Amazon Redesigns Its Prime Air Delivery Drone

Amazon is finally starting to address some of the actual challenges with drone delivery, making us slightly less skeptical Amazon has been working away at its Prime Air urban and suburban drone delivery for years. Many years. It’s been at least half a decade now. And for the entire time, we’ve been complaining that Amazon has been focusing on how to build drones that can physically transport objects rather than how to build drones that can safely and reliably transport objects in a manner that makes economic sense and that people actually want. At its re:MARS conference today, Amazon showed off a brand-new version of its Prime Air drone. The design is certainly unique, featuring a hybrid tailsitter design with 6 degrees of freedom, but people have been futzing with weird drone designs for a long time, and this may or may not be a.) what Amazon has actually settled on Continue reading Amazon Redesigns Its Prime Air Delivery Drone

Amazon Introduces Two New Warehouse Robots

Xanthus is a major upgrade, and Pegasus is doing something new At Amazon’s re:MARS conference in Las Vegas today, who else but Amazon is introducing two new robots designed to make its fulfillment centers even more fulfilling. Xanthus (named after a mythological horse that could very briefly talk but let’s not read too much into that) is a completely redesigned drive unit, one of the robotic mobile bases that carries piles of stuff around for humans to pick from. It has a thinner profile, a third of the parts, costs half as much, and can wear different modules on top to perform a much wider variety of tasks than its predecessor. Pegasus (named after a mythological horse that could fly but let’s not read too much into that either) is also a mobile robot, but much smaller than Xanthus, designed to help the company quickly and accurately sort individual packages. Continue reading Amazon Introduces Two New Warehouse Robots

How to speed up the discovery of new solar cell materials

A broad class of materials called perovskites is considered one of the most promising avenues for developing new, more efficient solar cells. But the virtually limitless number of possible combinations of these materials’ constituent elements makes the search for promising new perovskites slow and painstaking. Now, a team of researchers at MIT and several other institutions has accelerated the process of screening new formulations, achieving a roughly ten-fold improvement in the speed of the synthesis and analysis of new compounds. In the process, they have already discovered two sets of promising new perovskite-inspired materials that are worthy of further study. Their findings are described this week in the journal Joule, in a paper by MIT research scientist Shijing Sun, professor of mechanical engineering Tonio Buonassisi, and 16 others at MIT, in Singapore, and at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Maryland. Somewhat surprisingly, although partial automation was employed, Continue reading How to speed up the discovery of new solar cell materials