Every night in Texas, vast swarms of Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from caves to dine, swarming in dense clouds and plucking huge amounts of insects out of the air. They dip, swirl and turn on a dime to chase their prey, while somehow avoiding collisions with each other. To study how they do this, bat researchers from Boston University built a quadcopter to fly with them and purposefully get in their faces.
Artificial intelligence has long been the overarching vision of computing, always the goal but never within reach. But using memristors from HP and steady funding from DARPA, computer scientists at Boston University are on a quest to build the electronic analog to a human brain. The software they are developing – called MoNETA for Modular Neural Exploring Traveling Agent – should be able to function more like a mammalian brain than a conventional computer.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.