Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Honda Connects Brain Thoughts With Robotics

From APNews/Myway:

TOKYO (AP) - Opening a car trunk or controlling a home air conditioner could become just a wish away with Honda's new technology that connects thoughts inside a brain with robotics.

Honda Motor Co. (HMC) has developed a way to read patterns of electric currents on a person's scalp as well as changes in cerebral blood flow when a person thinks about four simple movements - moving the right hand, moving the left hand, running and eating.

Honda succeeded in analyzing such thought patterns, and then relaying them as wireless commands for Asimo, its human-shaped robot.

In a video shown Tuesday at Tokyo headquarters, a person wearing a helmet sat still but thought about moving his right hand - a thought that was picked up by cords attached to his head inside the helmet. After several seconds, Asimo, programmed to respond to brain signals, lifted its right arm.

Read more
....

Monday, March 30, 2009

Nanotechnology May Have Found Its Henry Ford

Picture: Nano designer: Professor Nadrian Seeman has created two-armed worker robots made of DNA. Ann Hermes/The Christian Science Monito

From Christian Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Mar. 27, 2009) — This month Fox Chase Cancer Center performed the world's first successful minimally invasive distal pancreatectomy using the ViKY® system's revolutionary robotic, compact laparoscope holder. The technology, developed in France and tested on thousands of patients in Europe, made its debut in a cancer setting in the United States at Fox Chase.

"Fox Chase is among only a handful of institutions worldwide using robotics or laparoscopy to treat patients with nearly all types of cancer," says Robert G. Uzzo, MD, FACS, chairman of the department of surgery at Fox Chase. "The use of technology, like the ViKY system, reinforces our Center's commitment to excellence in minimally invasive surgical techniques for the care of patients with both benign and cancerous conditions."

Read more ....

Sunday, March 29, 2009

World’s First Successful ViKY Robot-assisted Surgery For Pancreatic Tumors

Photo: "The new ViKY robotic laparoscope holder acts as an extra hand during surgery, giving me stability and steadiness," said Dr. Gumbs. (Credit: Image courtesy of Fox Chase Cancer Center)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Mar. 27, 2009) — This month Fox Chase Cancer Center performed the world's first successful minimally invasive distal pancreatectomy using the ViKY® system's revolutionary robotic, compact laparoscope holder. The technology, developed in France and tested on thousands of patients in Europe, made its debut in a cancer setting in the United States at Fox Chase.

"Fox Chase is among only a handful of institutions worldwide using robotics or laparoscopy to treat patients with nearly all types of cancer," says Robert G. Uzzo, MD, FACS, chairman of the department of surgery at Fox Chase. "The use of technology, like the ViKY system, reinforces our Center's commitment to excellence in minimally invasive surgical techniques for the care of patients with both benign and cancerous conditions."

Read more ....

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Robot Madness: Walk Like Humans Do

A member of the Dutch RoboCup team, which is to participate in the 2008 RoboCup Soccer competition in China this summer. Credit: TU Delft

From Live Science:

Robots are stepping out everywhere these days, from fashion show catwalks to the rugged mountains of Afghanistan. But not all of them walk the same way, or with the same purpose.

A Japanese humanoid robot made its debut this week at a fashion show, although news reports noted that its smooth walk still didn't measure up to the stride of a human supermodel. HRP-4C represents just the latest robot attempting to achieve bipedal walking, which remains a distinctly human feature in comparison to most animals.

Read more ....

Friday, March 27, 2009

Robot Madness: Will Cyborgs Compromise Privacy?

SixthSense is a wearable gestural interface that augments the physical world with digital information and lets people use natural hand gestures to interact with that information. Here Sixth Sense projects web video onto a prototype newspaper. Credit: MIT Media Lab

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.

People who talk with one-eyed filmmaker Robert Spence may find it creepy to realize they're staring into a bionic eye camera – and that's the entire point of the "EyeBorg" project.

Spence wants to raise awareness of concerns in an increasingly networked society, by using a wireless video camera disguised as a natural eye to create a documentary. The purpose, he says, is to highlight privacy issues raised by technologies which have become hidden in modern life.

Read more ....

Thursday, March 26, 2009

MIT Researchers Develop Graphene-based Microchip That Can Operate At 1,000GHz


From Soft Sailer:

Researchers at MIT have developed a graphene-based microchip that can operate at 1,000GHz, a much higher speed that conventional silicon chips would ever dream of reaching. These ultra-fast microchips can improve the data transfer rate for cellphones, computers, or other electronic devices. When it was discovered in 2004, graphene was regarded as a material that could lead to many new applications and it seems like this form of pure carbon can contribute to manufacturing transistors and prototype devices.

The research was led by Tom├ís Palacios, assistant professor in MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, EECS assistant professor Jing Kong, and two of their students, Han Wang and Daniel Nezich. The MIT team of researchers developed a graphene chip that was supposed to act as a frequency multiplier which can input an electrical signal of a specified frequency and output an electrical signal with a multiplied frequency.

Read more ....

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Brain On A Chip?

(Image from The Speculist)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Mar. 23, 2009) — How does the human brain run itself without any software? Find that out, say European researchers, and a whole new field of neural computing will open up. A prototype ‘brain on a chip’ is already working.

“We know that the brain has amazing computational capabilities,” remarks Karlheinz Meier, a physicist at Heidelberg University. “Clearly there is something to learn from biology. I believe that the systems we are going to develop could form part of a new revolution in information technology.”

Read more ....

Personal Supercomputer Is Coming

From PC World:

Within the next three to four years, most PC users will see their machines morph into personal supercomputers. This change will be enabled by the emergence of multicore CPUs and, perhaps more importantly, the arrival of massively parallel cores in the graphical processing units.

In fact, ATI (a division of Advanced Micro Devices) and Nvidia are already offering multiple programmable cores in their high-end discreet graphics processing platforms. These cores can be programmed to do many parallel processing tasks, resulting in dramatically better display features and functions for video, especially for gaming. But these platforms currently come at a hefty price and often require significant amounts of power, making them impractical in many laptop designs.

Read more ....

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Rise Of The Robots--The Future Of Artificial Intelligence

Photo: PYTAK

From Scientific American:

By 2050 robot "brains" based on computers that execute 100 trillion instructions per second will start rivaling human intelligence

Editor's Note: This article was originally printed in the 2008 Scientific American Special Report on Robots. It is being published on the Web as part of ScientificAmerican.com's In-Depth Report on Robots.

In recent years the mushrooming power, functionality and ubiquity of computers and the Internet have outstripped early forecasts about technology’s rate of advancement and usefulness in everyday life. Alert pundits now foresee a world saturated with powerful computer chips, which will increasingly insinuate themselves into our gadgets, dwellings, apparel and even our bodies.

Read more ....

She Only Gets Out Of Bed For 10,000 Volts

The blackhaired HPR-4C is modelled on Japanese anime characters. AP

From The Independent:

Japanese engineers unveil the first robotic supermodel – complete with sulky face.

After years developing artificial dogs, factory workers, receptionists and even nurses, it was perhaps inevitable that Japanese engineers would one day get around to creating a robot fashion model. Unveiled at the Japan Fashion Week in Tokyo, the black-haired HPR-4C strolled silently on to a catwalk, twirled a little stiffly and performed a short repertoire of tricks for a phalanx of photographers.

A beautifully proportioned 43 kilograms (including battery) and modelled on Japanese anime characters, she seems so far to be limited to just two emotional states: anger and surprise – not necessarily a liability in fashion circles, joked some.

Read more ....

Robot Octopus Will Go Where No Sub Has Gone Before



From New Scientist:

INVEST €10 million in a robotic octopus and you will be able to search the seabed with the same dexterity as the real eight-legged cephalopod. At least that's the plan, say those who are attempting to build a robot with arms that work in the same way that octopuses tentacles do. Having no solid skeleton, it will be the world's first entirely soft robot.

The trouble with today's remote-controlled subs, says Cecilia Laschi of the Italian Institute of Technology in Genoa, is that their large hulls and clunky robot arms cannot reach into the nooks and crannies of coral reefs or the rock formations on ocean floors. That means they are unable to photograph objects in these places or pick up samples for analysis. And that's a major drawback for oceanographers hunting for signs of climate change in the oceans and on coral reefs.

Read more ....

Monday, March 23, 2009

Chaos Goes Where No Robot Has Gone Before

From National Defense:

An autonomous tracked platform that can be used for troop extraction, resupply, and search and security operations was tested by U.S. Marines in this year’s Cobra Gold exercise in Thailand.

The diminutive Chaos robot which was developed by Autonomous Solutions Inc. of Logan, Utah, for the Army’s Automotive Research Development and Engineering Command, is designed to navigate in rugged terrain that previously could only be accessed by soldiers on foot.

Read more ....

Growth in Super Computer Power

(Click the Image to Enlarge)

How Pterosaurs Could Improve Robot Planes

Hop, Skip, and Away: Paleontologist Michael Habib theorizes that pterosaurs, which lived between 250 million and 65 million years ago, used their legs and wing “knuckles”—not just their hind legs, as previously believed—to leapfrog into flight. Kevin Hand

Flight School -- Popsci.com

A new take on pterosaurs could improve robot planes

If it looks like a duck and flies like a duck, it must take off like a duck. Paleontologists long speculated that this was the case for pterosaurs, but new research shows that the prehistoric winged lizards employed a smarter launch strategy, using all four limbs to hop, skip, and jump their way into flight, instead of pushing off with two legs and flapping their wings as most birds do.

Read more ....

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Living Model Of Basic Units Of Human Brain Created

An isolated astrocyte shown with confocal microscopy. (Credit: Image created by Nathan S. Ivey at TNPRC / courtesy of Wikipedia)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Mar. 22, 2009) — Researchers in the School of Life & Health Sciences at Aston University in Birmingham, UK are developing a novel new way to model how the human brain works by creating a living representation of the brain.

They are using cells originally from a tumour which have been ‘reprogrammed’ to stop multiplying. Using the same natural molecule the body does to stimulate cellular development, the cells are turned into a co-culture of nerve cells and astrocytes - the most basic units of the human brain.

Read more ....

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Robot Madness: Human Becomes 'EyeBorg'

Rob Spence, a one-eyed filmmaker, holds up a prosthetic eye and the camera he hopes can fit inside. Credit: EyeBorg/Spence/Gramattis

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.

Clunky artificial vision systems have begun restoring limited vision to blind people. But a one-eyed filmmaker wants to look at cyborg enhancement differently by wearing a bionic eye camera.

Robert Spence plans to create a documentary on his experience of trying to become "EyeBorg." Under development, his bionic eye is relatively thin and would sit on a peg embedded in his right eyeball, meaning that it could move left, right, up and down. Rather than restoring vision to his busted eye, "EyeBorg" represents an effort to shrink wearable technologies and embed them, unnoticed, as part of the human body.

Read more ....

Robot Madness: Creating True Artificial Intelligence

Asimo may be the forerunner of robots that can recognize and respond to human needs.
Credit: Honda

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.

Artificial intelligence in the form of Deep Blue may have beaten human chess champions, but don't expect robots to fetch you a beer from the fridge just yet.

Robotic artificial intelligence (AI) mainly excels at formal logic, which allows it to sift through thousands of Web sites to match your Google search, or find the right chess move from hundreds of previous games. That becomes a different story when AI struggles to connect that abstract logic with real-world meanings, such as those associated with "beer" or "fridge handle."

Read more ....

Friday, March 20, 2009

Major Leap For Faster Computers

From The BBC:

Super-fast quantum computers are now a step closer to becoming a reality, thanks to a breakthrough by scientists.

Edinburgh and Manchester University researchers have created a molecular device which could act as a building block for super-fast computers.

They have created components that could be used to develop quantum computers, which can make intricate calculations faster than conventional machines.

The academics used molecular scale technology instead of silicon chips.

They achieved the breakthrough by combining tiny magnets with molecular machines that can shuttle between two locations without the use of external force.

The manoeuvrable magnets could one day be used as the basic component in quantum computers.

Read more ....

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Robots Could Flex Muscles That Are Stronger Than Steel

Image: A metre long ribbon of a carbon nanotube 'aerogel' that could make a robust artificial muscle. This ribbon more than trebles its width when a voltage is applied (Image: Ray Baughman)

From The New Scientist:

A new material that is weight for weight stronger than steel and stiffer than diamond, and weighs little more than its volume in air, could be the perfect artificial muscle for robots.

"We've made a totally new type of artificial muscle that is able to provide performance characteristics that have not previously been obtained," says Ray Baughman, a materials scientist at the University of Texas, Dallas, and co-developer of the new muscle.

Read more ....

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Cyber Sensation: World's First Robotic Model To Star In Her Own Fashion Show

The 'cybernetic human' has been designed to look like an average Japanese woman and portrays anger (L) and surprise (R)

From Daily Mail:

Robots could soon be gracing the catwalk, thanks to a black-haired cybernetic beauty who is preparing to make her debut at a fashion show in Japan.

Fetchingly named HRP-4C, the humanoid has 30 motors in her body that allows her to walk and move her arms as well as eight motors on its face to create expressions like anger and surprise.

Read more ....

Monday, March 16, 2009

Robot Madness: Preventing Insurrection of Machines

USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) conducts a Phalanx live fire training exercise. The Phalanx is a fast-reaction, rapid-fire 20-millimeter gun system that automatically detects, tracks and engages threats such as anti-ship missiles and aircraft. Credit: U.S. Navy

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.

A robotic future holds the promise of providing tireless workers and companions for humans, but it can also evoke worries about an armed machine insurrection along the lines of the "Terminator" movies.

Experts consider that dark vision to be on the distant horizon, although they now point to other ethical issues that arise from the growing presence of battlefield bots and their potential to decide to attack autonomously, possibly as soon as in the next 20 years .

Read more ....

Thursday, March 12, 2009

'WALL-E' Robot Grunt Obeys Military Hand Signals



From The Register:

Vid American robo-profs have developed control software which will allow the droid ground-troops of tomorrow to be controlled by their fleshy comrades using standard military hand signals.

You know in the movies, where the soldiers are creeping about on patrol and they raise a hand to halt the column or get it moving again? Now you can do that with war robots. Boffins at Brown University, who developed the new person-following 'ware, demo the concept in this vid:

Read more ....

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The New War Machine


From The Financial Times:

Trooper Talon doesn’t get tired or hungry. He doesn’t get scared and he doesn’t panic under fire. He fights on even when, all around him, his comrades are falling. He never forgets his orders, never gets distracted, never even blinks. Unfortunately for the rest of his platoon, he has one flaw: after eight hours in the field, his batteries run out.

Talon is a robot. He is the future of warfare and, with more than 12,000 robotic machines already deployed in Iraq, he is also the present. These machines range from the briefcase-sized PackBot that can scope a house for potential enemies, to the 35m wingspan Global Hawk spy-plane that can survey half of Iraq in one flight. They are doing some of the difficult, dull and dangerous jobs that once cost soldiers’ lives. And since 2002, when a Predator drone assassinated al-Qaeda leader Abu Ali al-Harithi, they are also doing the killing.

Read more ....

My Comment: An excellent article from The Financial Times. A MUST READ.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Regulate Armed Robots Before It's Too Late

The MAARS robot is used by the US military, but who would be
responsible if anything went wrong with it? (Image: Qinetiq)


From The New Scientist:

IN THIS age of super-rapid technological advance, we do well to obey the Boy Scout injunction: "Be prepared". That requires nimbleness of mind, given that the ever accelerating power of computers is being applied across such a wide range of applications, making it hard to keep track of everything that is happening. The danger is that we only wake up to the need for forethought when in the midst of a storm created by innovations that have already overtaken us.

We are on the brink, and perhaps to some degree already over the edge, in one hugely important area: robotics. Robot sentries patrol the borders of South Korea and Israel. Remote-controlled aircraft mount missile attacks on enemy positions. Other military robots are already in service, and not just for defusing bombs or detecting landmines: a coming generation of autonomous combat robots capable of deep penetration into enemy territory raises questions about whether they will be able to discriminate between soldiers and innocent civilians. Police forces are looking to acquire miniature Taser-firing robot helicopters. In South Korea and Japan the development of robots for feeding and bathing the elderly and children is already advanced. Even in a robot-backward country like the UK, some vacuum cleaners sense their autonomous way around furniture. A driverless car has already negotiated its way through Los Angeles traffic.

Read more ....

Robot Love

ASIMO: xcaballe (CC licensed)

From Popsci.:

"Socially interactive" robots are being developed that can interact naturally with people, such as turning toward a person to give the impression of paying attention. The goal is to have such machines perform assistive tasks from hugging to encouraging stroke victims to perform important exercises or children with autism to imitate behavior. Researchers designing what such robots will look like also have to avoid the "uncanny valley" -- a phrase based on the idea that people are most comfortable with robots that look either completely human, or identifiably not human.

Read more ....

Computers Have A Lot To Learn From The Human Brain, Engineers Say

From Scientific American:

The year that the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) first formed (as the American Institute of Electrical Engineers or AIEE), Chester Arthur was in the White House, the Oxford English Dictionary published its first edition, and construction began on the Statue of Liberty on what was then known as Bedloe's Island in New York Harbor.

During a meeting today commemorating the organization's 125th anniversary, scientists (all IEEE members, of course) looked to the future, describing advances in artificial intelligence, brain-machine interfaces and energy transfer.

Read more ....

Monday, March 9, 2009

Humans No Match for Go Bot Overlords



From Wired News:

For the last two decades, human cognitive superiority had a distinctive sound: the soft click of stones placed on a wooden Go board. But once again, artificial intelligence is asserting its domination over gray matter.

Just a few years ago, the best Go programs were routinely beaten by skilled children, even when given a head start. Artificial intelligence researchers routinely said that computers capable of beating our best were literally unthinkable. And so it was. Until now.

Read more ....

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Small Robots Can Prepare Lunar Surface For NASA Outpost

Small excavation robots, such as these conceptual vehicles, would be capable of preparing lunar landing sites for a future outpost, a new study shows. (Credit: Astrobotic Technology Inc)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Mar. 2, 2009) — Small robots the size of riding mowers could prepare a safe landing site for NASA’s Moon outpost, according to a NASA-sponsored study prepared by Astrobotic Technology Inc. with technical assistance from Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute.

Astrobotic Technology and Carnegie Mellon researchers analyzed mission requirements and developed the design for an innovative new type of small lunar robot under contract from NASA’s Lunar Surface Systems group.

Read more ....

Monday, March 2, 2009

Video: Robo-Beast and Human Troops March Together



From The Danger Room:

We've seen BigDog, the military's alarmingly-lifelike robotic quadruped, climb over hills, stomp through snow, and survive swift kicks to the chops. Now, for the first time, we're seeing it on patrol, with human soldiers.

Mass High Tech uncovers this video of the BigDog going through exercises at Ft. Benning, Georgia. It comes on the heels of the robo-beast's longest walk yet -- a 12.8 mile hike, following a series of GPS waypoints. Soldiers at Ft. Benning seemed intrigued by the idea of a mechanical pack mule that could one day carry some of their load. But the BigDog still has a way to go before it goes from Ft. Benning to a battlefield.

Read more ....