As per usual, we were slightly late to attend a live viewing of the ISS as they were putting the Robonaut 2 through its paces this morning. But we can all still attend tomorrow's testing if we can just get that extra cup 'o java. See the action at Ustream.
If you are fortunate to be able to access the Discovery Center Museum before May 6 you can visit Robots: The Interactive Exhibition in Rockford, IL. Based on the 2005 movie of the same name, you can meet Rodney Copperbottom and his Rustie friends and build a robotic probe on a touchscreen monitor. There are also exhibits like MIT's Leonardo and C3PO. Tickets are $4.00/person in addition to $7.00 general admission, $3.00/person for groups (in addition to group admission to the museum) and $2.00/person for members.
Scientists from Korea and the University of California, Berkeley foresee a time when a patient can lie inside an MRI machine and a microrobot reports back by video while moving forward and backwards, making turns and corkscrewing when needed. The results of their research will be in a soon to be published Journal of Applied Physics.
A collaboration of Israel's Tel Aviv University and Boston's Brigham & Women's Hospital are working on a robotic endoscope. Admittedly inspired by the movie "Fantastic Voyage", a pill-sized robot, powered by magnetic fields, may soon be able to run through a human's stomach, although so far testing has only taken place in an aquarium. An operative model is still about 3 to 5 years away.
Robert Full and a team at UC Berkeley studied Agama lizards to see how they utilized their tails for balance when they run and jump. It seems that the reptiles needed to tilt their bodies upward to land properly. They applied this principal to their Tailbot, a wheeled lizard. The idea here is to create a robot that can jump over gaps and land safely and the team figured that the motion involved went as far back as dinosaurs. The results of their study can be found in the January 2012 edition of Nature.
Watch the video and note the subliminal glee that Full gets when he realizes that the velociraptor in the film Jurrasic Park has that same balance of body and tail.
A team from The Santa Lucia Foundation in Rome, headed by Dr. Giovanni Morone, recently completed a trial study to see if those who have a stroke can benefit from robot-assisted therapy. The study took two years and consisted of 48 nonambulant patients who became involved after 20 days from the time of the strokes. They found that using the robotic assistance helped those that had high motor impairment. If you would like to study their findings, it was published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association and can be found via the link.
A team from Harvard has developed Kilobots, swarming bots that are autonomous and controlled by algorithms. Each one is made with inexpensive materials and needs only 5 minutes to assemble. Previously tested in the areas of synchronizing, getting in formation and foraging, while most swarmers can only be used in small groups, their single user approach can control a larger collective.
The team sees their Kilobots being used in disasters to find survivors, remove contaminant objects or to monitor environments where humans can not or should not go.
NASA's Curiosity rover is well on its way to Mars after a successful launch and separation from the Atlas V rocket last Saturday. It will take almost nine months to reach the planet after it travels 354 million miles. As we mentioned last week, the car-sized rover plans to explore the planet for about 2 years. It will land inside a crater where scientists believe ice was traced to look for other signs. You just never know what form of life they might find.
NASA's most advanced space rover will lift off this Saturday and be on its way to Mars. Developed at the Jet Propulsion Lab, the $2.5 billion Curiosity will do more than look for water. Over a 2 year period of time it will be analyzing the planet's geology and atmosphere to see if there are any elements and/or chemical compound that can be found in life. Godspeed, Cur!
Last week, four ocean-going robots took off from San Francisco to journey to Hawaii. From there, they head to Australia and Japan. The wave and solar powered bots will take about 300 days to cross 33,000 miles and retrieve millions of real-time ocean data points. Funded by Richard Branson's Virgin Oceanic and Google Earth, it will set a world record for the longest autonomous ocean journey if successful.
If you want to follow their journey, you can sign up to receive updates via the Liquid Robotics link or participate in the PacX competition to propose how the information can be best used.
Mask-bot just may be the next generation of robotic faces. Inspired by Disney's projecting faces onto busts in the Disneyland Haunted Mansion, Gordon Cheng and his team of the ICS at Munich has a prototype that works behind a mask to produce a 3D image that can be viewed at various angles. One can reproduce content that comes via keyboard or text to speech, in both male and female, and the hope is that they can be developed for telepresence systems or video conferences. Walt would be proud.