Sci-Tech

  • New cotton fabric stays waterproof through 250 washes

    Most waterproofed fabrics lose their super-hydrophobic properties after only one or two washes, and they become uncomfortable to wear because they do not allow air flow through the material. In contrast, the new fabric, which according to the researchers looks almost identical to ordinary cotton fabric, is completely impermeable and breathable, and retains its properties even after being laundered many times

  • Northrop shows big-gun armed robot

    Northrop took its Carry-all Mechanized Equipment Landrover, or CaMEL — a 60-inch-tall treaded vehicle capable of carrying an impressive 1,200 pounds of stuff — and put a massive .50 caliber M2 machine gun on it; Israel has already ordered 60 of them, and the U.S. Army is considering (after an unpleasant experience with an earlier armed robot in Iraq two years ago)

  • Boeing shows a plane-helicopter combo

    The DARPA-funded, Boeing-developed DiscRotor combines the hovering ability and landing control of a helicopter with the high-speed, high-altitude flight capabilities of a plane, something that could be of use especially in military situations

  • Four vans go from Italy to China -- without driver or map

    Four vans, equipped with four solar-powered laser scanners and seven video cameras that work together to detect and avoid obstacles, successfully ended an 8,000-mile test drive from Italy to China; the sensors on the vehicles enabled them to navigate through wide extremes in road, traffic, and weather conditions

  • Japan to test walk-through explosive sniffers

    Japan will test a walk-through explosive detectors during the November Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit; not many details about the Hitachi-built sniffer have been released, but a description of how it operates brings to mind the troubled Puffer Machine, which was tried at U.S. airports in 2008 and later rejected

  • Oxford U researchers harness tidal energy

    U.K. waters are estimated to offer 10 percent of the global extractable tidal resource; an Oxford University spin-off has been set up to commercialize a tidal turbine concept developed by Oxford researchers

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  • Facial-recognition technology comes to mobile phones

    Scientists at the University of Manchester have developed software for mobile phones that can track your facial features in real time; eventually it will be able to tell who the user is, where they are looking, and even how they are feeling

  • Miniature tracking chip offers high accuracy

    An Irish start-up has developed a tracking chip claimed to be more accurate and cost competitive than other comparable technologies such as RFID and Wi-Fi; the chip could be used for a variety of applications such as locating soldiers on the battlefield, tracking the movements of firemen in a burning building, or sourcing medical equipment in a hospital

  • Robotic attachment uses balloon, coffee to grasp objects

    DARPA-funded research yields a new robotic gripping attachment which relies on ground coffee and a party balloon; The manipulator presses a soft balloon full of loose coffee grounds down on the object to be gripped; the air is sucked out of the balloon, causing the coffee granules to press together and lock into a rigid shape — causing the object to be securely grasped by the manipulator; the object can be released as desired by ending the suction on the granule-filled bulb

  • New technology weighs trucks while trucks are in motion

    Israeli researchers develop a method to detect overloaded trucks quickly and efficiently — while the trucks are in motion; the system, which has potential for use in law enforcement, infrastructure maintenance monitoring, and road and bridge design and planning

  • Landslide detector developed

    A new detector — thought to be the first system of its kind in the world — works by measuring and analyzing the acoustic behavior of soil to establish when a landslide is imminent so preventative action can be taken; noise created by movement under the surface builds to a crescendo as the slope becomes unstable, so gauging the increased rate of generated sound enables accurate prediction of a catastrophic soil collapse

  • DARPA-funded new engine brings flying car closer

    DARPA awards Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne a $1 million contract to develop its EnduroCORE engine, which the company says offers “a high power-to-weight ratio comparable to gas turbines”; the engine will bring the Transformer TX flying car closer to reality

  • Intel to invest up to $8 billion on U.S. manufacturing

    Intel will invest $8 billion to build a new factory in Oregon and upgrade four existing plants in Arizona and Oregon; Intel’s new investment will support its transition to 22-nanometer manufacturing technology. Intel’s last major investment was a $7 billion outlay announced in February 2009

  • Maneuverable bullet to enhance sniper accuracy

    Snipers have to contend with disruptions such as changing winds, muzzle velocity dispersions, and round-to-round variations; Teledyne, with funding from DARPA, offers a solution in the form of the first-ever guided small-caliber .50 bullet

  • New way to sniff out shoe bombs

    Triacetone triperoxide (TATP) is a high-powered explosive that in recent years has been used in several bombing attempts. TATP is easy to prepare from readily available components and has been difficult to detect. It defies most standard methods of chemical sensing: It does not fluoresce, absorb ultraviolet light, or readily ionize; University of Illinois researchers offers a solution that overcomes these problems