research

SCAMP robot is a quadrotor drone that can fly, climb, and perch

SCAMP robot is a quadrotor drone that can fly, climb, and perch

Quadrotor drones can perform all sorts of tasks from monitoring air quality to performing surveillance. The catch is that the limited battery life means that they can only perform their assigned tasks for short periods of flying. Researchers from Stanford University have developed a quadrotor drone aircraft that is able to extend its useful life by saving its batteries with the ability to perch like a bird in a place where it can still perform its assignment and save battery power.

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DARPA Improv project seeks to weaponize your appliances

DARPA Improv project seeks to weaponize your appliances

DARPA’s back with yet another project, and this one aims to turn everyday, benign appliances and other electronics into weapons and other “unanticipated security threats.” No, the agency isn’t hoping to equip soldiers with modified home appliances — rather, it wants the hive mind to come up with novel and unexplored methods for turning easily accessible devices into things that could threatened national security, helping to bolster preventative technologies.

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Ceres’ mystery spots are dimming, brightening daily

Ceres’ mystery spots are dimming, brightening daily

Ceres' bright spots entertained astronomers and enthusiasts for most of 2015, but ultimately ended as we'd expected all along -- all signs point toward them being shiny salt patches reflecting the sun's light. Enter 2016 and a new plot twist no one anticipated -- the dwarf planet's bright spots are randomly changing in intensity, growing brighter and dimmer throughout the day in a way that doesn't fully line up with the planet's rotation.

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Sensor laden pigeons test for air pollution in London

Sensor laden pigeons test for air pollution in London

A flock of ten pigeons has a big job in London. The pigeons will be flying around the city wearing tiny backpacks that are fitted with sensors designed to monitor air quality around the city. The pigeons will live free for three days before returning with their little backpacks. The project is called Pigeon Air Patrol and was one of the winners of a contest called #PoweredByTweets that Twitter held last year.

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Australia has mysterious ‘fairy circles’ all over the place, too

Australia has mysterious ‘fairy circles’ all over the place, too

We’ve all heard of crop circles, but ‘fairy circles’ are lesser known and, usually, less interesting to look at. These circular patches have a shape roughly -- and consistently -- like that of a six-sided honeycomb and feature a hard dirt shell resulting in a plant-free bare region within an otherwise grassy landscape. Fairy circles are commonly found in Namibia but not elsewhere — until recently, at least, when researchers stumbled across a bunch of them in the empty Australian outback.

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MIT device makes power by burning fuel-coated carbon nanotubes

MIT device makes power by burning fuel-coated carbon nanotubes

Scientists and researchers at MIT have come up with a new portable method of making power that uses heat and doesn't require metals or toxic materials. The new method of generating power is based on a discovery made by MIT professor Michael Strano and co-workers in 2010. That team created a wire using small carbon nanotubes that is able to create an electrical current when the tube is progressively heated from one end to the other.

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T-Rex missing link: a horse-sized predator with super hearing

T-Rex missing link: a horse-sized predator with super hearing

The “missing link” between the smallest T-Rex ancestors and the larger Tyrannosaurs was discovered in the Kyzylkum Desert in Uzbekistan more than a decade ago. Researchers recently studied the fossils and have published the results of their study, saying the creature -- which has been dubbed Timurlengia euotica -- was about the size of a modern horse and holds signs about how such a small species evolved into the massive Tyrannosaurus Rex.

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Sony demos projector that makes any table interactive

Sony demos projector that makes any table interactive

Although primarily aimed at film, music, and interactive media, SxSW has also become a prime opportunity for some companies to show off products and ideas that lie at the intersection of technology and the arts. Sony has already pre-announced that it would indeed be at the event, showing off some rad prototypes like the "N" from its newly announced Future Lab. Apparently, it wasn't the only head turner from the company, which might have been this "smart projector" that turns any flat surface into an interactive table.

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Stanford researchers create tiny synchronized robots that can pull a car

Stanford researchers create tiny synchronized robots that can pull a car

Researchers at Stanford University have created tiny robots that are able to work in a synchronized form to pull a much larger object. A team of six of the tiny robots that weight a total of 3.5 ounces were able to pull a car that weighs in at 3,900 pounds. The idea is rather like the swarms of nanorobots that were featured in the animated film "Big Hero 6".

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Microsoft’s Project AIX uses Minecraft for AI research

Microsoft’s Project AIX uses Minecraft for AI research

Games and artificial intelligence have always gone hand in hand. AI has permeated all kinds of non-trivial games, even going as far back as the original Pac-man arcade game. Now, computer scientists are turning the tables around, sort of. More and more researchers are actually using games to fuel and aid artificial intelligence research, most of the time by beating the game. But Project AIX from Microsoft Research is doing something different with Minecraft. It is using the open, world building game to let an AI learn how to climb a mountain. Without falling into a pool of lava.

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Samsung’s SXSW C-Lab showcase: Hum On!, Waffle, Entrim 4D

Samsung’s SXSW C-Lab showcase: Hum On!, Waffle, Entrim 4D

At the beginning of the year, Samsung showed off a few of its employees' experimental products at CES 2016 under the company's Creative Lab, or C-Lab, program. That included a smart belt, a smart wristband, and a virtual reality "handle bar" controller. At SXSW, the company revealed a few more ideas that, if turned into actual products, could be pretty interesting. For example, the Hum On! app can turn any hum or voiced tones into a musical piece. Waffle makes social networking an even more social and collaborative process, while Entrim 4D gives VR users a sense motion delivered through their ears.

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Mars probe departs this week on joint European-Russian study

Mars probe departs this week on joint European-Russian study

As part of the ExoMars 2016 mission, a new unmanned spacecraft will be departing for Mars on Monday thanks to collaboration between the space agencies of Europe and Russia. The European Space Agency (ESA) notes that the probe is heading to the red planet to study its atmosphere and dust storms, and to get there it will be riding atop a Russian Proton rocket.

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