Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

University of Maryland

A closeup of the wood fibers used by the researchers in their sodium-ion battery (Image: U...

Li-ion batteries may be ok for your smartphone, but when it comes to large-scale energy storage, the priorities suddenly shift from compactness and cycling performance (at which Li-ion batteries excel) to low cost and environmental feasibility (in which Li-ion batteries still have much room for improvement). A new "wood battery" could allow the emerging sodium-ion battery technology to fit the bill as a long-lasting, efficient and environmentally friendly battery for large-scale energy storage.  Read More

Researchers have developed a quadcopter that can attach to walls and ceilings with a dry a...

Micro UAVs that have the ability to slip into tight spaces, including inside buildings, have wide ranging military and search and rescue applications. To reach their full potential, however, these UAVs are going to need to learn how to land in rougher areas that don't always have a horizontal surface to touch down on. One team of scientists has begun taking a huge step towards accomplishing just that by developing a quadcopter with a mechanism that allows it to land on walls or ceilings, stay for a while, and then take off again.  Read More

Researchers from the University of Maryland have built a new micro air vehicle dubbed Robo...

Researchers from the University of Maryland have built a new micro air vehicle dubbed Robo Raven that's such a convincing flyer, it's been attacked by a local hawk during testing. Though numerous other robotic birds have successfully taken to the skies in recent years, including Festo's visually stunning SmartBird, this featherless mechanical marvel is capable of impressive complex aerobatic maneuvers thanks to completely programmable wings that can flap independently of each other.  Read More

Antoine Louis Barye's 1865 Walking Lion is a perfect candidate for preservation via atomic...

Silver is a remarkable medium for artistic expression. It takes well to engraving, sculpting, casting, and fine detail while also having sufficient strength (especially in alloys) to insure the durability of art objects formed from this metal. Unfortunately, silver tarnishes when exposed to moist air, and removing layers of tarnish can damage the fine detail of artistic treasures. A new method for preventing the ravages of silver tarnish is now being developed by researchers in Maryland.  Read More

Artist's impression of Voyager 1 (Image: NASA)

Has Voyager 1 left the Solar System? Is it officially the first spacecraft to reach interstellar space? It depends on whom you ask. NASA says no, but W.R. Webber of the New Mexico State University Department of Astronomy and F.B. McDonald of the University of Maryland Institute of Physical Science and Technology say yes. They contend that the unmanned, nuclear-powered probe left the Solar System on August 25, 2012 at a distance of 121.7 AU (18.2 billion km) from the Sun when its instruments on board detected a major shift in cosmic ray intensity.  Read More

The Gamera II team have broken the 60-second flight barrier and reached an altitude of ove...

The Gamera II team at the A. James Clark School of Engineering has certainly been keeping officials at the National Aeronautic Association (NAA) very busy this year. Kyle Gluesenkamp from the school's mechanical engineering department pedaled and cranked his way into the record books in June with a new official national record for human-powered helicopter flight with a time of 49.9 seconds, and now that too has been smashed. A new venue, and some vital modifications to the huge craft has resulted in the magic Sikorsky Prize 60-second barrier being surpassed for the very first time. Not only that, but Gamera II has also been taken up beyond eight feet before a serious crash landing put a stop to more record attempts.  Read More

The National Aeronautic Association has confirmed a new national record of 49.9 seconds fo...

The unofficial human-powered helicopter flight record set by Kyle Gluesenkamp from the A. James Clark School of Engineering's Gamera II team on June 21 2012 has just been ratified by the National Aeronautic Association (NAA). The new national record has now been submitted to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale for approval as a new world record.  Read More

Gamera II pilot Kyle Gluesenkamp has smashed last year's human-powered helicopter flight t...

For over 30 years, the US$250,000 cash prize for the American Helicopter Society's Igor I. Sikorsky Human Powered Helicopter Competition prize has looked decidedly secure, but Gamera II has changed all that. Last week, Clark School of Engineering team pilots came so close to breaking one of the competition's major milestones that they could virtually smell it. Ph.D. candidate from Kyle Gluesenkamp from the School's mechanical engineering department, hand-cranking and pedaling like his life depended on it, managed to keep the huge quad-rotor craft aloft for 50 seconds, an impressive new world record that's currently awaiting validation by the National Aeronautic Association (NAA).  Read More

The Gamera human-powered helicopter team at the University of Maryland's Clark School of E...

Last July, the frantic pumping of upper and lower limbs of intrepid pilot Judy Wexler managed to keep the huge Gamera human-powered helicopter in the air for a record-breaking 11.4 seconds. The student team from the Alfred Gessow Rotorcraft Center at the University of Maryland's Department of Aerospace Engineering has since been busy refining and redesigning the craft for another stab at the elusive US$250,000 American Helicopter Society's Sikorsky Prize. Gamera II has been built for longer flight duration and is lighter and tougher than its predecessor, with improved transmission and enhanced rotor design. The new x-shaped craft is set to take off next week for its first test runs and the team is confident that existing record times will be smashed... but will it nab the ultimate prize?  Read More

A close-up view of the microlenses making up the biochip array

When we think of invisibility cloaks, probably the first things that come to mind are Harry Potter-like contraptions that allow people or large objects to instantly disappear. Scientists from the University of Maryland and nearby Towson University, however, today announced their development of something a little different – little being the key word. They have crammed 25,000 tiny “invisibility cloaks” onto a gold sheet, which itself only measures 25 millimeters per side. While the resulting biochip array may not allow any young wizards to vanish from sight, it could allow them to identify biological materials.  Read More

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