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Virginia Tech

Flying snakes are actually very gifted gliders, not unlike flying squirrels (Photo: Jake S...

So first of all ... yes, flying snakes do exist. Disappointingly, though, they don't have scaly dragon-like wings. Instead, they're able to flatten out their bodies after launching themselves from tree branches, proceeding to glide through the air for up to 100 feet (30.5 m). Recently, scientists figured out why that technique works as well as it does. Their findings could have some major applications for us humans.  Read More

VTTI researchers demonstrate connected-vehicle technology on the Northern Virginia Connect...

An important element to the notion of self-driving cars is that they are able to communicate between each other and surrounding infrastructure. While automotive manufacturers have begun to explore this technology and even banded together to hasten its emergence, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute has been quietly working toward a similar goal. With the an award of US$1 million in funding courtesy of the US Department of Transportation, its researchers hope to develop a framework to facilitate a safe future for autonomous vehicles.  Read More

The batteries, actually mini fuel cells, could be refilled with sugar as needed (Photo: Sh...

Even today's best rechargeable lithium batteries do lose their ability to hold a charge after a while, and are considered toxic waste once discarded. In just a few years, however, they may be replaced by batteries that are refillable and biodegradable, and that will also have a higher energy density yet a lower price ... and they'll run on sugar.  Read More

Virginia Tech associate professor Percival Zhang is leading the research on the bioprocess...

Although the causes of world hunger are numerous, it certainly doesn’t help that factors such as arid conditions and limited land space make it difficult to grow food crops in certain places. If people in those areas could eat foods derived from plants that are hardy to the region, but that aren’t considered nutritious, it would go a long way towards addressing the problem. Well, that may soon be a reality, thanks to a newly-developed process that allows cellulose to be converted into starch.  Read More

Researchers at Virginia Tech have created a larger, improved version of their existing Rob...

Last year, a team of researchers from the Virginia Tech College of Engineering unveiled RoboJelly – a robotic jellyfish in development since 2009, that’s about the size of a man’s hand. While the squishy little robot is certainly an impressive feat of engineering, the same team has now created a bigger, better jellybot, known as Cyro.  Read More

A 3D image of a rotavirus, constructed from data gathered using the new technique

Traditionally, in order to view tiny biological structures such as viruses, they must first be removed from their natural habitats and frozen. While this certainly keeps them still for the microscope, it greatly limits what we can learn about them – it’s comparable to an ichthyologist only being able to study dead fish in a lab, instead of observing live ones in the ocean. Now, however, researchers at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute have devised a technique for observing live viruses in a liquid environment. It could have huge implications for the development of treatments for viral infections.  Read More

The DreamVendor 3D printing vending machine in Virginia Tech's College of Engineering

While the explosion in the popularity of consumer 3D printers has been enabled by cheaper and cheaper devices, they’re still beyond the reach of the average university student. But students at Virginia Tech need not worry about such monetary concerns when looking to turn their ideas into a physical reality thanks to the DreamVendor 3D printer vending machine located in Virginia Tech’s College of Engineering. (And no, the machine doesn't vend 3D printers.)  Read More

Researchers at Virginia Tech had some fun with their RoboCup soccer champ

Just in case you haven't had your fill of PSY's viral K-POP sensation, the researchers at Virginia Tech's Robotics and Mechanisms Laboratory (RoMeLa) have put out a new video of their robot dancing Gangnam Style. While the robot named CHARLI-2 doesn't display any fancy footwork in the video, some of its walking and balancing technology is being implemented in the Navy's Autonomous Shipboard Humanoid (ASH).  Read More

Researchers have created a robot that mimics the motion of a jellyfish and draws energy fr...

Researchers have created a silicone submarinal robot that gets about by mimicking the motion of a jellyfish. The robot is powered by heat-producing reactions catalyzed by its surface, and using hydrogen and oxygen present in the water as fuel. It's claimed that that the Robojelly, so named by its Virginia Tech creators, could run indefinitely, effectively drawing energy from the water in which it swims.  Read More

SAFFiR, the Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot, is being developed to help put out fi...

If there's one thing that you don't want happening on board a ship, it's a fire. People on board burning ships can't simply run out onto the streets, as they hopefully could in the case of a structural fire, plus many people caught belowdecks don't have windows nearby to climb out of. Then, there's also the fact that crew members fighting such fires have to work in narrow, claustrophobic passageways, instead of wide-open roads. Given that fires are particularly possible on military ships, due to attacks by enemy forces, America's Naval Research Laboratory is now developing a special something to help fight fires at sea - it's called SAFFiR, the Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot.  Read More

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