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MM: Power Supply For Flexible Electronics, And A Self-Driving Racecar

In this episode we examine a self-driving racecar and a power supply for flexible electronics.

A Power Supply For Flexible Electronics

Research unveiled this week at the American Chemical Society meeting in Philadelphia could eventually pave the way for increasingly flexible electronics.

A team of scientists from Singapore's Nanyang Technological University used of graphene to create a micro-supercapacitor that stretches.

Supercapacitors — which boast higher power densities and longer life cycles than standard capacitors or batteries — have been around for decades, and smaller versions can power cell phones and other electronics.

Integrating them into flexible electronics, however, will require altering their current rigid structures.

Graphene is a thin sheet of carbon that is thin, strong and conductive — but not stretchy. The team worked around that limitation by constructing tiny ribbons of the material and placing it on a stretchable polymer chip.

They also developed origami-like structures to make the supercapacitors five times more flexible without compromising performance.

Scientists were able to power a calculator with the system, but it can only hold enough energy to power such displays for about a minute.

As future research increases the capacitor's storage, however, scientists believe it could be key to clothing capable of charging a cell phone or soft robots that perform common household tasks.

Is this the future of flexible electronics, or is it a little early to get excited about a one-minute power supply? Feel free to comment below.

A Self-Driving Racecar

About a year ago Roborace, an autonomous racing series that will run in conjunction with the 2016/2017 Formula E season, was announced. Now the team behind Roborace has released the first images of the development vehicle labeled DevBot, the test car that the racing series is using to lay the foundation of basic software and hardware that each team will start with — sort of like the basic kit kids get for pinewood derby racing.

DevBot isn’t pretty to look at, though, since its purpose is to give engineers information about how the car "thinks" when it's out on the track. But the vehicle is fitted with the same drivetrain, sensors, computers and communication systems as the final racer. DevBots will be controlled by a central Nvidia AI brain, using cameras and radar sensors to navigate the pack of all-electric racers around tight city streets.

Roborace says that various tech, auto, motorsport and university groups interested in the racing series will be given time with the DevBot over the next six months.

Could Roborace and DevBot lead to better and more advanced driverless vehicles? Tell us what you think by leaving your comments below. 

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