Michael Cochrane

Michael is a retired Defense Department engineer and former Army officer who is an adjunct professor of engineering management at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va. He is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute's mid-career course. Follow Michael on Twitter @MFCochrane.

Denis Balibouse/Reuters/Newscom

Robots against weeds

Technology | Weed-killing bots may transform herbicide practices
by Michael Cochrane
Posted 7/05/18, 01:27 am

Autonomous farming robots that target weeds directly are poised to disrupt the current practice of mass spraying of herbicides.

Swiss company ecoRobotix is one of several newcomers in the emerging field of digital agriculture. Its solar-powered robot, which looks something like a pingpong table on wheels, can identify and spray weeds for 12 hours straight without an operator. Its developers believe it will use 20 times less herbicide than traditional methods that involve spraying entire fields.

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Elaine Thompson/AP

Guide for the blind

Technology | An augmented reality headset and app could aid those who cannot see
by Michael Cochrane
Posted 6/19/18, 03:57 pm

Technology developers often don’t anticipate the creative ways people will use their inventions. Microsoft developed its HoloLens headset to combine digital and real-world images—a technology called “augmented reality” (AR)—but researchers at the California Institute of Technology have developed an app for HoloLens that turns it into a device for helping people who are blind navigate buildings.

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Trees as streetlights?

Technology | Researchers hope genetic engineering will create bioluminescent trees
by Michael Cochrane
Posted 6/14/18, 01:58 pm

Trees planted along busy city streets can provide shade by day, but could they also provide light at night? Researchers in Denmark want to isolate the genes that cause ocean algae to glow and insert them into trees, creating natural streetlights.

“We could try to change some of that lighting from conventional, electricity-consuming lights to a more natural way of creating light,” Kristian Ejlsted, CEO of Allumen, a startup based near Copenhagen, told Fast Company.

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