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Disney Research creates drone car that can climb walls

The VertiGo drone car clings to a wall during a demonstration video. Photo: Disney Research/ETHIf you’ve ever piloted a remote-controlled car, you’re familiar with the question we all ask ourselves after a couple of minutes of zooming around over horizontal surfaces: “Why can’t this thing climb straight up a vertical wall and scoot around like a fly or a gecko or some sort of tree frog?”

Well be disappointed by devices that obey the laws of physics no longer, because Disney Research Zurich and Swiss university ETH have concocted VertiGo, a prototype wall-gripping robot that appears to do just that.

In the age of consumer quadcopters, it’s perhaps not all that surprising to see a small device that can scale a wall, and in fact VertiGo achieves its trick in much the same way as your standard flying drone (no, unfortunately it is not covered in the tiny sticky bristles of a lizard foot).

In addition to the four wheels (the front pair of which enables the device to steer), VertiGo uses the thrust from a pair of tiltable propellers not to lift itself into the air but to press itself against a surface and evade the downward pull of gravity.

Vertigo’s propellers flip and angle themselves to allow a transition from ground to wall, and also let the machine sit still on a vertical plane or zip across bumpy surfaces and masonry.

An on-board computer crunches data from an inertial measurement unit and infra-red sensors to determine the VertiGo’s position in space and calculate the necessary thrust amount and direction.

This supposedly allows the device to be operated by very simple controls akin to a regular remote-controlled car (the researchers point out the device can even, “theoretically”, drive on the ceiling, but they apparently haven’t tried that out yet).

Of course all the propelling, oscillation and processing uses energy, and for that reason the VertiGo likely shares the same key weakness of consumer drones: battery longevity. More battery means more weight, which in turn requires more thrust and so greater power usage.

While the researchers have provided details on how they achieved the lightest design possible — a carbon fibre base plate, carbon rods and 3D printing are used to form the body and wheels — no details are given on the battery life.

No indication was given as to how long it might be before a device like VertiGo could be gracing the outside walls of our apartment blocks or leaving grubby wheel marks across the walls of our living rooms.

More useful applications for the technology might include military and emergency use, or for scouting out areas too dangerous for people to climb.

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‘Wrong midnight’: New Year well-wishers tripped up by Twitter scheduling

That time of year when your Twitter feed fills up with fireworks is almost here, but not quite yet. Photo: Fireworks Brisbane and Gold CoastIt would seem that some are getting a little too excited for the new year — accidentally scheduling their New Year wishes to go live many hours before midnight.

From Australia to Britain, people have been outsmarted by technology.

The Tower Bridge in London tweeted: ‘Happy New Year from everyone here at Tower Bridge!” at midnight, one night too soon. “Dave, did you set up the scheduled tweet?” – “Yep, all sorted.” – “You got the date right?” – “Yep. Definitely”. pic.twitter苏州美甲美睫培训学校/vdLBpnM4rf— SimonNRicketts (@SimonNRicketts) December 31, 2015Oops, guess we got a little too excited there… https://t.co/lZuYa5HzsK— Tower Bridge (@TowerBridge) December 31, 2015

They weren’t the only ones prematurely excited for 2016. The Eureka Sky Deck in Melbourne also wished their followers a happy new year before being caught by Twitter user Jeff Waugh. Once again, the most difficult things in programming are times and dates. #EurekaSkydeck#melbourne#nyepic.twitter苏州美甲美睫培训学校/DVjv3MrzRs— Jeff Waugh (@jdub) December 30, 2015

The Eureka Sky deck wrote: “Happy new Year love the team at the #EurekaSkydeck! We wish you all the best in 2016! #melbourne.”

Twitter is expecting millions of people to take to the service to send out their well wishes. The company has even unveiled a new emoji to spread the festive cheer.

The firework emoji will be unlocked when users include the hashtag #HappyNewYear in one of more than 35 languages at the end of their Tweet. Wrong midnight. pic.twitter苏州美甲美睫培训学校/e1fEd2Z5mQ— Nick Walker (@nickw84) December 31, 2015This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on 苏州美甲美睫培训学校.

Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold mystified over striker Matt Simon’s suspension

Matt Simon of Sydney FC controls the ball during the round 12 A-League match between Sydney FC and the Central Coast Mariners at Allianz Stadium. Photo: Cameron SpencerMatt Simon cops one match ban over elbowAlex Brosque ruled out of Melbourne City clash

Furious Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold believes suspended striker Matt Simon should be available for Saturday’s crucial match with Melbourne City, saying the incident in question should never have been referred to the match review panel.

Simon was hit with a one-match ban by the panel after being cited for “serious unsporting conduct” in elbowing Central Coast Mariners defender Jake McGing.

However, the match review panel is only meant to adjudicate on matters not seen by the referee. Arnold contends the referee on the night, Ben Williams, not only saw the incident but verbally reprimanded Simon at the time.

“[Simon] is really upset because he knows what his intention was and he knows Ben Williams saw it and he knows what Ben Williams said,” Arnold said. “Williams said ‘I saw what both of you did – be careful next time’. So maybe we do have video referees.”

When asked how the matter could have ended up before the match review panel given Williams’ alleged comments, a bewildered Arnold replied: “I’ve got no idea.

“All I know is that Matty has been suspended for a week. The referee, as far as I know, and what he said to Matty Simon, was that he saw the incident.

“So he’s been overruled.”

Arnold reckoned that if Simon’s minor elbow on McGing was worthy of a suspension, a spate of incidents across the competition should wind up before the match review panel.

“I watch a lot of games and I saw a melee on the weekend. Nothing happened,” he said. “I watch every A-League game every weekend and now there will probably be players be cited every week.”

The absence of Simon and Alex Brosque, who suffered a recurrence of a hamstring injury, means the Sky Blues will have to turn to 34-year old Shane Smeltz, who is back from injury, and 18-year old George Blackwood.

” ‘Brosquey’ is the captain of the team and you see what he does for us when he’s on the field. He does exceptionally well – last week he only played 25 minutes and scored two goals. He’s a loss,” he said. “But Shane Smeltz is back and young George Blackwood is a natural No.9 and Filip Holosko has played a lot of football at No.9.

“We’ll start Smeltz, if anything, because of his experience. He’s had the last few weeks off but he does a lot of work up front. I think the two weeks off will freshen him up and bring him back to life. He’s got a proven record in the A-League.”

Arnold defended Blackwood, the teenage forward with plenty of hype but no A-League goals in nine appearances in two seasons.

“I was very happy with George last week. I’m sure once he breaks his droughts, the goals will come in loads. If he can take what he does in training onto the games, he’s got a hell of a future,” Arnold said. “He out-muscles all the defenders at training. He’s quick, he’s got a lot of ability one-v-one. He’s had a bit of bad luck in front of goal when he’s played. He was unlucky with a header that was saved but he’s always dangerous with his runs off the ball. He’s a got a good chance of starting again.”

There is likely to be plenty of movement in the January transfer window for Sydney FC, with several players expected to be coming and going.

Mariners’ midfielder Anthony Caceres has been consistently linked with a move to Allianz Stadium while Smeltz – who nearly moved to Malaysia last year – could also be on the move.

“Let’s just say the phones have been working hot. That’s what the January transfer window is for,” he said. “There’s maybe players who aren’t getting game time who want to move on. It’s also about strengthening players who can help in the second half of the season. I’m looking forward to the transfer window and we’ll see what eventuates.”

After picking up Jacques Faty, Mickael Tavares and Robert Stambolziev in the window last season, Arnold knows the month-long window brings real opportunity.

“We have to look over the first half of the season at what we’ve done well and haven’t done well,” he said. “That’s where I’ll try to work with my contacts and network of agents to see what’s available and what we can do. Maybe we can explore the guest player option as well.”

Meanwhile, Arnold weighed into the debate regarding promotion and relegation – and the Sky Blues boss is a fan of the status quo for now.

“What if you end up with six teams from Sydney, none from Adelaide and none from Perth? Or none from Brisbane or Melbourne?” he said. “I don’t know if the league is ready for that yet. There’s too big a difference in facilities, unfortunately. I think the clubs here now are good, they just have to get their ship in order.”

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Price of E10 fuel dips below $1 a litre in Sydney

E10 fuel was selling for less than $1 a litre at 24 Seven Fuel in Punchbowl on New Year’s Eve. Photo: Kirk Gilmour The AP service station in Punchbowl was selling E10 for 98.8 cents a litre. Photo: Kirk Gilmour

Oil falls towards 11 year lowConsumers to get access to retailers’ data

Thrifty motorists were picking up E10 fuel for less than $1 a litre in Sydney on New Year’s Eve as drivers prepared to hit the road en masse for the January holidays.

The cheapest price for E10 in Sydney on Thursday morning was at Punchbowl, where drivers were filling up for 98.8¢ a litre at the AP service station, and for 99.8¢ a litre at the nearby 24 Seven Fuel.

The cheapest unleaded petrol was being snapped up at BP Connect at Cabramatta and Metro Petroleum Narwee for 101.9¢ a litre, the NRMA said.

But NRMA spokesman Peter Khoury urged motorists to do their research and shop around, as there were large variations in fuel prices across the city.

The highest price in Sydney for E10 was 129.9¢ a litre, and 145.9¢ a litre for unleaded, according to the NRMA.

Mr Khoury said fuel prices were expected to rise in coming days, and he urged motorists to consider filling up now.

“We had forecast that prices would get to around these levels between Christmas and the new year, but then they will go back up again in accordance with the price cycle,” Mr Khoury said.

“As to when, we don’t know, which is why if people need to fill up, especially if you’re in Sydney, get in now. If the price drops further it’s not likely to drop by much, but it will go up, and we’re not exactly sure when.”

Mr Khoury said it was common to see the price difference between the cheapest and the most expensive service stations in Sydney to be upwards of 35¢ a litre.

“It’s madness. The other alarming thing is, we’re not talking one end of town to the other. Sometimes those gaps can be found in the same suburb,” he said.

“As a rule, the cheapest service stations are the independents, and they tend to be found in pretty large numbers around south-western and western Sydney. If you’re anywhere near there, do a bit of research and shop around because that’s where you’re going to find those dollar-a-litre prices.”

Mr Khoury also said the most expensive service stations tended to be on Sydney’s northern beaches, the north shore and eastern suburbs.

“There are fewer independents and there isn’t as much traffic going through those areas, so there isn’t as much opportunity for competition,” he said.

The Transport Management Centre said heavy holiday traffic was expected on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and motorists should expect delays on roads around Sydney Airport, on the M4 and Great Western Highway towards Sydney from the Blue Mountains, and on the North Coast and South Coast.

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Australia v West Indies Test series: Former West Indies opener Kieran Powell pursues Major League Baseball career

They’ve lost players to rival cricket competitions, and now the West Indies have shed a player to baseball.

Former Test opener Kieran Powell, who last played for the Windies in June 2014, is in Bradenton, Florida, preparing for a tryout day at the IMG Academy on January 13, in which he will showcase his batting and fielding skills in a bid to be signed by a Major League Baseball franchise.

Having fallen out with the West Indies cricket board, Powell is committed to ensuring the move is a success. “An opportunity came about after a few discrepancies with the West Indies cricket board I decided to take some time off from cricket and some footage of me playing cricket was seen by the LA Dodgers,” Powell told Fairfax Media from Bradenton.

“I’ve had some training out here in the US for a few months.”

Powell, 25, has played 21 Tests, 28 one-day internationals and and one Twenty20 international since first appearing at international level in 2009. He has three Test centuries to his name, including twin tons made in against Bangladesh in Dhaka in 2012. Despite those successes, he averages an underwhelming 27.48 at Test level. He stepped away following the first Test of the 2014 series against New Zealand for personal reasons.

Once touted as a future Windies captain by WICB president Dave Cameron, the left-hander hasn’t played any top-level cricket since lining up for Tamil Union in Sri Lanka. He says that the American pastime has his full attention at the moment, even if cricket has not entirely been written off. “Baseball is my priority right now. Obviously cricket is my first love.

“[Baseball is] really fun, it’s an interesting game, I’ve loved every minute of it so far, and I hope to continue doing it for the rest of my career.”

He explained he had never contemplated a move to baseball prior to being approached, but having made the decision has received immense support from family and friends. “It’s a unique opportunity, it’s a once in a lifetime thing. This is what dreams are made of as I said earlier. I’m just so excited about it, like everyone’s so excited about it.”

Powell suggested the WICB had to do more to ensure the region’s top talent stayed with the world’s eighth-ranked outfit.

“It’s such a proud and historical region, that’s produced some of the best players that the world’s ever seen, you have to strike an even balance.

“The West Indies board could do something in terms of the retainer contracts, because you can’t have guys losing on the home front and then trying to stop them from losing on the international front as well.”

Despite having kept his switch a secret from ex-teammates, Powell says he has been keeping an eye on his former’s side progress in Australia this summer, where the Windies trail 2-0 ahead of the third and final Test, starting in Sydney on Sunday.

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