Red lights aren't just torture devices that make your daily commute worse or God's way of keeping you from having fun; they're also a huge waste of fuel. Tackling that problem, Audi demonstrated Wednesday in Germany its "travolution" technology that enables cars to communicate with traffic singles using wireless LANs and UMTS links so drivers can better time the lights and reduce fuel consumption.
It's not just the flow of traffic that's improved by missing red lights--a 2006 study revealed that reducing waiting times at traffic lights could cut fuel consumption by 17 percent. In Germany, this calculation would save almost 185,000 gallons of fuel each year.… Read more
This week, Donald's back in the studio, joined by Eric Franklin and Dong Ngo from Inside CNET Labs. We ponder Japan's plans to turn the moon into a playground for robots, and tackle OLED displays that roll and vanish. Dong drops some knowledge on recent hard drive innovations and a waterproof case for his Flip Ultra HD. The iPad meets Velcro. And the hoverboard makes a comeback (kinda).Subscribe in iTunes SD Video | Subscribe in RSS SD Video… Read more
I love puppies--especially when they're stone-cold machines that will stop at nothing to carry out their mission. LittleDog is one such charmer.
The unholy offspring of Boston Dynamics' BigDog, the slightly odd robot pack animal, LittleDog is a DARPA-funded robot platform for studying quadruped locomotion. Of course, the ultimate goal is military applications; think of it as Aibo's hunter-killer cousin.
Researchers at the University of Southern California's Computational Learning & Motor Control Lab have taught the 5-inch-tall pup some better walking skills using techniques from machine learning. The USC locomotion controller lets LittleDog walk over very rocky terrain and haul itself up wide steps without setting a paw wrong. It can also get over holes as wide as the length of its leg, as seen in the video below.
The controller makes the robot learn where to place its feet by examining a human demonstration of walking carefully over difficult ground. It then extrapolates this information and uses it on novel terrain. The approach is also flexible enough for the machine to tackle seesawing ground and other unforeseen obstacles. … Read more
Chemical engineers at MIT are designing carbon nanotubes that can be injected beneath the skin to reveal continuous blood glucose levels in real time. If it works, people with Type I diabetes may not have to prick their fingers multiple times a day to monitor their glucose levels.
Dubbed a "tattoo" that's designed to detect glucose, the nanotubes are wrapped in a polymer that is sensitive to glucose concentrations. A wearable device roughly the size of a wristwatch shines infrared light through the skin and onto the nanotubes, which fluoresce when in contact with glucose.
So it's really a tattoo in hiding. And at this point the sensor is estimated to have a shelf (or is it skin?) life of roughly six months.
But the team, which plans to start testing on animals soon, says that if the readings are accurate enough to pass the Clarke Error Grid analysis for glucose sensor accuracy, the system could revolutionize continuous glucose monitoring.
"The most problematic consequences of diabetes result from relatively short excursions of a person's blood sugar outside of the normal physiological range, following meals, for example," said Michael Strano, a professor at MIT's Department of Chemical Engineering. "If we can detect and prevent these excursions, we can go a long way toward reducing the devastating impact of this disease."… Read more
Sony's Computer Science Laboratory has seen the future of location-aware lifelogging, and it's probably curled up on your couch.
During an Open House on May 28, the SCSL team showed off a prototype cat collar called Cat@Log, equipped with a still camera, GPS, accelerometer, and Bluetooth, capable of reporting your four-legged friend's minute-by-minute activities over Twitter. The end result plays like a mashup of Crave favorites: the kitty cam and the Twitter cow.
For a car that doesn't yet exist, it has a solid marketing plan. The Financial Times reports that Audi is targeting its rumored all-electric A2 toward megacities with populations of more than 5 million people.
And, of course, there will be an app store.
The hypothetical app store will let A2 owners download upgrades for their car from the comfort and convenience of their home, Peter Schwarzenbauer, Audi's head of marketing and sales, told the Financial Times. The apps will let drivers customize their car's interior, driving style, as well as add features.
Potentially, Audi may … Read more
Are fish smart enough to tell the difference between real fish and replicant fish? Apparently not. Researcher Maurizio Porfiri is developing robot swimmers that can interact with schools of fish and even lead them around.
You might think Porfiri, an engineering professor at Polytechnic Institute of New York University, might be aiming to use these infiltrator bots to lead large groups of fish into a net for a free aquarium. That seems to be theoretically possible, but the goal of Porfiri's project is to get robots to help fish avoid hazardous areas like power plant turbines.
The prototype robot … Read more
This week, we told you about a contest that tasked high school students with envisioning the car dashboard of the future--with an eco twist. Participants came up with some great ideas that 10 years ago would have sounded like science fiction but today make you kind of go, "Well, yeah, of course."
I don't drive. But if I did, I'd want all of these as standard features. What about you? Which of these would you most like to see? Some of the options in the poll come from semifinalists in the contest, others from me. As … Read more
Students from Mississippi State University placed first in the 2010 EcoCAR: The NeXt Challenge finals in San Diego Friday after designing and building a biodiesel extended-range electric vehicle (EREV).
Teams from 16 universities competed in the Year Two Finals of the three-year competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and General Motors. The competition challenges engineering students to re-engineer a GM-donated vehicle to minimize the vehicle's fuel consumption and emissions, while maintaining its utility, safety, and performance. The teams have been preparing for the final testing and inspection of the competition for the past week.
"This … Read more