Archive for December, 2017

Flying Drones in the Dark

Flying often requires being able to see where you are going. A pilot may rely on the instruments on board when the weather is really bad and disables his ability to see out of the cockpit, but most air crafts will prefer not to fly in low visibility conditions. The same would be considered true of unmanned aircrafts flown by remote pilots. More specifically, since the pilot is so far away, especially when flying a drone, he prefers only to fly in areas that are well lit.

Researchers at the University of Zurich have taught drones how to fly using an eye-inspired camera. This allows the drones to fly faster and be more agile than before. The science project allows the drones to know their precise location in space as well as orientation, at all times. This will help the drones perform even better when aiding  rescue teams with search missions at dusk or dawn.

Prof. Davide Scaramuzza, Director of the Robotics and Perception Group was part of the team that developed the new camera which can easily cope with high-speed motion and can see much better in the dark than current versions currently on the market. The applications of this science project are unlikely to be restricted to mere drones in the future.

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Bird Vs Drone

Unmanned drones are making quite a name for themselves. They started out rather unsteady in design and progressed to becoming superb delivery vehicles. Their usage is just going to increase in the future. So it makes sense that airlines are worried about what impact with these drones would do to their air crafts. Bird hits have already known to be devastating to the engines.

Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence (ASSURE) set up a team of researchers to study the difference between a bird hit and a drone hit for an aircraft. The weight of both the bird and the drone being the same, it was found by the science project that the drone was likely to do considerably more damage to the aircraft structure than the drone. Considering that the drones are made of tougher material than the soft masses of tissues and feather that constitute a bird, this finding is hardly surprising.

What is scary is that nearly 100 sightings of drones near air crafts have been seen in a month. The potential for a disaster is looming large unless some regulation is brought into immediate effect. Something that the researchers of the project have been urging the authorities to lay out and implement.

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Scientifically Aided X-Ray Vision to Look Through Walls

Did you envy Superman his ability to look through walls with his super x-ray vision? Did you wish you could do that in real life? Perhaps the researchers at Duke University had exactly the same desire when they were young. Now they have come up with a way to look through walls, without knowing in advance what material the wall is constructed from.

This is unprecedented. The researchers have always known the material through which they would have to see through before this science project. Now they have come up with a way to look through walls without knowing the narrow band of microwave frequencies that they would need to use.

Daniel Marks, associate research professor of electrical and computer says that most technologies that can see through walls use a broad range of frequencies, which makes them expensive. They also don’t have very good resolution. So while they might be fine for seeing a person moving on the other side of a wall, they’re terrible for finding thin conduits or wires.

What the researchers here have developed is an algorithm that is based on the symmetrical waves emitted during scanning a wall. They have come up with a technology which should be able to tell workmen where not to make a hole in the wall to avoid hitting existing wires. Although it is yet to be practically applicable the study will be of great future value.

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Would You Invest in a Bio-electronic Nose?

The sense of smell is actually one of the least appreciated smells in urban living today. This was not always the case. The nose was actually instrumental in predicting what fruit were ripe and ready to eat in the food gathering days of human history. Even today the pungent smell of overripe food hitting your nose, can let you know not to eat the said item.

Unfortunately the sensitivity of smell in the human nose is gradually reducing. With the number of smells that the nose is hit by in an urban setting, it is necessary for this to happen. Think about how your ears avoid listening to so many sounds in a city setting. It all becomes white noise in the background after a while.

The American Chemical Society have begun working on a science project to develop a Nano bio-electronic nose which can sniff out the key component of a decaying substance. Not only will this nose be able to help detect food that is about to go bad, it will also come in very handy to find signs of decay at sites of natural disasters. This should help in search and rescue operations where cadavers get buried under many layers.


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Robots with Foresight

A human child learns from experience. Every action the baby takes produces a reaction from the environment that gets filed away in the mind. This may be brought out at a later date when faced with a similar situation. This sort of learning develops foresight and is what helps keep the baby safe.

A robot has a basic set of instructions about how to do a job. However with the great strides being made in Artificial Intelligence, there is no surprise when you discover that researchers at the University of California – Berkeley, have come up with a design that allows a robot to develop a bit of foresight of it’s own.

The robotic learning technology developed by the researchers allows robots to predict the future of their actions so that they can manipulate objects which they may not have seen beforehand. This is a technology which will help self driven robotic cars to drive safely when encountering out of the ordinary objects.

The technology developed in this science project will be able to produce even better robotic assistants in the home in the future. The robotic prototypes are currently teaching themselves simple manual moves based on autonomous play.  This visual foresight will help them perform these manual tasks with less margin for error.

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A Close Look at the Stars

The telescopes have been instrumental in a better understanding of the skies above us. The observations from outer space have added more details to our limited knowledge of all that is present in the universe. However, there are places on the planet where the studies of the night sky continue to reveal new secrets.

In order for the observatory to be successful, it needs to be away from the bright lights of a city which will interfere with the visibility of the stars. It helps if the location is elevated well above sea level so that the atmosphere is thinner and distorts the view of the night sky less. One such ideal place that hosts an ideal spot for astronomical studies is the Kitt Peak National Observatory in the Quinlan Mountains.

Located close to Tucson, Arizona, the observatory is nearly 7,000 feet above sea level in the Sonoran Desert. The Kitt Peak staff boast of the most diverse and largest number of telescopes on the planet. They have more than 20 optical and two radio telescopes, in addition to an instrument so powerful that it can be trained on a single star at once.

Night tours are organized for visitors to see through the telescopes and discover red dwarfs, star nurseries, and other celestial objects for themselves. A visit here could make the basis of an very interesting science project.


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