Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Rage From the Machine: Robot Attacks Swedish Industrial Worker

Attack Robot: Image courtesy of à voir etc via Flickr.com

From Popsci.com:

The robot uprising has begun! Seriously, stock up on pipe bombs. Or at least avoid European factories for a while. Last June, a Swedish industrial worker was attacked by a defective machine just outside of Stockholm.

The worker was attempting to repair a machine that lifts heavy rocks when the violence ensued. He thought he disconnected the machine’s power source, but he was mistaken. When the worker approached the machine, it turned on, and grabbed its victim’s head.

Read more ....

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Robot-Assisted Surgery Appears Useful For Removal Of Some Head And Neck Tumors

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Apr. 24, 2009) — Robot-assisted surgery appears feasible for treatment of selected head and neck cancers, according to a new article.

"Since the introduction of the surgical robot in 1999, robot-assisted cardiac, gynecologic and urologic procedures have become widely accepted throughout the country," the authors write as background information in the article. In these specialties, robotic procedures have been associated with less blood loss, fewer complications, shorter surgery durations and fewer days in the hospital or in intensive care compared with traditional open procedures. "Robotic surgery in the head and neck offers the possibility of limited surgical morbidity [illness], reduced hospital stay and improved lesion visualization over open approaches and traditional transoral [through the mouth] techniques."

Read more ....

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Computer Program to Take on ‘Jeopardy!’

From The New York Times:

YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, N.Y. — This highly successful television quiz show is the latest challenge for artificial intelligence.

What is “Jeopardy”?

That is correct.

I.B.M. plans to announce Monday that it is in the final stages of completing a computer program to compete against human “Jeopardy!” contestants. If the program beats the humans, the field of artificial intelligence will have made a leap forward.

I.B.M. scientists previously devised a chess-playing program to run on a supercomputer called Deep Blue. That program beat the world champion Garry Kasparov in a controversial 1997 match (Mr. Kasparov called the match unfair and secured a draw in a later one against another version of the program).

Read more ....

Friday, April 24, 2009

Robot Sailing Boat Can Reach Any Given Destination Completely Autonomously

The sail is a lot heavier than one might think. An unusually thick material was used to enable it to withstand the Caribbean storms. (Credit: Image courtesy of SSA/ETH Zurich)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Apr. 19, 2009) — Mechanical engineering students from ETH Zurich have developed an unmanned sailing boat in a focus project that can reach any given destination completely autonomously. The Avalon robot sailing boat is due to set sail from Ireland in the fall and head for the Caribbean.

The Caribbean is still a long way off. But at least Avalon has already had a taste of the water on Lake Zurich. Admittedly, the first run ended on a sandbank, but that – and everyone agrees – can happen to any sailor. And Avalon has a good excuse: the software program that really enables it to sail by itself is still very much in its infancy. However, the “Students Sail Autonomously” team (SSA) is confident that they can overcome the teething problems.

Read more ....

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Killer Robots And A Revolution In Warfare

From Reuters:

WASHINGTON, April 22 (Reuters) - They have no fear, they never tire, they are not upset when the soldier next to them gets blown to pieces. Their morale doesn't suffer by having to do, again and again, the jobs known in the military as the Three Ds - dull, dirty and dangerous.

They are military robots and their rapidly increasing numbers and growing sophistication may herald the end of thousands of years of human monopoly on fighting war. "Science fiction is moving to the battlefield. The future is upon us," as Brookings scholar Peter Singer put it to a conference of experts at the U.S. Army War College in Pennsylvania this month.

Read more ....

My Comment: Reuters reporting on a story that bloggers .... including this one .... have been talking about for the past year. The main stream media .... sigh .... delivering the news a year later.

WNU Editor Confession: I posted this story because it gave me an excuse to post the above picture. Yes .... I am a Terminator fan. Now I need an excuse to post on the babes from Battlestar Galactica.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Robots Are Narrowing The Gap With Humans

From McClatchy News:

WASHINGTON — Robots are gaining on us humans.

Thanks to exponential increases in computer power — which is roughly doubling every two years — robots are getting smarter, more capable, more like flesh-and-blood people.

Matching human skills and intelligence, however, is an enormously difficult — perhaps impossible — challenge.

Nevertheless, robots guided by their own computer "brains'' now can pick up and peel bananas, land jumbo jets, steer cars through city traffic, search human DNA for cancer genes, play soccer or the violin, find earthquake victims or explore craters on Mars.

Read more ....

Monday, April 20, 2009

Medical Micro-Robots Made As Small As Bacteria

Artificial bacterial flagella are about half as long as the thickness of a human hair. They can swim at a speed of up to one body length per second. This means that they already resemble their natural role models very closely. (Credit: Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems/ETH Zurich)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Apr. 19, 2009) — For the first time, ETH Zurich researchers have built micro-robots as small as bacteria. Their purpose is to help cure human beings.

They look like spirals with tiny heads, and screw through the liquid like miniature corkscrews. When moving, they resemble rather ungainly bacteria with long whip-like tails. They can only be observed under a microscope because, at a total length of 25 to 60 µm, they are almost as small as natural flagellated bacteria. Most are between 5 and 15 µm long, a few are more than 20 µm.

Read more ....

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Robotic Task Force: A Two-Robot, Bomb-Defusing, Riot-Controlling, Firefighting Team (With Video!)

From Popular Mechanics:

Segway presented two robots at Robobusiness 2009 that can defuse dirty bombs, take on riots and fight fires—giving their operators comfortable distance from dangerous situations. Here is an up-close look at the robots from the show floor.

Fact: Two new robots unveiled at the 2009 Robobusiness conference in Boston are specifically designed to steal jobs from hard-working, flesh-and-blood Americans.

More relevant fact: As usual, the jobs in question are the sort of thankless, dangerous and unsavory work that most humans would run screaming from.

Read more ....

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Researchers Develop Laser-Guided Microhoverbot, Engadget Coins New Word

From Engadget:

We could have sworn that one of our commenters had already invented this, but maybe not. Researchers at the University of Waterloo in Ontario -- led by Professor Mir Behrad Khamesee -- has developed a microbot weighing in at about three-hundredths of an ounce that hovers and moves about on a three dimensional parabolic magnetic field. Altering the flow of the electromagnetic current distorts the field and propels the robot. Additionally, the device has pincers that open when heated by a laser, closing once they're allowed to cool. The device is monitored by laser sensors and by camera, and since the it floats free of any sort of wiring (and power is supplied from outside the robot) it is ideal for working in clean rooms or hazardous environments. Not too shabby, eh? At the very least, we got to use the word "microhoverbot."

Read more ....

Monday, April 13, 2009

Researchers Develop World's First Flying Microrobot For Microscale Applications

A newly developed microrobot defies the force of gravity by flying or levitating, powered by a magnetic field. It moves around and dexterously manipulates objects with magnets attached to microgrippers, remotely controlled by a laser-focusing beam. (Credit: Image courtesy of University of Waterloo)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Apr. 14, 2009) — A University of Waterloo engineering research team has developed the world's first flying microrobot capable of manipulating objects for microscale applications.

The microrobot discovery provides researchers with more control over the microscale environment, allowing them to move and place tiny objects with far greater precision. The microscale deals with tiny objects, at levels that are too small to be manipulated by humans.

Read more ....

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Robots to Fight Autism

From PopSci.com:

One little yellow robot is a hot contender for cutest medical device.

Two years ago, a yellow spongiform robot named Keepon became a minor YouTube sensation when one of its creators programmed it to do a squishy, twisty dance in time to the Spoon song "I Turn My Camera On." The video has garnered more than 2 million hits. Now Keepon's keepers, Marek Michalowski, a Ph.D student in robotics at Carnegie Mellon University, and Hideki Kozima of Miyagi University in Japan, are turning Keepon's attention to a more serious task: to study how children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) interact socially and to see if the robot may be able to help in therapy.

Read more ....

Friday, April 10, 2009

Secret Law of Flying Could Inspire Better Robots

From Wired News:

A unifying theory of winged locomotion could explain the magical mid-air maneuvers of birds and insects, and guide the design of flying robots.

Using high-speed video, biologists modeled how hummingbirds and hawkmoths use asymmetrical flapping to make slow, mid-air turns. The model predicted how five other flyers turned at full speed, hinting at a universal turning technique for flying creatures.

"It's basically an exponential damping system," said Ty Hedrick, a University of North Carolina animal aerodynamics expert. "The strength of braking increases in proportion to speed."

Read more ....

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Cyborg Rolls A Little Closer: The Chariot Which Lets Amputees 'Stand Tall And Walk'

It's the way I walk: The Chariot allows a wearer to move in an upright position and carry a briefcase thanks to the hands-free controls

From The Daily Mail:

Amputees and people with difficulty standing could soon move using a ‘wearable transportation device’ that gives the effect of walking.

Exmovere Holdings has unveiled a self-balancing, hands-free concept vehicle called the Chariot, which is controlled by subtle movements of the lower torso and hips.

Sensors inside the cocoon-like shell of the vehicle interpret gentle pressure changes from the wearer’s body to predict their intended motion and carry out the action.

Read more ....

Science's Most Powerful Computer Tackles First Questions

Jaguar is the second most powerful computer ever built and the fastest dedicated to science (Image: National Center for Computational Sciences, Oak Ridge National Laboratory)

From New Scientist:

In cult sci-fi tale Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the most powerful computer in the universe was charged with finding the answer to life, the universe, and everything.

In the real world, a newly built supercomputer that is the most powerful ever dedicated to science will be tackling questions about climate change, supernovas, and the structure of water.

The projects were chosen in a peer-reviewed process designed to get the computer producing useful science even during the period when its performance is still being fine-tuned by engineers.

Read more

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Artificial Intelligence To Tackle Rogue Traders

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Apr. 8, 2009) — As the Credit Crunch continues to affect the worldwide markets the need for efficient methods to combat financial fraud has become more important than ever. Now researchers at the University of Sunderland are working on a smart computer that they believe will be able to detect insider trading fraud within the stock exchange almost instantly.

CASSANDRA (Computerised Analysis of Stocks and Shares for Novelty Detection of Radical Activities) aims to create a prototype software tool to tackle financial fraud. The project has been awarded £90,000 by Northstar Funding to investigate the feasibility of combining Artificial Intelligence technologies with headline analysis techniques to track suspicious share dealing.

Read more ....

Generation Gap: Robo-Kids Are the Future

From Live Science:

Many people may scoff at stories of a Chinese farmer building robots that he considers more precious than his children, or a Canadian inventor creating a life-size female android companion. Then they go back to peering at their cell phones or PDAs with vision-enhancing contact lenses, iPod buds in their ears, as they query Google's search 'bot for their next destination.

The fact is modern humans increasingly rely on sophisticated, wearable technology which has enhanced or sometimes replaced our senses, organs and limbs — making us appear more like artificial constructs. At the same time, robots have begun learning to think, experience sensations and perhaps even understand emotions.

Read more ....

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Little House On The Moon? Robot Being Created For First Moon Construction Project

Modells of robot Roony and the cottage. The mechanical design of the cottage has not yet been completed, the aim is a mass of 5kg and transport size about 6 liters, with a final living space of 10 square meters. (Credit: Image courtesy the Swedish Research Council)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Apr. 5, 2009) — Mälardalen University is working with the multi-artist Mikael Genberg to create a robot to be sent to the moon to construct a house. The House on the Moon is a project that aims to put a little read cottage on the moon as a symbol of what one man can achieve. The robot will roll out Genberg’s little cabin from the space rocket, find a stable vacant lot, and erect the planet’s first building.

“We want to teach students who think creatively, work together, use the very latest technology, and dare to set their sights high. The most important thing is not always to reach the goal. If you aim for the stars, at least you’ll reach the treetops or even the moon,” says Lars Asplund.

Read more ....

Japan Child Robot Mimicks Infant Learning

Photo: A "Child-robot with Biomimetic Body" or CB2, follows an object with his eyes at a laboratory in Osaka University

From Breitbart/AP:

The creators of the Child-robot with Biomimetic Body, or CB2, say it's slowly developing social skills by interacting with humans and watching their facial expressions, mimicking a mother-baby relationship.

A bald, child-like creature dangles its legs from a chair as its shoulders rise and fall with rythmic breathing and its black eyes follow movements across the room.

It's not human -- but it is paying attention.

Below the soft silicon skin of one of Japan's most sophisticated robots, processors record and evaluate information. The 130-cm (four-foot, four-inch) humanoid is designed to learn just like a human infant.

Read more ....

Monday, April 6, 2009

Job Swap: This Robot Is The Scientist

Ross King, a computer scientist at Aberystwyth University, stands next to his "robot scientist" creation called Adam. Credit: Aberystwyth University

From Live Science:

"I don't even know why the scientists make them!" exclaims a "Saturday Night Live" character in a skit about rampaging robots. Now she has an answer — at least some scientists make robots to do science.

A science-savvy robot called Adam has successfully developed and tested its first scientific hypothesis, all without human intervention. This hints at a future where robots could spare lab assistants and post-docs some of the drudgery of research.

"We've now demonstrated that Adam can do some novel biology work," said Ross King, a computer scientist and biologist at Aberystwyth University in the UK.

Read more ....

Robot Scientist Becomes First Machine To Discover New Scientific Knowledge

Prof. Ross King, in front of Adam, the robot scientist. (Credit: Image courtesy of Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Apr. 3, 2009) — Researchers funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) have created a 'robot scientist' which they believe is the first machine to have independently discovered new scientific knowledge. The robot, called Adam, is a computer system that fully automates the scientific process. The work will be published in the journal Science.

Prof Ross King, who led the research at Aberystwyth University, said: "Ultimately we hope to have teams of human and robot scientists working together in laboratories."

Read more ....

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Being Isaac Newton: Computer Derives Natural Laws From Raw Data

Photo: Cornell University doctoral student Michael Schmidt makes adjustments to an automated research system. Using the digital mind that guides a self-repairing robot, Hod Lipson, a researcher at Cornell, and Schmidt have created a computer program that uses raw observational data to tease out fundamental physical laws. The breakthrough may aid the discovery of new scientific truths, particularly for biological systems that have, until now, eluded detection. Such automation in scientific research is becoming more common, raising questions about its impact on science. (Credit: Jonathan Hiller, Cornell University)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Apr. 3, 2009) — If Isaac Newton had access to a supercomputer, he'd have had it watch apples fall – and let it figure out the physical matters. But the computer would have needed to run an algorithm, just developed by Cornell researchers, which can derive natural laws from observed data.

The researchers have taught a computer to find regularities in the natural world that become established laws – yet without any prior scientific knowledge on the part of the computer. They have tested their method, or algorithm, on simple mechanical systems and believe it could be applied to more complex systems ranging from biology to cosmology and be useful in analyzing the mountains of data generated by modern experiments that use electronic data collection.

Read more ....

Robots Replace Humans As The Great Explorers

From Live Science:

In Robot Madness, LiveScience examines humanoid robots and cybernetic enhancement of humans, as well as the exciting and sometimes frightening convergence of it all. Return for a new episode each Monday, Wednesday and Friday through April 6.

Human curiosity and competition launched the first men into space and to the moon, but robots have gone just about everywhere else in the solar system.

There are good reasons for this — for starters, robots remain far better adapted to exploring the harsh environments of space and other planets. So now some experts suggest that human space explorers may eventually merge with machines to become a tougher breed.

Read more ....

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Building A Brain On A Silicon Chip

Image: A smart chip: Scientists in Europe are using conventional chip production techniques to create circuits that mimic the structure and function of the human brain. This early prototype has just 384 neurons and 100,000 synapses, but the latest version contains 200,000 neurons and 50 million synapses. Credit: Karlheinz Meier

From Technology Review:

A chip developed by European scientists simulates the learning capabilities of the human brain.

An international team of scientists in Europe has created a silicon chip designed to function like a human brain. With 200,000 neurons linked up by 50 million synaptic connections, the chip is able to mimic the brain's ability to learn more closely than any other machine.

Although the chip has a fraction of the number of neurons or connections found in a brain, its design allows it to be scaled up, says Karlheinz Meier, a physicist at Heidelberg University, in Germany, who has coordinated the Fast Analog Computing with Emergent Transient States project, or FACETS.

Read more ....

Japan Aims For Walking Robot On The Moon By 2020

From AP:

TOKYO (AP) — Japan hopes to have a two-legged robot walk on the moon by around 2020, with a joint mission involving astronauts and robots to follow, according to a plan laid out Friday by a government group.

Specifics of the plan, including what new technologies will be required and the size of the project's budget, are to be decided within the next two years, according to Japan's Strategic Headquarters for Space Development, a Cabinet-level working group.

Read more

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Beautiful, Scary Robots of Shigeo Hirose

Active Code Mechanism R5 (2005) - This swimming snake scared the hell out of me. I used to be afraid of sharks, now sharks should be afraid of ACM.

From Gizmodo:

There are plenty of robot builders, but none bring as much elegance to engineering as Shigeo Hirose. His creatures are Star Wars, Iron Giant and Dean Kamen rolled into one cybernetic maki.

Truth is, I'd never heard of Shigeo Hirose or the Hirose-Fukushima Robotics Lab at Tokyo Tech until I read Wired for War—author PW Singer, featured in our interview here, sings the praises of the robot master, possibly the world's foremost.

Read more ....

Robot Scientists Can Think For Themselves

From Yahoo News/Reuters:

LONDON (Reuters) – Watch out scientists -- you may be replaced by a robot.

Two teams of researchers said on Thursday they had created machines that could reason, formulate theories and discover scientific knowledge on their own, marking a major advance in the field of artificial intelligence.

Such robo-scientists could be put to work unraveling complex biological systems, designing new drugs, modeling the world's climate or understanding the cosmos.

For the moment, though, they are performing more humble tasks.

At Aberystwyth University in Wales, Ross King and colleagues have created a robot called Adam that can not only carry out experiments on yeast metabolism but also reason about the results and plan the next experiment.

Read more ....

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Robot Achieves Scientific First

A robot called ADAM can hypothesize, conduct experiments, and plan next steps without human input, researcher Ross King (left) and colleagues announced in April 2009. ADAM is the first—but maybe not the last—robot to make a new scientific discovery. Photograph courtesy Arthur Dafis, Aberystwyth University

From Financial Post:

A laboratory robot called Adam has been hailed as the first machine in history to have discovered new scientific knowledge independently of its human creators.

Adam formed a hypothesis on the genetics of bakers’ yeast and carried out experiments to test its predictions, without intervention from its makers at Aberystwyth University.

The result was a series of “simple but useful” discoveries, confirmed by human scientists, about the gene coding for yeast enzymes. The research is published in the journal Science.

Professor Ross King, the chief creator of Adam, said robots would not supplant human researchers but make their work more productive and interesting.

Read more ....

More News On This Robot First

Robot scientist 'Adam' solves genetic problems -- Times Online
First Robot Scientist Makes Gene Discovery -- National Geographic
Self-directed robot scientist makes discovery -- MSNBC
Robot Scientist Becomes First Machine To Discover New Scientific Knowledge -- Science Daily
Robot Makes Scientific Discovery All by Itself -- Wired Science
Robot scientist makes discoveries with no human help -- New Scientist
Job Swap: This Robot Is the Scientist -- Live Science

Humanoid Robot Helps Scientists Understand Intelligence

Researchers from the Department of Computing work on iCub.
(Credit: Image courtesy of Imperial College London)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Apr. 1, 2009) — A humanoid robot newly acquired by Imperial College London will lead to a deeper understanding of human intelligence, says scientists. The College’s Departments of Computing and Electrical and Electronic Engineering believe that iCub, about the size of a three year old child, will further their research into cognition, the process of knowing that includes awareness, perception, reasoning and judgement.

Researchers want to learn more about how humans use cognition to interact with their world. They believe iCub’s human-like body will help them to understand how this is done.

Read more ....

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

New Step Towards Quantum Computers

The diagrams show how the spin "wavers" (oscillation shown at top) in relation to time following an alignment laser pulse. One oscillation period corresponds to one complete "waver" rotation. As anticipated, the strength (amplitude) of all red curves decreases with time. After 1.2 nanoseconds (ns) a laser control pulse is irradiated to suddenly change the alignment of the spin, indicated by the phase of blue and finally green curves: It is precisely the counter-phase to the black curve at the bottom, recorded without control pulse. Moreover this waver builds up in the counter-phase at 2.4 ns, so that the signal is particularly high here, significantly facilitating readout. (Credit: Image courtesy of Ruhr-Universitaet-Bochum)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Mar. 30, 2009) — The intrinsic rotation of electrons – the "spin" – is a promising property for future electronics devices. If use as an information carrier were possible, the processing power of electronic components would suddenly increase to a multiple of the present capacity.

In cooperation with colleagues from Dortmund, St. Petersburg and Washington, Ruhr-Universität Bochum physicists have now succeeded in aligning electron spin, bringing it to a controlled "waver" and reading it out. The electron spin can also be realigned as required at any time using optical pulses.

Read more ....