Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

MIT

The Tohoku University design would change shape during flight to adapt to supersonic speed...

A throwback to early 20th Century aviation may hold the key to eliminating the sonic boom - at least according to researchers at MIT and Stanford University. Strongly reminiscent of biplanes still in use today, the researcher's concept supersonic aircraft introduces a second wing which it is claimed cancels the shockwaves generated by objects near or beyond the sound barrier.  Read More

Aircraft carrier deck crews may one day be able to direct autonomous drones, using standar...

We’ve all seen footage of flight crews on the decks of aircraft carriers, directing taxiing planes using arm signals. That’s all very well and good when they’re communicating with human pilots, but what happens as more and more human-piloted military aircraft are replaced with autonomous drones? Well, if researchers at MIT are successful in one of their latest projects, not much should change. They’re currently devising a system that would allow robotic aircraft to understand human arm gestures.  Read More

A new algorithmic system allows AUVs to reach their destinations faster, or to use less po...

Autonomous underwater vehicles, better known as AUVs, are increasingly finding use in applications such as oceanographic research, mapping, military reconnaissance, and deep-sea oil-well maintenance. As these independent underwater robots make their way through the world’s oceans, they use GPS transceivers to keep themselves on a predetermined route. When they encounter challenges such as cross-currents, one might assume that their best course of action would be simply to power straight across them, in order to travel the shortest distance possible. Engineers from MIT, however, have developed a system that allows AUVs to reach their destinations sooner, by traveling out of their way to “go with the flow.”  Read More

Scientists are reporting success in the first human trial of a chip-based implant that del...

Much as anyone with a medical condition wants to get better, it can often be difficult to get patients to stick to their medication regimens. This is particularly true for patients who are required to give themselves injections – a time-consuming and unpleasant procedure that it’s easy to “forget” to do. Scientists from MIT and Massachusetts-based company MicroCHIPS Inc., however, have come up with what could be a solution. Yesterday, they announced success in the first clinical trial of an implantable chip-based device, that automatically delivered regular doses of medication to osteoporosis sufferers.  Read More

FreeD is a handheld smart milling device that gives the artist creative control, but won't...

Even if you think you're pretty handy with a chisel, often all it takes is one wrong angle or strike of the hammer to ruin an entire sculpting project. MIT's media lab has a solution - the FreeD is a handheld smart milling device that gives the artist creative control, but won't let you totally screw up your project with one wrong move.  Read More

Schematic of MIT's Photosystem-I solar energy harvesting chip

Research scientist Andreas Mershin has a dream to bring inexpensive solar power to the masses, especially those in developing countries. After years of research, he and his team at MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms, along with University of Tennessee biochemist Barry Bruce, have worked out a process that extracts functional photosynthetic molecules from common yard and agricultural waste. If all goes well, in a few years it should be possible to gather up a pile of grass clippings, mix it with a blend of cheap chemicals, paint it on your roof and begin producing electricity. Talk about redefining green power plants!  Read More

Analysis of the way a goshawk flies through cluttered forests has revealed a critical safe...

Research into goshawk flight could inform the design of next generation UAVS. Where prior research into bird flight has focused on steady flight, new research from MIT examines the patterns of birds adept at flying in "cluttered environments" to find principles applicable to robot motion planning. It's research that might one day find practical applications in engineering, including fast, agile UAVs.  Read More

The Fermat spiral found in the spiraling pattern of florets in sunflowers has inspired a m...

Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plants, such as the Gemsolar and PS10 plants in Spain, use arrays of mirrors (or heliostats) to focus a large area of the Sun's rays onto a small area, where the concentrated light is converted to heat that is used to generate electricity. While CSP has gained popularity in recent years with numerous plants being built around the world, they require a large area to generate the amounts of electricity needed to make them economically viable. Taking inspiration from the sunflower, researchers have devised a more efficient design that would allow such plants to be constructed on a much smaller area.  Read More

Called AGNES (Age Gain Now Empathy System), the suit replicates what it might be like to b...

What does it really feel like to be 75 years old? A group of researchers in MIT's Agelab have created a suit to help people understand what it might be like to navigate the world as a senior citizen. Called AGNES (Age Gain Now Empathy System), the suit replicates what it might be like to be in a 75-year-old body, replicating dexterity, flexibility, motor, and visual elements into a suit that can be worn by people of all ages.  Read More

The various laser-cut wooden panels of Matt Keeler's Fab Boombox snap together to form the...

Music lovers wanting to listen to digital music files on the move are pretty much spoiled for choice these days, whether keeping things personal with players like the Cowon C2 I reviewed earlier in the month, or sharing with friends using something like the FoxL v2 wireless loudspeaker. If commercial designs don't really appeal, though, there is another route - you could always build your own. Matt Keeter's Fab Boombox is just such a device, designed and built for a final class project and featuring laser-cut, snap-together panels housing stereo speakers (said to be loud in a quiet room and quiet in a noisy room), a custom main control board with an MP3 decoder and a 9V battery power source. Digital music is fed into the player via an SD card slot, with the user controlling playback on a touch-sensitive interface.  Read More

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