Author: Darrell Etherington

Pepsi one-ups Budweiser brewer by ordering 100 Tesla electric semi trucks

TECHCRUNCH PepsiCo is the latest company to reveal that it’s placed orders for Tesla’s forthcoming electric semi-truck – and also the company with the largest order so far. The beverage company has ordered 100 of the trucks per Reuters, meaning it’s placed at least a $20,000 deposit for each of those since Tesla rose the downpayment amount for its original $5,000 starting point. PepsiCo is actually the second large beverage concern this week to announce its intent to purchase some of Tesla’s all-electric Class 8 heavy duty towing vehicles; Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch revealed earlier that it has put down...

Read More

Aurora Flight Sciences demonstrates a fully autonomous helicopter in action

TECHCRUNCH Aurora Flight Sciences is a company working on making full-scale autonomous combat craft a reality, and now some of its work is ready for prime time. The company showed off an autonomous helicopter created to demonstrate its Autonomous Aerial Cargo Utility System contribution for the Office of Naval Research’s ongoing work in the field, and it successfully navigated a UH-1H helicopter from start to finish through a mission in which it’s loaded up by Marines and then navigates through the air to another who makes the request for supplies on a tablet – kind of like ordering an Uber. The autonomous piloting system is deigned to be aircraft-agnostic (for vertical take-off and landing vehicles, specifically), meaning it’ll work with vehicles other than the UH-1H light transport helicopter used here. The aircraft is equipped with additional hardware and software including LiDAR and camera sensors for obstacle avoidance and route-planning, but is otherwise a stock version of the vehicle. This demo from Aurora (which is in the process of being acquired by Boeing to help boost that aerospace company’s autonomous efforts) marks the end of its AACUS program contributions, and work on the systems will now be handed over to the Marine Corps for additional experiments and potential implementation, the company...

Read More

Mario Bear has come to save 2017

TECHCRUNCH It’s been a long year – it feels like it actually spanned about 50, in fact. But now, at the end, some relief: Mario Bear. Yes, it’s just a bear from Build-A-Bear Workshop. And a ‘brand collaboration,’ that horrific thing that usually just means some executives get a larger Christmas bonus and more people are convinced to part with their hard-earned money on something they don’t need. But this is a Mario Bear. There’s also a Yoshi. And a Bowser. And a Toad. And a Luigi costume in case you want your bear to represent one of Nintendo’s...

Read More

NASA to screen ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’ on the International Space Station

TECHCRUNCH Being an astronaut living and working aboard the International Space Station shouldn’t mean that you have to miss out on much-anticipated movie releases like Star Wars: The Last Jedi. In fact, it should probably mean the opposite, which is why it’s great news that NASA will work with Disney to arrange a screening for ISS crew of the new movie, which is arriving in theatres in the U.S. this week. They probably won’t get the big-screen experience – NASA tells Mashable that typically screening movies on the ISS means watching a digital copy on a notebook computer or one of the onboard projectors. But at least they’ll be safe from spoilers while orbiting the Earth, something I’m sure is a top concern for any astronaut. I’ll be most interested in what real space-faring folks think about...

Read More

ispace just raised $90 million to launch two private moon missions by 2020

TECHCRUNCH Japanese company ispace has raised $90.2 million in a Series A funding round, an amount it’s calling the “largest ever” Series A in commercial space financing. The funding comes from Innovation Network Corporation of Japan, Development Bank of Japan, Tokyo Broadcasting System, Konika Minolta and others, and will help the company continue its progress towards a very ambitious target: Launching not one, but two lunar missions within the next three years. ispace intends to launch its first Moon mission, aptly dubbed ‘Mission 1,’ by the fourth quarter of 2019, and then to do a second by the end...

Read More

T-Mobile plans pay TV service in 2018 fueled by Layer3 acquisition

TECHCRUNCH T-Mobile is getting into the paid TV business, with the acquisition of Layer3 TV, a TV tech company, and plans announced to launch its own offering sometime next year. T-Mobile’s John Legere revealed the pay TV ambitions for the so-called “Un-carrier” on its YouTube channel today. [embedded content] The plan involves building a service that avoids long-term contracts, as well as complex bundles and billing. Layer3 TV, which offers streaming TV and online video combined into a single service offering, might provide some idea of what it’ll look like in practice once it launches, though the acquisition could...

Read More

Nvidia and construction giant Komatsu partner on AI for job site safety

TECHCRUNCH Nvidia is teaming up with Komatsu, one of the largest manufacturers of heavy equipment for construction and mining in the world, to deploy AI at worksites across these industries in order to promote safety and increase efficiency. Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang announced the partnership at GTC Japan today, and described how it’ll make use of Nvidia GPU hardware to provide virtual ‘brains’ to heavy machinery at work sites, with AI powered by Nvidia’s Jetson platform. This team-up builds on work done by Komatsu previously, as it originally rolled out its SMARTCONSTRUCTION program to build connected, smart worksites starting...

Read More

Blue Origin flies its Crew Capsule 2.0 for the first time

TECHCRUNCH Jef Bezos’ space company Blue Origin recorded a new milestone today – an inaugural flight for Crew Capsule 2.0, the latest version of the vehicle it’s creating to bring astronauts into space for its first passenger flights. The Crew Capsule 2.0 craft flew atop a New Shepard reusable booster, traveling up to an altitude of over 322,000 feet. The New Shepard rocket, which also carried additional commercial and research payloads, came back to earth for a powered landing around 10 minutes after launch. It’s the seventh time that Blue Origin has flown the reusable New Shepard rocket, and...

Read More

Right Now in Politics