IT Trends: Robot Insects, Movement-Powered Nanogenerators

Microbes that could drive down biofuel costs.

by / June 1, 2011

Meet Hector

Researchers at a German university have created an insect-inspired robot called HECTOR (hexapod cognitive autonomously operating robot). The 3-foot, 26-pound, six-legged robot can carry nearly three times its weight. Hector has 18 joints and is made from carbon fiber reinforced plastic. Its control program works on the same distributed intelligence principle found in insect brains and will eventually be enhanced to learn and plan ahead. Hector ultimately may find a home in law enforcement.  Source:Gizmag

The End of IT as We Know It

By 2020, traditional school IT departments will be obsolete — at least as we currently know them, according to Mind/Shift, an education blog. Cloud computing and increased Wi-Fi and satellite access will make standard IT roles like software, security and connectivity history. IT professionals will then have more time to spend on innovation.
Source: KQED Public Media

I Love Technology

People say they something they really like, but what if your heartbeat could power your most beloved gadget? Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed nanogenerators that produce power from the tiniest of movements. Nanogenerators use piezoelectric zinc-oxide nanowires that generate an electric current when strained or flexed. Almost any kind of movement — walking, a heartbeat, wind, even rolling tires — can generate electricity. The researchers have used nanogenerators to power LCD screens and transmit a radio signal.

Keeping the Charge

Electric vehicle owners have resources available at their fingertips for locating vehicle-charging stations and staying plugged in to the green scene. Free smartphone apps include: PlugShare and EV Charger Finder for the iPhone, and DriveAlternatives and EV-olution for Android devices.

Sugar Rush

A microorganism that continuously secretes large quantities of sugar, a basic building block for ethanol, might one day provide sweet savings at the gas pump. New Jersey startup Proterro created microbes that naturally produce sucrose when the water they’re growing in becomes too salty. The new approach could lower the cost of biofuels, since traditional sugar sources like corn and sugar cane have huge transportation costs and require plenty of sun and water.  Source: Technology Review


Karen Stewartson Managing Editor