Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Japan's Murata Girl Bot Unicycles On A Curved Balance Beam (Video)

From Popular Science:

Following in the footsteps of many robots we’ve seen who perform awesome but random feats, Japanese electronics company Murata has revealed an update of their Little Seiko humanoid robot for 2010. Murata Girl, as she is known, is 50 centimeters tall, weighs six kilograms and can unicycle backwards and forwards. Whereas in her previous iteration, she could only ride across a straight balance beam, she is now capable of navigating an S-curve as thin as 2.5 centimeters (only one centimeter wider than the tire of her unicycle)

Read more ....

Monday, October 4, 2010

Video: Robots Now Guarding Nevada Nuke Site

From The Danger Room:

Citizens of Nevada, you can now relax. The Nevada National Security Site, home to tens of millions of cubic feet of low-level radioactive waste — and location of over a thousand Cold War nuclear weapons tests — is now being guarded by robots. The first of a planned trio of Mobile Detection Assessment Response Systems, or MDARS, is currently patrolling some of the more remote sections of the 1,360 square mile facility.

Read more ....

My Comment: The Terminator movies do not seem like science fiction anymore.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Robotic Otter: Underwater Robot That Swims With Flippers And Can Be Controlled With A Tablet Computer

The AQUA robot uses flippers to move and now will no longer need to be tethered

From The Daily Mail:

Scientists have developed a remote-controlled robot that can receive and carry out commands while underwater.

AQUA is small and nimble, with flippers rather than propellers, and is designed for intricate data collection from shipwrecks and reefs.

The robot, designed by a team of universities from Canada, can be controlled wirelessly using a waterproof tablet computer.

Read more ....

Saturday, October 2, 2010

We, Robot: What Real-Life Machines Can And Can’t Do

Photo: A lot of us teach ourselves how to reason, how to think, how to analyze new information....This has been very difficult for robots to be able to do.

From Science News:

As director of the Maryland Robotics Center, Satyandra Gupta oversees 25 faculty members working on all things robotic: snake-inspired robots, robotic swarms, minirobots for medicine and robots for exploring extreme environments on land, under the sea and in outer space. In September the Center hosted its first Robotics Day; afterward, Gupta talked robots with Science News writer Rachel Ehrenberg.

How do robots influence our lives today?

There are certain scenarios, such as manufacturing — making cars, making airplanes — where people are replacing human labor with robotic devices and the rationale is usually that it is less expensive, quality is consistent, that kind of thing. Then there are certain applications where very few humans can do the task because the skills required are so high…. Surgery would be an example. Let’s imagine that there’s a very hard-to-perform surgery that very few humans can do. Now if a robot can be trained or even teleoperated by these surgeons, then you would be able to get that performance from that robot.

Read more ....

Friday, October 1, 2010

Darpa Is Looking At Young Minds For New Ideas

FIRST Robotics Competition Taking a cue from the FIRST Robotics Competition, DARPA is offering prize-based challenges to inspire high school students to design new robots. FIRST

Seeking New Defense Robots, Darpa Gives Fabrication Technology To High Schoolers -- Popular Science

Taking a page from advertising strategy, DARPA is hoping to get ‘em while they’re young. The military’s mad-science wing wants various organizations to put manufacturing equipment in 1,000 high schools around the world, part of a new program called “MENTOR” — Manufacturing Experimentation and Outreach. The partnership will include new prize-based challenges to inspire a new generation of defense manufacturers.

Read more ....

My Comment: The young perceived the world with no boundaries .... they are the perfect instrument for new ideas and concepts.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Better Surgery With New Surgical Robot With Force Feedback

Surgical robot Sofie. (Credit: Bart van Overbeeke)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Sep. 28, 2010) — Robotic surgery makes it possible to perform highly complicated and precise operations. Surgical robots have limitations, too. For one, the surgeon does not 'feel' the force of his incision or of his pull on the suture, and robots are also big and clumsy to use. Therefore TU/e researcher Linda van den Bedem developed a much more compact surgical robot, which uses 'force feedback' to allow the surgeon to feel what he or she is doing.

Read more ....

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Quantum Leap Towards Computer Of The Future

An artist's impression of a phosphorus atom (a red sphere surrounded by a blue electron cloud) coupled to a silicon single-electron transistor (College of Fine Arts, The University of New South Wales: William Algar-Chuklin)

From ABC News (Australia):

An Australian-led team of scientists have taken a big step forward in the race to develop a quantum computer.

Quantum computing relies on harnessing the laws of quantum physics - laws that apply to particles smaller than an atom - to get a computer to carry out many calculations at the same time.

Read more ....

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Deceptive Robots Hint At Machine Self-Awareness

From New Scientist:

A robot that tricks its opponent in a game of hide and seek is a step towards machines that can intuit our thoughts, intentions and feelings

ROVIO the robotic car is creating a decoy. It trundles forward and knocks over a marker pen stood on its end. The pen is positioned along the path to a hiding place - but Rovio doesn't hide there. It sneaks away and conceals itself elsewhere.

When a second Rovio arrives, it sees the felled pen and assumes that its prey must have passed this way. It rolls onwards, but is soon disappointed.

Read more ....

Monday, September 27, 2010

Robot Teaches Itself To Fire A Bow And Arrow

From Gadget Lab:

In the latest episode of “stop teaching them so much,” scientists have created a humanoid robot that teaches itself how to accurately hit a target with a bow and arrow.

The cute, childlike robot, named iCub, was designed by researchers at the Italian Institute of Technology. Armed with a bow, an arrow, a cute (if politically incorrect) Native American headdress and a complicated computer algorithm, the robot learns from his missed shots iteratively, until he makes the bull’s-eye.

Read more ....

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Robots On TV: Rescue Bot Knows, Um, What You Mean

From New Scientist:

A robot that can understand plain English and manage a complicated to-do list could soon be the hero of search and rescue missions.

Most robots that can recognise speech only respond to pre-determined instructions. For example, some powered wheelchairs respond to spoken directions, but only when certain words are spoken clearly. In the real world, that's not how humans communicate. Our speech is peppered with "disfluencies" – the "umms", "ahs" and stutters of everyday language. If we want to successfully speak to robots in real-life situations – such as search and rescue missions, where noise and stress might get in the way of clarity – robots need to understand these complications.

Read more ....

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Artificial Human Brain Being Built In A Lab

Credit: Wikimedia

From Cosmos:

BIRMINGHAM: Researchers have developed an artificial bit of human brain to help them study Alzheimer's and other diseases, a huge improvement over animal models.

Mike Coleman and his team from Aston University, Birmingham, have developed artificial brain tissue that responds to some chemicals like human brains do. Their findings were presented at the British Festival of Science in Birmingham.

Read more ....

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Graceful, Slim HRP-4 Humanoid Robot Unveiled; Destined for Menial Labor

Work It As its brother the HRP-2 looks on in the background, Japan's new humanoid robot, HRP-4, shows off its moves. Kawada Industries via YouTube

From Popular Science:

Japan’s newest RoboCop-looking humanoid robot practices yoga, tracks faces and objects and, in what seems to be a robo-requirement these days, pours drinks.

The industrial HRP-4 robot was designed to coexist with people, and its “thin athlete” frame is meant to be more appealing, according to Kawada Industries, which built the robot with Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology.

Read more ....

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Robots On TV: Five Glimpses Of Future Machines

From New Scientist:

Meet a talking butler robot that knows its way around the house and can even recognise a copy of New Scientist. Or watch a baby-faced android that's being designed to learn like a human toddler.

In this month’s video special, we introduce you to our top five new robots. These machines are pushing the boundaries of artificial intelligence and are learning to interact with humans more naturally. Some could become the heroes of dangerous rescue missions, while others could be our future companions.

Read more ....

Friday, September 17, 2010

Nasa Tests Robot Hardware For Planet Missions

A suit port allows astronauts to be on the surface within a few minutes

From The BBC:

Nasa is testing the next generation of human spaceflight technology in the deserts of Arizona, US.

The Desert RATS (Research and Technology Studies) programme is designed to give advanced equipment a trial run, and to expose any issues before it is used in space.

The dry, dusty, rocky land near the lip of the Grand Canyon provides a good simulation of other planets.

"The terrain is very varied, and is very volcanic in nature, which more or less represents what you would see on the Moon" says Joe Kosmo, Mission Manager for the Desert RATS programme.

Read more ....

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Robotics Expert Is NSW Scientist Of The Year

NSW Scientist of the Year 2010 - Hugh Durrant-Whyte

From Cosmos:

SYDNEY: Leader of the robotics revolution, Hugh Durrant-Whyte has been named the NSW Scientist of the Year for his contribution to the development of underwater robots, flying weed-spraying drones and massive mining automation systems.

Held at Government House in Sydney tonight, the awards ceremony saw winners in six categories take out the $5,000 prize, while Durrant-Whyte from the University of Sydney secured the top prize and $55,000.

Read more ....

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fooled You! Robots Learn How To Deceive

From Discovery News:

Robots are becoming more human every day. Some robots can already sustain damage and reconfigure themselves, kind of like how our bones heal after we break them. Now others can deceive other intelligent machines and even humans.

Researchers at Georgia Tech have developed algorithms that let robots determine whether they are in a situation where they should deceive other robots or humans.

Read more ....

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Military Robots Converted For Civilian Use

(Photo by Synexxus, Inc.)

7 Military Robots, Now Modified for Your Living Room -- Popular Science

Dozens of robotics companies are customizing military robots with gear like interchangeable tools, 3D radar vision and voice controls. The resulting bots, tested and refined in the field, may soon find their way into homes, gardens and places of work near you. Here's how.

Give the world a new electronic device and, before you know it, modified products will pop up. Such is the way with gadgets, electronics and, yes, robots. Some manufacturers try to lock down such mods, either physically or through legal channels, but the robotmakers at iRobot have embraced crowd sourcing. Their Robot Developers Kit provides the hardware and software to help developers make their own upgrades and add-ons for the military PackBots that they produce. More than 80 companies are now involved, creating an avalanche of new concepts that could find their way into the domestic robot market. Here's a look.

Read more ....

Monday, September 13, 2010

Age Of Terminators Comes A Step Closer As Scientists Invent 'E-Skin' That Could Give Robots A Sense Of Touch

Photo: An artist's illustration of an artificial e-skin covering a hand. The finished product would give incredible touch and sensitivity

From The Daily Mail:

Scientists have developed a pressure-sensitive electronic skin which could one day be used to restore touch to patients who have prosthetic limbs.

The material, dubbed e-skin, is made from semiconductor nanowires made from silicon.

More sinister, however, is the prospect of the invention lending robots the ability to adapt the amount of roce needed to hold and manipulate objects.

Read more ....

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sensitive Touch For 'Robot Skin'

Photo: The "skins" match human skin's ability to sense tiny pressure changes quickly.

From The BBC:

"Artificial skin" that could bring a sensitive touch to robots and prosthetic limbs, has been shown off.

The materials, which can sense pressure as sensitively and quickly as human skin, have been outlined by two groups reporting in Nature Materials.

The skins are arrays of small pressure sensors that convert tiny changes in pressure into electrical signals.

The arrays are built into or under flexible rubber sheets that could be stretched into a variety of shapes.

Read more ....

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Alt Text: Google, Apple Unveil Competing Battle Robots

From The Underwire:

Google and Apple announced Friday what many analysts have long predicted: That they will settle the long-standing competition between the two companies with a series of giant robot battles.

The announcement comes as the culmination of a series of parallel developments between the two competitors. Apple recently unveiled its new Apple TV with 99-cent streaming episodes, and Google followed a week later with Google TV, to be deployed this fall.

Read more ....

Friday, September 10, 2010

Researchers Give Robots the Capability for Deceptive Behavior

The black robot intentionally knocked down the red marker to deceive the red robot into thinking it was hiding down the left corridor. Instead, the black robot is hiding inside the box in the center pathway. (Credit: Georgia Tech Photo: Gary Meek)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Sep. 9, 2010) — A robot deceives an enemy soldier by creating a false trail and hiding so that it will not be caught. While this sounds like a scene from one of the Terminator movies, it's actually the scenario of an experiment conducted by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology as part of what is believed to be the first detailed examination of robot deception.

Read more ....

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Artificial Intelligence: Riders On A Swarm

From The Economist:

Mimicking the behaviour of ants, bees and birds started as a poor man’s version of artificial intelligence. It may, though, be the key to the real thing.

ONE of the bugaboos that authors of science fiction sometimes use to scare their human readers is the idea that ants may develop intelligence and take over the Earth. The purposeful collective activity of ants and other social insects does, indeed, look intelligent on the surface. An illusion, presumably. But it might be a good enough illusion for computer scientists to exploit. The search for artificial intelligence modelled on human brains has been a dismal failure. AI based on ant behaviour, though, is having some success.

Read more ....

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Boss Is Robotic, And Rolling Up Behind You

Dr. John Whapham, using a robot, discussed care with a patient at Loyola University Medical Center near Chicago. Sally Ryan for The New York Times

From The New York Times:

SACRAMENTO — Dr. Alan Shatzel’s pager beeped at 9 on a Saturday morning. A man had suffered a stroke, and someone had to decide, quickly, whether to give him an anticlotting drug that could mean the difference between life and death.

Dr. Shatzel, a neurologist, hustled not to the emergency room where the patient lay — 260 miles away, in Bakersfield — but to a darkened room at a hospital here. He took a seat in front of the latest tools of his trade: computer monitors, a keyboard and a joystick that control his assistant on the scene — a robot on wheels.

Read more ....

Monday, September 6, 2010

Miniature Auto Differential Helps Tiny Aerial Robots Stay Aloft

Engineers at Harvard University are developing minuscule aerial robots that could someday be used to probe environmental hazards, forest fires, and other places too perilous for people. (Credit: Pratheev S. Sreetharan/Harvard University)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Sep. 3, 2010) — Microrobots could be used for search and rescue, agriculture, environmental monitoringEngineers at Harvard University have created a millionth-scale automobile differential to govern the flight of minuscule aerial robots that could someday be used to probe environmental hazards, forest fires, and other places too perilous for people.

Read more ....

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Yet Another Human Job Is Replaced By A Robot

EMILY To the Rescue: An Automated Lifeguard -- The Economist

Yet another human job is replaced by a robot.

BIG crowds, strong surf and powerful rip currents are only a few of the obstacles that lifeguards must overcome to keep swimmers safe. Strong winds can pull many bathers out to sea simultaneously, overwhelming the guards if there are only a few of them. And, since average swimming speed is about 3kph (2mph) even a single rescue mission can take more than half an hour.

Read more ....

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Web-Crawling Computers Will Soon Be Calling The Shots In Science

Computers may by programmed to generate hypotheses with little human intervention required. Photograph: Corbis

From The Guardian:

Within a decade, computers will be able to plough through scientific data looking for patterns and connections – then tell scientists what they should do next.

Move over scientists – computers will be asking the questions from now on. They will trawl the millions of scientific papers on the web and suggest new hypotheses for humans to test, according to an article in tomorrow's issue of Science.

Read more ....

Friday, September 3, 2010

Shape-Shifting Robot Compensates For Damaged Limb

From New Scientist:

Think that shape-shifting robots, or ones that march on no matter how many limbs they lose, are just for Terminator films? Think again. A team of European roboticists have developed software that allows a modular robot to adapt when one part stops working.

David Johan Christensen at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense, working with Alexander Spröwitz and Auke Ijspeert at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, simulated a quadruped robot constructed from a dozen Roombots – identical rounded robots that have been developed in Lausanne and which can combine to form a variety of modular shapes (see picture).

Read more

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Researchers Create Ultra-Sensitive Robotic Nose Using Frog Eggs As An Olfactory Sensor

Detecting Molecules with Frog Eggs

From Popular Science:

Researchers at the University of Tokyo are using frog eggs to enhance what might seem like an unlikely element of robotics: olfactory sensing. By injecting the eggs with the DNA from various insects known for expressing keen senses of smell, the team was able to create a robotic nose that can detect molecules at levels as low as a few parts per billion.

Read more ....

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Use Microsoft Surface to Control a Swarm of Robots With Your Fingertips

Robot Swarm Control Mark Micire/UMass Lowell Robotics Lab

From Popular Science:

A sharp-looking tabletop touchscreen can be used to command robots and combine data from various sources, potentially improving military planning, disaster response and search-and-rescue operations.

Read more ....

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

When Will We Be Able To Build Brains Like Ours?

Image: Henrik5000

From Scientific American:

Sooner than you think -- and the race has lately caused a 'catfight'.

When physicists puzzle out the workings of some new part of nature, that knowledge can be used to build devices that do amazing things -- airplanes that fly, radios that reach millions of listeners. When we come to understand how brains function, we should become able to build amazing devices with cognitive abilities -- such as cognitive cars that are better at driving than we are because they communicate with other cars and share knowledge on road conditions. In 2008, the National Academy of Engineering chose as one of its grand challenges to reverse-engineer the human brain. When will this happen? Some are predicting that the first wave of results will arrive within the decade, propelled by rapid advances in both brain science and computer science. This sounds astonishing, but it’s becoming increasingly plausible. So plausible, in fact, that the great race to reverse-engineer the brain is already triggering a dispute over historic “firsts.”

Read more ....

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Truth About Robots And The Uncanny Valley: Analysis

(Photo by Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images)

From Popular Mechanics:

An oft-cited theory in robotics, the uncanny valley, refers to that point along the chart of robot–human likeness where a robot looks and acts nearly—but not exactly—like a human. This subtle imperfection, the theory states, causes people's feelings toward robots to veer from fondness to revulsion. Here, contributing editor Erik Sofge argues that the theory is so loosely backed it is nearly useless for roboticists. For an in-depth look at the human–robot relationship, check out PM's feature story "Can Robots Be Trusted?" on stands now.

Read more ....

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Japanese Government And Industry Aim For Mind-Controlled Robots And Electronics In 10 Years

Asimo Mind Control The power ... feels good Honda

From Popular Science:

Japan's insatiable love for robots and mind-reading technology has converged in the form of a new government-industry partnership. That means Japanese consumers can look forward to robots and electronics controllable by thought alone within a decade, according to Agence France-Presse.

Read more ....

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

South Korea Developing Underwater Search-and-Rescue Robot Crawlers

Underwater swimmers and crawlers could speed up rescue efforts for incidents such as the recent sinking of a South Korean Navy frigate.

From Popular Science:

South Korea's flock of robotic teachers look and sound goofy, but the nation is deadly serious about its latest project: developing aquatic robots by 2016 which can swim and crawl their way across the seafloor several miles down for search and rescue purposes, according to the Korea Times.

Read more ....

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Supercomputers Map Pathogens As They Emerge And Evolve

A screenshot from a Supramap study of avian influenza, with red lines representing the spread of drug-resistant strains and the white lines drug susceptible strains. Credit: Ohio Supercomputing Center

From Cosmos:

BRISBANE: Instead of simply focussing on human infections, infectious disease researchers can now track the complex interactions, movement and evolution of the pathogens themselves using supercomputers.

The researchers are using a new program called Supramap, which operates on the computing systems at Ohio State University and the Ohio Supercomputer Center.

Read more ....

Monday, April 19, 2010

Supercomputers Map Pathogens As They Emerge And Evolve

A screenshot from a Supramap study of avian influenza, with red lines representing the spread of drug-resistant strains and the white lines drug susceptible strains. Credit: Ohio Supercomputing Center

From Cosmos:

BRISBANE: Instead of simply focussing on human infections, infectious disease researchers can now track the complex interactions, movement and evolution of the pathogens themselves using supercomputers.

The researchers are using a new program called Supramap, which operates on the computing systems at Ohio State University and the Ohio Supercomputer Center.

Read more ....

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Robo-Suit Will Help Aging Japanese Farmers Pick Crops With Ease

Robotic Suit Aids Farmers A postgraduate student at the Tokyo Agriculture and Technology University models a motorized exoskeleton developed to help aging farmers endure the strain of hard labor. AFP

From Popular Science:

Harvesting the bounty of the earth is harder than it looks, especially you're over 65 years old -- as two-thirds of Japan's farmers are. For those whose joints ache more with every radish pulled out of the ground, Shigeki Toyama, a professor at Tokyo Agriculture and Technology (TAT) University, has developed a motorized exoskeleton designed to boost the wearer's strength by 62 percent.

Read more ....

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Hewlett Packard Outlines Computer Memory Of The Future

Image: 17 memristors captured by an atomic force microscope

From The BBC:

The fundamental building blocks of all computing devices could be about to undergo a dramatic change that would allow faster, more efficient machines.

Researchers at computer firm Hewlett Packard (HP) have shown off working devices built using memristors - often described as electronics' missing link.

These tiny devices were proposed 40 years ago but only fabricated in 2008.

HP says it has now shown that they can be used to crunch data, meaning they could be used to build advanced chips.

That means they could begin to replace transistors - the tiny switches used to build today's chips.

Read more

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Oceanology: Robot 'Gliders' Swim The Undersea World

Engage the wave drive (Image: Liquid Robotics)

From New Scientist:

THE way we study oceans could be transformed by a high-tech "surfboard" that generates its own power from sunlight and water waves. The device is capable of navigating at sea for months at a time and recently completed a 4000-kilometre trip from Hawaii to San Diego, California.

Read more ....

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

With Processor Speeds Stagnating, Researchers Look Beyond Silicon Toward Computing's Future

Flexible Silicon More flexible circuits can help silicon stay relevant in the future of computing Science/University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

From Popular Mechanics:

After a breathless race through the '80s and '90s, desktop computer clock speeds have spent the last decade languishing around the 3 gigahertz mark. That stagnation in processing speeds has prompted scientists to debate whether it's time to move beyond semiconductors -- and what better place to debate than in the journal Science? Ars Technica gives a top-down overview of several future paths laid out in the journal's latest issue by researchers such as Thomas Theis and Paul Solomon of IBM.

Read more ....

Friday, March 26, 2010

Autonomous Submarinebot Heads Down on Deepest-Ever Undersea Search For Undiscovered Life

Autosub6000 via The Register

From The Popular Science:

While some scientists resort to undersea drilling to find undiscovered forms of life, a new group of researchers has decided that piloting a robotic submarine into a submerged volcano was the way to go. By exploring the deepest, hottest, undersea volcano ever probed, the researchers hope to find clues to both the beginnings of life on Earth, and the possible forms of life on other planets.

Read more ....

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Opportunity Mars Rover Gets Artificial Intelligence Upgrade, Decides For Itself What to Explore Next

Opportunity Target Selection Opportunity scans the Martian terrain for rocks meeting specific criteria – shape, size, coloration – set by scientists on the ground. When it finds what it's looking for, it sets a course for the point of interest. NASA/JPL-Caltech

From Popular Science:

NASA's Opportunity Rover, now in its seventh year of roaming the Martian surface, just got a little smarter. Like parents giving their growing child a little more autonomy, engineers updated Opportunity with artificial intelligence software this past winter that allows the rover to make its own decisions about where to stop and which rocks to analyze during its travels. Now the first images of Opportunity picking and choosing where to investigate have been released.

Read more ....

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Team's Quantum Object Is Biggest By Factor Of Billions

Image: The "quantum resonator" can be seen with the naked eye

From The BBC:

Researchers have created a "quantum state" in the largest object yet.

Such states, in which an object is effectively in two places at once, have until now only been accomplished with single particles, atoms and molecules.

In this experiment, published in the journal Nature, scientists produced a quantum state in an object billions of times larger than previous tests.

The team says the result could have significant implications in quantum computing.

Read more ....

Monday, March 15, 2010

Startups Focus On AI At South By Southwest

From Technology Review:

A new crop of startups aims to bring artificial intelligence to the masses.

South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive has a reputation as being the place for social Web startups to hit the headlines. Twitter found one of its first big audiences at the event in 2007, and attendees are among the most eager adoptees of new social Web tools.

To harness this cutting-edge mood, last year the event's organizers launched the Microsoft BizSpark Accelerator, a competition showcasing 32 Web-focused startups. This year's competition starts today.

Read more ....

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Electronics 'Missing Link' Brings Neural Computing Closer

Coming soon to a CPU near you (Image: Patrick Landmann/SPL)

From New Scientist:

WHEN the "missing link of electronics" was finally built in 2008, it was the vindication of a 30-year-old prediction. Now it seems the so-called memristor can behave uncannily like the junctions between neurons in the brain.

A memristor is a device that, like a resistor, opposes the passage of current. But memristors also have a memory. The resistance of a memristor at any moment depends on the last voltage it experienced, so its behaviour can be used to recall past voltages.

Read more ....

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Quantum Computing Thrives On Chaos

From Wired/Science News:

Embracing chaos just might help physicists build a quantum brain. A new study shows that disorder can enhance the coupling between light and matter in quantum systems, a find that could eventually lead to fast, easy-to-build quantum computers.

Quantum computers promise superfast calculations that precisely simulate the natural world, but physicists have struggled to design the brains of such machines. Some researchers have focused on designing precisely engineered materials that can trap light to harness its quantum properties. To work, scientists have thought, the crystalline structure of these materials must be flawlessly ordered — a nearly impossible task.

Read more ....

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Safety Issues Loom As Humanoid Invasion Approaches

From New Scientist:

Pressure-sensing skins, smarter limbs and even bemused facial expressions. All these features will be needed to make future humanoid robots safe enough to hang out with humans in our homes, a symposium on humanoid robotics at the Institute of Engineering and Technology in London heard this week.

"We want robots to operate in our human world but they need to be safe," says Chris Melhuish of the Bristol Robotics Laboratory in the UK. "It's no good if they fall over on a 2-year-old or poke someone in the eye."

Read more ....

Monday, March 8, 2010

Could This Be The Robot Servant Who Will Serve You Breakfast In Bed?

From The Daily Mail:

Ever dreamed of having a robot servant who would do all the boring chores around the house? Well mechanised domestic staff have come one step closer, thanks to an android being developed in Japan.

Researchers at Tokyo University's JSK Robotics Laboratory, have created a humanoid called Kojiro, who is learning how to mimic how we walk.

Read more ....

Friday, March 5, 2010

Light-Speed Computing One Step Closer

Until now, infrared germanium lasers required expensive cryogenic cooling systems to operate (Source: iStockphoto)

From ABC News (Australia):

A new infrared laser made from germanium that operates at room temperature could lead to powerful computer chips that operate at the speed of light, say US scientists.

The research, by scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, published in a forthcoming issue of Optics Letters

"Using a germanium laser as a light source, you could communicate at very high data rates at very low power," says Dr Jurgen Michel, who developed the new germanium laser.

"Eventually you could have the computing power of today's supercomputers inside a laptop."

Read more ....

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Artificial Intelligence Brings Musicians Back From The Dead, Allowing All-Stars Of All Time To Jam

Rachmaninoff, Back at the Piano Where He Belongs Zenph

From Popular Science:

Want to know what a jam session between Jack White and Stevie Ray Vaughan might have sounded like, or how Billie Holliday would interpret the latest dreck from Avril Lavigne? Advances in artificial intelligence are resurrecting musical legends of the past, tapping into old recordings to establish a musician's style and personality, then applying those attributes to newer recordings of old songs, or even to songs the musician never played before.

Read more

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Japan's New Hovering Hummingbird Bot Has Four Wings, Weighs Under 3 Grams

Chiba University's Latest Hummingbird 'Bot Chiba University

From Popular Science:

Biomimicry isn't new, nor are robotic hummingbirds, but the latest 'bot to come out of Chiba University in Japan makes even the DARPA-inspired Nano Air Vehicle -- which is very cool, needless to say -- look like last year's robotics.

Read more ....

Friday, February 26, 2010

Ocean Robot 'Plans Experiments'

From The BBC:

Scientists in the US are using an underwater vehicle that can "plan its own experiments" on the seafloor.

The "Gulper AUV" is programmed to look for the information that scientists want and plan its own route, avoiding hazardous currents and obstacles.

The research team described this advance at the Ocean Sciences meeting in Portland.

The group explained how it could "train" the robot to bring the best science back to the surface.

Read more ....

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Autonomous Submarine 'Bot Plans Experiments, Navigates Without Human Help

One of MBARIs Automatic Underwater Vehicles Gulper is a high-tech update to this earlier-generation sister research vessel, which was used for seafloor mapping. Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

From Popular Science:

Researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute are done spending valuable time heading out to sea on routine monitoring missions, and they have the autonomous underwater robot to prove it. A team of marine researchers there has developed what they are calling the Gulper automatic underwater vehicle (AUV) that operates autonomously far out to sea, planning its own experiments and negotiating ocean depths without human input.

Read more ....

Monday, February 22, 2010

NSF Puts Up $25 Million To Research Biological Machines

The Crossroads of Biology and Engineering MIT

From Popular Science:

What would you do with $25 million? If you answered "create a center to research the development of programmable, highly sophisticated biological machines," we regret to inform you the National Science Foundation and MIT have beaten you to the punch. The Emergent Behaviors of Integrated Cellular Systems Center (EBICS), will not only advance research in the emerging experimental discipline of engineered biological systems, but will lay an extensive educational groundwork for research in the field going forward.

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

DARPA Orders Smart Robotic Terminator Hands For A Better Tomorrow

Terminator's Arm My CPU is a neural net processor; a learning computer.

From Popular Science:

Pentagon mad scientists at DARPA have continued on their quest to create killer robots by announcing a new plan for "robotic autonomous manipulators" that can emulate human hands. And by killer, we of course mean awesome. National Defense reports that the DARPA program aims to create inexpensive robotic hands that can perhaps also replace existing prosthetics for amputees.

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

New Role For Robot Warriors

Airmen roll out a Predator unmanned aircraft in Indian Springs, Nev. Such aircraft are tightly controlled by remote human operators. Some artificial-intelligence proponents believe next-generation robots could function more autonomously. Tony Avelar/The Christian Science Monitor/File

From The Christian Science Monitor:

Drones are just part of a bid to automate combat. Can virtual ethics make machines decisionmakers?

Science fiction sometimes depicts robot soldiers as killing machines without conscience or remorse. But at least one robotics expert today says that someday machines may make the best and most humane decisions on the battlefield.

Guided by virtual emotions, robots could not only make better decisions about their own actions but also act as ethical advisers to human soldiers or even as observers who report back on the battlefield conduct of humans and whether they followed international law.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

Robots To Clear Baltic Seabed Of WWII Mines

Retro Sea Mine via Bactec

From Popular Science:

In a dangerous legacy of the world's deadliest conflict, 150,000 World War Two-era sea mines litter the Baltic Sea. The danger these bombs pose to a proposed gas pipeline has prompted Russia to hire the British firm Bactec International to clear the sea of unexploded ordnance. And for Bactec, that means it's time to bring out the robots.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

DARPA Wants To Build The Ultimate Language Traslator

Darpa Looks to Build Real-Life C3P0 -- The Danger Room

Right now, troops trying to listen in on enemy chatter rely on a convoluted process. They tune into insurgency radio frequencies, then hand the radio over to local interpreters, who translate the dialogues. It’s a sloppy process, prone to garbled words and missed phrases.

What troops really need is a machine that can pick out voices from the noise, understand and translate all kinds of different languages, and then identify the voice from a hit list of “wanted speakers.” In other words, a real-life version of Star Wars protocol droid C3PO, fluent “in over 6 million forms of communication.”

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