January 7, 2021

Enter Virtual Reality Through Airborne Exosuits, Soft Robots to Explore the Universe and Catching 3 Million Kg Rockets.

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Episode Details

In this week’s episode of Future Lens Today, we’re covering some of the news coming out of the video games industry as one of it’s largest players makes moves that may be possibly giving us a glimpse at what the future of work might look like for people around the world.

Additionally, we talk about Virtual Reality Exosuits akin to those described in Sci-fi novel “Ready Player One”, as well as some robotics and space news out of Nasa and SpaceX that’ll excite the technology and space lovers in all of us.

Epic Games buys a huge mall for its new global HQ (2 minute read)

First off, let’s talk about Epic Games, the American video game and software publisher located in Cary, North Carolina since 1999. Founded by Tim Sweeney, the company is now looking towards the future as it has recently raised $1.78 billion in a funding round valuing the company at around $17.3 billion.

Epic Games, now considered a goliath in the industry and trying to figure out how it will accommodate it’s growing team of over 2,200 employees.

It has decided to tackle this problem by not buying up new land and investing potential hundreds of millions in a major development project, but rather recycle buildings from a struggling industry. It’s decided to invest into an old shopping mall, converting it into its new global headquarters.

The Cary Towne Center was sold for $95 million. This local mall has struggled to remain open due to online shopping, and much of the mall is blocked off. Its owners got the Cary Town Council to approve its rezoning, permitting Epic to use it for office space.

This purchase will potentially put Epic on the map as new age innovators as it explores building a campus with flexible, satellite office space and recreational spaces for it’s growing team.

Holotron is a robotic exosuit that could transform the way we use VR (4 minute read)

Next up in the games industry, we’re talking about the Holotron. A lower-body robot exosuit that can be worn to simulate some of the forces needed to make virtual reality more realistic and interactive.

It features force-feedback that can constrain an avatar depending on the physical constraints of the virtual environment. The Holotron suspends its user in the air while providing the necessary movement to make them feel like they are moving.

This allows the user to fully concentrate on controlling the body of their avatar. The Holotron could be used for many applications, including gaming, job training, and controlling telepresence robots. A one-minute video showing the Holotron in action is available on the Humanatronix Website.


Why ‘soft robots’ have NASA, doctors, and tech whizzes so excited (4 minute read)

Switching gears over to revolutionary sciences let’s talk about Soft robots. 

Metallic robots are far more limited. They were constructed with speed and precision in mind, making them ideal for things like assembly line work. But they are not all that versatile.

As Steven Vogel, the late biomechanics researcher at Duke University, once wrote, such robots are more in line with the natural world, where stiff materials are doled out “with a stingy hand.” Bones and teeth, are exceptions to the rule, but where humans have often used rigid materials like metal or wood, nature is more apt to employ flexible (yet sturdy) materials, such as muscle and cartilage. As an example, he contrasted a door hinge and a hinge of another sort—the ear of a house pet.

Soft robots could one day be used for a wide variety of applications, for example, space exploration, surgery, rescue operations, and much more. They are made of squishy materials that enable them to approximate biological functions. It is expected that the market for soft robots will reach $2.16 billion in 2024.

“The main objective [of soft robotics] is not to make super-precise machines, because we already have them,” biomedical engineer Giada Gerboni said in a 2018 TED Talk, “but to make robots able to face unexpected situations in the real world.”

NASA scientists, for example, are developing robots that they hope can not only move about some far-off world like Mars, but also be used to form temporary shelters and perform various tasks to aid with future colonization.

Elon Musk says SpaceX will attempt to recover Super Heavy rocket by catching it with launch tower (2 minute read)

And lastly for today’s episode, let’s talk briefly about the ambitious new goals SpaceX has set out with it’s new rocket variant called the Starship. If you don’t know what’s been going on lately, I’ll quickly get you up to speed.

Starship is SpaceX’s latest concept model it’s been testing to help carry humanity to Mars. In the next few weeks we expect it to begin test flying it’s 10th iteration. The beauty of the starship is that it will have the ability to hover in place, and slow it’s descent from orbit with considerably higher accuracy than that of the Falcon Heavy rocket, which can already land on remote drone ships out at sea with very little issues.

SpaceX has announced that it will attempt to catch a super heavy booster, which is the booster designed to carry the starship to orbit, using the launch tower arm used to stabilize it during its pre-takeoff preparations.

Yeah, it wants that giant 40 story or around 170 meter launch tower, to catch the rocket booster when it falls back down to earth. That’s definitely something I’ll be tuning in to see. 

Anyways, the current Falcon heavy rocket uses extremely heavy and rugged landing legs to touch down safely back on earth or on drone barges out at sea.

By using the launch tower arm, SpaceX can eliminate the landing legs from the Super Heavy design altogether, saving both cost and weight. The Super Heavy booster would also be able to launch again almost immediately.

Making space flight both more reliable, regular, and significantly more cost effective.

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