Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Next-Generation Supercomputers

Illustration: George Retseck 

Next-Generation Supercomputers -- IEEE 

Supercomputers are now running our search engines and social networks. But the heady days of stunning performance increases are over. Supercomputers are the crowning achievement of the digital age. Yes, it's true that yesterday's supercomputer is today's game console, as far as performance goes. But there is no doubt that during the past half-century these machines have driven some fascinating if esoteric pursuits: breaking codes, predicting the weather, modeling automobile crashes, simulating nuclear explosions, and designing new drugs—to name just a few. And in recent years, supercomputers have shaped our daily lives more directly. We now rely on them every time we do a Google search or try to find an old high school chum on Facebook, for example. And you can scarcely watch a big-budget movie without seeing supercomputer-generated special effects. So with these machines more ingrained than ever into our institutions and even our social fabric, it's an excellent time to wonder about the future. Will the next decade see the same kind of spectacular progress as the last two did? Alas, no.

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My Comment: An excellent report on the next generation of supercomputers. Read it all.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Meet Kuratas, The Million Dollar Robot Which Weighs Four Tons

Rush hour: If you have grown weary of a traditional commute Kuratas is fully functioning on the road - but will not get you to work any faster as its top speed barely hits 7 mph

Dial Carefully! Meet Kuratas, The Million Dollar Robot Which Weighs Four Tons, Shoots When You Smile And Is Controlled By iPhone -- Daily Mail

* Robot unveiled in Japan today will go on sale for £900,000
* Kuratas can be controlled by motion sensor technology in the one-man cockpit or through any phone with a 3G connection
* As well as auto targeting your enemy it is easy for those looking for sweet vengeance - the robot's heavy artillery fires 6,000 bullet per minute when the pilot smiles

A Japanese electronics company has unveiled a 13ft super-robot which can be controlled by an iPhone.

But be careful with the jokes if you are on the phone to the pilot as the robot, made by Suidobashi Heavy Industry in Tokyo, brings a whole new meaning to ‘trigger-happy’.

'Kuratas' is fitted with a futuristic weapons system, including a gatling gun capable of shooting 6,000 BB bullets a minute, which fires when the pilot smiles.

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My Comment:
The Japanese and their robots always make me smile.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Robotic Hand Also Doubles As A Human Exoskeleton

Festo's robotic ExoHand also works as a human augmentation device.

Sophisticated Robotic Hand Also Doubles As A Human Exoskeleton -- Singularity Hub

It may be time to jettison the notion that robots in the future will have grippers or claws for hands. The German robotics company Festo recently unveiled the ExoHand, a sophisticated robotic hand that is capable of the fine motor skills that allows the human hand to have a delicate touch or perform complex manipulations.

The ExoHand comes in two forms: as the extremity of a robotic arm or a wearable exoskeleton glove. The system is designed so that the glove can aid assembly line workers performing repetitive tasks with their hands or be used for the remote manipulation of the robotic arm by a user wearing the glove.

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Monday, July 9, 2012

The Closest Robotic Legs Have Ever Gotten To Mimicking Human Gait



Video: The Closest Robotic Legs Have Ever Gotten To Mimicking Human Gait -- Popular Science

Getting a robot to walk is doable. Getting it to walk exactly like a human? Not so easy. But now we're getting there, with researchers from the University of Arizona unveiling a first-of-its-kind set of biologically accurate robot legs.

To make it possible, researchers set up a fake half-center, a simple neural network of two neurons that fire interchangeably, producing the rhythm of human walking, while sensors in the robot send feedback about its environment. Researchers believe babies might operate on a similar half-center system, even before they walk, and that a half-center might be what provides a framework for people with spinal cord injuries to re-learn how to walk.

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My Comment:
Getting better with each new development.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

A Music-Robot Companion

Shimi, a musical companion developed by Georgia Tech’s Center for Music Technology, recommends songs, dances to the beat and keeps the music pumping based on listener feedback. (Credit: Image courtesy of Georgia Institute of Technology)

Musical Robot Companion Enhances Listener Experience -- Science Daily

ScienceDaily (June 26, 2012) — Wedding DJs everywhere should be worried about job security now that a new robot is on the scene.

Shimi, a musical companion developed by Georgia Tech's Center for Music Technology, recommends songs, dances to the beat and keeps the music pumping based on listener feedback. The smartphone-enabled, one-foot-tall robot is billed as an interactive "musical buddy."

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My Comment: Wow .... they have gone a long way on enhancing our appreciation for music.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Google Creates A "Computer Brain"

There's a certain grim inevitability to the fact that the YouTube company's creation began watching stills from cat videos

Google Creates 'Computer Brain' - And It Immediately Starts Watching Cat Videos On YouTube -- Daily Mail

* 16,000 processors create brain-style 'neural network'
* Network learns by itself to identify cat faces
* Works with pool of 10 million images from YouTube

Google has created an 'artificial brain' from 16,000 computer processors, and sat it down with an internet connection.

There's a certain grim inevitability to the fact that the YouTube company's creation began watching stills from cat videos.

The team, led by Google's Dr Jeff Dean, used the 16,000 processor array to create a brain-style 'neural network' with more than a billion connections.

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My Comment: I am not a "cat person".

Friday, June 22, 2012

Remembering Alan Turing, The Father Of The Computer



Remembering Alan Turing At 100 -- Endgadget

Alan Turing would have turned 100 this week, an event that would have, no doubt, been greeted with all manner of pomp -- the centennial of a man whose mid-century concepts would set the stage for modern computing. Turing, of course, never made it that far, found dead at age 41 from cyanide poisoning, possibly self-inflicted. His story is that of a brilliant mind cut down in its prime for sad and ultimately baffling reasons, a man who accomplished so much in a short time and almost certainly would have had far more to give, if not for a society that couldn't accept him for who he was.

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More News On Alan Turing

Alan Turing, the father of the computer, is finally getting his due -- Washington Post
Alan Turing 100: Visionary, war winner ... game maker? -- The Register
Alan Turing: the short, brilliant life and tragic death of an enigma -- The Guardian
Centenary of the birth of WWII code breaker Alan Turing -- BBC
Happy 100th birthday, Alan Turing -- MSNBC
The Enigma of Computing's Lost Genius -- Wall Street Journal
Alan Turing: The experiment that shaped artificial intelligence -- BBC
How to Pass the Turing Artificial Intelligence Test -- Wired Science
LEGO Turing Machine Is Simple, Yet Sublime -- Underwire
What was Alan Turing's greatest contribution? -- BBC
Alan Turing: Is he really the father of computing? -- BBC

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Robots Get A Feel For The World

Like the human finger, the group's BioTac® sensor has a soft, flexible skin over a liquid filling. (Credit: USC)

Robots Get A Feel For The World: Touch More Sensitve Than A Human's -- Science Daily

ScienceDaily (June 18, 2012) — What does a robot feel when it touches something? Little or nothing until now. But with the right sensors, actuators and software, robots can be given the sense of feel -- or at least the ability to identify different materials by touch.

Researchers at the University of Southern California's Viterbi School of Engineering published a study June 18 in Frontiers in Neurorobotics showing that a specially designed robot can outperform humans in identifying a wide range of natural materials according to their textures, paving the way for advancements in prostheses, personal assistive robots and consumer product testing.

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My Comment: This has many real world applications.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

More News On The Super-Computer Wars

The Sequoia: This grey slab is just part the most powerful computer on the planet, and will be used in nuclear power research, with perhaps a game or two of chess on the side

U.S. Reclaims Top Spot In Super-Computer Wars With Machine That 'Can Do More In An Hour Than The World's Population Working Non-Stop For 320 Years' -- Daily Mail

* IBM's 'Sequoia' beats Japan's 'K machine', running 1.55 times faster while being 15 per cent more energy efficient
* Computer - which is nearly 300,00 times faster than machines from 20 years ago - will be used for nuclear studies

In the super-computing league table, the U.S. has reclaimed 'top spot' from Japan.

IBM's Sequoia computer, which is 1.55 times faster than Japan's previous record-breaker, the Fujitsu K Computer, was installed and switched on at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

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My Comment: Impressive speeds .... and they are still getting faster.

Swarms Of Cyborg Insect Drones Are The Future Of Military Surveillance

Fingertip: The US Air Force unveiled insect-sized spies 'as tiny as bumblebees' that could not be detected and would be able to fly into buildings

Is That Really Just A Fly? Swarms Of Cyborg Insect Drones Are The Future Of Military Surveillance -- Daily Mail

The kinds of drones making the headlines daily are the heavily armed CIA and U.S. Army vehicles which routinely strike targets in Pakistan - killing terrorists and innocents alike.

But the real high-tech story of surveillance drones is going on at a much smaller level, as tiny remote controlled vehicles based on insects are already likely being deployed.

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My Comment: This is impressive tech, and an indication on what the future in surveillance will be all about.

Monday, June 18, 2012

IBM Supercomputer Sequoia Overtakes Fujitsu As World's Fastest


IBM Supercomputer Overtakes Fujitsu As World's Fastest -- BBC

IBM's Sequoia has taken the top spot on the list of the world's fastest supercomputers for the US.

The newly installed system trumped Japan's K Computer made by Fujitsu which fell to second place.

It is the first time the US can claim pole position since it was beaten by China two years ago.

Sequoia will be used to carry out simulations to help extend the life of aging nuclear weapons, avoiding the need for real-world underground tests.

It is installed at the US Department of Energy's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.

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More News On Livermore’s Sequoia Supercomputer Earning The Number #1 Rank As The World's Fastest

California Nuke Simulator Is World’s Most Powerful Computer -- Wired
IBM supercomputer overtakes Japan's Fujitsu as world's fastest -- Tech Spot
US regains top spot for fastest supercomputer -- AFP
IBM's Sequoia is the world's fastest supercomputer -- The Guardian
IBM's Sequoia Supercomputer is Now the World's Fastest Computing Machine -- Popular Science
NNSA Sequoia supercomputer takes worlds fastest title, prevents nuclear testing -- Endgadget
Nuclear weapons supercomputer reclaims world speed record for US -- The Telegraph
With 16 petaflops and 1.6M cores, DOE supercomputer is world’s fastest -- Ars Technica

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Quantum Computers Move One Step Closer

Image Caption: SFU physicist Mike Thewalt and grad student Kamyar Saeedi with a sample of highly isotopically enriched silicon - its unique properties could advance quantum computing. Credit: SFU

Quantum Computers Move One Step Closer -- Red Orbit

The quantum computer is a futuristic machine that could operate at speeds even more mind-boggling than the world’s fastest super-computers.

Research involving physicist Mike Thewalt of Simon Fraser University offers a new step towards making quantum computing a reality, through the unique properties of highly enriched and highly purified silicon.

Quantum computers right now exist pretty much in physicists’ concepts, and theoretical research. There are some basic quantum computers in existence, but nobody yet can build a truly practical one—or really knows how.

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My Comment: Bottom line .... are are still a long way from having a real quantum computer.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A Rat Is Still Smarter Than Google

Clever - but still learning: Google Navigation, pictured here on an Android phone, is a clever, intelligent-seeming system - but it is still just code, following instructions

Why Google Is Nowhere Near As Clever As A Rat - But One Day, Even Your Smartphone Will Be Smarter Than You -- Daily Mail

* Clever technology such as Google is still powered by rote-learning and pattern-matching, say AI researchers...
* ...But over the next 30 years, super-computers will become smarter, cheaper, and smaller

Google has spent the last 15 years becoming smarter and smarter, learning how to power our lives - from our homes, our cars, our phones.

But - and with apologies to founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin - all of that work is still no match to the intelligence of a common rat.

Or taking it further, even a gnat.

The point was made by artificial intelligence researchers Yann LeCun and Josh Tenenbaum, who were not criticising the search engine, just pointing out how much further we have to go until we can create computers which contain - or at least, perfectly mimic - intelligent life.

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My Comment: We have made progress .... but we definitely still have a long way to go before an AI platform is smarter than a rat.

Robot Ethics: Morals And The Machine



Robot Ethics: Morals And The Machine -- The Economist

As robots grow more autonomous, society needs to develop rules to manage them

IN THE classic science-fiction film “2001”, the ship’s computer, HAL, faces a dilemma. His instructions require him both to fulfil the ship’s mission (investigating an artefact near Jupiter) and to keep the mission’s true purpose secret from the ship’s crew. To resolve the contradiction, he tries to kill the crew.

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My Comment
: As advancements in robots and drones continue to develop .... the issue on how to manage them will become more important .... especially robots and drones with military applications. But we better move fast .... because that time is fast approaching

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Robots Go To War


March Of The Robots -- Economist

Robotics: From reconnaissance to bomb-defusal to launching attacks, military robots are on the march, raising knotty ethical quandaries.

IN THE early afternoon of August 18th 2008, a reconnaissance unit of about 100 French paratroopers, accompanied by a small number of Afghan and American soldiers, was ambushed by a similarly sized Taliban force in the Uzbin Valley, not far from Kabul. Ten French soldiers were killed in fighting that continued into the night—France’s biggest loss since it sent soldiers to Afghanistan in 2002. But it might have been avoided had the unit had a single aerial-robot scout, says Gérard de Boisboissel, a specialist on military robots at the French army’s Saint-Cyr military academy. That assessment, shared by many, led to a retooling of France’s armed forces. Today drones, also called unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), routinely accompany even small French units.

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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Meet ROBOT-Rx



Meet ROBOT-Rx, The Robot Pharmacist Doling Out 350 Million Doses Per Year -- Singularity Hub

Come to think of it, why do we still have pharmacists? I mean, how hard is it to count by “twos”? I’m just kidding of course. You probably want that extra pair of human eyes to check on your prescription. But after the pharmacist has double-checked the prescription and answered your questions, why not let robots count the pills out for them?

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My Comment: It's only a matter of time before 'robot pharmacists' become standard issue.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Could Sarcastic Computers Be in Our Future?

Noah Goodman, right, and Michael Frank, both assistant professors of psychology, discuss their research at the white board that covers the wall in Goodman's office. (Credit: L.A. Cicero)

Could Sarcastic Computers Be in Our Future? New Math Model Can Help Computers Understand Inference -- Science Daily

ScienceDaily (May 30, 2012) — In a new paper, the researchers describe a mathematical model they created that helps predict pragmatic reasoning and may eventually lead to the manufacture of machines that can better understand inference, context and social rules.

Language is so much more than a string of words. To understand what someone means, you need context.

Consider the phrase, "Man on first." It doesn't make much sense unless you're at a baseball game. Or imagine a sign outside a children's boutique that reads, "Baby sale -- One week only!" You easily infer from the situation that the store isn't selling babies but advertising bargains on gear for them.

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My Comment: I guess it all comes down to the math and programming.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Darpa Is Still Developing Robots



Meet ‘Robbie’: Darpa’s Seeing, Feeling, Two-Armed Robot -- Danger Room

It’s only been three months since the Pentagon’s latest robot — the one able to staple paperwork and answer phone calls with a single autonomous arm — demonstrated some of those amazing skills. Now, the freaky humanoid ‘bot is back. And this time, he has two arms. And a name.

Meet Robbie. This particular robot was designed by RE2, a robotics firm in Pittsburgh, which showed him off to IEEE Spectrum at their International Conference on Robotics and Automation last week. RE2 was one of six teams initially contracted by Darpa, the Pentagon’s robo-loving research agency, to work on their Autonomous Robotic Manipulation (ARM) program. Launched two years ago, the program aims to develop robots that can perform complex tasks with minimal input from their human overlords.

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My Comment: I guess this program stems from the military's dream of having their terminator robots.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

When Creative Machines Overtake Man



When Creative Machines Overtake Man -- Kurzweil Artificial Intelligence

Machine intelligence is improving rapidly, to the point that the scientist of the future may not even be human! In fact, in more and more fields, learning machines are already outperforming humans. As noted in this transcript of a talk at TEDxLausanne on Jan. 20, 2012, artificial intelligence expert Jürgen Schmidhuber isn’t able to predict the future accurately, but he explains how machines are getting creative, why 40‚000 years of Homo sapiens-dominated history are about to end soon, and how we can try to make the best of what lies ahead.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Robots Building Robots (Or At Least Parts Of Robots)



Intelligent Design: Scientists Create Robot Which Can Build Its Own Tools -- Daily Mail

It sounds like a bad sci-fi film: A group of scientists build an robot intelligent robot, give it the ability to build its own tools, and arm it with a gun.

Thankfully, while the first part is true, the gun on this occasion is just a glue gun.

Still, the reality of a tool-building robot is a scary enough thought, with the team from the science and technology university ETH Zurich building a robot which can built its own tools to carry out its missions.

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My Comment:
news like this always makes me wonder on where is all of this heading to in the next decade or two.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Morphing Robots and Shape-Shifting Sculptures

This graphic illustrates the creation of morphing robot-like mechanisms and shape-shifting sculptures from a single sheet of paper in a method reminiscent of origami, the Japanese art of paper folding. The robotic and artistic designs are made up of building blocks called "basic structural units," or BSUs. Each BSU contains two segments joined by a creased hinge, and many BSUs are linked together to create larger structures. (Credit: Purdue University)

Morphing Robots and Shape-Shifting Sculptures: Origami-Inspired Design Merges Engineering, Art -- Science Daily

ScienceDaily (May 21, 2012) — Researchers have shown how to create morphing robotic mechanisms and shape-shifting sculptures from a single sheet of paper in a method reminiscent of origami, the Japanese art of paper folding.

The new method, called Kaleidogami, uses computational algorithms and tools to create precisely folded structures.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Telerobotics Wil Make It Possible For Robots To Explore The Surface Of Mars

Awaiting Commands Three generations of Mars rovers, seen at JPL's test site. The small one is the first Mars rover, Sojourner, which landed on Mars in 1997. On the left is a Mars Exploration Rover Project test rover that is a working sibling to Spirit and Opportunity, which landed on Mars in 2004. On the right is a Mars Science Laboratory test rover the size of Curiosity, which is on course for landing on Mars in August. NASA/JPL-Caltech

With Telerobotics, Astronauts Orbit Mars While Robots Explore the Surface -- Popular Science

Humans could avoid the dangers of landing on Mars.

Getting humans to Mars is a challenge in several steps, with the most difficult and dangerous likely to be the descent. Landing safely on another world is hard for a rover, let alone a spacecraft carrying people. But telerobotics could offer a unique alternative — send the people to the planet, but keep them in orbit, and deploy robots to the surface to do the difficult stuff.

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My Comment: You probably can use robots to explore the surface of Mars .... but lets face it .... having a living person is far more "exciting and attention grabbing" than having a machine do it.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Can We Trust Killer Robots?

The X-47B, the Navy's prototype for an unmanned strike plane. The aircraft may eventually be able to set off on a flight plan, identify targets and fire weapons. Northrup Grunmman

Could We Trust Killer Robots? -- Wall Street Journal

A drone may never have a sense of morality, but it might perform better than a human soldier in sparing the innocent.

In the year 2015, somewhere over the tribal territories of Pakistan, an American MQ-9 Reaper drone patrols a complex "kill zone"—an area of terrorist activity in which large numbers of civilians are also present. But on this mission, the drone isn't piloted from afar. It's on its own.

The aircraft moves closer to gather information about a potential target. Infrared cameras, heat sensors and other tools of surveillance determine whether the target is indeed a militant, examining, for instance, whether he seems ready to attack. The drone's computer system ranks the suspect on a scale from -1 (a noncombatant) to +1 (a confirmed combatant). Having determined that no children or other civilians are in the vicinity, and that everything else is in order, it chooses a weapon and fires. It then assesses the damage and either fires again or, if the enemy is dead, continues its patrol.

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My Comment: Such weapon systems will perform according to what their designers plan .... so yes .... we can trust them .... but to a point .... more specifically .... those who program such systems are the ones who will be held accountable if things go wrong.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Memristors: A Different Kind Of Computer Memory Chip

Memristors employing more "exotic" materials will probably make it into devices first

Memristors In Silicon Promising For Dense, Fast Memory -- BBC

Researchers have revealed details of a promising way to make a fundamentally different kind of computer memory chip.

The device is a "memristor", a long-hypothesised but only recently demonstrated electronic component.

A memristor's electronic properties make it suitable for both for computing and for far faster, denser memory.

Researchers at the European Materials Research Society meeting now say it can be made much more cheaply, using current semiconductor techniques.

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My Comment: New materials .... new advances.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Paralysed Woman Uses Brain Power Alone To Take Control Of A Robotic Arm



Paralysed Woman Uses Mind To Control Robotic Arm -- The Telegraph

A paralysed woman has used brain power alone to take control of a robotic arm and lift a bottle of coffee to her lips after a pioneering operation.

For the first time in 15 years the woman was able to raise the bottle, take a sip and place it back on a table simply by imagining herself doing so.

The feat was possible thanks to a brain implant which translates the patient's thoughts into commands to be carried out by a free-standing robotic arm.

Doctors said the experiment proved that so-called "brain-computer interfaces" could dramatically improve the lives of paralysed people by enabling them to carry out simple tasks like eating and drinking independently.

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My Comment: Impressive.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

China Pushes To Have Supercomputers

China's Tianhe-1A is the second most powerful supercomputer in the world. Photo: Nvidia

Intel Feeds China’s Supercomputers With New Xeon Chip -- Wired Enterprise

China took the world by surprise last year when it unveiled a previously unknown supercomputer called the Sunway BlueLight MPP. It’s one of the world’s top supercomputers and here’s the kicker: It uses ShenWei SW-3 microprocessors that are made in China.

Now, Intel has introduced a new Xeon chip that could provide Chinese companies with an incentive to stick with Intel, already the top provider of microprocessors to supercomputers worldwide. The chip, called the E5-4600, essentially fuses four Xeon chips and as many as 32 processor cores into one package that is more efficient at shipping around data between various parts of the computer.

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My Comment:
China`s push into supercomputers should surprise no one.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

U.S. Army Wants To Give War Robots More Power To 'Make Their Own Decisions'

Giving war robots 'autonomy' sparks fears of independent killing machines similar to Arnold Schwarzenegger's The Terminator

What Could Possibly Go Wrong? U.S. Army Wants To Give War Robots More Power To 'Make Their Own Decisions' -- Daily Mail

* Trucks that 'drive themselves' already under test
* Military is testing 'autonomous' robots that follow soldiers
* Robots will use laser-imaging to build their own 3D image of the world
* Will be 'supervised' by soldiers

Armies of robots including dog-like creatures walking on four legs and huge lumbering trucks are the stuff of science fiction - specifically, bleak films such as The Terminator series.

But the U.S. military not only wants more robots - it wants more 'autonomous' robots, robots free to make their own decisions on the battlefield.

A new robot is described as 'like a dog' that follows troops on the battlefield - and future models will use technologies such as laser imaging to build their own picture of the world.

Read more ....

Update #1: U.S. military embraces robots with greater autonomy -- Reuters
Update #2: Factbox: U.S. military robot systems in development -- Reuters

My Comment: Science fiction becoming reality .... albeit slowly.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Robots And Other Tech To Evacuate Wounded Soldiers (Maybe)

Airmule

Wanted: Robots To Evacuate Wounded Soldiers -- Popular Mechanics

A Pentagon study looks at the future technology for evacuating wounded soldiers, including UAV rescuers, human hibernation, and more.

On the battlefield of the future, a wounded soldier could be scooped up by a robot, placed in a specially equipped drone, and then flown to the closest manned-medical center, where he or she is diagnosed with automated equipment that can deliver treatment without human intervention. Of course, that brings up the question: If robots can do all that, will there be human soldiers on the battlefield?

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My Comment: A summary of what is in the works.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mind-Controlled Robot Unveiled

The robot that can be controlled by the brainwaves of a paraplegic person wearing an electrode-fitted cap Photo: Alain Herzog / EPFL

Mind-Controlled Robot For Paraplegics Unveiled -- The Telegraph

A robot that can be controlled by the brainwaves of a paraplegic person wearing an electrode-fitted cap has been unveiled.

A paralysed man at a hospital in the Swiss town of Sion demonstrated the device, sending a mental command to a computer in his room, which transmitted it to another computer that moved a small robot 37 miles away in Lausanne.

The system was developed by Jose Millan, a professor at the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne who specialises in non-invasive interfaces between machines and the brain.

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Robots That Can Be Blown Up But Keep On Working

Bombs Away Click here to get a bigger view of this amazing image. Reuters/Saad Shalash

The Robots That Can Be Blown Up and Keep On Detecting IEDs -- Popular Science

The homemade bombs known as IEDs accounted for 60 percent of all U.S. military injuries in Iraq and have killed more than 21,000 Iraqi civilians. Last November, a month before the last U.S. troops departed, Iraq’s federal bomb squad paraded with bomb-disposal robots in Baghdad. QinetiQ North America has sold 16 of the $100,000 remote-controlled Talons to the Iraqi police.

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My Comment: Better robots than our dedicated soldiers.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Should We Blame Robots For Mistakes On The Battlefield?

Credit: Human Interaction with Nature and Technological Systems Lab / University of Washington

Should Robots Be Blamed For Battlefield Mistakes? -- Discovery News

If a robot in combat accidentally kills a civilian, who is to blame?

This isn't as straightforward of a question as it sounds. A team of scientists presented a study at the International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction and found that although robots don't have free will, people sometimes treat them as if they do.

The researchers had 40 undergraduate students play a scavenger hunt game with a human-like robot named Robovie. The robot was controlled remotely, but it appeared autonomous to the students.

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My Comment: I would blame both .... and if the programmers did their jobs properly .... the majority of the blame should then be on the human operators.

Friday, April 20, 2012

This Person's Job Is To Build Robots


Roboticist: This Is My Job -- Popular Mechanics

As a 12-year-old, Matt Bunting built robots that chased his cat around the house. Now, here's professional roboticist making machines inspired by biology.

When Matt Bunting was 12, he began building robots—simple rovers driven by remote control. His parents were supportive of his hobby, but one member of the household wasn't so thrilled. "I'd make the rovers chase after my cat," Bunting says. "It would hide, so I had to make a robot to invade its privacy!" His robots became more sophisticated, and when he got to the University of Arizona, he built a hexapod with artificial intelligence. Bunting's professor offered him a job in the Robotics and Neural Systems Lab, where the 25-year-old now creates robots inspired by biology. "I knew that this was what I wanted to do, and now I'm doing it," he says. "It's incredible."

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My Comment: Lucky guy .... but I suspect that there is a lot of pressure on him.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Why Drones Will Not Be Taking Over Our Wars (For Now)

Live Fighters Aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge, pilots play a key role in shows of force and complex missions. Even as drones become integrated into the fleet, pilots will lead. U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tommy Lamkin

The Human Element -- Popular Science

Why drones won't be taking over our wars anytime soon.

Early in 2008 on the Black Sea coast, a Georgian drone flying over the separatist enclave of Abkhazia transmitted an instantaneous artifact from the age of human flight—the video record of its own destruction by an attacking fighter jet. What happened that day was born of incendiary post-Soviet politics. The Kremlin backed Abkhazia and was furious that Georgia had bought surveillance drones to watch over the disputed ground. Georgia’s young government flaunted its new fleet, bullhorning to diplomats and to journalists like me what the drones were documenting of Russia’s buildup to war. I remember the Georgian bravado. We have drones. Ha! We have arrived. Tensions led to action. Action came to this: A Russian MiG-29 intercepted one of Georgia’s unmanned aircraft, an Israeli-made Hermes 450, which streamed live video of the fighter swinging into position. The jet pilot fired a heat-seeking missile. Viewed on the drone operator’s screen down below, the missile grew larger and its exhaust plume grew longer as it rushed near. Then the screen went fuzzy. Georgia’s drone was dead.

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My Comment
: Drones may not be taking over our wars now .... but the trend is shifting to that goal.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Robot Prostitutes?

Photo: SEX TOURISM: Are sex robots the future, like in Steven Spielberg's AI Artificial Intelligence?

Robot Prostitutes 'The Future Of Sex Tourism' -- Sydney Morning Herald

The future of sex tourism lies in robot prostitutes, two New Zealand researchers have theorised.

Management professor Ian Yeoman, a futurist with an interest in tourism, and sexologist Michelle Mars from Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, have looked to how red light districts might operate in the year 2050.

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My Comment: Probably a discount will be involved (for the robots).

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

US Navy’s New Drone Is A Mine Hunter

Photo from Defense Tech

US Navy’s New Drone Hunts Mines Wherever They Hide -- Gizmodo

The US Navy is building a fleet of mine-hunting ships that investigators say aren’t all that hot at finding mines. So in the coming years, those ships are going to get drone supplements to dive deep below the sea to spot the underwater weapons. Think of ‘em as pairs of robotic glasses.

This is a scale model of the Navy’s newest drone sub, called the Knifefish. Manufactured by General Dynamics, the Navy unveiled it for the first time on Monday at its annual Sea Air Space convention just outside Washington DC.

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More News On The US Navy's Newest Drone

U.S. Navy and General Dynamics Unveil Model of Minehunting, Heavyweight UUV -- Defpro
General Dynamics and U.S. Navy introduce model of unmanned, minehunting, undersea vehicle -- Military & Aerospace
Navy Will Give Nearsighted Minehunter Robotic Glasses -- Danger Room
Navy unveils unmanned undersea mine hunter for the littoral combat ship -- al.com
Meet the Navy’s Knifefish Mine-Hunting Robot -- Defense Tech

Monday, April 16, 2012



Climbing Stairs And Push Ups: The Latest Advancements To The Military Robot (And Family) Designed To Replicate A Human -- Daily Mail

What could be more intimidating than a military-crafted robot? How about one that can walk on two legs and in its latest advancement, do push ups and climb stairs?

With funding by the US Department of Defense's Advanced Research Project Agency the walking two-legged PETMAN humanoid robot has been advanced to do just that - and quite possibly faster than many Americans can, while certainly not expressing their fatigue.

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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Building A Supercomputer That Will Simulate The Entire Mind

(Click on Image to Enlarge)

Scientists To Build 'Human Brain': Supercomputer Will Simulate The Entire Mind And Will Help Fight Against Brain Diseases -- Daily Mail

* The 'brain' will take 12 years to build
* It will feature thousands of three-dimensional images built around a semi-circular 'cockpit'

The human brain’s power could rival any machine. And now scientists are trying to build one using the world’s most powerful computer.

It is intended to combine all the information so far uncovered about its mysterious workings - and replicate them on a screen, right down to the level of individual cells and molecules.

If it works it could be revolutionary for understanding devastating neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and even shedding light into how we think, and make decisions.

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My Comment:
12 years to build .... hmmmm .... faster please.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Artificial Intelligence Will Soon Be Passing The Turing Test



Artificial Intelligence Could Be On Brink of Passing Turing Test -- Wired Science

One hundred years after Alan Turing was born, his eponymous test remains an elusive benchmark for artificial intelligence. Now, for the first time in decades, it’s possible to imagine a machine making the grade.

Turing was one of the 20th century’s great mathematicians, a conceptual architect of modern computing whose codebreaking played a decisive part in World War II. His test, described in a seminal dawn-of-the-computer-age paper, was deceptively simple: If a machine could pass for human in conversation, the machine could be considered intelligent.

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My Comment:
Some would say that we are there already.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Quantum Walkers Have Now Been Created

Quantum computing will revolutionise the speed and performance of computers. Credit: Macquarie University

Quantum Walk Towards New Supercomputers -- Cosmos

LONDON: Quantum walkers, which are single sub-atomic quantum particles that can be made to travel on a two-dimensional grid, have been created in a new step towards quantum walker-based quantum computing.

Imagine trying to isolate a single sub-atomic quantum particle that you can't see, with no mass and no charge, that will readily pop in and out of existence, and then make it travel through a virtual dot-to-dot grid obeying a strict set of rules.

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Creating a Quantum Computer

IBM's 2-D Superconducting Qubit Mounted on a Chip IBM Research via Flickr

How It Would Work: Creating a Quantum Computer -- Popular Science

A working, large-scale quantum computer is still a decade away, but researchers are currently turning a critical corner from theory to building the first small quantum systems.

Silicon semiconductors have taken us a dazzling distance along the computing road. But even if they continue unabated to get faster and more powerful (and it’s growing more difficult to make that happen) there’s a limit to what classical computing can do.

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My Comment: A Quantum computer is still a long way-off .... but we are getting there.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Most Convincing 'Robot Woman' Ever



Living Doll? 'Geminoid F' Is Most Convincing 'Robot Woman' Ever - She Has 65 Facial Expressions, Talks And Even Sings -- Daily Mail

It may only be a matter of months before boy bands and teen actresses are replaced by robots - after a talking, singing fem-bot with 65 facial expressions wowed crowds in China.

Geminoid F can produce smiles and even enigmatic, quizzical expressions, using mechanical actuators underneath her rubber 'skin'.

Her creator says his goal is to create a robot that can fool people into believing it's a human being.

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My Comment: Yup .... they are getting better every year.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

DARPA Wants Humanoid Robots

DARPA's Robotics Challenge is a contest to design robots for dangerous disaster relief situations from natural or industrial disasters. (Credit: DARPA)

Disaster Zone Robot Competition Announced By Pentagon -- BBC

A competition to develop next-generation robots capable of saving lives in disaster zones has been unveiled by the Pentagon's advanced research laboratory.

Darpa says it wants "adaptable robots with the ability to use human tools - from hand tools to vehicles".

It plans to hold a series of emergency response physical challenges.

A $2m (£1.3m) prize is being offered to the team with the best technology. The competition begins in October.

The agency says it hopes software engineers, video game developers and other experts from fields outside robotics will take part "to increase the diversity of innovative solutions".

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More News On DARPA's Quest For A Humanoid Robot

US military offers millions for the first humanoid robot -- MSNBC
Seeking Robots to Go Where First Responders Can’t -- New York Times
DARPA Wants Humanoid Robots That Can Drive Tractors, Open Doors and Save the Day -- Popular Science
DARPA: Build us robots that drive -- and use power tools -- CNET
DARPA Seeking to Build (Friendly) Terminators -- PC Mag
The U.S military wants YOU, to build a humanoid robot -- Ubergizmo
DARPA Challenge Seeks Robots To Drive Into Disasters -- Information Week
DARPA wants rescue robots, offers $2M prize -- TG Daily
Humanoid Robots DARPA Hopes Will Save Human Lives -- Atlantic Wire
DARPA's Next Grand Challenge - Humanoid Robots -- The Future Of Things
DARPA's next Grand Challenge to focus on humanoid robots -- Endgadget
Pentagon eyes 'human like' handyman robots: But why? -- RT

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Real World Of Robots Does Not Match Fantasy

Robot Realities Fail Fictional Fantasies -- BBC

Our mental fantasy of what a robot should look like is so clouded by movies that many of us would struggle to identify a real one, writes Quentin Cooper.


Gort in the original The Day The Earth Stood Still; Bender from Futurama; the huge Talos in Jason & The Argonauts; Robby in Forbidden Planet; the Gunslinger in Westworld; Huey, Dewey & Louie in Silent Running; ED-209 from Robocop, and the (admittedly obscure) Yo-Yo in 70s TV series Holmes & Yo-Yo. They’re just a few of my favourite film robots, and that’s without bringing in androids, replicants, cyborgs or semi-sentient computers.

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My Comment: No 'terminator robots' running around in the near future.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Radio Telescope Will Be Powered by $43-Million IBM Supercomputer


Radio Telescope Square Kilometer Array Will Be Powered by $43-Million IBM Supercomputer -- Sci Tech Daily

The world’s largest telescope will be the Square Kilometer Array, and when it starts peering into radio waves emanating from the skies, it will generate 1,000,000 terabytes of data each day. All of this data needs to be processed, and IBM is building a supercomputer to handle it.

1,000,000 terabytes, or one exabyte, is a lot of information, and it will be generated by 15,000 small antennas and 77 larger stations. The main focus of the Square Kilometer Array is to shed light on the origins of the Big Bang. One exabyte a day, that’s twice as much information as there is traffic on the Internet each day.

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My Comment: I can see the line-up of radio astronomers waiting to get their hands on the data from this project.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Here Comes The Humanoid Robots

As if existing robots, like the Army's Battlefield Extraction Assist Robot (BEAR), weren't humanoid enough -- Darpa wants next-gen robots to resemble us even more. Photo: U.S. Army

Military Wants Humanoid Robots In The Driver's Seat -- MSNBC/Innovation

New job demands include steering a vehicle and climbing a ladder.

A U.S. military agency once focused on self-driving robot cars has turned its attention to humanoid robots that could roam tomorrow's battlefields. An upcoming announcement suggests the military wants robots that can steer a vehicle from the driver's seat, use a key to open a locked door, climb a ladder and perform handyman repairs.

The robots must also have the brains to carry out their jobs with only loose supervision from humans, based on the unofficial leak of a new Grand Challenge for humanoid robots hosted by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Such details emerged from a talk by Gill Pratt of DARPA at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency's Industry Day held on March 20, according to the robotic news portal Hizook.

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More News On The U.S. Military wanting Humanoid Robots

DARPA seeks humanoid robots in Grand Challenge -- CNET
Darpa’s Next Grand Challenge: Build Us Lifelike, Humanoid Robots -- Danger Room
Humanoid Robot Creation Becomes New Focus for DARPA -- Tech & Biz
DARPA Wants Humanoid Robots That Can Drive Tractors, Open Doors and Save the Day -- Popular Science
Pentagon eyes 'human like' handyman robots: But why? -- RT
DARPA's next Grand Challenge to focus on humanoid robots -- Endgadget
The U.S military wants YOU, to build a humanoid robot -- Ubergizmo
New DARPA Grand Challenge to make humanoid robots -- Next Big Future

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

When AI Machines Overtake Man



When Creative Machines Overtake Man -- Kurzweilai

Machine intelligence is improving rapidly, to the point that the scientist of the future may not even be human! In fact, in more and more fields, learning machines are already outperforming humans. As noted in this transcript of a talk at TEDxLausanne on Jan. 20, 2012, artificial intelligence expert Jürgen Schmidhuber isn’t able to predict the future accurately, but he explains how machines are getting creative, why 40‚000 years of Homo sapiens-dominated history are about to end soon, and how we can try to make the best of what lies ahead.

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My Comment: The above video is a must see. Enjoy .... and be concern.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The U.S. Army's Mechanical Mule Is Too Noisy



Mechanical Mule Makes Itself Sort Of Useful -- Strategy Page

April 1, 2012: The U.S. Army's latest design of, well, a mechanical mule for the infantry spent the last three months being tested in Afghanistan. Four of these vehicles were sent there to operate with the troops. The SMSS (Squad Mission Support System) is a six wheeled, 1.7 ton vehicle that can carry 544 kg (1,200 pounds) of cargo and will follow whoever is carrying its controller and can operate by itself for short distances.

The SMSS had passed most of its tests in the United States and was then used by some troops with combat experience. There it was discovered that the vehicle was too noisy for patrol work (which is what infantry spent most of their time doing out in the bush). The noise issue was noted earlier, the manufacturer reduced it somewhat and added the capability to run very quietly for a short while. But this was not enough because troops in the field noted that even with no engine noise, the sound of the vehicle moving and breaking branches as it moved was enough to alert any nearby enemy.

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My Comment: The number one problem with this tool in the battlefield is noise .... a problem that is not going ot be solved soon.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

How Machine Intelligence Is Evolving

Marcus du Sautoy with one of Luc Steels's language-making robots. Photograph: Jodie Adams/BBC

AI Robot: How Machine Intelligence Is Evolving -- The Guardian

No computer can yet pass the 'Turing test' and be taken as human. But the hunt for artificial intelligence is moving in a different, exciting direction that involves creativity, language – and even jazz.

'I propose to consider the question "Can machines think?"' Not my question but the opening of Alan Turing's seminal 1950 paper which is generally regarded as the catalyst for the modern quest to create artificial intelligence. His question was inspired by a book he had been given at the age of 10: Natural Wonders Every Child Should Know by Edwin Tenney Brewster. The book was packed with nuggets that fired the young Turing's imagination including the following provocative statement:

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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Faster Than 50 Million Laptops

The Cray Jaguar supercomputer can perform more than a million billion operations per second. It takes up more than 5,000 square feet at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the United States. In 2009 it became the fastest computer in the world.

Faster Than 50 Million Laptops -- The Race To Go Exascale -- CNN

(CNN) -- A new era in computing that will see machines perform at least 1,000 times faster than today's most powerful supercomputers is almost upon us.

By the end of the decade, exaFLOP computers are predicted to go online heralding a new chapter in scientific discovery.

The United States, China, Japan, the European Union and Russia are all investing millions of dollars in supercomputer research. In February, the EU announced it was doubling investment in research to €1.2 billion ($1.6 billion).

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My Comment
: Now that is fast.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Telepresence Robots Will Soon Join Doctors On Their Rounds

CtrlWorks' Telepresence Puppet CtrlWorks

Telepresence Robots Will Join Doctors on Their Rounds in Singapore Next Month -- Popular Science

Deploying telepresence robots in a medical setting isn’t exactly a new notion, but a Singapore-based startup is easing the technology into the clinical setting in a clever way. While other telepresence platforms have largely focused on allowing doctors to examine patients and oversee care remotely, CtrlWorks envisions its Puppet as more of a remotely piloted assistant that will reduce doctor workloads, dutifully taking down case notes and filing them in the proper places as a doctor makes his rounds. And next month at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital in Singapore it will get a chance to prove its value.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

AI Expert Ben Goertzel On Coast To Coast Radio

AI Expert Ben Goertzel On Coast To Coast Radio March 28 -- Kurzweilai

AI expert Dr. Ben Goertzel will be on Coast to Coast AM on March 28, talking about his work in AI and its applications in areas like financial prediction, gaming, and radical life extension. He will also discuss creating benevolent superhuman AI.

Dimitar Sasselov, Professor of Astronomy at Harvard University, will discuss thbreakthroughs in synthetic biology and exoplanetary astronomy, and how they will shed new light on our place in the universe.

The show airs nationwide nightly at 1am-5am EDT/10pm-2am PDT.

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Can We Build Robots With Morals?

Artificial Intelligence Pioneer: We Can Build Robots With Morals -- Jewish World Review

Like it or not, we're moving computers closer to autonomy.

Judea Pearl, a pioneer in the field of artificial intelligence, won the Association for Computing Machinery's A.M. Turing award earlier this month, considered the highest honor in the computing world.

Pearl developed two branches of calculus that opened the door for modern artificial intelligence, such as the kind found in voice recognition software and self-driving cars.

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My Comment: I am sure that we can build boundaries/morals for robots to function .... but then again .... we can also build robots with morals that are not to our liking.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Military Robot Shaves Human Head



Short-Circuit, Back And Sides: Military Robot Shaves Human Head -- Daily Mail

The drastic change of image that comes with having your head shaved is scary enough – but one man doubled the terror by letting a robot do the job for him.

The prototype robot was a Multi-Arm UGV (Unmanned Ground Vehicle) from U.S company Intelligent Automation Inc (IAI) in Maryland – and is designed to tackle IEDs, check backpacks for bombs and breach doors.

But on this occasion it was armed with multiple clippers to cut the hair of an IAI volunteer, who went through the ordeal to raise money for cancer charity the St. Baldrick's Foundation.

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More News On Robots Being Able To Do tasks Like Cutting Our Hair

Unmanned Robot Ties Knots and Shaves Hair, Won't Cut Off Your Head
-- PC World
Robot shaves man's head for charity -- 9News
Robot barber shaves human head for charity -- MSNBC
Robot barber shaves heads for charity -- Ubergizmo

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

U.S. Navy Opens A 'Hunger Games' Arena For Military Robots

The Tropical High Bay, part of the Laboratory for Autonomous Systems Research, is a 60' by 40' greenhouse that contains a re-creation of a southeast Asian rain forest. In the Tropical High Bay, temperatures average 80 degrees with 80 percent humidity year round. CREDIT: U.S. Naval Research Laboratory

Navy Opens 'Hunger Games' Arena For Military Robots -- Live Science

A new U.S. Navy lab can track every movement of battlefield robots as they struggle to survive arenas built to resemble scorching deserts, wave-pounded shores and tropical rain forests.

The lab's biggest environment has high-speed video cameras that automatically swivel to follow up to 50 ground robots, flying drones and even human soldiers. Such intense surveillance of man-made survival settings may remind science fiction readers of "The Hunger Games" — a popular book series turned Hollywood film(s) where "game makers" construct huge, naturalistic arenas to feature reality television displays of battles to the death.

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Update: The Navy's New Autonomous Research Lab is a 'Hunger Games' Arena for Robots -- Popular Science

My Comment: Hmmmm .... so The "Hunger Games" may not be so sci-fi afterall.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Here Comes The U.S. Navy's Robot Jellyfish



Robotic Jellyfish Fuelled By Hydrogen Invented -- BBC

Engineers in the US say they have invented a hydrogen-powered robot that moves through water like a jellyfish.

Development of the robot, nicknamed Robojelly, is in the early stages but researchers hope it could eventually be used in underwater rescue operations.

Writing in Smart Materials and Structures, Yonas Tadesse said the jellyfish's simple swimming action made it an ideal model for a vehicle.

Being fuelled by hydrogen means, in theory, it will not run out of energy.

Mr Tadesse, the lead author of the study, said: "To our knowledge, this is the first successful powering of an underwater robot using external hydrogen as a fuel source."

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More News On The US Navy's Development Of The Robot Jellyfish

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water: American scientists unleash robotic jellyfish -- Daily Mail
Jellyfish-Inspired Robot Runs on Hydrogen -- Discovery News
Robotic jellyfish may never run out of energy -- MSNBC
Ocean-powered robotic jellyfish could theoretically run forever -- Gizmag
Jellyfish inspires latest ocean-powered robot -- e! Science News
Robot jellyfish fuelled by hydrogen -- Physics World
Robot jellyfish sucks up power from the water -- New Scientist
Robojelly is a robot jellyfish -- UberGizmo
When the Earth is uninhabited, this robotic jellyfish will still be roaming the seas -- io9