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Engineers Develop Patch That Melts Away Fat

And it actually works. Also, a twisted origamibot, and personal flying devices.

Origamibot is Pretty Twisted

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio have made a new soft robot that is inspired by origami, they call it the "origamibot." The name may be a work in progress as the researchers also refer to the patent-pending robot as "Twister," which somehow stands for "TWISted TowER Robot."

Naming mechanisms aside, the robot could have potential for multiple applications, everything from working alongside humans on the assembly line or in space as a collapsible and more compact robotic arm. 

The robot uses a form of expanding and contracting origami tower structures that are 3D printed. The work is reminiscent of the work out of the University of Illinois Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering that is using similar origami tower structures to propel cheap robots that move like earthworms.

According to researchers, Twister could not only be a fit for manipulating fragile objects like eggs or ripe fruit because the design is soft, safe, and the fingers absorb and distribute any excess force. The origamibot is controlled with a cable-based actuation, and now the researchers are thinking of ways to make a miniature version of the robot that could be inserted into your body for minimally invasive surgeries.

Engineers Develop Microneedle Patch That Melts Away Fat

Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center and the University of North Carolina have developed a microneedle skin patch that pierces your skin and administers nanoparticles carrying a fat-shrinking drug to fat cells. 

In initial studies, the patch shrank the fat on obese mice by 20% by turning white fat, which stores excess energy, into brown fat, which is used to make heat.

The treatment even helped decrease blood glucose levels, which means that it could help people fight obesity and diabetes. It did however only reduce the fat underneath the patch, so once this thing gets FDA approved, we're going to need production ready to start print huge sheets of it.

The square patch is only a centimeter wide, but still holds dozens of microscopic needs which painlessly piece the skin before releasing the drug.

Boeing Wants You to Build a Personal Flying Device

Boeing has ponied up $2 million to sponsor a two-year international competition in an effort to bring personal flying devices to the masses. 

The GoFly Prize will award up to $1 million to anyone who can design and develop a safe, quiet, compact, near-vertical takeoff and landing personal flying device that can fly a single person up to twenty miles.

Of course, some innovators may have a leg up on the competition, like Richard Browning who designed the jet-powered Daedalus suit; or Hoversurf which developed the motorcycle-inspired Scorpion-3 hoverbike; or Chris Malloy who is working with the Army to bring his JTARV hoverbike to the battlefield.

According to the Boeing, personal flight systems are now attainable thanks to advances in propulsion, energy, light-weight materials, and control and stability systems.

The competition is built into three phases. In Phase I, up to ten $20,000 prizes will be handed out based on written reports.

In Phase II, up to four $50,000 prized will be awarded based on demonstrated performance of progress.

And in Phase III, one $1 million grand prize will be awarded to the best overall fly-off score, one $250,000 prize will go to the quietest entry, another quarter million will go to the smallest entry, and $100,000 will be awarded for a "disruptive advancement of the state-of-the-art."

The three phases will culminate in a Final Fly Off that is scheduled for the Autumn of 2019, so get cracking on those designs, the first deadline is in April.

This is Engineering By Design with David Mantey. 

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