Tech Universe: Tuesday 11 December 2012

By Miraz Jordan

Pepper the African grey parrot. Image / Supplied
Pepper the African grey parrot. Image / Supplied

POLLY WANT A SCOOTER: Pepper the African grey parrot was a noisy bird, until he got his very own Bird Buggy and could follow his owner around. The 4-wheeler is driven by a joystick that the bird moves with his beak from his perch just behind it. Sensors in the front of the buggy help prevent it from bumping into things when pepper's driving skills fail. The buggy also has an autonomous docking feature so it finds home base and docks once Pepper's left the vehicle. Scooters beat crackers any day.

DREAM TRIP: Would you like to take a trip in the cockpit of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner? You may not be able to achieve that in real life, but perhaps the virtual experience would work for you. The virtual flight deck puts you in the jump seat as pilots take off and land the plane. Pan around and click on additional information too. Unless you're an actual pilot that's probably the closest you'll get to the cockpit of a 787.

VOYAGE TO THE EDGE: It's taken 35 years, but now the Voyager 1 spacecraft is at the edge of the solar system, around 20 billion km from the Sun. The biggest news though is that it's crossed a boundary into a new region of space, The Magnetic Highway, where the Sun's effects are diminished. It's not yet quite free of the Solar System, but that could be only months away. How long will we continue to receive signals though, once it's out in free space?

FLY YOU TO THE MOON: Before the decade's out The Golden Spike Company plan to fly paying passengers to the Moon. They expect a 2-person lunar surface mission to cost around $1.4 billion and that tickets will be taken up by governments. That'd cheaper than setting up their own space programme.

A GLIDE ON THE OCEAN WAVE: The PacX Wave Glider has been swimming in the Pacific for more than a year. Now it's finally reached its goal: the shores of Australia. The wave glider is a self-controlled robot called Papa Mau, in honour of a skilled navigator. The robot was powered by wave energy, while solar panels provided energy for sensors. On its journey Papa Mau gathered data about the abundance of phytoplankton. That's a long swim.

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