NASA’s Mars 2020 rover mission will launch with an autonomous mini-helicopter, with both scheduled to launch in July of that year and land on the Red Planet in February 2021. This stripped-down chopper will make a maximum of five short journeys in the Martian atmosphere, studying it like never before. It does not come equipped with science instruments, but is fitted with a high-resolution color imager. “We envision helicopters opening doors to new types of exploration on Mars,” said Håvard Grip, flight-control and aerodynamics lead for the Mars Helicopter, during a presentation with NASA’s Future In-Space Operations (FISO) working group. Read more for another video and additional information.
Photo credit: LaughingSquid
Long before internet memes, there was Morris the Cat, the mascot for 9Lives brand cat food, who has appeared on its packaging and in many of its television commercials. This particular appearance was on a 1986 calendar titled “Morris, A Cat For Our Times” that featured several pieces of technology. Did you know that three different cats have played Morris the Cat? That’s right, the original was discovered in 1968, at the Hinsdale Humane Society, a Chicago-area animal shelter. Read more for additional pictures.
Brown University researchers have developed a 3D-printed hydrogel that can repair itself. To be more specific, it’s a dual polymer – one with covalent bonds and the other ionic – capable of bending, twisting or sticking together when treated with certain chemicals. The first provides strength and structural integrity, while the second the ability to bend and self-adhere. When combined, the soft material is perfect for use in robotics and / or medicine. Read more for an image showing how it can even be used to create LEGO bricks.
Even when the Concorde was in service, it still took just over 3-hours to travel from New York City to London, but SpaceX could change that within a decade. If you were to take the same journey Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starship, it would take just 29 minutes. Analysts believe that point-to-point rocket travel will be worth $20-billion in less than 10-years, thanks to SpaceX rockets traversing the upper atmosphere. Read more for a TED Talks video about these 30-minute trips.
A mysterious new Apple AirPower wireless charger image appeared on the AirPods page. It was first announced way back in 2017, but has faced numerous delays, possibly due to the charging technology required to simultaneously power an iPhone, AirPods and Apple Watch. Since the new AirPods were announced earlier this week with a wireless charging case, it only makes sense to quickly push this into production. Apple iOS developer Guilherme Rambo discovered references to AirPower in the watchOS code. Read more for another video discussing AirPower and additional information.
Open Meals has partnered with marketing firm Dentsu to open a restaurant in Tokyo next year that will offer 3D-printed sushi catered to individual dietary needs. How does it work? After making a reservation, the restaurant sends a “health test kit” where you send back a biological sample — saliva, urine, stool — and they analyze what kinds of nutrients best suits your body’s needs. “Then we add those specific nutrients to your food to 3D print out those sushi for you,” said a representative. Read more for more unusual 3d-printer creations.
Just in case you haven’t seen Gravity Industries’ now patented Jet Suit, the company has just released a new video showing three of them zipping around a lake course, giving us a preview of what the future racing series could be like. Want one of these jet suits to play around with yourself? It’ll set you back £340,000, or $452,000 USD at the current exchange rate. The suit consists of five small kerosene-fueled turbine engines — two worn on each arm and one on the back – that produces more than 1,000 horsepower. Read more for a video of a jet suit landing on multiple helicopters.
Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin have developed an innovative solar-powered harvesting system that absorbs moisture from the air and converts it into clean water suitable for drinking. This technology could eventually be used in disaster situations, water crises or developing countries. It’s based on “super sponges,” or hydrogel and gel-polymer hybrid materials designed to retain a lot of water. This material can also release water upon being heated. “We have developed a completely passive system where all you need to do is leave the hydrogel outside and it will collect water,” said Fei Zhao, a postdoctoral researcher and co-author of the study. Read more for a video and additional information.
Photo credit: Hossein Heidari / UC Berkeley
Most 3D printers add material together (such as liquid molecules or powder grains being fused together) layer by layer, but this new invention can materialize just about any object using light. Developed by a research team at UC Berkley, the process begins with a 3D computer model of an item, which is then converted into a series of light patterns, and then using a standard video projector connected to a laptop, those are projected into a rotating glass cylinder with a light-sensitive resin (liquid polymers, photosensitive molecules and dissolved oxygen). Last, but not least, the light-activated molecules deplete the oxygen in specific three-dimensional areas of the resin, and once depleted, the liquid polymer transforms into a solid by forming molecular cross-links. Read more for a video and additional information.
Japanese engineer Masaaki Nagumo has always wanted a real-life Mobile Suit Gundam mecha. So, he built LW-Mononofu, a 28-foot-tall robot that weighs in at 7-tons as a project for his employer, industrial machinery maker Sakakibara Kikai. It took six years to complete, with movable arms / fingers, a flexible upper body, and the ability to walk forwards and backwards. Plus, what would a mecha be without a weapon, as it comes equipped with a metal gun that shoots sponge balls at a speeds of up to 87 mph. Read more for five more cool robots you won’t believe exist.