Engineering news

Catching rockets, copying birds and hovering across the Channel: 10 top stories of the week

Professional Engineering

(Credit: Rocketlab)
(Credit: Rocketlab)

This tiny bird is teaching flying robots how to land in the real world

Professional Engineering

Researchers at Stanford University are studying birds to improve the performance of drones and flying robots. Diana Chin, a graduate student at the university, uses five high-speed cameras to film small birds called parrotlets as they attempt to land on perches made of varying materials, including the non-stick coating Teflon, foam and sandpaper.

How Denmark became the unlikely home of the European robotics industry

Professional Engineering

It’s not the first place you’d turn to for robotics expertise, but Denmark ranks seventh in the world for global robot density - the number of multipurpose industrial robots per 10,000 employees in the manufacturing sector.

Engineers have built a wearable heart-rate monitor for unborn babies

Professional Engineering

Engineers have built a wearable sensor that can monitor the heartbeat of an unborn child in the womb. It’s hoped it could reduce the estimated 2.6 million stillbirths per year worldwide.

Scottish researchers develop artificial tongue to detect fake whisky

The Engineer

An artificial tongue able to detect subtle differences between different drams of whisky could help cut down on the trade in counterfeit alcohol according to a group at the University of Glasgow.

World’s first sound projector targets willing individuals

The Engineer

Researchers have demonstrated what they believe is the world’s first sound projector, an advance that allows sound to be focused as precisely as light at consenting individuals.

Simple method improves HVAC heat exchangers by 500 per cent

The Engineer

Researchers from Tsinghua University in Beijing and Rhode Island’s Brown University have demonstrated how the performance of common water-based turbulent heat exchange systems can be boosted by 500 per cent by adding a readily available organic solvent.

Japanese government offers up $1bn for moonshot projects


The government of Japan is preparing to distribute almost $1bn in public research grants to support ambitious work to develop technology to meet national and global challenges, including ‘cyborg’ systems to replace failing bodily functions and autonomous systems for collecting plastic waste in the oceans.

Rocket Lab plans to catch falling first-stage rockets in mid-air for reuse


An ambitious plan to recover the first stage of rocket launches by capturing it mid-air with a helicopter for later use has been revealed by small-satellite launch firm Rocket Lab.

Inventor crosses English Channel on hoverboard


The French inventor Franky Zapata has used the latest iteration of his jet-powered hoverboard to cross the English Channel, flying metres above the surface of the water.

Hyundai releases car with solar panel roof


Hyundai has released a version of its Sonata hybrid that has solar panels to help charge its battery. The Korean car maker said up to 60% of the power for the car's battery could be supplied if the solar roof was used for six hours a day. The panels would provide enough power to propel the Sonata for 1,300km (800miles) a year, it added.

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Current Issue: Issue 6, 2020

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  • Pushing electric car batteries to the limit
  • Cooling down with novel twist fridges
  • Turning waste into jet fuel
  • ABB Motion Services adapts to cope with pandemic

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