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Weapon Wednesday – Navy Unmanned Mine Hunter

Knifefish can autonomously hunt and identify buried and unburied seamines
Knifefish can autonomously hunt and identify buried and unburied seamines (Credit: General Dynamics)

Underwater mine-hunting is one job you don’t mind a robot taking away from you, which is why General Dynamics Mission Systems in developing the Knifefish robotic mine-hunter. The unmanned undersea vehicle (UUV) recently completed evaluation tests with the US Navy in a dummy minefield off the coast of Boston, Massachusetts, demonstrating its ability to detect and classify mines submerged at various depths. read more

Qube Tents for Social Camping

Qubes add a new dimension to camping
Qubes add a new dimension to camping (Credit: M2C Innovation)

The social campers over at M2C Innovation are back doing what they do: building modular tents that link up into full-blown campsite communities. The last time we checked in, they were focused on domes, but now they’ve moved on to Qubes. The new Qube tents are quick-setup blocks that offer enough height to stand up inside. Like Pods, these modular tents connect together with tunnels and create larger tent communities. They’re also more affordable than M2C’s original tents and are proving quite popular on crowdfunding. read more

DARPA’s Prototype X-Plane

An artist impression of the full-scale design
An artist impression of the full-scale design (Credit: DARPA)

After several years of development DARPA has successfully completed flight-testing of one of the most novel, and odd-looking, aircraft designs we’ve seen in some time – the sub-scale electric X-Plane.

After calling for an innovative new approach to an aircraft with vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) capabilities, DARPA awarded its Phase 2 contract to Aurora Flight Sciences in early 2016. Aurora’s design includes 24 electric ducted fans, 18 on the main wings and six on the smaller front canards. Both the main wings and the canards are designed to tilt upwards for vertical takeoff before rotating to the horizontal for regular flight. read more

The OctopusGripper

As the name suggests, the OctopusGripper has been based on the tentacles of the octopus
As the name suggests, the OctopusGripper has been based on the tentacles of the octopus(Credit: Festo)

The octopus is an odd creature. The mollusc’s large brain makes it a good problem solver, it has the ability to change color in double quick fashion, can dart off suddenly in a cloud of blackish ink and the lack of a skeleton allows it to squeeze through the tightest of spaces. But it’s the creature’s prehensile arms that inspired German automation firm Festo to create a versatile gripper for the production line of tomorrow. We brought you a quick introduction yesterday, so now let’s take a closer look at the OctopusGripper. read more

Don’t Just Jump Into an Expensive Smartphone

It's getting harder to justify purchasing a high-end phone, partly due to impressive budget-minded phones like...
It’s getting harder to justify purchasing a high-end phone, partly due to impressive budget-minded phones like the OnePlus 3T(Credit: Will Shanklin/New Atlas)

Premium smartphone flagships cost as much as 2-3 times more than their mid-ranged counterparts. In today’s market, the advantages of a more expensive phone are less distinct than ever. Here’s why even buyers that appreciate high-end builds and a buttery smooth software experience should think twice before paying top dollar for the latest and greatest. read more

Weapon Wednesday – Navy Rail Gun

The US Navy is testing an electromagnetic gun that can fire projectiles at six times the speed of sound.

Described as ‘Star Wars technology’ by researchers, these powerful missiles don’t rely on chemical propellants and are fuelled by electricity alone.

Strong magnetic fields are created by electricity on the ship and a ‘pulse power system’ to sent propellants flying at 4,500mph.

The technology has previously been shown to penetrate concrete at 100 miles away.

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The US Navy is testing an electromagnetic gun that can fire projectiles at six times the speed of sound 
The US Navy are testing an electromagnetic gun that can fire ammo at 4,500 mph

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Magnets can Spot Cancer

Tiny magnetic beads coated in sugar could help doctors to check if a cancer has spread. Once injected into the patient, the beads can be detected using a handheld magnetic wand — similar to a metal detector — and are used to identify the lymph nodes nearest to the cancer.

The lymph nodes form part of the lymphatic system, which drains fluid from tissues all over the body back into the bloodstream. If cancerous cells get into this system, the disease can then spread to other parts of the body.

The key to determining if cancer has spread is identifying the sentinel node — the lymph node that is nearest the tumour.

Tiny magnetic beads coated in sugar could help doctors to check if a cancer has spread
Tiny magnetic beads coated in sugar could help doctors to check if a cancer has spread

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Electric Skateboard – Motors in the Wheels

Each JayKay e-truck wheel has its own motor, the batteries are integrated into the axle and...
Each JayKay e-truck wheel has its own motor, the batteries are integrated into the axle and the electronics enclosed within the housing(Credit: JayKay)

Adding electric motion to your board can result in some under-deck chunkiness or somewhat bulky trucks spoiling the aesthetic. Germany’s JayKay says it’s managed to cram all of the electronics, electric motors and even the battery into a longboard truck that looks pretty much the same size as a non-electric flavor.

Currently at the working prototype stage, Daniel Jäger, Benedict Kuhlmann and Isabell Armbruster are aiming to take their electric longboard trucks, or e-trucks for short, to Kickstarter in May to help fund production. The e-trucks will come in synchronized pairs and have been designed to be mounted to most off-the-shelf longboard decks, and are reported good for boards with or without cut-outs. The JayKay team plans to make ready to ride and install yourself kit options available.

Either way, JayKay says that riders can expect to zoom along at up to 30 km/h (18.6 mph) for a range of 12 km (7.5 mi). If the integrated four cells per axle batteries do run out of juice, riders can freewheel their way home, stick it on quick charge for an hour, or battery-save charge for 3 hours, and then jump on and zip off again. Regen braking could also help eke out a few more miles of motor-driven board action before needing to recharge via USB-C, though there’s also an induction coil in the baseplate for Qi wireless charging.

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Foldable Kayak

The HYPAR has a look that's all its own
The HYPAR has a look that’s all its own(Credit: HYPAR)

If an upcoming Indiegogo campaign goes as planned, there will soon be yet another folding boat on the market. Already we’ve got the Oru folding kayak, along with the Onak and MyCanoe folding canoes. The makers of the HYPAR kayak are hoping for similar success, with a boat that sports a unique design. read more