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Autonomous vehicles coming quicker than we think?

The Joint European Torus (JET), based in Oxfordshire, UK, is known for housing the largest fusion reactor in the world and carries out a large amount of research when it comes to nuclear fusion. Their latest project, however, is more than just studying nuclear fusion, but researching ways to use nuclear fusion in autonomous vehicles.   Using a test called RACE, the team at JET have been researching ways nuclear fusion can help support robotic devices and their development. The installation of equipment into extremely small space caused the reactor shell to activate by neutron bombardment, in turn causing a nuclear fusion reaction which can be used within nuclear fusion studies but also outside.  “We are increasingly concerned with decommissioning, not just at Sellafield b

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New insoles to treat diabetic ulcers

A new show insole has been developed by Purdue University in order to help prevent amputation of toes, feet and legs of diabetics who are currently suffering from diabetic ulcers. The insoles have been designed to slowly release oxygen to the foot, which in turn heals the ulcers and allows the user to be able to regain more mobility.  Diabetic ulcers are caused by damaged nerves which causes skin tissue to disintegrate as well as the lack of feeling, meaning that damage to the foot can go unnoticed, and therefore doesn’t receive the appropriate treatment.  “We typically treat ulcers by removing devitalised tissue from the surface of the wound, and by helping the patient to find ways to take the weight off the affected foot,” said Desmond Bell, a podiatrist in wound ma

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Paralysis in three patients treated with electrical simulation.

A medical breakthrough by GTX Medical, led by the Swiss professors Grégoire Courtine and Bloch, has enabled three patients, all suffering with chronic paraplegia, to walk again thanks to wireless electrical simulation.  The wireless implant is inserted onto the spinal cord where it contains a multitude of electrodes which can send specific messages to specific muscle groups, just as the brain would.  “Selected configurations of electrodes are activating specific regions of the spinal cord, mimicking the signals that the brain would deliver to produce walking,” said Prof Jocelyne Bloch, a neuroscientist at Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV/Unil). Each of the patients who undertook the electrical simulation found that not only could they move and control their paraly

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General Motors and Honda partner up for new autonomous project

The Japanese company, Honda, has announced that after following the success of electric vehicles with General Motors, they will be partnering up again to design and produce an autonomous vehicle. It is said that the project will create a vehicle which can be used for a variety of uses and will be deployed globally. Contributing a whopping $2bn towards the project, Cruise, Honda is planning to build the vehicles on a large scale.  “This is the logical next step in General Motors and Honda’s relationship, given our joint work on electric vehicles, and our close integration with Cruise,” said General Motors chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “Together, we can provide Cruise with the world’s best design, engineering and manufacturing expertise, and global reach to establish them as

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Deep blood pressure to be measured through a new ultrasound patch

The University of California San Diego have designed and produced a non-invasive ultrasound patch which can measure blood pressure in arteries and veins - a task that normal wearable devices would not be able to perform as they can only measure surface readings. “By integrating ultrasound technology into wearables, we can start to capture a whole lot of other signals, biological events and activities going on way below the surface in a non-invasive manner,” said research leader Sheng Xu, a professor of nanoengineering at the Jacobs School of Engineering. Created using silicone elastomer and small electronic components, the new ultrasound patch is said to be able to measure depths as great as 4cm below the surface of the skin. In addition to this, using a patch which can be attach

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One step closer to preventing epileptic seizures

For some time, those who have been diagnosed with Epilepsy have relied on drug treatments to prevent all ranges of epileptic seizures. However, with these drugs not being fully effective, as well as bringing many side effects, the Cambridge University’s Department of Engineering, alongside two French institutions, have begun developing a new treatment which hopes to be safer and more reliable. Together, they have created a flexible electronic implant which can be inserted into the brain to not only sense when an epileptic seizure is about to start, but then prevents it from occurring by releasing a drug, directed at the source of the seizure.  Currently still in animal testing, this new feature provides much hope, not only for sufferers of Epilepsy but also other neurological

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Development of 3D printed implants to promote bone growth

3D printed implants have been developed by a team in NYU’s Medicine and Dentistry colleges which have been created to act a a type of scaffolding to help bones to repair and regenerate over time. Formed as a gel-like substance, the implants are produced with tricalcium phosphate and is set to resemble the bone after being heated, eventually turning the gel substance into a ceramic implant.  As the impact and gel contain similar compounds to the ones found in real bone, natural bone will use the implant as a template to regrow in place of the impact, which dissolves over time. This process is said to help speed up the regeneration period of bone as the Dipyridamole is said to attract new bone stem cells and thin the blood, resulting in the time taken for a bone to heal to decrease

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The 2018 MacRobert Award goes to…

This year’s Royal Academy of Engineering MacRobert Award was presented to Cambridge firm, Owlstone Medical. The award was given for their work and development of a breath sampler, known as the ReCIVA, which is said to have the potential to save a vast quantity of lives - not to mention the $1.5 billion that could be saved in healthcare across the world.  Using microchip chemical sensor technology, the ReCIVA is said to be able to analyse even the smallest change in Volatile Organic Compounds, which can suggest the early signs of a variety of diseases, including cancer. Currently developing tests for lunch and colorectal cancer - the two most common types of cancer killers, the ReCIVA is currently under clinical trials with the NHS & Cancer Research. Diagnosis, however, is

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Monitoring blood sugar painlessly with Radar and AI

The University of Waterloo have collaborated with Google and Infineon to combine radar alongside artificial intelligence to create a detector which measures blood sugar levels without the need to draw blood.  Using high frequency radio waves, the new glucose monitoring system can detect levels of sugar in the blood and how they differ which are then analysed by an artificial intelligence where the information is converted into useful readings of up to 500 wave features.  “We want to sense blood inside the body without actually having to sample any fluid,” said George Shaker, an engineering professor who leads a large team working on the concept. “Our hope is this can be realised as a smartwatch to monitor glucose continuously.” The university are now in the proce

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Wearable and biocompatible circuits in development

Researchers within China’s National Centre for Nanoscience and Technology have developed a flexible, biocompatible material which holds stretchable circuits, enabling the potential for wearable and biocompatible electronics.  Made using screen printing and microfluidic patterning, the  non-toxic, metal-polymer conductor is made with gallium and indium within a silicon-based polymer substrate, holding a liquid metal to allow a flow of electricity. The pliable nature of the material suggests that the electric circuits can not only be worn, but also may also be implanted into the body to help treat disease or stimulate DNA in membranes of living cells.  “These are the first flexible electronics that are at once highly conductive and stretchable, fully biocompatible, a

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