Unlocking the fractal patterns in cauliflower

Cauliflower are awesome. In addition to being straight up delicious, the pattern of bumps and nobs on its surfaces follow a fractal pattern. While it's most obvious with Romanesco broccoli, it's also present in the standard white stuff. And now, thanks to a new scientific paper, we have the formula behind it. » 10/26/12 7:40am 10/26/12 7:40am

Why hello, it's a robotic manta ray

Behold Dr. Hilary Bart-Smith of the University of Virginia's Mantabot, a silicone-winged machine based on the the cow-nosed ray, an eagle ray found off of North America's Atlantic coast. It may lack the grace of the extraterrestrials from The Abyss, but it's a robotic manta ray — hard to be churlish in that… » 8/03/12 1:25pm 8/03/12 1:25pm

10 Ridiculously Unsettling Old-Timey Robots

Nowadays everyone hems and haws about the uncanny valley, but we don't realize how good we have it in the 21st century. Decades ago, anthropomorphic machines and animal-like automata straddled the line between goofy and "I did not sign up for this." Here's some irrefutable proof that machines have been planning our… » 5/09/12 11:40am 5/09/12 11:40am

Harvard University has invented a robot facehugger

Remember Ant-Roach, the inflatable robot that looked like the lovechild of a dildo and a wildebeest? Roboticists at Harvard have constructed an even weirder biomimetic balloon. This soft robot, which was developed by Harvard's Whiteside Research Group, takes its cues from pliable fauna like squid, starfish, and… » 11/29/11 7:40am 11/29/11 7:40am

Ant-Roach, a 15-foot-long inflatable insect robot that you can ride

Meet Ant-Roach, Otherlab's pneumatic robot that weights 70 pounds and can support 1000 pounds of weight. It's not the most mobile vehicle out there, but when's the last time you were able to deflate a golf cart? Otherlab is also working on other "pneubotic" devices, like prosthetic arms that can lift several hundred… » 11/22/11 10:10am 11/22/11 10:10am

Scientists build robotic legs that can jog like a human

This is MABEL, a bipedal robot who currently resides in a lab at the University of Michigan. Although MABEL has no head and needs a guiding bar to navigate its tiny gymnasium, this jogging robot can maintain an eerily human 6.8-mile-per-hour strut. » 8/16/11 12:25pm 8/16/11 12:25pm

Shhh! Spooks want drones as silent as owls

They hover, spy, take photographs, fire missiles. But there's just one major problem with drones – they're too damn loud. Now Iarpa, the intelligence community's blue-sky research division, wants to hush them up. And it's turning to nature's own stealth flyer for inspiration. » 7/31/11 12:55pm 7/31/11 12:55pm

"Soft robots" that act like caterpillars could one day save your life

Engineers building robots usually have a choice between making a fast machine or a flexible one. But now engineers at Tufts University are changing the game with "soft robots" who can worm their way into hard-to-reach places very quickly. » 5/18/11 8:00am 5/18/11 8:00am

Fly eyes will power the next generation of solar cells

In desperate need of a more efficient structure for their tiny solar cells, engineers turned to the world's foremost expert on nanotechnology: Mother Nature. The corneas of flies are the perfect nanostructures for the next generation of solar cells. » 7/29/10 11:34am 7/29/10 11:34am

You Will Soon Be Watched Underwater by a Robotic Tuna

When you think of autonomous, unmanned spy vehicles, you probably imagine the telltale shape of a small aircraft overhead, and the suspicious sound of whirring propellers. Spy vehicles, however, aren't just for the sky anymore. The U.S. Navy has funded the development of an autonomous, unmanned vehicle shaped like a… » 11/23/08 10:00am 11/23/08 10:00am

This Lizard Drinks Through Its Foot, and Soon You Will Too

This mind-bendingly cute thorny devil lizard is one of the most sought-after creatures in the engineering world because it has a special talent: drinking through its foot. Using cracks in its scales, this little guy can wick water up through its foot into its body. Materials scientists hope that by studying how the… » 3/20/08 7:00am 3/20/08 7:00am