January 7, 2010

Avatars Aid Canadian HIV Patients


Canada's Montreal University has a new program that helps HIV patients get through their treatment with a virtual clinic. VIH-TAVIE utilizes avatars with names like Marc, Martin and Isabelle to help those that are ill during their daily lives as well as dealing with side effects of drugs. Those involved claim that the program helps them keep more in control of their illnesses.

Via Montreal University

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January 6, 2010

DASH, the Robotic Cockroach

There certainly seems to be a trend of robotic insects of late, maybe because they will last longer than humanoids. UC Berkeley created the Dynamic Autonomous Sprawled Hexpod that can jump over objects twice its height and can be dropped off a four story building and move on. Run by a remote control for now, the 4" DASH was built with simple materials like a mixture of cardboard and polymer, watch batteries and inexpensive electronic parts from Radio Shack.

Paul Birmeyer, the student who created DASH, claims that these cheapo roachbots could go into rubble and seek out survivors by sniffing for carbon dioxide which would indicate that there may be life.

Via SF Gate

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December 28, 2009

Jason Captures Underwater Volcano


Scientists from the Woods Hoke Oceanographic Institution managed to capture a volcano in action in the Pacific, about 4,000 ft. below its surface with the help from Jason, a remote controlled underwater robot. The high definition video is the first shot in the last 25 years and shows that what is spewing out of the West Mata volcano is boninite lava, thought to have only been present on extinct volcanoes. Interestingly enough, the team managed to find some shrimp in the same area and will be studying their DNA.


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December 22, 2009

ProDigits and Tengion Make Headlines

Touch Bionics ProDigits are now available to the public. The bionic fingers can grab and pick up objects as they are controlled with myoelectric sensors that register muscle signals from the palm or other finger. They can alternately be used with a pressure sensitive switch from a force resistive sensor. The company also developed Bluetooth technology so that the motor functions can be fine tuned.

At the same time, Tengion has been working on making organs by using a person's cells and grows them in about 5 to 7 weeks over scaffold that biodegrades after it has been implanted. We caught Tengion at work during a recent episode of 60 Minutes that showed not only a Neo-bladder and an artificial heart, but a finger as well. Pretty cool stuff.

Via Touch Bionics

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December 21, 2009

Scarlet Knight Completes Voyage


We have been following Rutger's Scarlet Knight since it first began its second trek in May and we are pleased to announce that it made a successful journey from New Jersey to Baiona, Spain. Using only a battery and ocean currents to travel the 4,600 miles, the yellow glider collected information on currents, salt levels and temperature. It seems that the SK is retiring and will be put on display at the Smithsonian.

Via Rutgers

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December 16, 2009

Eureqa Uses Data to Calculate Equations

Eureqa, developed by the Computational Synthesis Lab at Cornell University, is a descendant of the starfish robot that was able to repair itself. This artificial intelligence program examines any data on a spreadsheet, then suggests equations to fit them. Amazingly enough, it calculated some of Newton's equations in mere hours rather than years. Head of the team, Dr. Hod Lipson, hopes to use it for figuring out interactions between proteins, genomes and cell signals in mathematical terms. By the way, Cornell has generously offered Eureqa in the form of a free download.

Via Cornell

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December 3, 2009

Toyota Plans Robots for Moonwalking


Maybe because they are having recall problems in their cars, Toyota is concentrating more on their robotic skills. Their Partner Robots and rover were formally introduced during a "Realization of Moon Exploration Using Advanced Robots by 2020." Note the upgrades that will include spring-loaded jumping mechanisms, exchangeable arms and back-mounted solar chargers.

Via Get Robo

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December 1, 2009

Beam Me Up, KAIST


KAIST engineers at HuboLab built HUBO FX-1 to assist the elderly and/or infirm. The 2m tall oversized chair resembles the command center on the Enterprise, weighs 150kg and can carry up to 100kg. It walks forward, backwards, and sideways, and is controlled by a built-in joystick. The company is working on getting it to climb stairs as well as increase its speed.

Via Plastic Pals

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Freedom Leg Replaces Crutches

Forward Mobility is seeking to make crutches obsolete. The Washington based company started out making bikes in the 90s and has moved on to medical mobility products such as a seated scooter and collapsible wheelchair. Their latest device is the Freedom Leg that allows the user to do what he/she has to while the weight is transferred to the upper leg.

Via Freedom Leg

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November 24, 2009

Atlantis Utilizes Giant Arm

Atlantis launch.jpg

Atlantis successfully reached the ISS last week in one of the last of 6 projects from NASA. During its flight, four of the crew used a 50 ft. long robotic arm and orbiter boom sensor system to make sure the spacecraft wasn't injured during its flight.


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