NASA is close to finalizing its drone traffic control system for cities

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NASA is ready to put its drone traffic management system to the ultimate test and has chosen Nevada and Texas as its final testing sites. The agency, together with the FAA, has been developing an Unmanned aircraft Traffic Management (UTM) system over the past four years in an effort to figure out how to safely fly drones in an urban environment. Now that the project is in its last phase, it has teamed up with the Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems in Las Vegas and the Lone Star UAS Center for Excellence & Innovation in Corpus Christi, Texas to conduct a final series of technical demonstrations.

NASA and the FAA are planning to demo a big list of technologies, including their interface with vehicle-integrated detect-and-avoid capabilities, vehicle-to-vehicle communication and collision avoidance, as well as automated safe landing technologies. All those will help NASA understand the challenges of flying in an urban environment and conjure up ideas for future rules and policies. They’ll also help the agency figure out the best procedures to operate drones safely in overpopulated areas.

Since the agencies will relay everything they learn from these demos to the commercial drone industry, they could give urban drone use a push in the right direction. The project’s final test flights will take place from March to June in and around downtown Reno, as well as in July and August in Corpus Christi.

Source: NASA

from Engadget https://engt.co/2XcAhY2
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Watch the historic first private mission to the Moon launch Thursday night

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For the first time later this week, a privately developed moon lander will launch aboard a privately built rocket, organized by a private launch coordinator. It’s an historic moment in space and the Israeli mission stands to make history again if it touches down on the Moon’s surface as planned on April 11.

The Beresheet (“Genesis”) program was originally conceived as an entry into the ambitious but ultimately unsuccessful Google Lunar Xprize in 2010, which challenged people to accomplish a lunar landing, with $30 million in prizes as the incentive. The prize closed last year with no winner, but as these Xprize competitions aim to do, it had already spurred great interest and investment in a private moon mission.

SpaceIL and Israel Aerospace Industries worked together on the mission, which will bring cameras, a magnetometer and a capsule filled with items from the country to, hopefully, a safe rest on the lunar surface.

The Beresheet lander ahead of packaging for launch

The launch plan as of now (these things do change with weather, technical delays and so on) is for takeoff at 5:45 Pacific time on Thursday — 8:45 PM in Cape Canaveral — aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. A live stream should be available shortly before, which I’ll add here later or in a new post.

Thirty minutes after takeoff the payload will detach and make contact with mission control, then begin the process of closing the distance to the Moon, during which time it will circle the Earth six times.

Russia, China and of course the U.S. are the only ones ever to successfully land on the Moon; China’s Chang’e 4 lander was the first to soft-land (as opposed to impact) the “dark” (though really only far — it’s often light) side and is currently functional.

But although there has been one successful private lunar flyby mission (the Manfred Memorial probe) no one but a major country has ever touched down. If Beresheet is a success it would be both the first Israeli moon mission and the first private mission to do so. It would also be the first lunar landing to be accomplished with a privately built rocket, and the lightest spacecraft on the Moon and, at around $100 million in costs, the cheapest as well.

Landing on the Moon is, of course, terribly difficult. Just as geosynchronous orbit is far more difficult than low Earth orbit, a lunar insertion orbit is even harder, a stable such orbit even harder and accomplishing a controlled landing on target even harder than that. The only thing more difficult would be to take off again and return to Earth, as Apollo 11 did in 1969 and other missions several times after. Kind of amazing when you think about it.

Seattle’s Spaceflight coordinated the launch, and technically Beresheet is the secondary payload; the primary is the Air Force Research Labs’ S5 experimental satellite, which the launch vehicle will take to geosynchronous orbit after the lunar module detaches.

Although Beresheet may very well be the first, it will likely be the first of many: other contenders in the Lunar Xprize, as well as companies funded or partnering with NASA and other space agencies, will soon be making their own attempts at making tracks in the regolith.

from TechCrunch https://tcrn.ch/2T0xP7P
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Want to build a video game? Pick your own price to learn how

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Want to build a video game? Pick your own price to learn how

Maybe you’ve already yeehaw-ed your way through 100% completion of Red Dead Redemption 2, Rockstar Games’ recent western masterpiece; maybe you’ve only seen the in-game screenshots that have been snuck onto r/EarthPorn. Either way, anyone who’s even remotely into gaming knows that RDR2 is unrivaled graphics-wise, which begs an important question: HOW?

Like many other leading gaming companies — Electronic Arts and Ubisoft, to name a couple — Rockstar has made its game engine a proprietary software. (Translation: It isn’t available for us plebian developers to use.) But that doesn’t mean you have to dash your dreams of creating the next RDR2 just yet: There are plenty of game engines out there that are free for anyone to download and use.

One of the most popular options is Unity, a versatile and powerful general-use game engine that’s currently supported on 27 different platforms. Capable of creating both 3D and 2D designs, Unity is fantastic in that it’s got options for developers of all skill levels.

Wanna put your Unity skills on the fast track so you can start bringing your game ideas to life? Simply sign up for the Unity Game Development Bundle, a 37-hour education on the game engine, the price of which you can pick yourself. Here’s how it works: Head over to the Mashable Shop and decide how much you want to spend; you’ll receive lifetime access to the entire bundle if you beat the average price (currently sub-$13). You’ll still get something great even if you pay just $1, but we think you’ll want to shell out a bit more once you see what the bundle contains:

Master Unity Game Development: Ultimate Beginner’s Bootcamp (a $200 value)

Explore the C# (pronounced “C sharp”) programming language as you learn how to use Unity from scratch across 28 lectures and 7 hours of content. By the time you wrap up the course, you’ll have built your own 3D multi-level platformer game and, in turn, mastered concepts like vector math and Object-Oriented Programming.

The Complete HTML5 Mobile Game Development Course (a $199 value)

Next up is a class on the Phaser HTML5 framework and JavaScript technologies, two essential components of the hybrid app development process. You’ll create five mobile games (including a project featuring Super Mario) throughout 10 hours of learning, an education that’ll turn you into a versatile developer who’s capable of making apps for both iOS and Android.

Augmented Reality Game Development (a $199.99 value)

Even beginners can successfully incorporate AR technologies within their games, and this two-hour course will show you how to do so step by step. Its 12-part training session will demonstrate how to use the ARToolkit library in Unity to make your games mind-blowingly immersive.

Learn Unity AI By Making a Tank Game (a $199.99 value)

This 61-lecture class will teach you how to create a 2D navigational maze game in Unity using A* (pronounced “A star”), a popular pathfinding algorithm that’s commonly used to make characters seem more lifelike. Upon completion, you’ll have a solid understanding of how to apply that component of basic AI to other projects you’re working on.

Learn to Code By Building 6 Games In The Unreal Engine (a $199.99 value)

Packed with all sorts of fun projects that’ll teach you practical (read: employable) skills, this bonus class will introduce you to Unreal, another popular game engine. Throughout nine hours of content, you’ll learn how to code in C++ in Unreal to create simple projects from scratch. 

Get the bundle of all five of these courses today simply by beating the average price. Don’t dawdle, though — since this deal has just begun, that average will only go up from here on out.

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The Trailer For The Upcoming Netflix Biopic About Mötley Crüe Is Completely Insane

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On January 17, 1981, bassist Nikki Sixx, drummer Tommy Lee, lead singer Vince Neil and lead guitarist Mick Mars got together and founded a new band named Mötley Crüe. Over 100 million records and two or three sex tapes later the legendary band is getting its very own biopic on Netflix called The Dirt.

Based on Mötley Crüe’s 2001 best-selling autobiography, The Dirt is an unflinching and uncensored story about sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll, fame, and the high price of excess. Director Jeff Tremaine (Jackass co-creator, Bad Grandpa) shows us just how Nikki Sixx (Douglas Booth), Mick Mars (Iwan Rheon), Tommy Lee (Colson Baker), and Vince Neil (Daniel Webber) took Mötley Crüe from the Sunset Strip to the world stage, and what it meant to become the world’s most notorious rock band.

Joe Levy of Rolling Stone called the book “without a doubt… the most detailed account of the awesome pleasures and perils of rock & roll stardom I have ever read. It is completely compelling and utterly revolting.”

Welp, now I have to read the book.

Also starring in the movie are Pete Davidson, Leven Rambin, David Costabile, Christian Gehring (as David Lee Roth), Kabby Borders, Tony Cavalero (as Ozzy Osbourne), and Rebekah Graf (as Heather Locklear).

The trailer for The Dirt gives us a pretty good idea of what the film will entail: rock ‘n roll, booze, strippers, fire, manslaughter, porn stars, overdoses, fireworks, and did I mention Heather Locklear?

“I had managed the Scorpions, Bon Jovi, Skid Row, Kiss,” says Doc McGhee, played by Costabile, in the trailer, “but I had never been through what Mötley Crüe put me through.”

Yep, I will definitely be watching this.

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Teenage Engineering OP-Z review: Small synth, big dreams

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Read the fucking manual. It’s pejorative advice usually dispensed to someone struggling to find an answer — one typically available to them with minimal effort. The OP-Z from Teenage Engineering doesn’t ship with a full manual (though there is one online). But even if you read that thing from top to bottom, twice, I bet you still wouldn’t know everything this magical box of secrets has to offer. It’s a mind-bendingly complex, yet hysterically fun mini-studio that keeps on giving. And at $600, it’s not crazy expensive, so you’re probably going to get more than your money’s worth.

Teenage Engineering has been making synthesizers for about a decade and they are always quirky. Those quirks might involve the design, the user interface or likely both. Importantly, that frivolity doesn’t mean they’re just novelties; they are always fun and musically capable. The OP-Z is something of a successor/sibling to the long-established and much-loved OP-1. Just smaller, and in many ways, smarter.

I am prone to not R-ing T F-ing M, though. Partly because self-discovery is half the fun, especially with musical gadgets. (The main reason is arrogance on my part.) If I had read it, however, it wouldn’t have taken me far too long to realize there are two volume controls: one master, one in the mixer. (You nearly had a review complaining how quiet the OP-Z was.)

Teenage Engineering OP-Z review

Before I gave in and thumbed through the online literature, I was already pretty smitten with the OP-Z (volume issue aside). The small, gray slab (with flecks of color) is a delightful object in its own right. Turn the bright yellow dial on the left-hand side and the OP-Z sparkles to life with a flourish of the lights. Poke some of the buttons and squelchy sounds emerge. Press the "Play" button and a moody EDM track begins. Within seconds you realize what this thing is capable of — if only you knew how to get there.

Without a display, most of your interactions with the OP-Z will be through combination key presses. Four buttons along the top edge offer primary controls (Program, Mixer, Metronome and Screen). The front of the OP-Z is littered with circular buttons. The top row for selecting parts/instruments and more. The leftmost buttons perform functions like Play/Stop, record and so on. The rest of the bottom two rows serve as a rudimentary piano keyboard, but almost every button has at least one secondary function, represented by small glyph-like icons. The four flat dials on the top right serve as control knobs (for volume, filters etc…), and a spongy rubber button on the bottom edge is a clever little pitch-bend control.

The OP-Z has a built-in speaker, but it’s a little feeble. Fortunately, there’s a headphone jack, so you can jam in private, or connect to a decent speaker. The onboard battery is good for about 6 hours, but USB-C charging tops it up pretty quickly. That all makes the OP-Z pretty competent for a portable device, but there’s more. A companion app (iOS only) turns your phone into a display for the synth, and includes more goodies, like tools to generate videos or choreographed slideshows to complement your music. That not enough? The OP-Z also has an expansion slot along the top (technically, it’s inside) that will allow you to add more hardware accessories (think things like control voltage gates and more). Oh, and you can also control disco lights. Honestly, it’s baffling how much creativity this one box can deliver.

Teenage Engineering OP-Z review

But let’s take it back a step. Making music is what you really want this for, and no amount of cool apps or bolt-on accessories matter if the basics aren’t up to snuff. Out of the box, there are drum sounds, leads and basslines that span a number of genres. There are also samples and one-hit sounds for adding spice and flavor. But know this, there are not a lot of them, and your options for bending them into a sound of your own are slightly limited (compared to a dedicated synth).

The pre-loaded demo tracks clearly aim to show that the OP-Z can be used for a number of styles/genres. There’s some minimal, electro, drum and bass and general EDM, but overall I would say the OP-Z leans a little more to the minimal and EDM side of things — at least out of the box.

To manipulate the pre-loaded sounds you’ll mostly use pitch/filter/resonance controls or the attack, decay sustain, release (ADSR) envelope and a few effects (delay, distortion and so on). I’ve read much of the manual at this point, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there were hidden options to do even more with the presets. The good news is that you can expand the onboard sounds by loading new synth engines (via the app) or external sound packs (more on these below). These sound packs need to be in the OP-1 format (AIFF).

The better news is that with the OP-1 having been around for so long, there are plenty of user-generated collections for you to download, often for free. If you happen to own an OP-1, you can, of course, export your own. And if you don’t? Well, there’s a handy utility that’ll convert almost any sample for you. All that to say, despite the slightly limited built-in sound-creation options, you can get a wide variety of sounds onto the OP-Z.

The downside, for me at least, is that adding samples is a minor chore. I like creating sounds from scratch, starting with a choice of waveforms, and bending it into something entirely different. Not to mention that, unless you happen to have samples of things you want to use, you have to go find them/create the sounds you want elsewhere and then bring them to the OP-Z. For all that, you could stick with whatever you were making the samples on (such as a VST synth) — at the cost of portability, of course.

That said, I might be asking too much of the OP-Z. It’s an incredibly versatile piece of kit, great for making music on the go, and endless fun. To ask for it to replace a fully-featured DAW and desktop-level software synth is to ignore what the OP-Z (and, really anything by Teenage Engineering) is: a mobile idea machine.

While it’s tempting to call the OP-Z a "synth," for the reasons above (and the ones that follow) it’s really more of a micro groovebox. That’s to say, on top of its sounds and keyboard, it’s also a sequencer, and apt for live performance too. Once you get the hang of navigating between projects and patterns, you can start chaining things together into a song. You can work with single bars, or change timing so that some elements run for more than one bar (you’ll definitely need this, unless repetitive loops are your thing). Once you have something you like, you can bounce stems to audio, use the 3.5mm audio out to record into other software or use MIDI with your main DAW to take the project further.

The performance features are particularly good for jamming with ideas. The lower row of the "keyboard" is used for live punch-in effects. The little icons next to each key are meant to represent roughly what each effect is, but they’re not all instantly obvious. There are things like beat-repeat, double tempo, random pitch changes and echo filters. You can easily waste an hour jamming a few bars into something completely different as you punch in different effects on different parts of your track. You can record these selections in, of course, but it’s also a good way to test out different flourishes that you can later commit through the step sequencer.

Teenage Engineering OP-Z review

If you want to get a little deeper into settings, this is where the app comes in handy. Pairing is painless, and it instantly switches screens to whatever you are working on. When I select my kick drum, for example, a detailed view with all the parameters appears. Navigating the settings on screen is much easier than playing finger-twister on the OP-Z itself, even if it does make the whole setup more cumbersome by forcing you to perch an iPhone somewhere.

The app also adds features you obviously couldn’t do without a real display, notably the aforementioned video and slideshow tools. These two sections of the app are secondary "bonus" features for most people, but still incredibly fun. I loaded some images into a folder (it’s a bit of a juggle with iTunes and file sharing) and idly created a twerking Tina from Bob’s Burgers to go along with one of my tracks. The video section looks potentially powerful, as you can create 3D visuals in Unity, and then use a dedicated channel on the OP-Z to switch the camera view and punch in visual effects, all in time to your track.

Ultimately, what I love about the OP-Z is that it’s very easy to pick up and start dabbling. Often, I found this would naturally lead to an extended session, with pleasing results. This is a crucial selling point. I have a desktop with Ableton and a vast library of synths and samples to play with. I rarely do though. A busy life, mostly working at a computer, makes spending my free time also in front of a screen unappealing. With the OP-Z I can just pick it up and not feel like I am back at "work." And it’s highly portable, too. I recently took this to New York (I live in California) and it was as easy as deciding to bring my Kindle or not. I’m also about to fly across the Atlantic, and I know what will be coming with me.

Teenage Engineering OP-Z review

There are several all-in-one gadgets for making music, but they are either aimed at your desk, or are too simple that they become fun time-wasters. Akai’s MPC live, or Deluge from Synthstrom, for example, are pretty robust, but not nearly as convenient to slip into a backpack (or back pocket in the OP-Z’s case). Teenage Engineering’s own Pocket Operators are even more portable than the OP-Z, but lack the vast functionality. All that to say, for $600, this thing is so versatile and so portable, and heck, so much fun, a few minor gripes don’t stop this from being a killer piece of kit. Best of all, you’ll likely keep discovering more secrets for years to come.

from Engadget https://engt.co/2IrSA8d
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New Audi feature helps drivers catch more consecutive green lights

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More Audi drivers can experience that rush from hitting a stretch of green traffic lights in a row. 

The car maker previously showed off its Traffic Light Information system about two years ago to give drivers more information about red lights and how long they’d be waiting. But this week Audi is all about green light information. 

With what Audi is calling Green Light Optimized Speed Advisory (GLOSA), drivers are connected to city infrastructure and can “game” the system by going a recommended speed limit. The dash indicates the best speed to catch the “green wave” based on the car’s position, speed limits in the area, and signal timing. It’s not that far off from the premise of timed streetlights to encourage driving the speed limit, but it’s a helpful boost.

Here’s a car catching the lights:

Audi’s connected system, offered through its Connect Prime membership on certain 2017, 2018, and other new models cars, also expanded this week to five more cities including Denver; White Plains, New York; Gainesville, Florida; Orlando; and Northern Virginia. 

These areas expand Audi’s Vehicle-to-Infrastructure connectivity, or V2I, to 13 cities at more than 4,700 intersections using 4G LTE data in the vehicle to communicate with real-time info from cities’ traffic management systems. Before the green light recommendation, the car would tell you how long you’d be at a red light. That’s helpful info to reduce the anxiety waiting for what feels like an interminable stop, but now you can avoid the wait altogether.

Already drivers in Dallas, Houston, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Portland, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., have been connected to the traffic light info. Now more cities are getting the green light.

from Mashable! http://bit.ly/2GVojfB
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Netflix’s Mötley Crüe biopic digs into the band’s debaucherous past

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Yep, it’s another music biopic.

This time, it’s not just about any act: It’s about Mötley Crüe, one of the most debaucherous rock bands to have ever graced this Earth.

The Dirt relives the band’s highs and lows, and is based on the similarly-titled book they released in 2001. 

Founding member and drummer Tommy Lee is played by Machine Gun Kelly, with Douglas Booth as Nikki Sixx, Iwan Rheon as Mick Mars, Daniel Webber as Vince Neil, while Pete Davidson takes on the role of Elektra A&R exec Tom Zutaut.

The Dirt is out on Netflix on March 22. Read more…

More about Entertainment, Music, Movies, Netflix, and Motley Crue

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The problem when taking photos for money

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I’m a full-time photographer, I take photos for a living. It’s my main source of income. Its how I pay the rent, keep the lights on and put food on the table. The problem when you work for money, specifically when you get paid for your photography, is that you are no longer in full control.

I bet a lot of you will counter-argue that you get to choose your clients, and you get to express your creativity. How and what you shoot and what you let out into the world is filtered through you. I get that, your not wrong. But when you exchange your services for some kind of transaction there is an expectation, and agreement, and understanding or contract. Agreeing to provide your services instantly limits you. Now limitations are great, they help creativity, they force you to think outside the box. But getting paid for your services also pigeonholes you into a specific expectation. You no longer have freedom.

I myself get paid to take photographs, but I never associate myself with the service I provide to my employers. My main income from photography is photographing products and advertisement campaigns. I capture images for website catalogues and product mailers, the ones you get in your mailbox. That’s the photography I get paid for. I never show the world that portfolio, I like what I do, I’m grateful that I have this wonderful job. But artistically and creatively I’m at the mercy of the art directors and managers. I get paid to capture and produce their vision. That’s what I’m employed to do. Chasing money is chasing conformity. That paycheck your holding represents your hard work, time and their expectation or vision.

This is why I produce my personal work, this is why I write about photography and creativity. It’s my creative expression, it’s my outlet, my voice. The only reason it’s unfiltered and uncensored is because I don’t take paychecks from anyone. When it comes to my personal work, I don’t have to satisfy companies and worry about damaging their integrity or public image. I am 100% on my own self-controlled platform. And the price I have to pay for this freedom is nothing. There is no price tag attached. The problem when you work for money if you let someone else in, you have to take input, and share their vision.

Now for some of you, you might be saying that collaboration is wonderful. It’s why I love photography, working with other people. And again this is true. Photography is about people, it’s about sharing, it’s about telling stories and putting yourself and others out into the world. But is that story 100% yours, is that collaboration truly 50/50. Are the photos your taking exactly what you wanted to capture, produce, express and share?

I used to work on personal projects with teams and I loved it. I got to do what I wanted. I came up with mood boards, I art directed and produced work I was happy with. Well that was what I told myself at the time. Later I realised, that I was just trying to please others, get likes, network and become known by my peers. Where in reality I was tired. Tired of working for free or something I didn’t have 100% of my heart and soul in. But this took time to realise. Just because you’re not working for money doesn’t mean your working for free. Collaboration is just that, a collaboration, it’s not 100% yours.

Now I might sound pessimistic, negative and a selfish ass, and you’re right again. Art is about self-expression. It’s about diving deep into one’s subconscious, expressing your true raw self and being vulnerable for the world to see. It’s scary if you dare to expose your soul and put yourself out there when you have no one else to blame but yourself. The question you have to ask yourself is, are you willing to pay that price. Are you willing to pay with your own blood, sweat and tears to have total control over your own creative endeavours in photography? If your answer is yes then your one step closer, closer to controlling your own creative freedom.

About the Author

Alexander Ben Korako Watson, best known as A.B Watson is a photographer based in Auckland, New Zealand. You can find out more about him on his website, follow his work on Instagram and Facebook or reach out to him through Twitter. This article was also published here and shared with permission.

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