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Virginia Tech

— Science

New microscopy technique lets scientists see live viruses in their natural habitat

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
— 3D Printing

DreamVendor 3D printer vending machine turns students' ideas into reality

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
— Robotics

Virginia Tech's CHARLI-2 robot dances Gangnam Style

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
— Robotics

Ocean-powered robotic jellyfish could theoretically run forever

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
— Robotics

SAFFiR robot could be putting out fires on Navy ships

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
— Mobile Technology

Modified Android system keeps smartphone data from leaving specified physical locations

There are plenty of situations in which it’s convenient for people to be able to receive sensitive data on their smartphones – one example could be a nurse at a clinic, who needs a doctor’s office to email over a patient’s immunization records. The problem is, those confidential records will still be on her phone, when she leaves work with it at the end of the day. A new system developed at Virginia Tech, however, offers a solution to that problem. It allows mobile phones to access certain data only when they’re in a given physical location, and wipes that data from their memories when they leave. Read More
— Science

AnatOnMe projects patients' insides onto their outsides

Having undergone some physical therapy myself, I can confirm that even though keeping to a prescribed exercise and treatment regimen helps the injury heal faster, the daunting prospect of self-administered discomfort has led me to ignore the advice of my practitioner. A team at Microsoft's research wing has developed a working prototype of a system that may help to encourage physical injury sufferers to do their exercises by giving them a clearer understanding of what's going on. A therapist would use the device to project a series of graphics of underlying bone, muscle tissue, tendons or nerves directly onto the body of a patient to help explain the nature of the injury and prescribe effective treatment. The device can also take photos during a consultation, which can be subsequently reviewed or printed out as a memory aid for the patient. Read More
— Architecture

LUMENHAUS: the responsive architecture, zero energy house

Imagine waking up on a cold winter’s morning to light streaming in through your bedroom window and the smell of fresh coffee. The concrete floor is warm and your favorite music starts to play as you eat your breakfast. As you drive away the house automatically locks, the thermostat reduces and the insulation panels close as the house goes into hibernation until you return. Welcome to LUMENHAUS, the completely solar powered, open plan house that uses computer technology, flexible architectural design and energy efficiency to adapt to its owner’s changing needs as well as environmental conditions... and it recently won the 2010 Solar Decathlon Europe. Read More
— Automotive

A car that can be driven by the blind

Next January, before the Rolex 24 auto race at Daytona International Speedway, a Ford Escape will drive around part of the course. The catch: its driver will be blind. The event will be a demonstration of technology developed by the US National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia Tech). Three years ago, Virginia Tech accepted the NFB’s Blind Driver Challenge (BDC), in which engineering schools were invited to design non-visual interfaces that would allow blind people to drive. From the sounds of things, the Rolex 24 demo could be just the tip of the iceberg. Read More
— Military

GUSS autonomous vehicles headed for RIMPAC wargames in Hawaii

Having placed third in the prestigious DARPA Urban Challenge in 2007, engineering students from Virginia Tech have returned to the forefront of autonomous vehicle development by designing and building four GUSS (Ground Unmanned Support Surrogate) vehicles. Able to carry 1800 lbs and designed to resupply and evacuate troops in the field as well as reduce the load carried by them, the vehicles are due to make their debut at the impending 2010 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC)war games in Hawaii. Read More