Robotic Walking Fossils

Using a found fossil, roboticists and scientists used the skeletal structure and footprints of this species to create a moving model. Watch the video above to see the complete process. Really interesting way of tracing back (reverse engineering is their terminology) millions of years of science.

Even more interesting than the video, is the website that let’s anyone explore the different animations and algorithms that were tested in this experiment. I ended up spending quite a few minutes going through the different selection options like spine curvature, body height, and more. Highly recommend you check it out here!

If you have time, and a lot of interest in this stuff, here’s a link to the academic paper that was published. Enjoy!

Trash Eating “Shark”

Drones have – for the most part – been partitioned to the sky. But drone-like robots have been existing and thriving on land (and in water) for years. Insert RanMarine’s WasteShark. This drone is like a roomba for the water.

It sucks up garbage in marina areas in Dubai and several European countries at the moment. Take a look at the video below for more details!

NASA Reinvented the Wheel

@nasa

It’s finals for me right now, so my posts will be shorter for the next week or two. But I’m going to be doing a short snippet of technology I find interesting each day.

For today’s technology, it is NASA’s mesh wheel. It is made of shape-memory alloy. Typically when something is deformed, it can’t go back to its original shape. But NASA invented this material that reverts back to the original form. Super interesting and cool.

If you want to know more, definitely check out this video below. Pretty detailed breakdown and explanation of the process.

3D Printed Hearts are a Scientific Breakthrough

Piggybacking off of a recent 3D printing post of mine, there is a big story in the news today. A university in Israel has officially printed the first biomimetic heart in history. I am not someone who is adept at scientific terminology, so I highly suggest you watch the short video above.

I also came across this very – VERY – in depth academic journal that outlines the process for this technology. If you’re interested in knowing the nitty gritty details, it was a great read. Definitely over my head, but I think it’s extremely interesting trying to understand reading material that is out of your comfort zone.

The scientists in the video said the blood-pumping actions that a normal heart would do itself, is still a few years away for the 3D printed one they created. However, they did elude to the fact that biomedical 3D printing is a largely unmapped territory that could become very successful in the near future. There is amazing stuff on the horizon people!

Generative Design

3D printing took the world by storm a few years ago, and designers haven’t looked back. In fact, the possibilities have started unfolding in many new ways. Tamu, a design company overseas, created the world’s “most optimized folding chair, which takes up less space and the least amount of material possible to make.”

So how do they do it? A thing called Generative Design. Designers put parameters into the computer, which takes those simple points and fills in between the dots. You can see the rudimentary physical model the design team created below, alongside the corresponding digital model they input.

From that minimal, planar model, the designers then have the capability to interpret the space between each hard point. Those hard points won’t change, so the structure will be kept intact. But the space of each plane has a lot of wiggle room. For example:

Look at all of the unique data that the computer can come up with. Those webs still create a structurally sound piece of furniture, but by thinking outside of the box (pun intended) the program is able to warp the planes into more hollow spaces. Resulting in the masterpiece we see here:

I mean, look how compact and flat it is! And it’s visually stunning. Amazing how designers can use new technology to create something so unique. I wish I knew more about Generative Design so I could give you specific details, but it’s still over my head. Here’s a video I had seen a couple of years ago when it had first launched. Enjoy!

My Color Project is Complete!

One of my projects for this semester has been completed as of today! I won’t officially present everything for another week or so, but I wanted to share the results. These posters will be hung up in an art gallery setting for our class with Ford. I will be inserting the poster’s text below after a few close up shots of the photographs. Enjoy!

Cleaning up Oil spills with Hair

Image result for cleaning up oil spills with human hair
@vox

I recently saw a video (watch it here!) that had featured an organization out of San Fransisco that is using human hair to clean up oil spills. The company, Matter of Trust, has been operating for several years now, and has received donations of thousands of pounds of hair to date.

Now, I don’t know a lot about oil spills, but their site has quite a bit of educational material (they even donate mats and booms to schools for student experiments) on their products. The photo above shows a boom. This is a recycled nylon that is then stuffed with hair. Matter of Trust is sent all kinds of hair – human, dog, cat, alpaca, etc; short, long, and any length in between. Hair has a special property companies have only been able to mimic synthetically. It is porous, so oil can be soaked up, but it also is almost entirely hydrophobic, shedding water at an incredible rate.

It is also completely natural and sustainable which is an amazing bonus. There are over 80,000 hair salons and more than 100,000 pet groomers in the United States alone. This company is donated all kinds of hair, which they then process into their products. There are several thousands oil spills each year, all ranging in size and deadliness.

Here is a short video in which this company demonstrates the effectiveness of a hair boom:

It’s wonderful to see companies like this take such a seemingly overlooked material and create something so influential. Check out all of their videos here!

There are now Roombas for your Garden

I’ve never had a Roomba. And I’ve never had my own garden. But a new company on Kickstarter is combining the two through their original design dubbed the Tertill.

I don’t have much to say on this, other than the fact I think it’s adorable and amazing. As robotics become more and more accessible to the average person, the unique ideas will be what sets a company apart.

Though people with gardens are typically the green-thumb types that will somewhat enjoy taking care of their land, I can imagine this would come in handy for certain folks with busy schedules. Their Kickstart site says you’ll need to keep the Tertill inside the garden with shallow barriers on the perimeter. Other than that, sensors will distinguish between weeds and actual plants. It’s solar powered so you won’t have to worry about charging it or plugging it in to run.

Solar Powered Weed Control

One of the best things about this design is that it’s completely chemical free. Say goodbye to the Roundup sprays, and continue growing beautiful things. Happy planting!

Designing Around the Human That Can’t Put Their Phone Down

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@nworeport

This is probably one of the most fascinating and infuriating designs I’ve seen in a long time. People have become so ingrained in their phones – even whilst walking across a busy street – that a Dutch town has started putting in pedestrian stop lights. No, it is not the same as the universal red blinking hand and white person walking signaling we see everywhere (like the photo above). It is even more obnoxious than that.

Several cities across Europe have started to adopt in-the-ground lighting that coincide with the traffic lights above. Here are some visuals:

So, why are we starting to do this? Well, turns out, people – might I add those who are not the brightest light bulbs in the box – have started walking across intersections while looking down at their phones. Like I said…not the brightest.

Designers being the cool people that they are, have now solved for this problem by putting lights below. Now, lazy people who don’t want to look up from their devices, can walk safely across the road without even having to try. How amazing! Let’s stop teaching our kids we have to look both ways before crossing the street. Brilliant.

As you can tell, I’m not super happy about this. This is a great example of ingenious design, and yet, people are balking. Several boards for these cities have said this is merely “rewarding bad behavior.” And I’d have to agree. I listened to a podcast the other night that had discussed the benefits and possible downfalls of artificial intelligence in the future. One of the researchers had said people often fear the one on one experience individuals will have with robots. But what he is concerned about, is the interactions people will have with other people once they’ve interacted with AI.

For example, he mentioned children talking to Siri/Alexa/Google in an authoritative tone without using pleasantries. “Siri, play me this song.” “Alexa, remind me to do this tomorrow.” “Google, tell me what ____ is.” All without one please or thank you. Children are (hopefully) taught at a young age to use pleasantries because it’s the right way to treat people. It’s polite. What starts to happen when children get what they want from AI by being rude? Will they start to be rude to other kids on the playground, bossing them around and hoping for obedient results? “Suzy, give me the ball.” Kids are ruthless enough as it is.

To be fair, I had never thought about this so poignantly. We see robots revolt in action movies after mistreatment and humans kill off robots after they’ve gotten too powerful. All of that is fairly black and white, and physical too. Easy to digest and predict. But what I’ve failed to see fleshed out, is this nuanced ripping of our social fabric like this scientist theorizes.

Now, I’m not suggesting this pedestrian lighting initiative is tearing apart the way of life. But I am suggesting people should look up from their damn phones because that’s gonna rip apart social fabric real quick. It’s already begun.