Zothecula writes: It is said that constraint can breed innovation, and when it comes to delivering medical cargo by land in Rwanda, also known as the "Land of Thousand Hills," there are some serious limitations at play. To overcome the nation's challenging topography, the local government and US startup Zipline are launching a drone delivery service that will start dropping much-needed blood bags to 20 remote hospitals in the coming months.
Zothecula writes: If you're finding that there just aren't enough shortcuts on your computer's keyboard, an experimental new system from Canada's University of Waterloo may be what you need. It accesses different functions assigned to the same key, based on which finger you use to press it.
Zothecula writes: By combining a wireless connected EEG headset from Emotiv and an assistive communication app, California-based Smartstones is bringing the power of speech to those who have difficulty communicating verbally. The "think to speak" technology works by reading the brainwaves of the user and expressing them as phrases spoken through the app.
Zothecula writes: When you think of delivery by drone of consumer goods, chances are you'll think of Amazon. But it's not the only one working on flying packages to people's front doors via unmanned aerial vehicles. Delivery company DHL is also making steady strides in this arena, first with a drone that could fly blood samples across a river, then with a medication-delivery drone and now with the third generation of its "Parcelcopter," which does in eight minutes what it would take a standard mail-delivery vehicle a half hour to complete.
Zothecula writes: Today's drones come in all shapes and sizes, but they all involve a bunch of moving parts to keep them balanced in the air. Swiss researchers have now fashioned a drone that remains airborne through a single propellor, resulting in what they describe as the mechanically simplest controllable flying machine in existence.
Zothecula writes: Can't face the drive to the airport? Why not bypass the whole circus and jump in your two-seat, vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) all-electric engine jet aircraft? That's the vision for the Lilium Jet, an aircraft currently being developed in Germany under the auspices of the European Space Agency's business incubation center that boasts fly-by-wire joystick controls, retractable landing gear, gull-wing doors, and a claimed top speed of 400 km/h (250 mph). The creators claim that this personal e-jet could be made available to the public as early as 2018.
Zothecula writes: For the first time, IBM Research has thrown open public access to its new quantum processor via the IBM Cloud. Dubbed IBM Quantum Experience, this will provide users with the ability to experiment with individual quantum bits (qubits), process their own experiments, and run some of their own algorithms directly on IBM's quantum processor.
Zothecula writes: It is often said that size matters. At the nano-scale level, where a lot of current research is being done, this adage also holds true, and several scientific teams have laid claim to creating the "world's smallest engine" built from particles of ever-shrinking dimensions. The latest, a nano-scale engine made from tiny charged particles of gold and developed by researchers at the University of Cambridge, is claimed to be the smallest of them all.
Zothecula writes: The sea urchin may be a restaurant delicacy, but it's also well equipped to satisfy its own appetite. The spiny invertebrate has a rock-crushing mouth so powerful that a herd of them can destroy a kelp forest or devastate a coral reef. Now its dinner manglers have inspired a team of engineers and marine biologists at the University of California, San Diego, to create a claw-like manipulator for robotic rovers tasked with collecting soil samples on other planets.
Zothecula writes: When carp were first introduced into Australia in the mid-19th century, acclimatizing settlers hoped the freshwater fish would bring a taste of home to their food and recreational activity down under. Today, these pests are running riot across the country's waterways, seriously compromising the health of its rivers and native species. The Australian government is now moving to cut populations through the controlled release of carp-specific herpes virus, which it says is capable of killing individual fish off within 24 hours.
Zothecula writes: A couple of weeks go we heard about the Flyboard Air, jet-ski champion Frank Zapata's latest attempt to launch himself skyward. The Air ditches the jet ski, the hose and the tether of the original Flyboard in favor of a jet-powered board that's reportedly capable of a potential top ground speed of 150 km/h (93 mph). And now it has carried Zapata into the record books, for the farthest flight by hoverboard.
Zothecula writes: Using a technique known as nanoimprint lithography, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW Madison) and partners have created a breakthrough method to allow the simple manufacture of inexpensive, high-performance, wireless-capable, flexible Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect Transistors (MOSFET) that overcome many of the operation problems encountered in devices manufactured using standard techniques. Created on large rolls of pliable plastic, these MOSFETs could be used to make a host of devices ranging from wearable electronics to bendable sensors.
Zothecula writes: Even with bottled oxygen and elite training, there are underwater locations that lie well beyond our physical capabilities. But via haptic feedback technology and artificial intelligence, Stanford University's humanoid diving robot is now putting the ocean's depths within human reach. In its maiden expedition, the OceanOne droid has just scoured an untouched shipwreck off the coast of France and returned with a delicate, 17th century vase in its grip. Researchers are now eyeing future voyages to coral reefs, oil rigs and underwater disaster zones.
Zothecula writes: When it was first announced at the end of last year, the hovering ArcaBoard was viewed with skepticism by many people. Since then, however, the device has been publicly demonstrated – and it has now reportedly entered production.
Zothecula writes: NASA isn't the only one with X-Planes. Japan is developing its own experimental aircraft to test an airframe, engines, and other advanced systems and equipment for fifth-generation fighter aircraft for the country's self-defense forces. The project's primary contractor, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, has conducted the successful maiden flight of the X-2 advanced technology demonstrator jet, the first Japanese-built warplane to incorporate stealth technology.