SWIM, CLIMB AND CRAWL: After a disaster ships may bring relief supplies but then have trouble delivering them if port facilities have been destroyed. The Captive Air Amphibious Transporter is a way around that problem. The vehicle has large buoyant treads, either inflated with air or filled with a lightweight foam. That means it can paddle through water, climb over sea walls and crawl across beaches, mud and ice fields. The CAAT can easily be carried in a standard shipping container, so ordinary cargo ships could also be used to deliver relief supplies. I thought that's what helicopters were for. Discovery News details.
ROCK ON: The US Naval Research Laboratory recently invested in a chunk of rock. The solid slab of granite weighs 34,000 Kg and is almost 28 square metres in size. It's not the world's biggest doorstop though, but rather a Gravity Offset Table. The slab has been precision honed to be within +/- 0.0018 inches flat across its surface, and will be used to precisely simulate the frictionless motion of objects in space. How they get it dead level is another matter. US Navy has more.
NO HIDING PLACE: In places like deep open pit mines or dense urban areas GPS signals just don't reach. That's where Locata has a role to play. The system sets up its own network of 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi-band signal stations that covers an area with positioning signals. The system can help mining companies keep track of their diggers and trucks, for example. Unlike GPS which requires incredibly precise atomic clocks to help determine position, Locata uses a proprietary methodology to synchronise all the ground stations. Wired explains.
SIX PACK: The DynaRoach is a 6-legged robot from Georgia Tech that can run across the surface of sand at up to 1.8 Kph. The robot is 10 cm long and weighs only 25 grams. The surface of sand behaves a lot like a fluid and the robot's leg push off it on contact, rather than sinking in. But I guess it can't stop running or it'll sink. New Scientist has further info.
CULTURED TABLET: The Inye tablet computer is designed for the African market. The low-cost device runs Google Android, gives its users access to the internet and allows them to play media files and watch movies. It also runs some special apps, such as one designed to raise awareness about HIV, and others related to water and sanitation. The Nigerian developer wants to help preserve local culture. Apart from the low cost it's not clear why this tablet is different from any other. BBC elaborates.
Miraz Jordan, knowit.co.nzBy Miraz Jordan