Monday, July 28, 2014

[tt] NYT: Google to Offer Close-Up View of Liberty Island

Google to Offer Close-Up View of Liberty Island


Slide Show|6 Photos
Putting Liberty Island on the Map

Alberto Elias polished the 15 camera lenses on his four-foot-tall
backpack. As he prepared for his trek around the Statue of Liberty,
he took a deep lunge and strapped the green, 40-pound Google Trekker
onto his back.

"That's cool," a young boy said with excitement, pointing at the
colorful apparatus. "You're the Google Maps guy."

"Yes, I am," Mr. Elias, 25, said. He nodded and prepared to take

On Wednesday, Google took its first step toward putting Liberty and
Ellis Islands on the maps, Google Maps with Street View, that is.

While Street View's immersive 360-degree maps have been available
for most of New York City since 2007, Liberty Island and its
neighbor, Ellis Island, have never been mapped using the technology.
Getting access to Liberty Island, which is run by the National Park
Service, is complicated, and it had taken time to work through the

The Trekker--one of five Google Street View devices used to
collect data and imagery--enables the company's mapmakers to
record hard-to-reach places around the world. In addition to its 15
cameras, the wearable apparatus has a GPS device and a laser system
on top, used to measure the distance to objects. The panoramic
images are stored every two and a half seconds.

The Trekker's portability allows Google to gather 3-D images while
moving through tight and intricate places accessible only by foot.

Mr. Elias, along with a Google technologist, Daniel Sieberg, did
just that. The mission started at 7:30 a.m. as they and the Trekker
boarded a ferry from Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan.

"For the first time, Liberty Island will be available for people to
explore through Street View in Google Maps," Mr. Sieberg said. "So
whether you're a tourist or a New Yorker or someone who just wants
to see it up close, in the coming months everyone will be able to
take a tour of the island and appreciate the statue's history and
beauty in 360-degree imagery."

Mr. Elias may have had something to say about the process, but
Google, known for its secrecy, would not let him talk. Susan
Cadrecha, a spokeswoman for Google Maps, said that was because Mr.
Elias was not a Google employee, but a contractor.

Once off the boat, Mr. Elias quickly scouted the island and booted
up the Trekker, a step that takes 10 to 15 minutes. It is operated
by an Android device and an app, and has a water bottle pouch at the

Mr. Elias then walked along the perimeter of the landmark, capturing
images of the national park from every angle.

He patiently scoped the seascape, and walked up and down the grassy
areas near the Statue of Liberty several times, making sure to
smoothly capture the statue's surroundings.

With the Trekker on his back, and wearing a Google Maps T-shirt and
cap, Mr. Elias attracted much attention from visitors. Numerous
tourist groups and families asked to pose for photos, while others
stopped to take selfies with him. Mr. Elias always gave a thumbs up.

But not everyone felt comfortable.

"I don't know how I feel about having a camera documenting every
street corner," Gisa Shaughnessy of Florida said. "It doesn't make
me at ease to know I could possibly be online somewhere."

Street View includes images from 57 countries and has covered more
than five million miles across seven continents.

In addition to the Trekker, Google captures images using cars, a
rolling cart called the Trolley, a tricked-out pedicab known as the
Trike, and snowmobiles. Google began taking Street View images in
2007, with developers packing several computers, cameras, lasers and
a GPS device into the back of a four-wheel drive vehicle.

Before the images go live online, they have to be filed and
processed. During this procedure, faces and private information are
blurred. Mr. Sieberg said the process would take months.

In addition to Lady Liberty, the Trekker has been used to map the
Eiffel Tower, the rough and rocky terrain of the Grand Canyon and
Mount Fuji.

"You're able to immerse yourself in imagery that makes you feel like
you're standing on the steps of the Burj Khalifa, your favorite
neighborhood coffee shop or even underwater in the Great Barrier
Reef," Mr. Sieberg said of the technology.

Fiona Zhang of New Zealand, who visited the landmark on Wednesday,
said that seeing operators of Google Maps, an app she "uses to
survive every day," was unexpected.

"It's really cool to see Google putting things on the map in
person," Ms. Zhang, 31, said. "You always see the images online, but
you never see them actually capturing those pictures. Seeing the
Google man with a crazy camera book bag made my day. Best part, we
took a selfie."
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[tt] WSJ: How to Find the Route Your Plane Is Taking

How to Find the Route Your Plane Is Taking

World Travelers Can Research Flight Paths to See if Airlines Avoid Conflict

July 23, 2014 12:38 p.m. ET

Travelers, corporate travel departments and security consultants are trying
to figure out ways to avoid flights that pass over war zones after the
revelation that some airlines were avoiding eastern Ukraine while others,
including Malaysia Airlines, were flying over areas of conflict.

With a little research, you can build confidence that your airline is
avoiding trouble spots--or discover if it isn't. While you won't know for
sure the exact path your flight will take on a given day, you can figure out
whether your airline routinely skirts certain countries, and the most likely
route you'll fly.

Every day hundreds of passenger airliners fly over trouble spots. Passenger
jets regularly pass over Baghdad, for example. There are 41 "kinetic
conflicts"--situations where people are shooting at each other--around the
world, according to security intelligence firm iJet International Inc.,
which advises corporate travel departments and airlines.

"This is not an isolated incident" of flying over conflict areas, said iJet
chief executive Bruce McIndoe, who has already had conversations with
clients--traveler managers and airlines--about supplying more information
about potential trouble areas. Even though most of the 41 are small,
localized conflicts without high-powered surface-to-air missiles involved,
"it's a whole new world as of a couple of days ago," he said.

There's also the remote possibility of having to make an emergency landing
at an airport in the middle of a conflict.

Airlines make decisions for every flight about the planned route, usually
based mostly on weather forecasts and winds. Airlines want the most
economical route, but often fly out of the way of severe weather or take a
longer route with more favorable winds. And some are more cautious about
flying over conflicts than others.

This Flightradar24 tracking image shows Malaysia Airlines Flight 4, an
Airbus A380 from Kuala Lumpur to London, flew over Syria and south of
Ukraine on July 20, three days after MH17 was shot down. Flightradar24
In the days leading up to the July 17 downing of Malaysia Flight 17 over
eastern Ukraine, several airlines, including Australia's Qantas Airways and
Dubai-based Emirates, regularly flew longer routes around the area of
fighting between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces. Other
carriers continued to fly routes over the territory that had been deemed
safe by local governments and air-traffic control agencies.

"I think this is a wake-up call," said Michael McCormick, executive director
of the Global Business Travel Association, which represents corporate travel
executives. He says companies and individual travelers assumed airlines
could be trusted to fly in safe skies, but now some will start evaluating
flight-path risk on their own. Travel managers already use security firms to
evaluate risks on the ground, such as riots, strikes, crime and storms.

"The reality is companies send travelers to every corner of the world and we
can't make that assumption anymore that airlines are looking after this part
of security," Mr. McCormick said.

Savvy travelers can check up on airlines with flight-tracking services like and Both collect data from air-traffic
control agencies and in some cases use automatic position broadcasts from
airplanes themselves. They are considered accurate and reliable, with
extensive use by airlines and corporate jet services.

FlightAware and Flightradar24 let users enter an airline flight number and
then see the path of the latest trip. Both have flight histories available,
so you can check the path over several days. On FlightAware, you can also
search for flights by departure and destination, which can give you more
flights to compare on roughly the same long-distance path.

Flight paths are largely determined by weather, winds, turbulence, costs,
traffic restrictions and congestion, notes Fredrik Lindahl, CEO of
Stockholm-based Flightradar24. "So a flight between two cities can take a
different route every day," he said.

But airlines do have preferred routes and most days fly much the same route.
Checking multiple days will clearly show whether a particular airline is
avoiding certain countries on a particular route, or whether it is indeed
flying over potential trouble.

There are limitations in the flight-tracking data. FlightAware and
Flightradar24 have gaps in radar coverage areas. That forces their computers
to make assumptions about flight paths that can make a flight appear to pass
over an area--North Korea, for example--when it actually skirted around it.
United Flight 976 from Washington's Dulles International Airport to Dubai
looks like it passes over northern Syria on FlightAware, but each day it
actually skirts the Syrian border to the north and travels down the
Iraq-Iran border to the Persian Gulf. Flightradar24 shows the path avoiding

FlightAware this week began drawing gap areas with a white line instead of
its regular green flight-path line; Flightradar24 shows gaps with a dotted

"People are surprised at how difficult flight-tracking is in remote areas,"
said Daniel Baker, CEO of Houston-based FlightAware. The disappearance of
Malaysian Flight 370 in March demonstrated those limitations, he noted.

Airline operations managers set broad policy about flying over certain
countries. But the responsibility for each flight falls to the captain, who
is ultimately in charge, and the dispatcher, a flight planner on the ground
who helps direct cargo loading to keep the plane properly balanced and
within weight limits and calculates how much fuel to load.

Governments and air-traffic control agencies are reluctant to shut down
airspace, in part because airlines pay fees for airspace use. A week before
MH17 crashed, a military transport plane was shot down in eastern Ukraine by
a sophisticated surface-to-air missile at relatively high altitude above
20,000 feet. To some, that was a clear indication that the firepower being
used in the conflict had escalated, but airspace was closed to commercial
flights only below 32,000 feet. MH17 was flying at 33,000 feet when

The International Air Transport Association, which represents airlines
world-wide, has called for an investigation into why better information
about the threat to airliners wasn't distributed before the July 17 tragedy.

"No effort should be spared in ensuring that this outrage is not repeated,"
said IATA chief executive Tony Tyler. "Governments will need to take the
lead in reviewing how airspace risk assessments are made."

Depending on the intensity of the fighting, airline regulators may deem some
conflict zones safe to fly over. But certain countries are off limits for
U.S. carriers--if not for others. Via The Foreign Bureau, WSJ's global news
update. Photo: AP
Airlines are already under more pressure to disclose whether they are flying
over war zones. FlightAware's Mr. Baker said his airline customers began
calling after the MH17 tragedy asking for data and graphics on flight paths
of other airlines to compare to their own. Private jet customers, too, "are
asking questions and watching the maps much more closely," he said.

On Tuesday, several U.S. airlines decided to cancel flights to Israel after
a rocket fell near the Tel Aviv airport. A Delta Air Lines 747 turned around
in-flight and went to Paris instead. Soon after, the Federal Aviation
Administration ordered U.S. airlines to suspend Tel Aviv flights

Businesses that specialize in travel security are getting greater attention.
GHA LLC builds travel assessments that provide a tailored list of landmarks
like hospitals or embassies in relation to your hotel. The company also
develops a list of potential threats to your trip that can range from bad
water to terrorism. Founder Brian Schwatken said traffic to the company's
website is up 300% since Flight 17 crashed.

"You don't want your business to revolve around tragedy, but we think it's
necessary and we hope we can help people," said Mr. Schwatken, a former
Marine Corps intelligence specialist.

Mr. McIndoe of iJet calls it an "overreaction" for individuals and
corporations to start evaluating flight-path security risks, and says that
airlines will rebuild confidence. Large carriers have to evaluate what their
code-sharing partners are doing, he noted, because they are selling tickets
on flights operated by other airlines that may not make the same decisions.
And large global airlines have more resources to evaluate risks than smaller
airlines, he suggests.

"A major player will have more depth and more operating experience than
smaller guys," he said.

Write to Scott McCartney at
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Sunday, July 27, 2014

[tt] WSJ: Surgical Robot Fails to Show Advantages in Treating Bladder Cancer

Surgical Robot Fails to Show Advantages in Treating Bladder Cancer

Study Compares Intuitive Surgical's da Vinci Device to Traditional Surgery
Updated July 23, 2014 7:10 p.m. ET

Robots like the da Vinci, pictured, are intended to make it easier to
perform minimally invasive procedures. The Star-News/Associated Press
A new study finds treating bladder cancer with a surgical robot made by
Intuitive Surgical Inc. is no better at reducing procedural complications
than performing the procedure with traditional surgery, a result that
surprised researchers, who had expected the robotic technology to be
superior to human hands alone.

The small study may cast further doubt on the benefits of Intuitive
Surgical's da Vinci robot, which allows surgeons to perform minimally
invasive procedures from computer consoles that control the robot's arms and
surgical tools. A study last year questioned the cost benefit of the da
Vinci for hysterectomies, or uterus removal, compared with minimally
invasive laparoscopic procedures done by hand.

Many doctors say the robots make it easier for them to perform minimally
invasive procedures, and that the procedures are less painful and have
shorter recovery times for patients than traditional surgery. But the robot
systems are costly, selling for as much as $2 million each, and Intuitive
Surgical's sales have declined recently as hospitals struggle with budget

In the new study, summarized in a letter to the editor published in the New
England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday, surgeons at Memorial Sloan
Kettering Cancer Center in New York randomly assigned 118 patients with
invasive bladder cancer to have their bladders removed with the da Vinci or
with open surgery, which requires a large incision in the abdomen. In both
study arms, the second portion of the procedure, in which patients' bladders
are reconstructed, was done with the open surgical technique, which doctors
said is common practice.

Prior studies analyzing insurance claims data showed robotic surgery to
result in lower rates of surgical complications and death compared with open
surgery, and the Sloan Kettering physicians expected to see similar results
in their study, said Bernard H. Bochner, a urologic surgeon at the hospital
and co-author of the study.

But patients undergoing robotic surgery had similar procedure complication
rates to patients in the open surgery group and similar lengths of stay at
the hospital following the procedures, the researchers said.

Intuitive Surgical said in a statement that it was "grossly misleading" for
the researchers to make a comparison between robotic and open surgery in
bladder cancer because the surgeons used the open technique to perform
bladder reconstruction in both arms of the study. The company said
complications typically occur during the bladder reconstruction phase of the

"Any attempt to use a letter-to-the-editor about cystectomy to make broader
characterizations about robotically assisted surgery is wrong," an Intuitive
Surgical spokesman said in an email.

The Sloan Kettering researchers' data was peer-reviewed, an NEJM spokeswoman
said in an email.

Patient enrollment was stopped early after an interim analysis showed the
study wouldn't show a benefit in favor of robotic surgery.

The results suggest that robotic surgery may be no safer than open surgery,
despite being more expensive, Dr. Bochner said. A 2010 study in the Journal
of Urology found robotic bladder removal procedures cost an average of
$16,250, or 11.2% more than the average cost of $14,610 for open surgery.

"If we do the studies and it doesn't provide a benefit, the costs and
benefits of these tools need to be questioned," Dr. Bochner said in an

Some doctors questioned the broader significance of the researchers'
findings, noting the study was confined to one hospital and included a
relatively small number of patients. The lack of benefit in favor of robotic
surgery may be because surgeons performing the open procedures were more
experienced than the surgeons performing the robotic procedures, said Jim
Hu, director of minimally invasive and robotic surgery at the University of
California, Los Angeles.

It's estimated that 15% to 22% of bladder removal procedures, known as
radical cystectomies, are done robotically, according to data collected by
the American College of Surgeons and the American Cancer Society. Bladder
cancer is expected to cause 15,600 deaths this year, according to the
National Cancer Institute.

On Tuesday, Intuitive Surgical said its second quarter sales fell 11.5% to
$512.2 million, down from $578.5 million in the prior year. However, the
company's results were better than some analysts had expected, and shares of
Intuitive Surgical rose 18% on Wednesday.

Write to Joseph Walker at
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[tt] WSJ: Sleep Experts Close In On The Optimal Night's Sleep

Sleep Experts Close In On The Optimal Night's Sleep

Updated July 22, 2014 12:57 a.m. ET

How much sleep do you really need?

Experts generally recommend seven to nine hours a night for healthy adults.
Sleep scientists say new guidelines are needed to take into account an
abundance of recent research in the field and to reflect that Americans are
on average sleeping less than they did in the past.

Several sleep studies have found that seven hours is the optimal amount of
sleep--not eight, as was long believed--when it comes to certain cognitive
and health markers, although many doctors question that conclusion.

Other recent research has shown that skimping on a full night's sleep, even
by 20 minutes, impairs performance and memory the next day. And getting too
much sleep--not just too little of it--is associated with health problems
including diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease and with higher rates
of death, studies show.

"The lowest mortality and morbidity is with seven hours," said Shawn
Youngstedt, a professor in the College of Nursing and Health Innovation at
Arizona State University Phoenix. "Eight hours or more has consistently been
shown to be hazardous," says Dr. Youngstedt, who researches the effects of

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is helping to fund a panel of
medical specialists and researchers to review the scientific literature on
sleep and develop new recommendations, probably by 2015.

Daniel F. Kripke, an emeritus professor of psychiatry at the University of
California San Diego, tracked over a six-year period data on 1.1 million
people who participated in a large cancer study. People who reported they
slept 6.5 to 7.4 hours had a lower mortality rate than those with shorter or
longer sleep. The study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry in
2002, controlled for 32 health factors, including medications.

In another study, published in the journal Sleep Medicine in 2011, Dr.
Kripke found further evidence that the optimal amount of sleep might be less
than the traditional eight hours. The researchers recorded the sleep
activity of about 450 elderly women using devices on their wrist for a week.
Some 10 years later the researchers found that those who slept fewer than
five hours or more than 6.5 hours had a higher mortality.

Other experts caution against studies showing ill effects from too much
sleep. Illness may cause someone to sleep or spend more time in bed, these
experts say. And studies based on people reporting their own sleep patterns
may be inaccurate.

"The problem with these studies is that they give you good information about
association but not causation," said Timothy Morgenthaler, president of the
American Academy of Sleep Medicine, which represents sleep doctors and
researchers, and a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic Center for Sleep

Dr. Morgenthaler advises patients to aim for seven to eight hours of sleep a
night and to evaluate how they feel. Sleep needs also vary between
individuals, largely due to cultural and genetic differences, he said.

Getting the right amount of sleep is important in being alert the next day,
and several recent studies have found an association between getting seven
hours of sleep and optimal cognitive performance.

A study in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience last year used data
from users of the cognitive-training website Lumosity. Researchers looked at
the self-reported sleeping habits of about 160,000 users who took
spatial-memory and matching tests and about 127,000 users who took an
arithmetic test. They found that cognitive performance increased as people
got more sleep, reaching a peak at seven hours before starting to decline.

After seven hours, "increasing sleep was not any more beneficial," said
Murali Doraiswamy, a professor of psychiatry at Duke University Medical
Center in Durham, N.C., who co-authored the study with scientists from Lumos
Labs Inc., which owns Lumosity. He said the study replicated earlier
research, including a look at memory loss. "If you think about all the
causes of memory loss, sleep is probably one of the most easily modifiable
factors," he said.

Most research has focused on the effects of getting too little sleep,
including cognitive and health declines and weight gain. David Dinges, a
sleep scientist at the University of Pennsylvania's Perelman School of
Medicine who has studied sleep deprivation, said repeatedly getting just 20
or 30 minutes less than the minimum recommendation of seven hours can slow
cognitive speed and increase attention lapses.

Experts say people should be able to figure out their optimal amount of
sleep in a trial of three days to a week, ideally while on vacation. Don't
use an alarm clock. Go to sleep when you get tired. Avoid too much caffeine
or alcohol. And stay off electronic devices a couple of hours before going
to bed. During the trial, track your sleep with a diary or a device that
records your actual sleep time. If you feel refreshed and awake during the
day, you've probably discovered your optimal sleep time.

The new sleep guidelines will be drawn up by a panel of experts being
assembled by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the Sleep Research
Society, an organization for sleep researchers, and the CDC. The
recommendations are meant to reflect evidence that has emerged from
scientific studies and are expected to take into account issues such as
gender and age, says Dr. Morgenthaler, the academy president.

Another group, the National Sleep Foundation, a nonprofit research and
advocacy group, also has assembled an expert panel that expects to release
updated recommendations for sleep times in January.

These groups currently recommend seven to nine hours of nightly sleep for
healthy adults. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends
seven to eight hours, including the elderly. Most current guidelines say
school-age children should get at least 10 hours of sleep a night, and
teenagers, nine to 10.

"I don't think you can overdose on healthy sleep. When you get enough sleep
your body will wake you up," said Safwan Badr, chief of the division of
pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine at Wayne State University School
of Medicine in Detroit.

A study in the current issue of Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine seemed to
confirm that. Five healthy adults were placed in what the researchers called
Stone Age-like conditions in Germany for more than two months--without
electricity, clocks or running water. Participants fell asleep about two
hours earlier and got on average 1.5 hours more sleep than was estimated in
their normal lives, the study said.

Their average amount of sleep per night: 7.2 hours.
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[tt] World Congress on Sustainable Technologies (WCST-2014): Call for Submissions!

Apologies for cross-postings. Please send it to interested colleagues and students. Thanks!


World Congress on Sustainable Technologies (WCST-2014)
Technical Co-Sponsored by IEEE UK/RI Computer Chapter
8-10 December, 2014
London, UK
The World Congress on Sustainable Technologies (WCST-2014) is a multidisciplinary congress,
bridging efforts across the natural, social and engineering sciences, the environment and
development of communities. The congress covers a wide spectrum of topics that relate to
sustainability, which includes technical and non-technical research areas. It also encourages
sharing new knowledge in the field of sustainable technologies and the environmental impacts.

The mission of WCST-2014 is to provide the opportunities for collaboration and reflection that
have the potential to greatly enhance the infrastructure and capacity for conducting and applying art,
science and technology for sustainability. The WCST bridges the gap between academia and
industry by creating awareness of current development in sustainable technologies.

The topics in WCST-2014 include but are not confined to the following areas:

Sustainable Energy Technologies:
* Bio-energy and Geo-energy
* Energy
* Energy in Transportation Systems
* Energy Efficiency in Utilization
* Environmental Issues
* Energy Harvesting
* Energy Storage Systems
* Energy Storage Systems
* Energy Market, Management and Economics
* Energy Resources for Portable Electronics
* Energy Efficiency in Utilization
* Geothermal energy
* Intelligent Energy, Power Transmission Distribution, Interconnects and Protection
* Materials for Energy Resources
* Nanotechnology in Energy
* New Enabling Technologies
* New Materials for Energy Resources and RF and Magnetic Field Energy Devices
* Off-grid Isolated Energy Systems
* Policy Issues on Renewable Energy
* Power Electronics and Energy Conversion
* Renewable Energy and Biofuels

Renewable Energy Managements, Economics and Environmental Impact:
* Climate Change
* Energy from waste
* Environmental assessments
* Environmental issues
* Environmental policies and planning
* Hazardous Chemical
* Innovative use of Renewable Raw Materials
* Offshore pollution and oil spills
* Pollution prevention
* Sustainable waste management technologies
* Sustainability impact assessments and tools

* Environmental Education
* Education and Training
* E-Society (e-Learning, e-Health, e-Medicine, e-Governance, e-Business, e-Art, e-Science)

Green Computing:
* Advanced IT energy-aware technologies
* Green Computing Geo-energy
* E-Cycling
* E-Inclusion
* Electronic waste
* Energy Efficient Ethernet
* IT energy management
* Power-aware software
* Power-efficient architectures and chip designs
* Component level power management, e.g., memory, disk.
* Power aware networking
* Smart Grids applications
* Technology as Green Enablers (Grid, Cloud, Data Centers, Virtualization)

Sustainable Building Design:
* Building Design and System
* Creative Industries
* Industrial Developments
* Low and zero energy houses and buildings
* New Insulation materials and techniques
* New building materials and recycling
* Photovoltaics and Solar Thermal

Sustainability and Policy:
* Sustainable Applications
* Sustainable Development Policy
* Sustainable Innovations
* Sustainable Technology Programme

Waste Management:
* Agricultural wastes
* Industrial waste management
* Medical wastes
* Mining and mineral wastes
* Nuclear and hazardous waste
* Waste from electronic and electrical equipment (WEEE)
* Waste water treatment  

All the accepted papers will appear in the proceedings and
modified version of selected papers will be published in special
issues peer reviewed journals.

**Paper/Extended Abstract Submission:
- To submit a paper/extended abstract, please visit or email your paper/extended paper to

**Workshop/Tutorial Submission:
- Please email your Workshop/Tutorial proposal to

**Poster/Demo Submission:
- Please email your poster to and

Important Dates:

* Extended Abstract (Work in Progress) Submission Date: August 31, 2014
* Notification of Extended Abstract Acceptance/Rejection: September 15, 2014
* Full Paper Submission Date: September 15, 2014
* Notification of Paper Acceptance/Rejection: October 10, 2014
* Camera Ready Paper Due: November 01, 2014
* Workshops and Tutorials Submission Date: August 15, 2014  
* Notification of Workshop and Tutorial Acceptance: August 25, 2014
* Special Track Submission Date: July 31, 2014
* Notification of Special Track Acceptance: August 15, 2014
* Poster/Demo Submission Date: August 31, 2014
* Notification of Poster/Demo Acceptance: September 20, 2014
* Proposal for Industrial Presentation: August 30, 2014
* Notification of Industrial Presentation Acceptance: September 15, 2014
* Early Registration Deadline (Authors only): October 20, 2014
* Late Registration Deadline (Authors only): November 15, 2014
* Participants Registration: May 01 to December 01, 2014
* Conference Dates: December 08 - 10, 2014
For further details, please visit

[tt] WSJ: Nick Shchetko: Laser Eyes Pose Price Hurdle for Driverless Cars

Nick Shchetko: Laser Eyes Pose Price Hurdle for Driverless Cars

July 21, 2014 3:04 p.m. ET

Today, an advanced lidar (for light detection and ranging) system for
self-driving cars costs between $30,000 and $85,000 apiece, manufacturers said,
and some prototypes include as many as four of the smaller, cheaper lidars.

Manufacturers are confident they can reduce those prices over time. But it is
unclear when lidar will be cheap enough for a mass-market car, researchers
said. Beyond the technology, there are regulatory and legal concerns, such as

Lidar works similar to radar, shooting bursts of energy at a target and
measuring the return time to calculate the distance. Radar uses microwave
pulses; lidar uses laser beams, giving it the ability to detect smaller objects
at longer distances.

Backers say lidar can provide high-resolution three-dimensional data about the
surroundings to the car's computer, essentially serving as the eyes of a
self-driving vehicle. Ford Motor Co. says lidar can sense the difference
between a paper bag and a small animal at 100 yards.

Ford, BMW, Nissan Motor, Daimler, and Volkswagen's Audi are among many auto
makers working on driver-assist systems that may lead to self-driving cars.

Lidar is the single best way of "getting integral information about the world
around you," said Douglas Thornton, an engineer at Battelle Memorial Institute,
who works on automotive lidar applications.

The director of Google's driverless car program expects the price of the
technology to drop. The 64-laser unit Google uses on its prototypes costs
between $75,000 and $85,000. AP

Lidars are typically mounted on the roof for unrestricted 360-degree view, but
future smaller models may go inside, behind the grill, for example. Such
systems will need additional sensors elsewhere on the car.

In driverless-car prototypes, lidar is used in combination with other sensors,
including radar and cameras. Lidar cannot detect colors, so cameras are
necessary to "read" traffic lights and some signs.

Driverless cars need robust long-range lidars that can work in any weather
conditions and perform flawlessly at highway speeds, said Mario Brumm,
co-founder of Ibeo Automotive Systems GmbH, a European lidar maker.

"It's not that one sensor can solve all your problems; the right combination of
them will," said Kevin See, a senior analyst at Lux Research, a firm
specializing in emerging-technology research, who co-wrote a recent report on
self-driving cars.

Lidar was developed in the 1960s, and has primarily been used for industrial
tasks such as geology, meteorology, space exploration or mapping. Many police
"radar guns" actually use lidar. The U.S. used aircraft-mounted lidars to map

Simpler, less-expensive lidars are already making their way into some cars,
usually as an optional feature in premium models for advanced cruise-control
systems or emergency stopping.

The 64-laser unit used in Google's prototypes is made by Velodyne Lidar Inc.
and costs between $75,000 and $85,000. Wolfgang Juchmann, Velodyne's director
of sales and marketing, said the cost reflects the large amount of manual labor
involved in assembling the units, and the limited production numbers.

Chris Urmson, director of Google's self-driving car project, has said lidar
prices will drop as volumes rise, but some analysts aren't convinced. "It's a
chicken or egg problem," said Mr. See, the analyst at Lux Research. Velodyne
CEO David Hall said the company would need about two years to build a factory
once the volume accelerates. Google declined to comment.

One strategy for reducing cost is to use fewer lasers. Velodyne has a 32-laser
unit that costs between $30,000 and $40,000, and plans a 16-laser unit later
this year that will sell for about $10,000 or less. Others are using even fewer
lasers, hoping to further drive down cost.

European auto-parts maker Valeo and Audi say lidars with four lasers would be
sufficient for safe driving at highway speeds, but it isn't clear if other auto
makers will follow. Since 2010, Valeo has been working with lidar maker Ibeo to
mass-produce automotive lidars for Audi and others for less than $1,000. After
missing their initial target of this year, the companies have reset the goal
for 2016.

In Velodyne's units, the lasers rotate to give the car a 360-degree view.

ASCar Inc., Santa Barbara, Calif., uses "flash" lidar with no moving parts.
ASCar's units emit a single laser flash and collect the returning data with an
image sensor, similar to those used in digital cameras.

ASCar plans to supply preproduction samples to car manufacturers and parts
makers in 2015 at about $10,000 apiece, but the price will go down to $500 or
less by the time it is embedded in cars, said Thomas Laux, ASCar's vice
president of business development.

The absence of moving parts gives flash lidar the greatest potential to drive
down costs as the scale picks up, said Gene Roe, the managing editor of LIDAR
News magazine.

The laser, a critical component of any lidar, may also become cheaper.
TriLumina Corp., which makes semiconductor lasers for lidar systems, hopes to
reduce their costs tenfold by 2016, to $150 from more than $1,500 now, said
David Abell, chief strategy officer.
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[tt] WSJ: Lasers Are No Longer a 'Star Wars' Fantasy

Lasers Are No Longer a 'Star Wars' Fantasy

Mr. Schechter, a writer on defense and security issues, served in the Israel
Defense Forces. Mr. Majumdar is a defense aerospace reporter and analyst.

Israel is developing a portable 'Iron Beam' laser defense system. The U.S.
should too.
July 20, 2014 5:49 p.m. ET

The two Iranian-designed Abadil-1 drones that Hamas flew from the Gaza Strip
into Israel last week were little more than over-glorified toy planes. So why
did the Israeli military shoot them down with $3 million Patriot missiles?
After all, Israel has multiple Iron Dome missile-defense batteries in the south
of the country.

In all likelihood, the Patriot crew were the first to detect and track the
invading drones. And not knowing exactly what they were facing, the Israeli
Defense Forces took no chances.

While the drones were destroyed, the episode shows the limits of conventional
interceptors. If Hamas had sent a dozen drones, Israel would have had to waste
missiles on them all. That's why Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, the same
government-owned company that built Iron Dome, is developing a laser system
called Iron Beam.

Lasers have great potential as weapons. Laser beams travel at the speed of
light, so no rocket will ever outrun them. They are also remarkably cheap to
generate--a couple dollars a pop, compared to launching a five, six or even
seven-figure missile. And as long as you've got electrical power, a laser
cannon will never run out of ammunition. Lasers are also versatile. They don't
have to blow up a target to neutralize it. They can fry electronics, sensors
and navigation systems.

In the past, advocates of laser weapons tended to promise too much too soon.
During the Cold War, the Strategic Defense Initiative, or "Star Wars," was
supposed to develop a space-based laser defense system to protect the U.S. from
intercontinental ballistic missiles. But $30 billion later, America had not a
single miniature orbiting Death Star.

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems' surface-to-air missile system. Associated
In the mid-1990s and early 2000s, the U.S. military experimented with ground-
and air-based chemical laser weapons. But they relied on a noxious batch of
chemicals not found in the U.S. military logistics train. There were also
bulky. The Airborne Laser had six magazines, each the size of an SUV, and could
only get off 20-40 shots before depleting its chemical stores.

Ultimately, U.S. commanders felt that chemical lasers would burden a mobile
force. By contrast, some Israelis were eager to try them against mortar shells
and Qassam rockets from Gaza. Fans of Northrop Grumman's Tactical High-Energy
Laser lobbied hard in the press for a laser alternative to Iron Dome, which
began development in 2007. But the missile-interceptor idea had the backing of
the Israeli government, and the first Iron Dome battery was deployed in 2011.

The system performed well in 2012 and again during the current round of
fighting with Hamas. Its Tamir interceptor is expensive ($40,000-$100,000), but
a rocket crashing into downtown Beersheba is costlier. And Iron Dome conserves
ammunition by only shooting down projectiles bound for populated areas.

That's all good. But it does nothing to counter drone swarms or short-range
mortar attacks, like the one that killed an Israeli at the Erez Crossing last
week. That's a job for a laser--and the best indication is that Rafael is now
developing Iron Beam. As depicted in company literature, Iron Beam is an
electrically powered solid-state laser, mounted on a semitrailer and designed
to work in pairs to put maximum wattage on target.

Lasers do have drawbacks. They have difficulty operating in rain and fog, and
their beams travel in a straight line, so forget about firing over a hill. But
they can serve as supplementary defense systems. And as Israel's investment
attests, weaponized solid-state lasers will soon be a reality.

It is time the U.S. also took things to the next level. The U.S. military could
develop a 100-kilowatt laser-cannon defense system, capable of shooting down
drones, short-range rockets and mortar fire, in fewer than five years. Within a
decade, the U.S. could have a far more powerful 300-kilowatt laser.

And when that happens, enemies who would buzz, bombard and otherwise swarm
forward-deployed American personnel would find their weapons
destroyed--literally--in a flash of light.
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