Robotics

Eli Chen

Inside a huge warehouse at Boeing’s headquarters in St. Charles, a table-shaped drone rose from the middle of the floor.

As intern Edwin Mercado-Colon sat at a computer typing commands, the drone began to move around the room and an unmanned vehicle automatically followed.  But Mercado-Colon wasn’t using a controller to direct the drone. Instead, he picked a destination for the drone without telling it how to get there.

“He’s picking a spot in the lab to fly to,” said Mike Abraham, manager of Boeing’s Collaborative Autonomous Systems Laboratory. “That command goes to the vehicle. The vehicle knows where it is because of the motion capture system. It’s determining how to get to the next point, on its own.”

Developing unmanned vehicles that can work together on their own represents the latest in drone technology, a global industry that analysts predict could be worth $127 billion by 2020.

John Stegeman, 18, helped design and build a Mars rover-style robot for the Science Centerexhibit
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

The Curiosity rover is cruising toward a specific set of sand dunes on Mars millions of miles across the universe. The St. Louis Science Center is trying to bring that science down to Earth.

A new exhibit aims to explain both the science and the thought process behind the Curiosity Mars rover, according to Paul Freiling, director of engineering and technology education at the center. For him, the scope of Curiosity’s responsibilities illustrate how problem-solving in space is the productive of cooperative minds.

(Véronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio)

Washington University is now home to one of the largest zebrafish research facilities in the world.

The one-inch long, striped tropical fish serve as models for studying human development and disease, from birth defects to heart disease to cancer.