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— Robotics

Streamlined shell helps robo-roach slip past obstacles

By - June 30, 2015 1 Picture

Besides simply being fascinating to watch, insect-inspired robots may someday find use as scouts in search-and-rescue operations. In order for them to function in such scenarios, however, they'll have to be able to move through fields of debris. While some scientists have looked at using sensors and algorithms that let the bots scan their surroundings and then plot paths around obstacles, researchers at UC Berkley have developed a much less complex but still effective approach – they've outfitted a robotic cockroach with a streamlined shell, that lets it just push its way through.

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— Science

Boutique gin boasts all the flavor of 62 forest ants

By - May 20, 2015 2 Pictures
Not so long ago the only things that came in a bottle of alcohol (beside the alcohol itself) were the occasional odds and ends that fell in as it was being made, or some fruit that was deliberately shoehorned in to make it look decorative. Today there seems to be a craze for all sorts of objects jammed into bottles of spirit – scorpions, worms, and other creepy crawlies being particularly common. Actually distilling the essence of an insect to make an alcoholic beverage rather than just pickling it in a bottle, however, is a different prospect altogether. But now a company in the UK has done just that, by using an extract from ants to create a special type of gin. Read More
— Science

Scientists fly real beetles by radio remote control

By - March 17, 2015 6 Pictures
Studying insects in flight can be difficult. They're usually tethered in place, although this may affect the manner in which they fly. That's why scientists from the University of California, Berkeley and Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) took a different approach – they installed an electronic backpack on giant flower beetles, allowing them to be remotely controlled while in free flight. The technology not only gave the researchers a better insight into how the insects fly, but it could also find use in areas such as search-and-rescue. Read More
— Science

Insect-inspired eye may allow drones to navigate their environment more naturally

By - March 11, 2015 1 Picture
Most modern aircraft, cruise missiles, spacecraft – in fact, almost all flying vehicles – use an accelerometer for flight stabilization. Living creatures that fly, on the other hand, rely on their own innate sense of balance determined by environmental observation and inbuilt organ-based systems. Now French researchers have designed a bio-inspired, sight-based system that could be used in conjunction with accelerometers to vastly increase the autonomous capabilities of drones by endowing them with more natural flying abilities. Read More
— Science

Termitat brings termites to your house – in a good way

By - December 19, 2014 6 Pictures
Do you have termites in your home? If not, would you like to? Not ones that are living in the wooden structure of the building itself, of course – that'd be no fun. Instead, the Termitat securely houses a colony of Pacific Dampwood Termites within a clear acrylic housing, where you can watch them going about their business on a daily basis. It's like an ant farm, except instead of dirt it has a disc of Douglas Fir wood, and instead of ants it has ... well, termites. Read More
— Science

Sound-steered cyborg cockroaches could help save human lives

By - November 6, 2014 1 Picture
If you're ever trapped in a collapsed building and are calling for help, you might want to think twice before squashing any cockroaches that wander your way – one of them might have been sent to find you. Researchers from North Carolina State University are currently laying the groundwork for such a scenario, by getting cyborg-like "biobot" cockroaches to move towards sounds. Down the road, such insects may be used to locate victims at disaster sites. Read More
— Environment Feature

The buzz about entomophagy: Is eating insects more than a novelty?

Jiminy Cricket may be able to do more than guide our consciences: he, or his kin, may also provide food security solutions for a growing and hungry world. However, the notion of insects-as-food struggles to find widespread traction amid problems with standardization of food safety standards, government disinterest and only a small body of research. So is there a future for cricket sushi or fried silk worms? Read More

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