Thanks to improved body armor, more US troops survive encounters with the enemy than ever before. Unfortunately, the flip side of that equation means more soldiers return home with horrific injuries that would have killed them in older wars. The military has placed a lot of emphasis on developing limb replacements, but a new funding push by the Department of Defense (DoD) focuses on the emerging field of face transplants.
In the recent Robocup 2009 games, in which robots compete for prizes and glory, entrants from many nations held their own. In categories including small, medium, humanoid, 2-D simulation, and 3-D simulation, teams from the U.S., China, Germany, Iran, and quite a few other robot-producing countries played and won.
However, on the smallest playing field of all, there was one clear winner.
There's something magnificently creepy about this tiny bot, just one millimeter wide, developed at Israel's Technion University. Maybe it's the resemblance to a twitching tick or flea, or the fact that it's so small there could be insectile bots all around you right now and you'd hardly notice. (The robot, called Virob, has no internal power source--it derives its power from external magnetic fields.
Or maybe it's that the bug is designed to infiltrate human veins, autonomously crawling around our circulatory systems, taking pictures and poking its feelers where no 'bot has gone before.
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.