Computational creativity and the future of AI

Ben Coxworth

The micro-flyer scouts the hallways of the USS Shadwell (Photo: CMU)

This week, the US Office of Naval Research released details regarding a demo of its Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot (SAFFiR) conducted last November. The robot, as its name implies, is designed to help human crews fight fires in the close confines of naval vessels. In order to get to those fires quicker, SAFFiR may ultimately receive some help itself from an autonomous drone, that was also part of the demonstration.  Read More

Fluid is ratcheted through a gap between the pump's teeth (Image: B. Thiria & J. Zhang)

In most pumps, either a spinning impeller pulls liquid in and then essentially "throws" it out via centrifugal force, or a rotor draws it through using peristaltic force. After studying how birds' flapping wings use fluid dynamics to push air back while moving the animals forward, however, two scientists from New York University have developed a pump that works in yet another fashion – and it has teeth.  Read More

Up to 450 customers in three Chinese cities are receiving their tea via quadcopter (Photo:... Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd beat Amazon to the punch this Wednesday, by beginning actual deliveries-by-drone. The three-day, three-city test of the system began in Beijing, with deliveries being made from a single merchant operating through Alibaba's Amazon-like Taobao Marketplace website.  Read More

The Main Drain, ready for action  Perhaps you're one of those guys who dreams of having a "man cave" with its own private urinal. The things cost hundreds of dollars, however, plus they take up a lot of space in the bathroom. That's why Daniel Garvin created the Main Drain, a low-cost urinal that attaches to the side of an existing toilet.  Read More

Buhel's SG05 SoundGlasses relay calls using bone conduction technology

There are already plenty of ways of taking hands-free phone calls, although most of those involve wearing some sort of earpiece. Not everyone enjoys having something continuously stuck in their ear, however, plus such devices lessen the user's ability to hear other sounds through that ear. Buhel's SG05 SoundGlasses take a different approach. They relay sound to the user via bone conduction, leaving their ears open to hear the world around them.  Read More

The foil is reportedly not noticeable once applied to the skin (Photo: IFW Dresden)

How would you like to be able to sense magnetic fields? It could come in handy, given that some animals navigate and maintain their spatial orientation by doing so. Well, we've now come one step closer to humans having that ability, too. Scientists from Germany's Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research, along with colleagues from the University of Tokyo and Osaka University, have developed a thin, flexible magnetoresistive sensory foil that can be applied to a person's own natural skin.  Read More

The Theater Box reportedly makes every spot in a room the 'sweet spot'

Ordinarily, if you want to get the 3D surround sound experience, you have to carefully set up several speakers within a room. Even then, there's one specific "sweet spot" where the effect is most pronounced. According to California-based electronics company Acemile, however, that's not the case with its new Theater Box portable wireless speaker. Just one of the speakers is reportedly capable of filling a 2,000 sq ft (186 sq m) room with 360-degree 3D surround sound, that sounds equally good from any location.  Read More

The paths of some of the satellites identified in the study

According to a scientist from the University of Leicester in the UK, the search for missing ships and sea-crossing aircraft – such as Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 – would be much easier if existing satellites were simply used differently. Dr. Nigel Bannister is developing a system in which spacecraft that already keep an eye on the land could also turn their attention to the sea.  Read More

Each Enko shoe features 2 cm (0.8 in) of coil-sprung suspension

We've certainly seen a lot of running shoes with shock-absorbing cushions in the soles, that are designed to absorb energy on the downstep and then release it on the upstep. The Enko shoe, however, takes that concept a step farther – it incorporates two actual coil-sprung shocks on each shoe, along with a hinged second sole.  Read More

Each tag is about the length of two grains of rice (Photo: PNNL)

In order to study how young fish such as salmon are affected by swimming through hydroelectric dams, scientists have traditionally equipped them with surgically-implanted acoustic tracking tags. Unfortunately, the implantation procedure can harm the fish, plus the weight of the device can affect their behavior. Now, however, a team at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Washington state has developed a much lighter acoustic tag, that can be injected into fish using a needle.  Read More

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