Innovation News Briefs

Assistive robot, solar-powered monorail, universal chargers fit all phones, high-altitude wind generation, from bus to bus shelter, solar car race across Australia.

by / November 5, 2009

Japanese Robot Assists Human Body, Increases Power

A Japanese robot suit for humans uses the body's electrical signals to move the robotic arms and legs. It is hoped that the robot can assist disabled people to walk, and that workers could use the suit to lift heavy loads. The robot, HAL for "Hybrid Assistive Limb" was developed by Yoshiyuki Sankai, a 48-year old doctor of robotics from the University of Tsukuba.

Bologna Launches Solar Powered Monorail

A solar-powered monorail will run between the airport and city center in Bologna, Italy. The elevated monorail will feature a pedestrian walkway and solar panels to power the train.

Europe Adopts Single Mobile Phone Charger Standard

Last month, the International Telecommunication Union approved an energy-efficient standard for cell phone chargers that will work with all new mobile phones. In addition to dramatically cutting the number of chargers produced, shipped and subsequently discarded as new models become available, said the ITU in a release, the new standard will mean users worldwide will be able to charge their mobiles anywhere from any available charger, while also reducing the energy consumed while charging.

High Altitude Wind Generation Gets Off the Ground

While wind-generated electricity is beginning to catch on at ground level, high altitude winds are generally much faster and could generate considerably more energy. To accomplish that would take a lighter than air device tethered to the ground containing a rotor that could transform the high speed winds into electricity and send it down the tether to the ground.

From Bus to Bus Shelter

Old busses can be turned into bus shelters, according to artist and designer Christopher Fennell. Fennell even has a video on how it's done.

Japanese University Wins Solar Car Race Across Australia

In the Global Green Challenge, solar-powered cars race about 3,000km from Darwin to Adelaide across Australia. The "Tokai Challenger," a solar-cell bedecked car from Tokai University, won the race this year in less than 30 hours of actual driving time at an average speed of slightly more than 100 km/hr.