• Beaver-inspired robot navigates rough terrain

    A beaver-inspired robot uses new self-learning algorithms to navigate an obstacle-rich terrain —randomly placed rocks, bricks, and broken bits of concrete — which simulates an environment after a disaster such as a tornado or earthquake.

  • Sea level rise and coastal development: Science speaks directly to business

    If you are an investor or a developer with an interest in coastal properties, you are being bombarded with evidence of climate change in the form of sea level rise and its consequences. In the academic community, many interested in the business of coastal development have begun to take into account information from climate scientists and have expressed frustration that government regulators are not doing so.

  • The West is ill-prepared for the wave of “deep fakes” that artificial intelligence could unleash

    Russian disinformation has become a growing problem for Western countries. European nations are finally taking action, which is an important first step, but Chris Meserole and Alina Polyakova write “to get ahead of the problem, policymakers in Europe and the United States should focus on the coming wave of disruptive technologies. Fueled by advances in artificial intelligence and decentralized computing, the next generation of disinformation promises to be even more sophisticated and difficult to detect.” Bigger data, better algorithms, and custom hardware promise to democratize the creation of fake print, audio, and video stories. “Deep fakes and the democratization of disinformation will prove challenging for governments and civil society to counter effectively,” Meserole and Alina Polyakova warn.

  • New phishing protection for mobile devices

    DHS S&T said that new and enhanced mobile phishing and content protection capabilities are being transitioned to the government and private-sector. Phishing protection, an important and first-of-its kind feature for mobile devices, was introduced to block mobile phishing attacks designed to steal user credentials or deliver malware. Beyond simply detecting phishing attempts in SMS messages, the system also detects and prevents attacks that hide inside mobile apps, social media messages, and in personal and corporate email.

  • VR tech to help understand, ease the cognitive overload on first responders

    First responders’ lives depend on their ability to navigate structures during an emergency — a task researchers hope to make easier by using virtual reality technology to help understand cognitive overload, which occurs when smoke, fire, and stress combine to thwart a first responder’s sense of direction.

  • 3 reasons why the U.S. is vulnerable to big disasters

    During the 2017 disaster season, three severe hurricanes devastated large parts of the U.S. The quick succession of major disasters made it obvious that such large-scale emergencies can be a strain, even in one of the world’s richest countries. Why do some countries better withstand and respond to disasters? The factors are many and diverse, but three major ones stand out because they are within the grasp of the federal and local governments: where and how cities grow; how easily households can access critical services during disaster; and the reliability of the supply chains for critical goods. For all three of these factors, the U.S. is heading in the wrong direction. In many ways, Americans are becoming more vulnerable by the day.

  • Israel develops technologies to fight devastating fire kites

    In the past three months, hundreds of fire kites and flaming helium balloons – some with explosives attached – have been launched from the Gaza Strip into Israel, causing hundreds of fires, often several a day, that have burned thousands of acres (nearly seven square miles of land) on the Israeli side of the border. More than half of that land has been in nature reserves. Israeli researchers have developed two new technologies to fight the kite and balloon attacks.

  • Intrusion Technologies, Louroe Electronics integrate threat detection t technologies

    Most of the casualties in an active shooter attack are killed or injured in the first three minutes. On average, responders arrive and engage the attackers in 4–11 minutes. Intrusion Technologies says that the its AIMS platform, using Louroe’s Digifact-A microphone, detects and activates 360° protective systems in less than four seconds, stopping the would-be assailant before tragedy strikes.

  • Bipartisan bill offers new “pull” incentives for priority antibiotics

    Last week lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced a bipartisan bill to encourage the development of new antibiotics, a move one expert called the most important antibiotic legislation in a generation. Currently, only a few large drug companies are involved in antibiotic research and development, because the cost of developing the drugs is so high and profit margins are so slim. Most new developments are modifications of existing drugs, and it’s been three decades since the last new class of antibiotics was discovered.

  • RoboBoat competition tests students’ engineering skills

    Last week, teams of students from thirteen schools—representing six countries—tested their engineering skills by developing autonomous boats during the 11th annual International RoboBoat Competition. The Navy says that that ingenuity will be needed as the desire for autonomous systems continues to grow—not only for the naval service, but across the commercial sector as companies like Dominos, Amazon and Uber all want to use autonomous vehicles for deliveries.  

  • Driverless ferries to replace footbridges

    As towns grow, the need arises for more river and canal crossings. But bridges are expensive and hinder the flow of boat traffic. An autonomous and self-propelled passenger ferry that can “see” kayakers and boats, and that shows up right when you need it, could be an ingenious substitute for footbridges. Soon the prototype for the world’s first driverless electric passenger ferry will be ready to launch in Trondheim, Norway.

  • New simulations show potential impact of major quakes by building location, size

    With unprecedented resolution, scientists and engineers are simulating precisely how a large-magnitude earthquake along the Hayward Fault would affect different locations and buildings across the San Francisco Bay Area. Researchers are leveraging powerful supercomputers to portray the impact of high-frequency ground motion on thousands of representative different-sized buildings spread out across the California region.

  • Understanding the Gulf Coast's interconnected natural and human system

    The physical and ecological systems, people, and economy in the Gulf Coast are inextricably linked. Improved understanding of the coupled natural-human coastal system will help promote resilience of coastal communities and ecosystems under rapidly changing environmental conditions and support informed decision-making, says a new report.

  • Lessons from extreme weather events: What disasters teach us about resilience

    Extreme weather events are among the most likely causes of disasters. Every dollar spent on disaster resilience saves five dollars in future losses. Post-Event Review Capability analysis helps to identify opportunities to reduce risk and build long-term resilience. With that in mind, Zurich Insurance Group (Zurich) says it is sharing what it has learned about how individuals, businesses and communities can increase resilience to disasters.

  • Dangerous climate change is likely: Study

    New study reveals sensitive regions of the world are still at risk from the dangerous and potentially irreversible effects of climate change. Research also concludes governments can achieve the goals set by the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement of limiting the increase in global average temperatures to well below 2°C, if they act now.