Educational robotics: the robots are kids stuff
Schools are now introducing the basic principles of robotics to children at a very early age.
New sustainable batteries, biodegradable robots, and drones mimicking maple seeds were among the year's standout scientific innovations.
If 2022 showcased the immense potential of artificial intelligence, 2023 marked its integration as a regular tool in our daily lives. However, scientific and technological innovation continued across various fronts, often propelled by AI systems working behind the scenes. This year, our coverage spanned diverse topics, many revolving around sustainability, such as biological and sand-based batteries, as well as wind turbine recycling. Here’s our top selection of articles from the past twelve months.
Over recent years, we explored the potential of electrogenic microorganisms—bacteria capable of releasing electrons in their metabolic processes. This year, we proudly announced the commercialization of the first batteries harnessing the energy released by microorganisms metabolizing park and garden substrates. According to the manufacturer, a single 7x7 square meter panel can generate 15 Wh/day, sufficient to power LED lights or IoT sensors. Read the full article here.
Beyond biobatteries, another technology captivating our readers’ attention was the first commercial sand battery, installed in Finland's Kankaanpää city. Thanks to silicon dioxide's low thermal transfer coefficient—sand's primary component— this innovative battery can store heat from renewable sources for several months. Presently, it's employed to heat the city's water supply.
Renewable energy is progressively becoming recyclable. As many wind farms approach their third decade of operation, their turbines near retirement. While towers or nacelles made of metal and concrete recycle easily, the multi-material giant blades demand new recycling processes. ACCIONA Energía proposed a groundbreaking recycling model, transforming wind turbine blades into torsion beams for a solar farm in Extremadura. If that sounds interesting, wait till you see the new sneakers featuring soles crafted from recycled wind turbine blades.
La biomimética es una vieja amiga de nuestra página y uno de los temas que más nos fascinan. Y parece que a nuestros lectores también. Este artículo sobre un dron helicóptero que gira como las vainas de las semillas de arce se aupó a los primeros puestos de los más leídos. Con un peso inferior a cien gramos, el dispositivo es capaz de ofrecer una autonomía de vuelo cercana a la media hora.
This year, biomimicry didn't only boost drone technology but also illuminated novel construction techniques for improved building ventilation and cooling. Drawing inspiration from termite mound structures, researchers proposed a material paving the way for buildings that autonomously "breathe."
Artificial intelligence is spearheading new autonomous robotic systems navigating hostile environments like the ocean depths. But what happens to these robots after their lifespan or when lost at sea? Researchers explored biodegradable robotics, utilizing calcium alginate from brown seaweed. This material is injected into hydrogels, forming the scaffolding for 3D-printed pieces serving as the robots' "skeleton."
Technology introduces hydroponic crops harnessing renewable energies and desalinated sea water to address human food needs amid climate change. The next-gen floating farms are already undergoing trials in inland lakes in Japan and other regions, promising sustainable food supplies to coastal cities while reducing transportation carbon footprints.
Amid concerns about various types of pollution, including microplastics in oceans, city air pollution—termed the "silent killer"—remains a significant focus for researchers. A new 3D-printed sensor enables citizens to gauge exposure to excessive air pollution. Both the printing files and the software are open source.
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