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ETH Zurich

— Drones

Drones autonomously build a walkable rope bridge

As we learned earlier this year, researchers at ETH Zürich's institute for Dynamic Systems and Control are looking at ways in which flying construction robots can be programmed to autonomously build tensile structures. Now it appears they've taken a significant step forward. Literally. The team has demonstrated a rope bridge built by drones that can support the weight of an adult human as they walk across it.

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— Science

Slaughterhouse waste could be made into yarn

Ever since the late 19th century, people have experimented with making textiles from natural-source-based gelatine, as a cheaper and less allergenic alternative to wool. Although the emergence of synthetic fibers largely put an end to that, a new technique may yet allow gel-based yarn to see the spotlight. The fiber is said to have an insulation quality similar to that of Merino wool, and the collagen used to produce it can be obtained from waste at animal-processing facilities.

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— Medical

Nanorobots wade through blood to deliver drugs

Nanorobots hold great potential in the field of medicine. This is largely due to the possibility of highly-targeted delivery of medical payloads, an outcome that could lessen side effects and negate the need for invasive procedures. But how these microscopic particles can best navigate the body's fluids is a huge area of focus for scientists. Researchers are now reporting a new technique whereby nanorobots are made to swim swiftly through the fluids like blood to reach their destination.

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— Electronics

A new type of glass could double your smartphone's battery life

The batteries inside our smartphones and laptops are fighting a losing battle when it comes to keeping these devices juiced up, but researchers from ETH Zurich have discovered a new type of glass material that could make a major difference: vanadate-borate glass. The glass can be used as an electrode material in lithium-ion batteries to almost double the amount of time they last between charges. Read More
— Robotics

Omnidirectional underwater robot inspired by the cuttlefish

Cuttlefish are fascinating animals, in that they use a pair of undulating fins to move forward and backward, turn on the spot, or hover in place. If you wanted to make an underwater robot that was highly maneuverable yet quiet and immune to tangled propellers, then the cuttlefish would be a good creature to copy. Well, a group of mechanical engineering students from Switzerland's ETH Zurich have done just that – plus they gave it an extra set of fins, allowing it to also move straight up and down. Read More
— Health and Wellbeing

Thought-controlled implant creates proteins on demand

Wouldn't it be great if there were implants that detected the brainwaves associated with conditions such as chronic headaches or epilepsy, and then responded by triggering genes in the patient's body to produce a protein that treated the condition? Well, scientists at the ETH Zurich research institute are on their way to making it happen. They've developed an implant that causes genetically-modified cells to express a specific protein, and the device is indeed activated by brain waves. Read More