Elon Musk may use his SpaceX rockets for a speedy Earth-based shipping service

SpaceX wins $440 million grant to design NASA spaceship
You’d think he’d be busy enough working on his stunningly audacious plan to colonize Mars with a million people, but no, SpaceX boss Elon Musk also has an idea for a super-quick Earth-based shipping service using his company’s rocket technology.

The billionaire entrepreneur floated the idea during a presentation at the International Astronautical Congress in the Mexican city of Guadalajara on Tuesday.

“I was thinking, maybe there’s a market for really fast transportation of stuff around the world, provided we can land somewhere where noise isn’t a big deal,” he said, adding, just in case anyone hadn’t realized, “Rockets are very noisy.”

Musk explained that SpaceX rockets were powerful enough to transport freight to anywhere on Earth “in 45 minutes,” though said that most locations would be “within 25 minutes” of a U.S.-based launchpad.

Offering an example, he said that a rocket launching from a floating platform 30 miles off the coast of New York City could reach Tokyo 6,800 miles away in a mere 25 minutes. The quickest available flight today takes 14 hours. He added that a hop across the pond to Europe would take just 10 minutes – a tantalizing prospect if you’ve always found FedEx’s Express service to be a tad on the slow side.

Musk noted that the slowest part of the operation would be getting consignments to and from the rocket launch site, but the same goes for getting goods to and from airports today – that’s always going to be the slowest part of the process.

It’s certainly an intriguing proposition, and one that may give Amazon’s Jeff Bezos one or two ideas, after all, he’s always looking for ways to get packages to customers in super-quick time – and also happens to have a rocket company of his own.

Musk’s shipping idea seemed to simply pop into his head during his time on stage, so there’s no telling whether it’ll actually happen. It’s possible he just threw it out there to gauge interest.

But before either Mars missions or Earth-based delivery operations can become a reality, SpaceX needs to sort out the reliability of its rockets, an issue brought into sharp focus earlier this month when one of its Falcon 9 machines exploded on a launchpad in Cape Canaveral during a fueling operation. Once that’s sorted, who knows what SpaceX will achieve with its technology.


Waymo boosts robo-taxi plans with new service center in Arizona

Waymo has announced plans for a facility in Phoenix, Arizona, that will help to service, maintain, and grow its fleet of autonomous Waymo One cars. The vehicles operate as part of the company's robo-taxi ridesharing service.
Home Theater

The best Dolby Atmos movies for your home theater sound as good as they look

If you've got your hands on some sweet Dolby Atmos gear, the next step is to find films that take advantage of it. These are our picks in several genres for the best Dolby Atmos movies currently available on Blu-ray and streaming services.

Reluctant to give your email address away? Here's how to make a disposable one

Want to sign up for a service without the risk of flooding your inbox with copious amounts of spam and unwanted email? You might want to consider using disposable email addresses via one of these handy services.
Movies & TV

Netflix confirms it won’t be a part of Apple’s new video-streaming service

Netflix has confirmed that subscribers to Apple's new video streaming service won't have the option to view Netflix content on it. Apple is set to unveil its new TV service next week.
Emerging Tech

Take a dip in the Lagoon Nebula in first image from SPECULOOS instrument

The European Southern Observatory has released the first image collected by their new SPECULOOS instrument, and it's a stunning portrait of the Lagoon Nebula, a swirling cloud of dust and gas where new stars are born.
Emerging Tech

Robot assistants from Toyota and Panasonic gear up for the Tokyo Olympics

Japan plans to use the 2020 Olympics to showcase a range of its advanced technologies. Toyota and Panasonic are already getting in on the act, recently unveiling several robotic designs that they intend to deploy at the event.
Emerging Tech

A.I.-generated text is supercharging fake news. This is how we fight back

A new A.I. tool is reportedly able to spot passages of text written by algorithm. Here's why similar systems might prove essential in a world of fake news created by smart machines.
Emerging Tech

Racing to catch a flight? Robot valet at French airport will park your car

Hate searching for parking at the airport when you need to catch a plane? Startup Stanley Robotics recently unveiled a new outdoor automated robotic valet system. Here's how it works.

Bags with brains: Smart luggage and gadgets are making travel smoother

The bag you use to tote your stuff can affect the experience of any trip. In response, suitcases are wising up, and there are now options for smart luggage with scales, tracking, and more. Here are our favorite pieces.

At $99, Nvidia’s Jetson Nano minicomputer seeks to bring robotics to the masses

Nvidia announced a new A.I. computer, the Jetson Nano. This computer comes with an 128-core GPU that Nvidia claims can handle pretty much any A.I. framework you could imagine. At $99, it's an affordable way for A.I. newbies to get involved.

Nvidia’s A.I. Playground lets you edit photos, experience deep learning research

Nvidia is making it easier to access information on deep learning research. It has launched an online space with three demos for image editing, styling, as well as photorealistic image synthesis. 

British Airways’ new Club Suite for business class comes with a door

British Airways is going after a bigger slice of the business class market with the imminent launch of the Club Suite. The plush seating option offers a more private space as well as an easier route to the bathroom.
Smart Home

Sony’s Aibo robot dog can now patrol your home for persons of interest

Sony released the all-new Aibo in the U.S. around nine months ago, and since then the robot dog has (hopefully) been melting owners' hearts with its cute looks and clever tricks. Now it has a new one up its sleeve.
Emerging Tech

Inflating smart pills could be a painless alternative to injections

Could an inflating pill containing hidden microneedles replace painful injections? The creators of the RaniPill robotic capsule think so — and they have the human trials to prove it.