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.

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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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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Ping-Pong-Playing Terminator

Match Point: Kim Kyung-Hoon / Reuters

From Popular Science:

Meet TOPIO 3.0, the ping-pong-playing robot. Made by Vietnam’s first-ever robotics firm, TOSY, the bipedal humanoid uses two 200-fps cameras to detect the ball as it leaves the opponent’s paddle.

TOPIO’s brain—processors and an artificial neural network—analyzes the ball’s path to choose the best return. Last fall, TOPIO 3.0 debuted at the International Robot Exhibition in Tokyo.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

New Supercomputer Uses Water-Cooled Technology To Save Energy

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Feb. 16, 2010) — Nanyang Technological University (NTU) February 11 opens its much-anticipated High Performance Computing (HPC) Centre to support the university's growing international research profile and capacity, especially in the area of sustainability.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Diamond Nanowire Device Could Lead To New Class Of Diamond Nanomaterials

A diamond-based nanowire device. Researchers used a top-down nanofabrication technique to embed color centers into a variety of machined structures. By creating large device arrays rather than just "one-of-a-kind" designs, the realization of quantum networks and systems, which require the integration and manipulation of many devices in parallel, is more likely. (Credit: Illustrated by Jay Penni.)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Feb. 15, 2010) — By creating diamond-based nanowire devices, a team at Harvard has taken another step towards making applications based on quantum science and technology possible.

The new device offers a bright, stable source of single photons at room temperature, an essential element in making fast and secure computing with light practical.

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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Robot Hand Could Protect Soldiers On The Battlefield

The 'intelligent' substance d3o at the display

From The Telegraph:

A robot hand that could defuse bombs, luminous goo that flows around soldiers’ moving bodies but hardens to protect them if they are hit and a uniform that conducts electricity are among the first fruits of the Ministry of Defence’s version of the Dragons’ Den.

The Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE) in Harwell, Oxfordshire, is an initiative that aims to harness British scientific innovation for rapid use on the battlefield. Ministers also hope to temper the MoD’s reputation for laborious and costly procurements that arrive in service years after they have ceased to be useful.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Robot Stars In South Korean Plays

EveR-3: the all-singing, all-dancing thespian robot. Credit: Wikimedia

From The Cosmos/AFP:

SEOUL: A South Korean-developed robot played to acclaim in Robot Princess and the Seven Dwarfs and is set to take more leading theatre roles this year.

EveR-3 (Eve Robot 3) starred in various dramas last year including the government-funded Dwarfs which attracted a full house, said Lee Ho-Gil, of the state-run Korea Institute of Industrial Technology.

The lifelike EveR-3 is 157 cm tall, can communicate in Korean and English, and can express a total of 16 facial expressions – without ever forgetting her lines.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Are Robot Scientists The Future Of Laboratory Research?

Eve, at Work in the Lab Automated Experimentation

From Popular Science:

There was a time when science produced robots, but a paper published recently in the Automated Experimentation Journal suggests that in the future robots will autonomously produce science. It's not just a matter of cheap labor or taking menial tasks off the hands of researchers; the authors argue that science needs to be uniform and formalized, and AI robot scientists could help us get to that point by developing their own hypotheses and carrying out experiments with minimal human input.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Can Battlefield Robots Take The Place Of Soldiers?

Can battlefield land-robots be made to obey the rules of war?

From The BBC:

Can war be fought by lots of well-behaved machines, making it "safer for humans"? That is the seductive vision, and hope, of those manufacturing and researching the future of military robotics.

With 8,000 robots already in use, they believe they can bring about a military revolution.

Most of the robots currently deployed on land deal with non-combat tasks such as bomb disposal - unlike lethal aerial drones.

But Bob Quinn, who works for the US subsidiary of the British robot manufacturer QinetiQ, says the future promises more armed robots on the battlefield, including driverless vehicles.

Read more ....

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Germanium Laser Breakthrough Brings Optical Computing Closer

From Gadget Lab:

Researchers at MIT have demonstrated the first laser that uses the element germanium.

The laser, which operates at room temperature, could prove to be an important step toward computer chips that move data using light instead of electricity, say the researchers.

“This is a very important breakthrough, one I would say that has the highest possible significance in the field,” says Eli Yablonovitch, a professor in the electrical engineering and computer science department of the University of California, Berkeley who was not involved in the research told “It will greatly reduce the cost of communications and make for faster chips.”

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Monday, February 8, 2010

DARPA Wants to Override Evolution To Make Immortal Synthetic Organisms

Evolution Done Gone Wrong This will turn out well Syfy

From Popular Science:

It's been a long time since a Pentagon project from the DARPA labs truly evoked a "WTF DARPA?!" response, but our collective jaw dropped when we saw the details on a project known as BioDesign. DARPA hopes to dispense with evolutionary randomness and assemble biological creatures, genetically programmed to live indefinitely and presumably do whatever their human masters want. And, Wired's Danger Room reports, when there's the inevitable problem of said creatures going haywire or realizing that they're intelligent and have feelings, there's a planned self-destruct genetic code that could be triggered.

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Sunday, February 7, 2010

NASA, GM Take Giant Leap in Robotic Technology

Robonaut2 -- or R2 for short -- is the next generation dexterous robot, developed through a Space Act Agreement by NASA and General Motors. It is faster, more dexterous and more technologically advanced than its predecessors and able to use its hands to do work beyond the scope of previously introduced humanoid robots. (Credit: NASA)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Feb. 7, 2010) — Robonaut is evolving.

NASA and General Motors are working together to accelerate development of the next generation of robots and related technologies for use in the automotive and aerospace industries.

Engineers and scientists from NASA and GM worked together through a Space Act Agreement at the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston to build a new humanoid robot capable of working side by side with people. Using leading edge control, sensor and vision technologies, future robots could assist astronauts during hazardous space missions and help GM build safer cars and plants.

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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Computers That Use Light Instead of Electricity? First Germanium Laser Created

Image: MIT researchers have demonstrated the first laser built from germanium that can produce wavelengths of light useful for optical communication. (Credit: Graphic by Christine Daniloff)

From Science Daily:

ScienceDaily (Feb. 5, 2010) — MIT researchers have demonstrated the first laser built from germanium that can produce wavelengths of light useful for optical communication. It's also the first germanium laser to operate at room temperature. Unlike the materials typically used in lasers, germanium is easy to incorporate into existing processes for manufacturing silicon chips. So the result could prove an important step toward computers that move data -- and maybe even perform calculations -- using light instead of electricity. But more fundamentally, the researchers have shown that, contrary to prior belief, a class of materials called indirect-band-gap semiconductors can yield practical lasers.

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Friday, February 5, 2010

Quantum Computing Leap Forward: Altering a Lone Electron Without Disturbing Its Neighbors

Jason Petta, an assistant professor of physics, has found a way to alter the property of a lone electron without disturbing the trillions of electrons in its immediate surroundings. Such a feat is an important step toward developing future types of quantum computers. (Credit: Princeton University, Office of Communications, Brian Wilson)

From Science Daily:

Science Daily (Feb. 6, 2010) — A major hurdle in the ambitious quest to design and construct a radically new kind of quantum computer has been finding a way to manipulate the single electrons that very likely will constitute the new machines' processing components or "qubits."

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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Say Hello To Robonaut2, NASA's Android Space Explorer Of The Future

From Popular Science:

With the news that the White House has canceled the Constellation Program, NASA seems to be moving out of the human space flight business. However, the unveiling of a next-generation robot astronaut shows the android space program to be alive and well.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

DARPA's Robotic Ghost Ships Will Stalk Submarines

Robot Frigates Now imagine this ship without the people U.S. Navy/Scott Taylor

From Popular Science:

Ships that appear in perfect working order except for a missing human crew would normally raise suspicions that something has gone terribly wrong, possibly in the vicinity of the Bermuda Triangle. Yet an unmanned frigate is exactly what DARPA's mad scientists at the Pentagon have ordered, according to The Register. The automated ships' mission would have it spending months cruising the seas unmanned, on the hunt for ghostly enemy submarines.

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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Pursuit Of Intelligence In Computer Science

What actually constitutes an objective pattern of cognition in machines that we will recognize as intelligent is extremely vague and constantly being rewritten. Steve Dunning/Getty Images

From Discovery News:

We can’t give machines intelligence until we can figure out what roles creativity, inspiration and curiosity should play.

Since the dawn of high tech electronics and robotics, we’ve heard an awful lot about artificial intelligence and countless tales about how it may just decide to enslave us all one of these days, or fuse with humanity into an unrecognizable homunculus of men, women, children and machines as in the end of Isaac Asimov’s classic short story The Last Question, which is probably my favorite science fiction tale for it’s amazing scope and it’s bizarre climax. But when we actually drill down to the actual requirements for making machines endowed with the kind of computing abilities we’d call intelligence, we’ll find that the definition of what actually constitutes an objective pattern of cognition we will recognize as intelligent is extremely vague and constantly being rewritten.

Read more ....

Monday, February 1, 2010

Two More Steps Toward Quantum Computing

The first solid state quantum processor, developed at Yale University, can perform simple algorithms. Blake Johnson/Yale University

From Discover Magazine:

Quantum computing—using individual atoms as information carriers—could transform the way we study the world, solving problems that would take many human lifetimes for today’s supercomputers in a matter of days. Unlike conventional computers, which store each piece of data as a single value (either zero or one), quantum processors can take on multiple values simultaneously, which is why they are so efficient. Or rather why they would be, if we could figure out how to build them. So engineers in the field are abuzz about two major advances toward the creation of a practical quantum computer.

Read more ....