Building on work that allowed researchers to more rapidly and economically build small-scale flying robots, Harvard University graduate student Pakpong Chirarattananon’s “RoboBee” took to the air for its first flight. The flight represents success for not only for Chirarattananon, but also for the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard.
“This is what I have been trying to do for literally the last 12 years,” said Robert J. Wood, professor of engineering and applied sciences at SEAS. “It’s really only because of this lab’s recent breakthroughs in manufacturing, materials, and design that we have even been able to try this. And it just worked, spectacularly well.” Continue reading
Tired of ending your workout in sweat-soaked clothes? A new waterproof fabric under development at the University of California, Davis, could keep you fresh and dry. Bioengineers at the university have created a fabric that works like human skin, draining away sweat using microfluidic technology.
Bored with your iPhone? Try turning it into a low-cost spectrophotometer. Some researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have come up with a an iPhone app and a cradle packed with biosensor technology that will let users detect toxins, proteins, bacteria, viruses and other biological material.
The sensors could allow people to run field tests to spot poisons, measure food safety, and even make medical diagnoses using an iPhone.
Wind power is a plentiful resource that’s been used long enough for Don Quixote to joust at windmills. Every energy source has some drawbacks, and in the case of wind power, when the wind isn’t blowing, there isn’t any power. One way to get around this issue is by launching turbines high into the sky where the winds are more consistent.
Google X, the minds behind Google Glass and the company’s self-driving cars, has acquired Makani Power, a company specializing in wind turbine technology. Makani doesn’t actually fly kites to gather wind power, but the notion behind the technology isn’t dissimilar to how kites harness the wind to stay aloft. Continue reading