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Tasty Tech Eye Candy Of The Week (Sept. 20)
By Tracy Staedter,
Discovery News, 20 September 2015.

Coming at you this week at a high rate of speed: an express train between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, a 3-D printer that can print a house, a solar-powered tulip and the latest invisibility cloak developed in a lab.

1. High-Speed Train


After four years of negotiation, China Railway Group and a private US company have agreed on a plan to build the country's first high-speed train. It will travel between Los Angeles and Las Vegas at 150 miles per hour, crossing 230 miles of desert in 80 minutes. The partners are scheduled to break ground on the project in September, 2016.

2. Video Dogs


This dog is equipped for rescue. She's wearing a new hinge-up digital video camera called Cerberus, made by Cobham Tactical Communications and Surveillance. It's designed for military or law enforcement dogs trained for scouting and search and rescue, and can transmit high-quality video feed to a receiver, even if the dog is moving fast or as far away as 300 yards.

3. Roomba


iRobot's new Roomba 980 comes chock full of technology, including Wi-Fi and a corresponding smartphone app that allows the owner to control the vacuum cleaner remotely. The robot also has a new camera that's pointed forward and up at about a 45-degree angle, which lets the robot map not just the floor, but the furniture in the room, improving its accuracy and range.

4. Concept Car


During the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show, Honda unveiled its Project 2&4 Car, which they say gives drivers the freedom of motorcycle and the manoeuvrability of a car. It was inspired by Honda's RA272 of 1965 and weighs just 892 lbs., with a seat that gets the driver as low to the ground as possible.

5. Tesla Drone


South Africa industrial designer Fraser Leid, based in London, has a fresh idea for a cinematography drone. His Tesla Drone concept has a 30 Mp video camera and two independent propellers that can be stacked vertically or aligned horizontally, depending on the need. A lithium-ion power cell gives the craft 60 minutes of filming time, after which a dock can recharge the battery in 20 minutes flat.

6. Saltwater Battery


The Aqueous Hybrid Ion battery, invented by Jay Whitacre of Carnegie Mellon University, is the first mass-produced battery of its kind that uses non-toxic materials, including salt water and carbon to store energy. Whitacre won this year's US$500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize for his low-cost, eco-friendly invention.

7. Cactivism


A competition from the architecture website Archinect asked architects to imagine solutions that would address the drought crisis in California. Ali Chen won in the "Speculative" category (for ideas using technology not yet available). His Cactivism concept sketches out a farm centred on the prickly pear, a drought-tolerant cactus that not only provides food for humans and animals but can also clean water thanks to the nature of its pulp. Learn more about the concept here.

8. World's Largest 3-D Printer


It looks like a giant project from an erector set, but in fact, it's a 40-foot-tall 3-D printer. Billed as the world's largest 3-D printer, BigDelta is designed to print homes on site using locally available materials. It comes from the World’s Advanced Saving Project, which was founded by Italian 3-D printing innovator Massimo Moretti and debuted this weekend at a three-day event in Massa Lombarda, Italy.

9. Solar Tulip


On a mission to become carbon neutral by 2025, Ethiopia has partnered with AORA Solar to build solar power plants. Each one will consist of a central, tulip-shaped tower surrounded by a field of sun-tracking mirrors. The mirrors concentrate sunlight and heat onto the tower, where inside water boils to produce steam that turns a turbine. Each plant has an output capacity of 100 kilowatts-equivalent, which is enough to power roughly 60 to 80 homes.

10. Invisibility Cloak


An extremely thin and flexible material made of magnesium fluoride and brick-shaped gold antennas can render objects invisible. The antennas can be tuned to match the background and essentially reflect light like a mirror, even when laid over objects that have an irregular shape.

Top image: The ultra-thin 'invisibility cloak.' Credit: Lawrence Berkeley National Lab/AFP via Raw Story.

[Source: Discovery News. Edited. Top image and some links added.]