This robotic "eel" hunts down the source of water pollution

July 27, 2017 by  
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Lake Geneva’s latest resident—all four feet of it—is neither man nor beast. Dubbed the Envirobot , the critter is a biomimetic robot designed by Swiss researchers to pinpoint the source of pollution in tainted waters. Bereft of fins or propellers, Envirobot slithers through water like an eel, leaving mud and aquatic life undisturbed. Just as stealthily, it uses sensors to gather data from various locations, which it transmits to a remote computer in near-instantaneous fashion. Even for an automaton, Envirobot is uncommonly clever. Besides its capacity to follow a preprogrammed path, it can also make its own decisions, independently sniffing out the origin of the contamination. Related: Fukushima robot finds lava-like deposits thought to be melted nuclear fuel “There are many advantages to using swimming robots,” said Auke Ijspeert, head of biorobotics at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne , in a statement . “They can take measurements and send us data in real-time—much faster than if we had measurement stations set up around the lake.” The serpentine design, which is supported by a series of small electric motors, has several advantages, as well. “Compared with conventional propeller-driven underwater robots, they are less likely to get stuck in algae or branches as they move around,” Ijspeert said. “What’s more, they produce less of a wake, so they don’t disperse pollutants as much.” Funded through a grant from Switzerland’s Nano-Tera program, Envirobot comprises several modules. Some of these contain conductivity and temperature sensors; others have miniaturized biological sensors that harbor bacteria, small crustacean, or fish cells that respond to water toxicity in different ways. The modular tack also makes it easy for engineers to change Envirobot’s composition or vary its length when the occasion calls for it. “The robot can be easily taken apart, transported to a remote water reservoir, for example, and put back together to begin testing,” said Behzad Bayat, another biorobotics scientist at EPFL. Already, Envirobot has taken several dips in Lake Geneva. It recently underwent a test that simulated water pollution by diffusing salt into a tiny area just off the shore, changing the water’s conductivity. The ersatz eel, researchers said, performed swimmingly. Although the ultimate goal is for Envirobot to pick up heavy metals and other pollutants, field tests for the “eel’s” biological components are trickier to carry out. “We obviously can’t contaminate a lake like we do the test water in our lab,” said Jan Roelof van der Meer, project coordinator and head of the department of fundamental microbiology at the University of Lausanne . “For now, we will continue using salt as the contaminant until the robot can easily find the source of the contamination. Then we will add biological sensors to the robot and carry out tests with toxic compounds.” + École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne [Via Techcrunch ]

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This robotic "eel" hunts down the source of water pollution

Giant robots and 3D printers are building a futuristic house in Switzerland

July 12, 2017 by  
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Researchers from ETH Zurich University plan to use giant robots and 3D printers to build “the first house in the world to be designed, planned and built using predominantly digital processes.” The DFAB House will fuse cutting-edge technologies – including 3D printing, robotic fabrication and prefab construction – to create a futuristic home worthy of the Jetsons. The researchers will collaborate with business partners to build the three-story, 656-square-foot house as part of the National Centre of Competence in Research (NCCR) Digital Fabrication project. They will build it at NEST– research facility in Dübendorf, Switzerland , operated by the Empa institute. Related: Floating timber pavilion transforms a Swiss lake into an exciting new public square “Unlike construction projects that use only a single digital building technology, such as 3D-printed houses, the DFAB House brings a range of new digital building technologies together,” said the project’s initiator, ETH professor Matthias Kohler. Related: A 10K tiny house 3D-printed in 24 hours A six-foot tall robot mounted on caterpillar tracks will build steel-wire mesh sections which will have a dual role–it will function as formwork and reinforcement for concrete walls. The mesh is then filled with a concrete mix that forms a load-bearing wall topped with a 3D-printed ceiling slab. The house is scheduled to complete in summer 2018. It will function as a residential and working space for guest researchers and partners of the NEST project. + ETH Zurich + Empa Via Dezeen

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Giant robots and 3D printers are building a futuristic house in Switzerland

Adorable AI robot stolls the beach scribbling poems in the sand

July 4, 2017 by  
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Forget the beach balls and margaritas – nothing says relaxing day at the beach like robot-created poetry. Designer Yuxi Liu has created Poet on the Shore – an adorable AI-powered robot that rolls around the beach scribbling lines of poetic prose in the sand. Liu created the battery-powered robot for her Design Informatics thesis at the University of Edinburgh. The adorable mod cube uses four wheels on continuous tracks to easily and autonomously cruise over the sand. Equipped with an anemometer (a device that measures wind speed) as an antenna, the robot picks up on various environmental factors that are recorded into the machine’s data stream. Related: Meet Gita, an intelligent autonomous cargo robot that can carry your stuff Using artificial intelligence technology, the robot is able to piece together this data to create varying verses of poetry, which are imprinted in its tracks as it cruises over the sand. The robot’s vocabulary is programmed with general grammar and spelling conventions, but is free to arrange the words in any form it pleases. According to Liu, the robot “enjoys watching the sea, listening to the sound of waves lapping on the beach, the murmurs of the winds, children’s conversing, and the incessant din of seabirds. Most of the time, it roams alone to listen and feel. Sometimes, it writes verses into the sand, and watches the waves wash them away.” The Poet on the Shore is part of a series Liu created called, “I, Machine”, which explores the “sense, sociability and morality of machines.” + Poet on the Shore Via PSFK

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Adorable AI robot stolls the beach scribbling poems in the sand

Federal court stunts EPA plans to suspend methane emissions rule

July 4, 2017 by  
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President Donald Trump in February instructed cabinet members “to alleviate unnecessary regulatory burdens placed on the American people,” and it appears Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt has taken that to mean attack the environment and public health . He attempted to suspend a rule put in place under President Barack Obama to regulate methane emissions from new gas and oil wells. But now a federal appeals court has dealt Pruitt and Trump a blow. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled yesterday that the EPA can’t suspend the Obama-era rule. In a two to one decision, the court said under the Clean Air Act , the EPA doesn’t have the authority to obstruct the rule. Pruitt had placed a 90-day moratorium on enforcing portions of the methane rule – and then stretched that moratorium to two years. He also said his move wasn’t subject to court review. But the federal appeals court called his decision unreasonable, arbitrary, and capricious. Related: In surprise vote, Senate keeps Obama’s methane rules in place Judges Robert Wilkins and David Tatel said, “EPA’s stay, in other words, is essentially an order delaying the rule’s effective date, and this court has held that such orders are tantamount to amending or revoking a rule.” Pruitt’s efforts to foment climate change as much as he can haven’t been put to a full stop. The court did say the EPA does have the right to reverse the rule – but will have to go through a new rule-making process to get there. When it comes to greenhouse gases, methane is 25 more times powerful than carbon dioxide , according to The New York Times. American Petroleum Institute spokesperson Reid Porter said 2012 standards had already done some work in cutting methane emissions. In a statement he said, “A stay is needed to allow for regulatory certainty as EPA continues the formal process to review the rule making.” Environmental Defense Fund president Fred Krupp took a different view, saying, “The court’s decision ends the continued pollution by the oil and gas industry that’s been illegally allowed by Pruitt.” Via The New York Times Images via Wikimedia Commons and Ken Doerr on Flickr

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Federal court stunts EPA plans to suspend methane emissions rule

Swinging robot inspired by sloths could help future farmers

April 17, 2017 by  
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Over 7 billion people live on Earth, which means feeding our growing population will require us to produce food more efficiently than we are now. Could Robots could help us ramp up food production? Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) scientists believe so. They designed Tarzan, a robot inspired by swinging sloths, that could help future farmers more effectively monitor their crops . Take a look at the video below to see Tarzan in action. Tarzan is a two-armed robot that would hang suspended above a field on a wire, and move back and forth by swinging – like the mammal infamous for being lazy. But robot Tarzan is anything but lazy; it could snap images of plants and send them back to the farmer so either a human or an algorithm could analyze crop growth. Georgia Tech mechanical engineering assistant professor Jonathan Rogers said in a video, “What that’s going to allow people to do is essentially have an automated way to analyze how their crops are doing and what their crops need in real time, and maybe even providing that to their crops without them having to go walk the field themselves.” Related: World’s first robot-run farm to churn out 11 million heads of lettuce per year Georgia Tech researchers will take Tarzan to the field this summer at a four acre test field growing soybeans near Athens, Georgia . Plant geneticists from the University of Georgia used to have to walk the fields taking notes on crop growth there in the hot July sun, but Tarzan could help them analyze the crops more efficiently. According to the university, “With Georgia Tech robots dangling over the field, UGA researchers will be able to get more frequent measurements and to avoid some laborious field work. Someday, they may be able to stay at their laptops miles away, in the air conditioning, scanning a steady stream of images and data sent back from the robots.” As sloths are energy efficient , the team is working on making their robot sloth energy efficient and envision it powered by the sun one day. Via Georgia Tech and Wired Images via Georgia Tech and Eric Kilby on Flickr

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Swinging robot inspired by sloths could help future farmers

Thailands first LEED Platinum vertical village to rise in Bangkok

April 17, 2017 by  
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Thailand’s wealthiest man, Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, has teamed up with architecture firm SOM to plan One Bangkok, a $3.5 billion project that will be first in Thailand to target LEED Platinum certification for Neighborhood Development. Located in the heart of the capital next to Lumphini Park, the 16.7-acre mixed-use development is one of the largest private-sector developments in Thailand to date. The “people-centric” project will include luxury amenities, public spaces, and sustainable design technologies to reduce energy use. SOM designed One Bangkok to “foster community and promote well-being in a dense urban environment” using attractive streetscapes, eight acres of public plazas, and a mixed-use program. In addition to public space, the 1.83-million-square-meter project will comprise five Grade-A office towers, five luxury hotels, three luxury residential towers, and retail. An estimated 60,000 people are expected to live and work in the district upon completion in 2025. Related: SOM designs pedestrian-friendly revamp for the heart of Philadelphia To achieve LEED Platinum certification for Neighborhood Development, One Bangkok will centralize energy and water-management systems to maximize efficiency. The landscape optimizes stormwater management efficiency by reducing runoff and retaining rainwater onsite for absorption and return to groundwater. Green spaces are also integrated into the buildings on higher levels, from cascading green terraces to networks of sky gardens. The first stage of One Bangkok is expected to open in 2021. + SOM Renderings via SOM , Diagram via PPtv Thailand

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Thailands first LEED Platinum vertical village to rise in Bangkok

Gorgeous bamboo gridshell combines Cambodian design with mathematical forms

April 17, 2017 by  
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Mathematics is beautiful, a truth not lost on architects. Luca Poian Forms designed a gorgeous bamboo pavilion that draws inspiration from the Enneper minimal surface for its striking appearance. Conceived as a landmark structure for Phnom Penh’s Freedom Park, the pavilion combines innovative digital tools with low-tech and sustainable bamboo construction that also references traditional Cambodian design. Created as a submission for the Building Trust’s Camboo Bamboo Landmark Design Challenge , Luca Poian Form’s proposal responds to the competition’s call for an innovative and temporary pavilion to help popularize bamboo as a modern and desirable material in Cambodia. The architects designed a structure that uses locally sourced bamboo in ways both familiar and novel to Cambodia. The sculptural pavilion’s split bamboo roofing references traditional weaving while its undulating arches are inspired by the Ennerper surface as well as the radiating arms of the ancient Goddess Prajnaparamita. Related: Zaha Hadid Architects Win Bid to Design Mathematics Gallery in London’s Science Museum “Known for its characteristic tensile strength, bamboo is a building material that lends itself excellently to the construction of sustainable grid-shell structures,” wrote the architects. “Celebrating the material’s qualities, our proposal derives a grid-shell pattern from the trajectory of the structure’s principal stresses under gravity, effectively eliminating shear forces and maximising the pavilion’s overall stiffness. The result is highly sculptural, structurally coherent, and spatially expressive: a structure that is timeless in its architectural language and innovative in its structural and tectonic approach.” The 110-square-meter pavilion design received an honorable mention in the design competition. + Luca Poian Forms Via divisare Images via Luca Poian Forms

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Gorgeous bamboo gridshell combines Cambodian design with mathematical forms

Drones weave moth-inspired pavilion from carbon fiber threads

April 12, 2017 by  
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The buildings of the future could be built with the help of drones . The unmanned aerial vehicles were put to the test in the University of Stuttgart’s latest robotically constructed pavilion, the cantilevering ICD/ITKE Research Pavilion 2016-17. Inspired by leaf miner moths, the biomimetic pavilion is lightweight yet incredibly strong and is made from 184 kilometers of resin-impregnated glass and carbon fiber. Created as part of a series of digitally fabricated pavilions, the ICD/ITKE Research Pavilion 2016-17 explores the potential of fiber composite materials in architecture and scalable fabrication processes. Spanning twelve meters in length, the cantilevering research pavilion has a surface area of approximately 40 square meters that weighs 1,000 kilograms. Its woven design draws inspiration from the silk “hammocks” spun by the larvae of leaf miner moths. The pavilion was constructed with two different types of robots : flying drones and stationary machines. Two stationary machines were set up on the far points of the pavilion and were equipped with industrial robotic arms strong enough to wind the carbon fiber threads. The drones were used to pass the fiber between the two stationary machines. The two types of robots communicated without the need for human intervention using an integrated sensor interface that collected real-time data. Related: Robots weave an insect-inspired carbon-fiber forest in London “The pavilion’s overall geometry demonstrates the possibilities for fabricating structural morphologies through multi-stage volumetric fibre winding, reducing unnecessary formwork through an integrated bending-active composite frame, and increasing the possible scale and span of construction through integrating robotic and autonomous lightweight UAV fabrication processes,” wrote the interdisciplinary team. “The prototypical pavilion is a proof-of-concept for a scalable fabrication processes of long-span, fibre composite structural elements, suitable for architectural applications.” + University of Stuttgart ICD Photographs by Burggraf / Reichert

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Drones weave moth-inspired pavilion from carbon fiber threads

Robots construct an art gallery in Shanghai from recycled gray bricks

March 3, 2017 by  
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Archi-Union Architects have completed an unusual art exhibition space in Shanghai with the help of robots. Created for the Chi She artist group, the building in the city’s Xuhui district was built with recycled gray-green bricks salvaged from a former building. Designed with both traditional and contemporary elements, the Chi She exhibition space features an unusual protrusion made possible with advanced digital fabrication technology. The 200-square-meter Chi She exhibition space was built to replace a former historic building, the materials of which were salvaged and reused in the new construction. While the zigzagging roof has been raised and reconstructed from timber, the most eye-catching difference between the old and new buildings is the part of the wall above the entrance door that bulges out. The architects used a robotic masonry fabrication technique developed by Fab-Union to create the curved wall, which would have been difficult to precisely achieve with traditional means. Related: WeWork’s new coworking space in Shanghai features salvaged materials from the city’s past “The precise positioning of the integrated equipment of robotic masonry fabrication technique and the construction elaborately to the mortar and bricks by the craftsmen makes this ancient material, brick, be able to meet the requirements in the new era, and realizes the presentation of the design model consummately,” wrote the architects. “The dilapidation of these old bricks coordinated with the stretch display of the curving walls are narrating a connection between people and bricks, machines and construction, design and culture, which will be spread permanently in the shadow of external walls under the setting sun.” + Archi-Union Architects Via ArchDaily Images © Su Shengliang

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Robots construct an art gallery in Shanghai from recycled gray bricks

Meet Gita, an intelligent autonomous cargo robot that can carry your stuff

February 8, 2017 by  
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https://youtu.be/OVRI7pEmKkg At just 22-inches-tall, Gita (meaning “fast trip” in Italian) can move at speeds up to 22 miles per hour, with the capacity to carry up to 40 pounds and a zero turning radius that lets it navigate easily through even the most complex environments. It also has a communicative personality along with the ability to learn and navigate both indoors and out, provided it has the guidance of a human. When on the move, it can either follow you as you walk, or navigate independently in places it is familiar with. Related: Chrysler unveils all-electric self-driving Portal car “designed by millennials for millennials” In terms of its design, it features a sleek and shiny surface, with compartments that barely show their presence. It has large rubber tire treats, with LED lights embedded that illuminate in various colors, along with cameras positioned throughout the body to help Gita navigate. According to Kris Naudus at Engadget, Gita’s main compartment was big enough to store his work backpack and contents, including a 14-inch notebook computer laid flat, with some room to spare on the edges. For those seeking to lug larger loads, Piaggio is currently working on Gita’s sibling, Kilo, which will be able to carry up to 200 pounds. Gita is currently not available to purchase, but Piaggio Fast Forward is in the process of sending the helpers out on business-to-business missions, with an eye toward consumer applications. + Piaggio Fast Forward Via Businesswire and Engadget, Images via Piaggio Fast Forward

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Meet Gita, an intelligent autonomous cargo robot that can carry your stuff

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