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Tesla unveils Powerwall, an Internet-connected battery for your house

After quite a while of teasing, Tesla has unveiled its home battery: Powerwall. Tesla's new Powerwall home battery system allows people to disconnect from the power grid for a few hours, which isn't perfect, but it will have significant power savings for countless people around the world.

 

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that the new Powerwall is a "whole integrated system that just works and is connected to the Internet". Powerwall is packed with lithium-ion cells and a liquid thermal-control system, with Powerwall being tested with specific customers for the past year. The home battery connects to the Internet so that it can track power usage and share the information with utilities.

 

How much will Tesla's Powerwall set you back? Right now, the 10kWh system is offered to installers for $3500, while the 7kWh will cost people $3000. These two systems do not include the cost of a DC-to-AC inverter, but if you've already got solar panels, you won't need that additional DC-to-AC inverter. Distributors can lease the Powerwall to consumers, with the Tesla-made device including a 10-year guaranteed life with warranty, and will begin shipping in late summer.

Continue reading 'Tesla unveils Powerwall, an Internet-connected battery for your house' (full post)

Study: One-third of children use a touchscreen by age one

More than one-third of babies are interacting with touchscreen tablets and smartphones before they are able to crawl, walk and talk. Specifically, 36 percent of children have experience with touching or scrolling before age one, with 15 percent using apps by the same age, according to the Einstein Medical Center's pediatrics department.

 

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Mobile technology becomes more common place, and while there are plenty of educational apps available, researchers are most concerned about children from zero-to-two years old. It's a critical time for brain development, in which human interaction is absolutely vital.

 

"On the one hand, we have lots of experience with television, and we know that it has some pitfalls and some dangers for children in terms of their educational learning," said Laura Jana, an Omaha-based pediatrician, in a statement to CBS News. "Some benefits as well. Mobile devices, when we're talking about screens and things, are so new that this is a really important survey that has given us some initial information about just how prevalent the use is in very young ages."

Continue reading 'Study: One-third of children use a touchscreen by age one' (full post)

Audi researchers create liquid 'e-diesel' out of water and air

Audi has created high-quality liquid "e-diesel," a synthetic diesel mainly made of water and CO2, according to the German automaker.

 

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Researchers first heat steam so it is broken down into hydrogen and oxygen, at temperatures above 1,472 Fahrenheit, and then mix the hydrogen with carbon dioxide. The result is a blue crude, something similar to crude oil, which is then refined into e-diesel. Unlike traditional diesel fuel, there is no sulfur or aromatic hydrocarbons which are bad for the environment.

 

"If we can make widespread use of CO2 as a raw material, we will make a crucial contribution to climate protection and the efficient use of resources, and put the fundamentals of the green economy in place," said Johanna Wanka, German Education and Research minister, during a press conference.

Continue reading 'Audi researchers create liquid 'e-diesel' out of water and air' (full post)

'Space Spider' 3D scanner could be used on space station

Artec 3D hopes that its "Space Spider" 3D scanner will one day have a presence in space, possibly aboard the International Space Station.

 

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The Space Spider's advanced cooling system has been designed to prevent the handheld scanner from overheating, making it an ideal solution while in microgravity. It's not uncommon to hear that electronics in orbit overheat and malfunction, with NASA and other space agencies asking companies to find solutions to prevent these types of issues.

 

"Imagine the potential of using 3D scanning technology on the International Space Station paired with a 3D printer," said Artyom Yuhkin, president and CEO of Artec 3D. "The Space Spider boasts an enhanced cooling system that allows the user to capture accurate 3D data more rapidly. This handheld scanner can endure some of the most difficult situations on Earth and has been engineered to perform in nearly zero-gravity environments when called upon."

Continue reading ''Space Spider' 3D scanner could be used on space station' (full post)

Stanford researchers create robot able to drag 2,000 times its weight

Researchers from Stanford University will demonstrate a unique tiny robot that is able to drag an object up to 2,000 times heavier than itself. The "MicroTug" robots were inspired by the anatomical design of geckos and ants, which are able to carry large amounts of weight - and travel in unique manners.

 

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A separate robot is able to carry up to 100 times its body weight, using feet with tiny rubber spikes that can physically bend under pressure.

 

The actual design of the robots is simple, with a processor, motor, battery, wheels, adhesive layer and winch used to make up the powerful MicroTugs.

Continue reading 'Stanford researchers create robot able to drag 2,000 times its weight' (full post)

Researchers create 3D printed medical implant that changes shape

US medical researchers have created a 3D printed medical device that is able to change shape and help improve breathing as a child grows. Researchers believe the device worked better than they originally imagined, and look forward to a future clinical trial.

 

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The custom biomaterial was used to treat three children suffering from tracheobronchomalacia, a medical issue when airway walls are weak, causing them to collapse after a rough cough or unusual breathing patterns. The 3D-printed splints were tubes - both hollow and porous - that can be attached over impacted airways, giving them increased strength.

 

"This is the first 3D printed implant specifically designed to change shape over time to allow for a child's growth before finally reabsorbing as the disease is cured," said Dr. Glenn Green, associate professor of pediatric otolaryngology at the University of Michigan, and contributing author for the study, in a statement published by Reuters.

US Navy successfully refuels X-47B UAV in-flight, extending range

The US Navy proudly confirmed the X-47B unmanned aircraft and Omega K-707 tanker successfully completed an autonomous aerial refueling (AAR) operation. The UAV received more than 4,000 pounds of fuel and was able to communicate with the K-707 to maneuver a fixed refueling probe into the tanker's drogue.

 

 

"What we accomplished today demonstrates a significant, groundbreaking step forward for the Navy," said Capt. Beau Duarte, Unmanned Carrier Aviation program manager for the US Navy. "The ability to autonomously transfer and receive fuel in flight will increase the range and flexibility of future unmanned aircraft platforms, ultimately extending carrier power projection."

 

It's already challenging enough to have a manned pilot successfully complete aerial refueling operations, but teaching the UAV to do it "creates another layer of complexity." However, the US military has been curious to see if aerial refueling could be done to help refuel UAVs, as more unmanned aircraft are added by the Air Force and Navy.

Continue reading 'US Navy successfully refuels X-47B UAV in-flight, extending range' (full post)

Relief teams using drones for search and rescue missions in Nepal

The death toll continues to rise after a brutal 7.8-magnitude earthquake in Nepal last week, with international search and rescue efforts currently underway. Relief organizations are deploying small drones that can photograph quake damage and hunt for possible survivors.

 

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Some groups are equipping drones with thermal cameras so they can detect body heat of survivors buried under debris. In addition, the Aeryon drone has a high-powered digital zoom camera that can accurately pick up facial details of a person from 1,000 feet away.

 

"You can send them into areas that are inaccessible," said Rajul Singh, executive director of GlobalMedic, in a statement published by Discovery. "If I can't get past the road I can put the UAV up there to see if anyone is there that needs my help. There are not enough helicopters in Nepal right now, and they shouldn't be taking pictures, they should be flying aid."

Air Force's mysterious X-37B will have another test flight next month

The United States Air Force's X-37B space plane will launch on United Launch Alliance's Atlas 5 rocket from Cape Canaveral on May 20, it has been confirmed. The original launch date was May 6, but a payload problem forced officials to push the launch back two weeks.

 

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Exact details about the spacecraft, its payload and what it will be doing are classified - but it looks like the X-37B will help give engineers a better glimpse of an "experimental propulsion system."

 

"We are excited about our fourth X-37B mission," said Randy Walden, director of the US Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, in a statement. "With the demonstrated success of the first three missions, we're able to shift our focus from initial checkouts of the vehicle to testing of experimental payloads."

Continue reading 'Air Force's mysterious X-37B will have another test flight next month' (full post)

Korean researchers create wearable thermoelectric generator tech

KAIST researchers in South Korea are working on creating a thermoelectric generator that can be used to help power wearable electronics. The team developed a glass fabric TE generator that is able to produce electricity based on heat created by the human body.

 

 

"Our technology presents an easy and simple way of fabricating an extremely flexible, light, and high-performance TE generator," said Byung Jin Cho, head of the KAIST research team, in a statement to the media. "We expect that this technology will find further applications in scale-up systems such as automobiles, factories, aircrafts, and vessels where we see abundant thermal energy being wasted."

 

There have been organic and inorganic material TE generators manufactured in the past, while Cho's team is interested in a new concept that is able to be flexible yet not lose much thermal energy. KAIST's design utilizes a self-sustaining structure that is able to accurately trap inorganic TE materials in between upper and lower substrates.

Continue reading 'Korean researchers create wearable thermoelectric generator tech' (full post)

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