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WVU space robotics research helps Mars rovers find their footing   | WVU Today




A small machine on four wheels with a thick antenna sits in the middle of the shot. The background is dirt hills with barren trees.

Pathfinder, a lightweight, small test rover, roams an ash heap in Point Marion, Pennsylvania, for research conducted by Cagri Kilic, a WVU postdoctoral researcher.
(Photo courtesy of Jonas Bredu)

West Virginia University Scientists have devised a way for extraplanetary rovers to use non-visual information to maneuver over treacherous terrain. This research aims to prevent losses like that of the Mars exploration rover Spirit, which lost communications after its wheels got caught in invisible drifting sands in 2010.

SPace robotic Cagri Kilic, a Statler College of Engineering Postdoc in the Faculty of Mechanical and Aerospace EngineeringIn the WVU navigation laboratory, led research into avoiding slips and trips in planetary rovers, presented in a field robotics Paper he co-authored with professors of aerospace engineering YuGu and Jason Gross.

Aided by funding from NASA’s established competitive research stimulus program, Kilic, Gu and Gross found a way to help a rover move forward using only its existing sensors when visual data isn’t available or reliable.

Darkness and extreme light can make it difficult for rover to rely on visual data for navigation, but Kilic’s work also focuses on helping the rover in situations where aspects of the physical terrain are difficult to discern based on visual inspection are: steep slopes, loose rubble, layers of different sands, soft soil or salt flats like that of Europa, the moon of Jupiter.

Many of these terrain features are found on the burnt coal ash heaps at Point Marion, Pennsylvania, where Kilic’s team is testing its software on WVU’s Pathfinder rover.

“The area was actually found when we were doing some testing for the Mars Society’s University Rover Challenge,” he said. “As soon as I saw the area, I wanted to look at the chemistry of the area because it looked like Mars.”

At Point Marion, Kilic’s team puts Pathfinder, a lightweight, small test rover through its paces, testing algorithms that allow it to adjust things like its course or speed based on the information it gets from onboard instruments like accelerometers, gyroscopes, magnetometers and odometer, rather than what it can see through its camera lens. These instruments inform Kilic’s software about orientation, speed and position, helping the rover and the engineers guiding it to understand and respond to the environment.

“Mars rovers can tell if there’s an obstacle in front of them,” Kilic said. “They can detect wheel slip with their cameras, they can tell if a wheel is spinning on a rock and so on. And they can adjust their navigation by altering their path, changing individual wheel speeds, or stopping to await orders from engineers on Earth.”

Kilic emphasized that when visual data is available, the rovers’ current visual navigation system is “almost perfect – 99% success rate. The problem is that it can only work if there are enough features in the environment.” The uniformity of a landscape poses problems for a rover when it relies on sight to get around.

According to Kilic, it is “homogeneous environments with low visual features, resembling deserts, oceans or tundra on our planet” that pose a problem for rovers not only on Mars but also on Earth’s moon and possibly Europa, where there is ice represent has stimulated scientific speculation about habitability. Kilic said he was trying to make the technology “as general as possible for use in any robot on any alien body.”

Wherever a rover can go in our solar system, Kilic’s algorithms can help protect it from falling or getting stuck.

“Of course, the software has to be tuned to a specific rover by adapting to the wheel dimensions and the properties of the inertial measurement unit, but no additional sensors are needed,” he said.

Still, Kilic’s research specifically aims to benefit the rovers currently exploring Mars: Curiosity, Perseverance, and Zhurong. Mars is a priority for Kilic because “the Martian soil presents an exceptional challenge to traverse. Even during a single trip, Mars rovers traverse different terrains with different inclinations.”

To achieve this goal, Kilic will now conduct additional tests with different rovers. His method already has more than 92% slip detection accuracy for distances of around 150 meters and uses fewer computational resources than visual-based navigation, allowing rovers using Kilic’s software to travel faster and stop less often than if they did would rely on visual signals.

Though the research still has some time to go, Kilic said the results so far “show us that we” – and the rovers – “are on the right track.”

Citation: Proprioceptive slip detection for planetary rovers in perceptually impaired extraterrestrial environments



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The Lululemon Belt Bag Was the Perfect Accessory for My Two-Week Hawaiian Honeymoon




Condé Nast Traveler

I used to think perfect duffel bag didn’t exist — until I stumbled across the now-viral Lululemon Everywhere Belt Bag in May. Back then my long awaited Hawaiian honeymoon was about three weeks away, and I had spent months tracking down a compact speakerphone shoulder bag Pocket. I needed something that could get me hiking and snorkeling in the mornings, followed by leisurely afternoons of sunbathing, shopping, and sipping mai tais.

Back then, the Lululemon belt bag came in two sizes: Standard and Extended. I originally wanted the extended length in black; However, due to availability I ordered the purple extended bag and the more versatile regular length black bag. The strap lengths only varied by a few inches and I figured I could always return the regular version if it was too short.

I wasn’t ready to love her as much as I did — in fact, I ended up putting both options in my suitcase. As I slung one of the two bags over my chest, I was immediately struck by how light it felt. (So ​​much so, in Maui, for a moment I thought it had been lost.) Plus, despite its compact size, each contained a full day’s essentials: an SPF stick, a bottle suncream, AirPods, my iPhone, credit cards, cash, my ID, a lip balm, and to top it off, a disposable camera. Even after putting all of these things in the fanny pack, I didn’t feel the strain (read: no shoulder pain!) like I used to. While I mostly mean as handbag, shoulder bagYou can also wear it around the waist, fanny pack style.

Lululemon Everywhere bum bag

The clever design is another great benefit: instead of one main compartment, the Everywhere bag contains multiple zipped and mesh pockets, which helped me stay organized on the go. The secure front pocket provides easy access to my most packed items, like my driver’s license and AirPods.

As someone who tends to spill and soil my clothes, I also appreciate the Everywhere bag’s water-resistant polyester fabric, which is incredibly easy to clean. A wet napkin is really all you need to clean up ketchup stains, spilled coffee, sunscreen residue and the good old dirt and debris that can accumulate after a long hike.

Lululemon has since phased out the original bag in favor of the longer strap design, now referred to simply as the Everywhere Belt Bag. And although the bag’s popularity means it’s been sold in and out lately –check here to see if it’s back online – it was previously sold in a range of shades including a pretty pastel pink, simple black, bright light purple and more. If you see one you like, be quick – it may not be around for long and if you do get your hands on one I’m confident it will become your new favorite bag.

[Editor’s note: As of publishing, the Lululemon Everywhere Belt Bag was in stock on Amazon and eBay. You can also check your local Lululemon store for inventory.]

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Complicating the Plot – Surfline




[All photos and vid by Ryan Valasek]

Not all Strike missions are home runs or even base hits. Some are deletions. No thugs. During a recent surfing trip to Nicaragua, longtime California travel buddies and Xcel team members Christian “Cram” Ramirez and Ryan “Snacks” Valasek didn’t exactly hit thousands right from the start. But they were determined to at least stay in the game.

What was supposed to be a carefree, easy-peasy surf surfer ended up being spoiled by a crazy emergency going to Texas to expedite a passport renewal, all the usual and a few unusual diverted flights, and, oh yeah, an overzealous drug dog. “There were so many setbacks when I actually got to Nicaragua, I feel like it took years of my life,” Cram said. “It almost got to the point where I expected something to go wrong.”

Despite all the difficulties, the duo made it. And what they found was worth all the hoops they had to jump through along the way.

Snacks: “This trip was a huge stepping stone for Cram and me. We had been planning trips for a while but everything was put on hold with COVID so we just surfed locally while waiting for some travel restrictions to be lifted. I was camping up in Bend, Oregon with bumpy service when I happened to receive this text message from Christian: “We’re going to Nicaragua next week. I just bought a plane ticket.” I had had all these other plans but just canceled them, bought my ticket to Nica and flew home to California to pack. We left three days later.”

WATCH LIVE: Santana surf cam

Plug: “I knew I had to renew my passport to travel, but the only available slot across the country was in El Paso, Texas. I learned this 48 hours before I left for Nicaragua. After packing my gear with all the gear I needed for the trip, I drove from SLO (San Luis Obispo) to Santa Ana and then went on a 36 hour passport mission to El Paso. Finally, two days after leaving my home in SLO, I met up in Rancho for snacks.”

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: Nicaragua’s regional surf forecast

Plug: “Six hours before our flight, I received an email from the Nicaraguan government saying we were denied entry into the country. Without hesitation we booked new flights to Costa Rica that were an hour later than our original flights to Nica. We landed in Costa Rica, got through customs, and then this drug dog started going crazy on my bag. After two hours of interrogation, while my pockets were being torn apart – and I had resisted several offers of bribes because I knew I wasn’t carrying anything illegal – I was finally able to leave.”

Snacks: “For this trip I brought the camera case I’ve had for a number of years: a Sony A7riii, a couple of prime lenses, a surf lens and a water case with a small lens mount. I’ve paired them with some of my favorite film cameras – a Yashica-D medium format camera and a Contax T2 point-and-shoot.”

Plug: “I really only have one window on the outer reef, but it shot. I had it all to myself, which was a little scary to find out on my own. The wave had an insane spin from a boil at launch. When I found out, the game was on. I had surfed for two hours, caught six waves and was ready for a marathon session when a storm hit. It started raining sideways so hard I could barely see land. It was just pouring rain. That was the end of my dream session, but I’m eyeing this wave for future strikes. There is still work to be done!”

CONTINUE READING: Nicaragua Travel and Surfing Guide

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What is a blockchain oracle, and how does it work?




Oracles provide a means for the Web3.0 ecosystem to link to existing legacy systems, data sources, and advanced calculations.

Blockchain oracles connect blockchains to external systems, enabling the execution of smart contracts based on real-world inputs and outputs, Cointelegraph reports.

Oracles provide the Web3.0 ecosystem with the ability to connect to existing legacy systems, data sources, and advanced computations.

Decentralized oracle networks (DONs) enable the creation of hybrid smart contracts that combine off-chain infrastructure and on-chain code to create complex decentralized apps (DApps) that respond to real-world events and interact with traditional systems.

Because the blockchain is a distributed ledger, each node in the network must produce the same output given the same input. For example, if one node tries to validate another node’s transaction, the result will be different. This architecture was designed with determinism in mind.

In blockchain, consensus is the technique to agree on a data value, and determinism is essential for nodes to reach consensus. Some of them, such as B. Proof-of-Work (PoW) with Nakamoto consensus and Proof-of-Stake (PoS) with Byzantine consensus may be recognizable to you. Consensus is one of the main reasons blockchain works in the first place.

The blockchain oracle riddle reveals a fundamental limitation of smart contracts: they cannot be linked in any way to data or systems outside of their native blockchain context. External resources are referred to as “off-chain,” while data currently being recorded on the blockchain is referred to as “on-chain.”

Software oracles deliver data from digital sources such as websites, servers or databases, while hardware oracles deliver data from the physical world. In addition, hardware oracles can deliver and forward data from camera motion sensors and RFID (radio frequency identification) sensors. Oracle software can provide real-time data such as exchange rates, price fluctuations, and travel information.

Oracles create a two-way communication channel with blockchains by sending and receiving data. Incoming oracles are more likely to deliver off-chain or real-world data to the blockchain than outgoing oracles. Additionally, the imported data can represent almost anything from asset price movements to weather conditions to payment verification.

A common scenario that can be programmed for incoming oracles is: when an asset reaches a certain price, you place a buy order. Outgoing oracles, on the other hand, notify the outside world of an event that has occurred in the chain.

(With insights from Cointelegraph)

Also read: 75 Years of Independence: Looking Back and Looking Ahead at How the Development of Social Media Has Affected Life

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