• Can UAVs emulate bats’ flight capabilities?

    The natural world has countless examples of creatures with extraordinary flight capabilities, but bats have evolved with truly extraordinary aerodynamic capabilities that enable them to fly in dense swarms, avoid obstacles, and fly with such agility that they can catch prey on the wing, maneuver through thick rainforests, and make high-speed 180 degree turns; researchers want to know whether UAVs can emulate bats

  • Robotic jellyfish to patrol oceans, clean oil spills, detect pollutants

    Scientists are working on developing life-like autonomous robot jellyfish which will be put in waters around the world; the robot jellyfish would be used for military surveillance, cleaning oil spills, and monitoring the environment

  • U.K. robotics R&D receives major boost

    U.K. research to develop smart machines that think for themselves received a £16 million boost yesterday thanks to a major partnership between the government and industry. This research includes safe ways of monitoring in dangerous environments such as deep sea installations and nuclear power plants, “nursebots” that assist patients in hospitals, and aerial vehicles that can monitor national borders or detect pollution

  • Teaching robots to pick up oddly shaped objects

    The use of robots in military and first response missions is growing; in some of these missions – for example, checking a suspicious object, lifting an oddly sahped IED off the floor — robots need more flexibility and dexterity than is currently available; researchers offer encouraging news on this front

  • Flying robots equipped with 3D gear: better surveillance on the cheap

    Whether deployed to create virtual maps of difficult-to-access areas, monitor construction sites, measure contamination at nuclear power plants, assess conditions in a disaster-ravaged area, or identify rowdy soccer hooligans, mini UAVs could be used in a wide range of applications, obviating the need for expensive aerial photography or satellite imaging

  • New micro helicopters for search and rescue missions

    New micro helicopters have a diameter of about fifty centimeters, weigh only 1,500 grams; they do not rquire GPS or remote control to navigate; they are designed to maneuver in tight or even enclosed spaces, and to detect and fly around any obstacle; possible uses could include protection or rescue missions, and they are ideal for flying over disaster areas and giving a picture of the situation from the air or locating victims

  • Ion stream to clean up Earth orbit, deflect asteroids

    One of the legacies of the space age is an ever-more-crowded near-Earth orbit, where all manner of long-abandoned human-made objects loiter, posing danger to newer space platforms; scientists want to develop a magnetized-beam plasma propulsion device which would be deployed in Earth orbit and which would  use a focused ion stream to push dead satellites and other debris toward Earth’s atmosphere, where they would mostly burn up on re-entry; the device could also be used to deflect menacing Earth-bound asteroids hurtling toward Earth

  • DARPA offers $2 million in prizes for Robotic Challenge winners

    DARPA is seeking hardware, software, modeling, and gaming developers to link with emergency response and science communities to design robots capable of supervised autonomous response to simulated disaster

  • Planetary exploration vehicle for earthly search-and-rescue missions

    A researcher develops a NASA-sponsored autonomous lake lander for the purpose of exploring lakes on distant planets; this mission is many years in the future; in the meantime, the vehicle is ready to deploy on missions related to defense and security, such as harbor surveillance and cleanup operations of littoral munitions dumps and mines; it is also ideal for search-and-rescue operations in oceans, lakes, and hazardous environments, as well as for environmental research projects

  • Robot for shipboard firefighting

    In both war and peace, fire in the shipboard environment is serious and frequently results in excessive damage and high repair costs because the fire is not detected or controlled adequately; researchershave developed a humanoid robot that could fight fires on the next generation of combatants

  • DARPA sponsors development of deep-sea surveillance robot

    New Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs) to address Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) surveillance needs over large, operationally demanding areas

  • Snake-emulating search-and-rescue robot

    An all-terrain robot for search-and-rescue missions must be flexible enough to move over uneven surfaces, yet not so big that it is restricted from tight spaces; it might also be required to climb slopes of varying inclines; researchers say the solution would be a search-and-rescue robot which emulates the locomotion of a certain type of flexible, efficient animals: snakes

  • Robots to climb and assemble structures, making construction safer

    In the near future, armies of robots could nimbly be crawling up towers and skyscrapers to make repairs, so humans do not have to; the design of the truss pieces, which have ridges and specially designed locks so the robot can manipulate them, is as important as the robot itself, and researchers express the hopes that in the future such robot-friendly building components would be standardized for widespread use

  • Physicists predict when brittle materials fail

    It does not happen often, but structures like bridges, airplanes, and buildings do fail, sometimes catastrophically; what are the odds, and how can it be prevented? Researchers just published new theoretical insights into the probability of structural failures, based on hundreds of thousands of computer simulations

  • Middle school robotics team develops solution to food poisoning

    A group of eight middle school students in California has developed an electrolyzed water vending machine that can cheaply and effectively reduce food contamination