187 posts tagged Robotics
Inside a laboratory in California, space engineers are designing a new generation of rover… and they look like nothing you have seen before. It’s three in the afternoon, and in their Nasa lab in Silicon Valley, California, two engineers are playing with a toy designed for toddlers. The melon-sized plaything consists of a tactile lattice of brightly painted beads, connected by wooden rods and elastic cords. It twists and flexes as Vytas Sunspiral and Adrian Agogino crunch it in their hands and throw it between themselves across the room. One online review describes the gadget as “great for sensory exploration,” but Sunspiral and Agogino are considering it for something way more ambitious: planetary exploration. This bundle of beads, rods and cords, they believe, could form the basis of a new generation of planetary rovers. “The programme that funded this bit of research, I call it the crazy ideas programme,” exclaims the fast-talking Sunspiral, a towering figure whose name, long blonde hair, beard and glasses suggest a “crazy ideas” lab in Silicon Valley is his natural environment. For obvious reasons, Nasa prefers not to use the word “crazy” in its research but includes the project under its Innovative Advanced Concepts Program. “Here, in the intelligent robotics group,” says Sunspiral, “we do all sorts of advanced research on robots.” The toy Sunspiral and Agogino are playing with uses what is technically known as a tensegrity system. “It’s a system where, unlike our buildings where everything’s held together rigidly, everything’s held together in tension,” Sunspiral explains. “So you end up with a network of cables that hold rods. You will often have seen artwork that looks like this – kind of crazy weird bars, floating in space.” (via BBC - Future - Science & Environment - Nasa’s ‘crazy’ robot lab)
Cyborg Human relationship..
When the rat turned in the correct direction, the researchers used a third wire to send an electrical pulse into what’s known as the medial forebrain bundle (MFB), a region of the brain involved in processing pleasure. Studies in humans and other animals have shown that direct activation of the MFB just plain feels good. (When the scientists gave the rats the chance to stimulate their own MFBs by pressing down on a lever, the animals did so furiously – hitting the lever as many as 200 times in 20 minutes.) So sending a jolt of electricity zinging down to a rat’s MFB acted as a virtual reward for good behaviour. (via The race to create ‘insect cyborgs’ | Science | The Observer)
As artificial intelligence continues to evolve in all sorts of freakish ways, people are coming up with odd ideas to entertain themselves before these robots inevitably become self-aware and destroy us all (thanks Terminator movies for making us forever neurotic about our future!). The website Cleverbot is a somewhat confusing online artificial intelligence that allows you to ask it questions and various other things. One guy thought it’d be fun to use Cleverbot to help him create a short film, inserting its answers into the script as he went along.
This is the final outcome, entitled Do You Love Me? It was directed by Chris R. Wilson, who set up the short film by noting, “What follows is a movie written by a machine. I tried to talk to Cleverbot just like I would with a human writing partner. I set up scenarios and Cleverbot provided all of the dialogue content for the scene.” (via Watch a Short Film Cowritten by a Robot | Movie News | Movies.com)
Researchers and engineers at a Japanese company called Different Dimensions have taken the concept of augmented reality to new heights by adding the touch of an avatar to the experience. That touch comes courtesy of a robot they’ve built that mimics commands sent from an animation generator—it’s covered with green material to allow for connecting augmented reality imagery with the real world robot. They call it a “virtual humanoid.”
Augmented reality, is of course where information is projected over real-world images in ways that cause them to seem connected. Overlaying arrows on streets to provide driving directions, is one example. Another is where a person’s name appears in a bubble next to their face. This all is made possible by donning a helmet or goggles that allow the wearer to see through to the real world, but also allows information to be projected onto the glass in front of them that appears to be physically connected to the real world objects.
In this new effort, the researchers thought it would be neat to allow for an animated human being to be projected onto a heads-up device, to create the illusion of conversing, and touching with a computer generated person, making them seem more alive. To make that happen, they created a three dimensional avatar, in software and then a green-material covered robot that exists in the real world. When a person wearing the goggles looks at the robot, they see the projected image of the avatar—in 3D, overlaid onto the robot. And as if that’s not enough, the robot can move its head, torso and arms, which means it can reach out and touch, and be touched by the person wearing the goggles as well, adding a dimension of intimacy that has never before been seen with an augmented reality device. (via New robot takes augmented reality to a new level)
A group of silkworm moths, coached by researchers at the University of Tokyo, just took a driving test. Instead of their moms’ old minivans, however, they were given another machine: a robot. The idea of all this wasn’t so much to test the robomoths’ driving capabilities — moths are notoriously aggressive drivers, after all, and their tendency to leave their turn signals on for miles on end is well-documented — but rather to test the creatures’ ingrained tracking behaviors. The idea from there was to (potentially) apply those natural impulses to man-made robots. Moths track smells effortlessly; for a robot, though, that kind of impulse is difficult to engineer. But an autonomous device that is capable of sensing smells and then tracking them to their sources — say, to identify environmental spills and leaks — could prove hugely valuable. So researchers made a makeshift robot with a styrofoam ball that functions, effectively, like a trackball mouse. They then attached moths to the device (this was, for the moths, the ostensibly the worst part of the test), converting the robot into a comically large entomological exoskeleton. The moths were then let loose. Their destination? Lady moths. Or, in this case, a female sex pheromone that acted as a fairly cruel simulation of an actual lady moth — a smell whose source was located at the opposite end of a simple obstacle course. As the moth walked toward the pheromone, the foam ball rolled accordingly, and sensors — attached to the robot’s drive motors — fired off signals according to those movements. (via Good for Science, Bad for Your Nightmares: Moths That Drive Robots - Megan Garber - The Atlantic)
Scientists have built a man from artificial limbs, and while he might not be a bionic superhero, he cost a lot less to create than The Six Million Dollar Man. One million dollar Rex – short for robotic exoskeletons – was built using the most advanced artificial limbs and organs from across the world. And he shows that from bionic arms and legs to artificial organs, science is beginning to catch up with science fiction in the race to replace body parts with man-made alternatives. In the 70s TV series The Six Million Dollar Man astronaut Steve Austin, played by Lee Majors, was left horribly injured after his craft crashed and was given a bionic arm and legs and an artificial zoom-lens eye. 6ft Rex also raises ethical dilemmas, as research on advanced prosthetic arms and legs, as well as artificial eyes, hearts, lungs - and even hybrids between computer chips and living brains - means that scientists can not only replace body parts but may even be able to improve on human abilities. This has led scientists to warn against creating a modern Frankenstein. (via Scientists build the One Million Dollar man - Telegraph)
A university-led collaboration to develop social robots has publicly unveiled its work in progress: a robotic one-year-old boy. As reported by Gizmag, the android named Diego-san is larger than a typical one-year-old child at over four feet tall and has a head developed by Hanson Robotics with a body made by the Japanese robot manufacturer Kokoro Co. With 27 moving parts in its face and cameras in its eyes, Diego-san is able to produce a range of infant-like facial expressions that will be used in the development of human interaction software. Check out the video to see whether or not you can read the bot’s emotions: (via Humanoid Robot In Development That Acts Like One Year Old | Singularity Hub)
Our world is changing faster than ever and, in recent years, a number of transformative technologies have moved from science fiction and the research and development R&D laboratory into the realm of practical application. These new technologies, combined with demographic shifts and globalisation, will have a profound impact on the future of SMEs. Who would have thought that advanced machinery and electronics such as GPS navigation tools, which only a decade ago would have seemed completely science fictional, would now be a part of our everyday lives? Even the tablet computer, prophetically shown in Kubrick’s 1968 film 2001 A Space Odyssey, was a part of the fictional world. But now we are more than familiar with the object, seeing it used for both business and entertainment purposes. It is always hard to predict the impact of technological developments, but we are already witnessing how the way we work could be transformed in the near future. (via BBC News - Viewpoint: The small business of 2063)
No longer will they say, “He’s going to end up flipping burgers.” Because now, robots are taking even these ignobly esteemed jobs. Alpha machine from Momentum Machines cooks up a tasty burger with all the fixins. And it does it with such quality and efficiency it’ll produce “gourmet quality burgers at fast food prices.” With a conveyor belt-type system the burgers are freshly ground, shaped and grilled to the customer’s liking. And only when the burger’s finished cooking does Alpha slice the tomatoes and pickles and place them on the burger as fresh as can be. Finally, the machine wraps the burger up for serving. And while you fret over how many people you invited to the barbecue, Alpha churns out a painless 360 hamburgers per hour. San Francisco-based Momentum Machines claim that using Alpha will save a restaurant enough money that it pays for itself in a year, and it enables the restaurant to spend about twice as much on ingredients as they normally would – so they can buy the gourmet stuff. Saving money with Alpha is pretty easy to imagine. You don’t even need cashiers or servers. Customers could just punch in their order, pay, and wait at a dispensing window. (via Robot Serves Up 360 Hamburgers Per Hour | Singularity Hub)