You can do it, robot! Watch the beefy, 4-legged HyQReal pull a plane

It’s not really clear just yet exactly what all these powerful, agile quadrupedal robots people are working on are going to do, exactly, but even so it never gets old watching them do their thing. The latest is an Italian model called HyQReal, which demonstrates its aspiration to winning strongman competitions, among other things, by pulling an airplane behind it.

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Mona Lisa frown: Machine learning brings old paintings and photos to life

Machine learning researchers have produced a system that can recreate lifelike motion from just a single frame of a person’s face, opening up the possibility of animating not just photos but also of paintings. It’s not perfect, but when it works, it is — like much AI work these days — eerie and fascinating.

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Stanford’s Doggo is a petite robotic quadruped you can (maybe) build yourself

Got a few thousand bucks and a good deal of engineering expertise? You’re in luck: Stanford students have created a quadrupedal robot platform called Doggo that you can build with off-the-shelf parts and a considerable amount of elbow grease. That’s better than the alternatives, which generally require a hundred grand and a government-sponsored lab.

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Why is Facebook doing robotics research?

It’s a bit strange to hear that the world’s leading social network is pursuing research in robotics rather than, say, making search useful, but Facebook is a big organization with many competing priorities. And while these robots aren’t directly going to affect your Facebook experience, what the company learns from them could be impactful in surprising ways.

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Blue Origin and SpaceX get million-dollar NASA nod to test moon lander tech

Eleven aerospace companies will share more than $45 million in funds from NASA to design and test prototypes for the Artemis moon missions, the agency announced today. Among the established names like Northrop Grumman and Sierra Nevada are relative newcomers SpaceX and Blue Origin, looking to make a place for themselves on the agency’s biggest push in decades.

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Google’s Translatotron converts one spoken language to another, no text involved

Every day we creep a little closer to Douglas Adams’ famous and prescient babelfish. A new research project from Google takes spoken sentences in one language and outputs spoken words in another — but unlike most translation techniques, it uses no intermediate text, working solely with the audio. This makes it quick, but more importantly lets it more easily reflect the cadence and tone of the speaker’s voice.

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Lambs, the radiation-proof underwear company formerly known as Spartan, is now selling beanies

Earlier this year, Spartan, the French manufacturer of a silver-lined underwear designed to block EMF radiation from cell phones and wireless routers, relocated to the U.S. and raised some capital from the Los Angeles-based investment firm, Science. Now the company has relaunched as Lambs and is adding a radiation-proof silver-lined beanie to its $29-per-pair underwear […]

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SpaceX’s Crew Dragon is having trouble — and that’s okay

We may be poised on the precipice of a new era of spaceflight, but leaping prematurely off it would be a costly mistake — which is why the delays and failures of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, the new spacecraft that will likely be soonest to take humans to space, are a matter for concern but not worry. In space, you expect the unexpected.

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How to think about inclusion in tech, with Chanda Prescod-Weinstein (Part 2)

Technology is very much in the business of, quite literally, changing the world. When I was deciding whether to write for TechCrunch, I tried to imagine a human life on this planet, in 20 or 30 years, that would not have been dramatically impacted in one way or another by the new technologies we’re creating […]

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