Scanning delicate works of art and delivering cupcakes are just two tasks that robots handle well
By 2016, researchers at the Swiss Space Center of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology hope to begin launching a family of small satellites like this prototype, which is designed to clean up space debris that endangers rockets and working satellites in orbit. If all goes according to plan, a CleanSpace One satellite will capture a target with jellyfish-like tentacles, then use its thrusters to hurl itself and the target into the Earth’s atmosphere, where they will burn up on reentry.
Photo:Image: EPFL/AP Photo
Unfortunate company name notwithstanding, the Assmann iPhone jacket with built-in projector is completely cool. The add-on will project pictures, movies, and presentations onto any blank surface.
Photo: Odd Anderson/Getty Images
Those tires at the front of the boat are not for decoration. This rugged watercraft is actually capable of transforming, with the push of a button, from a boat to a truck capable of hauling a 1500-kilogram payload at highway speeds. The Phibian High Speed Amphitruck from Gibbs Amphibians makes the transition from waterway to roadway in less than 10 seconds.
Photo: Gibbs Amphibians
This credit-card-size computer, whose main components are an ARM processor, a USB port, and an HDMI connection, is one of the hottest products available for geeks. It was designed by volunteers at the behest of the Raspberry Pi Foundation in Cambridge, England, to help teach kids how to code. Demand for the computer has outstripped supply to the point that would-be buyers have caused one supplier’s website to crash.
Photo: Edmond Terakopian/eyevine/Redux
This life-size statue of Thomas Jefferson, created for the Smithsonian Institution’s “Slavery at Jefferson’s Monticello: Paradox of Liberty” exhibit, is actually a clone. It was rendered by a 3-D printer from ultrahigh-res laser scans of the original. The statue is part of the Smithsonian’s plan to create exact copies of pieces in its collection so that the replicas can be dispatched to museums across the globe.
This robot, developed by Susumu Tachi, a researcher at Keio University in Yokohama, Japan, mimics the movements of its human controller. Because the robot allows the controller to see, hear, and feel whatever it experiences, its ability to respond improves continuously.
Photo: Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images
Art conservationists are concerned that Guernica, the black-and-white antiwar masterpiece by Pablo Picasso, might be irreparably damaged if moved from its current home at the Reina Sofia Museum, in Madrid. They are analyzing it in situ using advanced infrared and ultraviolet photographic tools mounted on a mobile robotic structure. The analysis will reveal the scratches, stains, and creases that are the result of its travels since Picasso committed it to canvas in 1937.
Photo: Sergio Perez/Reuters/Landov
This electric vehicle, produced at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence, can rotate its wheels 90 degrees to make parallel parking a snap. What you can’t see is its ability to narrow its dimensions to squeeze into a tight parking space, or the even more awesome ability to mechanically and electrically dock with a group of similar cars to form a train.
Photo: Carmen Jaspersen/EPA/Landov
These ordinary-looking eyeglasses, seen resting on a charging device, hold a secret in plain sight. A slight tap of the frames or a tilt of the wearer’s head activates a liquid crystal layer in each lens that adjusts the focus. The emPower spectacles, for people who wear bifocals or progressive lenses, provide more clarity at any of its doctor-prescribed settings than traditional lenses can.
Photo: Chris Bristol/The Tribune/AP Photo
If you can get cash 24 hours a day, why not cupcakes? This touch-screen machine is a so-called cupcake ATM, which dispenses single-serving boxes of cake from the Sprinkles Cupcakes retail outlet in Beverly Hills, Calif. A robotic arm is programmed to grab the flavors the customers order no matter when the sweet tooth needs indulging.