Weekly News Bites: A wearable tentacle, an invasive star, and the fastest robo-dog

Asia Research News monitors the latest research news in Asia. Some highlights that caught our attention this week are a motorized tentacle you can wear on your finger, a star that came from a long way away and a long time ago, and a new champion in the competition for the fastest robo-quadruped.

A fossil found almost 20 years ago has been confirmed as a new species by the Wakayama Prefectural Museum of Natural History. The “Wakayama blue dragon” (translated from Japanese) was a type of marine reptile that lived about 70 million years ago. It had flippers larger than its head and seemed to swim using its leg fins.

There is a supermassive black hole at the middle of our Milky Way galaxy that is surrounded by many stars. Since black holes are better at swallowing things up than creating, the stars surrounding it seem to have migrated there. While studying these nomadic stars, Miyagi University found a star more than 10 billion years old that had made its way from another galaxy.

By combining haptic feedback and a soft tentacle, scientists from Beihang University have created a robot to rival Dr. Octopus, a villain from Spiderman. The robotic tentacle is controlled by a single finger glove and uses liquid electronic circuits to allow for flexibility. Rather than taking over the world, the researchers hope to use it to help medical and elderly care services.

And the award for the fastest robo-dog goes to… HOUND created by KAIST. By optimizing the mechanical design and using data-driven training, HOUND is built not only for speed but also for different terrains. The controller was trained on simulations that reflected the real world as close as possible to ensure that this quadruped was ready for what the environment had to throw at it.