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Ben Coxworth

Lockheed Martin's Samarai Flyer monocopter micro air vehicle, alongside a maple seed

If you’ve ever watched a maple seed spiraling down from a branch, you may have marveled at how it looked like a tiny one-rotor-bladed helicopter. If you did, well, you weren’t the only one. In 2009, students from the University of Maryland’s Clark School of Engineering unveiled their remarkable samara (maple seed)-inspired micro air vehicle, which was billed as “the world’s first controllable robotic samara monocopter.” Flash forward to this Tuesday, and Lockheed Martin performed the first public flight of its similar Samarai Flyer, at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International conference in Washington, D.C.  Read More

Researchers have boosted the efficiency of organic solar cells by 20 percent through the u...

Carbon-based organic photovoltaic cells, which use organic polymers or small molecules as semiconductors, are significantly thinner and cheaper than their inorganic silicon-based counterparts. Unfortunately, they are also much less efficient at converting sunlight into electricity. That could be on its way to changing, however, as an international team of researchers have reportedly boosted the efficiency of organic photovoltaic cells by 20 percent ... with some help from gold nanoparticles.  Read More

iDJ Live is a portable one-piece DJ rig, that incorporates the user's iDevice for live mus...

Perhaps you’ve entertained the idea of becoming a dance club DJ, but were intimidated by the thought of those expensive turntables and mixers, not to mention the logistics of lugging them around, along with stacks of LPs and/or CDs. If so, then you’re the part of the target market for Numark’s iDJ Live. The one-piece device features two turntable-like music-cueing decks, a mixer for cross-fading between tracks, and uses your own docked iDevice as its brains.  Read More

When SpaceX's Dragon capsule docks at the International Space Station in November, it will...

Although we will never see another space shuttle docking at the International Space Station, that doesn’t mean that there are no plans for other American spacecraft to be visiting the facility. In fact, one should be up there on or around December 9th. That’s when SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft is scheduled to arrive, following a November 30th launch. It’s part of NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, and will be the first time that a privately-developed spacecraft has docked at the ISS.  Read More

IBM has unveiled two prototype computer chips that are said to emulate the human brain (Im...

In April, the University of Southern California made the headlines when it announced that researchers there had created a functioning synthetic synapse circuit using carbon nanotubes. Well, today IBM unveiled a new class of experimental computer chips that are designed to emulate the human brain’s abilities for perception, action and cognition. According to the company, “The technology could yield many orders of magnitude less power consumption and space than used in today’s computers.”  Read More

A prototype haptic feedback system lets golfers experience what it feels like to perform a...

Golfers, are you still trying to perfect your putt? Well, you could try a five-minute lesson from the RobotPutt machine, have your technique analyzed by the iClub system, or download the iSwing app. Someday soon, you might also be able to use a new system developed by Katherine Kuchenbecker, an assistant professor of Innovation Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics at the University of Pennsylvania. Her system guides the user's club into delivering the ball straight to the hole, with the intention that golfers will develop a muscle memory for what it feels like to execute that "perfect putt."  Read More

Pocket Smart String uses a flexible string instead of a semi-rigid tape for measuring item...

Although it would be wrong to say that tape measures are difficult to use, they can sometimes certainly be a bit fiddly – a couple of examples include the measuring of objects that aren’t straight-edged, or having to squint to count off the exact millimeters on the tape. Pocket Smart String, however, goes about measuring in a different way. Users pull a string out from the pocket calculator-sized device, laying it alongside or winding it around whatever they want to measure. The exact length is digitally displayed on the device’s LCD screen, and can then be stored in its memory for calculating things such as area or volume.  Read More

Maxwell von Stein's Flywheel Bicycle stores the power that would otherwise be wasted in th...

In order to help boost their range, many electric and hybrid cars employ regenerative technology where braking energy is stored in the battery instead of simply being wasted. This idea can also be applied to electric-assist bikes, but what about bicycles of the plain old human-powered variety? Isn't it a shame that after having built up some good momentum, you just have to write it all off once you stop? Maxwell von Stein, a student at New York City's Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, thought so. As his senior project, he recently rigged up a flywheel to an existing bicycle, in order to harness the energy that's lost during braking. That energy can then be used to boost the bike when needed.  Read More

A Swarmanoid Hand-Bot, with three Foot-Bots

Swarms of small, intercommunicating robots are now being eyed up for all sorts of potential uses, including the creation of communications networks for disaster relief, mapping out hazardous environments, or even perhaps helping with the colonization of Mars. Since 2007, a group of European research groups have been collaborating on the now-completed Swarmanoid project, in which a variety of purpose-specific mini robots where programmed to cooperate in order to accomplish a task. Although the bots have been perfecting their book-stealing routine since 2009, a video depicting the task won the Best Video award at last week's 2011 Artificial Intelligence Conference in San Francisco, and was many peoples' introduction to Swarmanoid.  Read More

The Desktop Jellyfish Tank is an aquarium designed specifically for the keeping of jellyfi...

Jellyfish are definitely fascinating creatures, that are almost hypnotizing to watch ... you could say, they’re the lava lamps of the animal kingdom. Unfortunately for aquarists, however, they also can’t be kept in a regular aquarium, as they’ll get sucked into the water filtration intakes. That’s why Duke University Biology and Environmental Science alumnus Alex Andon started experimenting with adapting regular aquaria to make them jellyfish-friendly. After having some success with selling these converted tanks online, he decided to start making them from scratch. His San Francisco company, Jellyfish Art, is now marketing them as the Desktop Jellyfish Tank.  Read More

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