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Sony’s new Aibo pet robot goes on sale tonight in Japan

After more than a decade away, Sony’s Aibo pet robot is making a return. The original dog-like robot launched in 1999, while Sony says its followup is “capable of forming an emotional bond with members of the household while providing them with love, affection, and the joy of nurturing and raising a companion.” Its OLED eyes allow for “nuanced” expressions as fisheye cameras see and recognize individual faces while new actuators allow its body to move smoothly along 22 axes. Pre-orders for the new robot begin tonight via Sony’s online store in Japan for 179,000 yen (about $1,739 US), with shipments scheduled to begin on January 11th.

Of course, because this is 2017, not only is the new Aibo powered by AI (that learns and develops a unique personality over time) but it’s also connected to the cloud. An Aibo Basic Plan subscription not only backs up your robot’s unique identity but also turns on the connection for owners to access their remote via WiFi or a mobile connection.

You’ll need the subscription for your pet’s AI tendencies to develop, and use its accompanying My Aibo app (on iOS, Android and the web) to manage settings, access photos it takes and even play with a virtual version of the dog when you’re away. Eventually, you’ll be able to buy new tricks from the Aibo Store, but it’s launching with one accessory — the Aibone.

Source: Aibo

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Existing EV batteries could be recharged five times faster

Lithium-ion batteries have massively improved in the last half-decade, but there are still issues. The biggest, especially for EVs, is that charging takes too long to make them as useful as regular cars for highway driving. Researchers from the University of Warwick (WMG) have discovered that we may not need to be so patient, though. They developed a new type of sensor that measures internal battery temperatures and discovered that we can probably recharge them up to five times quicker without overheating problems.

Overcharging a lithium-ion battery anode can lead to lithium buildup, which can break through a battery's separator, create a short-circuit and cause catastrophic failure. That can cause the electrolyte to emit gases and literally blow up the battery, so manufacturers impose strict charging power limits to prevent it.

Those limits are based on hard-to-measure internal temperatures, however, which is where the WMG probe comes in. It's a fiber optic sensor, protected by a chemical layer that can be directly inserted into a lithium-ion cell to give highly precise thermal measurements without affecting its performance.

The team tested the sensor on standard 18650 li-ion cells, used in Tesla's Model S and X, among other EVs. They discovered that they can be charged five times faster than previously thought without damage. Such speeds would reduce battery life, but if used judiciously, the impact would be minimized, said lead researcher Dr. Tazdin Amietszajew.

Faster charging as always comes at the expense of overall battery life but many consumers would welcome the ability to charge a vehicle battery quickly when short journey times are required and then to switch to standard charge periods at other times.

There's still some work to do. While the research showed the li-ion cells can support higher temperatures, EVs and charging systems would have to have "precisely tuned profiles/limits" to prevent problems. It's also not clear how battery makers would install the sensors in the cells.

Nevertheless, it shows a lot of promise for much faster charging speeds in the near future. Even if battery capacities stayed the same, charging in 5 minutes instead of 25 could flip a lot of drivers over to the green side.

Via: Clean Technica

Source: University of Warwick

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