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Engineering By Design: Seagull Drone Shoots Sunscreen At Kids

Robots build new tools in space, electronic tattoos fit your face, and a drone designed to apply sunscreen in the most unorthodox manner that you will ever see.

Robots Could Build Massive Space-Based Instruments

Our culture's newfound collective interest in further exploring the cosmos has been inspiring, but as we attempt to look deeper into the void, researchers remain limited. Telescopes on the ground are limited to a fixed location and space-based telescopes are limited due to size constraints not to mention cost - though that will likely come down as a result of our current commercial space race.

But what if a space-based telescope was modular? And what if we had a robot do the assembly in space after we blasted the components into the sky?

The idea comes from researchers at the California Institute of Technology and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory who have designed the robotically assembled modular space telescope, a concept that could lead to some extremely large floating instruments.

The main features include a mirror built with a modular structure, a robot to put the telescope together and provide ongoing servicing, and advanced metrology technologies to support the assembly and operation of the telescope. Really, the robot would perform tasks that would otherwise be difficult if now impossible due to astronaut fatigue.

One day, it could even fly the unassembled components of the telescope in formation. The system architecture is scalable to any size telescope, and it could mean upgrades and repairs that would keep telescopes useful for longer lifetimes.

Really, it's not much different that plans for building habitats on Mars, but look at that little robot spider architect in the rendering, thing is just cool.

Marketing Department Tattoos Your Face

Researchers at Tel Aviv University have developed a new temporary electronic tattoo that measures muscle and nerve cell activity on your face. And it's poised to revolutionize medicine, rehabilitation, and even business and marketing research, because what good is innovation if you can't use it to sell? You see, focus groups and market research still heavily rely on subjective questionnaires.

Well not anymore, as this adhesive tattoo consists of a carbon electrode and a nanotechnology-based conductive polymer coating that can identify and map your emotions.

The device was first developed as an alternative to electromyography, a test that assesses muscles and nerve cells health. It's an uncomfortable medical procedure during which you lie still in a lab for hours with a needle is stuck in your muscle tissue.

The tattoo has promise, and can be used to measure everything from driver alertness to improved muscle control in patients who suffered from strokes. 

Seagull Drone Defecates on Kids

Typically, when seagulls fly overhead during a day spent at the beach, you don't laugh when your child is suddenly struck with a creamy white substance from the sky. And you certainly don't encourage them to spread it all around.

Well sunscreen maker Nivea is looking to change that with an ad campaign that made a seagull shaped drone stuffed with a plunger full of sunscreen and UV detecting sensors to create what some have called wretched, ridiculous, fun, and my personal favorite, the stupidest thing that I've ever seen.

Engineers built the drone with a UV camera that allows operators to identify kids who are not wearing sunscreen. This allows them to fly the gull overhead, and shat sunblock from the sky.

Unorthodox? Perhaps, but not from a company that once handed out dolls to kids on the beach that suffered severe sunburns if the kids did apply sunscreen. 

Oh, and if you're out at the lake this weekend and your kid is on the receiving end of an unexpected application, just assume that Nivea isn't in the area.

This is Engineering By Design. 

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