Niger ambush details scarce as McCain suggests need for subpoena

FOX News

The ambush in Niger earlier this month that left four U.S. troops dead has been the subject of immense speculation, not only concerning President Trump's public response to the tragedy but also about what actually happened on the ground that day. Asked by Fox News on Capitol Hill if the administration has been forthcoming about the attack, Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., replied, "of course not" and added, "it may require a subpoena." Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Thursday that the attack is under investigation. A dozen U.S. Army soldiers, mostly Green Berets, along with 30 Nigerians, traveled 125 miles north of Niger's capital, Niamey, in unarmored trucks on a routine mission and to meet with local village elders in Tonga Tonga, near the border with Mali, on Oct. 4. U.S. Army Sergeant La David Johnson was killed when his patrol was ambushed in Niger.

The Most Cringe-Inducing Surgical Robots from IEEE's Intelligent Robots Conference

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

We're still sifting through the more than 1,200 presentations at IROS 2017, IEEE's massive intelligent robots conference held last month in Vancouver. This week we found some terrifying gems: surgical robots that snake up the nose, puncture the breast, and suction intestinal tissue with motions so jarring they will make any patient glad (or longing) to be passed out during the procedure. We previously highlighted 20 of our favorite videos from the conference. Now, with Halloween approaching, we give you: the five most gruesome (maniacal laugh). Sadistically named the "Stormram," this robot punctures the breast in one slow, ominous motion, to extract a tissue sample.

CNN Uses Vantage Robotics' Snap Drone to Win FAA Fly-Over-People Waiver

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration's Small UAS Rule (also known as Part 107) has provisions to obtaining waivers to the usual requirements for flying drones in the United States. For example, you're not generally allowed to fly drones at night, although the FAA has granted quite a few waivers allowing flight after dark. But another rule is that you can't fly drones over people who are not part of your operations, and until about a week ago, the FAA hadn't waived that rule for anybody. Now it has, for CNN. The FAA is allowing the cable news network to use a drone to obtain video over uninvolved people, even crowds assembled at places like sporting events.

Learning-enhanced coupling between ripple oscillations in association cortices and hippocampus


Consolidation of declarative memories requires hippocampal-neocortical communication. Although experimental evidence supports the role of sharp-wave ripples in transferring hippocampal information to the neocortex, the exact cortical destinations and the physiological mechanisms of such transfer are not known. We used a conducting polymer-based conformable microelectrode array (NeuroGrid) to record local field potentials and neural spiking across the dorsal cortical surface of the rat brain, combined with silicon probe recordings in the hippocampus, to identify candidate physiological patterns. Parietal, midline, and prefrontal, but not primary cortical areas, displayed localized ripple (100 to 150 hertz) oscillations during sleep, concurrent with hippocampal ripples. Coupling between hippocampal and neocortical ripples was strengthened during sleep following learning.

Sorting out submarine canyons


Bedrock type and sediment flux are the most important factors explaining the location of submarine canyons. Submarine canyons, often found directly off the coastline, are common but understudied features of Earth. Despite their prevalence, what determines their location and morphology remains a mystery. Smith et al. used a massive data set from the entire western coast of the United States to determine what variables best correlated with underwater canyon formation. They found that the distribution of rock type and sediment flux were the most important factors for explaining the location of submarine canyons.

Amazon patents drone that can land on car to recharge it

Daily Mail

Are you considering buying an electric car, but have concerns about how you'll charge it while on the go? A new patent granted to Amazon might have the answer to this problem. The patent details a drone that can dock into electronic vehicles while they're moving to charge them. Pictured is an illustration from the patent file, showing an example of the drone docking system. The system would work by deploying a drone to connect to the docking mechanism, thereby allowing it to charge the vehicle while it's moving or stationary A new patent granted to Amazon details a system that would allow a drone to dock into electronic vehicles while they're moving in order to charge them.

Google's AlphaGo Zero taught itself to become the greatest Go player in history


Google's DeepMind lab has built an artificially intelligent program that taught itself to become one of the world's most dominant Go players. Google says the program, AlphaGo Zero, endowed itself with "superhuman abilities," learning strategies previously unknown to humans. AlphaGo Zero started out with no clue how to win the game Go -- a 2,500-year old Chinese game in which two players use black and white tiles to capture more territory than their opponents. It took AlphaGo Zero just three days to beat an earlier AI program (AlphaGo Lee), which had resoundingly beaten world champion Lee Sedol in 2016. After 21 days of playing, AlphaGo Zero defeated AlphaGo Master, an intelligent program known for beating 60 top pros online and another world champion player in 2017.

The Google Home Mini is here to get you hooked on Google Assistant


If last year's Google Home was the speaker that proved Google Assistant is worthy Amazon competitor, the Google Home Mini is the one that will get people hooked. The smaller Google Home has all the same smarts as its larger counterparts, but at less than half the price. It's difficult to see how that doesn't shake out as a win for Google. Functionally, the $49 Google Home Mini is very similar to the original Google Home. The disc-shaped speaker is covered in cloth similar to what's on the base of the larger model.

Toyota's new self-driving cars will chat with drivers


In brief: Toyota's Concept-i vehicles, equipped with its AI virtual assistant called Yui, are going to hit the roads for trial runs in 2020. The Japanese carmaker wants to make waves in the future of transportation. Toyota's Concept-i vehicles, equipped with its AI virtual assistant called Yui, are going to hit the roads for trial runs in 2020. The Japanese carmaker wants to make waves in the future of transportation. After unveiling a concept model for a new line of autonomous vehicles, Toyota expects to start testing these driverless cars in 2020.