News

Will a brain modem become a reality?

This week's Question: The U.S. military’s Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) unveiled plans last week to develop a "brain modem." The implantable neural interface allows wearers to transmit data from their brains to external digital devices. DARPA's goal is to achieve this communications link in a biocompatible device no larger than one cubic centimeter in size. Applications of the neural interface technology include boosting a soldier’s hearing or vision by providing additional digital auditory or visual information into the brain. What do you think? Will a brain modem become a reality? 

Posted in: Question of the Week

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Soft Robot Fingers Collect Delicate Coral

Most deep sea robotic manipulators are constructed from hard materials that are not geared to collect fragile coral. Researchers at the Wyss Institute, Harvard Paulson School, and City University of New York have developed a soft robotic gripper that can safely handle delicate specimens, including biological specimens on deep reefs.

Posted in: News, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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Researchers Advance Propulsion Toward Low-Carbon Aircraft

Just as hybrid or turboelectric power has improved fuel efficiency in cars, boats and trains, aeronautical engineers are exploring how planes can be redesigned and configured with electrical power. One of NASA’s goals is to help the aircraft industry shift from relying solely on gas turbines to using hybrid electric and turboelectric propulsion in order to reduce energy consumption, emissions and noise.

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Lightweight, Strong Metal Could Make Airplanes More Energy Efficient

Researchers have created a lightweight, but very strong, structural metal made of magnesium because it is a light metal with two-thirds the density of aluminum, is abundant on Earth, and is biocompatible. It was mixed with silicon carbide nanoparticles into a molten magnesium-zinc alloy that uniformly dispersed and stabilized the nanoparticles, making a super-strong and lightweight metal.

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NASA Flies Drones in Aircraft Noise Test

Microphones strung together on an unmanned aircraft system runway were used to record the sounds of remotely piloted aircraft flying overhead as part of a NASA project to measure full-scale aircraft noise. The work is part of research to reduce airplane noise and make the skies more environmentally friendly, especially around airports.

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Would you prefer to fly in a hybrid aircraft?

This week's Question: Researchers at the NASA Glenn Research Center are developing a hybrid plane that will, like a hybrid car, rely on both fossil fuels and electricity to power itself through the sky. The NASA engineers are looking at power systems that generate electricity in place of, or in addition to, thrust at the turbine engine, and then convert that electricity into thrust using fans at other places on the aircraft. The Glenn team says the advances could make flying up to 30 percent more fuel efficient. What do you think? Would you prefer to fly in a hybrid aircraft? 

Posted in: Question of the Week

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'Mini Force Fields' Power Microbots

Purdue researchers are using "mini force field technology" to independently control individual microrobots operating within groups.

Posted in: News, Machinery & Automation, Robotics

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