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Construction

From leaping over obstacles to pulling objects thousands of times their own weight, robots are great at many things. What they're not so good at is working as an autonomous team in an unfamiliar setting – until now, that is. A team of researchers from MIT has developed an algorithm that streamlines the way robots collaborate on construction tasks, significantly cutting down planning time.

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If you’re into electronics as a hobbyist, technician, or professional engineer, you know that you can spend many hours designing circuits, sourcing components, and breadboarding or soldering a project all together before you find out if your creation actually works. Wouldn’t it make life simpler if you could just start with a basic, multi-function controller and a few plug and play peripherals to get something – anything – up and running straight away and then which you could tweak and add to as you go? The makers of a new electronic design tool thought that this would be a good idea too and have created Cubit, a make anything platform that allows drag and drop software control over snap together hardware. Join Gizmag as we try a few builds to test out it out.

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Electrical engineer Charles Sharman noticed several years ago that as they got older, the children he taught at Sunday School tended to migrate from Lego and other building toys to video games. He wanted them to keep creating, so he started a company called Seven:Twelve Engineering and began designing a building toy that could hold the attention of these older kids. That toy is called Crossbeams, and it can be used to design and assemble a huge range of toys – including big, detailed, moving cars and helicopters.

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The UK's Crossrail project is said to be Europe's largest construction project. What's more, the earth excavated to construct its tunnels is being used to develop one of Europe's largest nature reserves. Wallasea Island in Essex has recently received its final shipment of Crossrail earth. Read More
Britain's lidos, or public open-air swimming pools, were once far more numerous and popular than they are today. In recent years though, they've come back into fashion to some extent, with several campaigns to re-open or renovate aging lidos proving successful. Riding this wave is the Thames Bath project, which has recently turned to Kickstarter to raise funds toward a new floating open-air swimming pool on the River Thames. Read More
Preliminary construction work has begun on Staten Island's New York Wheel: a huge Ferris wheel that will rise 192 m (630 ft) above New York Harbor. Slated for completion in 2017, the US$500 million New York Wheel will have a capacity of up to 1,440 passengers at a time. Read More
"Working at heights is risky," affirms Geoff de Ruiter when quizzed by Gizmag on the challenges he faced while building a tiny treehouse perched 5.1 m (17 ft) off the ground in British Columbia. Happily though, the University of Northern British Columbia PhD student recently completed the Raven Loft treehouse without incident for just US$8,200, plus land costs, leaving him with a mortgage- and debt-free tiny retreat. Read More
The winners of this year's eVolo Skyscraper Competition have been announced. The annual contest was established in 2006 with the aim of recognizing outstanding ideas for vertical living. This year's overall winner, the Essence Skyscraper, contains a variety of diverse natural habitats. Read More
Lionel Buckett squats barefoot on the stone outcropping that forms a natural verandah to his latest extraordinary creation. Weathered and weary with a shock of curly orange hair, he's looking out across a magnificent, pristine valley in Australia's Blue Mountains range, a view that probably hasn't changed in thousands, even hundreds of thousands of years. "It's an interesting thing with passive solar design," he muses, "that a cave facing north is probably the first passive solar building that humans ever lived in." Read More

A new restaurant due to open in the US is claimed to be the largest in the country to be built using shipping containers. The Smoky Park Supper Club in Asheville, North Carolina, is constructed from 19 containers and was built by shipping container construction firm SG Blocks. Read More

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