Tech Universe: Thursday 29 May

By Miraz Jordan

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

THE WHEEL OF TRASH: Rubbish gets carried out to harbours by storm water. In Baltimore though they're intercepting that trash before it can get loose in the harbour, thanks to a Solar Powered Water Wheel Trash Interceptor. The water wheel includes a floating dumpster and a trash-loading conveyor system powered by water current and solar power. A floating boom funnels debris, such as logs, bottles, tires, takeaway cups and whatever else comes along to the front of the conveyor where it is scooped up by the conveyor belt before it falls into the dumpster barge. In the wheel's first 3 months of operation it collected around 59,000 Kg of debris. That's a great use for a wheel that could be copied by a great many places with harbours.

CLEVER CROCS: Kenya's Mara River is home to around 4,000 hippos, who can be very territorial and aggressive. One problem is that downstream the water is often polluted with hippo poop — around 10 Kg per day per hippo.

Researchers wanted to measure water quality where the hippos hang out, but for obvious reasons, didn't want to venture too close. That's where robotic boats come in. The boats use Android smartphones for onboard computing and are designed to navigate autonomously, working alone or in groups. Around 60 cm long, each boat is shaped to resemble the front part of a crocodile, since the hippos tolerate crocs for the most part. The plastic airboats skim over the surface of several hippopotamus pools in the river, scanning the river bottom for deposits of hippo dung and making various measurements of water quality. That's smart thinking, with the crocodile disguise.

UNDER WRAPS: Among its other collected items the British Museum has 8 mummies from Egypt and Sudan. What's special about these mummies is that they were imaged in high definition via CT scans. The x-ray data allows us to see what's under the wraps: jewellery, faces, hair, bone problems, even fatty plaques in arteries. The visualisations are part of a current exhibition of the mummies that's open until late in 2014. It seems a better option that physically unwrapping the dead.

LIGHT RIDE: The Marbel Board is an electric skateboard with an app for your phone. The app gives you 3 pre-defined ride modes, and full control over top speed and acceleration levels. It also lets you map and share rides, and lock the board so no-one else can ride it. The carbon fibre and kevlar deck helps keep the weight down to around 4.5 Kg but the lithium ion battery and brushless motor give a top speed of 30 Kph and a range of around 16 Km. That's another one that could help you leave the car at home.

THE BOARD SHOWS GO: Boosted's motorised Boards put a 40 volt lithium ion phosphate battery just behind the front trucks of a skateboard and a motor at the back. Twin brushless motors spin the rear wheels via carbon belts. The board can carry up to 110 Kg and has a top speed of around 30 Kph. To drive the board use the remote — push the throttle rocker button forward to go and back to slow down and stop. Stopping causes the motor to send a bit of juice back to the battery. A single charge will carry you around 10 Km but if you run out of juice at least you can just push the board like any other.

Miraz Jordan,

- NZ Herald

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