Welcome to Technology Tuesday! Every week The Job Shop Blog will bring you our 5 top science and technology news stories from around the web.
This week: Racing drones using your mind, an autonomous, voice controlled electric car, a new polymer that heals and twitches like muscle, getting a step closer to an everlasting battery, and a universal cure for allergies.
University of Florida Holds World’s First Mind Controlled Drone Race
Drone races are nothing new. But while they started as an ad-hoc activity within the drone community, the sport has now taken on a life of its own with highly elaborate events and a partnership with ESPN.
Similarly, brain-computer interface (BCI) technology isn’t totally new. And while the technology is still young, advances are being made in labs across the country, and some paralyzed patients have already been able to use the technology to control prosthetic limbs.
But utilizing this BCI technology to connect your brain to a drone? That is definitely new.
Chinese Company Unveils Autonomous Electric Car with Voice Control Capabilities
The LeSEE, announced last night in China, managed to drive itself out of a shipping container and on to the stage with little more than a few voice commands spoken into a smartphone by CEO Jia Yueting. It even reversed, too.
Stanford University Creates New Super Polymer
Stanford University researchers just synthesized a material which, when tested, produced some pretty remarkable results—it’s super stretchy, self-healing, and responsive to an electrical field. These properties make it a perfect material for artificial skin and muscle.
The study, published in Nature Chemistry, was conducted by professor Zhenan Bao’s work group, which has been on a quest to develop artificial skin for quite some time now, and has previously had some success.
Nanowire Coating Makes Everlasting Batteries A Possibility
University of California, Irvine researchers have invented nanowire-based battery material that can be recharged hundreds of thousands of times, moving us closer to a battery that would never require replacement. The breakthrough work could lead to commercial batteries with greatly lengthened lifespans for computers, smartphones, appliances, cars and spacecraft.
Scientists have long sought to use nanowires in batteries. Thousands of times thinner than a human hair, they’re highly conductive and feature a large surface area for the storage and transfer of electrons. However, these filaments are extremely fragile and don’t hold up well to repeated discharging and recharging, or cycling. In a typical lithium-ion battery, they expand and grow brittle, which leads to cracking.
UCI researchers have solved this problem by coating a gold nanowire in a manganese dioxide shell and encasing the assembly in an electrolyte made of a Plexiglas-like gel. The combination is reliable and resistant to failure.