Tuesday 24 January 2012

Laboratories: looks like the high-tech of the future - III


Researchers at Harvard University have developed a technology that facilitates the testing of algorithms group on hundreds or thousands of tiny robots. Kilobots called, these robots the size of an insect moving on three legs, interacting and coordinating their actions as a team. A report from Harvard in June 2011 introduced a set of 25 robots performing different actions in a group, such as drilling, development training, and synchronization.

The idea of thousands of small swarming robots gives you cold sweats? Yet researchers say that one day the swarms of robots could explore the tunnels in search of survivors, remove pollutants, or self-assemble to act as a support structure in the collapse of buildings. They can also be made to act independently to help pollinate crops. We'd rather not think about all the uses that could be made in time of war ...

For now, the Kilobots were designed to provide scientists a test platform for advancing research on collective behavior, and thus enable them to meet challenges and varied.

Artificial skin

Researchers have created an electronic skin, so flexible it can be stretched more than twice its size, in any direction, resuming its original shape when released. Elasticity is one of the many features of this new transparent pressure sensor developed by chemical engineers at Stanford, whose goal is to create a "super skin" artificial.

The sensor uses a transparent film of carbon nanotubes that behave like tiny springs, allowing the sensor to accurately measure the force exerted, it is slightly stretched or compressed significantly. The sensors could be used as touch screen computers, such as touch or hearing, such as artificial skin for robots.

Electronic self-healing

When a tiny circuit board inside a chip cracks or breaks down, the entire chip - if not the entire apparatus - is doomed. And if the system could repair itself, without the user being aware of anything? A team of engineers from the University of Illinois developed a self-healing system that restores the electrical conductivity of a circuit cracked in no time.

They developed a system of capsules inserted into the circuit board, each filled with liquid metal. When the circuit is broken, the liquid is released to restore the conductivity and complete the circuit. During testing, the new system is a split second to repair the circuit and return 99% of its capacity. The system is autonomous, that is to say it can be used to repair circuits are difficult to access or that the fault has not been located.

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