Welcome to Technology Tuesday! Every week The Job Shop Blog will bring you our 5 top science and technology news stories from around the web.
This week: DARPA and NASA are teaming up on satellite projects, physicists make time flow backwords (sort of), what we can expect from autonomous vehicles in 2018, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy is vertical on the launchpad for the first time, and UPS puts in an order for Tesla’s autonomous semis.
DARPA AND NASA TEAM UP TO CREATE NEW SATELLITES
DARPA has a reputation for taking on seemingly impossible, ambitious projects that some would describe as moonshots and others might describe as ludicrous. However, the agency has teamed up with NASA to build robotic satellites that can refuel and repair friendly satellites.
These robotic satellites, known as “service stations in orbit,” would not only refuel satellites, they could drastically improve their longevity and lifespan. The robots could fix minor maintenance issues, keeping up with current orbiters as they age and sustain damage. This is an ability that we don’t have yet, so faulty billion-dollar satellites not only cause issues, but have to be replaced, which is both difficult and extremely expensive.
PHYSICISTS HAVE CREATED A SET OF CONDITIONS IN WHICH TIME SEEMS TO FLOW BACKWARDS
While we all take for granted the fact that time’s arrow forever points towards the future, physicists have always had trouble showing why this is necessarily the case.
A mix of chloroform and acetone might seem like an odd place to hunt for clues, but researchers have used just such a combination to create conditions where for some purposes time actually appears to move backwards.
This research won’t take us on a journey to see dinosaurs, but it just might tell us why our Universe is stuck on a one way street.
IT’S 2018, AND AUTONOMOUS CARS ARE ON OUR STREETS
Over the course of 2017, we saw some major steps forward when it comes to autonomous vehicles. This technology has been on the horizon for some time, but it’s finally hitting the streets in various forms.
In July 2017, a US House Committee gave its approval for the SELF DRIVE act, a groundbreaking piece of legislation intended to underpin the safe introduction of autonomous vehicles. The bill is set to allow automakers to field 25,000 such cars in their first year of deployment, up to an annual cap of 100,000 over three years.
SPACEX’S FALCON HEAVY IS VERTICAL ON THE LAUNCHPAD FOR THE FIRST TIME
Spectators near the historic launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center on December 28 were able to spot the vertical raising of SpaceX’s highly anticipated Falcon Heavy rocket. The rocket is being prepared for additional testing before its maiden launch, which will likely take place at some point in January.
The 70 meter (229 ft) tall rocket is composed of two refurbished Falcon 9 boosters and a newly designed central core stage. The rocket’s first stage is made up of a total of 27 engines that will be able to carry up to 63,800 kg (140,600 lbs) of cargo into low Earth orbit. The Falcon Heavy is set to be the single most powerful rocket ever built, producing the most thrust of any launch vehicle since the space shuttle.
UPS JUST PLACED AN ORDER FOR 125 TESLA AUTONOMOUS SEMIS
The world’s largest package delivery company has just broken another record, albeit on a much smaller scale. The shipping giant has just become the company with the biggest pre-order for Tesla’s newest vehicle, the upcoming Tesla Semi. UPS announced that it had placed an order for 125 Class 8, all-electric, semi-autonomous trucks. The order manages to beat PepsiCo’s order of 100 trucks.
Juan Perez, chief information and engineering officer at UPS released a statement saying, “These groundbreaking electric tractors are poised to usher in a new era in improved safety, reduced environmental impact, and reduced cost of ownership.” The benefits of owning a Tesla Semi are quite promising, they’re even enough to justify the truck’s staggering price, which start with a $150,000 base price.