Thursday, October 15, 2015

Letting the Stars Set the Course of This Blog

Wish I may, wish I might.... 

"US sailors learning to steer by stars again" Washington Post  October 14, 2015

The ancient method of steering ships by the stars is making a comeback at the US Naval Academy, thanks to cybersecurity fears, according to the Capital Gazette.

‘‘We went away from celestial navigation because computers are great,’’ Lieutenant Commander Ryan Rogers, deputy chairman of the academy’s navigation department, told the Gazette. ‘‘The problem is, there’s no backup.’’

For now, training at the Annapolis academy consists of a three-hour course covering the basics. But as governments grapple with threats in cyberspace, old-fashioned techniques are being dusted off.

A security force for high-ranking Russian officials, for instance, reverted to using typewriters after revelations of US digital spying capabilities, local news outlets reported.

Celestial navigation ended for the Navy at large in 2006, but was brought back for ship navigation officers in 2011. The Navy is now rebuilding a program for all enlisted ranks.


Want to take a look through the telescope?

"Astronomer resigns amid accusations" by Associated Press  October 15, 2015

SAN FRANCISCO — A prominent astronomer resigned Wednesday from the University of California, Berkeley, after an investigation found he sexually harassed female students over many years, administrators said.

The university immediately accepted professor Geoffrey Marcy’s resignation, according to a statement from Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Claude Steele.

The university has not released details of a six-month investigation into one of the world’s leading experts on planets outside Earth’s solar system. The inquiry that ended in June stemmed from complaints from former students and involved incidents dating as far back as 2001."

Look, I see the North Star.....

"Big-name VCs, UPS invest $22 million in drone startup CyPhy Works" by Nidhi Subbaraman, Boston Globe  |  October 14, 2015

Danvers drone startup CyPhy Works plans to begin selling its drones in the next year and its applications could range from agriculture to public safety, chief executive and founder Helen Greiner said Tuesday.

The latest $22 million funding round is led by Bessemer Venture Partners, a Silicon Valley firm that has backed big tech successes including Skype, LinkedIn, and Yelp. Other investors include well-known VC firm General Catalyst, Motorola Solutions Venture Capital, and UPS Strategic Enterprise Fund, the investment arm of the delivery company United Parcel Service.

Does that mean CyPhy Works will compete with titans Amazon and Google for package deliveries?

UPS is interested in learning more about supply delivery by drone in disaster response scenarios where infrastructure is destroyed, a spokesperson for UPS said.

CyPhy Works’ key innovation is a high-altitude drone that can stay aloft for extended periods of time. Tethered to a power source and data connection, it’s intended to withstand weather and winds, and be harder to hack. Greiner said that this “persistent aerial reconnaissance and communications” craft, also known as PARC, can be used by law enforcement and government agencies who want an extended bird’s eye view of a landscape.

Related: Where You Can PARC Your Drone

Not that the CyPhy Works PARC system will be the robot to do it. As it is currently designed, the PARC can’t carry a load and is tethered to a power and data source, sort of like a kite. UPS already uses a handful of drones; they just don’t deliver parcels – yet. Rather, they are used in warehouses to peek at inventory on very high shelves.

This latest investment to CyPhy Works adds to $7 million in venture funding announced by the firm in May 2013. That round was led by Lux Capital, based in Silicon Valley and New York City.

The Federal Aviation Administration has begun granting permission for commercial drone flights this year, and CyPhy Works is among the firms that have applied for a permit. Greiner said the new investment will allow CyPhy Works to expand PARC’s use as a tool in even more industries, including agriculture, mining, and construction.

The company also is making a smaller, untethered drone for hobbyist fliers. Equipped with a camera and controlled by a smartphone, the $500 model is intended to serve as a photography tool for families. CyPhy Works collected more than $800,000 in pre-sale orders on Kickstarter earlier this year, soaring over its $250,000 target goal. That drone is expected to go on sale in 2016.


“It’s time to start getting the robots out there.”

Good night, readers.