Monday, August 31, 2009

'Optical Computer' Performs First Ever Calculation

Professor Jeremy O'Brien, Director of the Centre for Quantum Photonics (left) and Jonathan Matthews
Photo: PA

From The Telegraph:

An 'optical computer' which uses light particles rather than traditional circuitry has performed the first ever calculation, as scientists hope it could pave the way for a computer smaller and faster than anything seen before.

Scientists have hailed the step, despite the calculation taking longer than a schoolchild.

The optical quantum chip uses single particles of "whizzing" light which could eventually pave the wave for a "super-powerful quantum computer".

Read more ....

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Singularity And The Fixed Point -- A Commentary

From Technology Review:

The importance of engineering motivation into intelligence.

Some futurists such as Ray Kurzweil have hypothesized that we will someday soon pass through a singularity--that is, a time period of rapid technological change beyond which we cannot envision the future of society. Most visions of this singularity focus on the creation of machines intelligent enough to devise machines even more intelligent than themselves, and so forth recursively, thus launching a positive feedback loop of intelligence amplification. It's an intriguing thought. (One of the first things I wanted to do when I got to MIT as an undergraduate was to build a robot scientist that could make discoveries faster and better than anyone else.) Even the CTO of Intel, Justin Rattner, has publicly speculated recently that we're well on our way to this singularity, and conferences like the Singularity Summit (at which I'll be speaking in October) are exploring how such transformations might take place.

Read more

Saturday, August 29, 2009

New Microprocessor Runs On Thin Air

From The New Scientist:

There's no shortage of ways to perform calculations without a standard electronic computer. But the latest in a long lineMovie Camera of weird computers runs calculations on nothing more than air.

The complicated nest of channels and valves (see image) made by Minsoung Rhee and Mark Burns at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, processes binary signals by sucking air out of tubes to represent a 0, or letting it back in to represent a 1.

A chain of such 1s and 0s flows through the processor's channels, with pneumatic valves controlling the flow of the signals between channels.

Read more ....

Friday, August 28, 2009

Super-Fast Computers Of The Future

Prof. Anatoly Zayats from Queen's University Belfast's Centre for Nanostructured Media. (Credit: Image courtesy of Queen's University, Belfast)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Sep. 3, 2009) — Computers which use light to process large amounts of data faster than ever before are just one of many groundbreaking potential applications of a new £6 million research programme at Queen’s University Belfast and Imperial College London, launched September 1, 2009.

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) is funding the two universities to establish a world-leading research programme on the fundamental science of so-called ‘nanoplasmonic devices’.

Read more ....

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Future Robot Soldiers?

The Exoskeleton: Extreme Technological Innovation -- Raytheon

Raytheon Company’s research facility in Salt Lake City, Utah, is developing a robotic suit for the soldier of tomorrow. The exoskeleton is essentially a wearable robot that amplifies its wearer’s strength, endurance and agility. Reminiscent of super heroes depicted in comic books and Hollywood movies, the bleeding edge technology effectively blurs the lines between science fiction and reality. So much so, that Popular Science magazine recently likened Raytheon’s exoskeleton to the “Iron Man”® depicted in the blockbuster movie of the same name.

Read more ....

My Comment: Watch the YouTube video .... I am impressed.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ant-Sized Microbots Travel in Swarms

I-SWARM Microbot: Edqvist, et al. via PhysOrg

From Popular Science:

While Hollywood focuses on robots several times taller than humans, some researchers are building tiny robots that could fit on your fingernail. These microbots would work in swarms to collect data for a variety of applications, such as surveillance, micromanufacturing, and medicine.

The researchers, from institutes in Sweden, Spain, Germany, Italy, and Switzerland, use a novel approach to allow robots to be built cheaply and in large quantities. Working on a limited budget, they built an entire robot on a single circuit board.

Read more ....

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Robotic Bear Nurse To Help The Elderly In Japan

Huggy Bear : This crossed over from kawaii to creepy a long time ago... via Pink Tentacle

From Popular Science:

In a development sure to drive Stephen Colbert apoplectic, the Japanese national laboratory RIKEN has announced the development of robotic nurses that look like bears. Called Robot for Interactive Body Assistance (RIBA), the robot was designed to help a country facing the dual problem of a shortage of nurses and a rapidly aging population.

Read more ....

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sudoku-Solving Lego Robot: A Homegrown Toy With Smarts

From Popular Science:

Here's a short list of things this robot can do that I can't: Write legibly. Solve a beginner sudoku puzzle in less than 10 minutes.

Swedish hacker Hans Anderson built this robot around the Lego Mindstorms System, which he's also used to make the Tilted Twister Rubik's Cube solver.

Read more ....

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Robot Bear To Help Nurse Sick Patients

From The Daily Mail:

A nursing robot built in the shape of a friendly bear is being trialled for use in Japanese hospitals.

Named RIBA, short for Robot for Interactive Body Assistance, the bot was designed to aid medical staff by lifting patients in and out of beds.

The 400lb robot has spongy arms with a number of sensors to help carry the patient smoothly from chair to bed. The designers say it is able to respond to simple spoken commands and recognise co-workers.

Read more ....

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Robotic Fish Could Patrol Waterways

Mechanical engineers Kamal Youcef-Toumi and Pablo Valdivia have designed the sleek robotic fish to more easily maneuver into areas where traditional underwater autonomous vehicles can’t go. Credit: Patrick Gillooly/MIT

From Live Science:

Schools of newly-designed robotic fish could one day patrol waterways, swimming around as fluidly as the real fish they're based on, looking for environmental pollutants and inspecting submerged structures, such as boats and oil pipelines.

Mechanical engineers Kamal Youcef-Toumi and Pablo Valdivia Y Alvarado designed the sleek robotic fish to more easily maneuver into areas where traditional underwater autonomous vehicles can't go.

Read more ....

Friday, August 21, 2009

3 New Farm Bots Programmed To Pick, Plant And Drive

From Popular Mechanics:

Intelligent, manned machines aren’t just for warplanes and border guards—they can be found on the farm too. Increasingly, agro-bots are taking laborious tasks out of the farmer’s helper’s hands, and saving time and money in the process. Here are three robotic farm servants who may right now be working in a field near you.

Agricultural robots are already among us: mowing grass, spraying pesticides and monitoring crops. For example, instead of regularly dousing an entire apple orchard with chemicals, towed sensors find diseases or parasites with infrared sensors and cameras, and spray only the affected trees. But could a robot wholly replace a migrant worker?

Read more

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Origin Of Computing

Holly Lindem (photoillustration); Gene Burkhardt (styling)

From Scientific American:

The information age began with the realization that machines could emulate the power of minds

In the standard story, the computer’s evolution has been brisk and short. It starts with the giant machines warehoused in World War II–era laboratories. Microchips shrink them onto desktops, Moore’s Law predicts how powerful they will become, and Microsoft capitalizes on the software. Eventually small, inexpensive devices appear that can trade stocks and beam video around the world. That is one way to approach the history of computing—the history of solid-state electronics in the past 60 years.

Read more

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

New Nanolaser Key To Future Optical Computers And Technologies

Researchers have created the tiniest laser since its invention nearly 50 years ago. Because the new device, called a "spaser," is the first of its kind to emit visible light, it represents a critical component for possible future technologies based on "nanophotonic" circuitry. The color diagram (a) shows the nanolaser's design: a gold core surrounded by a glasslike shell filled with green dye. Scanning electron microscope images (b and c) show that the gold core and the thickness of the silica shell were about 14 nanometers and 15 nanometers, respectively. A simulation of the SPASER (d) shows the device emitting visible light with a wavelength of 525 nanometers. (Credit: Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Aug. 17, 2009) — Researchers have created the tiniest laser since its invention nearly 50 years ago, paving the way for a host of innovations, including superfast computers that use light instead of electrons to process information, advanced sensors and imaging.

Because the new device, called a "spaser," is the first of its kind to emit visible light, it represents a critical component for possible future technologies based on "nanophotonic" circuitry, said Vladimir Shalaev, the Robert and Anne Burnett Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University.

Read more ....

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Autonomous Autos: New Kit Converts Any Vehicle Into a Robot (With Video)

From Popular Mechanics:

There are plenty of ways that the revolution in unmanned vehicles can reach beyond specially made frontline aircraft and tracked robots. Why not retrofit existing vehicles to make them unmanned? Utah-based Kairos Autonomi sells a conversion kit called the Pronto4 Strap-On Autonomy System that can transform any steered vehicle into an autonomous unmanned ground vehicle.

Read more ....

Monday, August 17, 2009

DNA May Help Build Next Generation of Chips

From Gadget Lab:

In the race to keep Moore’s Law alive, researchers are turning to an unlikely ally: DNA molecules that can be positioned on wafers to create smaller, faster and more energy-efficient chips.

Researchers at IBM have made a significant breakthrough in their quest to combine DNA strands with conventional lithographic techniques to create tiny circuit boards. The breakthrough, which allows for the DNA structures to be positioned precisely on substrates, could help shrink computer chips to about a 6-nanometer scale. Intel’s latest chips, by comparison, are on a 32-nanometer scale.

Read more ....

Sunday, August 16, 2009

5 UAVs That Are Going Places—Alone (With Video!)

X-47B Navy UCAS

From Popular Mechanics:

Gawkers from the armed services, media and defense industry gathered this week in 98 degree heat to watch military robot demonstrations at the Unmanned Systems Demo, an event hosted by the military and the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. The crowd braved the sweltering Maryland summer to watch companies large and small fly sensor-studded UAVs on an unused naval aviation airfield. Here’s a roundup of five of the most notable flying droids on hand, with video of those that displayed their antics.

Read more ....

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Are We On The Brink Of Creating A Computer With A Human Brain?

Professor Markram claims he plans to build an electronic human brain 'within the next ten years'

From The Daily Mail:

There are only a handful of scientific revolutions that would really change the world. An immortality pill would be one. A time machine would be another.
Faster-than-light travel, allowing the stars to be explored in a human lifetime, would be on the shortlist, too.
To my mind, however, the creation of an artificial mind would probably trump all of these - a development that would throw up an array of bewildering and complex moral and philosophical quandaries. Amazingly, it might also be within reach.

Read more ....

Friday, August 14, 2009

Video: The Fastest Robot Hands In The East

From Popular Science:

Ishikawa Komuro Laboratory, the same folks that developed the pitcher 'bot in last week's baseball-playing tandem, have also developed an incredible robotic hand can bounce balls at furious speed, toss and catch cylindrical objects in a standing upright position, and even twirl a rod between its fingers as easily as a person plays with a pencil.

Read more ....

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Could Robots Unite Under One Operating System?

Robots Unite: Patch my operating system to 3.0 now, human! Warner Bros.

From Popular Science:

A common robot operating system could lead to a robotics revolution -- scientifically speaking, of course.

Today's robots represent islands unto themselves that don't share either software or hardware with each other. But researchers have begun developing a common operating system that could revolutionize robotics and permit easier collaboration with less reinvention of the proverbial wheel. The change could rival that which rippled through the PC industry when Microsoft's Disk Operating System (DOS), and later Windows, burst onto the scene and became standard.

Read more ....

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Step Toward Quantum Computers: Sustained Quantum Information Processing

NIST physicists demonstrated sustained, reliable quantum information processing in the ion trap at the left center of this photograph, improving prospects for building a practical quantum computer. The ions are trapped inside the dark slit (3.5 millimeters long and 200 micrometers wide) between the gold-covered alumina wafers. By changing the voltages applied to each of the gold electrodes, scientists can move the ions between the six zones of the trap. (Credit: J. Jost/NIST)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Aug. 10, 2009) — Raising prospects for building a practical quantum computer, physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have demonstrated sustained, reliable information processing operations on electrically charged atoms (ions). The new work, described in the August 6 issue of Science Express, overcomes significant hurdles in scaling up ion-trapping technology from small demonstrations to larger quantum processors.

Read more ....

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Monday, August 10, 2009

Robot Chefs Run a Restaurant

From Live Science:

The FuA-Men - Fully Automated raMen restaruant in Nagoya, Japan features a chef and assistant - both fully autonomous robots. The robots perform all of the cooking tasks needed to make eighty bowls per day, serving the customers who come to their small shop.

When asked, customers seem to feel that there is little difference between noodle dishes prepared by real, human chefs, and meals prepared by autonomous robots. For those who appreciate precision in food preparation, you can't beat robot chefs.

Read more ....

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Scaling Up a Quantum Computer

Photo: Shine on, ions: Beryllium ions are trapped inside the dark slit on the left side of this chip. When researchers focus lasers on the ions, the ions can be used to perform quantum calculations. Credit: J. Jost at NIST

From Technology Review:

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Boulder, CO, have demonstrated multiple computing operations on quantum bits--a crucial step toward building a practical quantum computer.

Quantum computers have the potential to perform calculations far faster than the classical computers used today. This superior computing power comes from the fact that these computers use quantum bits, or qubits, which can represent both a 1 and a 0 at the same time, in contrast to classical bits that can represent only a 1 or a 0.

Read more ....

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Micro Flying Robots Can Fly More Effectively Than Flies

RoboFly a robot model of fruit fly wings that is 100 times larger than a fruit fly. It is submerged in oil to simulate the viscosity of the sticky air around the wing of a real fruit fly. (Credit: Dickinson lab)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Aug. 6, 2009) — Engineers have long been stymied in their attempts to fabricate micro aerial robots that can match the amazing flight capabilities of nature’s most advanced flying insects ¾flies. Such robot flies -- if they could be made efficient enough for long missions -- could be used for a variety of tasks, from spying, to mine detection to search and rescue missions in collapsed buildings.

Read more ....

Friday, August 7, 2009

What's Behind Japan's Love Affair with Robots?

'Miimu,' a HRP-4C robot, models a wedding dress by Japanese designer Yumi Katsura at Katsura's 2009 Paris Grand Collection in Osaka, Japan, on July 22, 2009. Junji Kurokawa / AP

From Time Magazine:

If Japanese engineers had their way, we might soon be cheering on a robotic World Series. Every year or two, Japanese researchers roll out a new robotic invention — the latest to grab headlines earlier this month was a mechanized baseball duo of a batter and pitcher that can throw 90% of its pitches in the strike zone. And while the majority of Japanese robotic inventions — from the dazzling to the horrifying —have largely been unable to break into the mass market, Japanese scientists aren't likely to short-circuit their robotic ambitions anytime soon: Robotic technology plays a larger role in Japan than anywhere else in the world.

Read more ....

Thursday, August 6, 2009

From Sand To Silicon: the Making Of A Chip

From Intel:

Illustrations - Making of a Chip

View this graphic presentation offering a high-level demonstration of the process for manufacturing a central processing unit (CPU), which operates in every PC today. Here you can catch a glimpse of some of the amazingly sophisticated work going on daily inside Intel's cutting-edge silicon manufacturing fabs.

Read more

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Does Baseball's Future Lie In These Cold, Robotic Hands?

From Popular Science:

A robot pitcher faces off against a robot batter.

Right now the next baseball great may be warming up, not on a Little League diamond, but in a lab. Researchers at the University of Tokyo have pitted a robotic pitcher against a robotic batter to show that the robots can respond to each other at high speeds.

Read more ....

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Want Responsible Robotics? Start With Responsible Humans

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (July 31, 2009) — When the legendary science fiction writer Isaac Asimov penned the "Three Laws of Responsible Robotics," he forever changed the way humans think about artificial intelligence, and inspired generations of engineers to take up robotics.

In the current issue of journal IEEE Intelligent Systems, two engineers propose alternative laws to rewrite our future with robots.

The future they foresee is at once safer, and more realistic.

Read more ....

Monday, August 3, 2009

At Secret Conference, Scientists Consider the Possible Rise of Autonomous Killer Robots

Faster, Robot! Kill! Kill!

From Popular Science:

The long-awaited robot-led holocaust may happen any day now. That seems to be the finding of a secret conference of the world's top computer scientists, roboticists, and artificial intelligence researchers. The clandestine meeting focused on topics surrounding advancements in robotics and how they could quickly spiral out of human control. This includes the danger that robots could autonomously kill humans -- a danger than conference participants believe may already exist.

Read more ....

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Japanese Invent Giant Soccer-Playing Robot

From Popular Science:

Soccer players are a weird bunch. Some cover themselves in Elvish tattoos, while others claim to have problems telling men and women apart. Hajime 33 is no exception to the trend, what with him being a giant robot and all.

So far, this robot doesn't look like it's going to be starting for Barca any time soon, and creator Hajime Sakamoto said he struggled to get the robot simply to stand up without falling over. However, Hajime 33 does serve as a proof of concept that humanoid robots can be both tall and active. By comparison, Asimo, Honda's famously agile humanoid robot, only stands about four feet tall. And some soccerbots are quite a bit smaller

Read more ....

Saturday, August 1, 2009

iCub, The Open-Source Robot Child


It takes a village to raise a robot. At least, that's the belief of the creators of iCub, a humanoid robot the size of a 3-1/2-year-old child, who are making its development entirely open-domain.

The iCub is the brainchild of a group of European universities led by the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Genoa, who have been charged by the European Commission to develop a functioning humanoid child. They developed a 2-1/2-foot-tall, 70-pound robot child with 53 mechanical joints that allow it to move its head, neck, arms, fingers, eyes and legs. It can also feel with its fingertips, grip with its hands, and listen.

Read more ....