Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

MIT

The Freedom Chair's knobby bike tires and torque-increasing lever drive help it navigate r...

The wheelchair provides invaluable mobility to those with disabilities, but there are countless places where it can't go. Trails, parks, beaches, woods …without a paved road or structured pathway, the wheelchair can quickly find itself out of its element. The GRIT Freedom Chair updates wheelchair design – well not technically wheelchair, but "recreational device" – with all-terrain capabilities. Part mountain bike, part (recreational) wheelchair, the Freedom Chair opens up a new world of exploration.  Read More

Researchers have developed a coating that prevents a battery from conducting electricity w...

It can be a herculean task to get kids to eat their vegetables, but they'll happily chow down on things they aren't supposed to. If one of those things is a button battery, serious injuries can result in the form of burns to the esophagus or tears in the digestive tract. Researchers may not have found a way to stop kids swallowing button batteries, but they have found a way to make such culinary no-nos safer.  Read More

Where are these robots planning on going? Just check their projected paths

Imagine if you were trying to develop an autonomous robot, and it continually made a mistake but you couldn't tell why. Ultimately, you might end up having to review all the lines of code that made up its programming, hoping that the error would just jump out at you. In order to avoid such scenarios, MIT's Ali-akbar Agha-mohammadi and Shayegan Omidshafiei have created a system known as measurable virtual reality (MVR). It projects a robot's perceptions and intentions onto the floor, so that designers can see what it's thinking.  Read More

Chisel allows small computational errors to be made, in the name of saving power (Image: S...

You may have heard the expression, "Work smarter, not harder." When applied to humans, it means (partially) that we should do our best work on the tasks that are the most important, instead of wasting time and effort by going all out on every task. Well, that principle is now also being applied to computers. Using MIT's new Chisel system, computers are saving power by delegating less-critical tasks to less-dependable lower-energy hardware. This means mistakes may be made on those tasks, but that's OK.  Read More

The microwalkers consist of a pair of particles, one of which has magnetic properties and ...

Ever wonder how a germ knows where to attack the body or how a white blood cell knows where to counter attack? How bacteria find food? Or how cells organize themselves to close a wound? How can something so simple do things so complex? A team of MIT researchers is seeking the answers as they develop "microwalkers" – microscopic machines that can move unguided across the surface of a cell as they seek out particular areas.  Read More

Waste water from fracking is over five times saltier than seawater (Photo: Christopher Hal...

Fracking is a highly controversial and divisive issue. Proponents argue that it could be the biggest energy boom since the Arabian oil fields were opened almost 80 years ago, but this comes at a serious cost to the environment. Among the detrimental effects of the process is that the waste water it produces is over five times saltier than seawater, which is, to put it mildly, not good. A research team led by MIT that has found an economical way of removing salt from fracking waste water that promises to not only reduce pollution, but conserve water as well.  Read More

The MIT assessment indicates that the Mars One mission needs revisiting if it's to succeed...

A team of MIT researchers has completed an analysis of the Mars One mission to colonize the Red Planet that throws the feasibility of the non-profit project into question. By analyzing the mission’s details, the team found that as the plan stands, there are a number of hurdles that must be overcome if the colonists aren't to end up dead within 10 weeks of landing.  Read More

Diagram of the capsule releasing its pharmaceutical payload into the intestinal lining (Im...

MIT, working together with the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), has pioneered a method of drug distribution with the potential to dispense with traditional subcutaneous injections. The system uses a small capsule coated with microneedles in order to administer medicines directly into the lining of the intestine.  Read More

A new study conducted at MIT suggests that tweaking the size of a costly membrane could he...

A new study conducted at MIT has examined the potential of pressure-retarded osmosis (PRO), a technique that generates electricity from the difference in salinity between two pools of water separated by a membrane. According to the researchers, tweaking the size of the membrane could help generate electricity much more cheaply than ever before.  Read More

A study carried out at MIT suggests that altering the quantities of materials in cement mi...

As one of our most relied upon construction materials, concrete makes a significant contribution to our overall carbon emissions. Calcium-based substances are heated at high temperatures to form the cement, a process that produces carbon dioxide. But by slightly altering the quantities of materials used, scientists from MIT have uncovered a new method of cement mixing that could reduce these emissions by more than half.  Read More

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