HYDRA hygroscopy driven artificial muscles

Evaporation is a ubiquitous phenomenon in the natural environment and a dominant form of energy transfer in the Earth’s climate. Engineered systems rarely, if ever, use evaporation as a source of energy, despite myriad examples of such adaptations in the biological world. Evaporation-driven engines can power common tasks like locomotion and electricity generation. These engines start and run autonomously when placed at air–water interfaces. They generate rotary and piston-like linear motion using specially designed, biologically based artificial muscles responsive to moisture fluctuations. Using these engines, an electricity generator that rests on water can harvesting its evaporation to power a miniature car (weighing 0.1kg) that moves forward as the water in the car evaporates. Evaporation-driven engines may find applications in powering robotic systems, sensors, devices and machinery that function in the natural environment.

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Laser-powered quadcopter

LaserMotive demonstrated its ability to wirelessly power UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) by partnering with Ascending Technologies to put LaserMotive’s receiver technology on AscTec’s Pelican quadrocopter. With only a 5-minute battery on-board, the Pelican flew for nearly twelve and a half hours!

Ambient Backscatter


Ambient Backscatter transforms existing wireless signals into both a source of power and a communication medium. It enables two battery-free devices to communicate by backscattering existing wireless signals. Backscatter communication is orders of magnitude more power-efficient than traditional radio communication. Further, since it leverages the ambient RF signals that are already around us, it does not require a dedicated power infrastructure as in RFID.