science + technology news

Robot Cannon Kills 9, Wounds 14 (UPDATE)

October 19, 2007

The South African National Defence Force “is probing whether a software glitch led to an antiaircraft cannon malfunction that killed nine soldiers and seriously injured 14 others during a shooting exercise on Friday.”

See correction to this story in news service. – Ed.

Robot care bears for the elderly

February 21, 2002

Robot bears watch over elderly residents in the world’s first hi-tech retirement home in Osaka, Japan.
The bears monitor patients’ response times to spoken questions and how long they spend performing various tasks, alerting staff where appropriate via a local area network.

Robot cars get ready to roll

May 7, 2012


You may soon be sharing the road with intelligent, self-driving cars that promise to save time, fuel, cut traffic jams and prevent accidents.

In the US, laws are already being debated, and approved, to allow the vehicles to drive themselves on regular roads. In the US state of Nevada, for example, the government has begun to draft a set of regulations that will allow these vehicles on… read more

Robot cars rev up for the city

November 16, 2006

Sebastian Thrun and his team at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory are ready to try in-car artificial intelligence, developed for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Grand Challenge last year, on city streets in the ultimate test of robot cars.

Next year’s DARPA Urban Challenge will pit robot racers against each other in negotiating a 60-mile course through a simulated city environment.

Robot cars will race in real traffic

October 4, 2006

The first 11 teams for the Urban Grand Challenge, a race in which robot cars will jostle with real ones along mocked-up city streets, have been announced.

The teams must construct autonomous vehicles to navigate an unfamiliar urban environment in the shortest time possible.

Robot climbs walls

August 5, 2010

The ROCR Oscillating Climbing Robot developed by University of Utah mechanical engineer William Provancher and colleagues can climb carpeted walls efficiently using two hook-like claws, a motor and a tail that swings like a grandfather clock's pendulum. Weighing only 1.2 pounds and measuring 12.2 inches wide by 18 inches long, it has potential uses for surveillance, inspection, maintenance, teaching engineering and even as a toy. (William Provancher, University of Utah)

Wielding two claws, a motor and a tail that swings like a grandfather clock’s pendulum, a small robot named ROCR (“rocker”) built by University of Utah robot developers scrambles up a carpeted, 8-foot wall in just over 15 seconds — the first such robot designed to climb efficiently and move like human rock climbers or apes swinging through trees.

The motor that drives the robot’s tail and a curved, girder-like… read more

Robot Code of Ethics to Prevent Android Abuse, Protect Humans

March 19, 2007

The government of South Korea is drawing up a code of ethics to prevent human abuse of robots and vice versa.

The Robot Ethics Charter will cover standards for robotics users and manufacturers, as well as guidelines on ethical standards to be programmed into robots.

The document will also deal with legal issues, such as the protection of data acquired by robots and establishing clear identification and traceability… read more

Robot combined with swallowable camera could give docs a better look inside the small intestine

May 31, 2005

A Carnegie Mellon University engineer is developing a set of legs that could be incorporated into the swallowable camera-in-a-pill that has become available in the past four years for diagnosing gastrointestinal disorders in the small intestine.

The legs will form a tripod that could stop the capsule’s movement through the intestine, giving doctors a chance to take a closer look, or crawl as if it were an inchworm to… read more

Robot Consumers, Grow Up!

November 9, 2007

“Someday the robots will rise up and kill us all. They’ll record our lives, obliterate our privacy, set off nuclear war, and eventually turn on us and eat our brains. If any of this ever did happen, it would serve us right. We, at least American consumers, don’t deserve the future that robots really have to offer.”

Robot controls a person’s arm using electrodes

November 17, 2011

LIRMM robot

A robot that can control both its own arm and a person’s arm to manipulate objects in a collaborative manner has been developed by Montpellier Laboratory of Informatics, Robotics, and Microelectronics (LIRMM) researchers, IEEE Spectrum Automation reports.

The robot controls the human limb by sending small electrical currents to electrodes taped to the person’s forearm and biceps, which allows the robot to command the elbow… read more

Robot Dials 9-1-1

April 21, 2008

University of Massachusetts Amherst researchers have designed a two-wheeled robot, known as uBOT-5, as a in-home caregiver.

It has two arms capable of picking up small objects, using a stethoscope, and even dialing 9-1-1. Sensors near its video-screen head can figure out if someone has fallen.

It can also remind people to take their medication, pick up packages, do some cleaning and shopping, and even administer virtual house… read more

Robot DJs

June 28, 2012


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.”

“Shimi is designed to change the way that people enjoy and think about their music,” said Professor Gil Weinberg, director of Georgia Tech’s Center for Music… read more

Robot doctor gets thumbs-up from patients

May 12, 2004

Fifteen mobile video robo-docs, manufactured by InTouch Health, have been placed in hospitals and nursing homes nationwide, allowing a doctor to check on patients from another building or another country, via the Internet and wireless links.

Eighty percent of the patients taking part in a Johns Hopkins study thought the robo-doc would increase accessibility to their physician, while 76 percent believed having the robot available would permit physicians to… read more

Robot dogs race to be soldier’s best friend

September 26, 2007

DARPA has selected six university research teams to compete to develop the best algorithms for controlling a robot puppy called LittleDog.

The goal is to identify the best adaptive strategy for moving over irregular surfaces.

The robot has three motored joints on each leg, and its movements are controlled precisely by an on-board computer. An internal gyroscope lets the robot sense its orientation, while an external motion-capture system… read more

Robot driving companion brings emotion to navigation

November 2, 2009

Audi, Nissan, and Pioneer are working on dashboard robotic devices that are sensitive to a driver’s moods, behavior, and habits and can offer reminders (such as failure to buckle a seat belt) and information (such as GPS-based route suggestions).

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