Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cockroaches Offer Inspiration For Running Robots

Researchers at Oregon State University are using studies of guinea hens and other animals such as cockroaches to learn more about the mechanics of their running ability, with the goal of developing robots that can run easily over rough terrain. (Credit: Image courtesy of Oregon State University)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Dec. 29, 2009) — The sight of a cockroach scurrying for cover may be nauseating, but the insect is also a biological and engineering marvel, and is providing researchers at Oregon State University with what they call "bioinspiration" in a quest to build the world's first legged robot that is capable of running effortlessly over rough terrain.

Read more ....

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Robotic Knee Helps Perfectly Healthy Runners Run Even Better

The Cyborg Leg It helps perfectly healthy runners run 30 percent more efficiently.
Tsukuba University


From Popular Science:

Attention cyborg wonks and lazy people: Japanese scientists at Tsukuba University have created a motorized knee that you can attach to your leg to increase your muscle power and running speed. The 11-pound kit's weight is shared by an exoskeleton-like attachment for your leg and a power source that's carried in a small backpack. But here's the best part: the device is not designed with any kind of rehabilitation or handicap-assisting function in mind; it's simply to make it easier for regular folks to run faster!

Read more ....

Friday, December 18, 2009

Computers Offer A Faster Way To Cure Humanity's Ills


From The Guardian:

Scientific research and medical breakthroughs increasingly depend on huge computer power.

HOW DO YOU predict whether a given patient is likely to die from a heart attack? Conventional medical wisdom would base a risk assessment on factors such as the person's age, whether they were smokers and/or diabetic plus the results of cardiac ultrasound and various blood tests. It may be that a better predictor is a computer program that analyses the patient's electrocardiogram looking for subtle features within the data provided by the instrument.

Read more ....

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Rethinking Artificial Intelligence

From R&D:

The field of artificial-intelligence research (AI), founded more than 50 years ago, seems to many researchers to have spent much of that time wandering in the wilderness, swapping hugely ambitious goals for a relatively modest set of actual accomplishments. Now, some of the pioneers of the field, joined by later generations of thinkers, are gearing up for a massive “do-over” of the whole idea.

Read more ....

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Davy Jones's Lock-Up


From The Economist:

Underwater robots can help study the world’s shipwrecks, a trove of information about the past, more easily and cheaply.

A SHIPWRECK is a catastrophe for those involved, but for historians and archaeologists of future generations it is an opportunity. Wrecks offer glimpses not only of the nautical technology of the past but also of its economy, trade, culture and, sometimes, its warfare. Until recently, though, most of the 3m ships estimated to be lying on the seabed have been out of reach. Underwater archaeology has mainly been the preserve of scuba divers. That has limited the endeavour to waters less than 50 metres deep, excluding 98% of the sea floor from inspection. Even allowing for the tendency of trading vessels to be coasters rather than ocean-going ships, that limits the number of wrecks available for discovery and examination.

Read more ....

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

New Underwater Explorers Go Where Scientists Can't



From Popular Mechanics:

Last week, an unmanned robot completed a 3300-mile trek across the Atlantic Ocean for the first time. The 134-pound robot, a glider named the Scarlet Knight, spent months at sea, gathering data on ocean temperature and salinity between the water's surface down to 600 feet below. The Scarlet Knight is just one of many new technologies scientists are turning to in order to research oceans, rivers and lakes—areas that are impractical, and in some cases impossible, for researchers to access themselves. By employing everything from robots to, yes, tadpoles, scientists hope to learn more about how climate change and pollution are affecting the earth's water. Here is some of the newest tech aiding scientists.

Read more ....

Monday, December 14, 2009

I, Robot: Buy Your Own Android Double For Christmas

Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro developed his own robot doppelganger in 2007

From The Daily Mail:

Stuck for gift ideas this Christmas? How about an android moulded in the exact likeness of your loved one? Well that is exactly what's on offer at a chain of department stores in Japan.

The mechanical doppelgangers will be on offer at Sogo, Seibu, and Robinson retailers for the princely sum of 20.1million yen or £139,000.

Read more ....

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Learning To Love To Hate Robots

Low expectations are easily surpassed (Image: Steve Olson/Getty)

From New Scientist:

ROBOTIC helpers are not yet in every home. But in recent years robots have steadily marched into the real world to perform tasks such as cleaning floors, delivering drugs or simply entertaining.

That has let anthropologists and roboticists give these mechanical workers their first report cards - and results are mixed. Despite evidence that we can find robots useful, even lovable colleagues, they can also trigger annoyance and violence. The results should help make future robots easier to work with.

Read more ....

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Buy A Custom Robot That Looks Just Like You (PHOTO)


From The Huffington Post:

If you're wondering what to put on your wishlist for the holidays, here's a gift idea you might not have considered: your robot twin -- a robotic double that looks, and talks, just like you.

Japanese department store Sogo & Seibu has announced that they are selling two, customizable robots that can be tweaked to look exactly like you (or the person of the buyer's choosing).

Read more ....

Friday, December 11, 2009

Science Goes Back To Basics On AI

From the BBC:

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has begun a project to re-think artificial intelligence research.

The Mind Machine Project will return to the basics of AI research to re-examine what lies behind human intelligence.

Spanning five years and funded by a $5m (£3.1m) grant, it will bring together scientists who have had success in distinct fields of AI.

By uniting researchers, MIT hopes to produce robotic companions smart enough to aid those suffering from dementia.

Read more ....

Thursday, December 10, 2009

A New Step Forward For Robots

Jerry Pratt (l.) with research associates push M2V2 to test its balance at the Institute for Human Cognition in Pensacola, Fla. (Carmen K. Sisson/Special to The Christian Science Monitor)

From The Christian Science Monitor:

Engineers decode human balance to build walking robots.

For the past 30 years, scientists and technicians have grappled with making robots walk on two legs. Humans do it effortlessly, but the simple act has a lot of hidden complexity. And until recently, computers were very bad at it.

Now, several teams across the country are refining the first generation of robots that are close to walking like people. That includes the ability to recover from stumbles, resist shoves, and navigate rough terrain.

Read more ....

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Five Ways To Revolutionise Computer Memory

Digital memory is getting smaller and smaller (Image: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty)

From New Scientist:

Once upon a time, not so long ago, the idea that you might store your entire music collection on a single hand-held device would have been greeted with disbelief. Ditto backing up all your essential computer files using a memory stick key ring, or storing thousands of high-resolution holiday snaps in one pocket-sized camera.

What a difference a decade makes. The impossible has become possible thanks to the lightning rise of a memory technology with the snazzy name of "flash".

Read more ....

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

MIT Plans To Rebuild Artificial Intelligence From The Ground Up

Artificial Intelligence: It's not what we think.

From Popular Science:

After 50 years and countless dead ends, incremental progress, and modest breakthroughs, artificial intelligence researchers are asking for a do-over. The $5 million Mind Machine Project (MMP), a patchwork team of two dozen academics, students and researchers, intends to go back to the discipline's beginnings, rebuilding the field from the ground up. With 20/20 hindsight, a few generations worth of experience, and better, faster technology, this time researchers in AI -- an ambiguous field to begin with -- plan to get things right.

Read more ....

Monday, December 7, 2009

Optimism As Artificial Intelligence Pioneers Reunite

INTELLIGENCE John McCarthy, seated center, who ran the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, at a reunion last month with Bruce Buchanan to his left and Vic Scheinman on the right. Standing, from left, are Ralph Gorin, Whit Diffie, Dan Swinehart, Tony Hearn, Larry Tesler, Lynn Quam and Martin Frost. John Markoff

From The New York Times:

STANFORD, Calif. — The personal computer and the technologies that led to the Internet were largely invented in the 1960s and ’70s at three computer research laboratories next to the Stanford University campus.

One laboratory, Douglas Engelbart’s Augmentation Research Center, became known for the mouse; a second, Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center, developed the Alto, the first modern personal computer. But the third, the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, or SAIL, run by the computer scientist John McCarthy, gained less recognition.

Read more ....

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Robots Become Reality

Pingpong-playing robot 'Topio'. The bipedal humanoid robot is designed to play table tennis against a human being. Photograph: Kim Kyung-hoon/Reuters

200 robot companies and institutes exhibit their latest specimens at the International Robot Exhibition in Tokyo, Japan.

Check out the entire gallery here.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Man Controls Robotic Hand With Thoughts


From U.S. News And World Report/AP:

ROME—An Italian who lost his left forearm in a car crash was successfully linked to a robotic hand, allowing him to feel sensations in the artificial limb and control it with his thoughts, scientists said Wednesday.

Read more ....

Friday, December 4, 2009

Robotic Exoskeletons: Suited For Superhuman Power

Photo: Software engineer Rex Jameson demonstrates the XOS suit designed to give Army soldiers a significant boost in strength and endurance. Raytheon Co.

From Christian Science Monitor:

Exoskeletons – or wearable robots – strengthen soldiers and mobilize the disabled.

The high-tech suits of “Iron Man” and “RoboCop” don’t seem so far off to Yoshiyuki Sankai. Since the third grade, this Japanese professor and inventor has been enchanted by Isaac Asimov’s story “I, Robot” and the idea that robots – or, in Mr. Sankai’s case, robotic suits – could help humans with everyday life.

In 2005, he unveiled several working prototypes of a mechanical, mind-controlled “exoskeleton” that could allow the disabled to walk. The suit – recently refined and now available for rent in Japan – resembles white soccer shinguards attached to each segment of the arms and legs and a fanny pack-like battery hooked around the waist.

Read more ....

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Robotic Clam Could Detonate Underwater Mines

Inspired by the amazing ability of the small clam to dig and wedge itself far deeper and more securely than would be thought, they show the robo-clam. Credit: Donna Coveney

From Live Science:

Robot clams may one day help dig up and detonate buried underwater mines, researchers now reveal. They could also serve as smart anchors for robot subs or deep-sea oil drilling.

Mechanical engineers Anette "Peko" Hosoi and Amos Winter at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology designed robots after the Atlantic razor clam (Ensis directus) because it is one of nature's best diggers. Using its relatively simple anatomy, the razor clam — which the researchers dubbed the Ferrari of underwater diggers — can burrow into the bottom of its native mudflats at a remarkable rate of roughly a centimeter per second.

Read more ....

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The World's Fastest Computers

5: Tianhe-1. 563 teraflops
A new entrant into the Top500 list, China's fastest computer proved capable of more than 500 trillion operations per second. Put another way, a simple calculator's power is typically about 10 flops. Tianhe, which means "river in the sky", is housed at the National Super Computer Center, Tianjin, and is more than four times faster than the previous top computer in the country. The computer combines 6144 Intel processors with 5120 graphics processing units made by AMD, normally found in computer graphics cards. (Image: Xinhua News Agency/eyevine)

From New Scientist:

Twice a year the operators of the world's fastest computers eagerly await their latest ranking compiled by the Top500 project. The chart is based on the maximum rate at which a computer can crunch numbers using what are called floating point operations. November's list has just been released: enjoy our gallery of the five fastest calculators on the planet.

Read more ....

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Human Brains Emulated In The Computer World

From Alpha Galileo:

Researchers at Luleå University of Technology have created a computer-based architecture that mimics a pair of human brain functions. System that detects and compensates for their own shortcomings is a possible application, another is to reduce the impact of noise. The research takes a significant step forward because the research group has recently doubled.

We have developed a model of how the various sources of information that complement each other, can get a better idea of what is happening. Better to the extent that we may see more than what the different parts look, "says Tamas Jantvik researcher at Luleå University of Technology.

Read more ....

Monday, November 30, 2009

First Programmable Quantum Computer Created


From Science News:

Ultracold beryllium ions tackle 160 randomly chosen programs.

Using a few ultracold ions, intense lasers and some electrodes, researchers have built the first programmable quantum computer. The new system, described in a paper to be published in Nature Physics, flexed its versatility by performing 160 randomly chosen processing routines.

Read more ....

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A.I. Anchors Replace Human Reporters In Newsroom Of The Future

A.I. Anchors Engineers at Northwestern have created an entire newsroom operation using artificial intelligence, even using avatars to anchor the evening news.

From Popular Science:

In the great media reshuffling ushered in by the Internet Age, print journalists have suffered the most from online journalism’s ascent. Broadcast journalists, however, may be the next group to feel technology’s cruel sting. Engineers at Northwestern University have created virtual newscasts that use artificial intelligence to collect stories, produce graphics and even anchor broadcasts via avatars.

Read more ....

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Robo-chefs And Fashion-Bots On Show In Tokyo

A 50cm high Samurai robot performs the Kurodabushi sword dance at the International Robot Exhibition in Tokyo Photo: AFP

From The Telegraph:

Forget the Transformers and Astroboy: Japan's latest robots don't save the world, they cook snacks, play with your kids, model clothes, and search for disaster victims.

The International Robot Exhibition kicked off this week, showing the latest whirring and buzzing inventions from 192 companies and 64 organisations from at home and abroad.

Many of the cutting-edge machines on show are eye-popping, but industrial robot "Motoman" also put on a mouth-watering performance, deftly flipping a Japanese savoury pancake called okonomiyaki on a sizzling hotplate.

"It is delicious. Please enjoy," said the human-size creation of Yaskawa Electric Corp. in a robotic voice.

Read more ....

Friday, November 27, 2009

IBM Reveals The Biggest Artificial Brain of All Time


From Popular Mechanics:

IBM has revealed the biggest artificial brain of all time, a simulation run by a 147,456-processor supercomputer that requires millions of watts of electricity and over 150,000 gigabytes of memory. The brain simulation is a feat for neuroscience and computer processing—but it's still one-eighty-third the speed of a human brain and is only as large as a cat's. Will we ever get to truly capable artificial intelligence? PM reports from IBM's Almaden research center to find out.

Read more ....

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Physicists Move One Step Closer to Quantum Computing

Photo: This is postdoctoral researcher Greg Fuchs in the lab of UCSB's Center for Spintronics and Quantum Computation. (Credit: George Foulsham, Office of Public Affairs)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Nov. 23, 2009) — Physicists at UC Santa Barbara have made an important advance in electrically controlling quantum states of electrons, a step that could help in the development of quantum computing. The work is published online November 20 on the Science Express Web site.

The researchers have demonstrated the ability to electrically manipulate, at gigahertz rates, the quantum states of electrons trapped on individual defects in diamond crystals. This could aid in the development of quantum computers that could use electron spins to perform computations at unprecedented speed.

Read more ....

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

IBM's Blue Gene Supercomputer Models a Cat's Entire Brain

Simulating Cat Minds Can I haz brainz? IBM

From Popular Science:

Using 144 terabytes of RAM, scientists simulate a cat's cerebral cortex based on 1 billion neurons and 10 trillion synapses.

Cats may retain an aura of mystery about their smug selves, but that could change with scientists using a supercomputer to simulate the the feline brain. That translates into 144 terabytes of working memory for the digital kitty mind.

Read more ....

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Intel Labs Europe Tackles Large-Scale Computing

From CNET News:

Intel Labs Europe is joining a handful of French institutions to investigate large-scale computing challenges that face today's information technology industry.

The Exascale Computing Research Center will investigate machines that can perform 1,000 times more calculations than today's top supercomputers, Intel said, and the chipmaker is spending millions of dollars on the three-year partnership.

Read more ....

Monday, November 23, 2009

Top 10 Cyborg Videos



From Wired Science:


With each passing year, the boundary between man and machine gets slimmer. Bionic ears have become commonplace, motorized prosthetics allow wounded soldiers to care for themselves, and electronic eyes are just over the horizon.

Neuroscientists have almost jacked rodents into the matrix: They have used electrodes to read signals from individual mouse brain cells as the critters wandered through a virtual maze. Monkeys can feed themselves with robot arms wired directly into their brains. Here are ten clips of inventions that unite nerves with electronic circuits.

Read more ....

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Robots Perform Shakespeare


From Autopia:

A Midsummer Night’s Dream has been updated for the 21st Century with seven small robots playing fairies alongside carbon-based co-stars.

Beyond being a cool thing to do, researchers saw bringing ‘bots to the Bard as a chance to introduce robots to the public and see how people interact with them. Their findings could influence how robots are designed and how they’re used in search and rescue operations.

Read more ....

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Robotic Surrogate Takes Your Place At Work

Anybots "QA" at Work Anybots

From Popular Science:

Having one of those days where even a hearty bowl of Fruit Loops and Jack Daniels can't get you out of bed? A telepresence robot can come into the office for you, elevating telecommuting to a decidedly new level. The somewhat humanoid 'bots, produced by Mountain View, California-based Anybots, are controlled via video-game-like controls from your laptop, allowing you to be "present" without actually being in the office.

Read more ....

Friday, November 20, 2009

Neuron Chamber Mimics Brain



From Wired:

The Neuron Chamber, on display at San Francisco's Exploratorium, is an interactive, electro-kinetic sculpture representing the form and function of neurons in the brain.

Read more ....

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Interview: The Man Who Makes Killer Robots For The US Military


From CNET:

It sounds like the opening scene of a Terminator movie: a team of intelligent air, land and sea robots working together to hunt down a group of human soldiers. Detected by infrared sensors mounted on a cyber-jetski, the platoon is forced to take shelter in a beach bunker. Stealthy flying drones then co-ordinate an attack, flushing the panicked warriors right into the arms of a pair of tracked and armed ground robots. Game over, man.

Read more ....

My Comment: An easy to read article and interview.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

'Universal' Programmable Two-Qubit Quantum Processor Created

NIST postdoctoral researcher David Hanneke at the laser table used to demonstrate the first universal programmable processor for a potential quantum computer. A pair of beryllium ions (charged atoms) that hold information in the processor are trapped inside the cylinder at the lower right. A colorized image of the two ions is displayed on the monitor in the background. (Credit: J. Burrus/NIST)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Nov. 16, 2009) — Physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have demonstrated the first "universal" programmable quantum information processor able to run any program allowed by quantum mechanics -- the rules governing the submicroscopic world -- using two quantum bits (qubits) of information. The processor could be a module in a future quantum computer, which theoretically could solve some important problems that are intractable today.

Read more ....

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

How To Upgrade A Supercomputer, 37,376 Chips At A Time


From Gadget Lab:

The most powerful supercomputer in the world, the Cray XT5 — aka ‘Jaguar’ — is a computing monster with the ability to clock 1.759 petaflops (1,759 trillion) calculations per second.

So just what exactly is inside this machine?

About 37,376 AMD processors, to begin with. The Jaguar has 255,584 processing cores and is built using AMD six-core Istanbul Opteron chips running at 2.6 gigahertz.

That’s a step up from the four-core AMD chips that the computer used to have.

Read more ....

Monday, November 16, 2009

Civilian Supercomputer Shatters Nuke Simulator’s Speed Record


From Wired Science:

The retooled Jaguar supercomputer blew away the competition on the latest list of the 500 fastest computers in the world, clocking an incredible 1.759 petaflops — 1,759 trillion calculations per second.

The machine, housed at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, added two more cores with the aid of almost $20 million in stimulus spending. With the new processors, the Cray XT5 plowed past the Top500 competition. It’s more than 69 percent faster than the previous record holder, Los Alamos National Laboratory’s IBM Roadrunner, and is more than twice as powerful as the third-fastest computer on the list.

Read more ....

Sunday, November 15, 2009

China Joins Supercomputer Elite

From The BBC:

China has become one of a handful of nations to own one of the top five supercomputers in the world.

Its Tianhe-1 computer, housed at the National Super Computer Center in Tianjin was ranked fifth on the biannual Top 500 supercomputer list.

The machine packs more than 70,000 chips and can compute 563 trillion calculations per second (teraflops).

It is used for petroleum exploration and engineering tasks such as simulating aircraft designs.

However, the fastest machine is the US-owned Jaguar supercomputer, which now boasts a speed of 1.759 petaflops.

One petaflop is the equivalent of 1,000 trillion calculations per second.

Read more
....

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Scientists Test First Universal Programmable Quantum Computer

Quantum Processor Beryllium ions to lasers: you spin me right round J. Burrus/NIST

From Popular Science:

Quantum computing uses spooky physics to run faster and more powerfully than traditional computers.

Physicists have been taking baby steps toward creating a full-fledged quantum computer faster and more powerful than any computer in existence, by making quantum processors capable of performing individual tasks. Now a group at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has developed the world's first universal programmable quantum computer that can run any program that's possible under the rules of quantum mechanics.

Read more ...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Two Rival Supercomputers Duke It Out For Top Spot

Kraken, a Cray XT5 system, is the world's sixth-fastest computer. Photo/Adam Brimer

From PC World:

The top two systems on June's list of the Top 500 supercomputers swapped places on the latest list, released Monday.

A Cray supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory has regained the title of the world's most powerful supercomputer, overtaking the installation that was ranked at the top in June, while China entered the Top 10 with a hybrid Intel-AMD system.

The upgraded Jaguar supercomputer at Oak Ridge, in Tennessee, now boasts a speed of 1.759 petaflops per second from its 224,162 cores, while the IBM Roadrunner system at the U.S. Department of Energy's Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico slowed slightly to 1.042 petaflops per second after it was repartitioned. A petaflop is one thousand trillion calculations per second.

Read more ....

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Michael Jackson Planned 'Robot Duplicate' Of Himself


From Register:

Dead megastar droid zombie blueprints offered for $1m.

Famous dead pop legend Michael Jackson intended to construct an eerily-lifelike robotic duplicate of himself, according to reports. Detailed three-dimensional scans of the deceased globo-celeb's body were made, and the super-accurate body maps are now said to be on sale for a million dollars.

The story was reported yesterday by the Daily Star, which says that the occasionally troubled dead overlord of pop had the scans made in 1996 "in a bizarre bid to build a robot twin... [Unidentified] scientists say following his death on June 25, the eerie images could be used to bring him back".

Read more ....

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Robo-Negotiator Talks Down Armed Lunatic

You Want My Hydraulic Fluid! Take My Hydraulic Fluid! Via OK.gov

From Popular Science:

Hostage situations are often described like explosive devices, as ticking time bombs waiting to go off. And just as bomb disposal units have robots to help with their job, now police negotiators have a bot of their own for defusing a different kind of explosive situation.

Read more ....

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Miniature Robots To Swarm The Oceans

This digital image shows how autonomous underwater explorers (AUEs) will be used to provide new information about the oceans. Credit: SIO

From Live Science:

Swarms of soup-can-sized robots will soon plunge into the ocean seeking data on poorly understood phenomena from currents to biology.

With $2.5 million in new funding from the National Science Foundation, researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography will create and deploy fleets of autonomous underwater explorers (AUEs) to explore the depths. Tens or hundreds of pint-sized robots would be deployed along with one the size of a soccer ball, in setups repeated wherever they are needed.

Read more ....

Monday, November 9, 2009

Super-fast Quantum Computer Gets Ever Closer: Quantum Particles Pinned Down

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Nov. 9, 2009) — Researchers at the Kavli Institute for Nanosciences at Delft University of Technology, have succeeded in getting hold of the environment of a quantum particle. This allows them to exercise greater control over a single electron, and brings the team of researchers, led by Vidi winner and FOM workgroup leader Lieven Vandersypen, a step closer still to the super-fast quantum computer.

Read more ....

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Laser-Powered Robot Climbs To Victory In The Space-Elevator Contest

Image: Space Elevator Games. The LaserMotive vehicle gets weighed in.

From Discover Magazine:

A laser-powered robot took a climb up a cable in the Mohave Desert in Wednesday, and pushed ahead the sci-fi inspired notion of a space elevator capable of lifting astronauts, cargo, and even tourists up into orbit. The robot, built by LaserMotive of Seattle, whizzed up 2,953 feet (nearly 1 kilometer) in about four minutes, which qualifies the team for at least $900,000 of the $2 million in prizes offered in the NASA-backed Space Elevator Games.

Read more ....

Saturday, November 7, 2009

How Much Power Does The Human Brain Require To Operate?

Neurogrid 65,536 artificial neurons packed onto just
one of Neurogrid's chips Rodrigo Alvarez 2009


From Popular Science:

Simulating the brain with traditional chips would require impractical megawatts of power. One scientist has an alternative.

According to Kwabena Boahen, a computer scientist at Stanford University, a robot with a processor as smart as the human brain would require at least 10 megawatts to operate. That's the amount of energy produced by a small hydroelectric plant. But a small group of computer scientists may have hit on a new neural supercomputer that could someday emulate the human brain's low energy requirements of just 20 watts--barely enough to run a dim light bulb.

Read more ....

Friday, November 6, 2009

Early Origins For Uncanny Valley

Macaques find fake monkeys creepy

From The BBC:

Human suspicion of realistic robots and avatars may have earlier origins than previously thought.

The phenomenon, called the uncanny valley, describes the disquiet caused by synthetic people which almost, but not quite, match human expressiveness.

Experiments with macaque monkeys show they too are suspicious of replicas that fall short of the real thing.

The research suggests a deep-seated evolutionary origin for the reactions such artificial entities evoke.

Read more ....

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wearable Artificial Intelligence Could Help Astronauts Troll Mars for Signs of Life

Cyborg Eyes Tests on the cyborg astrobiologist suit involve real-time color-based novelty detection using a field-capable digital microscope. An AI integrated spacesuit using the technology could help a manned mars mission search for sign of life on Mars' hostile surface. P.C. McGuire, arXiv:0910.5454.

From Popular Science:

Not since RoboCop has being a cyborg seemed so very cool. University of Chicago geoscientists are developing an artificial intelligence system that future Mars explorers could incorporate into their spacesuits to help them recognize signs of life on Mars' barren surface.

Read more ....

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Meet Aida, The In-Car Robot Who Will Take The Stress Out Of Driving

Aida is embedded into the car's dashboard. The technology is being developed by MIT and Volkswagen

From The Daily Mail:

Driving could soon be a far more pleasant experience thanks to a personal in-car robot being developed by researchers.

The Affective Intelligent Driving Agent (AIDA) will be able to tell you the best route home based on traffic reports, remind you to pick up petrol and suggest places you may like to visit.

The robot, which sits on the dashboard, is being developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in collaboration with Volkswagen.

Read more ....

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Robots That Care

Image: With extroverts, robots can speak forcefully; with introverts, they are more soothing.

From The New Yorker:


Advances in technological therapy.


Born in Belgrade, in what was then Yugoslavia, Maja Matarić originally wanted to study languages and art. After she and her mother moved to the United States, in 1981, her uncle, who had immigrated some years earlier, pressed her to concentrate on computers. As a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Matarić wrote software that helped robots to independently navigate around obstacles placed randomly in a room. For her doctoral dissertation, she developed a robotic shepherd capable of corralling a herd of twenty robots.

Read more ....

Monday, November 2, 2009

ANIMAL ROBOTS: Marine Machines Made in Nature's Image


From National Geographic:

October 26, 2009--If it looks like a fish and swims like a fish, it could be a robot--such as the University of Bath's Gymnobot (pictured), inspired by an Amazonian knifefish.

Researchers worldwide are developing robots that look and act like aquatic creatures. That's because biomimetic gadgets--bots that take inspiration from nature--are often more efficient than their clunkier counterparts.

Read more ....

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Robot Army Could Explore Space, Researchers Say

From Discover Magazine:

Instead of spending time and money planning a manned mission to Mars, why not send an army of robots into space to do all the work? A fleet of robots could be deployed to explore far-away planets, according to researchers at Caltech’s Visual and Autonomous Exploration Systems Research Laboratory.

From the Telegraph:

Robotic airships and satellites will fly above the surface of the distant world, commanding squadrons of wheeled rovers and floating robot boats…The systems will transform planetary exploration, says [Wolfgang] Fink, who envisages the cybernetic adventurers mapping the land and seascapes of Saturn’s moon, Titan—believed to have lakes of standing liquid—as well as closer planetary neighbors like Mars.

Read more ....

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fastest Supercomputer in the World Models Dark Matter, HIV Family Tree Simultaneously

Los Alamos' Road Runner Super Computer Meep meep. courtesy of the Department of Energy

From Popular Science:

Petaflop power in action.

In November of last year, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory switched on Roadrunner, the world's fastest computer. IBM and the Department of Energy built the machine to model nuclear explosions, but two new studies, both released today, are proof that the computer's massive power has been at least as devoted to peaceful science as to simulating thermonuclear weapons.

Read more ....

Friday, October 30, 2009

Industrial Robot Hones Virtual Autopsies

Getting under the skin, virtually (Image: University of Bern)

From New Scientist:

THE small industrial robot that dominates the room is in many ways much like any other. A robotic arm smoothly wields grippers and probes - always accurate and never tired. But rather than working on cars or computers, this robot is processing human corpses.

A team of forensic pathologists at the University of Bern in Switzerland reckon it could make autopsies more accurate and also less distressing for families.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Quantum Computers Could Tackle Enormous Linear Equations

From Science News:

Trillions of variables may prove no match for envisioned systems.


A new algorithm may give quantum computers a new, practical job: quickly solving monster linear equations. Such problems are at the heart of complex processes such as image and video processing, genetic analyses and even Internet traffic control. The new work, published October 7 in Physical Review Letters, may dramatically expand the range of potential uses for quantum computers.

The new quantum algorithm is “head-smackingly good,” says computer scientist Daniel Spielman of Yale University. “It is both very powerful, and very natural. I read the abstract and said, ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’”

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