• Earthquake-proofing buildings in earthquake-prone regions

    Across the world, severe earthquakes regularly shake entire regions. More than two billion people live in danger zones – many of them in structures not built to withstand an earthquake. Engineers are developing building materials designed to prevent buildings from collapsing in a natural disaster.

  • Robotic gripper to help clean up space debris

    Right now, about 500,000 pieces of human-made debris are whizzing around space, orbiting our planet at speeds up to 17,500 miles per hour. This debris poses a threat to satellites, space vehicles and astronauts aboard those vehicles. Researchers combined gecko-inspired adhesives and a custom robotic gripper to create a device for grabbing space debris. They tested their gripper in multiple zero gravity settings, including the International Space Station.

  • Quantum technology holds promise of a future without fakes

    Counterfeit products are a huge problem - from medicines to car parts, fake technology costs lives. Every year, imports of counterfeited and pirated goods around the world cost nearly $0.5 trillion in lost revenue. Counterfeit medicines alone cost the industry over $200 billion every year. They are also dangerous to our health – around a third contain no active ingredients, resulting in a million deaths a year. Researchers exhibiting at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition believe we are on the verge of a future without fakes thanks to new quantum technology.

  • Smart quadcopters find their way on their own -- without human help or GPS

    Phase 1 of DARPA’s Fast Lightweight Autonomy (FLA) program concluded recently following a series of obstacle-course flight tests in central Florida. Over four days, three teams of DARPA-supported researchers huddled under shade tents in the sweltering Florida sun, fine-tuning their sensor-laden quadcopter unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) during the intervals between increasingly difficult runs. The quadcopters slalomed through woodlands, swerved around obstacles in a hangar, and reported back to their starting point all by themselves.

  • New bracing for durable structures in earthquake-prone regions

    Across the world, severe earthquakes regularly shake entire regions. More than two billion people live in danger zones – many of them in structures not built to withstand an earthquake. Together with partners from industry, researchers are developing building materials designed to prevent buildings from collapsing in a natural disaster.

     

  • Addressing the threat of vehicle-borne IEDs

    In July of 2016, a refrigerator truck packed with explosives detonated next to a crowded apartment block in Baghdad’s Karrada neighborhood. The blast killed 323 people and was one of the worst Vehicle–Borne Improvised Explosive Device (VBIED also known as car bombs) attacks ever recorded. On 30 May 2017, a VBIED in a tanker truck ripped through the embassy quarter of Kabul, killing more than 150 people. DHS S&T has taken measures to address this threat directly.

  • Drones that drive

    Being able to both walk and take flight is typical in nature — many birds, insects, and other animals can do both. If we could program robots with similar versatility, it would open up many possibilities: Imagine machines that could fly into construction areas or disaster zones that aren’t near roads and then squeeze through tight spaces on the ground to transport objects or rescue people. Researchers from MIT are aiming to develop robots that can both maneuver around on land and take to the skies.

  • U.S. still first in science, but China rising fast as funding stalls in U.S., other countries

    American scientific teams still publish significantly more biomedical research discoveries than teams from any other country, a new study shows, and the United States still leads the world in research and development expenditures. But American dominance is slowly shrinking, the analysis finds, as China’s skyrocketing investing on science over the last two decades begins to pay off. Chinese biomedical research teams now rank fourth in the world for total number of new discoveries published in six top-tier journals, and the country spent three-quarters what the United States spent on research and development during 2015.

  • Navy tests new mine-detection drone

    The new Mine Warfare Rapid Assessment Capability (MIW RAC) system is a portable, remote-controlled system that can detect buried or underwater mines during amphibious beach landings. It’s designed to help explosive ordnance disposal teams quickly find mines and dangerous metal obstacles within coastal surf zones and very-shallow-water zones. MIW RAC consists of a one-pound quadcopter outfitted with an ultra-sensitive magnetometer sensor system to detect mines and provide real-time search data to a handheld Android device.

     

  • Preventing autonomous vehicles from being hacked

    Although autonomous vehicles are essentially large computers on wheels, securing them is not the same as securing a communication network that connects desktop computers and smartphones to large geographical areas due to the roles that the sensors and actuators play in the physical layer of the network. Researchers have developed an intelligent transportation system prototype designed to avoid collisions and prevent hacking of autonomous vehicles.

  • Remote detection of hazardous radioactive substances

    Remote detection of radioactive materials is impossible when the measurement location is far from its source. A typical radiation detectors, like Geiger-Muller counters can detect 1 milli Curie (mCi) of Cobalt-60 (60Co) at a maximum distance of 3.5 meters, but are inefficient at measuring lower levels of radioactivity or at longer distances. Researchers have developed a method for the remote detection of hazardous radioactive substances. With the help of this newly developed detection device, the detection of various types of radioactive materials can be done from a remote distance.

  • Quicker identification of chemicals used in rare-Earth processing methods

    Rare-earth metals are vital to many modern energy technologies, but high commercial demand and mining challenges have made optimizing the U.S. production and use of them of vital importance. Testing and developing more efficient and environmentally friendly ways of extracting rare-earth metals as speedily as possible is thus important – and DOE’s Critical Materials Institute has developed a computer program, called ParFit, that can vastly reduce the amount of time spent identifying promising chemical compounds used in rare-Earth processing methods.

  • New fabric coating could neutralize chemical weapons, save lives

    Chemical weapons are nightmarish. In a millisecond, they can kill hundreds, if not thousands. But, in a new study, scientists report that they have developed a way to adhere a lightweight coating onto fabrics that is capable of neutralizing a subclass of these toxins — those that are delivered through the skin. The life-saving technique could eventually be used to protect soldiers and emergency responders.

  • Preventing 3D printing hacks

    Additive manufacturing (AM), also called 3D printing, is growing fast. Worldwide, the AM market grew nearly 26 percent to more than $5 billion last year, versus 2015, and another 17.4 percent this year versus last. The rapid prototyping market alone is expected to reach $5 billion by 2020. But since the global supply chain for AM requires companies to share computer aided design (CAD) files within the organization or with outside parties via email or cloud, intellectual-property thieves and malefactors have many opportunities to filch a manufacturer’s design files to produce counterfeit parts.

  • Mobile phones can reveal exposure to radiation

    In accidents or terror attacks which are suspected to involve radioactive substances, it can be difficult to determine whether people nearby have been exposed to radiation. But by analyzing mobile phones and other objects which come in close contact with the body, it is possible to retrieve important information on radiation exposure.