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SpaceX Launches Tesla Roadster to Mars Aboard Monster Rocket

Also, DARPA's autonomous Sea Hunter hits the high seas, and Intel's smart glasses get high praise.

DARPA’s Sea Hunter Readies for the Navy 

The Sea Hunter is a prototype designed by DARPA that could revolutionize U.S. Navy operations. The ship could be the beginning of a new class capable of covering thousands of miles of open ocean without a single crew member on board.

The Sea Hunter demonstration trimaran is the result of the Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (or ACTUV) program. Last week, DARPA officially turned over the keys to the prototype to the Office of Naval Research, which plans to continue work on what is officially being called a Medium Displacement Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MDUSV).

DARPA has been working on the prototype since September 2014 as part of a jointly-funded effort. Extensive testing has led to revolutionary sensing and autonomy suites that comply with international regulations that help prevent collisions at sea.

The ship has also been tested with DARPA's TALONS system aboard (the giant antenna kite), as well as at-sea tests with a mine countermeasure payload.

Now that ONR has control over the project, it plans to further automate payload and sensor data processing, improve mission-specific autonomous behaviors, and make sure that this thing plays well with other autonomous ships in the sea. If all goes well, the Sea Hunter could be fully operational in the U.S. Navy by the end of the year.

Intel's Vault Deserves Excessive Praise

Six years ago, Google unveiled the first pair of smart glasses, which seemed interesting until early adopters were judged as some sort of combination of a gadget freak and hipster trash. Google Glass wasn't an abject failure, after all, the specs could soon find a niche for maintenance professionals using augmented reality in concert with predictive maintenance.

Well, the wearable trend has been resurrected from the dead and Intel is the major new player. Most importantly, the company's Vaunt smart glasses look, at a base level, wearable. The Verge was able to scoop an exclusive first look at the glasses and the biggest takeaways are the design, the weight, and the display.

First of all, the display won't be distracting to anyone, because information is actually projected directly into your eye. They call the image a retinal projection. The 50-gram classes are actually about 14 grams heavier than Google Glass, but are much less obtrusive. Which brings us to the design that strips away things like a camera, speaker and microphone.

The company is now looking for partners, possibly a company that is a little more familiar with framing the 2.5 billion people who need to wear glasses. 

SpaceX Launches Tesla Roadster to Mars Aboard Monster Rocket

SpaceX has done it. The Falcon Heavy successfully conducted a successful test flight this week amidst cheers from those able to witness it live, or at least stream it online. The Falcon Heavy is the most powerful rocket currently in service (but not the most powerful ever), and this one used its three boosters and 27 engines to send Elon Musk's old cherry-red Tesla Roadster to Mars.

Company dummy, Starman, is at the wheel; "Don't Panic" the iconic phrase that adorned the cover to "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" is on the dash; and the radio is set to play David Bowie's classic, "Life on Mars". When it comes to the show, nothing is lost on the private space company's marketing department. It even appears as though they have a mini version of the Tesla mounted to a dash with a mini Starman at the wheel — it could be seen in the live video feed that showed Starman putting the blue marble in the rear-view mirror, in search of a change of scenery with a ruddier hue. No word on whether or not the Boring Company's flamethrower was in the trunk.

According to the AP, the Falcon Heavy could mean big new business for the private space company. The craft is capable of lifting a 737 into orbit, including passengers and their luggage. to be more specific, the Heavy can bring 140,660 pounds of cargo to low-Earth orbit, nearly 60,000 pounds to high-Earth orbit, 37,000 pounds to Mars, or 7,700 pounds to Pluto. 

Typically, for tests, rockets carry hunks of steel and concrete. SpaceX sent a sports car from their founder's collection. Interest in the space program never died, it just needed to be cool again. SpaceX has done just that.

This is Engineering By Design with David Mantey. 

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