science + technology news

Robots to rescue soldiers

March 1, 2010

The Pentagon is asking inventors to come up with designs for a robot with strong, dexterous arms and grippers to rescue injured troops, with little or no help from outside, and that can cooperate with swarms of similar machines for mass rescues.

Robots use Kinect to understand our world

July 22, 2011

Researchers at Cornell University are teaching robots to understand the context of their surroundings so that they can pick out individual objects in a room.

Microsoft’s Kinect sensor perceives real-world 3-D scenes by combining two visible-light cameras with depth information from an infrared sensor. The researchers’ algorithm learns to recognize particular objects by studying images labelled with descriptive tags such as “wall,” “floor,” and “tabletop.”

To find out… read more

Robots with insect brains

February 14, 2014

robot_insect_brain

German researchers have developed a robot that mimics the simple nervous system used for olfactory learning in the honeybee, using color instead of odors.

The researchers have installed a camera on a small robotic vehicle connected to a computer. The computer program replicates, in a simplified way, the sensorimotor neural network of the insect brain and operates the motors of the robot wheels to control its motion and direction… read more

Robots With Knives: A Study of Soft-Tissue Injury in Robotics

May 7, 2010

To find out what would happen if a robot handling a sharp tool accidentally struck a person and design and test a collision-detection system to prevent or minimize injury, Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics researchers performed a series of stabbing, puncturing, and cutting experiments.

Robots with rhythm could rock your world

March 23, 2007

A robot blob that dances “soulfully” to different tunes could pave the way for machines that interact more naturally with human beings.

It pick out the beat in a piece of music and move along in time. It can also track the rhythmic motion of a person or another object and move in time to that.

Psychologists have shown that people are more engaging when they synchronise their… read more

Robots with sensitive arms for delicate assistive tasks

May 9, 2013

With the new control method, Kemp’s robots have performed numerous tasks, such as reaching through dense artificial foliage and a cinder block representative of environments that search-and-rescue robots can encounter.

For safety reasons, robot makers have avoided contact between the robot’s arm and the world.

Now Georgia Tech and Meka Robotics researchers have developed a control method that enables a robot’s arm to make contact with objects, people, and the rest of the robot while keeping forces low.

The method  works with compliant robotic joints and whole-arm tactile sensing, and keeps the robot’s arm flexible,… read more

Robots with skin enter our touchy-feely world

April 21, 2010

For humanoid robots, a fleshy covering could be essential to making them socially acceptable, and a touch-sensitive coating could prevent such machines from accidentally injuring people.

Robot skin designs are in the works.

Robots Wrote This

August 30, 2006

Perhaps the week’s biggest and scariest robot news — certainly for journalists — was the robot reporters story.

Robots, Terrorists, and Morals

November 13, 2002

When the car carrying six Islamic terrorists was blown up recently by a Hellfire-C missle fired from a Predator RQ-1A UAV, it raised ethical questions about robots remotely controlled by humans. But what sort of reaction will we see the first time a fully autonomous robot like the X-45 UCAV engages the enemy?

“Al-Qaeda’s zealots never thought they would be fighting American robots — and losing.”

Robots: It’s an Art Thing

November 13, 2001

Thanks to genetics, the Internet and art, the line between robots and humans continues to shrink. Ken Goldberg, an associate professor of robotics at the University of California at Berkeley, is currently working on the Tele-Actor, a human being wired with Webcams and connected to the Internet so that other people can control where the actor moves.

Robots: Today, Roomba. Tomorrow…

May 11, 2004

Roomba is a first step, but there are many tasks within the home that are ripe for robotic automation, says iRobot CEO Colin Angle.

RobotVision: A Bing-Powered iPhone Augmented Reality Browser

August 31, 2009

Bing listings will appear on top of your iPhone’s camera viewer when you point at a restaurant or business, with the forthcoming iPhone RobotVision app (it will also display a view of Tweets and Flickr photos published nearby wherever you are).

Robust ‘spider silk’ matrix guides cardiac tissue regeneration

April 13, 2015

Heart tissue cells matrix ft

Genetically engineered fibers of the protein spidroin — the construction material for spider webs — are a ideal matrix (substrate or frame) for cultivating heart tissue cells, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) researchers have found, as noted in an open-access article in the journal PLOS ONE.

Regenerative methods can solve the problem of transplant rejection, but it’s a challenge to find a… read more

Rock Robots

December 31, 2010

Expressive Machines Musical Instruments, a group of University of Virginia PhD students and composers, has developed MARIE, a project to put robotic music in a form that you can easily take on the road.

Their previous project, Poly-tangent, Automatic (multi-) Monochord, is capable of creating raucous musical performances like the one below.

‘Rock-Breathing’ Bacteria Could Generate Electricity and Clean Up Oil Spills

December 15, 2009

Anaerobic bacteria from animal or human waste that survive by “iron respiration” could allow for development of new microbe-based technologies such as “bio-battery” fuel cells and agents to clean up toxic organic pollutants such as oil or uranium, scientists at the University of East Anglia have discovered.

These bacteria can construct tiny biological wires that extend through the cell walls and allow the organism to directly contact, and conduct… read more

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