You can now buy the Moller Skycar, one of the world’s most iconic (and dubious) ‘flying cars’

“Anyone can fly the Skycar,” the headline on the January 1991 cover of Popular Mechanics blared, teasing the possibility of a future where everyone could own their own “flying car.” That dream never came to fruition, but the original Skycar can now be yours to own. Moller International, the company that built the iconic vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft, announced today that it is putting the M400 Skycar up for sale on eBay. Just don’t expect to use it for your daily commute…

This handy robot will iron your clothes so you don’t have to

If we’re lucky, robots might steal our chores before they steal our jobs. Next on the list could be ironing, now that a humanoid robot has mastered the art of getting rid of creases.

The robot, called TEO, is 1.8 metres tall and weighs about 80 kilograms. Since it came into being at the Carlos III University of Madrid, Spain, in 2012, TEO has learned to climb stairs and open doors. Now full-on domestication seems within its reach.

Once a human places an item of clothing on an ironing board in front of TEO, it uses a camera built into its head to create a hi-res 3D representation of the garment and the ironing board…

Chatbots learn how to negotiate and drive a hard bargain

WHAT’S in it for me? Facebook’s chatbots are learning the art of the deal, bartering and deceiving their way to better terms in negotiations with humans and other bots.

Artificial intelligences that can negotiate effectively would make useful virtual assistants, says Mike Lewis at Facebook’s research lab. Bots could be left to arrange appointments for people, sorting out calendar clashes by themselves. Or they could negotiate with several agents at once to book a holiday or make a purchase on your behalf.

Most existing bots – such as Apple’s Siri or those built into chat apps like Facebook Messenger – may be able to get you a taxi or order a pizza but they can’t engage in complex negotiations, says Lewis. If we want bots to help us with more complex tasks they need to become dealmakers, especially if the task involves cooperation or compromise, like negotiating the purchase or sale of a property, for example…

Hackers can use brainwave signals to steal passwords

Hackers can steal passwords and PINs by analysing your brainwave signals, a new study has found.

Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of California Riverside collected data from electroencephalography (EEG) headsets, which sense the electrical activity inside a person’s brain.

They’re growing increasingly popular amongst gamers, who can use them to control characters using their brain signals.

Crucially, however, EEG headsets also monitor your brainwaves when you’re not playing.




California invested heavily in solar power. Now there’s so much that other states are sometimes paid to take it

On 14 days during March, Arizona utilities got a gift from California: free solar power.

Well, actually better than free. California produced so much solar power on those days that it paid Arizona to take excess electricity its residents weren’t using to avoid overloading its own power lines.

It happened on eight days in January and nine in February as well. All told, those transactions helped save Arizona electricity customers millions of dollars this year, though grid operators declined to say exactly how much. And California also has paid other states to take power.

The number of days that California dumped its unused solar electricity would have been even higher if the state hadn’t ordered some solar plants to reduce production — even as natural gas power plants, which contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, continued generating electricity…

Aquila’s successful second flight: Another step forward in bringing the world closer together

Just after dawn on May 22, Facebook reached another exciting and important milestone for the Aquila program — completing the successful second full-scale test flight of the aircraft. The aircraft flew for 1 hour and 46 minutes, and landed perfectly on our prepared landing site.

In order to launch right after sunrise, which was at 5:15 am, we showed up at the gate to Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona at 12:30 am. While some members of the team began to open the hangar and lift the airplane onto its takeoff dolly, the rest of us prepared the ground control station and engineering station. And pretty much everybody studied the wind forecast…

Mice turn into killers when brain circuit is triggered by laser

Inside every mouse lurks a natural-born killer. Researchers have identified the brain region that controls hunting, and have found a way to switch it on and off.

Ivan de Araujo at Yale University and his team have discovered that two sets of neurons in the mouse brain underpin the instinct to kill. One coordinates the pursuit of prey, while the other controls the neck and jaw muscles used for biting. Both are in the amygdala – the part of the brain involved in motivation, emotion and fear.