8+8 Concept and Dubai Reef
Coming soon: an underwater tennis court, a flying bicycle, mood shoes and robotic cockroaches. Oh, what the future has in store. Above: Polish architect Krzysztof Kotala, owner of 8 + 8 Concept Studio in Warsaw, wants to build a tennis court off the coast of Dubai, a proving ground for audacious feats of engineering. The dome-shaped structure would accommodate seven courts as well as a rooftop coral reef to attract sea life. Critics say there are too many technical challenges to overcome, such as manufacturing much larger sheets of glass than exist today in order to reduce the number of joints. But come on, it's Dubai, home to the tallest building in the world, artificial islands, and an indoor ski resort. There, nothing's impossible.
Engineers at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland have developed a thought-controlled robotic arm that can be surgically attached to the patient's remaining nerve endings. The limb has 26 joints and can lift up to 45 pounds. With a little practice, the patient can move the Modular Prosthetic Limbs, or M.P.L, gently and smoothly.
Balazs Kerulo via Youtube
The Flike is a flying bike designed by Bay Zoltan Nonprofit Ltd., a Hungarian applied research institute. Recently, the prototype tricopter got its first manned test flight, proving that it can hover and maneuver, while compensating for wind. The next model to be built will come closer to a commercial version.
Yei Hwan Jung, Wisconsin Nano Engineering Device Laboratory
Conventional computer chips are made from petroleum-based polymers, which are not non-biodegradable and use toxic compounds. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, have taken a first step toward changing that by creating a material made from wood that would serve as the substrate for a semiconductor chip. The biodegradable material, cellulose nanofibril, is also flexible, making it attractive to new kinds of computer development.
MIT via Youtube
Engineers from MIT continue to make progress on their DARPA-funded Cheetah robot, which is already five years in development. The latest technical hurdle they've cleared is, well, a hurdle. This week, the 70-pound Cheetah proved it can run, jump and clear obstacles up to 18 inches tall, all while maintaing an average speed of 5 mph. See a videohere
Today, the Swiss solar-powered plane Solar Impulse 2, began its six-day flight over the Pacific Ocean. It left China on the seventh leg of its round-the-world journey and is expected to land in Hawaii on Saturday.
Lenovo via Youtube
At Lenovo Tech World in Beijing, the Chinese company showed off their latest collection of Internet-connected devices. Among them were the Smart Shoes, which have a simple display on the side that indicates the wearer's mood. The shoes can also provide directions and maps as well as track fitness data such as miles walked and calories burned.
Hueray via Vimeo
A new Kickstarter project improves safety for bicyclists. The durable, water-resistant and rechargeableHueRay
grips emit bright, lateral light, which increases visibility. Lots of colors to chose from and not batteries required.
Researchers at UC Berkeley designed a scrambling robotic cockroach, called the VelociRoACH that can launch a micro aerial vehicle from its back. The launch is needed because the H2Bird air vehicle weighs about 13 grams and doesn’t have the equipment to take off at the necessary speed and angle.
To promote its new Galaxy S6 Edge, Samsung released its Iron Man, which ties into Marvel’s new movie, "Avengers: Age of Ultron." The phone comes in a special edition Avengers box and has a case in Iron Man red and gold. It goes on sale in South Korea this week and in other “select markets.”
In 2011, pilot Norman Surplus was stymied in his attempt to become the first person to circumnavigate the globe in a gyrocopter. The problem wasn’t thunderstorms or forest fires or crash landings — although he did experience all of the above. The problem, as with so many things in life, was government bureaucracy.
A snafu with Russian air space authorities ended Surplus’ 2011 bid for glory, but the intrepid aviator is flying friendlier skies this week as he sets off on the first leg of a record-breaking voyage across the United States, Canada and North Atlantic. The 7,500-mile journey will ultimately land Surplus back in his home country of Northern Ireland.
Surplus will be making the journey in a single-engine gyrocopter, sometimes called an autogyro — a low-speed aircraft first designed and successfully flown in 1923. Gyrocopters generate thrust from an engine-powered rear facing rotor, while the larger unpowered top rotor generates lift by way of autorotation.
Suplus’ retro-tech endeavor recalls the early days of open-cockpit aviation, when speeds were relatively low but danger was always high. In his 2011 round-the-world attempt, Surplus traveled through 18 different countries over the course of several months — more than 13,000 miles in total. He flew over deserts and forest fires and once crash landed in a lake in Thailand.
The North American journey will hopefully be less eventful. Norman is set to depart this morning from McMinnville Municipal Airport in Oregon. The actual record attempt will start from the nearby Tillamook Airport, after which Surplus will travel over Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Maine, Massachusetts and Maine.
The Canadian and North Atlantic legs of the journey will commence thereafter, as details concerning airspace and logistics are worked out.