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Biomimicry

Materials

Gecko-inspired adhesive tape finally scales to market

The natural stickiness of gecko's feet has inspired decades-long research efforts to develop advanced adhesives. Now a company spun out of a university research group called nanoGriptech has taken the science out of the lab and into the market, through a number of newly available products promised to deliver enhanced grip and reusability.Read More

Robotics

Search-and-rescue robot could give locusts a better name

Despite the fact that locusts are held in fairly low regard by us humans, there's a chance that you may one day be rescued by one … or at least, by a robotic locust. Working with colleagues at Israel's Ort Braude College, researchers from Tel Aviv University have created a tiny locust-inspired robot that can reportedly jump over twice as high as other similarly-sized devices. They say that it could ultimately find use in search-and-rescue operations at disaster sites.Read More

Drones

Hovering kestrel inspires drone that gains altitude without using power

A near-future where the skies are filled with drones carrying out deliveries and surveillance might be hard to imagine, but it is something aerospace experts are already giving careful consideration to. Improving the efficiency of these vehicles, even at the margins, could mean huge energy savings and more reliable services across the board. To this end, Australian researchers have developed a fixed-wing aircraft that uses natural updrafts to climb higher, inspired by the ability of the kestrel falcon to hover while searching for prey on the ground. Read More

Robotics

THESBOT pipe-inspecting robot goes where the sun don't shine

If you've got a 3-inch diameter pipe to inspect from inside, chances are you're not going to try crawling in there yourself. At the recent IREX 2015 show in Japan, however, we spied a robot designed to do just that. Made by Tokyo-based HiBot, THESBOT is a sinuous robot that snakes its way through narrow pipework, transmitting real-time video and gathering other data as it does so.Read More

Physics

Speedy single-molecule nanosubs powered by UV light

For some time now, we've been hearing about the attempts by various groups to develop so-called nanosubmarines. Among other things, these microscopic "molecular machines" could conceivably be used for applications such as targeted drug delivery within the human body. Recently, scientists at Houston's Rice University created nanosubs that move at a "breakneck pace" when exposed to ultraviolet light. Read More

Outdoors

The North Face's Moon Parka is made from synthetic spider silk

Spider silk has some amazing properties. Among other things, it's as strong as steel, tougher than Kevlar, and lighter than carbon fiber. Unfortunately, however, farming spiders for their silk would be a very impractical venture. That's why some groups have looked into creating synthetic spider silk. Japanese company Spiber is one of those, and it recently joined forces with The North Face to create a parka made from its QMONOS fiber. Called the Moon Parka, the garment is reportedly "the world’s first piece of clothing made from artificial protein material."Read More

Biology

Secret to jellyfish propulsion could be applied to human tech

Until now, scientists weren’t entirely sure how marine life like jellyfish and eels are able to move so effortlessly from point A to point B, using less energy than it takes any other moving life form ever measured. But researchers at the University of South Florida (USF) believe they may have now found the answer. Rather than propel themselves forward by pushing against the water, jellyfish and eels actually suck the water toward them.Read More

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