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EPFL


— Environment

Record efficiency for converting solar energy to hydrogen without rare metals

By - December 8, 2014 2 Pictures
Using solar energy to split water into its component parts, thereby allowing the solar energy to be stored as hydrogen fuel, generally involves one of two methods: using photoelectrochemical cells to directly split the water, or using solar cells to produce electricity to power an electrolyzer that separates the water molecules. One problem associated with the latter method is that it currently relies on rare metals. But now scientists from Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland have managed to do so using common materials, and have achieved a record solar energy to hydrogen conversion efficiency in the process. Read More
— Medical

Ghost in the machine: Scientists recreate "phantom presence" perception in the lab

By - November 9, 2014 6 Pictures
Mountain climbers facing extreme climatic conditions, patients affected by schizophrenia or neurological disorders and athletes facing severe exhaustion have all reported experiencing feeling an invisible and yet persistent "presence" that is often felt just outside their field of view. Researchers at EPFL have now recreated the same sensations in perfectly healthy subjects, inducing ghostly hallucinations in a matter of minutes. Read More
— Bicycles

Intelligent Blinker bracelet automatically gives cyclists flashing turn signals

By - August 12, 2014 1 Picture
As any serious bicycle commuter will tell you, it's important to let drivers know what you're doing by signaling your intention to turn. Needless to say, the more visible your hand signals are, the safer you should be. That's why a group of doctoral students at Switzerland's EPFL research institute created the Intelligent Blinker. It's a wrist bracelet that automatically starts flashing when the wearer raises their arm to signal. Read More
— Aircraft

Students develop drone to locate survivors via their mobile phones

By - July 17, 2014 2 Pictures
These days, most people are inseparable from their mobile phone, with the device being one of the essentials along with keys and cash or cards that people don't leave home without. A project at EPFL's Mobile Communications Laboratory is looking to take advantage of this fact by developing a drone that would help rescuers search for victims of natural disasters by locating their phones. Read More
— Automotive

TOSA electric buses use computer models to control costs

By - June 19, 2014 3 Pictures
It’s one thing to invent an electric bus, a hydrogen car, or other green transportation technology, but quite another for it to work in the real world. For example, the Trolleybus Optimisation Système Alimentation (TOSA) flash-charging electric bus system may be the most brilliant idea ever, but if it can’t stay in the black, then might as well be drawn by diesel-powered horses. Scientists at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) are hoping to avoid that scenario by developing a computer model that helps engineers integrate the buses into existing transport systems while keeping costs down. Read More
— Robotics

Roombots can transform into reconfigurable furniture

Envision small robotic modules, lifting the lid of a storage box, spilling out, rearranging themselves to be the box's legs and transporting it to where you might be seated. That's exactly what Swiss researchers are aiming to create with Roombots, reconfigurable robotic modules that connect to each other to transform themselves into any type of furniture and change shape when needed (from a chair to a table, for example). Designed to help the disabled or elderly, by morphing to suit their needs, the adaptive robotic furniture modules can even be attached to existing furniture to give greater flexibility and the power to move. Read More
— Robotics

Researchers teach robotic arm to catch

By - May 12, 2014 2 Pictures
Researchers at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland have developed a robotic arm capable of processing and catching moving objects in just a fraction of a second. The team, that works at the institute’s Learning Algorithms and Systems Laboratory (LASA), was able to teach the robot to understand the path of the object and intercept it at blistering speed. As well as being extremely cool to watch, it’s possible that the technology might find safety-oriented applications in the future. Read More
— Automotive

Tired? Angry? Your car knows how you feel

By - March 24, 2014 3 Pictures
Ever experienced road rage? Someone cuts you off while you’re trying to merge and next thing you know you’re tailgating them like a NASCAR driver at Fontana trying to get a slingshot off the bank. Then they hit the brakes … "screech-crash-bang" … there goes your platinum rating with the insurance company. What if an on-board emotion detection system could tell that you were getting annoyed and intervene? PSA Peugeot Citroen has teamed up with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology to develop an emotion detection system designed to recognize signs of irritation and fatigue in a driver’s facial expressions. Read More
— Health and Wellbeing

Scientists replace amputee's hand ... along with its sense of touch

By - February 10, 2014 13 Pictures
A man who lost his left hand in an accident nine years ago has had his sense of touch restored using a prosthetic hand surgically wired to nerves in his upper arm. During the trial Dennis Aabo Sørensen was able to grasp objects, detect the strength of grip, distinguish shape and identify objects by touch while blindfolded. The work was carried out by scientists from École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna (SSSA). Read More
— Telecommunications

Pointy pulses improve optical fiber throughput by a factor of 10

By - December 5, 2013 2 Pictures
As the volume of data carried around the world via optical fibers continues to increase, researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) have found a way to increase data throughput capacity by ten times. Because it is based on changing the shape of light pulses to reduce the space between, the breakthrough would work on existing optical fiber infrastructure. Read More
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