This week in tech, we bring you the very fast -- four-legged running robots and electric superbikes -- and the very first -- an underwater plane and floating apartment buildings.
Marine engineer Graham Hawkes designed an electric vehicle that he says "flies" underwater. The DeepFlight Super Falcon, a two-seater person submersible, glides quietly through the ocean depths and is able to do barrel rolls like a bi-plane. The glass-domed top provides a 360-degree view of the surrounding sea life and can run up to eight hours on the battery. It sells for $1.7 million but can be rented for the affordable sum of $10,000 per day.
Los Angeles, CA-based artist Adam Ferriss uses pixel-sorting algorithms and other RGB processing techniques to create art. The color and composition of his pieces are generated by a random noise function called Perlin noise, which was developed by Ken Perlin (of Tron fame) to add realistic randomness to the graphic renderings of smoke, fire and water. Ferriss runs a fixed number of "seed pixels" through the algorithm, sets a few other CG parameters and then lets the software do its thing. The results are fractured bands of color that resemble slices of mineral rocks from alien planets.
Mission Motors, a San Francisco-based maker of electric car components, plans to sell a street-legal version of its super-powered electric motorbike, the Mission R and Mission RS. The company says the motorcycles can top out at 150 miles per hour and go from zero to 60 in three seconds.
Cube-shaped magnetic robots called M-Blocks climb and tumble, roll about the ground, leap through the air and even move while suspended upside down. Conceived of by MIT student John Romanishin, each cube has a flywheel inside that spins at up to 20,000 revolutions per minute. When it stops, the rotational force transfers to the cube, causing it to roll. The cubes could one day work together to self-assemble into different types of furniture or equipment, could reconfigure into scaffolding for building projects or could tumble into disaster areas and reconfigure themselves to survey the area.
NTT Docomo's Intelligent Glasses translate in real time foreign text written in Japanese, Korean, Chinese and English. The glasses also manipulate virtual images in the wearer's field of vision on a blank, flat surface. Using a ring that tracks hand movements back to the glasses, the wearer can interact with the projected image, which turns a surface into a touchscreen, allowing them to "touch" tags only they can see.
Boston Dynamics, the same robotics company that brought us the humanoid robots Petman and Atlas as well as the Big Dog that can fling cinder blocks, has just unveiled a machine that can bound and gallop like a horse or cheetah. Called the WildCat, it's the fastest un-tethered, four-legged robot in world. It can hit top speeds of about 16 miles per hour (the tethered version gets up to 27 mph) and was built to carry payloads for soldiers in the field.
Dutch architect Koen Olthuis and his team at Waterstudio are embracing the threat of rising sea levels by designing buildings that float. Their first project to break ground, or water, is called the Citadel and is a flotilla of 60 apartments. The complex will be built in a temporary dry dock that will be flooded once construction is completed. A floating bridge will connect the Citadel to the mainland, giving residents and emergency vehicles access. Nearly every unit will have a berth for a boat, as well.
Light-emitting diodes, responsible for the images in many flat-screen displays, are typically made from molecules shaped like long strings. The light inside gets polarized and trapped, drawing down efficiency. But physicist John Lupton from the University of Utah and his colleagues, including scientists from the University of Bonn solved the problem by making LEDs from organic molecules shaped like wagon wheels. The wheel shape emits light randomly, ensuring that the light does not become trapped.
Arrow1 from Team Arrow, associated with Queensland University of Technology in Australia is driven during a testing session at Hidden Valley Raceway on October 2, 2013 in Darwin, Australia. Over 25 teams from across the globe will compete in the 2013 World Solar Challenge -- a 3,000-km solar-powered vehicle race between Darwin and Adelaide. The race begins on October 6th with the first car expected to cross the finish line on October 10th.
This week at the Ceatec electronics trade show in Tokyo, Japan's electronics giant Sharp introduced a prototype model of a health care chair that has various sensors to measure a person's health, including temperature, pulse waves, blood pressure and body weight. The chair is also capable of communicating with health care facilities.