Who doesn’t still vaguely remember the first time they saw a water strider standing on top of a lake?

The insects do it by taking advantage of water’s surface tension, which their thin water-repellent legs and light bodies can rest upon without puncturing through.

Now, a Harvard University and Seoul National University joint team have built robots inspired by water striders. The small bots can hop on water, taking advantage of surface tension in the same way.

The robots are simply built from hair thin rods, and their 2 cm-long bodies and 5 cm-long legs weigh only 68 milligrams.

To leap into the air, the legs of the bots are rotated inward, boosting them upward.

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By Sid Douglas

Dubai to Have Flying Driverless Cars This Summer

In a few months, the UAE will have flying driverless cars, according to Dubai’s transport authority.

They’ve already done test runs for the autonomous aerial vehicles (AAV), made by Chinese firm Ehang.

The vehicles are Ehang 184s and can carry one pilot.

Top speed: 160kph
Flight time: 30 minutes
Ascending speed: 8 meters / second
Landing speed: 4 meters / second
Weight:250kg empty / 360kg with passenger
Max cruising height:3000 feet
Charging time:1-2 hours

“The AAV exhibited at the summit is not just a model; it is a real version that we have already experimented the vehicle in a flight in Dubai sky. The RTA is making every effort to start the operation of the AAV in July 2017,” said Mattar Al Tayer, the director general and chairman of the RTA.

Video of the Ehang 184 test

The RTA, in collaboration with the Chinese firm Ehang, has carried out the first test run of an autonomous aerial vehicle (AAV) capable of carrying a human, the Ehang 184, and the authority said it is set to launch operations very soon.

The flying car was exhibited at the World Government Summit in Dubai this week and the chief of the RTA said a summer start date for flights is envisioned.

“The AAV exhibited at the summit is not just a model; it is a real version that we have already experimented the vehicle in a flight in Dubai sky. The RTA is making every effort to start the operation of the AAV in July 2017,” said Mattar Al Tayer, the director general and chairman of the RTA.

The Ehang 184 is fitted with a touchscreen to the front of the passenger seat displaying a map of all destinations in the form of dots. It has preset routes and the passenger selects the intended destination. The vehicle will then start automatic operation, take off and cruise to the set destination before descending and landing in a specific spot. A ground-based centre will monitor and control the entire operation.

“The trial run of the first AAV is in implementation of the directives of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to transform Dubai into the smartest city in the world,” said Mr Al Tayer

“It is also part of the RTA’s endeavors to provide self-driving transport through engaging in the technological tests of self-driving vehicles in a Dubai environment.

“It replicates Dubai Self-driving Transport Strategy aimed at transforming 25 per cent of total individual trips in Dubai into self-driving trips using various modes of transport by 2030,” added Mr Al Tayer.

“The step would also enhance the integration between public transport modes and people happiness through the provision of smooth, quick and innovative mobility.

“We have addressed the highest levels of security in the designing and manufacturing of the Ehang184. The vehicle is fitted with eight main propellers,” Mr Al Tayer said.

“In case of any failure in the first propeller, there would be seven other propellers ready to complete the flight and a smooth landing, while mitigating the impact of the fault sustained by the first propeller.”

Importantly, the vehicle has numerous basic systems all running independently, but at the same time, so that if something malfunctions a standby can take over.

“The AAV is designed to operate under all climatic conditions unless there is a thunderstorm. The vehicle is fitted with highly accurate sensors with a very low-error threshold and can resist vibrations and extreme temperatures,” said Mr Al Tayer.

“Dubai Civil Aviation Authority was a partner in our trials defining the safety criteria required, issuing the permits for trial and inspecting the vehicle, RTA appreciates their contribution.

“The 4G data network is used in communication between the AAV and the ground control center. The company had also provided the support needed to ensure the continued communication between the AAV and the control centre through M2M and LTE technologies,” he explained.

3D Printing Against Daesh: “We Will Recreate What ISIS Destroyed”

3D technology comes to the rescue after the destruction of several world cultural treasures by the militant group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

According to the United Nations, ISIS has destroyed and damaged 200 world heritage sites along with hundreds of statues and artefacts since 2014.

ISIS’ plan is simple. It is about erasing all traces of previous cultures to establish their own and take advantage of the media coverage following massing destructions of historic sites to grab the world’s attention. In addition, this cultural cleaning is a way for Daesh to finance their activities by selling to dealers and private collectors.

Yet those lost treasures that some call “blood artifacts” may not be lost forever.

Through her digital fabrication and 3D printing project “Material Speculation : ISIS”, Iranian artist and activist Morehshin Allahyari chose to focus on the reconstruction of selected artifacts and statues destroyed by ISIS in Iraq in 2015.

In addition, to repair history and memory, each 3D printed object comprises a flash drive and a memory card. The data in these flash drives contain materials: maps, images, videos and pdf files on the destroyed artifacts and sites. They were gathered thanks to a collaboration with different archaeologists and historians, including and museum staff.

“Like time capsules, each object is sealed and kept for future civilizations.”
Morehshin Allahyari

Just like Murehshin Allahyari artifacts, Palmyra has suffered numerous act of vandalism. The Syrian desert city known as the Venice of the Sands lost the triumphal arch from 2,000-year-old Temple of Bel.

Devastated, many archaeologists talked restoration and reconstruction such as American lawyer/archaeologist Roger Michel. Indeed, as the founder of Oxford’s Institute for Digital Archaeology, Michel has built a 3D facsimile arch from Palmyra’s destroyed Temple of Bel.

digitalarchaeology.org.uk

Temple of Bel

Thanks to 3D technology, Palmyra’s rose again in London’s Trafalgar Square last April to coincide with world heritage week. It should then travel on to Times Square in New York City.

This 3D replica of the 15-meters arch that formed the temple’s entrance is a gesture of defiance against ISIS’ desire to erase cultural and historical evidence.

“My intention is to show Islamic State that anything they can blow up we can rebuild exactly as it was before, and rebuild it again and again. We will use technology to disempower ISIS.” Roger Michel

Moving for some or uncanny for others, this incredible public display of 3D reconstruction is the proof that new technology can restore entire parts of 20th-century historical sites. Although out of their original context and site, 3D monuments or artifacts might still conserve their precious sense of place and craftsmanship, thus preserving everybody’s heritage.

By Pauline Schnoebelen

Featured image (‘Temple of Bel’): ICONEM is a young Paris based start-up focused on 3D reconstruction and analysis of endangered archaeological sites, which the group considers to be part of our common heritage. To prevent destruction caused by conflict, looting or natural disasters, they send teams on the ground to train people and help them document this heritage.

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