During Google's I/O conference yesterday, in which they announced (among other things) a DIY-friendly developer kit pairing Android with the Arduino microcontroller, we'd heard mention of a labyrinth controlled by a Motorola Xoom tablet. "Pretty cool!" we thought. "Labyrinths are always fun." Then we saw a video today of the labyrinth in action. Um, why did nobody mention it's a giant version, using a bowling ball instead of a marble?
The micromouse competition is an international event wherein a teeny automated robotic mouse has to survey and then navigate a maze as quickly and adorably as possible. This video shows the fastest micromouse we've ever seen, blowing through the maze in mere seconds.
Successfully navigating a complex maze is the basic lab test for intelligence. Rats can do it. Cuttlefish can do it. And now, inanimate droplets of oil can do it. By creating a pH gradient, scientists induced the an oil drop to navigate a maze, an advance with important applications in drug delivery, urban planning, and computer modeling.
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.