For long-distance trips, the seeing-eye dog might soon be replaced by the seeing-eye car. Researchers on Virginia Tech's Blind Driver Team, with funding from the National Federation of the Blind, might soon give blind people the ability to do something they never thought possible: drive. The prototype "car" is actually a buggy equipped with lasers that judge the surrounding terrain.
Comic book-inspired technology tends to be awesome, and Shigeo Hirose's pneumatic grappling hook doesn't disappoint. Inspired by Batman's wonderful toys and the way Spiderman swings from web to web, Hirose designed the hook so that a series of them could work together to allow robots to navigate difficult terrain.
A winch launches the hook, which then orients itself to grasp whatever rests below it, thanks to an offset center of gravity. A braking spool keeps the line from knotting up, and pneumatic pressure controls the opening and closing of the grappling hook spikes.
Anyone who's ever spilled a hot beverage in his or her lap will be happy to hear that chemists at the University of Minnesota have announced a scaldproof fabric.
Water-resistant fabric, of course, has already existed for some time -- but its impermeability applies only to cool liquids. Hot coffee, scalding soup, and other liquids above a certain temperature, on the other hand, seep right through water-resistant cloth.
We've told you about bike-sharing programs before, but the Hybrid2 design by Chiyu Chen takes the idea one step further, by using the bikes to put power back in the system. The idea is to put "ultracapacitors" into the bikes that will harness and store the kinetic energy generated by pedaling and braking. Once you return the bike to its rental kiosk, the energy stored in the bike will be transferred to the city's smart grid, and used to help power hybrid buses.
Forget that new outfit or tech toy -- next time you have some cash to burn (whenever that may be), why not get an analysis of your genes done? A startup genomics company called Pathway Genomics announced today the most affordable (and exhaustive) public DNA service on the market.
A video shot on the floor of a subway car in Kobe, Japan, shows paperclips standing on end whenever the train accelerates or decelerates. The electromagnetism that drives the train's motors leaks through the floor and excites the clips.
Skin does more than look good (or, in my case, get covered in pimples and easily burned by the sun). It also protects the body from infection, dehydration, and a generally hostile world. As a result, victims of burns and skin diseases face serious problems beyond the obvious issues of pain and aesthetics.
For years, doctors have tried use synthetic skin for grafts and repairs, but the process to create that synthetic skin has always been expensive and time-consuming.
Now, a team from Germany's Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft science institute have created a way to mass-produce artificial skin, complete with blood vessels, that can be used for grafts, plastic surgery, or even cosmetics testing.
When we talked with element 112's discoverer, Sigurd Hofmann, on the significance of making a permanent mark on the periodic table, he told us he wanted a moniker that recognized a famous scientist while avoiding the flag-waving nationalism normally associated with the process. Today, Hofmann and his team made their decision public.
Good bye element 112 and ununbium, its placeholder name. Hello "Copernicium."
Combining two of Japan's greatest strengths, a noodle-shop-owning electronics wizard has invented a robot that can make the perfect bowl of ramen.
It took the 60-year-old shop owner Yoshihira Uchida about 20 million yen and five years to develop the ramenbot. Now customers of his shop, Momozono Robot Ramen, in Minami-Alps, a town 90 miles from Tokyo, can customize their broth, adjusting everything from the levels of soy sauce and salt to the richness of the soup. There are reputedly 40 million different possible flavor permutations.