Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Biomimicry

Scientists have created lenses that refract light in the same fashion as the lens in the h...

Although many people may think that the lenses in our eyes are just like those found in cameras, there is in fact one key difference between the two – while man-made lenses have just a single index of refraction, meaning that they only bend light in one direction, our natural lenses refract light by varying degrees. This is why artificial implanted lenses, such as those used to treat cataracts, can create visual distortions. A new technology, however, now allows for the fabrication of lenses that work just like the ones in our eyes.  Read More

A male Giant Blue Morpho (Photo: Jo McCulty, courtesy of Ohio State University)

Butterfly wings cannot be very far behind geckos' toes so far as sources of inspiration for biomimicry research goes. Various properties of the wings of lepidopterans have triggered research into banknote forgery prevention, light reflection and solar cells. New research from Ohio State University suggests the delicate membranes may hold clues to dirt-resistance surfaces.  Read More

The TechJect Dragonfly fits in the palm of a hand

Given their impressive flight capabilities, it’s not surprising to see researchers turning to the world of flying insects for inspiration when developing new kinds of micro UAVs. With their ability to both fly at high speeds and hover, the dragonfly would seem an obvious candidate for biomimicry. But with the exception of the DelFly, we hadn’t seen many attempts to model a micro UAV on the dragonfly’s four wing design. That could be changing with a multi-disciplinary team from Georgia Tech having developed a robotic four-winged ornithopter called the TechJect Dragonfly that fits in the palm of a hand and combines the flight capabilities of a quadricopter, helicopter and fixed wing aircraft in one.  Read More

Harvard researchers are developing a feedback controller that should allow the Robobee to ...

Harvard researchers are getting closer to their goal of developing a controllable micro air vehicle called the Robobee. The tiny robot was already capable of taking off under its own power, but until now it was completely out of control. By adding two control actuators beneath its wings, the robot can be programmed to pitch and roll.  Read More

A conceptual rendering of the completed naro - tartaruga robot

Well, we shouldn’t be surprised. Scientists have created swimming robotic versions of the cow-nosed ray, the jellyfish, the sunfish, the tuna, and just the generic “fish,” so why not the sea turtle? That’s what a group of scientists from the ETH Zurich research group are in the process of doing, and they’ve named it naro - tartaruga (the original naro was another robotic tuna). As it turns out, a couple of the sea turtle’s natural features make for a pretty good robot.  Read More

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

Looking for something? Search our 29,542 articles