2015 Detroit NAIAS Auto Show

Biomimicry

The DALER prototype drone

Robot drones that can both fly and move about on land would vastly improve their usefulness by increasing the areas in which they could operate. Adding wheels of sufficient size to handle most terrains, however, would adversely increase both the weight and size of such a drone. Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), building on their earlier developments, have created a drone that uses wings incorporating movable tips, allowing it to both walk and fly.  Read More

Sepios can move in any direction, thanks to its four bio-inspired undulating fins

Cuttlefish are fascinating animals, in that they use a pair of undulating fins to move forward and backward, turn on the spot, or hover in place. If you wanted to make an underwater robot that was highly maneuverable yet quiet and immune to tangled propellers, then the cuttlefish would be a good creature to copy. Well, a group of mechanical engineering students from Switzerland's ETH Zurich have done just that – plus they gave it an extra set of fins, allowing it to also move straight up and down.  Read More

Bhuneshwar Prasad (left), Associate Professor S.K. Panda and Abhra Roy Chowdhury, holding ...

They may be slow on land, but when they're in the water, sea turtles are fast and maneuverable – qualities that are also desirable in underwater robots. Additionally, the robotic equivalent of a turtle's streamlined shell could be stuffed full of electronic components and batteries. It shouldn't come as a surprise, therefore, that both ETH Zurich and the ARROWS project have recently created their own turtle-bots. Now, the National University of Singapore has announced its own entry in the field, that can self-charge its batteries while at sea.  Read More

Gecko grippers tested in microgravity (Photo: NASA)

Gripping technology inspired by the force that geckos use to climb even vertical, smooth surfaces has been tested in microgravity. Researchers want to see if it might one day be used to get work done in outer space, and clean up the increasing amount of debris floating in orbit around the Earth.  Read More

Hector the stick insect-inspired robot traversing an obstacle course (Photo: Bielefeld Uni...

Hector, the stick insect-inspired robot built by a research team at Bielefeld University in Germany that we first covered in 2011, could be forgiven for feeling lonely as the only one of its kind in world, but has lately been too busy learning to walk to worry on its unique status. It is hoped that Hector, which stands for Hexapod Cognitive autonomously Operating Robot, will benefit not only roboticists but also biologists interested in animal movement.  Read More

The GhostSwimmer cruises the waters of Virginia Beach

Should you be swimming in the ocean sometime soon and spot a shark-like dorsal fin cutting through the water towards you, just relax – it might simply be a military robot, that's made to look like a shark. A US Navy team has recently been testing just such a device at its Joint Expeditionary Base East, in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Known as the GhostSwimmer, the robot was developed by Boston Engineering as part of the Navy's Silent NEMO project, which is aimed at creating nature-inspired unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs).  Read More

Weight is the enemy of almost all things enjoyable about motoring: acceleration, braking, ...

EDAG traditionally produces a concept car incorporating "new thought" for the Geneva Motor Show each year and the 2015 concept car might initially stretch your imagination beyond normal limits. The EDAG Light Cocoon Concept uses a weatherproof textile instead of the traditional metal skin for the car's panels, stretched over a bionically-inspired trellis body structure, then back-lit for effect.  Read More

A color-changing tree, printed with the new ink

British scientists have already looked to principles employed by butterfly wings, as a means of thwarting currency counterfeiters. Now, researchers from China's Southeast University have developed another such technology, that's inspired by a different insect – a color-changing longhorn beetle known as Tmesisternus isabellae.  Read More

RMIT's sensor-equipped MAV in a wind tunnel experiment

Turbulence can be unpleasant enough for passengers in full-sized aircraft, but it's even more of a challenge for unmanned micro air vehicles (MAVs) – a good gust can blow one of the little drones completely off course, or even cause it to crash. That's why a team from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, has looked to birds for a solution. The result is a system that detects turbulence before it buffets the MAV, allowing the aircraft to anticipate it and thus maintain a smoother flight. The technology could also be applicable to regular airplanes.  Read More

An extremely lightweight, smartphone-controlled bionic bird could fly for over a mile on a...

A French startup has turned to crowdfunding to build an extremely light bionic bird that can be controlled using the magnetometer and accelerometer in a smartphone. The bird, currently at the prototype stage, would communicate via Bluetooth for a range of 100 meters (330 ft) and be able to fly for up to eight minutes at a time, or over a mile, after a quick 12-minute charge.  Read More

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