Archive for November 6th, 2008

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

I, for one, welcome our 700-ton robot overlords…

The largest truck in the world is about to become the largest robotic vehicle in the world. Computer scientists from Carnegie Mellon University have teamed up with engineers from Caterpillar to automate the 700-ton trucks, which are made to haul loads up to 240 tons from mines.

That’s nearly two million pounds of metal, fuel and stone powered by a 3,550-horsepower, 24-valve engine moving at up to 42 miles per hour, with software and a robot at the wheel.


The Caterpillar trucks will be equipped with numerous high-tech gadgets and software to keep them on the road. GPS receivers would continuously monitor the location and direction of the trucks.

Laser range finders would sweep the road in front of the trucks to identify large objects. Video equipment would then determine if the object is a hazard, such as a rock, or not. All of the information would then be run through a computer program that would tell the robotic driver to avoid the obstacle or not and by how much.


The software to run the trucks will be adapted from CMU’s part in the DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) Urban Challenge, a competition that required unmanned vehicles equipped with sensors and artificial intelligence systems to navigate through an urban environment filled with obstacles. The software will require some changes to adapt to mines, Stentz said, but he wouldn’t elaborate on the details.

Fully automated mining trucks promise to reduce maintenance costs while increasing productivity. While being careful not to say what Caterpillar’s performance expectations will be, Stentz offered a “very rough calculation” that by running at peak capacity 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the trucks could be up to 100 percent more productive.

This really is very cool, just so long as we don’t have a Maximum Overdrive situation.

2 comments November 6th, 2008 at 11:11pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Technology

More Photo Coolness

Check out this short movie here:

Now check out the camera it was shot with.

I would totally be eating my heart out for choosing Nikon if I had any interest in video at all.

This 5D video here has even better quality, but I’m not sure it’ll play for everyone.

November 6th, 2008 at 09:57pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Technology

Lieberman Thinks Senate Democrats Are Stupid

Hopefully Joe is about to learn that actions have consequences:

Bolstered by a newly expanded majority, Harry Reid met with Joe Lieberman on Thursday to sketch out the conditions by which the Connecticut independent could continue to caucus with Senate Democrats. But Lieberman did not accept Reid’s initial offers, leaving his future in the caucus uncertain, and potentially setting off a campaign to pressure the Democratic steering committee to decide Lieberman’s fate.

Reid offered Lieberman a deal to step down as chairman of the homeland security committee but take over the reins of another subcommittee, likely overseeing economic or small business issues officials said.

Immediately after his meeting with Reid, Lieberman told reporters that he had not made a decision about his future in the caucus, and appeared to launch his first public appeal to members of the Democratic steering committee, whose members decide committee chair assignments.

“I completely agree with President-elect Obama that we must now unite to get our economy going again and to keep the American people safe. that is exactly what I intend to do with my colleagues here in the Senate in support of our new president, and those are the standards I will use in considering the options that I have before me,” Lieberman told reporters.

Joe The Warmonger seems to think that he’s got some kind of negotiating leverage here, but I can’t for the life of me figure out what it is.  The Democrats already have a very comfortable majority, so they don’t need him at all for control of the Senate.

It’s possible that if all the remaining unsettled Senate races break Democratic, that Lieberman would represent the 60th vote for busting Republican filibusters… except that he’s already declared himself in favor of them. (Which is ironic considering that he voted against the Alito filibuster, but we’ll just pretend we’ve forgotten about that.)

I just don’t understand what a guy who habitually betrays his party when they need him the most can offer that the Democratic leadership could find compelling.  What’s he going to do, threaten to vote with the Republicans?

Personally, I think Reid is letting him off easy if he just strips him of his homeland security chair – he should kick him completely off all committees (if that’s even possible) and let him go crawling to see what he can get from Mitch.  Why should a Republican vote count towards a committee’s Democratic total?

4 comments November 6th, 2008 at 09:06pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Elections,Lieberman,McCain,Politics,Republicans,Wankers

Most Depressing Phrase Of The Week

This is how bad it’s been:

The accusations came during the first “habeas corpus” hearing ever held for a Guantanamo captive, a landmark in the detainees’ more than six year legal saga.

Six years, and this is the first habeas corpus hearing.


(h/t dakine)

November 6th, 2008 at 08:35pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Constitution,Prisoners,Quotes

Filling An Instant-Gratification Void

This is actually quite clever, and it could potentially fill the gaping void left behind since Polaroid exited the instant film business:

Polaroids may be dead, but the basic concept lives on — remember Zink, that company whose technology prints digital photos on the spot without ink? It’s joined forces with toy-maker Tomy to make the xiao TIP-521, a digital camera with a printer built in. The xiao has a modest five megapixel resolution, so we might wait and see how Polaroid’s own Zink camera turns out, but in either case we’re stoked the tactile experience is back.

I’ll probably never get one, since I don’t really care about having a physical print, but this is still a great idea. For instance, my mother’s side of the family has a quasi-reunion every year, with lots of picture-taking, but by the time the photos (whether digital or film) are processed, everyone has scattered to the four winds.  If we all had Xiaos, everyone could take prints back home with them.

3 comments November 6th, 2008 at 07:57pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Coolness,Technology

B&W Mostly Philly Photoblogging

The first photo was actually taken on my way home from the Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, but the last two were taken at my hotel when I was in Philly.

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November 6th, 2008 at 11:23am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Photoblogging

Programming Note

Now that the election is over, I have decided to sort-of refocus my blog.  I’ll continue to write about politics as much as I usually would, but I’m also going to return to my original intent when I first started this blog, which was to serve as an outlet for weird and interesting items that I was e-mailing to people.  So there will be a lot more “Hey, this is weird/interesting, check it out” posts in addition to the political ones.

At least, that’s what I think will happen.  Who knows what the reality will actually be.

November 6th, 2008 at 07:23am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Uncategorized

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