Photokina 2014 highlights

Biomimicry

Studying the behavior of bees might lead to better, much more flexible ways to deal with p...

By studying the behavior of bees, a group of researchers at Queen Mary University of London has documented and modeled the way in which the insects can fly from flower to flower and then come back to their hives expending the least amount of time and energy. The findings might lead to better, much more flexible ways to deal with problems ranging from building faster computer networks to creating more powerful microchips.  Read More

Scientists believe the tuna fish has a natural body framework that's tailor-made for UUV-l...

Scientists involved in robotics research are increasingly looking toward biological systems for solutions to specific challenges, and when one considers that nature has been solving problems for rather a lot longer than we humans have, this makes sense. Such is the reasoning behind BIOSwimmer: an underwater surveillance robot created by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S and T) that takes its design cues from the tuna fish.  Read More

DARPA's Cheetah robot has set a new robotic land speed record of 28.3 mph (45.5 km/h)

Usain Bolt might have taken home the 100 meters gold medal from the recent London 2012 Olympics, but things could have been different had DARPA’s Cheetah robot been allowed in the field. Living up to DARPA's original goal of developing a robot that could outrun any human, the quadruped robot has set a new robotic land speed record of 28.3 mph (45.5 km/h) for a 20-meter (65.6 ft) split, bettering Bolt’s human speed record by 0.52 mph (0.8 km/h).  Read More

Scientists from North Carolina State University are working on remotely controlable sensor...

Much to the annoyance of home-owners everywhere, cockroaches are amazingly tough, and they’re able to squeeze into remarkably small spaces. These are some of the same qualities that researchers would like to see in tiny reconnaissance robots that could perform tasks such as searching earthquake-damaged buildings for survivors. Such adaptable, robust mini-robots would be quite challenging to create, however. A team of scientists from North Carolina State University are working on an alternative – sensor-equipped real cockroaches that are remotely controlled by human operators.  Read More

Close up of a red harvester ant (Photo: Sandstein)

Ask who invented the Internet and you’ll spark off an argument with everyone championed from DARPA to Nikola Tesla. However, two Stanford scientists claim that the inventor may have had six legs, antennae and a taste for disrupting picnics. Professor of biology Deborah Gordon and professor of computer science Balaji Prabhakar say that red harvester ants (Pogonomyrmex barbatus) use the same Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) in foraging that the internet uses to manage data transmissions – making a sort of “Anternet.”  Read More

Meshworm imitates to movements of an earthworm (Photo: MIT)

In an effort to create robots with soft, pliable exteriors that would be suited to exploring hard to reach places and traversing bumpy terrain, a team of researchers from MIT, Harvard University and Seoul National University has developed a robotic earthworm called Meshworm. Moving in the same manner as an earthworm, it looks disturbingly like an earthworm as it crawls across the floor. However, unlike an earthworm and despite its soft exterior, it is remarkably tough and can survive hammer blows and even being trodden.  Read More

A sample of the man-made mother of pearl (top), compared to the real thing (Image: Nature)...

Mother of pearl, also known as nacre, is the hard iridescent coating found on the outside of pearls, and the inside of certain mollusc’s shells. Besides being a nice-looking material used for jewelry and other types of ornamentation, it’s also remarkably strong. Now, scientists from the University of Cambridge have discovered how to make the stuff themselves.  Read More

Hilary Bart-Smith's robotic cow-nosed ray

Sometime in the future, perhaps sometime soon, the robotic jellyfish, octopi and fish cruising the world’s oceans may have to make way for one other companion – the robotic ray. A team led by University of Virginia engineering professor Hilary Bart-Smith has created such a “creature,” in hopes that its autonomously-operated descendants may someday help us humans explore and study the sea, or possibly perform surveillance for the military.  Read More

Researchers have created an artificial jellyfish (right) dubbed 'Medusoid' using rat heart...

Having roamed the seas for at least 500 million years and holding the title of the oldest multi-organ animal on the planet, jellyfish have certainly stood the test of time. So it’s probably not surprising to see various research groups looking to the gelatinous, umbrella-shaped animals for inspiration in a number of areas, including the development of ocean-going robots. Now researchers at Harvard University and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) looking to gain a better understanding of how biological pumps such as the heart work, have created an artificial jellyfish from rat heart muscle and silicon.  Read More

The clog-free inkjet printer nozzle uses a droplet of oil to prevent the ink from drying o...

There was a time not so long ago that my inkjet printer saw a lot of action. Nowadays, however, it can sit idle for weeks or even months before being called into service. But when it is called upon, the long break between print jobs means the print heads are usually clogged and an ink-wasting head clean needs to be performed. Taking inspiration from the human eye, researchers at the University of Missouri (MU) have developed a print nozzle that prevents the ink inside from drying out when not in use.  Read More

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