All posts by Brian Heater

MIT’s gas-powered drone is able to stay in the air for five days at a time

 Last month, a team of MIT engineers launched Jungle Hawk Owl from the back of a compact car. It was the first flight for the 24-foot-wide drone, which the team believes is capable of staying in the air for five days on a single tank of gas. The craft was designed to address a challenge posed by the U.S. Air Force. The teams were asked to design a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) powered by… Read More

Pandora CEO Tim Westergren is officially out amid company shakeup

 Following rumblings of a shakeup over the weekend, Pandora confirmed today that co-founder Tim Westergren is stepping down from his role as CEO. Naveen Chopra, who stepped in as the company’s CFO back in February will be filling in the top spot as interim CEO while the board of directors looks for a permanent replacement. Westergren was one of three founders of the music streaming service. Read More

Stayawhile gets $1.5M to target the sweet spot between Airbnb and long-term rentals

 New York-based startup Stayawhile announced today that it’s scored $1.5 million in seed funding to provide travelers with what founder Janine Yorio refers to as “medium-term housing.” It’s a midway point between your standard hotel/Airbnb stay and a year-plus apartment lease, aimed at vacations and business travelers who’d like to spread out their stay in a new city… Read More

The Amazon Echo now doubles as a home intercom system

 Amazon will officially release the Show in a few days, but in the meantime, the company is introducing a long-awaited intercom feature for existing Echo devices. The addition uses Drop-In, a teleconferencing feature introduced on the Show that lets close friends and family members call into one another’s device with little warning. I really didn’t like the feature when I tested… Read More

The Echo Show is a small step for Echo, a big leap for Amazon

 The Echo Show isn’t a great piece of hardware. It’s beefy and clunky, and kind of looks like something that fell off the back of a RadioShack truck in the late-80s. The display isn’t great (there’s a reason the company’s not talking specs) and sure, the speaker gets loud, but if you’re looking for music playback, there are thousands of better Bluetooth… Read More

Anki’s Cozmo gets a free update aimed at helping kids learn to code

 You can’t throw a rock without hitting a coding toy these days. In just the last couple of weeks both Apple and Sony have announced new initiatives, and now Overdrive-maker Anki is getting in on the action with Code Lab, a simple and free programming language designed to teach kids to code with its Pixar-inspired robot, Cozmo. The move is no-brainer on Anki’s part. The hardware… Read More

Taking a ride in MIT’s self-driving wheelchair

 Over the past few months, CSAIL’s (MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory) self-driving wheelchair has become a familiar sight around the MIT halls. It’s a nice little rolling advertisement for the lab’s work — and more importantly, it’s a great opportunity to test the mobility device in a real world setting. As students wander by in groups,… Read More

HEBI is trying to make building custom robots as easy as playing with LEGO

 The X-Series Actuator doesn’t look like much. Actually, if I’m being honest, it kind of looks like a red metal scotch tape dispenser with ribbed sides and a couple of ethernet ports. The product is scattered all over HEBI’s one-room Pittsburgh office in various states of disarray. The palm-sized metal component is the startup’s primary product — its entire reason… Read More

HuMoTech’s robotic feet make it easier to test drive a bunch of different prosthetics

 There are white boards lining the walls covered in complex formulas and earlier iterations of the company’s robotic leg are scattered in pieces on and underneath tables. You can practically chart the company’s half-decade of development with a quick look around the room, from Caputo’s 2010 PhD work on robotic feet to its first product offerings: a pair of devices designed to… Read More

Sony soft launches an educational robotics coding kit on Indiegogo

 Every tech and toy company, from Apple to Hasbro, has an educational coding offering these days. Sony’s Koov kit has been kicking around Japan for a while now, and should be pretty familiar to anyone who’s spent time with Lego’s educational initiatives — it’s a set of blocks, sensors, motors and actuators that pair with a mobile app. Now Sony is ready to bring the… Read More