Luxo Jr, the adorable little lamp that appears in the Disney Pixar logo, illustrates how animators can breathe life into mundane inanimate objects. Now, robotics technology allows us to do the same thing in real life, as shown by a trio from the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. Using a combination of readily available robotics and automated manufacturing technology, mixed with open-source software, they were able to grace a desk lamp with a little personality.
On the last two occasions, the overall winner of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon has gone to Germany's Technische Universität Darmstadt but this year the top honor has stayed with one of the home teams. As the name might suggest, the University of Maryland's winning WaterShed project features some novel innovations to make the best use of water, in addition to an intriguing internal waterfall that helps reduce the load on the structure's air conditioning system. Read on for a brief look at the top five winning projects, as well as the People's Choice.