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Olá Robocup 2014!

Now that the warm-up meatbag football matches have ended in Brazil, it’s time to move on to the main event: Robocup 2014. The international robotics competition runs on July 21-24 in João Pessoa and, though a winner will of course be crowned, the event’s long-term goal is “developing by 2050 a humanoid robot soccer team capable of winning against the human team champion of the FIFA World Cup.”

Go to Robocup 2014 to learn more about the matches that feature fully autonomous multi-robot teams battling it out on the field. Check out the live stream of the competition and see another video below.

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Birds, Bats Are Models For Next Generation Drones 

Engineers working to build smaller flying machines are looking to those that know how to do it best—bats, birds and bees. Unlike human constructions, these animals use flexible flight surfaces to maneuver more precisely through air. 

In this 2012 video, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research presents some of the projects it is funding at universities like Harvard and Brown to make next-generation flying surveillance and warfighting tools.

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University of California, Berkeley engineers are working on cooperative systems to control robots through complex environments. In this demonstration, a ground station uses computer vision to guide the group’s new 13-gram H2Bird ornithopter robot through a window.

The ground station, whose view we see in the second gif, uses real-time motion tracking over a live video stream to send steering guidance to the H2Bird micro air vehicle. With that information, the robot can successfully maneuver through a tight window frame. Their paper on the work is available here.

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Txch This Week: Reporting Live From The 2014 Euroscience Open Forum

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by Norman Rosenberg

This week on Txchnologist, we reported live from the 2014 Euroscience Open Forum in the royal city of Copenhagen. Scientists from around Europe and the world gathered to discuss the future of science and technology. The opening remarks of the week-long event invoked the Higgs boson discovery, the importance of gender equality in science and the need for science to help solve society’s problems.  

Next, a group of the world’s leading physicists discussed the ground-breaking Higgs boson discovery of 2012-2013. This subatomic particle actually led to many more questions than it answered but, scientists say, we are one step closer to understanding our universe.

Then we ventured into questions about alternative energy sources and their popularity across the globe. A growing problem is that countries are finding it difficult to procure critical minerals needed to build some of the necessary technology. Many of these rare minerals are concentrated in certain areas of the globe like China, which is limiting supply as part of its trade and geopolitical objectives. Such constrictions require sophisticated trade agreements to acquire the resources and push costs up to premium levels. At the same time, some adventure-minded engineers and companies are advocating the mining of the moon as an alternative to the growing rare earth metal shortage to avert a crisis.

Back at the 2014 Euroscience Open Forum, an exciting and cute new robot could change the way we explore shipwrecks. The small U-CAT, or Underwater Curious Archaeology Turtle, uses its flippers to explore sites. Equipped with a camera and sonar, the little robot can get into hard-to-reach crevices easily.

A European Commission-funded project is making concrete come alive. The so-called Digistone will be embedded into roadways and sidewalks to display important signs for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists.

Food fraud is a major problem in the era of a globalized supply chain. Bordeaux wine may not actually be from the idyllic French province, for example. Scientists and members of the European Commission have reignited the international discussion to eliminate food fraud using novel technological methods.  

Graphene is known to be a wonder material for everything from medication transport to computer hardware. Now, researchers are even more optimistic about using a mix of graphene and plastic for 3-D printed electronics. Graphene + 3-D printing equals a truly 21st century way to build new devices.

Now we’re bringing you the news and trends we’ve been following this week in the world of science, technology and innovation.

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