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MM: Squishy Invisible Underwater Robots; AT&T's Ultra-Fast Wireless Broadband Plans

In this Manufacturing Minute episode, AT&T announces plans to test an ultra-fast wireless broadband and a squishy new robot that’s invisible underwater.

Ultra-Fast Wireless Broadband

AT&T announced that it’s in advanced discussions with power companies and other partners to conduct trials of Project AirGig in at least two locations by this fall. So what is Project AirGig? Glad you asked. Last fall, the company detailed an experimental technology to deliver low-cost, speedy “multi-gigabit” wireless Internet over existing power lines. This technology will be easier to deploy than fiber, can run over license-free spectrum and can deliver ultra-fast wireless connectivity to any home or handheld wireless device.

The company has been experimenting with multiple ways to send a modulated radio signal around or near medium-voltage power lines. There’s no direct electrical connection to the power line required and it doesn’t require any new fiber-to-home connections. It’s also flexible enough to be configured with small cells or distributed antenna systems. No need to build new towers or bury new cables in the ground.

As part of Project AirGig, AT&T Labs invented low-cost plastic antennas and devices located along the power line to regenerate millimeter wave signals that can be used for 4G LTE and 5G multi-gigabit mobile and fixed deployments. 


Is Project AirGig a novel solution to our growing demand for data services? Could systems like this help in enabling a world of IoT? Tell us what you think by leaving your comments below. 

This Squishy New Robot Is Invisible Underwater

Last week, engineers at MIT announced their latest research marvel: a soft, flexible robot made of hydrogel — meaning that it’s composed of water.
This surprisingly strong and agile robot is almost completely invisible when it’s under water. What makes it both strong and fast is its neutral buoyancy that allows the squishy bot to move without being hindered by electric motors or complex hydraulics. Instead, the hydrogel robot is made of a series of what look like connected rubbery tubes, which allows the user to simply pump water in and out of its inner chambers — thus, triggering movement. 

And again because hydrogel is made mostly of water and thus essentially invisible when submerged, MIT researchers envision these robots as underwater spies. Then, scientists and biologists could study underwater environments without disturbing any sea life.

Additionally, researchers say that bioactive components (like drugs or bacteria for instance) could be also incorporated within these hydrogel devices for sustained release and controlled delivery.


What other potential applications of this soft robot can you imagine? Tweet me your thoughts @MnetNews or leave your comment in the section below.

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