November 23, 2009

MIT Building Robotic Cheetah


Sangbae Kim, a robotic designer and professor at the Biomimetic Robotics Lab at MIT, is trying to build a lightweight carbon-fiber-foam composite robotic cheetah. Kim is hoping that the robocat will be able to run at a speed of 35 mph, the same as its real life counterpart. Check out his site for previous projects Stickybot, Spinybot and iSprawl.

Via Trend Hunter

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November 20, 2009

Carl, the Roborat


UC Irvine Scientist Jeffrey Krichmar and former Hollywood animatronics engineer Brian Cox have teamed with UC San Diego to produce CARL with a computerized rodent brain. The programming is based on the brains of real rats and was designed to analyze how they interact when learning through a "biologically plausible nervous system." Put in situations where they have to adapt, the team is hoping that this will bring a better understanding of human behavior and robots that will need decision making skills.


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November 18, 2009

"Beyond AI" Sees Robot Takeover as a Good Thing


While many see a robotic takeover as a bad thing, Dr. J. Storrs Hall, head of the Foresight Institute, sees it as a plus. The molecular nanotechnology expert has outlined 4 classes of them in "Beyond AI", here with fake species names.

  • Robo insectis: rote, mechanical gadgets (or thinkers) with hand-coded skills, such as Roomba or industrial robots or automated call-center systems or dictation programs.

  • Robo habilis: Rosie the housemaid robot level intelligence, able to handle service level jobs in the real world but not a rocket scientist.

  • Robo sapiens: up to and including rocket scientists, AI researchers, corporate executives, any human capability.

  • Robo googolis: a collection of top R. sapiens wired together in a box running at accelerated speed, equivalent to, say, Google (the company and the search engine together.)

We are all for his hypohumans, diahumans, epihumans, and hyperhumans, even if the names are difficult to pronounce. You can read more of his thoughts on his site.

Via Foresight Institute

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November 11, 2009

Cyborg Astrobiologists to Tend Mars?


Patrick McGuire, a University of Chicago geoscientist, believes that "cyborg astrobiologists" could be sent into space where no human has gone before. His team uses a Hopfield neural network to compare data found on other planets. At this point, the wearable AI system with digital eyes can already identify lichen from rock by color, but McGuire has future plans to be able to differentiate texture. Since this may not make to Mars any time soon, the cyborgs could be used on Earth for a while to identify materials that may have come from beyond and landed on our mere planet.

Via Wired

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November 9, 2009

MSU Swims With the Fishes


More robotic fish are in the news as Xiaobo Tan and Elena Litchman of Michigan State University have gotten funding to research their patrolling bots. A 9" yellow perch prototype is already swimming in Tan's tank. The finished product will have sensors to record temperature, oxygen content, pollutants and algae. Litchman claims, "It will bring environmental monitoring to a whole new level." Yeah, unless a robotic shark has the munchies.

Via Physorg

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November 2, 2009

Braundo Wins NASA Challenge


Offer half a mill and eventually someone will win the prize. Such was the case with Braundo, a robot with conveyor belt and scoops that won NASA's third Regolith Excavation Challenge. Built by Worcester Polytechnic Institute students, the bot dug across an artificial lunar field and deposited over 440kg of fake lunar dirt. While NASA was only expecting 260kg, Braun certainly earned its $500,000.00 prize.

Via New Scientist

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Robotic Patient Used To Train H1N1 Workers

As is often the case in Japan, if you want people to take notice, you develop a robot for the cause. In this instance, a life-size humanoid was built for training health care workers how to respond to the H1N1. On display at the Security and Safety Trade Expo (RISCON) in Tokyo, the robotic patient sweats, cries, moans, goes into convulsions and, if the workers don't perform correctly in time, stops breathing. We wonder how many times he had to 'die' before they got it right.

Via Pink Tentacle

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October 28, 2009

Slovenian Robot Hits the Slopes

This video of a skiing robot seems to be making the rounds ski circuit. Made of two computing systems, one for vision and GPS purposes, the other for steering and stability, the Slovenian bot from the Jozef Stefan institute will be used to test equipment and for building virtual reality models.

Via Make:

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October 26, 2009

SMARTHAND 'Feels' Like Real One

Researchers from Italy and Sweden have teamed to devise the first artificial hand that can actually feel. The SMARTHAND (smart bio-adaptive hand prosthesis) works by attaching human nerve endings to tiny electronic sensors. The recipient of the hand was a 22 year-old man who lost his own to cancer.


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October 22, 2009

Robotic Cockroach Falls Wa-a-y Down, Keeps on Trucking

The UC Berkeley's Biomimetic Millisystems Lab has decided that the world (and/or the military) needs a better robot cockroach. Made out of cardboard and polymer, the 4" DASH (Dynamic Autonomous Sprawled Hexapod) can be built in an hour and moves at 5 ft. per second, which is equal to 15 body lengths. Its 6 legs run via DC motor and a servomotor is responsible for turns. The thing that really creeps us out is the fact that DASH can fall 92 feet and keep going.

Via UC Berkeley

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