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— Robotics

European scientists developing a robotic tree

The animal kingdom contains many examples of efficient forms of locomotion, so it's no wonder that we've been seeing a lot of animal-inspired robots – recent examples have included a robotic cheetah, fish and snake. Plants, however, just sit there ... don't they? Actually, they do move, just not necessarily in a Point A to Point B manner. With that in mind, Europe's PLANTOID project consortium is now in the process of developing a tree-like robot. Its descendants might ultimately find use in the exploration of other planets. Read More
— Health and Wellbeing

Low-cost water purifiers use chip packets to kill off dangerous bacteria

Armed with plywood, a glass tube and some empty chip packets, mechanical engineering students from the University of Adelaide have developed a low-cost water purification system capable of killing off harmful bacteria. The solution is designed for remote communities in Papua New Guinea (PNG), an area where water is particularly susceptible to pathogen infestation. Read More
— Space

NASA probe will reveal 3D architecture of forests from space

NASA is developing a laser-based instrument for deployment on the International Space Station that will probe the depths of Earth's forests from space in a bid to reveal more about their role in the planet's carbon cycle. After its completion in 2018, this Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) lidar will join the likes of the Soil Moisture Active Passive satellite in studying Earth's vegetation on a global scale. Read More
— Around The Home

Withings Home acts as a security camera, environmental monitor and home diary

Home camera systems from baby monitors to full-blown security systems are nothing new, but living with them can be about as comfortable as living in the novel 1984. Making its debut at this year’s IFA electronics show in Berlin, the Withings Home video and environmental monitoring device tries to dispel that vibe in a user-friendly package that blends into modern home decor. Read More
— Drones

AREND Project aims to ward off poachers with unmanned aerial vehicles

Like many a technology before it, the aerial drone is finding applications far beyond military circles, from burrito delivery to surveying broken bridges. One emerging area with huge potential is wildlife conservation, with drones delivering the ability to patrol and detect illegal poachers from the air. AREND (Aircraft for Rhino and Environmental Defense) is an international team of students currently developing an unmanned aerial system with the ultimate objective of combating poaching in Africa's national parks. Read More
— Holiday Destinations

In pictures: Singapore's surreal Supertree Grove and Cloud Forest

There are places on this Earth where you simply stand, slack-jawed, and pinch yourself to make sure you're not dreaming – and Singapore's Gardens by the Bay is as surreal a place as I've ever been. This billion-dollar techno-garden theme park is absolutely stunning right through, but the two stand-out highlights are its signature Supertree Grove – a collection of giant cyborg trees – and the Cloud Forest – a gigantic bio-dome that recreates the environment and climate of a mountaintop forest at sea level. As a bonus, there's also the world's tallest indoor waterfall. Read More
— Environment

Autonomous mini helicopters hunt down invasive weeds from the air

The sheer density of the rainforests in Australia's far-north creates a slight problem for local conservationists. With incursions by invasive plants posing a threat to the native flora, inaccessibility for people makes it a difficult and time-consuming task to monitor the region. Now researchers from the CSIRO have developed two mini helicopters capable of hunting down the dangerous weeds from the air, significantly reducing the resources needed to preserve local plant life. Read More
— Environment

Whooshh Innovations' "fish gun" shoots salmon over obstacles small and tall

If you live in an area where salmon spawn, then summer treats you to a free nature drama as the fish battle against currents, fight through rapids, struggle up tiny streams, and leap up waterfalls to return to the calm pools where they were born. Unfortunately, however intrepid the odd salmon is, they weren't built to take on a 300-ft tall hydroelectric dam. That's why Whooshh Innovations has developed a system that sucks the fish up through a plastic tube and shoots them over obstacles low and tall like so many piscatorial projectiles. Read More
— Environment

Cigarette butts transformed into high-performance supercapacitor component

Billions of cigarette butts are discarded around the world each year and, even when disposed of properly, pose a threat to the environment by leaching arsenic, lead and other nasty chemicals into land and waterways. New research shows these butts could be set for a new lease on life, with a team of Korean scientists demonstrating that used cigarette filters could actually double as a highly-effective energy storage material. Read More