Watch Festo HQ team’s new dragonfly-inspired BionicOpter:
With the BionicOpter, Festo has technically mastered the highly complex flight characteristics of the dragonfly. Just like its model in nature, this ultralight flying object can fly in all directions, hover in mid-air and glide without beating its wings.
In addition to control of the shared flapping frequency and twisting of the individual wings, each of the four wings also features an amplitude controller. The tilt of the wings determines the direction of thrust. Amplitude control allows the intensity of the thrust to be regulated. When combined, the remote-controlled dragonfly can assume almost any position in space.
There are more videos and explanation here. And if you haven’t seen them yet, there are more great videos to check out from Festo: AirRay, AirPenguin, AirJelly, AquaRay, and from the archives, AquaPenguin and AquaJellyfish, and the TEDTalk, A robot that flies like a bird.
From the 2012 Concurs de Castells, a human tower-building competition in Tarragona, Spain, watch this video by photographer David Oliete. David also took photos.
A long tradition in the region, castells began at the end of the 18th century. The sport has rules, techniques, and team responsibilities to guard safety and success. The pinya or base is made of a few hundred people that can catch anyone who falls, and the tower itself has a variety of different formations. The top three levels are the pom de dalt, made up of children in helmets.
While the video above doesn’t show some of the more harrowing challenges, this video by Mike Randolph in 2010 captures why safety and teamwork are so important:
Shaggy Lawn Mowers - Paris Tries an Eco-Friendly Way of Maintaining Park Lawns… the New York Times reports on a sustainable idea:
Mayor Bertrand Delanoë has made the environment a priority since his election in 2001, with popular bike- and car-sharing programs, an expanded network of designated lanes for bicycles and buses, and an enormous project to pedestrianize the banks along much of the Seine.
The sheep, which are to mow (and, not inconsequentially, fertilize) an airy half-acre patch in the 19th Arrondissement are intended in the same spirit. City Hall refers to the project as “eco-grazing,” and it notes that the four ewes will prevent the use of noisy, gas-guzzling mowers and cut down on the use of herbicides.
If you’ve ever wanted a cabinet with secret compartments — and we’re talking about a lot of secret compartments here — then you’re going to like videos from the Extravagant Inventions: The Princely Furniture of the Roentgens exhibit that was at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (October 30, 2012–January 27, 2013).
One of the finest achievements of European furniture making, this cabinet is the most important product from Abraham (1711—1793) and David Roentgen’s (1743—1807) workshop. A writing cabinet crowned with a chiming clock, it features finely designed marquetry panels and elaborate mechanisms that allow for doors and drawers to be opened automatically at the touch of a button. Owned by King Frederick William II, the Berlin cabinet is uniquely remarkable for its ornate decoration, mechanical complexity, and sheer size.
In addition to the Secretary Cabinet above, there’s also a writing desk, a rolltop desk, and an automated Marie Antoinette music player.