In The News Archive

This monthly summary includes excerpts from Illinois in the News, a daily service provided by the University of Illinois News Bureau and other media search tools. This collection of recent stories focuses on engineering topics and faculty contacted for their expertise by print and broadcast reporters around the world.

Forget GPS. This Robot Navigates Like an Ant

PBS (Feb. 13) -- In the journal Science Robotics, a team of French scientists unveiled new technology that just might bolster our future travels: AntBot, an insect-inspired walking robot that models its navigational capabilities on those of ants.“This is remarkable,” says Viktor Gruev, an engineer who studies bio-inspired systems at Illinois who was not involved in the study. “This paper shows an excellent way of taking desert ants’ different senses ... and integrating them into a very elegant solution to recreate navigational capabilities.”

Developing a flight strategy to land heavier vehicles on Mars

Science Daily (Feb. 13) -- The heaviest vehicle to successfully land on Mars is the Curiosity Rover at 1 metric ton, about 2,200 pounds. Sending more ambitious robotic missions to the surface of Mars, and eventually humans, will require landed payload masses in the 5- to 20-ton range. To do that, we need to figure out how to land more mass. That was the goal of a recent study. Also: New Atlas (Feb. 12)

How Machine Learning Is Crafting Precision Medicine

Forbes (Feb. 11) -- Dr. Liewei Wang of the Mayo Clinic, along with a team of researchers that includes members of the department of computer science at Illinois, developed a machine learning algorithm to predict whether a psychiatrist should prescribe a certain drug to a depression patient based on that patient’s unique medical record. 

Giving waferscale processors another shot

The Next Platform (Feb. 11) -- Constructing a processor from an entire silicon wafer might seem like a strange idea, but a new study demonstrated that a wafer-scale chip can outperform an equivalent multichip module by an order of magnitude, while delivering much better energy efficiency. The study was conducted by a team of researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles and the U. of I.

The good, the bad, and the AV

AV Magazine (Feb. 10) -- The way content is created is also becoming smart. A recently published paper by Adobe, the U. of I. and the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology has claimed that the era of needing a green screen to superimpose backgrounds is likely coming to an end. They explain how a new artificial intelligence program can remove the background behind a person or object in virtually any situation. 

Flat tired of potholes? IDOT searches for a cure

Daily Herald (Feb. 11) -- For the last few years, Illinois Department of Transportation researchers with the U. of I.’s Center for Transportation have dissected asphalt mixes to find the most crack-resistant and weed out the weak links. By 2020, IDOT hopes to offer a recipe for a superior asphalt that “should improve cracking resistance of all of our mixes and in the process address some of the issues we get under really cold weather,” says District 1 Bureau Chief of Materials George Houston.

In the future, welding robots could be controlled by operators' thoughts

Digital Trends (Feb. 6) -- Welding has always been a physical, hands-on job — but that may be about to change. That’s because researchers from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have developed a new mind-control system that makes it possible for someone to control a welding robot by transmitting mental instructions via an electroencephalography (EEG) cap

Campus Conversation: Rohit Bhargava

News-Gazette (Feb. 7) -- More than 600,000 Americans are expected to die from cancer this year, and 1.7 million people will be diagnosed with the disease. The new Cancer Center at Illinois, which has pulled together more than 70 cancer researchers across campus, wants to make a dent in those numbers and improve the way patients are diagnosed and treated. With a unique approach based on engineering and technology advances, it hopes to win designation as a National Cancer Institute and attract funding and expertise to campus. Founding director Rohit Bhargava talked about the center's plans, and what it means for the community, in this week's "Campus Conversation."

Dean Rashid Bashir appears on PBS News Hour

PBS (Feb. 6) In the never-ending hunt for new designs that jump, pump, or run faster and better, scientists are finding inspiration in nature. The field of biomimicry blurs boundaries between living things -- like the butterfly’s proboscis or the flea's powerful legs -- and the inanimate to spur new problem-solving technologies. Science correspondent Miles O’Brien reports.

Beware of Cars With Minds of Their Own

Bloomberg (Feb. 6) -- Figuring out what the streets will be like once they’re owned by driverless cars isn’t an exact science, but a number of researchers have run game theory-based simulations or real-life experiments to try to work it out. A paper by a team of researchers led by Daniel Work, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Illinois, argued that autonomous vehicles capable of optimizing their speed to avoid stopping would put an end to irritating stop-and-go waves.

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