An Iranian research lab has created a drone to save people drowning at sea. Developed by Tehran-based RTS Lab, Pars is a multirotor drone designed to carry and drop floatation aids to people in trouble. First conceptualized only a year ago, Pars is now a functioning prototype that recently underwent testing in the Caspian Sea.
"The Writer" Automaton
From the BBC programme Mechanical Marvels: Clockwork Dreams, Professor Simon Schaffer examines a clockwork creation of Pierre Jaquet-Droz.
"One of the most remarkable realizations of cam technology is a device in the shape of a small boy. It’s perhaps the world’s most astonishing surviving automaton…"
This is amazing. Watch the video (it’s only 3 minutes). An inventor in Washington published schematics for printing a prosthetic hand. A family in Massachusetts found the instructions online and printed a copy for their son who had developmental issues with his hand growth in the womb.
The 3D printed hand cost ~$10 in supplies (you could also include the $300 cost for a Makerbot if you want). A prosthetic hand bought in retail medical supply costs $20,000.
I often like to talk about the contrast between bits and atoms. The internet excels at disrupting businesses that tax the flow of information, bits. The internet has more difficulty making progress in disrupting businesses that transact in atoms. This video is a great example of how the internet will affect atoms.
Today’s Moment of Zen comes from Harvest developer, Evan Walsh...
Developed by a team at the University of Pennsylvania in the US, Titan Arm uses 3D printing techniques to stay cheap, and more importantly increases your lifting strength by the equivalent of 18kg.
The exoskeleton is intended to help rehabilitate people who’ve had serious arm injuries or strokes, and to give more power to the elbows of those who lift heavy objects for a living.
Last year NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory revealed a Spiderman-inspired grippy clawthat would let spacecraft easily grab onto passing asteroids and comets. Since then the technology has been further refined and now integrated into a rock-climbing robot called the LEMUR IIB that could put Sir Edmund Hillary to shame.
Each of the robot’s four articulate arms is capped with a gripper that uses 750 tiny claws—apparently all hand-crafted by JPL’s summer interns—to grab onto rough surfaces like rocks. The claws are actually strong enough to hold the robot to a surface even upside-down, but in zero gravity there’ll be less forces trying to break its grip.
Tokyo’s Ishikawa Oku Laboratory has created a research robot that can play rock-paper-scissors against a human and win 100% of the time. It cheats.
Extended Exposure: A sampling of long-exposure photography from NASA. Take a long look.
Doesn’t include my favorite long exposure image of all time, though: The Hubble Extreme Deep Field, a 2 million second look into the deepest corners of space, almost to the edge of time itself.
Lockheed Martin announced this week the Skunk Works division is working on the SR-72, son of the SR-71 Blackbird. A presumed unmanned aircraft with top speeds of up to Mach 6 and paired with hyper-sonic weaponry, it has the capability to strike a target anywhere across a continent in under an hour.
Full press-release and additional concept renders here
In 1966, railroad engineer Don Wetzel bolted a pair of GE jet engines to the roof of a train, took it to a straight section of Ohio track and set a North American rail speed record that still stands.
All basic technologies that make our mobile phones “smart” can be traced back to governmental initiative and funding. Just a few: microprocessors; RAM memory; hard disk drives; liquid-crystal displays; lithium batteries; the Internet; cellular technology and networks; global positioning system (GPS); multi-touch screens.
Public sector agencies have been needed to provide the patient, long-term, committed finance that uncertain innovation with long-time horizons requires. Both Compaq and Intel got started with SBIR grants, and Apple also received $500K (which is the equivalent of about $1.8 million nowadays) from an SBIC grant.
The government got it right with the Internet, GPS, touchscreen display and the SIRI voice activated system, which make the iPhone so smart. To make these good decisions, you of course need serious expertise within government. And this is the most challenging bit: how to attract the brightest scientists into government agencies. DARPA, which was a key funder of the Internet, has thought about this dilemma and has been able to set up an intellectual environment where exploration of the uncertain future is welcomed rather than feared.
This also holds today in ARPA-E, which is trying to do for energy what DARPA did for the Internet. I just visited ARPA-E last week and it feels like a Google campus when you walk in: open space, tech geeks, white boards everywhere, and lots of expertise riveting with dynamic energy. This shows that there is nothing in the DNA of the public sector that is going to make it less exciting or smart than the private sector, or less able to pick successes.
|—||Economist Mariana Mazzucato, GPS, lithium batteries, the internet, cellular technology, airbags: A Q&A about how governments often fuel innovation (via crookedindifference)|
GE and Honda developed tiny jet engines powered by fans that are just 18 inches across for the innovative HondaJet. The micro marvel engines each pack 2,095 pounds of thrust. The aircraft they power were ten years in the making and are scheduled to enter full production in 2014.