal 30-count indictment filed in Tampa said Graham Ivan Clark used a phone spearphishing attack to pivot through multiple layers of Twitter’s security and bypassed its two-factor authentication to gain access to an internal “admin” tool […]
techcrunch - 11 hours ago
Rocket Lab boosts Electron rocket’s lift capacity by 660 lbs - techcrunch

Rocket Lab boosts Electron rocket’s lift capacity by 660 lbs

Rocket Lab has managed to engineer a significant payload capacity bump into its existing Electron space launch vehicle, the company revealed today. Electron can now fly as much as 300 kg (660 lbs) to low Earth orbit (or around 440 lbs to a higher, sun synchronous orbit), and that’s mostly due to battery technology advances, […]
techcrunch - 11 hours ago
Microsoft, Amazon back a SoCal company making microchips specifically for voice-based apps - techcrunch

Microsoft, Amazon back a SoCal company making microchips specifically for voice-based apps

Microsoft’s venture capital fund, M12 Ventures has led a slew of strategic corporate investors backing a new chip developer out of Southern California called Syntiant, which makes semiconductors for voice recognition and speech-based applications. “We started out to build a new type of processor for machine learning, and voice is our first application,” says Syntiant […]
techcrunch - 11 hours ago
Rigetti raises $79M Series C for its quantum computing platform - techcrunch

Rigetti raises $79M Series C for its quantum computing platform

Rigetti Computing, the quantum computing startup that is challenging industry heavyweights like IBM, Microsoft and D-Wave, today announced that it has closed a $79 million Series C funding round. The round was led by Bessemer Venture Partners, with participation from Franklin Templeton, Alumni Ventures Group, DCVC, EDBI, Morpheus Ventures, and Northgate Capital. Bessemer’s Tomer Diari […]
techcrunch - 12 hours ago
Microsoft has paid security researchers $13.7 million for bug bounties in 12 months - venture beat

Microsoft has paid security researchers $13.7 million for bug bounties in 12 months

Microsoft today announced it has paid out $13.7 million in bug bounties to 327 security researchers in the past year. The figure is more than three times the $4.4 million that Microsoft awarded over the same period last year, showing that the company is increasingly putting its money where its mouth is with respect to […]
venture beat - 12 hours ago
Vectrix is developing cloud security marketplace built for and by security pros - techcrunch

Vectrix is developing cloud security marketplace built for and by security pros

In a typical security team, engineers write one-off scripts to track a particular problem on a cloud vendor such as an unauthorized user on your GitHub account, and while engineers are capable of writing such scripts, it’s not exactly an efficient or scalable way to deal with the range of security problems these pros need […]
techcrunch - 12 hours ago
Ford names Jim Farley as new CEO, Jim Hackett to retire - techcrunch

Ford names Jim Farley as new CEO, Jim Hackett to retire

Ford Motor CEO Jim Hackett is retiring, leaving the company three years after being tapped to transform the automaker into a leaner, more competitive and profitable company while investing in technology and shifting towards electrification, automation and connectivity. Jim Farley, who many believed was being groomed for the position, has been named president and CEO. […]
techcrunch - 12 hours ago
Get your early bird pass to Disrupt 2020 — only 4 days left - techcrunch

Get your early bird pass to Disrupt 2020 — only 4 days left

You have just four days left to access the complete Disrupt 2020 experience for best possible price. You can save up to $300 with early bird pricing, but that’s a fleeting opportunity. Get it in gear and buy the Disrupt pass of your choice before the deadline expires August 7 at 11:59 p.m. (PT). We’re […]
techcrunch - 12 hours ago
Apple’s 27-inch iMac gets a processing and graphics boost - techcrunch

Apple’s 27-inch iMac gets a processing and graphics boost

Apple sold a lot of Macs last quarter — a record, in fact, for Q3, jumping a full 21%, year over year. Given the state of the world, with most office workers moving to a remote setup, there’s little surprise the company’s desktop and laptops moved at such an impressive clip. For that reason alone, […]
techcrunch - 13 hours ago
Facebook doubles down on work-from-office with massive NYC lease near Penn Station - techcrunch

Facebook doubles down on work-from-office with massive NYC lease near Penn Station

We’ve had huge debates about the future of work — are we going to be working from home, working from the office, or perhaps, working from anywhere? Work From Home is dead, long live Work From Anywhere Well, Facebook has put its wager down, and it’s work from office. In a flurry of articles in […]
techcrunch - 13 hours ago
Messenger launches a new chat plugin for business websites to reach non-Facebook customers - techcrunch

Messenger launches a new chat plugin for business websites to reach non-Facebook customers

Facebook is making it easier for businesses to leverage its Messenger service on their own websites. The company in November 2017 first launched a new customer chat plugin which allowed customers to talk directly with a business on the business’s own website using the Messenger service. However, that plugin had required the website visitors to […]
techcrunch - 13 hours ago
Serialized fiction startup Radish raises $63.2M from SoftBank and Kakao - techcrunch

Serialized fiction startup Radish raises $63.2M from SoftBank and Kakao

Radish is announcing that it has raised $63.2 million in new funding. Breaking up book-length stories into smaller chapters that are released over days or weeks is an idea that was popularized in the 19th century, and startups have been trying to revive it for at least the past decade. Still, this round represents a […]
techcrunch - 13 hours ago
Rippling nabs $145M at a $1.35B valuation to build out its all-in-one platform for employee data - techcrunch

Rippling nabs $145M at a $1.35B valuation to build out its all-in-one platform for employee data

Big news today in the world of enterprise IT startups. Rippling, the startup founded by Parker Conrad to take on the ambitious challenge of building a platform to manage all aspects of employee data, from payroll and benefits through to device management, has closed $145 million in funding — a monster Series B that catapults […]
techcrunch - 14 hours ago
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techcrunch
Festo’s latest biomimetic robots are a flying feathered bird and ball-bottomed helper arm

Festo’s latest biomimetic robots are a flying feathered bird and ball-bottomed helper arm

techcrunch - 1 month ago

You could be excused for thinking that German robotics company Festo does nothing but put together fabulous prototype robots built to resemble kangaroos, jellyfish, and other living things. They do in fact actually make real industrial robots, but it’s hard not to marvel at their biomimetic experiments; Case in point, the feathered BionicSwift and absurd BionicMobileAssistant motile arm.

Festo already has a flying bird robot I wrote about it almost 10 years ago. They even made a flying bat as a follow-up. But the BionicSwift is more impressive than both because, in an effort to more closely resemble its avian inspiration, it flies using artificial feathers.

Image Credits: Festo

“The individual lamellae [i.e. feathers] are made of an ultralight, flexible but very robust foam and lie on top of each other like shingles. Connected to a carbon quill, they are attached to the actual hand and arm wings as in the natural model,” Festo writes in its description of the robot.

The articulating lamellae allow the wing to work like a bird’s, forming a powerful scoop on the downstroke to push against the air, but separating on the upstroke to produce less resistance. Everything is controlled on-board, including the indoor positioning system that the bird was ostensibly built to demonstrate. Flocks of BionicSwifts can fly in close quarters and avoid each other using an ultra wideband setup.

Festo’s BionicMobileAssistant seems like it would be more practical, and in a way it is, but not by much. The robot is basically an arm emerging from a wheeled base or rather a balled one. The spherical bottom is driven by three “omniwheels,” letting it move easily in any direction while minimizing its footprint.

The hand is a showcase of modern robotic gripper design, with all kinds of state of the art tech packed in there but the result is less than the sum of its parts. What makes a robotic hand good these days is less that it has a hundred sensors in the palm and fingers and huge motility for its thumb, but rather intelligence about what it is gripping. An unadorned pincer may be a better “hand” than one that looks like the real thing because of the software that backs it up.

Not to mention the spherical movement strategy makes for something of an unstable base. It’s telling that the robot is transporting scarves and not plates of food or parts.

Of course, it’s silly to criticize such a machine, which is aspirational rather than practical. But it’s important to understand that these fascinating creations from Festo are hints at a possible future more than anything.

sauce: techcrunch
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