Sunday, August 14, 2011

A One-Armed Personal Robot For The Rest Of Us

PR2 SE Half the arms, nearly half the price. Willow Garage

Willow Garage Introduces Discount PR2 SE, a One-Armed Personal Robot for the Rest of Us -- Popular Science

Willow Garage’s PR2 has provided a unique, open source robotics platform to all kinds of labs and institutions that otherwise wouldn’t have access to a complex robotics system--but not to that many. For all the absolutely cool things you can do with PR2, the $400,000 price tag is prohibitive--only about two dozen commercial and academic labs have their own PR2s. So, in an attempt to make their robot more accessible, Willow Garage is introducing the PR2 SE this week, a pared-down version of the same robot costing a mere $285,000.

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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Next Generation of Computer Chips

Caltech engineers have developed a new way to isolate light on a photonic chip, allowing light to travel in only one direction. This finding can lead to the next generation of computer-chip technology: photonic chips that allow for faster computers and less data loss. (Credit: Caltech/Liang Feng)

Engineers Solve Longstanding Problem in Photonic Chip Technology: Findings Help Pave Way for Next Generation of Computer Chips -- Science Daily

ScienceDaily (Aug. 5, 2011) — Stretching for thousands of miles beneath oceans, optical fibers now connect every continent except for Antarctica. With less data loss and higher bandwidth, optical-fiber technology allows information to zip around the world, bringing pictures, video, and other data from every corner of the globe to your computer in a split second. But although optical fibers are increasingly replacing copper wires, carrying information via photons instead of electrons, today's computer technology still relies on electronic chips.

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Friday, August 5, 2011

Remote Control Toy Trucks Save Lives In Afghanistan

Afghanistan War: Hobbyists' Toy Truck Saves 6 Soldiers' Lives -- ABC News

Staff Sgt. Christopher Fessenden is on duty in Afghanistan now after tours with the Army in Iraq. He has traveled with standard-issue equipment -- weapons, helmet, uniform, boots and so forth -- plus a radio-controlled model truck his brother sent.

The truck is not a toy to him. He says it just saved six soldiers' lives.

"We cannot thank you enough," said Sgt. Fessenden in an email from the front that his brother Ernie, a software engineer in Rochester, Minn., shared with ABC News.

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More News On How Remote Vehicles Save Lives In Afghanistan

Remote-controlled toy truck saves the lives of six U.S. soldiers after it finds bomb in Afghanistan -- Daily Mail
Hobbyists' toy truck saves 6 soldiers' lives in Afghanistan -- Stars and Stripes
Remote-control truck gift saves soldiers’ lives -- Yahoo News/Lookout
Toy truck saves soldiers from bomb -- UPI
A Toy Truck Saved the Lives of Six Soldiers in Afghanistan -- Gizmodo
This Toy Remote Controlled Truck Saved The Lives Of 6 U.S. Soldiers -- Business Insider

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Robot That Learns Functions It Was Not Programmed To Do

Thinking For Itself: The Robot That Learns Functions It Was Not Programmed To Do -- Daily Mail

It is not quite Skynet, but robots that can learn have finally arrived.
Japanese researchers have developed a robot that can perform functions it was not programmed to do.

The machine uses past experience and its own knowledge to make a judgement about the best way to proceed.

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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Bionic Microrobot Walks On Water

The water strider robot in action. (Credit: Image courtesy of American Chemical Society)

Bionic Microrobot Mimics the 'Water Strider' and Walks On Water -- Science Daily

ScienceDaily (Aug. 2, 2011) — Scientists are reporting development of a new aquatic microrobot that mimics the amazing water-walking abilities of the water strider -- the long-legged insect that scoots across the surface of ponds, lakes and other waterways. The bionic microrobot incorporates improvements over previous devices of this kind that position it as a prime candidate for military spy missions, water pollution monitoring, and other applications, the scientists say.

Their study appears in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces

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Monday, August 1, 2011

Picture 1 Million Robots

Foxconn Facility. Wikimedia Commons

Foxconn Plans To Replace Its Gadget-Building Unhappy Human Workforce With 1 Million Robots -- Popular Science

For some people, this story about robot workers taking human jobs may be good news.
Foxconn, the Taiwan-based factory firm that makes nearly half the world’s electronics, aims to replace 1 million of its workers with robots within in the next three years, the company announced over the weekend. The factory bots will reduce labor costs and improve efficiencies, the company’s founder, Terry Gou, told the Xinhua news agency. And they will be unable to take their own lives.

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