#Engineering & Technology

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7 investors discuss augmented reality and VR startup opportunities in 2020
Lucas Matney

For all of the investors preaching that augmented reality technology will likely be the successor to the modern smartphone, today, most venture capitalists are still quite wary to back AR plays. The reasons are plentiful, but all tend to circle around the idea that it’s too early for software and too expensive to try to […]

Blue Origin lofts NASA and student experiments in New Shepard tomorrow morning
Devin Coldewey

The 11th mission for Blue Origin's New Shepard launch vehicle is slated for takeoff Tuesday morning. The craft will be carrying 38 (!) experimental payloads from NASA, students, and research organizations around the world. You'll be able to watch the launch live tomorrow at about 6 AM Pacific time.

Facebook is building an operating system so it can ditch Android
Josh Constine

Facebook doesn’t want its hardware like Oculus and Portal to be at the mercy of Google because they rely on its Android operating system. That’s why Facebook has tasked a co-author of Microsoft’s Windows NT named Mark Lucovsky with building the social network an operating system from scratch, according the The Information’s Alex Heath. “We […]

This robotic arm slows down to avoid the uncanny valley
Devin Coldewey

Robotic arms can move fast enough to snatch thrown objects right out of the air… but should they? Not unless you want them to unnerve the humans they’re interacting with, according to work out of Disney Research. Roboticists there found that slowing a robot’s reaction time made it feel more normal to people. Disney has […]

Axiom Space raises $130 million for its commercial space station ambitions
Darrell Etherington

One of the new space startups with the loftiest near-term goals has raised $130 million in a Series B round that demonstrates investor confidence in the scope of its ambitions: Axiom Space, which has been tapped by NASA to add privately-developed space station modules to the ISS, announced the new funding led by C5 Capital […]

Founded by former SpaceX engineers, First Resonance pitches tools to make things the SpaceX way
Jonathan Shieber

After operating in stealth mode for about two years, First Resonance, a company founded by former SpaceX engineers, is finally showing the world their software toolkit designed to let manufacturers make things using the processes employed by their former boss. It’s a suite of software products that can allow for more flexible manufacturing processes and […]

From launch to launch: Peter Beck on building an orbital business from scratch
Devin Coldewey

Breaking into the launch industry is no easy task, but New Zealand's Rocket Lab has done it without missing a step. The company has just completed its third commercial launch of 2019, and is planning to increase the frequency of its launches until there's one a week. It's ambitious, but few things in spaceflight aren't.

Techstars doubles down on space with a new Starburst cohort and European space program
Jonathan Shieber

Techstars has got the stars in its eyes, and space on the brain as it doubles down on investment programs that aim to enable the commercial space industry to boldly go where it has never gone before. On the heels of SpaceX’s historic mission last weekend taking astronauts to the International Space Station, the space […]

Bonus: An extra week to save on tickets to TC Sessions: Space 2020
Alexandra Ames

When you’re laser-focused on reaching beyond the stars, it’s hard to remember more earthly, mundane tasks. That’s why we’re giving you an extra week to score early bird savings to TC Sessions: Space 2020 (December 16-17). So, to all you harried, procrastinating visionaries: take a breath, relax a bit and buy your pass before November […]

Aerones abandons industrial drones to focus on ground-based robotics as it raises $1.6M
Brian Heater

Way back in 2018, Aerones detailed its plans to use large, industrial drones to clean wind turbines. The company had already raised $3.6 million to date and moved from Latvia to the San Francisco Bay Area. But things change fast in the world of startups — and sometimes that requires a rethink. Aerones will remain […]

Last day for early-bird tickets to TC Sessions: Robotics + AI 2020
Emma Comeau

Today’s your last day to score early-bird pricing on tickets to TC Sessions: Robotics + AI 2020, which takes place on March 3. If you want to keep $150 in your wallet, beat the deadline and buy your ticket here before the clock strikes 11:59 p.m. (PT) tonight! Our one-day conference dedicated to robotics and […]

Freedom Robotics raises $6.6M to take the hassle out of founding a robotics startup
Brian Heater

After years — decades even — of promises, the robotics industry is finally beginning to realize its potential. Nowhere is this phenomenon clearer than in the world of warehouse automation. Freedom Robotics, a new Bay Area-based startup, came out of stealth this week with plans to help ease the barrier of entry for companies to […]

These robo-ants can work together in swarms to navigate tricky terrain
Devin Coldewey

While the agility of a Spot or Atlas robot is something to behold, there's a special merit reserved for tiny, simple robots that work not as a versatile individual but as an adaptable group. These "tribots" are built on the model of ants, and like them can work together to overcome obstacles with teamwork.

Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 starts shipping
Frederic Lardinois

Earlier this year, at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Microsoft announced the second generation of its HoloLens augmented reality visor. Today, the $3,500 HoloLens 2 is going on sale in the United States, Japan, China, Germany, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Australia and New Zealand, the same countries where it was previously available for pre-order. […]

NASA taps SpaceX, Blue Origin and 11 more companies for Moon and Mars space tech
Darrell Etherington

NASA has selected 13 companies to partner with on 19 new specific technology projects it’s undertaking to help reach the Moon and Mars. These include SpaceX, Blue Origin and Lockheed Martin, among others, with projects ranging from improving spacecraft operation in high temperatures to landing rockets vertically on the Moon. Jeff Bezos-backed Blue Origin will […]

Fleet Space Technologies raises $7.35M for its space-based IoT tech
Darrell Etherington

Australian satellite startup Fleet Space Technologies has raised a $7.35 million round of funding to help launch its next generation of nanosatellites, extremely small satellites it employs to delivery Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity to customers globally. Fleet’s satellites are roughly the size of shoeboxes, which are much cheaper and easier to launch than traditional […]

Israel’s Beresheet spacecraft is lost during historic lunar landing attempt
Devin Coldewey

Israel's SpaceIL almost made history today as its Beresheet spacecraft came within an ace of landing on the surface of the Moon, but suffered a last minute failure during descent. Israel missed out on the chance to be the fourth country to make a controlled lunar landing, but getting 99 percent of the way there is still an extraordinary achievement for private spaceflight.

SpaceX kicks off its space-based internet service tomorrow with 60-satellite Starlink launch
Devin Coldewey

As wild as it sounds, the race is on to build a functioning space internet — and SpaceX is taking its biggest step yet with the launch of 60 (!) satellites tomorrow that will form the first wave of its Starlink constellation. It’s a hugely important and incredibly complex launch for the company — and […]

Against Gravity is building a VR world that won’t stop growing
Lucas Matney

The quest to create a social auditorium in virtual reality has eaten many VC dollars over the years. While plenty of contenders have emerged, it’s likely Against Gravity’s Rec Room has been the most creative in its approach to capturing a niche market while plotting how to build a sustainable business based on users in […]

Tesseract makes spacecraft propulsion smaller, greener, stronger
Devin Coldewey

Launch vehicles and their enormous rocket engines tend to receive the lion's share of attention when it comes to space-related propulsion, but launch only takes you to the edge of space — and space is a big place. Tesseract has engineered a new rocket for spacecraft that's not only smaller and more efficient, but uses fuel that's safer for us down here on the surface.

SpaceX contracted by NASA to launch black hole and neutron star research craft
Darrell Etherington

SpaceX has been awarded a new contract by NASA to launch the agency’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer, or IXPE. This research spacecraft will study polarized light from sources including neutron stars, pulsar wind nebulae and supermassive black holes, and provide much more imaging than existing space-based observation resources. The mission will help scientists in the […]

This robot scientist has conducted 100,000 experiments in a year
Devin Coldewey

Science is exciting in theory, but it can also be dreadfully dull. Some experiments require hundreds or thousands of repetitions or trials — an excellent opportunity to automate. That's just what MIT scientists have done, creating a robot that performs a certain experiment, observes the results, and plans a follow-up... and has now done so 100,000 times in the year it's been operating.

SpaceX sets new record for most satellites on a single launch with latest Falcon 9 mission
Darrell Etherington

SpaceX has set a new all-time record for the most satellites launched and deployed on a single mission, with its Transporter-1 flight on Sunday. The launch was the first of SpaceX’s dedicated rideshare missions, in which it splits up the payload capacity of its rocket among multiple customers, resulting in a reduced cost for each […]

European launch provider Arianespace successfully launches a satellite rideshare demonstration mission
Darrell Etherington

The small satellite launch industry is heating up, with a number of small launch providers currently vying to become the next with an active orbital launch vehicle. Existing large launch vehicle operator Arianespace is also joining the fray, however, and performed a first demonstration launch to show how its rideshare offering will work for small […]

XYZ Robotics raises $17M for its pick-and-place logistics robots
Brian Heater

COVID-19 is proving to be a massive driver for robotics investments — and for good reason. Robots don’t call in sick, and they’re far less likely to be disease vectors than their human counterparts. Companies attempting to keep the lights on during this and potential future pandemics are no doubt taking a serious looking at […]

Small rocket launch startup Firefly teams up with Aerojet Rocketdyne
Darrell Etherington

In a perfect example of a small, new space startup teaming up with a legacy industry heavyweight with plenty of experience, Firefly is teaming up with Aerojet Rocketdyne. Firefly Aerospace was founded in 2013, and has raised $21.6 million so far to bring its first product, the Alpha small satellite launch vehicle, to market. Firefly […]

Orbit Fab raises $3M to make orbital refueling easier, cheaper and more accessible
Darrell Etherington

Orbit Fab, one of the companies competing in this year’s TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield in San Francisco this week, has closed a seed round of $3 million. The funding comes from Type 1 Ventures, TechStars and others, and will help Orbit Fab continue to build on the great momentum it has already bootstrapped with its space-based […]

Rocket startup Firefly signs satellite constellation launch mission with Satlantis
Darrell Etherington

Rocket launch startup Firefly Aerospace has signed a new agreement with Satlantis, a maker of Earth observation and remote sensing payloads for satellite-based operation. Firefly will launch a constellation of small satellites on behalf of Atlantis that will provide high-res, multispectral imaging of Earth from low-Earth orbit. Firefly is still in the development and testing […]

Festo’s latest biomimetic robots are a flying feathered bird and ball-bottomed helper arm
Devin Coldewey

You could be excused for thinking that German robotics company Festo does nothing but put together fabulous prototype robots built to resemble kangaroos, jellyfish, and other living things. They do in fact actually make real industrial robots, but it’s hard not to marvel at their biomimetic experiments; Case in point, the feathered BionicSwift and absurd […]

SpaceX raises $1.9 billion in largest funding found to date
Darrell Etherington

SpaceX has raised $1.9 billion in new funding, per a filing with the SEC from Tuesday which was first spotted by Reuters. The company had been reported to be in the funding process earlier by Bloomberg, which pegged the post-money valuation of SpaceX at $46 billion following this raise. The new funding for the still […]

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