Self-Healing Gel Now Carries Electrical Charge

We’ve all had that moment when we’ve heard the crack, the snap or the crunch. Be it your favourite USB drive, your screen or even your laptop, accidents happen and things get damaged. The worst part about this is it’s normally one or two small things that stop you from using that technology again, but what if that changed? What if when you saw your USB stick crunch into a weird shape, you held it together and found it still worked?

Thanks to research scientists at Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas, you could soon see that happening with technology and more. Revealed as the first of its kind, the researchers have managed to develop a self-healing gel that not only repairs and connects electronic circuits but can also carry a charge within itself. The gel not only carries a charge but also repairs itself without external stimuli, such as having to shine a light or heating up the gel, meaning that you wouldn’t have to put your phone on the radiator to fix it. The image shows the gel even holding its own, after being cut in half.

Guihua Yu, a mechanical engineering assistant professor at Cockrell School, stated the gel could be used at ‘soft joints’. The gel could even be applied overtop of traditional joins in hardware, allowing you to continue using old technology while allowing the self-repairing gel to go to work.

Imagine if we had these in the old sliding phones, the ones where the ribbon connecting the screen broke every few months. That’s just the tip of the gel pack for this technology, what would you like to see this technology used for?

Amazon Wants to Enlist You to Deliver Parcels for a Small Pay

Amazon is always on the lookout for new methods to get the parcels they send to the customers the fastest possible way. We’ve seen all the news of their drone delivery systems that currently are being tested, but that is not enough for the e-commerce giant.

Amazon wants you! They want you to deliver the parcels for them. Their plan, turn the entire USA into a nation of couriers. Okay, that’s not entirely accurate, but it is not wrong either. Amazon is developing a mobile app that would allow ordinary people rather than carriers such as UPS to drop off packages en route to other destinations, and let them earn a little money by doing so.

So far this is just an idea, and whether it will become an actual product is yet to be seen. So far it goes by the name “On My Way” internally and the idea on itself is great. You’re on your way home to whatever apartment complex you live in. You launch the app and check if parcels from the nearest depot have to go the same place – and you bring them along. You are going that way anyway, right?

Shipping costs is a growing problem for the shopping giant and last year it grew by 31%. That is faster than the revenue grew during the same period. So it doesn’t come as any surprise that they’re looking for ways to keep those costs in line with the revenue.

Thank you WSJ for providing us with this information

Google’s Bubble Car to Hit the Road this Summer

We follow autonomous cars quite closely, especially seeing that this could be the future of driving. Following our recent article on the safety record of Google’s other self-driving fleet, Google is now ready to unleash the little bubble car on the world; well the streets of California in the Mountain View area this Summer.

Since last September, Google has let a fleet Lexus RX450h roam the streets of California; equipped with the same self-driving technology. Together, they have clocked up near 1 million autonomous miles on the public highway, nearly 10,000 a week. The total amount of autonomously logged data is comparable to the experience of “75 years of typical American adult driving”.

The cool thing about autonomous driving, all of the data logged by the previous cars can be instantly uploaded to the new cars, with certain parameters changed such as vehicle size to give better spatial awareness. If that isn’t enough to calm you, then each car will have a human occupant with the control to override the system if needs be.

Following the recent news and criticism of Google’s self-driving cars, namely the Lexus models; Google has made statements to set the record straight. “Over the 6 years since we started the project, we’ve been involved in 11 minor accidents (light damage, no injuries) during those 1.7 million miles of autonomous and manual driving with our safety drivers behind the wheel,” wrote Google’s Chris Urmson in a recent post on Medium, “and not once was the self-driving car the cause of the accident,” a Google representative said.

Apart from the awful looks of the car, would you be willing to let one drive you around? What about actually owning one when the are released? Let us know in the comments

Thank you to ArsTechnica for providing us with this information.

FBI Warns Autonomous Cars Could Be Used As Bombs

Self driving cars are a thing for the future and most people are looking forward to them. Even the United Kingdom stated that it will introduce some sort of taxi pods a while back, having them operational by 2017. However, are autonomous vehicles really that safe? The Federal Bureau of Investigation tends to disagree.

The FBI has apparently given a warning that criminals could use these driverless vehicles in a variety of ways, from evading law enforcement officers, to shooting cops from the back of the vehicle. An internal report obtained by The Guardian states that in a section by the name of “multitasking”, autonomous vehicles fall in the description of ‘tools’ which can be used to “conduct tasks that require use of both hands or taking one’s eyes off the road which would be impossible today”.

In addition to the above, driverless vehicles can also be used as a ‘bomb on wheels’, being able to program it to drive itself to the target. All in all, it seems that although self driving vehicles are a great futuristic way of transportation, they can also pose a great risk for safety and security.

The report is said to be made by the Strategic Issues Group within the FBI’s Directorate of Intelligence and it does not describe only negative points of view about the new technology. It is said that driverless vehicles could be used to as a surveillance tool, keeping a lock on targets while remaining undetected. Though it is unfortunate to see advances in consumer technology becoming a benefit for criminals, impeding further advancements due to the fear of it being used as a weapon.

Thank you The Verge for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of The Verge

Volvo Self-Driving Cars Start Public Road Testing

It may seem to be very science-fiction, but Volvo’s autonomous self-driving car is far more science-fact as the first vehicle sets out on to the open roads along with the general public. In the run up to a test drive where one hundred self driving vehicles will be let loose around the city of Gothenburg in Sweden, test drives are being performed with individual cars to test their capability to merge into lanes of traffic along with braking and accelerating where necessary.

A well orchestrated advert (as we have come to expect of Volvo since their Jean-Claude Van Damme advert with the two separating trucks went viral last year) demonstrates how the car requires no input from the passenger as it drives through the city and motorways before it returns to manual driving mode and the passenger then becomes the driver.

Eric Coelingh, a technical specialist at Volvo spoke out reporting, “The test cars are now able to handle lane following, speed adaption and merging traffic all by themselves. This is an important step towards our aim that the final Drive Me cars will be able to drive the whole test route in highly autonomous mode.”

When driving in autonomous mode, a series of cameras and sensors around the exterior of the car constantly monitor and track the position of nearby vehicles, calculating whether they are speeding up, slowing down, changing lanes or simply overtaking. Should all of the public road tests prove to be a success, the proposal to release the one hundred vehicles on to a 50km route of the city should be ready for around 2017. Whilst this is another step forward to the safer driving environment that both Google and Nissan have also ventured out to achieve, we are still a long way off having these vehicles publicly available to purchase, amid fears that they are not safe enough for the entire population and predicting the actions of other road users like a real person would be able to do.

Either way though this road test shows that the technology is there and it does work (on a small-scale) so it is not a case of if, but when will it finally be deemed safe and ready to go on sale.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/bJwKuWz_lkE[/youtube]

Source: Tweaktown