Books

Articles

Great Britain’s electricity system recorded its greenest ever day over the Easter bank holiday as sunshine and windy weather led to a surge in renewable energy. The power plants generating electricity in England, Scotland and Wales produced only 39g...

A pair of robot legs called Cassie has been taught to walk using reinforcement learning, the training technique that teaches AIs complex behavior via trial and error. The two-legged robot learned a range of movements from scratch, including walking...

It’s not that hard to make a natural blue dye. Just take a red cabbage, cut it into pieces, and boil it. What you get is a purple broth that turns bright blue when you add some baking powder....

Batteries, said Elon Musk, are the key to the future. They have powered the tech revolution that has brought the world smartphones, tablets and, as consumers are encouraged to turn away from fossil fuels, electric cars. Yet the science...

After 15 months of increasingly intense and disruptive earthquakes on Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula, the region finally let off some pressure. On March 19, lava roared out of the ground in the uninhabited valley of Geldingadalur, marking the first time...

In the fictional worlds of film and TV, artificial intelligence has been depicted as so advanced that it is indistinguishable from humans. But what if we’re actually getting closer to a world where AI is capable of thinking and...

A previously homeless man has become the US’s first resident of a 3D printed tiny home. 70-year-old Tim Shea now lives in a 400-square-foot house in Austin, Texas, printed by construction tech company ICON. In 2018, ICON showcased the...

Most humans are bipeds, but even the best of us are really only bipeds until things get tricky. While our legs may be our primary mobility system, there are lots of situations in which we leverage our arms as...

Early last year, the biologist Michael Levin and his colleagues offered a glimpse of how versatile living matter can be. Levin and Douglas Blackiston, a member of his laboratory at the Allen Discovery Center of Tufts University, brought together...

After a two-decade wait that included a long struggle for funding and a move halfway across a continent, a rebooted experiment on the muon—a particle similar to the electron but heavier and unstable—is about to unveil its results. Physicists...

The mobile apps we use every day are surprisingly manipulative. Subtle design tricks known as “dark patterns” nudge us into doing what the app maker wants—be that buying products or continuing to scroll. But now, researchers are fighting back...

Artificial intelligence is finally learning to flirt. While romantic banter continues to elude the likes of Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant, an advanced AI system out of the United States is being trained to seduce, churning out original pickup...

Before heading off to search for signs of long ago Martian microbes, NASA’s Perseverance rover will first undertake what may be the most technologically exciting part of its mission: flying a helicopter. Packed under the belly of Perseverance, a...

What makes a painting uniquely human? Is music generated by artificial intelligence really that different from what a human makes? Can you tell when a machine learning program has created the image you’re looking at? If you think you...

Construction has begun on a new plastic recycling facility aimed at ‘solving the global plastic crisis’. The Teesside facility, which will recycle all forms of plastic, is the first ever commercial-scale plant to use Mura Technology’s HydroPRS process. Standing...

This was the moment of truth. We’d spent countless hours meticulously sterilising seeds (1,710, to be specific), filling the lab with a cacophony of rattling as we shook them in bleach. We’d built a fungus city: great tower-blocks of...

Over the past few years, we’ve seen 3D printers used in increasingly creative ways. There’s been a realization that fundamentally, a 3D printer is a full-fledged, multi-axis robotic manipulation system—which is an extraordinarily versatile thing to have in your...

A space hurricane – complete with electron “rain” – has been detected in the Earth’s upper atmosphere for the first time, an international team of researchers has reported. With the requisite plasma and magnetic fields needed for such storms...

In the shadows of the old Spitfires and Hurricanes that helped win the Battle of Britain, Faradair, a UK startup operating from the historic Duxford airfield, is hoping to help Britain fight the new war against climate change by...

Facebook says it has created a wristband that translates motor signals from your brain so you can move a digital object just by thinking about it. How does it work? The wristband, which looks like a clunky iPod on...

It might come as a surprise to some people that this prediction hasn’t already come to pass. Given that mathematics is a subject of logic and precision, it would seem to be perfect territory for a computer. However, in...

Researchers at the quantum computing firm D-Wave Systems have shown that their quantum processor can simulate the behaviour of an “untwisting” quantum magnet much faster than a classical machine. Led by D-Wave’s director of performance research Andrew King, the...

A new electrostatic de-icing technique that exploits the natural charge separations in growing frost crystals has been developed by Jonathan Boreyko and colleagues at Virginia Tech in the US. The team used high-speed cameras to show how ice particles...

Researchers in the US have combined an autocatalytic click reaction with automated liquid handling and UV-Vis spectroscopy to create a simple neural network that can classify binary images. Chemical computing takes inspiration from the complexity and efficiency of living...

The giant windfarms that line hills and coastlines are not the only way to harness the power of the wind, say green energy pioneers who plan to reinvent wind power by forgoing the need for turbine towers, blades –...

Robots are well known to be specialists, doing best when they’re designed for one very specific task without much of an expectation that they’ll do anything else. This is fine, as long as you’re OK with getting a new...

Solar tile made in Germany

German solar manufacturer Autarq has announced it will ramp up the capacity of its solar tile manufacturing facility in the eastern German city of Prenzlau, where production started in 2018. The company says its products have already been used...

Using the Arecibo and Gemini observatories, astronomers have detected a mobile supermassive black hole in a galaxy called SDSS J043703.67+245606.8 (hereafter J0437+2456). J0437+2456 is a Sb-type spiral galaxy located approximately 230 million light-years away in the constellation of Taurus....

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” may be one of Shakespeare’s most performed plays — but its latest version from the Royal Shakespeare Company will be unlike any seen before. Titled “Dream,” the 50-minute streamed production fuses live performance with motion-capture...

I’ll admit to having been somewhat skeptical about the strategy of dangling payloads on long tethers for drone delivery. I mean, I get why Wing does it— it keeps the drone and all of its spinny bits well away...

The O2 Arena will soon use a new breed of “vertical wind turbine” to generate its own clean electricity, after signing a deal with a startup firm that says its turbines will generate power even when the wind is...

“People [experience] the fluid element to be … not yet solidified but remaining open to outside influences.”—Sensitive Chaos: The Creation of Flowing From of Water and Air, by Theodor Schwenk; Rudolf Steiner Press, 1965. Ketchup is famous for being...

Jueying Mini Lite may look a little like a Boston Dynamics Spot, but according to DeepRobotics, its coloring is based on Bruce Lee’s Kung Fu clothes.

A bee’s life is not just about producing honey—it can involve seeking a new home or defending the hive from intruders. Such migrations and territorial battles can affect honey supply, thus concerning beekeepers. But keeping track of these events...

Nanotube-Powered Insect Robots

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your Automaton bloggers. We’ll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months; here’s what we have so far (send us...

Dutch startup SolarDuck has developed an innovative offshore floating solar solution that is purportedly ideal for offshore conditions. “We are targeting megacities and large companies in the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, South East Asia, and in general markets with high...

Every day, your life leaves a trail of digital breadcrumbs that tech giants use to track you. You send an email, order some food, stream a show. They get back valuable packets of data to build up their understanding...

Quantum computers based on photons may have some advantages over electron-based machines, including operating at room temperature and not temperatures colder than that of deep space. Now, say scientists at quantum computing startup Xanadu, add one more advantage to...

The village of Okere Mom-Kok was in ruins by the end of more than a decade of war in northern Uganda. Now, just outside Ojok Okello’s living-room door, final-year pupils at the early childhood centre are noisily breaking for...

Regulations brought in following the UK’s departure from the EU have delayed the export of live shellfish to Europe, causing entire lorry loads of lobsters and langoustines to expire in Scotland’s ports. Fishing is a relatively small part of...

IT WAS, the wags of Twitter noted, the quickest relaunch of a SpaceX rocket yet. SN10, the latest prototype of the next-generation rocket, Starship, with which the company’s boss, Elon Musk, hopes to send people to Mars, took off...

At approximately 8pm EST on Wednesday, January 13, a SpaceX Cargo Dragon spacecraft splashed down into the Atlantic Ocean, just off the coast of Florida. Having successfully dropped off its three tons of hardware and supplies to the International...

In 1961, Tom Rogers of the Leo Burnett Agency created Charlie the Tuna, a jive-talking cartoon mascot and spokesfish for the StarKist brand. The popular ad campaign ran for several decades, and its catchphrase “Sorry, Charlie” quickly hooked itself...

For more than 40 years, a subatomic mystery has puzzled scientists: Why do the fragments of splitting atomic nuclei emerge spinning from the wreckage? Now researchers find these perplexing gyrations might be explained by an effect akin to what...

Counselors volunteering at the Trevor Project need to be prepared for their first conversation with an LGBTQ teen who may be thinking about suicide. So first, they practice. One of the ways they do it is by talking to...

In December 2020, Larsen & Toubro Construction in India 3D-printed a concrete, ground+1, 65-square-meter model residential building at their test facility in Kanchipuram. Larsen & Toubro used COBOD’s robotic 3D construction printers with a concrete mix developed in-house by...

Sky watchers both amateur and professional will soon have a new system to alert them to the spectacular death throes of stars in our galaxy. A revamped version of the SuperNova Early Warning System (SNEWS), a software program hosted...

In Argentina, far to the west of Buenos Aires, sits the world’s largest cosmic-ray detector: the Pierre Auger Observatory. It’s made up of an array of 1600 detector stations, each spaced about a mile apart. From the mountains that...

The asteroid Apophis sits atop a shortlist of potentially dangerous objects that could one day hit Earth. And in March, the aircraft carrier-sized asteroid will make its final close path to Earth before 2029, a year when astronomers once...

It’s been very cool to watch 3D printers and laser cutters evolve into fairly common tools over the last decade-ish, finding useful niches across research, industry, and even with hobbyists at home. Capable as these fabricators are, they tend...