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NASA wants to go farther and faster for fourth Mars helicopter flight

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When NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter completed its third flight in April, its ground team met the last of the three objectives needed to call the technology demo project a success. That’s why for its fourth test flight, the Ingenuity team wants to push the machine’s performance envelope on Mars by flying farther over more rocks and craters and going faster than it ever had. It’s going to happen sooner than later, as well: NASA has announced that the helicopter’s fourth flight is scheduled to take off on April 29th at 10:12 AM Eastern time.

The Ingenuity team completed its first objective six years ago when it demonstrated that the helicopter can fly inside a JPL chamber. When Ingenuity flew for the first time on Mars back in April, the team met its second objective. It surpassed its third and last objective when the helicopter flew for 164 feet at a speed of about 4.5MPH and at an altitude of 16 feet during its third flight, so there’s nothing else to do but try to beat those numbers.

Ingenuity chief engineer J. “Bob” Balaram said:

“When Ingenuity’s landing legs touched down after that third flight, we knew we had accumulated more than enough data to help engineers design future generations of Mars helicopters. Now we plan to extend our range, speed, and duration to gain further performance insight.”

For the fourth flight, Balaram and his team want the helicopter to venture about 276 feet from its origin at an altitude of 16 feet. They’re also upping the helicopter’s airborne time from 80 seconds to 117 seconds and increasing its max airspeed from 4.5MPH to 8MPH. NASA JPL expects to get the first set of data from the flight at 1:21PM Eastern on the same day, so you don’t have to wait that long to find out whether the fourth flight was a success. 

While the team already has some ideas for the fifth flight, it’s holding off on setting goals for it until it gets the results for the fourth one. After five flights, NASA is expected to wind down its Ingenuity efforts and shift its focus to the Perseverance rover’s main mission: hunting for signs of ancient life on the red planet. 

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Source: https://www.engadget.com/nasa-fourth-mars-helicopter-flight-050621209.html

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Why oil giants like Chevron and BP are investing in geothermal energy

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Miles below the Earth’s surface, there’s a source of renewable energy that could sustain all of humanity for the foreseeable future. Just 0.1% of Earth’s total heat content could meet our energy needs for 2 million years, according to ARPA-E, the government agency that funds R&D efforts for advanced energy technologies.

It’s called geothermal energy, and in some ways, it’s old news. It’s been used to heat buildings since the late 1800s and provide electricity since the 1900s. The U.S. has the most installed geothermal capacity in the world, but it still only accounts for about 0.4% of our total electricity mix. That’s because, in most places, it’s too expensive and challenging to drill geothermal wells. That could change soon, though.

Over the last few years, a number of start-ups in the geothermal space have gained traction, such as Eavor Technologies, Fervo Energy, Sage Geoystems, and GreenFire Energy. While their technologies and approaches differ, all are trying to figure out how to access the “heat beneath our feet” in geographies that have traditionally been considered too difficult to reach.

Watch the video to learn more about these company’s strategies, and why they’re partnering with major oil and gas companies, like BP and Chevron, as the potential of geothermal energy grows.

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Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/07/why-oil-giants-like-chevron-and-bp-are-investing-in-geothermal-energy.html

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Germany’s move to electric vehicles will affect thousands of workers, new study says

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The underbody of an ID.3. electric vehicle being worked on at a Volkswagen facility in Dresden, Germany, on January 29, 2021.

Matthias Rietschel | picture alliance | Getty Images

The shift to electric vehicles could affect thousands of workers in Germany over the coming years, the Munich-based Ifo Institute said Thursday.

The Ifo’s study, which was undertaken on behalf of the German Association of the Automotive Industry, illustrates some of the potential challenges ahead as governments attempt to phase out diesel and gasoline vehicles in favor of low and zero emission ones. 

In a statement issued alongside the report’s release, the research institution said an estimated 75,000 production workers in Germany’s autos sector would retire by the middle of this decade.

“But if by 2025 the production of cars powered by combustion engines declines to the extent foreseen under current emissions regulations, then the switch to electric motors will affect at least 178,000 employees,” it added.

This cohort, Ifo explained, would consist of “workers who manufacture product groups that depend directly or indirectly on the combustion engine, with 137,000 of them employed directly by the automotive industry.”

Ifo President Clemens Fuest described the “transition to electromobility” as “a major challenge, especially for automotive suppliers, where medium-sized companies are dominant.”

“It’s important to maintain highly skilled jobs in the remaining production of combustion engines and in electric vehicles without putting the brakes on structural change,” he said.

A significant transition does indeed appear to be on the horizon. Germany’s federal government wants 7 to 10 million electric vehicles to be registered in the country by the end of this decade. In January Reuters, citing Germany’s road-traffic regulator, said battery-electric vehicle sales were over 194,000 in 2020, a three-fold rise.

Looking at the bigger picture, the EU’s executive branch, the European Commission, wants at least 30 million zero-emission cars on the road by 2030 as part of its “Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy.”

According to the International Energy Agency, roughly 3 million new electric cars were registered last year, a record amount and a 41% rise compared to 2019.

Oliver Falck, who is director of the Ifo Center for Industrial Organization and New Technologies, sought to emphasize the systemic shift that was already taking place.

“Developments in production figures are already showing us that very different parts are needed for electric cars than for combustion engines,” he said, noting that “this transformation has yet to manifest to the same degree in headcount.”

“The transformation that can be expected in headcount won’t be fully cushioned by the retirement of the baby boomers,” he went on to explain. “Since companies are already aware of this gap, they have the opportunity to take appropriate measures in good time, such as retraining and further training.”

According to Reuters, the Ifo’s survey “did not take into account the potential creation of new jobs in EV manufacturing or battery cell production.”

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Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2021/05/07/germanys-move-to-evs-to-affect-thousands-of-workers-new-study-says-.html

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Toshiba launches a new lineup of Fire TV Edition televisions

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Toshiba has introduced new options to choose from if you’re looking to buy a new Fire TV: The manufacturer has launched a lineup of smart TVs with built-in Fire TV experience that will be available in five screen sizes. The 43-inch and the 50-inch variants are already listed on Amazon and Best Buy for $350 and $470, respectively, though they won’t be in stock until May 13th at the earliest. While the company doesn’t have a release date for them yet, Toshiba will also sell 55-, 65- and 75-inch versions of the TV in the future.

The new smart Fire TVs have thinner bezels than Toshiba’s previous models, with an extra HDMI and USB ports. They have a 4K resolution powered by the company’s Regza Engine, and they support Dolby Vision and HDR10. Since they run Amazon’s Fire OS, they have the features you’d expect from a Fire TV, including the ability to view video feeds from compatible video doorbell or other cameras on top of whatever you’re watching on the screen. 

You can use voice commands to quickly change picture and sound settings, as well. For instance, you can say “Alexa, set picture mode to movie” or “Alexa, set bass to 3.” The voice remote the TVs come with will also give you the ability to control the power and volume of compatible audio/video receivers and soundbars.

According to AFTVnews, the devices will ship with the older Fire TV interface, but they’re getting the redesigned UI this summer when it rolls out to older models. The refreshed UI comes with a new look and introduces User Profiles, so up to six members of your household can customize their experience. 

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Source: https://www.engadget.com/toshiba-new-fire-tv-lineup-053842934.html

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Denon, Marantz and Yamaha address 4K, 8K and 120Hz gaming issues

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Last year we started to see the first receivers roll out with HDMI 2.1 ports that could support 120Hz refresh rates and up to 8K resolution. However the early devices have had compatibility issues with other hardware — namely the Xbox Series X — and it looks like the fix will be pretty complicated. 

As Forbes and HD Guru point out, Yamaha, Denon and Marantz all sell receivers that have had these compatibility problems that gamers noticed once the new consoles started rolling out last fall. Denon and Marantz are both brands owned by Sound United, and they’re going to fix it by providing an extra hardware adapter to sit between the Xbox and their receivers. The SPK618 will “correct” the HDMI data from the Xbox so that it’s passed to your 4K/120Hz ready TV while also playing audio. Owners of affected receivers can order the box starting on May 15th by checking with Denon or Marantz.

As for Yamaha, so far it’s advised gamers to connect their consoles directly to the TV — which can have its own issues, as we’ve experienced — and use HDMI eARC functionality to feed audio back to the receiver. It also said “We will address the reported HDMI 2.1 issue via these planned future updates in order to provide customers with the best solution available.”

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Source: https://www.engadget.com/hdmi-2-1-xbox-series-x-receiver-issues-034534313.html

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