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  • Letters to the Editor

    Readers question supernova physics

    Supernova surprise

    Astronomers continue to learn a lot from supernova 1987A, which burst onto the scene 30 years ago. Thanks to new detectors that can pick up neutrino signals and even gravitational waves, scientists will be ready when the next nearby star explodes, Emily Conover reported in “Waiting for a supernova” (SN: 2/18/17, p. 24).

    Steve Capps wondered how neutrinos inside an...

    03/22/2017 - 12:10 Particle Physics, Robotics, Condensed Matter
  • The Science Life

    Fleets of drones could pollinate future crops

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    Eijiro Miyako gets emotional about the decline of honeybees.

    “We need pollination,” he says. “If that system is collapsed, it’s terrible.”

    Insects, especially bees, help pollinate both food crops and wild plants. But pollinators are declining worldwide due to habitat loss, disease and exposure to pesticides, among other factors (SN: 1/23/16, p. 16).


    03/07/2017 - 12:00 Agriculture, Robotics, Ecology
  • News in Brief

    Bat robot takes wing

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    Fancy flight tricks are a breeze for a new flying robot. Call it an acrobat.

    Bat Bot, a lightweight flier with thin silicone wings stretched over a carbon fiber skeleton, can cruise, dive and bank turn just like its namesake, researchers report February 1 in Science Robotics.

    Such a maneuverable machine could one day soar up the towering structures of a...

    02/01/2017 - 14:13 Technology, Robotics
  • News in Brief

    Heart-hugging robot does the twist (and squeeze)

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    A new squishy robot could keep hearts from skipping a beat.

    A silicone sleeve slipped over pigs’ hearts helped pump blood when the hearts failed, researchers report January 18 in Science Translational Medicine. If the sleeve works in humans, it could potentially keep weak hearts pumping, and buy time for patients waiting for a transplant.

    To make the device...

    01/18/2017 - 14:00 Technology, Robotics
  • Science Ticker

    Caterpillar robot uses squishy, 3-D printed legs to inch and crawl

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    A robot caterpillar can use squishy legs to sense the world.

    Roboticist Takuya Umedachi and colleagues designed the robot after studying real-life caterpillars. These insects can “bend, wrinkle, buckle, twist, droop, and creep” their way through the environment, and they do it “without massively complex brains,” the researchers write December 7 in Royal Society Open...

    12/13/2016 - 14:23 Robotics
  • News

    Zippy new jumping bot catches air again and again

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    Meet the robot that can do parkour.

    Salto, a lightweight bot that stands on one skinny leg like a flamingo, can leap from floor to wall, then off again — like parkour athletes bouncing between buildings, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley report December 6 in Science Robotics.

    Salto’s not the highest jumping robot out there, but it’s got...

    12/06/2016 - 14:00 Robotics, Technology
  • Editor's Note

    Artificial intelligence needs smart senses to be useful

    True intelligence, Meghan Rosen notes in this issue’s cover story "Robot awakening" (SN: 11/12/16, p. 18), lies in the body as well as the brain. And building machines with the physical intelligence that even the clumsiest human takes for granted — the ability to sense, respond to and move through the world — has long been a stumbling block for artificial intelligence research. While...
    11/02/2016 - 17:28 Robotics, Science & Society
  • Feature

    For robots, artificial intelligence gets physical

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    In a high-ceilinged laboratory at Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C., a gleaming white robot stitches up pig intestines.

    The thin pink tissue dangles like a deflated balloon from a sturdy plastic loop. Two bulky cameras watch from above as the bot weaves green thread in and out, slowly sewing together two sections. Like an experienced human surgeon...

    11/02/2016 - 17:16 Robotics, Science & Society
  • News

    Light-activated heart cells help guide robotic stingray

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    Even robots can use a heart. Or heart cells, at least.

    A new stingray bot about the size of a penny relies on light-sensitive heart cells to swim. Zaps with light force the bot’s fins to flutter, letting researchers drive it through a watery obstacle course, Kit Parker of Harvard University and colleagues report in the July 8 Science.

    The new work “extends the...

    07/07/2016 - 14:00 Robotics, Technology, Cells
  • News in Brief

    Insect-sized bot is first to both fly, land

    Houseflies stretch their legs to land. Bumblebees hover, then slowly descend. Now, insect-sized flying robots have a way to stick the landing, too.

    A tiny aerial bot about the size of a bee (nicknamed RoboBee) uses static electricity to cling to the underside of a leaf and perch on other materials, study coauthor Robert Wood of Harvard University and colleagues report in the May 20...

    05/19/2016 - 14:00 Robotics, Technology