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University researchers create networked flying robots that build complex structures

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Imagine a future where massive, flying robots assemble complex structures like skyscrapers or houses, with all the machines working as one, coordinated through a wireless network and custom algorithm.

Granted, a similar process already takes place today on a much smaller scale, albeit guided by human pilots.

But with the potential for human error eliminated, construction times could be drastically reduced. Ultimately, a hyper-streamlined system could result in thousands of construction jobs being eliminated and a surge in urban sprawl.

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Such an invention, properly scaled upward, would be simply revolutionary — and that radical vision, scarcely imagined even in science fiction, took its first step toward becoming a reality in 2011.

University of Pennsylvania PhD candidate Daniel Mellinger, in a project by the school’s GRASP Lab (General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception), created a set of flying, networked robot builders that can quickly and accurately assemble structures made out of magnetic rods.

The only input required from a human equipped with such a system would be her choice of blueprint: the drones handle everything else.

The robotic helicopters, equipped with a specialized grabbing mechanism for Mellinger’s latest demonstration, were shown last year to be dexterous enough to do mid-air flips, pass through windows, perch on vertical surfaces and swarm in predefined patterns.

While it was just a small-scale project, it was likely to go down as one of the first to truly show the potential of hive-mind robotic assistants.

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“I think this work is a first step in autonomous aerial robotic assembly,” Mellinger told Raw Story. “I think it is reasonable to say that in the near future we can have large-scale aerial robots autonomously building structures that are useful to humans.”

This video is from the University of Pennsylvania’s GRASP Lab, published Jan. 13, 2010.

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Image credit: ‘Back to the Future,’ 1985, copyright Universal Pictures.


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Morning Joe’s Mika: Thousands are dying of COVID-19 because Trump is ‘surrounded by inexperienced suck-ups’

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MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski got right to the point on Tuesday morning by saying people are getting sick and dying in the U.S. because Donald Trump is surrounded by a collection of "suck-ups" who won't tell him the brutal truth about what is happening in the country.

As part of a "Morning Joe" panel discussion on the failings of the Trump administration to head off of the COVID-19 pandemic that is ravaging the country -- despite ample warnings it was on the way -- Brzezinski, as well as co-host Willie Geist, levied some hard accusations against the president and his team.

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MSNBC’s Morning Joe and Mika reveal why Trump likely ignored startlingly accurate COVID-19 memos

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MSNBC's Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski rebuked President Donald Trump for apparently ignoring startlingly accurate warnings from trade adviser Peter Navarro about the coronavirus pandemic.

Navarro's memos were circulated at the highest levels of government in January and February, but the president downplayed the virus until early March, when statewide lockdowns started wrecking the U.S. economy.

"In one worst-case scenario cited in the memo, Navarro warned that more than half a million Americans could die, and, yet, weeks after that, you had Donald Trump at rallies saying that in April when it warms up, this will miraculously go away," Scarborough said. "Put this in context with, I suppose you could say with 9/11, the memos warning of al-Qaeda attacks using airplanes, maybe missed signals FDR didn't pick up on before Pearl Harbor. I really don't know, though, what parallel there can be, because so many more people are going to die because of these missed signals."

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Prince Harry and Meghan to start non-profit in US

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Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle are planning to launch a wide-ranging non-profit organisation named Archewell, reports on Tuesday said.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who formally stepped down as senior members of the British royal family last week, told the Daily Telegraph newspaper they were establishing the organization in the United States, where they are now based.

The charitable organization will include emotional support groups, a multimedia educational empire and a wellbeing website among other things.

They said they wanted "to do something of meaning, to do something that matters".

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