Zothecula writes: If you thought the monkey-like robot AMEE seen in the Val Kilmer sci-fi flick Red Planet was a tad far-fetched, think again. The German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) and the University of Bremen are working on an ape-like robot called the iStruct Demonstrator that it classifies as a "Space Robot." Lately the mechanical monkey has been practicing how to walk and balance in the center's mock lunar landscape.
Zothecula writes: Certainly one of the more intriguing things on display at this year's Paris Air Show, the Sherpa by Belgian startup Sagita aims to make the helicopter simpler, more efficient, more reliable and more affordable. The helicopter's rotors are directly driven by turbines which are themselves powered by hot air and fumes from the helicopter's power plant. Sagita claims that this makes the the aircraft approximately 85 percent efficient while doing away with the need for a tail rotor.
Zothecula writes: Almost two-thirds of the world does not have access to high-speed internet, but Google is determined to change that. Unfortunately, setting up an affordable infrastructure in remote areas is beyond even a huge multinational corporation's capabilities, which is why the company had to devise a completely out-of-the-box solution called Project Loon. As part of the project, Google recently launched a series of internet-enabled balloons into the stratosphere over New Zealand to provide broadband connectivity to rural areas.
Zothecula writes: Applied DNA Sciences (ADNAS) has developed a new approach to solve crimes using DNA tagging. The difference is that instead of tagging the objects being stolen, the company's system tags the perpetrator with DNA. While this has been tried before by applying the DNA to a fleeing criminal with a gun, ADNAS has adopted a more subtle approach.
Zothecula writes: While quick charging technology installed at strategic points along a planned route might be a good fit for inner city buses, it's not going to be of much use to electric vehicles that stop infrequently. Volvo sees our future long-haul trucks and buses drawing the juice they need from the road itself, making large onboard batteries a thing of the past.
Zothecula writes: As architects continue to design taller and taller buildings, a certain limitation of elevators is going to become more of a problem – using traditional steel lifting cables, they can’t go farther than 500 meters (1,640 ft) in one vertical run. Any higher, and the weight of all the cable required is simply too much. Currently in the world's few buildings that are over 500 meters tall, passengers must transfer from one elevator line to another, part way up. Thanks to a new lightweight material known as UltraRope, however, elevators should now be able to travel up to one kilometer (3,281 ft) continuously.
Zothecula writes: Polish architectural and deep-sea engineering company Deep Ocean Technology has inked a deal with Ridgewood Hotels and Suites Pvt. Ltd. to build its futuristic part-underwater Water Discus Hotel just off the shore of Kuredhivaru Island in the Maldives.
Zothecula writes: Ever since it was first unveiled in 2007, many people were captivated with the sleek, futuristic looks of the Aptera. When Aptera Motors went out of business in 2011, not having commercially produced a single vehicle, those same people were understandably disappointed. Now, word comes that a new company may be manufacturing and selling Apteras as soon as next year.
Zothecula writes: Over the past year, Elon Musk, billionaire founder of PayPal, Tesla, and SpaceX, has been floating the notion of a "Hyperloop" as a future replacement for bullet trains; one that would get commuters from San Francisco to Los Angeles in as little as 30 minutes. There has been much speculation over how the Hyperloop works, as Musk has revealed very few details. So what has Musk actually said and what might this translate to in the real world?
Zothecula writes: You’d think that concrete would last forever. After all, it’s pourable stone, so it should hang around as long as the Rock of Gibraltar. But, under the right (or wrong) conditions, concrete decays with alarming speed. To combat this, researchers at the University of Bath in the UK are working on a self-healing concrete that uses bacteria to seal the cracks that lead to decay. In this way, they hope to cut down on maintenance costs and increase the life of concrete structures.
Zothecula writes: Some of the most vividly colored materials in nature, including things like butterfly wings, don’t obtain their color from pigment. Instead, their internal structure reflects light at a given wavelength, producing a specific color. Opals are another example of something that utilizes this effect. In collaboration with Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and System Reliability, scientists from the University of Cambridge have now copied the colorful nanostructure of the opal. The result is a flexible, colorful material that won’t fade over time, that changes color when stretched, and that could have many applications.
Zothecula writes: Imagine if there was a voice in your head that regularly threatened to harm you or your loved ones, or that even ordered you to do so yourself. Awful as that would be, such auditory hallucinations are one of the most common symptoms of schizophrenia, with approximately one in four sufferers continuing to experience them even once taking anti-psychotic drugs. Fortunately, scientists have recently helped some schizophrenics gain control of their condition, by turning those voices into interactive avatars.
Zothecula writes: It has long been believed that detecting carbon dioxide was one of the ways that mosquitoes target their human prey. But the fact that mosquitoes tend to favor certain people over others indicates that some other odor also plays a part in the attraction. Researchers at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) have genetically engineered mosquitoes to alter their sense of smell, which could provide the understanding required to block the pesky pests' attraction to humans.
Zothecula writes: Researchers at Stanford University have developed a small "aircraft" that resembles a flying fish which can jump and glide over a greater distance than an equivalent jumping robot. Using a carbon fiber spring to take off, the jumpglider has a pivoting wing that stays out of the way during ascent, but which locks into place to glide farther on the way down.
Zothecula writes: Robots are getting down to the size of insects, so it seems only natural that they should be getting insect eyes. A consortium of European researchers has developed the artificial Curved Artificial Compound Eye (CurvACE) which reproduces the architecture of the eyes of insects and other arthropods. The aim isn't just to provide machines with an unnerving bug-eyed stare, but to create a new class of sensors that exploit the wide field of vision and motion detecting properties of the compound eye.