Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Orwellian Camera Network To Be Made Smarter

From Popular Science:

How can the UK's place as one of the most CCTV-surveilled nations in the world be improved upon? Why, with more surveillance technology of course.

So say engineers at the shiny new Centre for Secure Information Technologies in Belfast, Northern Ireland, dedicated to investigating technologies that improve personal security - whether that's out in the street or online.

Read more ....

My Comment: This is laying the foundation for developing AI (Artificial Intelligence) platforms. Unfortunately for the proponents for such technologies .... it will entail enormous expense, research and development, and no guarantee of success.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Photon 'Machine Gun' Could Power Quantum Computers

Entangled photons can now be controlled (Image: Dan Talson/Rex Features)

From New Scientist:

THERE is a simple rule of computing that holds true even in the weird quantum world: increase the number of units of information available and you boost computing power. Raising the number of quantum bits, or qubits, carries an even greater reward – every additional qubit doubles the computing power.

But raising the number of qubits has proven tricky because of the difficulty of reliably producing entangled particles. Now a team has designed a system that should fire out barrages of entangled photons with machine-gun regularity.

Read more ....

Monday, September 28, 2009

Robots Get Smarter By Asking For Help

No shame in asking for help (Image: Ken Conley/Willow Garage)

From New Scientist:

ASKING someone for help is second nature for humans, and now it could help robots overcome one of the thorniest problems in artificial intelligence.

That's the thinking behind a project at Willow Garage, a robotics company in Palo Alto, California. Researchers there are training a robot to ask humans to identify objects it doesn't recognise. If successful, it could be an important step in developing machines capable of operating with consistent autonomy.

Read more ....

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Tech Behind Surrogates's All-Robot World

Director Jonathan Mostow with a surrogate used in the film to show buyers the mechanics of their potential proxies.

From Popular Mechanics:

PM's Digital Hollywood sits down with Surrogates director Jonathan Mostow to discuss the unexpected challenges of filming a world where everyone looks like a perfect robot. Plus, a chronology of movie androids.

When robot stand-ins populate the world in a movie—as they do in Touchstone Picture’s Surrogates, out Sept. 25—­every character in the frame has to look perfect. And that turned into a headache for director Jonathan Mostow. “Usually you hire background actors off the street,” he says. “We were flying in models.”

Read more ....

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Making Realistic Skin for Robots

From Technology Review:

Without realistic synthetic skin, robots will never be entirely accepted socially. Yet even measuring what it means for skin to be humanlike is proving tough.

When it comes to building realistic robots, it's not just the way they look that's important. It's also the way they feel to the touch, says John-John Cabibihan at the National University of Singapore and pals. They argue that if robots are ever to be accepted socially, they will need to have humanlike skin so that actions such as handshakes can be made as realistic as possible.

Read more ....

Friday, September 25, 2009

Quantum Chip Helps Crack Code

Photo: Jonathan Matthews/University of Bristol

From IEEE Spectrum:

Experimental chip does part of code-cracking quantum algorithm.

3 September 2009—Modern cryptography relies on the extreme difficulty computers have in factoring huge numbers, but an algorithm that works only on a quantum computer finds factors easily. Today in Science, researchers at the University of Bristol, in England, report the first factoring using this method—called Shor’s algorithm—on a chip-scale quantum computer, bringing the field a tiny step closer to realizing practical quantum computation and code cracking.

Read more ....

Update: Quantum Computer Factors the Number 15 -- Scheneider Security

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Panasonic's Robotic Bed Transforms into a Mobile Chair, Makes Standing Up Obsolete

Robo-Bed: It will do everything but fix your bed hair. Panasonic

From Popular Science:

Mobility-impaired patients and layabouts alike can rejoice at the debut of Panasonic's robotic bed that transforms into a wheelchair. Human nurses and hospitals may also breathe a tiny sigh of relief.

The bed-shaped bot morphs upon command to sidestep the usual trouble of moving a bedridden person from bed to wheelchair, or vice versa. Yet unlike the Japanese bear bot nurse that carries patients, a self-controlled bed bot allows humans to regain some independence and dignity.

Read more ....

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Quantum Computers Are Coming – Just Don't Ask When

Will quantum computers do for the 21st century what digital computers did for the 20th? (Image: Everett Collection/Rex Features)

From The New Scientist:

WHATEVER happened to quantum computers? A few years ago, it seemed, it was just a case of a tweak here, a fiddle there, and some kind of number-crunching Godzilla would be unleashed upon us. Just as digital processors changed our lives in ways hard to imagine a few decades ago, the monstrous information processing power of individual atoms and electrons would mean that computing - and the world - would never be the same again.

Read more ....

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Robot That Juggles Blind

Pendulum Juggler from Philipp Reist on Vimeo.

From Popular Science:

This machine uses no sensors, no feedback -- just the power of math -- to do its tricks.

In theory, designing a robot that continuously juggles a single ball should not be difficult. Calibrating the machine would be a pain but once you got the thing running, it should continue to juggle the ball until some variable intervenes. In a perfect world, this would occur elegantly, but here on Earth things just don't come off so beautifully. However, through some smart design and precise math, researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich have created the Blind Juggler, so named because it juggles a ball continuously, even when variables are introduced, without the use of sensors.

Read more ....

Monday, September 21, 2009

Humanoid Robot Plays Soccer

From Wired Science:

et aside your fears of world-dominating cyborgs and say hello to Hajime 33, an athletic robot who’s about as tall as Kobe Bryant. Granted, this bot plays soccer, not basketball (yet).

Created by Hajime Sakamoto, Hajime 33 is the latest addition to Sakamoto’s fleet of humanoid robots. Powered by batteries, the robot is controlled with a PS3 controller, and it can walk and kick a ball. Hajime 33 weighs in at just 44 pounds while overlooking his creator at more than 6 feet 5 inches tall.

Read more ....

Sunday, September 20, 2009

High-Speed Video of Locusts Could Help Make Better Flying Robots

From Wired Science:

A new study may inspire aeronautical engineers to be more flexible with their designs. That’s because the bends and twists in locusts’ flexible, flapping wings power the insects’ extraordinary long-distance flights, a Sept. 18 Science paper reveals.

Even though researchers have been studying how insects and other creatures fly for a long time, “we still don’t completely understand the aerodynamics and architectures of wings,” comments Tom Daniel of the University of Washington in Seattle, who was not involved in the new study. The new work, Daniel says, uncovers the flight signatures of flapping, flexible wings.

Read more ....

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Can Robots Make Ethical Decisions?

From Live Science:

Robots and computers are often designed to act autonomously, that is, without human intervention. Is it possible for an autonomous machine to make moral judgments that are in line with human judgment?

This question has given rise to the issue of machine ethics and morality. As a practical matter, can a robot or computer be programmed to act in an ethical manner? Can a machine be designed to act morally?

Read more ....

Friday, September 18, 2009

Leaping Robot Hops Closer To War

From The Danger Room:

It’s one giant step for robots on the battlefield. Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico has just released video of its leaping robot in action, showing the Precision Urban Hopper clearing a tall metal fence.

Funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the autonomous robot is designed to reduce military casualties by providing reconnaissance. The robot uses a powerful leg to help hurdle itself over tall barriers. Once completed, the four-wheeled robots will use its leg to hop more than more than 25 feet, says Jon Salton, the Sandia program manager

Read more ....

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Space Robot 2.0: Smarter Than The Average Rover

Artist's conception of NASA's planned Mars rover, Curiosity. See other rovers in our gallery (Image: NASA / JPL-Caltech)

From New Scientist:

SOMETHING is moving. Two robots sitting motionless in the dust have spotted it. One, a six-wheeled rover, radios the other perched high on a rocky slope. Should they take a photo and beam it back to mission control? Time is short, they have a list of other tasks to complete, and the juice in their batteries is running low. The robots have seconds to decide. What should they do?

Read more ....

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

How Photon Echoes Can Be Used To Create A Quantum Memory Device

Photo: The experiment that generated the photon echo effect. (Credit: Image courtesy of Australian National University)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Sep. 14, 2009) — A new way of storing and ‘echoing’ pulses of light has been discovered by a team from The Australian National University, allowing bursts of laser to work as a flexible optical memory and potentially assist in extending the range of quantum information systems.

Technologies like quantum cryptography are being developed to send secure information coded onto light beams from one point to another. Yet at present these systems are unable to extend beyond a distance of 50 to 100 kilometres because, beyond that range, too much of the information is lost.

Read more ....

Monday, September 14, 2009

Five New Robots March Into Hall Of Fame

From New Scientist:

The ground-breaking machines have been selected to join 18 real and fictional robots already included in the collection – meet the new entrants and the pick of the previous selections.

The Robot Hall of Fame honours real and fictional robots that have marked or inspired technical breakthroughs in the field. An international jury of of researchers, writers and designers has been adding to the list since 2003.

This year, five new robots have been selected. Click through the images to see them all

Read more ....

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Robotics Rodeo: A Week In Review

The Howe & Howe 'Ripsaw' MS1 (front) is ready for its demo during the Robotics Rodeo at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas on Sept. 3.

Robotic Rodeo Displays Future Help for Soldiers --

WASHINGTON (American Forces Press Service) – Two seemingly different U.S. Army organizations gathered robotics experts, technologists, academecs, soldiers and companies from across the country in search of solutions to help save soldiers’ lives.

The 3rd Corps and U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center, or TARDEC, based on Fort Hood, Texas, hosted the first Robotics Rodeo to showcase what’s new in the world of automation.

Read more ....

More News On This Weeks Robotic Rodeo

Robotics Rodeo demos technology to save Soldiers' lives --
Robotic Rodeo Displays Future Help for Soldiers -- U.S. Department of Defense
Army's "Robotics Rodeo" Helps Find Next Generation of Unmanned Vehicles -- Daily Tech
Robots gear up for military duty in 'rodeo' -- Taiwan news
‘Robotics Rodeo' aims to save lives -- Houston Chronicle
Fort Hood shows off its robot army -- Temple Daily Telegram
Photos: Robots on the road to safer convoys -- CNET
Hood hosts ‘Robotics Rodeo’ -- ARMY Times
John Deere goes olive-drab at Robotics Rodeo -- CNET

Saturday, September 12, 2009

New Robot Travels Across The Seafloor To Monitor The Impact Of Climate Change On Deep-sea Ecosystems

During July 2009, the Benthic Rover traveled across the seafloor while hooked up to the MARS ocean observatory. This allowed researchers to control the vehicle in "real time." The yellow cable on the right side of the image is a long "extension cord" that unspools as the Rover moves. (Credit: Copyright 2009 MBARI)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Sep. 10, 2009) — Like the robotic rovers Spirit and Opportunity, which wheeled tirelessly across the dusty surface of Mars, a new robot spent most of July traveling across the muddy ocean bottom, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) off the California coast. This robot, the Benthic Rover, has been providing scientists with an entirely new view of life on the deep seafloor. It will also give scientists a way to document the effects of climate change on the deep sea. The Rover is the result of four years of hard work by a team of engineers and scientists led by MBARI project engineer Alana Sherman and marine biologist Ken Smith.

Read more

Friday, September 11, 2009

Robot To Be Controlled By Human Brain Cells

Artist's impression of the surge of electrical activity from certain brain cells that causes an epileptic seizure (Image: DAVID MACK / SPL)

From New Scientist:

A robot controlled by human brain cells could soon be trundling around a British lab, New Scientist has learned.

Kevin Warwick and Ben Whalley at the University of Reading, UK, have already used rat brain cells to control a simple wheeled robotMovie Camera.

Some 300,000 rat neurons grown in a nutrient broth and producing spikes of electrical activity were connected to the output of the robot's distance sensors. The neurons proved capable of steering the robot around a small enclosure (see videoMovie Camera).

Read more ....

Thursday, September 10, 2009

RoboBath: NASA Studies The Cleanest Robot in the World

Mars Mountaineer
+ Arctic Outdoor Lab: Scientists use Norway’s far northern Svalbard islands to test gear-sterilization techniques and space-bound rovers such as this prototype.

+ Social Climber: Cliffbot is part of a three-rover team. Two other robots are tethered to the machine to let it access terrain as steep as 85 degrees.

+ Bot Specs: The rover is the size of a toy wagon, weighs nearly 18 pounds and creeps at 6 inches a second on level ground.

From Popular Mechanics:

In the icy north, scientists learn to sanitize their tools before sending out rovers to search for life on other planets.

Read more ....

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Saddle Up For The U.S. Army's Robotics Rodeo

Robot Gunslinger: Steady there, cowboy Mark Rutherford/CNET

From Popular Science:

The Army invites robotic handlers to show off their wares.

At the first Robotics Rodeo, hosted this week by the U.S. Army and the Fort Hood III Corps in Texas, war machines replaced bulls and horses. Soldiers and civilian contractors used the opportunity, starting on Wednesday, to inspect a lineup of robots that could potentially find a place on the battlefield.

Read more ....

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

5 Future Robotic Expeditions and What They Could Reveal

Image: ESA/AOES Medialab

From Scientific American:

Some are already on their way and some are still in the works, but here is what we may see from unmanned exploration of space in the coming years.

Fifty years ago this month, the Soviet Union scored a coup in the space race with a probe called Luna 2. The spacecraft, which resembled a squat, souped-up version of its cousin Sputnik, was launched on September 12, 1959, and two days later reached the lunar surface. By impacting the moon, Luna 2 became the first man-made object to land on a celestial body other than Earth.

Read more ....

Monday, September 7, 2009

Plasmobot: The Slime Mould Robot

Single-celled slime moulds could be programmed as robots (Image: Visuals Unlimited / Corbis)

From New Scientist:

THOUGH not famed for their intellect, single-celled organisms have already demonstrated a surprising degree of intelligence. Now a team at the University of the West of England (UWE) has secured £228,000 in funding to turn these organisms into engineering robots.

Read more ....

Robots Gear Up For Duty In 'Rodeo' At Fort Hood

The Howe & Howe "Ripsaw" MS1 is ready for its demo, followed by a manned Ripsaw MS2 and an Armored Personnel Carrier carrying two operators, one to drive the Ripsaw and a soldier manning its weapons, plus a driver. A DIscovery Channel crew is also taping the demo run. The first-ever "Robotics Rodeo," which encourages development of autonomous systems in support of our nation's warfighters, is drawing the world's leading robotic designers and builders to the Texas-based event. Fort Hood's III Corps and the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) are hosting the Robotics Rodeo Sept. 1-3 on the grounds of the world's largest U.S. military base, Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley)

From The Star Telegram:

FORT HOOD — Under a searing sun, breathing clouds of dirt and gulping metallic-tasting water, some of the nation’s best defense geeks tried to impress the infantrymen and tankers of the U.S. Army.

They converged on a remote part of Fort Hood last week with robots that responded to voices, giant trucks that didn’t need a driver, three-dimensional light and range detectors, unmanned track vehicles with machine guns, all of it for an event billed as Texas’ — certainly the Army’s — first Robotics Rodeo.

The "rodeo" was the brainchild of the Fort Hood commander, Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, a 30-year war fighter and an engineering graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Read more ....

My Comment: This is a very informative article, but what impressed me the most were/are the pictures .... a large collection that gives a clear indication on where UAV vehicles are going for the Army.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Britain’s Oldest Working Computer Roars to Life

From Gadget Lab/Wired:

The oldest original working computer in the U.K., which has been in storage for nearly 30 years, is getting restored to its former glory.

The Harwell computer, also known as WITCH, is getting a second lease on life at the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park. The machine is the oldest surviving computer whose programs, as well as data, are stored electronically, according to the museum.

Read more ....

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Hospitals Open The Door To Sci-Fi's Medical Robots

From The Independent:

Exhibition reveals huge advances that are turning futuristic fantasies into surgical reality.

From the tiny submarine injected into the human body in the film Fantastic Voyage in 1966, to the hologram Doctor in Star Trek: Voyager in 1995, medical robots have long fuelled the imaginations of science fiction writers.

Now many of those fantasies are coming true and on Tuesday the Royal College of Surgeons will exhibit some of the advances that in just five years could see tiny robots going to work inside patients.

Read more ....

Friday, September 4, 2009

Human Brain Could Be Replicated In 10 Years, Researcher Predicts

Activity in the brain's neocortex is tightly controlled by inhibitory neurons shown here which prevent epilepsy. (Credit: Blue Brain Project; Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Sep. 4, 2009) — A model that replicates the functions of the human brain is feasible in 10 years according to neuroscientist Professor Henry Markram of the Brain Mind Institute in Switzerland. "I absolutely believe it is technically and biologically possible. The only uncertainty is financial. It is an extremely expensive project and not all is yet secured."

Read more ....

My Comment: If you duplicate a brain .... will it think?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Engineering Students Build Underwater 'Bot

Three Long Beach City College ROV Team members transport their vehicle from the pool. On the left is Ricardo Casaine, in the middle is Nathan Grefe, and on the right is Baxter Hutchinson. Credit: Steve Van Meter/VideoRay

From Live Science:

Remotely-operated vehicles, or ROVs, are underwater robots that can go where the environment is too deep or difficult for human divers. I learned how to design and build ROVs as a student in the electrical department at Long Beach City College (LBCC), where every year, students enrolled in the department's robotics class form a team that competes in the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Center's International Student ROV Competition.

The MATE competition is a pool-based competition that uses props to simulate realistic underwater workplaces. The MATE Center is one of eleven Advanced Technological Education (ATE) Centers established with funding from the National Science Foundation's ATE Program.

Read more ....

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Robotics Rodeo Aims To Save Lives

A technician explains the controls of a remotely operated Bobcat machine to a Soldier. After some instruction, Soldiers were given hands-on experience with the equipment and offered their feedback


FORT HOOD, Texas (Sept. 2, 2009) -- A Robotics Rodeo began Tuesday with exhibitors from all over America descending on Fort Hood to show off the latest advancements in robotics technology.

"If we're not fielding, we're failing; it's all about saving Soldiers' lives," said Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, III Corps commanding general. "It's not about technology demonstrations, not about how much money you can garner from the U.S. government, it's all about saving Soldiers lives."

Read more ....

My Comment: This "Robotics Rodeo" may be small now .... but I would bet that 10 years from now it will be a completely different event .... and many times larger.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Quantum Computer Slips Onto Chips

From the BBC:

Researchers have devised a penny-sized silicon chip that uses photons to run Shor's algorithm - a well-known quantum approach - to solve a maths problem.

The algorithm computes the two numbers that multiply together to form a given figure, and has until now required laboratory-sized optical computers.

This kind of factoring is the basis for a wide variety of encryption schemes.

The work, reported in Science, is rudimentary but could easily be scaled up to handle more complex computing.

Read more ....