How crop and animal sensors are making farming smarter

Ear tags with a wireless radio frequency identification antenna along with a smart robotic feeder can tell farmers every time a cow goes to feed and what dose of mineral supplements it receives. Image credit - Ivan Andonovic

Installing wireless sensors among crops and attaching ‘smart’ ear tags to livestock could help farmers produce more food with less impact on the environment. The bounty of food we can find on supermarket shelves across Europe is the result of knowledge accumulated over thousands of years by generations of farmers. But with the global human … Read more

Why robots are being trained in self-awareness

A robot 'recognises' itself in the bathroom mirror. Image credit - Pablo Lanillos

Robots passing cognitive tests such as recognising themselves in a mirror and being programmed with a human sense of time are showing how machines are being shaped to become a bigger part of our everyday lives.  In 2016, for the first time ever, the number of robots in homes, the military, shops and hospitals surpassed that … Read more

The prostheses that could alleviate amputees’ phantom limb pain

When it comes to improving amputees’ quality of life, one of the biggest challenges is making prostheses that feel like a natural part of the user. Image credit - Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Wikimedia Commons

by Ian Le Guillou New prosthetic technologies that stimulate the nerves could pave the way for prostheses that feel like a natural part of the body and reduce the phantom limb pain commonly endured by amputees. Silvestro Micera, a professor of translational neuroengineering at Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland, has spent the past 20 … Read more

Few aeroplanes land automatically but new systems could make this the norm

Almost half of fatal plane accidents happen between final approach and landing. Image credit - Pixabay/ windhaven1077, licensed under Pixabay license

by Jonathan O’Callaghan When it comes to planes cruising through the air, many of us are used to the idea of them flying on autopilot with little or no input from a human pilot as they travel from one destination to another. Landing a plane under autopilot, known as autoland, is a different matter. While … Read more

Basic research to world-changing applications can take 6 months – or 50 years

The science that made smartphones possible was done in the 1940s and 1950s. Image credit - Pixabay/ 7721622, licensed under Pixabay license

All technology and innovation have a science base but to get there requires patience, as the journey from curiosity-driven basic research to a world-changing technology can take six months or 50 years, a panel of Nobel and Kavli prize laureates has said. Professor Ben Feringa, who won a Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2016 for his … Read more