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Tasty Tech Eye Candy Of The Week (Feb 8)
By Tracy Staedter,
Discovery News, 8 February 2015.

Robots that fight fires, fly, and help us walk dominate this week's Tasty Tech Eye Candy.

1. Solar-Electric Car

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This solar-electric concept car designed for urban environments comes from a group of students at Nanyang Technological University. The car's body shell was 3D-printed from lightweight plastic and mounted on a carbon fibre chassis. Dubbed the NTU Venture 8, the car will race in this year's Shell Eco-marathon Asia.

2. Fire-Fighting Robot

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On Feb 4, scientists showed off the latest capabilities of the Shipboard Autonomous Fire-Fighting Robot, or SAFFiR for short, which is being developed to fight fires on-board navy vessels. The robot walked across uneven floors, used thermal imaging to identify overheated equipment, and manipulated a hose to extinguish a small fire.

3. Old Computer Part Found

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This week, a very rare and old part from one of the world’s first computers was donated to a team at The National Museum of Computing. The part, called Chassis 1A, belonged to a computer called the Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator originally built at the Cambridge University in England in the late 1940s. The part will add yet one more piece to the reconstruction of EDSAC, which is expected to be completed later this year at the Museum.

4. World's Largest Airport Terminal

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China has the world's largest population, the world's largest building by square feet (the New Century Global Centre) and soon it will have the world's largest airport terminal. Zaha Hadid Architects unveiled plans for its Beijing New Airport Terminal Building, which is part of a new airport being planned for the city. The terminal will be 7,534,737 sq. ft. and the entire airport should be completed by 2018.

5. Sixth Sense Sensor

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An ultrathin sensor could endow humans with a sense they lack, but one that is common in the animal kingdom: magnetoception. This sense allows organisms from bacteria to birds and sharks to detect the Earth's magnetic field and use it to navigate. Scientists form IFW Dresden created a very thin, wearable sensor that allows the wearer to perceive static or dynamic magnetic fields. The sensor is so delicate, it can float on a soap bubble. It could be used in new devices that help a person navigate.

6. Capturing Wasted Energy

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So much energy is wasted. Just look at big cities like London, where crowds of commuters expend tons of energy just getting from point A to B. Architecture firm Gensler proposed a way to harness that energy by installing a network of bike and pedestrian paths called that Underline that would convert the kinetic energy of footsteps into electricity. For their idea, the firm won the London Planning Award for Best Conceptual Project.

7. Customized Exoskeleton

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Robotic exoskeletons are getting more streamlined and all the more wearable. Joo H. Kim, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering, is working on a way to make them fit properly. He and his team are developing a computer model that will be able to optimize the design of robo-suits for individual people. That could improve the use of these devices for everyone from people with disabilities to military soldiers.

8. Octopus-Inspired Robot

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Octopi are not the most aerodynamic water creatures, but they are pretty darn fast. Wanting to replicate that feature, a team of scientists from the University of Southampton, MIT, and the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology built a squishy octopus-like robot that has no moving parts, other than its elastic outer body. To swim, the robot inflates its body with water and the rapidly shoots the water out through its backside. The manoeuvre propels the robot up to ten body lengths in less than a second.

9. Garden Tower

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Germany's Frankfurt airport is getting a beautiful new building, designed for sustainability. The Flying Garden Tower, designed by Austria's Coop Himmelb(l)au studio, will allow tons of natural light to stream inside, reducing the need for artificial lighting. Hanging gardens will span the entire height of the building, filtering air and providing shade on the buildings sunny side.

10. Millennium Falcon Quadcopter

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This week, a video from DIYer Olivier C went viral. It shows his hand-crafted Millennium Falcon drone zooming low and fast over a nightscape. He carved the Star Wars spacecraft from a piece of lightweight insulation and made the cockpit, gun turrets and a bank of blue-white LEDs to scale. You can see the video here.

[Source: Discovery News. Edited. Some links added.]

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