GIF Credit: Harvard Microrobotics Lab/Harvard SEASBirds, bats, and insects can t fly forever, and neither can microrobotic drones.Aerial microdrones are still in the developmental stage, but they ll eventually be used to serve many valuable purposes, such as surveilling a site after a natural disaster, detecting hazardous chemicals, or scoping out rooms for police and military forces.Any future robotic system will have to to find a way to perch from time to time in order to extend the life of a mission.In a Science study published today, Moritz Graule and his colleagues describe a bio-inspired robot that perches using electrostatic forces.The robot takes off and flies normally, but when the electrode patch is switched on, it can stick to almost any surface, including glass, wood, and even a leaf.A foam mount helps it to absorb the shock on landing and prevent bounces.
Roboticists at Harvard University in the US have added new capabilities to their RoboBees - these flying microbots can now perch during flight to save their energy, in a similar way to bats, birds and butterflies.That means they're able to stay in the air longer without using up too much extra energy, explain the research team.Eventually, these little flying droids have the potential to be used in search and rescue operations and for other similar kinds of tasks.Key to the new energy-saving mode is a technique called electrostatic adhesion, achieved through a small electrode patch and a shock-absorbing foam mount.A small electrical charge is used to keep the RoboBees 'stuck' to a leaf or other surface while they rest up.On robots this small, carrying around bulky batteries isn't really feasible, so any changes need to be made while adding as little weight and using as little extra power as possible.
Birds, bats, and insects can t fly forever, and neither can microrobotic drones.Aerial microdrones are still in the developmental stage, but they ll eventually be used to serve many valuable purposes, such as surveilling a site after a natural disaster, detecting hazardous chemicals, or scoping out rooms for police and military forces.Any future robotic system will have to to find a way to perch from time to time in order to extend the life of a mission.In a Science study published today, Moritz Graule and his colleagues describe a bio-inspired robot that perches using electrostatic forces.The robot takes off and flies normally, but when the electrode patch is switched on, it can stick to almost any surface, including glass, wood, and even a leaf.A foam mount helps it to absorb the shock on landing and prevent bounces.
Snails' brains shut down until they found food, researchers learnedScientists have discovered that snails solve complex decisions using just two brain cells, in a discovery that could help engineers develop energy efficient robots.By attaching electrodes to the brain circuitry of freshwater snails that were on the hunt for food, researchers learned the molluscs used only two neurons when they found a tasty lettuce.Scientists discovered that snails used controller and motivator neurons to feed back information to each other to decide whether or not to eat.But if no food was in front of the snail this part of its brain circuitry shut down, saving energy.University of Sussex Professor George Kemenes, who led the research, said "What goes on in our brains when we make complex behavioural decisions and carry them out is poorly understood."Our findings can help scientists to identify other core neuronal systems which underlie similar decision-making processes.
For the past four years, a team of neurologists and engineers from the University of Melbourne, along with surgeons at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, have been developing an advanced brain/machine interface that is long lasting and easy to implant.Eventually, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency DARPA , which funded the project, hopes to bring this mind-control technology to the cockpit, allowing pilots to fly by the thoughts in their minds as well as by the seat of their pants.The electrode can measure electrical activity from the motor cortex, the part of the brain responsible for controlling movements.Looking beyond ruminants, Lead researcher Dr. Tom Oxley envisions a future where this brain control interface could be used to interact with smartphones, robots, and more in the next 30 years.The military appear interested in the potential for jet fighters to control their planes with direct thought control, rather than using their arms.DARPA also plans to use the stenode to rehabilitate injured soldiers by allowing them to control a bionic exoskeleton.
Through photosynthesis, plants and other organisms harness the energy of the Sun to convert water and CO2 into sugars, forming the base of the food chain.When such organisms are transplanted into bioreactors, the overall efficiency of the photosynthesis achieved is typically quite low, less than five percent.Recently, a team of scientists developed a hybrid inorganic-biological system capable of driving an artificial photosynthetic process.Designing the deviceInitially, the scientists worked with a system where a combination of catalysts would split water molecules: cobalt phosphate produced oxygen, while a NiMoZn alloy to produced hydrogen under the presence of an applied voltage.But the key to their device is wha happens after water-splitting generates hydrogen.Thee energy conversion efficiencies achieved through this process are also more than competitive with natural photosynthetic yields.
Credit Juho Kim et al/APLUltra-thin solar cells are flexible enough to bend around small objects, such as the 1mm-thick edge of a glass slide, as shown hereScientists in South Korea have made ultra-thin solar cells flexible enough to wrap around an average pencil - and the bendy panels could soon be used to could power fitness trackers, smart glasses or be woven into clothes to help power phones on the go.The cells were then "cold welded" to an electrode by applying pressure at 170 degrees Celcius and melting a top layer of material called photoresist that acted as a temporary glue.They performed bending tests and found the cells could wrap around a radius as small as 1.4 millimetres."Our photovoltaic is about 1 micrometre thick - much thinner than an average human hair," said researcher and engineer Jongho Lee."The thinner cells are less fragile under bending, but perform similarly or even slightly better," Lee added.By transfer printing instead of etching, the new method developed by Lee and his colleagues may be used to make very flexible photovoltaics with a smaller amount of materials.
Exoskeletons show promise as an assistive device for those who face a temporary or permanent disability.Unfortunately, their utility is limited due to their bulkiness, which makes them cumbersome to wear.The research into a cutting-edge exoskeleton was spearheaded by Steve Collins, associate professor of biomechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon, and Stuart Diller from Carnegie Mellon s department of mechanical engineering.The pair created a lightweight component called an electro-adhesive clutch mechanism that forms part of an exoskeleton and weighs only 26 grams.As its name implies, the electro-adhesive clutch is comprised of several thin electrode sheets that are coated with a dielectric material and held together by electrostatic adhesion.These clutches can be aligned to other clutches in a parallel arrangement to form a strip that functions almost like a tendon.
Image: Yet-Ming Chiang et al./MITScientists at MIT have designed an ingenious new concept for a battery that operates on the same fundamental principal as an hourglass—it relies on gravity to generate energy.They described the device in a recent paper for Energy and Environmental Science.There is a positive and negative terminal; electrons are produced by chemical reactions inside the battery, and collect on the negative terminal because they are negatively charged.This wouldn t be helpful all by itself, but the wire usually also connects a load —a light bulb, a motor, a radio circuit—and the energy is harnessed to power that device.Liquid flow batteries were first developed back in the 1970s, so called because the materials used for the positive and negative electrodes are in liquid form, separated by a membrane.
Often in the past, researchers focused on trying to tackle the problem of limb paralysis by creating robotic hands or other prostheses that a patient could control using the electrical signals made by their brain.Alternatively, if the nature of their injury required a system with more computational power, the device could be stored in another space in their body -- in the chest cavity, for example, with wires running from electrodes in the brain under the skin to the device."The bottom line is, depending on patient's requirements and needs, we would have different amounts of computation and algorithmic sophistication in the software and machine learning," Rao said.Secondly, those signals need to be re-encoded from machine signals back to human signals, and then transmitted to the right part of the body, be it another part of the brain, the spinal cord, or a muscle somewhere.We're looking at how we can use that connection from the brain to the spinal cord to allow a person to regain voluntary control of their hand that might have been paralysed," Rao said.While it may be possible to do that by stimulating muscles in the limb directly, Rao said the approach can lead to the muscles becoming fatigued.
Nanotechnologists at Tel Aviv University have developed an electronic "tattoo" that monitors facial muscle movements, which they believe could have many applications in medicine, business and marketing.The device consists of a carbon electrode, a sticky surface that attaches to the skin, and a polymer coating that uses nanotechnology to enhance the electrode's performance.The data it gathers can be used to log emotions, by monitoring facial expressions through the electrical signals passing through the muscles of the face.Early tests, the researchers say, show it can record a strong, steady signal for hours on end without irritating the skin."Researchers worldwide are trying to develop methods for mapping emotions by analyzing facial expressions, mostly via photos and smart software," said Yael Hanein, who developed the device and authored a paper describing it."But our skin electrode provides a more direct and convenient solution."
The highly advanced prosthetic arm created by Segway inventor Dean Kamen is set to go on sale towards the end of this year, according to the manufacturer Mobius Bionics.The Luke arm is funded by DARPA, was trialled for more than 10,000 hours and has been in development for nearly ten years.With a powered shoulder, elbow and wrist, as well the ability to sense a user s intended movements and a grip force sensor that indicates how tightly an object is being grasped, the prosthesis is considered one of the most advanced to have ever been made.The Luke, which is named after Luke Skywalker s prosthetic arm, is connected to the amputated limb by electrodes that detect electrical signals from muscles, rather than requiring switches or buttons, or manual adjustment by the user.Its complex structure enables users to raise their arm behind their shoulder.The limb is also strong enough to lift a carton of milk from the floor and delicate enough to grip an egg.
Researchers at Tel Aviv University TAU have developed an electronic tattoo that can monitor your facial expressions by tracking muscle movements.They believe the tattoo , which is made up of non-invasive carbon electrodes attached to a thin polymer adhesive surface, could revolutionise pretty much everything – from medicine and rehabilitation to business and even advertising.Powered by nanotechnology, preliminary tests have shown these new skin electrodes are able to emit a steady signal for hours without irritating the skin.View photosMoreNanotech tattoos can be worn for hours without irritating the skin Tel Aviv University We used readily available materials and conventional industrial printing techniques, in order to simplify and speed up the development process, said Professor Yael Hanein, head of TAU s Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology.Our electric tattoo consists of three parts: a carbon electrode, an adhesive surface that sticks temporary tattoos to the skin and a nanotechnology-based conductive polymer coating, with special nano-topography, that enhances the electrode s performance.
Here s a tattoo your mom might actually condone you getting.The temporary, electronic tattoo, developed by a team of scientists at Tel Aviv University s Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, sticks to skin and uses a carbon electrode and a conductive polymer to measure biometric signals for hours.When worn on the face, the electrodes are sensitive enough to record variations in muscle activity, which can identify expressions and even emotions, according to a paper published last month in the journal Scientific Report.We were initially developing carbon nanotube-based electrodes which we originally wanted to use as implantable electrodes, lead researcher Yael Hanein told Digital Trends.Knowing full well the dire need for dry skin electrodes, we thought about applying our technology for EEG and EMG.Sticking carbon nanotubes directly against the skin seemed to be problematic, so we looked for alternative fabrication and material …
Typically, you have to sacrifice one of these factors to get gains in the other two.In an investigation recently published in Nature Energy, scientists demonstrated the ability to use a magnetic field to align graphite flakes within electrodes as they're manufactured.The alignment gives lithium ions a clearer path to transit the battery, leading to improved performance.The electrodes of Lithium-ion batteries are often composed of graphite, which balances attributes such as a high energy density with non-toxicity, safety, and low cost.While graphite has many advantages, it has a downside: it limits the movement of lithium ions, which is a fundamental part of charging and discharging.The lithium ions are only able to move within the planes between stacked graphene sheets and often have to navigate a highly torturous path as they move around during charge and discharge.
Image: Kaixiang Lin, Harvard UniversityHarvard University researchers reckon they can make flow batteries cheaper using an electrolyte based on vitamin B2.Flow batteries function much like lead-acid batteries, with a fluid that reacts with electrodes to store charge.However, the liquid is cycled through an external tank in the charge/discharge cycle.The external refresh of a flow battery's fluid means it can handle very deep discharges, while lead acid batteries have to be kept above 50 per cent charge.For a static application like storage from solar power, that makes flow batteries an attractive third alternative to both lead acid and lithium batteries.
If you ve missed the first three things in The Five Things That We Never Talk About When We Talk About Sensors And Sensor Data, you can catch up here and here FORBES TEAM, PLEASE ADD LINK TO IOT: LETS GET READY TO WRANGLE!Sensors Don t Typically Measure the Quantity of Interest DirectlyAnd so to the fourth thing about sensors: typically, they don t measure the quantity of interest directly.The wearable device on your wrist isn t actually measuring your sleep cycle; to do that, it would need to be connected to electrodes attached to your head measuring brain wave activity – and who wants to go to sleep wired-up like a Lab Rat?Instead, sensors measure your pulse and the frequency and intensity of your nocturnal movements and the device infers whether you are asleep – or not.Now if you know much about analytics and data science then you will know that model building and model scoring are mostly separate processes, even when they leverage the same data and the same infrastructure think of the credit risk models that your bank uses to assess your application for a new credit card, for example .
Batteries are an essential part of modern life.Your car, mobile phone, laptop, and camera wouldn't exist without them.And researchers around the world are constantly working to make them better.That includes a team at the HZB Institute for Soft Matter and Functional Materials, which is part of the Institut Laue-Langevin in Grenoble, France.They've been looking at the materials we use to make batteries and trying to figure out if there are better alternatives.However, it can only absorb a limited number of ions before hitting capacity.
It's no secret that human beings have a serious battery addiction, and the ones we have right now aren't going to cut it forever.Fortunately there are teams of researchers tirelessly working to improve battery technology all over the world, and one of those teams thinks it's onto something.The team, from the HZB Institute for Soft Matter and Functional Materials in Grenoble, has been looking into the graphite electrode that's present in every lithium ion battery.Graphite is often used because it's cheap, stable, and won't be running out anytime soon.The downside is that each electrode can only adsorb a set number of ions before hitting capacity.The team has been trying to replace the graphite with silicon, another substance that's cheap, holds more ions than graphite, and can be found basically everywhere.
Kim et al., Science 2016 Touchscreens have transformed the way we interact with electronics, enabling the development of elegant handheld devices.But currently, their screens are limited to a fixed size.As flexible and wearable electronics are in development, the touchscreens we'll need in the future will have to be both flexible and biocompatible.In an investigation recently published in Science, researchers have designed an ionic touchscreen that boasts stretchability and biocompatibility, allowing easy integration with the human body.Hydrogels are soft, water-filled polymer networks; their mechanical properties are similar to those of certain tissues, and they can be made of biocompatible materials.
More

Top