Honda Debuts a Rain-Proof Disaster Robot That Can Climb Ladders

iStock
iStock

A new Honda robot could signal the future of disaster response technology. According to IEEE Spectrum, the Japanese company recently debuted a prototype for a cutting-edge disaster-response robot agile enough to climb ladders, ascend stairs, maneuver over pipes, and move through narrow spaces, among other capabilities.

Honda unveiled the prototype for the E2-DR at September’s IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems in Vancouver. The slow-moving humanoid robot looks like a beginning skater stepping onto the ice for the first time, stepping cautiously up stairs and through small spaces, but the fact that it can navigate these kinds of obstacles is a feat. Scaling ladders and walking up and down stairs are usually no easy tasks for robots, and both are among the challenges featured in the annual DARPA Robotics Challenge obstacle course—which is infamous for making very, very expensive robots fall all over the place.

Designed to inspect, maintain, and provide disaster response in places like factories and power plants, the E2-DR is 5.5 feet tall, weighs around 187 pounds, and can run for about 90 minutes at a time. Crucially, it’s less than 10 inches thick back-to-front, allowing it to squeeze through small corridors laterally.

The robot can reverse its knees to allow it to keep them from bumping against stairs as it walks, and its hands can grip ladders and rails. It can also open doors and climb on all fours. It’s equipped with rangefinders, cameras, and 3D sensors so that it can be piloted remotely.

Because it’s designed to work in disaster zones (like within the Fukushima power plant) the robot has to be able to withstand water, debris, dust, and extreme temperatures. It’s already been able to climb up and down a ladder in the face of 1 inch-per-hour rain, according to Honda.

IEEE Spectrum notes that we haven’t seen it fall, and falling down is, despite how silly it looks in testing, an important thing to test before sending robots into the field. In unpredictable settings and rough terrain, it’s likely that a robot is going to misstep and fall down at some point, and it needs to be able to not just withstand the fall, but get itself back up.

The E2-DR is just a prototype, and Honda will continue to work on it for the foreseeable future. For now, though, it’s made an impressive start.

[h/t IEEE Spectrum]

Amazon Customers Are Swearing by a $102 Mattress

Linenspa
Linenspa

Before you go out and spend hundreds—if not thousands—of dollars on a new mattress, you may want to turn to Amazon. According to Esquire, one of the most comfortable mattresses on the market isn’t from Tempur-Pedic, Casper, or IKEA. It’s a budget mattress you can buy on Amazon for as little as $102.

Linenspa's 8-inch memory foam and innerspring hybrid mattress has more than 24,000 customer reviews on Amazon, and 72 percent of those buyers gave it five stars. The springs are topped by memory foam and a quilted top layer that make it, according to one customer, a “happy medium of both firm and plush.”

Linenspa

Perhaps because of its cheap price point, many people write that they first purchased it for their children or their guest room, only to find that it far exceeded their comfort expectations. One reviewer who bought it for a guest room wrote that “it is honestly more comfortable than the expensive mattress we bought for our room.” Pretty impressive for a bed that costs less than some sheet sets.

Getting a good night's sleep is vital for your health and happiness, so do yourself a favor and make sure your snooze is as comfortable as possible.

The mattress starts at $102 for a twin and goes up to $200 for a king. Check it out on Amazon.

[h/t Esquire]

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Anti-Spam App Unsubscribes You From Mailing Lists—and Can Even Get You Paid for the Bother

He can't believe how uncluttered his email inbox is.
He can't believe how uncluttered his email inbox is.
Andrea Piacquadio, Pexels

Keeping newsletters and sale e-blasts from piling up in your inbox can sometimes seem as labor-intensive as weeding a literal garden. And for every mailing list you successfully manage to remove yourself from, there’s another one that you inexplicably end up on.

Fortunately, you can outsource the unsubscribing process to a robot. According to WIRED, the service is available through DoNotPay, an app that helps users dispute parking tickets, claim compensation for airfare, sign up for free trials without using their own credit card information, sue companies in small claims courts, and crawl through a variety of other red tape in the easiest, most automatic way possible.

Instead of figuring out how to unsubscribe to each unwanted email, you just forward the email to spam@donotpay.com, and a bot will do it for you. Unlike similar services, DoNotPay doesn’t require access to your whole email account, and it won’t turn around and sell your data to a third party. What it will do is search to see if there’s a class action settlement against whatever company sent the email—if there is, you can have DoNotPay add your name to it, and you’ll get compensated if you’re eligible.

“When I looked at other spam solutions, either they were selling your data or you still had to give carte blanche access to your email, and it was very expensive,” DoNotPay founder and CEO Joshua Browder told WIRED. “These companies are meant to protect your emails and protect your privacy, and it’s so ironic that they do the exact opposite. So we set out to build a service that doesn’t sell your data and also has this added component of getting compensation by matching you to class action settlements.”

A subscription to DoNotPay costs $3 per month, which includes its entire range of services (in other words, there are plenty of opportunities to earn back more than those few dollars). You can find out more and subscribe here.

[h/t WIRED]