Scarcity of electricity and abundance of waste are serious global challenges. Fortunately, the UK’s Bristol Robotics Laboratory
has developed the EcoBot III
, a self-sustaining cyborg that’s fueled on dirt, leaves, and, well, certain undesirable excrements. The machine is potty-trained
to use a litter tray—its predecessors
ran on bugs and spoiled fruit—making it a landmark advancement in waste conversion. The EcoBot is part of a larger project to propagate electricity from urine in developing countries. Additionally, NASA
has noticed its ability to feed off of fecal matter, making it a potential game-changer up in space.
Floating Sensor Network:
Twitter has been a vital tool in humanitarian efforts, from locating missing persons
to fueling revolutions
. As such, it makes sense that the platform would be tapped for UC Berkeley's
new approach in assessing local water quality. Lead by Alexandre Bayen of CITRIS
, the Floating Sensor Network
dispensed 100 robotic devices into the Sacramento River (a main source for California's irrigation supply) and made them trackable on Twitter
through attached GPS units. While the sensors enabled researchers to study the migration patterns of salmon and the spread of pollutants, as well as gauge levels of salt in the water, fans of the project were able to keep real-time tabs on its progress.
Herd mentality isn't necessarily beneficial—even for fish. While aquatic schools make it easier for them to befuddle predators and secure mates
, they can also accelerate the spread of disease and oceanic parasites. To study the dynamics of fish schools, the Polytechnic Institute of New York University's
Stefano Marras and Maurizio Porfiri designed a 22mm robotic fish
that measures the behavior of its real-life golden shiner
counterparts. While some fish stayed at fin’s length, a majority followed the machine’s trail. Ultimately, this technology can be used to guide fish away from oil spills, man-made structures and other ecological conundrums—something that, while not a cure-all, is certainly a swim in the right direction.