3D Printed Robot Can Jump 20x Its Own Height!

An evolutionary trend is beginning to develop as traditional ways of manufacturing are being replaced by the world of 3D printing. From Guns to toys, the notion of being able to physically build a product in your own home as many appeals. But when we think of this process, we think of small basic objects, well a new development has managed to design the first 3D printed robot.

A team at Harvard University in the US has “experimented with the idea of an autonomous robot which transitions from a rigid body to a soft one which can jump”. This robot is powered by a mix of butane and oxygen and it can jump more than 20 times its own height with the aim of then landing upright and not in pieces.

The design of this machine features a custom circuit board, a high voltage power source, a battery, an air compressor, butane fuel cells, six valves, an oxygen cartridge, and a pressure regulator and ducts to move the gas around. In order for the robot to jump, the mechanism is for it to inflate one or more of its legs, with the aim of pointing the body in the direction which it wants to move. The body is then filled with Oxygen and Butane and then it sort of, well, ignites itself. By doing this the robot expands the robot before propelling it into the air.

This is certainly a design which could open the door for 3D printed robots in the future, just imagine entering your living room, switching on your printer and building your own robot army. Or not as the case may be.  OK, not the two-footed, 8 feet tall Terminator Robots, but still Robots.

Thank You RT for providing us with this information

Facebook Knows When You Missed The Flash

Let’s picture the scene, you upload a snap of a special occasion to your Facebook account to share with your friends, family and followers, as there are many people in the scene you decide to tag everyone individually, you think this will be easier for everyone, but there’s a problem, Facebook doesn’t recognize you as the moment the flash went off, you were pictured with your head to one side attempting to avoid a wasp which came hurtling towards you at warp speed.

Help may soon be at hand with an experimental algorithm which has been devised by Facebook’s artificial intelligence lab. This new technique is software which can recognise people in photographs even when it is unable to see their faces; instead it relies on points of reference which are unique to each individual. This can include hair style, specific clothing and even the pose which you often strike.

In order to test the final algorithm, researchers downloaded 40,000 public photos from Flickr which contained a mixture of clearly and obscure images of individuals. The algorithm was able to recognize the identities of individuals with an 83% success rate. As this is Facebook I am sure privacy of these photos were high on their agenda, cough cough.

This experiment does have the potential for real world applications, but there needs to be caution exercised if a machine can identify you without you wanting it to. If someone takes a photo before uploading the image to Facebook and you happen to be in the background, this algorithm will identify you for all to see.

Thank You New Scientist for providing us with this information

Image Courtesy of Geek Snack

Future Supercapacitors Could Be Made from Discarded Cigarette Butts

Cigarettes are often burned down to their filters by smokers looking to enjoy every last bit of their expensive tobacco. But then those butts are just tossed away, contributing what’s often estimated as being as many as 5.6 trillion used cigarettes to our trash heaps every year.

A group of researchers from Korea decided to keep the burning process alive by applying heat to the filters themselves. This creates a material that improves supercapacitors, devices that hold electrical charges and are capable of releasing those charges in instantaneous bursts like the flash on a camera.

Supercapacitors are currently found in computers, but as they get better and smaller, the possibility exists that they will find their way into all our electronics. And yes, that means that one day, your smartphone could have recycled butts in it.

Prpfessor Jongheop Yi and his team from Seoul National University collected cigarette butts from a variety of brands. They then used a process known as pyrolysis, a form of combustion that takes place in an oxygen free environment, to heat the butts to a very high level. The cellulose in the filters are turned into carbon-based material that was better at storing energy than the types of carbon, graphene and carbon nanotubes currently used in supercapacitors.

 “A combination of different pore sizes ensures that the material has high power densities, which is an essential property in a supercapacitor for the fast charging and discharging,” said Yi, co-author of the study just published in the journal Nanotechnology.

The secret to the success of the new material, which is known as nitrogen doped (N-doped) meso-/microporous hybrid carbon material (NCF), is that it has on its surface large and small pores, both of which are critical to the functioning of the electrodes in a supercapacitor. The large pores allow ions to move between the plates that comprise the supercapacitor, while the smaller ones increase the material’s surface area. This in return increases the material’s capacitance, or its ability to store a charge.

“Numerous countries are developing strict regulations to avoid the trillions of toxic and nonbiodegradable used cigarette filters that are disposed of into the environment each year,” Yi said. “Our method is just one way of achieving this.”

While the cellulose acetate in cigarette butts makes for good source material for supercapacitors, the butts themselves make for a particularly lousy form of litter, as they can take up to 12 years to decompose, can leach harmful chemicals into the environment, and can even end up in the digestive tracks of marine and land-based mammals. So Yi’s research could really solve two problems at once, making better electronics and reusing a material that accounts for one-third of the roadside litter.

Thank you R&Dmag for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of Treehugger.