Technology

G’day, mate! Ocean-crossing robot reaches Australia

Publication: NBC News   Date: December 5, 2012   View Article

A robotic wave glider recently pulled into an Australian bay, marking the end of a record-setting 9,000-nautical-mile journey in the name of science and technology.

The Papa Mau robot is one of four wave gliders launched from San Francisco on Nov. 17, 2011. En route, it weathered gale-force winds, fended off sharks and gathered an unprecedented amount of data on weather and ocean conditions that is now available online for anyone to use.

‘Mechanical protein’ robot will fold itself into any shape

Publication: NBC News   Date: December 4, 2012   View Article

Imagine a string that can assemble itself into just about anything wherever and whenever you need it — a wrench to adjust your child’s bike seat or a hammer to pound a nail into the wall, for example. That future may be distant, but researchers have built a robot that already hints at the possibility.

“The robot is just a continuous strip, it is a one-dimensional thing,” Neil Gershenfeld, director of the Center for Bits and Atoms at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told NBC News, speaking of the concept behind the device.

Helicopter parenting? Dad’s homemade drone follows kid to bus stop

Publication: NBC News   Date: November 30, 2012   View Article

Paul Wallich, like any loving dad, dutifully walks his grade-schooler son to the bus stop each morning. He does find the quarter-mile hike to be a drag, occasionally. His solution? He built a camera-equipped drone that helps him fulfill his parental obligation.

It’s those Vermont winters that provided motivation for the project. “If I am walking my kid to the bus stop in December and January, I would really rather not be doing that,” Wallich told NBC News.

3-D printer and moon rocks join up to make repairs in space

Publication: NBC News   Date: November 28, 2012   View Article

When lunar colonists need a new tool or replacement part to fix a broken spacecraft leg, all they’ll need to do is scoop up some moon rocks and feed them into a 3-D printer, suggests a new proof-of-concept study.

The ability to use material already on the moon to build things and fix equipment could save earthlings a bundle of money in fuel costs since they won’t have to haul everything they need to their lunar outposts.

Sewage to help Microsoft serve up web pages

Publication: NBC News   Date: November 20, 2012   View Article

Microbes feasting on raw sewage at a wastewater treatment plant will soon help power the cloud, thanks to a Microsoft project that will use biogas generated by the little bugs to run a data center.

Data centers are typically massive banks of servers that keep the Internet humming along nicely. They handle the flow of digital information when you order a song on iTunes, check your Facebook, send an instant message, or post on Twitter, for example.

Giant inflatable plug could protect subways from floodwaters

Publication: NBC News   Date: November 5, 2012   View Article

A giant inflatable plug that can be filled with 35,000 gallons of water at a moment’s notice could have prevented some of the flooding that crippled New York City’s transit in the wake of Sandy, according to an expert working on the technology.

This isn’t a case of Monday-morning quarterbacking. The technology is still in the lab. But the impact of this month’s superstorm on transit and the possibility that it’s a harbinger of things to come has focused attention on adding the plugs to the disaster-response toolbox.

High-school girls invent a life-preserver T-shirt for toddlers

Publication: NBC News   Date: October 17, 2012   View Article

An all-girl team of high school students has invented a comfy and cozy T-shirt equipped with a mechanism that automatically inflates it into a life preserver when it gets soaking wet.

Called the Watawescue, the T-shirt is intended for children age 2 to 4 to wear while they are playing near a swimming pool.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach