When it comes to detecting a wide range of extremely faint scents, including the primary vapor that emanates from TNT-based explosives, dogs are the gold standard. But researchers out of the University of California at Santa Barbara, report in the journal Analytical Chemistry that they just may have man's best friend beat -- in the form of a fingerprint-sized silicon microchip.
"Like a person, a dog can have a good day or a bad day, get tired or distracted," Carl Meinhart, a mechanical engineering professor who led the research, said in a school news release. "We … Read more
Prepare to witness a tantalizing glimpse at our future robot overlords.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency yesterday released a stunning video showing how an autonomous robot can navigate and jump over obstacles with great ease.
In the clip, the Pet-Proto robot -- a predecessor to DARPA's Atlas robot -- traverses a simulated hallway containing a very tall step and a thin walkway. Pet-Proto easily uses its strong arms to balance itself as it climbs a step, then perfectly leaps down with a thud. The highly agile walker stretches its legs to continue its journey along the thin edges of a gutted hallway floor. … Read more
There are 110 million active landmines strewn across 64 countries around the world, according to the United Nations, leading to thousands of people being killed or maimed every year. Huge stretches of land are danger zones. Clearing those areas is a hazardous and delicate operation that puts people at great risk.
Afghanistan-born designer Massoud Hassani has come up with an unusual minesweeper that uses the wind to propel itself in a search for landmines. The Mine Kafon is made from bamboo and biodegradable plastics. The plastic feet push against the ground, triggering landmines with pressure.… Read more
If MacGyver were trapped behind a jammed door in a burning room, he would use his shirt to filter the smoke, then craft an explosive from a paperclip and strand of hair to blow that baby open.
If today's most sophisticated robot found itself in the same conundrum, it would likely be unable to follow the famed secret agent's resourceful example. A team of Georgia Institute of Technology researchers hopes to change that.
They're working to equip machines to use objects in their path for high-level tasks, particularly those involved in tedious military operations. Robots are forging an increasing presence in military and civilian missions, with the U.S. military actively challenging roboticists to design robots for disaster relief.
"This project is challenging because there is a critical difference between moving objects out of the way and using objects to make a way," Mike Stilman, a Georgia Tech professor of robotics who's leading the research team, said in a statement. "Researchers in the robot motion planning field have traditionally used computerized vision systems to locate objects in a cluttered environment to plan collision-free paths, but these systems have not provided any information about the objects' functions." … Read more
Even if you're not a conspiracy theorist, and you don't believe that aliens have visited us or the U.S. government has developed alien-grade technology, recently declassified images from the National Archives are like a giant WTF.
They reveal Air Force plans to build a flying saucer. Also, it was going to outsource the work. And not to aliens, to Canadians.
A 1956 document entitled "Project 1794, Final Development Summary Report" from the Records of United States Air Force Commands, Activities, and Organizations includes several remarkable schematics. … Read more
You've double-parked your car to pick something up when a robot rolls up and threatens to give you a ticket. You might laugh, but the thing's talking with a human voice.
Researchers at Florida International University's Discovery Lab are working with a member of the U.S. Navy Reserves to build telepresence robots that could patrol while being controlled by disabled police officers and military vets. In a sense, they would be hybrid man-machine cops, like RoboCop. … Read more
Let the human-hunting games begin. Boston Dynamics has a new video of its oversized beast pursuing defenseless human meatsacks through a forest.
The Legged Squad Support System (LS3), aka AlphaDog, is designed to carry 400 pounds of payload and travel 20 miles without refueling. It's funded by DARPA and the U.S. Marine Corps and is meant to support troops in rugged terrain.
The latest video shows the cow-size monster clambering over rocks and up steep hillsides with heavy weights on its sides. It charges through bushes without a thought. … Read more
Run, don't walk, if you want to get away from this cheetah robot. If you happen to be non-human, you might stand a chance of surviving.
That's because Boston Dynamics' quadruped has set a new speed record and can now outrun the world's fastest human, Usain Bolt.
The DARPA-funded cyber-cat, already the fastest legged robot around, can sprint 28.3 mph, better than Bolt's best 20-meter split of 27.78 mph, the company said, quoting data from the International Association of Athletics Federations. The robot can now run significantly faster than its former top speed of 18 mph because engineers increased its power and refined the leg control algorithms. … Read more
Powerful explosives from fires or roadside bombs produce two near-simultaneous blasts: first, a high-pressure blast that can cause internal injuries, and then a thermal blast that produces temps above 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit and can literally cook skin, according to Robert Lochhead, a professor of polymer science at the University of Southern Mississippi.
He worked with chemists to engineer a high-tech camouflage paint that is waterproof; easy to apply and remove; non-irritating to the eyes, nose, and mouth; and actually reflects -- instead of absorbs, like most face paints -- intense heat.… Read more