All posts by Operations

Drone swarms that can think for themselves

Flocking birds and schooling fish are the inspiration for creating a swarm of drones that can pilot themselves, and relay critical information to combat soldiers when other communication channels aren’t available.

Defence researchers are building the software to make this a reality, as part of the Self-organising Communications and Autonomous Delivery Service project.

While they’re currently working with octocopter drones (a drone with eight rotors), the software could also be used in self-driving buggies and underwater vehicles. Continue reading Drone swarms that can think for themselves

Making motorcycle clothing safer

Most motorcycle clothing is not as protective as you might think. But from next year it will be easier to identify the safest gloves and garments thanks to a rating system developed by Deakin University researchers.

Keen biker Dr Chris Hurren and his colleague Dr Liz de Rome, of the university’s Institute for Frontier Materials, tested fabrics used in biker clothing— such as denim and synthetic protective liners—to measure breathability and durability. More than 60 per cent performed poorly. Continue reading Making motorcycle clothing safer

When boron nitride outshines gold and silver

Ultra-thin boron nitride outshines gold and silver when used to detect contaminants in smart sensing technology.  It is 100 times more effective at detecting dangerous materials in our food and environment than noble metals.

Traditionally, detection surfaces of these devices have been made using gold and silver. But covering these metals with a microscopically thin layer of boron nitride greatly enhances their performance.

The findings are by a team from Deakin University’s Institute for Frontier Materials, Japan’s National Institute for Materials Science and China’s Wenzhou University. Continue reading When boron nitride outshines gold and silver

Touch of silk to repair ruptured eardrums

A transparent, silk-derived implant that looks like a contact lens and can fix damaged eardrums is giving hope to millions who suffer from recurrent ear infections.

Creators of the device—from the Australian Research Council’s Future Fibres Research Hub and the Perth-based —secured funding to start human clinical trials with it in Australia in 2018.

The implant, called ClearDrum, is made from silk protein that forms a see-through scaffold on which cells can grow to close eardrum perforations. Continue reading Touch of silk to repair ruptured eardrums

Robotic arm to help stroke patients regain movement

A robotic arm is the key to a radical new stroke treatment, helping patients regain upper body movement.

Melbourne researchers have developed a device that helps stroke patients learn to use their bodies again by tracking their movements while performing exercises. The arm movements can be displayed on a computer screen, and the activities turned into a game.

“The patients enjoy using the robot because it’s like playing computer games,” says Associate Professors Denny Oetomo, who is working with Ying Tan, and a team at The University of Melbourne and Royal Melbourne Hospital.

“It also improves the ratio of patients to clinician time as the clinicians can handle multiple patients at one time.” Continue reading Robotic arm to help stroke patients regain movement

Sharpening vision in bionic eyes

A PhD student at The University of Melbourne has discovered a technique that can improve the resolution of bionic eyes for people who suffer from retinal conditions such age-related macular degeneration and retinitis pigmentosa.

“Implants are really limited in how much resolution they can provide. I’m trying to improve that,” says Kerry Halupka, who works with the Bionics Institute. Continue reading Sharpening vision in bionic eyes

Towards a portable test for tiredness

Saliva or blood tests may one day be used to detect when we’re too tired to drive or think clearly.

A team of scientists has found specific biological markers (biomarkers) linked to reduced alertness, including eye movement patterns, blood-based metabolites, chemiresistor signal responses and various speech parameters.

If these can be used to develop a test, they hope to see it on the road and in the workplace within the next two-to-five years. Continue reading Towards a portable test for tiredness