Cornell’s Ranger Robot, world record holder for the longest walk by a robot on a single charge, has smashed its own personal best by logging 40.5 miles without stopping, recharging, or even being touched. Over the course of almost 31 hours, Ranger ambled along at a not-so-blazing 1.3 miles per hour for 397.75 laps around a running track, but managed to make the whole trek using just a nickel’s worth of electricity.
Cornell researchers are sending a tiny bundle to the International Space Station aboard the space shuttle Endeavour’s final mission, and if all goes well their fingernail-sized satellites could be coasting through Saturn’s atmosphere within a decade.
A new type of cloth can guard against noxious gases and odors by trapping their molecules inside its fibers, according to Cornell University. A Cornell undergrad fashioned the cloth into protective head gear, seen here in a summery shade of turquoise.
The cloth is made of cellulose fibers and metal-organic framework molecules, crystalline compounds that form a porous structure. The pores can trap and store molecules of gas, serving as wearable filtration systems.
Here at PopSci we often write about emerging technologies like 3-D printing, perhaps almost as often as we write about space launches and rocket ships. And every now and then the use of high-tech gadgetry in the kitchen gives us reason to write about things like scallops and cheese. But until Cornell University teamed up with Dave Arnold and New York’s French Culinary Institute to create miniature scallop-and-cheese space shuttles using a specially equipped 3-D printer, we never thought we’d ever write about all three at the same time.
By Gregory Mone
Posted 11.20.2007 at 3:10 pm 0 Comments
Scientists have pushed back the start date for humanity's addiction to chocolate. Using new techniques, Cornell University anthropologists discovered caffeine and theobomine, which comes from cacao, in numerous pottery shards dating to 1100 BC.
The shards, discovered in the Ulua Valley of Honduras, at a site called Puerto Escondido, were probably pieces of a drinking vessel. Based on the shape of the chalice, the scientists say that the liquid contained inside was probably a bit more like beer than hot chocolate.
Apparently, a brewing company is working with the scientists to reproduce it. Do they actually think it's going to taste any good?—Gregory Mone
Having trouble reconciling your love of IKEA furniture with your nostalgia for futuristic, self-reassembling T-1000-like robots? Well, don't fret. Your problem has been solved by a team of engineers and artists at Cornell University who have created the Robotic Chair, a deceptively simple-looking wooden chair that collapses into several pieces and then proceeds to put itself back together.
Described as "the culmination of a 20-year-long investigation into the engagement between the individual and the object," the Robotic Chair is a fine example of computer-assisted robot autonomy. After the chair collapses, the images from a camera mounted above the chair's platform are digitized by a computer with software that converts the location of the chair's pieces from the video into points on a grid. This information is then transmitted wirelessly to the processing unit in the chair's seat, which uses 14 motors and an array of sensors to find its pieces in the correct order and reassemble itself.
This isn't the first time the Cornell folks have dabbled in robotic furniture. Their previous piece, the Table: Childhood, was a table with a brain. The Table, fully mobile thanks to a mechanical set of wheels, could express emotions and even display preferences toward an individual in the room by either following or avoiding a person. Perhaps one day the Table or the Robotic Chair will be honored to join the ranks of the Ig Nobels along with a previous winner, an alarm clock that runs away from you when you try to turn it off.
Whether you appreciate the chair for its artistic value or the engineering skill that went into its creation, or file it away with the rest of the YouTube videos you've been forwarded, just be thankful it was created by people calling themselves the D'Andrea Group and not an organization as ominous or clearly evil as Cyberdyne. —Dan Smith
Some ornithologists contend that variations in the songs of birds delineate different species. Expert birder Brett Whitney, featured in "The Man With 10,000 (Bird) Songs in His Head" (Dec. '03), says there may be as many as 50,000 different species of birds -- other scientists assert the number may be one-fifth as large.
The incredible innovations, like drone swarms and perpetual flight, bringing aviation into the world of tomorrow. Plus: today's greatest sci-fi writers predict the future, the science behind the summer's biggest blockbusters, a Doctor Who-themed DIY 'bot, the organs you can do without, and much more.