Echodyne helps DARPA with drone tracking test

Aerial Dragnet

DARPA’s Aerial Dragnet program tests techniques for tracking drone flights over urban terrain. (DARPA Illustration)

When the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency tested an “Aerial Dragnet” system for tracking drones over urban terrain last month, Echodyne lent a helping hand.

Echodyne — a Kirkland, Wash.-based startup backed by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates — provided the compact radar systems for DARPA’s tests during the week of Oct. 23 in the San Diego area, in conjunction with the University of Washington’s Applied Physics Laboratory.

The Aerial Dragnet exercise involved putting Echodyne’s EchoGuard and EchoFlight flat-panel radar systems on two large tethered aerostat balloons that flew as high as 400 feet, as well as on rooftops and towers around San Diego and National City.

DARPA then sent up several types of drones for the systems to detect and track. A key challenge involved being able to distinguish the drones from other objects in the background, including ground vehicles and birds.

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Boeing gives 737 MAX 10 jet a low-key rollout

737 MAX 10 rollout

Employees gather around Boeing’s first 737 MAX 10 jet after its rollout in Renton, Wash. (Boeing Photo)

Hundreds of Boeing employees turned out today for the official rollout of the company’s biggest 737 MAX — a traditional rite in the birth of an airplane that was more muted this time, due to the eight-month-long grounding of all 737 MAX jets.

The 737 MAX 10 is a stretch version of the MAX 9, capable of accommodating 10 more seats (230 vs. 220 maximum) with slightly less maximum range (3,800 vs. 4,080 miles with an auxiliary tank). The smaller MAX 7 and MAX 8 fill out the product line.

Boeing has more than 550 orders and commitments for the MAX 10 from more than 20 customers around the globe. But the whole 737 MAX family is still in limbo because of the grounding that followed two catastrophically fatal accidents last year in October and this year in March.

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Tesla’s Cybertruck rollout shatters expectations

Elon Musk at Cybertruck rollout

Tesla CEO Elon Musk introduces the Cybertruck, which sported cracked windows after a demonstration of the truck’s toughness. “Don’t mind the glass,” Musk said. (Tesla via YouTube)

Amid clouds of smoke and “Blade Runner” hype, Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled a hard-edged, all-electric pickup truck that will cost as little as $39,900 and is due to hit the market by as early as 2021.

And then, with hundreds of fans cheering him on, Musk brought out one more thing during his laser-show presentation at Tesla’s design center in Los Angeles: an all-electric, all-terrain vehicle that rolled right into the Cybertruck’s bed for recharging from an onboard outlet.

There’s no sign that the ATV is for sale … yet … but Tesla is already taking refundable $100 deposits for the Cybertruck.

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Starliner space taxi meets up with its rocket

Starliner at launch complex

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner space taxi is transported out to United Launch Alliance’s vertical integration facility in Florida, where an Atlas 5 rocket is waiting. (ULA Photo)

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner space taxi was moved to its Florida launch complex and set atop its United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket today in preparation for next month’s uncrewed test mission to the International Space Station.

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SpaceX’s Starship prototype rocket blows its top

Clouds of vapor erupt from SpaceX’s Starship Mk1 prototype rocket in Texas. (LabPadre via YouTube)

SpaceX’s prototype for a Starship meant for trips to the moon and Mars suffered an eruption today on its South Texas launch pad, putting a dent in SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s ambitious schedule for flight tests.

Clouds of vapor issued explosively from the 165-foot-tall rocket’s top during a pressurization test, apparently because of a rupture in one of the craft’s cryogenic propellant tanks. The Starship Mk1’s top bulkhead was blown away by the blast.

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Study: AI takes aim at high-paying jobs

Job exposure map

A map by the Brookings Institution uses shades of pink and red to indicate which cities are expected to be hard-hit by job disruption related to AI. (Brookings Graphic / Source: Brookings Analysis of Webb, 2019)

When experts talk about the disruptive effects of artificial intelligence, they tend to focus on low-paid laborers — but a newly published study suggests higher-paid, more highly educated workers will be increasingly exposed to job challenges.

The study puts Seattle toward the top of the list for AI-related job disruption.

The analysis, which draws on work by researchers at Stanford University and the Brookings Institution, makes use of a novel technique that connects AI-related patents with the job descriptions for different professions.

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Meteor outburst could be a bust in the West

Meteor shower viewing

This NASA chart gauges how many meteors are likely to be seen emanating from the Alpha Monocerotid radiant on Thursday night. Blue is good, red is not so good, and white means the radiant won’t be above the horizon during the expected peak of the meteor shower. (NASA Graphic)

Skywatchers say parts of the world could see a brief, brilliant meteor outburst known as the Alpha Monocerotids on the night of Nov. 21, but NASA notes that it’ll be at the wrong time for the U.S. West Coast.

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