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University of Pennsylvania

The Restoring Active Memory project is aimed at helping brain-injured veterans and civilia...

Earlier this year, we heard about how DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) was setting up its new Biological Technologies Office. The goal of that division is to "merge biology, engineering, and computer science to harness the power of natural systems for national security." This week, the agency released details of one of the office's key projects, called Restoring Active Memory. It's aimed at using implantable "neuroprosthetics" to help army veterans and other people recover from memory deficits caused by brain injury or disease.  Read More

Google's Project Tango lets this simple quadrotor autonomously navigate its environment

We’ve seen a lot of eye- and brain-catching robotics fun from the GRASP lab at the University of Pennsylvania, including a swarm of nano quadrotors playing the James Bond theme and a quadcopter swooping raptor-like onto prey. Dr. Vijay Kumar now gives us proof of concept of the utility of Google’s Project Tango in aerial systems by outfitting a quadrotor with the device to provide autonomous navigational capabilities.  Read More

A new technique for producing large amounts of hair-follicle-generating stem cells has imp...

As one of the follically-challenged, any new breakthroughs in the area of hair regeneration will generally get my attention. When stem cells first started to gain widespread media attention I, no doubt like many others, thought a full head of hair was just around the corner. But despite numerous developments, years later my dome is still of the chrome variety. Providing the latest cause for cautious optimism, researchers have now developed a way to generate a large number number of hair-follicle-generating stem cells from adult cells.  Read More

A liquid crystal 'flower' under magnification (Photo: University of Pennsylvania)

Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have grown liquid crystal flowers, making it possible to create lenses as complex as the compound eye of a dragonfly. When perfected, the technology could allow the growth of lenses on curved surfaces, and structures to be assembled out of liquid crystals to build new materials, smart surfaces, microlens arrays and advanced sensors.  Read More

The winner of the 2013 Dyson Award competition, the Titan Arm

A US team from the University of Pennsylvania has taken out the 2013 James Dyson Award with the Titan Arm, an upper body exoskeleton that augments human strength. The team will receive the £30,000 (US$48,260) first prize, with an additional £10,000 (US$16,100) going to the University Of Pennsylvania Engineering department. Competing against 650 international entries, which were whittled down to 20 finalists, the Titan Arm shared the limelight with two runners up, who will each take home £10,000.  Read More

Do 'plasmonic nanostructures' hold the key to next-generation solar power?  (Photo: Shutte...

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have found a way to harvest energy from sunlight more efficiently, with the help of so-called plasmonic nanostructures. The new findings suggest that plasmonic components can enhance and direct optical scattering, creating a mechanism that is more efficient than the photoexcitation that drives solar cells. The development could therefore provide a real boost to solar cell efficiency and lead to faster optical communication.  Read More

X-RHex-Light shows off its obstacle beating agility

Parkour is all about hurling yourself quickly and efficiently past whatever obstacles are in your path while maintaining as much momentum as possible. It's a challenge for humans, so how would robots fare? In an effort to push the boundaries of robotic agility, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania decided to find out by teaching their RHex robot some Parkour moves.  Read More

UPenn's XRL robot jumping and grabbing the edge of a cliff five times its own height (Phot...

Most land-dwelling animals with skeletons (exo or endo) have the ability to jump. It is of particular importance to survival, as running primarily consists of a long series of jumps. Without the ability to jump, a robot's freedom to move around is limited, something that is particularly true of smaller robots for which even relatively narrow trenches or low walls can prove too much of an obstacle. A robotics group at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) has taught a six-legged crawling robot to jump, giving it remarkable acrobatic capabilities.  Read More

Researchers at UPenn's GRASP Lab have replicated how a bird of prey grasps objects mid-fli...

Here's something you don't see everyday: a Micro Unmanned Aerial vehicle (MAV) that can grab objects on the fly with all the elegance of an eagle snatching a fish from the water's surface. Although MAVs and UAVs are increasingly being equipped to pick up, transport, and drop off payloads, we've never seen this incredibly precise form of grasping on the fly replicated – until now.  Read More

Gizmag reveals the winners of the World Technology Summit & Awards 2012 (Photo: Ben Chau)

The World Technology Network summoned leading thinkers to New York's TIME Conference Center on Monday and Tuesday to announce the winners of its 2012 World Technology Summit & Awards. The awards showcase the work of innovators across a diverse array of industry sectors and scientific fields. Gizmag reveals the list of winners, which includes no shortage of familiar faces.  Read More

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