Future Tech: Also featuring…a digital pill & an electric semi-truck.
Boston Dynamics releases video of its nimblest machine yet
Atlas, the hulking humanoid robot from Boston Dynamics, now does backflips. I’ll repeat that. It’s a hulking humanoid that does backflips. Check out the video below, because it shows a hulking humanoid doing a backflip. And that’s after it leaps from platform to platform, as if such behavior were becoming of a bipedal robot.
To be clear: Humanoids aren’t supposed to be able to do this. It's extremely difficult to make a bipedal robot that can move effectively, much less kick off a tumbling routine. The beauty of four-legged robots is that they balance easily, both at rest and as they’re moving, but bipeds like Atlas have to balance a bulky upper body on just two legs. Accordingly, you could argue that roboticists can better spend their time on non-human forms that are easier to master.
But there’s a case to be made for Atlas and the other bipeds like Cassie (which walks more like a bird than a human). We live in a world built for humans, so there may be situations where you want to deploy a robot that works like a human. If you have to explore a contaminated nuclear facility, for instance, you’ll want something that can climb stairs and ladders, and turn valves. So a humanoid may be the way to go.
A digital pill that detects when you miss your meds
In the spring of 2016, two companies pitched their idea to the Food and Drug Administration: “a drug/device combination product” that makes technology part of patients’ medication schedules. They developed a tiny edible sensor inside a pill that could tell your doc exactly when and if you took your medication. The FDA said “not so fast,” and asked the companies for more information on the safety, efficacy, and risks associated with the digital pill.
And the two companies followed through. On Monday, the FDA approved Ability MyCite, an upgraded version of the antipsychotic medicine used to treat bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and major depressive disorder when taken in combination with an antidepressant.
At first glance, Abilify MyCite looks like a regular pill. But inside, there’s an ingestible sensor the size of a grain of sand that’s made out of copper, magnesium, and silicon. Here’s how it works: The patient swallows the pill, and when it gets drenched with the juices in their stomach, it sends an electric signal to a patch worn on the patient’s arm. Then, information on when the patient took the medication loads onto a mobile app where they can track it. The app tells them when they took their last dose, when their next dose is due, and collects other physiologic data like activity levels.
Will this electric semi truck revolutionize long-haul travel?
Electric carmaker Tesla unveiled a sleek electric semi truck with semi-autonomous capabilities and a new roadster in a flashy live-streamed event at its design studio in Hawthorne, California.
Emphasizing the truck’s “badass” performance, Tesla CEO Elon Musk pitched the new Tesla Semi as the safest, most comfortable truck ever.
The semi is a fully electric Class 8 truck, a category of freight vehicles that weigh more than 33,000 pounds, including tractor-trailer rigs that form the backbone of commercial road freight. This one, Musk said, can haul 80,000 pounds.
Tesla’s offering has a range of 500 miles at maximum weight at highways speeds, much higher than early spec reports of a range of 300 miles. Musk said the truck has a coefficient of drag of just 0.36, making it more aerodynamic than the Bugatti Chiron, a $2.7 million supercar with a drag coefficient of 0.38.
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