Little robots controlled by magnets may one day be crawling through your body, delivering treatments or taking tissue samples. That's at least one use inventors at MIT envision for the soft, mobile devices they're currently creating to morph on cue. With just a wave of a magnet, the robots can roll, jump, and crawl around in confined spaces. In the future, the MIT team hopes to build a stronger, more intelligent version of this robot that can be used for tasks such as medical procedures or cleaning up radioactive waste. "We want to make the robot powerful, so we're designing new magnetic inks so they can deliver more force," says Xuanhe Zhao, a coauthor on a paper about the robots published today in the journal Nature.
Lying in the space 650 to 3,200 feet below the surface of the ocean is the mesopelagic zone. It's here that sunlight begins to fade away, earning it the nickname the "twilight zone." This twilight zone is home to critical ecosystems like coral reefs that are home to the diverse fish species that maintain them. Remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) and invasive techniques have previously been used to study the complex systems. But a new invention is helping divers bring fish to the surface, where they can be more easily studied.
As if the line between human and machine wasn't already blurry enough, researchers in Tokyo have developed a new method for using living rat muscle tissue in robotics. The "biohybrid" design, described today in the journal Science Robotics, simulates the look and movements of a human finger. Video shows how it bends at the joint, picks up a loop, and places it down. It's a seemingly simple movement but one that researchers say lays the groundwork for more advanced--and even more lifelike--robots. "If we can combine more of these muscles into a single device, we should be able to reproduce the complex muscular interplay that allows hands, arms, and other parts of the body to function," says study author Shoji Takeuchi, a mechanical engineer at the University of Tokyo.
A drone flying above a camel race in Al Batinah South, Oman, captured stunning images of the ancient sport as it flew above the racetrack. Camels have long played an important role in many aspects of desert life. They're used as transportation, food, the focus of festivals, and--in the case of the centuries old practice of camel racing--entertainment. The camels, one-humped dromedaries, used in these races can reach speeds of up to 40 miles per hour along designated tracks. They're expensive to own, and no betting is allowed during the races, so the events are often watched only by people who have skin in the game, including sheikhs, handlers, and owners.
On April 24, National Geographic was recognized by the Webby Awards as the inaugural "Media Company of the Year." Announced annually since 1996, the Webby Awards recognize excellence in media, from website and social presence to video content and advertising. "National Geographic has set a high bar this year and we're thrilled to honor them with the inaugural Webby Media Company of the Year Award," says David-Michel Davies, CEO of the Webby Awards. "Spanning everything from machine learning and chatbots to virtual reality and social platforms, their award-winning creative contributions have leveraged the Internet in exciting new ways to deliver the larger-than-life content that National Geographic is best known for directly to fans around the world." Media Company of the Year awards are intended to recognize companies that have the most wins across editorial and branded content categories.
What do animals and galaxies have in common? The similarity is now helping conservationists monitor endangered animals that are often targeted by poachers. By deploying small drones with infrared cameras attached, scientists are developing tools for wildlife officials to watch these wild animals without disturbing them. At night, when poachers are most likely to strike, wildlife guards have a difficult time spotting animals in the dark. But on infrared cameras, they're impossible to miss.
Researchers surveying in southern Peru with drones have captured images of ancient geoglyphs, and more than 50 of the massive ancient drawings are considered new discoveries by archaeologists. Etched into the high desert of southern Peru more than a millennium ago, the enigmatic Nasca lines continue to capture our imagination. More than a thousand of these geoglyphs (literally, 'ground drawings') sprawl across the sandy soil of Nasca province, the remains of little-understood ritual practices that may have been connected to life-giving rain. Now, Peruvian archaeologists armed with drones have discovered more than 50 new examples of these mysterious desert monuments in adjacent Palpa province, traced onto the earth's surface in lines almost too fine to see with the human eye. In addition, archaeologists surveyed locally known geoglyphs with drones for the first time--mapping them in never-before-seen detail.
A drone camera films a herd of caribou as they migrate in Western Canada. The footage offers a unique look at the behavior of individuals within the herd. Flying cameras are giving biologists an all-encompassing view of migration that reveals how social interactions motivate the animals' every move. Ecologists Andrew Berdahl, a Santa Fe Institute fellow, Colin Torney of the University of Glasgow, and colleagues flew drones to capture footage of Dolphin and Union caribou, a Canadian herd, as the animals crossed from Victoria Island to the Canadian mainland in the last stage of their fall migration. Scientists have long pondered the dynamics of animal migrations, but they've had limited ways to study them.
Unlike the Cylons in Battlestar Galactica, however, this infiltrator was on a peaceful mission. In a new study published in Science Robotics, researchers at MIT unveil what they say is the most advanced robotic fish of its kind ever built. Armed with a camera and a lifelike wiggle, the device could one day help biologists monitor the health of marine habitats without stressing out their aquatic denizens. The Soft Robotic Fish, SoFi for short, is 18.5 inches long from snout to tail and weighs about 3.5 pounds. It can dive 60 feet underwater and is powered by enough juice for about 40 minutes of exploration.
When it comes to moving your limbs, you don't need to see to believe. Intuitively, you know where your limbs are, as well as the positions they're making. This kind of awareness, called kinesthesia, is missing from prosthetic limbs--especially advanced, motorized ones. But a new study published in Science Translational Medicine lays out how a sense of self can be extended to prostheses, through cleverly crafted illusions. "By restoring the intuitive feeling of limb movement--the sensation of opening and closing your hand--we are able to blur the lines between what the patients' brains perceived as'self' versus'machine'," said Paul Marasco, director of the Cleveland Clinic's Laboratory for Bionic Integration, in a statement.