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 ....