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Special Forces Testing New Ballistic Helmet

In previous tests it successfully stopped .357 rounds to the head. Also, spit-powered batteries, and Tesla's autonomous truck.

Spit-Powered Batteries

Used for handshakes, simple wounds or even a cleanser in a pinch, spit is back in the news after researchers at Binghamton University have designed a unique battery that works when you spit on it.

The development is the next step in microbial fuel cells that are meant to be used in extreme conditions where normal batteries simply won't work.

The batteries are paper-based and powered by bacteria. They consist of microbial fuel cells that have freeze-dried exoelectrogenic cells that generate power within minutes when you add saliva.

In some areas of the world, commercial batteries and energy harvesting devices are unattainable, too expensive, or simply more than you need. The idea here is a way to provide simple and inexpensive power to point-of-care diagnostic devices.

The researchers are now working to increase the power density and go from microwatts to milliwatts of energy. Right now, you have to daisy-chain 16 of these things together to power an LED.

Tesla’s Big Trucks

Yesterday, Reuters reported that Tesla is working on autonomous (and electric) long-haul semi-trucks. In theory, they will move in "platoons" that follow a lead truck.

According to Reuters, the company is getting closer to testing two prototype trucks, and hopes to do so in Nevada.

In April, Elon Musk tweeted that the Tesla Semi Truck was scheduled to be unveiled in September.

Tesla's truck has stiff competition from Uber, which has the autonomous Otto; Daimler's Freightliner Inspiration Truck; and Waymo's autonomous truck.

According to research group McKinsey & Company, one-third of long-haul trucks will be semi-autonomous by 2025 though some remain skeptical that they will be able to compete in terms of total distance cargo hold with diesel trucks currently used in the market.

Ballistic Helmet Withstands .357 Blast

The Ronin Gen II Ballistic Helmet from DEVTAC is a commercial, fully enclosed ballistic helmet that weighs 4.85 pounds. It's about 2 pounds heavier than the Advanced Combat Helmet in the Army, but a bit more comprehensive protection.

According to Business Insider, British special forces are currently testing the helmet which offers 80% ballistic protection to the head, with a full Kevlar shell and 7 mm ballistic plates. I was skeptical until I watched the video of independent tester National Technical Systems (NTS) shooting it in the back with a .357. It passed.

The panels are bolted on and supplemented with Neodymium Magnets. The lenses are made of a replaceable polycarbonate but I particularly liked the built-in microjet fans that work as a defogging system. A possible solution to my fogging problems that I've had while paintballing.

Now, while they don't have a paintball-specific version available, they do have a non-ballistic mask for Airsoft guns. You can even outfit it with a Samurai-inspired Mempo mask. No word on whether or not the Mempo mask is being considered by the Brits.

The ballistic version reportedly costs about $1300, and you can even customize your own on the site. However, it may be a while before you receive one. Due to the volume of orders the company has received, you can only order via email.

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