The Augmented Reality Sandbox (orginally developed by researchers at UC Davis) lets users sculpt mountains, canyons and rivers, then fill them with water or even create erupting volcanoes. This version of the device at UCLA was built by Gary Glesener using off-the-shelf parts and good ol’ playground sand.
Any shape made in the sandbox is detected by an Xbox Kinect sensor and processed with open source software. It is then projected as a color-coded contour map onto the sand.
US aerospace start-up Terrafugia unveiled the TF-X recently, which is a concept car of the future… a very near future with additional plans to build a street legal airplane that can convert from flying to driving in under a minute.
UCLA researcher Mario Gerla who studies intelligent transport weighed in on the concept:
“We always think how nice it would be if we’re stuck in a traffic jam, to all of a sudden, just take off from the road pavement and go where you want. I can understand the idea of flying from airport to airport, folding the wings and becoming a car. In the air, you’re just one more plane. But if you take off from your parking lot and fly a few blocks away, it is more like a helicopter. It becomes much more flexible, and interesting, but maybe dangerous.”
On sweltering days you can fry an egg on them. But, now, Lawrence Berkeley Lab and UC Davis researchers are testing surfaces designed to make them cooler and safer.
“Cool pavements are paved surfaces that are more effective at reflecting sunlight. So, by reflecting more sunlight than traditional paved surfaces, they’re able to absorb less heat from the sun and keep cities and communities cooler. We’ve teamed with industry partners and we’re hopeful that this can get the ball rolling on some local government action for cool pavement.”
– Ben Mandel, Heat Island Group, LBNL
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientists invented “ultraclean low swirl combustion.” Their commercialized burners are cheaper than the traditional kind and they don’t cause pollution.
“Companies are able to find a market for this burner in places that does not require low emissions burner because in the absence of pollutants, for example they sell the burner to commercial baking. So without any pollution all the chicken meat comes out whiter” – Robert Cheng, Scientist at LBNL
“We’re really excited about our technology using a solution-based process because that has the potential to really bring the costs down to the point where it can be deployed broadly in the market.” – Delia Milliron, researcher at LBNL
UC Davis researchers go into rattlesnake country to study the interaction between snakes and squirrels. The snakes are real, but the squirrel is a robot.
“By bringing engineers and biologists together, we’re creating new ways of doing science. Hopefully making discoveries that would not have been made unless we brought these different fields together.” – Sanjay Joshi
A number of former and current students have built the robosquirrels over the years, primarily from the S. Joshi and D. Owings labs at UC Davis, in close collaboration with the R. Clark lab at SDSU. Former PhD student Aaron Rundus built the first robosquirrel for his laboratory studies, assisted by Nick Giannini and Erin Chin. Former MS student Ryan Johnson built the first outdoor robosquirrel for field studies, with input from Matthew Barbour. Alex Barszap, Zac Dillow, Armen Davtyan, Laine Tennyson, and Travis Kupp have modified the squirrels in various ways for continuing field studies, with help from Bree Putman.