Tag Archives | Robotics

Robotic Clouds Could Help Cool 2022 Qatar World Cup (Animation)

Qatar 2022BBC Sport reports:
Scientists at Qatar University claim to have developed artificial clouds to provide shade for stadia and training grounds at the 2022 World Cup. The fierce summer heat in the Gulf has led to concerns about conditions for players and fans at the tournament. Temperatures in June and July can reach up to 50 C. Qatar were announced as hosts in December, and Fifa president Sepp Blatter initially said he expected the 2022 competition to be moved to winter. But Blatter has since stated that he feels the tournament will go ahead as planned in the summer months. Qatar plan to air condition their World Cup stadia via solar power, and now scientists have designed the 'clouds', which can be produced at a cost of $500,000 (about £310,000) each.
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Robotic Cheetah And Other Advanced ‘Terror Bots’ In Development

BigDog robot. Photo: Boston Dynamics

BigDog robot. Photo: Boston Dynamics

Discovery News reports on more nightmare-fuel for believers in the robopocalypse:

A headless metal warrior stomps towards you, shooting. Fortunately, you’ve been training for a marathon and easily jet off to safety down an alleyway. But wait -– now a metal cheeta-bot is after you, racing faster than your puny legs can go. As the space between you and the galloping beast closes, you round a corner, see a door and dive through. It slams behind you. As you freeze, holding your breath, the robotic cat passes by outside with a wake of metallic echoes.

Relieved, you exhale into the dark. A fatal mistake -– outside, another robot has detected your breath and alerted the enemy to your location …

Waking up from this nightmare is a way to save yourself, for now, but in fact all three ‘terror’ bots it featured are based on actual prototypes being developed in California and Boston (though not with directly malicious intentions).

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Robots May Get Their Own Internet

Photo: Lorenzo Natale (CC)

Photo: Lorenzo Natale (CC)

Is this the beginning of machines relying on machines? BBC News reports:

Robots could soon have an equivalent of the internet and Wikipedia.

European scientists have embarked on a project to let robots share and store what they discover about the world.

Called RoboEarth it will be a place that robots can upload data to when they master a task, and ask for help in carrying out new ones.

Researchers behind it hope it will allow robots to come into service more quickly, armed with a growing library of knowledge about their human masters.

The idea behind RoboEarth is to develop methods that help robots encode, exchange and re-use knowledge, said RoboEarth researcher Dr Markus Waibel from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.

“Most current robots see the world their own way and there’s very little standardisation going on,” he said. Most researchers using robots typically develop their own way for that machine to build up a corpus of data about the world.

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Robots Coming To An Office Near You

Gives literal meaning to "office drone": Business Week reports:
Between the global economic downturn and stubborn unemployment, the last few years have not been kind to the workforce. Now a new menace looms. At just five feet tall and 86 pounds, the HRP-4 may be the office grunt of tomorrow. The humanoid robot, developed by Tokyo-based Kawada Industries and Japan's National Institute of Advanced Industrial Sciences and Technology, is programmed to deliver mail, pour coffee, and recognize its co-workers' faces. On Jan. 28, Kawada will begin selling it to research institutions and universities around the world for about $350,000...
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Robot Wars – For Real

Robot WarsI always liked the Robot Wars organized by Mark Pauline’s Survival Research Laboratories in the ’80s and ’90s. I wasn’t the only one and eventually they graduated from cool underground happenings to a TV series (yes, I know the creators will claim that SRL was not the inspiration, but I ain’t buying it!). Now the United States military is gearing up for real life robot wars. The New York Times‘ tech expert John Markoff reports from Fort Benning, Georgia:

War would be a lot safer, the Army says, if only more of it were fought by robots.

And while smart machines are already very much a part of modern warfare, the Army and its contractors are eager to add more. New robots — none of them particularly human-looking — are being designed to handle a broader range of tasks, from picking off snipers to serving as indefatigable night sentries.

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All Singing, All Dancing Japanese Robot Debut

In case you don't have a dance partner, or need someone to star in your up and coming musical, Japan has the robot for you! From Daily Mail:
The age of robots being used in everyday homes has come a step nearer with the development of a new humanoid. And once they've done the dishes, they can join you in bop round the living room. For the catchily named HRP-4C, dubbed Divabot, which has a realistic face and moveable features, can sing too. And yesterday she showed off her neatest dance steps at an exhibition in Tokyo.
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Robots Have Been Taught How to Deceive

DecepticonsThere’s just not something right about this. Duncan Geere writes in Wired UK:

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology may have made a terrible, terrible mistake: They’ve taught robots how to deceive.

It probably seemed like a good idea at the time. Military robots capable of deception could trick battlefield foes who aren’t expecting their adversaries to be as smart as a real soldier might be, for instance. But when machines rise up against humans and the robot apocalypse arrives, we’re all going to be wishing that Ronald Arkin and Alan Wagner had kept their ideas to themselves.

The pair detailed how they managed it in a paper published in the International Journal of Social Robotics. Two robots — one black and one red — were taught to play hide and seek. The black, hider, robot chose from three different hiding places, and the red, seeker, robot had to find him using clues left by knocked-over colored markers positioned along the paths to the hiding places.

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DARPA Seeking Small Business Partners To Develop Robots

800px-DARPA_LogoHard to believe that DARPA is feeling the pinch as Obama’s never-ending wars push our national debt to unimaginable levels, but apparently they need help. Report from Fast Company:

Back in July the government identified robots as one of the R&D priorities for the 2012 budget (about a decade behind the rest of us). Now there’s a research funding round to aid small business robotic’s efforts, to build robot gear DARPA can’t manage.

The Office of Science and Technology Policy was behind July’s thinking that “Robotics is an important technology because of its potential to advance national needs such as homeland security, defense, medicine, healthcare, space exploration,” and a whole list of other purposes. The OSTP thinks it’s also a tech at “a tipping point in terms of its usefulness and versatility,” thanks to innovations in programming, hardware, and computer vision.

Now the White House has announced that five federal agencies have banded together to create a fund to spur “small business research.” Companies can apply for cash to aid work on “robot-assisted rehabilitation, robotics for drug discovery, and robots that can disarm explosive devices.” This last one is particularly revealing, given how much the U.S.

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Breakthrough In Artificial Skin With The Ability To Feel

ALeqM5hhluheFU9tOjAGiK26fxruhsyxpQThe robots of the future will have soft skin with as refined and sensitive a sense of touch as ours. Smell and taste are now the biggest hurtles in terms of replicating the human senses electronically — as of now, androids will be able to see, hear, and touch, and yet be unable to savor a juicy hamburger. Via Google, AFP reports:

Biotech wizards have engineered electronic skin that can sense touch, in a major step towards next-generation robotics and prosthetic limbs.

The lab-tested material responds to almost the same pressures as human skin and with the same speed, they reported in the British journal Nature Materials.

The “e-skin” made by Javey’s team comprises a matrix of nanowires made of germanium and silicon rolled onto a sticky polyimide film.

The team then laid nano-scale transistors on top, followed by a flexible, pressure-sensitive rubber. The prototype, measuring 49 square centimetres (7.6 square inches), can detect pressure ranging from 0 to 15 kilopascals, comparable to the force used for such daily activities as typing on a keyboard or holding an object.

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