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Bicycles

Need directions? SmartHalo safely navigates urban cyclists

For the savvy cyclist, "smart bikes" tend to offer useful elements that enhance rides for fun, commuting, or sport. Unfortunately, not everyone can justify the steep costs involved, especially when there may be a perfectly good "normal" bicycle at home. Thankfully, upgrades exist to help turn standard bicycles into smart ones. One of the latest, the SmartHalo, provides smart and safe directions in what is described as a durable, minimalist design.Read More

Sports

OnCourse Goggles designed to keep triathletes swimming straight

If you regularly swim laps in a pool, chances are that you wear goggles so you can follow the lane markers on the bottom. For triathletes swimming in lakes or the sea, however, there are no lane markers. Instead, they have to periodically look up towards marker buoys, and may even then proceed forward in a time- and energy-wasting zig-zaggy pattern. That's why OnCourse Goggles were created. Using LEDs, they show the wearer how to stay … well, on course.Read More

Biology

Sensor to detect Earth’s magnetic field discovered in an animal for very first time

It has been a long-held belief in scientific circles that many creatures navigate across land, through water, and through the skies using the Earth’s magnetic field for guidance. Now scientists and engineers working at The University of Texas at Austin (UT) have finally discovered the organic mechanism responsible for this in an animal. Looking just like a microscopic TV antenna, the structure has been found in the brain of a tiny roundworm that uses it to work out which way to burrow through the soil. This breakthrough may help scientists discover how other species with internal compasses use the magnetic field of our planet to pilot their course.Read More

Space

NASA to test atomic clock to keep space missions on time

If you thought the Apple watch was something to write home about, take a look at NASA's Deep Space Atomic Clock (DSAC). This miniaturized, ultra-precise mercury-ion atomic clock is described by the space agency as "orders of magnitude more stable than today's best navigational clocks," and is smaller and more accurate than any that's been previously sent into space. In 2016, it will fly on a test mission to demonstrate a technology that NASA sees as key to a number of high-priority Earth-orbit and deep space missions.Read More

Science

Blind rats navigate maze using implanted compass

Researchers at the University of Tokyo have successfully used geomagnetic compasses to help blind rats navigate with a similar level of success to their fully-sighted counterparts. The team believes that the technology may be useful in helping blind people move around more freely. Read More

Space

Precision planetary lander technology tested by NASA

In anticipation of more ambitious planetary missions, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, in collaboration with Masten Space Systems in Mojave, California, has recently been testing new landing technologies using an Autonomous Descent and Ascent Powered-flight Testbed (ADAPT). Aimed at developing new systems for landing on Mars and other planets with much greater precision, a new imaging landing system and algorithm were tested using the demonstration vehicle on two successful flights.Read More

Drones

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

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

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