ST. LOUIS — The future of engineering is in the hands of kids like Alejandro Castro. He wants to be an aeronautical engineer, perhaps an unlikely option for a high school sophomore who lives in one of the poorest parts of California and whose parents work in service-sector jobs. But a one-armed wheeled cart named G-Bot will help make it possible.
Castro, 15, was the building manager for his school's rookie FIRST Robotics Competition team, which won a regional award and catapulted an unlikely mix of Latino kids to the Midwest for a week. Castro is one of more than 12,000 school kids from kindergarten through high school participating in the FIRST Championship, a series of three events showcasing student-built robots and the new-cool culture of science and tech nerdiness.
Having a target painted on one’s back just took on a whole new literal meaning. The Air Force wants a new kind of tracking tech in which a tiny drone surreptitiously “paints” an individual with some kind of signal-emitting powder or liquid that allows the military to keep tabs on him or her. Or perhaps upload their coordinates to a hellfire missile.
Robotic moon bases, chips implanted in our brains, self-driving cars, and high-speed rail linking London to Beijing. According to a dazzling number of technology predictions that single out the year 2020, it's going to be to be one hell of a year. Here, we take a look at some of the wonders it holds in store.
Plenty of people are designing robots inspired by nature's designs, but most of them are rigid machines made of metal, plastic or polyester film. Fleet-footed robots or hoverbots are unable to bend and squish into tight spaces, but squirmy, agile ones like snakebots can't move very fast.
A new soft-bodied silicone robot aims to change that, squirming into tight spaces with ease and covering great distances quickly, flipping out like a caterpillar under siege.
The Da Vinci robot, a remotely-controlled tool for surgeons, is capable of performing all-robotics surgery, but sometimes we like to see it tackle delicate, everyday, non-medical tasks to see just how amazingly dextrous it is. That might mean folding a tiny paper airplane, or, in this case, lacing a football. We always thought football needed more robots (it only has the one, right? That dancing one on Fox broadcasts?).
As industrial robots go, Chris Shepherd’s Quad Delta Robot System is decidedly awesome. It’s not so much that it produces something particularly amazing--it doesn’t. All it does is sort colored blocks as they trundle by on a conveyor belt. No, the cool thing about this particular factory ‘bot is that it is made entirely of Legos.
At this afternoon’s Phillies-Brewers game at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, 2008 Cy Young award winner Cliff Lee will take the mound for the home team. One would think Lee’s job is secure, but even a renowned fastballer may have reason to sweat his position in the rotation after today’s game-opening festivities, when a robot fashioned by the University of Pennsylvania will toss the game's opening pitch. Insert your own “pitching mechanics” joke here.
U.S. military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan have been making use of a tiny, tossable robot for recon and observation for several years, and now--thanks to a decision handed down by the FCC--law enforcement and firefighters can deploy the hardy little ‘bot, known as the Recon Scout Throwbot.
Nudging open a door with its extendable arm, a bomb-disposal robot became the first robot to enter a reactor building at Japan’s stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, confirming high radiation levels that are unsafe for humans.
Back in 2009, we told you about the skin factory concept at the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology, where scientists hoped to mass-produce skin at low cost for clinical testing and other uses. Now it's come online, with robots squeezing pink solution into pipettes and turning out sheets of human flesh. Der Spiegel took a look inside.