Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

UCSD

The SkySweeper robot that inches along a cable using a motorized pivoting 'elbow'

If you look up at a power line in a few years and see something skittering along the wires, it (hopefully) won't be a mutant crab monster, but a powerline inspection robot costing less than US$1,000. A prototype of such a robot, called SkySweeper, was presented this month at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) Jacobs School of Engineering's Research Expo. The robot was built with off-the-shelf electronics and plastic parts printed on an inexpensive 3D printer.  Read More

A rendering of the nanosponges attracting bloodstream-borne toxins

If you’ve seen many old westerns, then you’ll likely have watched a few scenes where one cowboy has to suck rattlesnake venom out of another one’s leg. Things would have been much easier for those cowboys if nanosponges had been around at the time. Developed by scientists at the University of California, San Diego, the tiny sponges mimic red blood cells, and are able to soak up lethal toxins – including snake venom and bacteria – from the bloodstream.  Read More

A prototype water heater system that uses cold water to make hot water pictured with Slate...

Apart from heating and cooling the house, water heating is one of the biggest energy drains in the average home. But what if you could literally use cold water to create hot water? That’s just what San Diego inventor Hal Slater claims to have done with the creation of a water heater system that promises to improve water heating efficiency by as much as 50 to 100 percent.  Read More

Diego-san, an expressive infant robot developed for UCSD's Machine Perception Lab, makes f...

A new android infant has been born thanks to the University of California San Diego's Machine Perception Lab. The lab received funding from the National Science Foundation to contract Kokoro Co. Ltd. and Hanson Robotics, two companies that specialize in building lifelike animatronics and androids, to build a replicant based on a one year old baby. The resulting robot, which has been a couple of years in development, has finally been completed – and you can watch it smile and make cute faces after the break.  Read More

Miroslav Krstic (left) and UC President's Postdoctoral Fellow Scott Moura have developed e...

The single biggest factor hindering the convenience, and therefore the adoption, of electric vehicles is the batteries used to power them. While filling up an ICE vehicle takes just a few minutes at the pump, electric vehicle recharge times are measured in hours. Engineers at the University of California, San Diego, have developed new algorithms that improve the efficiency of existing lithium-ion batteries and could allow them to be charged twice as fast than is currently possible.  Read More

Screen shot of the Herd It Facebook game that provides the human knowledge used by the sys...

When it comes to online music, we really are spoilt for choice. So spoilt it can make uncovering new music to match our tastes or finding a track when we don’t know the artist or song title, a hit and miss affair. Engineers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), have developed a new approach called “game-powered machine learning” that they claim is just as accurate as other methods, but is cheaper and has the potential to let users search every song on the web using a text search.  Read More

Electronic microscopic image of a 'nanoforest,' with green tint added for contrast (Imge: ...

While hydrogen is considered a “clean” fuel because the only waste product it generates is water, the conventional way to produce it relies on electricity, which is usually produced through the burning of fossil fuels. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), have now developed a “3D branched nanowire array” that they claim could cheaply and cleanly deliver hydrogen fuel on a mass scale.  Read More

Flakes of heart tissue are spun in a beaker, as part of the hydrogel production process

Universities and scientific organizations all over the world are currently looking into ways of growing functioning heart cells on the heart, to replace the tissue that dies when a heart attack occurs. As things currently stand, the body replaces that tissue with non-beating scar tissue, leaving the heart permanently weakened. Most of the experimental techniques for generating new tissue involve introducing some sort of micro-scaffolding to the affected area, providing a framework for new cells to grow on. That scaffolding has consisted of materials such as carbon nanofibers and gold nanowires, which would have to be surgically applied to the heart, sort of like a Band-Aid. Now, however, researchers from the University of California, San Diego are reporting success in animal trials, using an injectable hydrogel.  Read More

Chemists have created artificial self-assembling cell membranes that could help shed light...

The cell membrane is one of the most important characteristics of a cell because it separates the interior of all cells from the extracellular environment and controls the movement of substances in and out of the cell. In a move that brings mankind another step closer to being able to create artificial life forms from scratch, chemists from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), and Harvard University have created artificial self-assembling cell membranes using a novel chemical reaction. The chemists hope their creation will help shed light on the origins of life.  Read More

Scientists have created the first self-propelling, hydrogen-bubble-powered 'microrocket' c...

Scientists at the University of California, San Diego, have created what they claim is the first self-propelling, hydrogen-bubble-powered "microrocket" requiring no external source of fuel. In the most acidic solutions, these micromotors can reach speeds of 100 body lengths per second. It's claimed that the breakthrough could pave the way (or rather line the esophagus) towards stomach-going nanomotors which could provide imaging or precisely targeted drug treatment. In addition to self-propulsion, the gut-rockets can be steered, and made to collect and release a payload.  Read More

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