Nov 13 2008

Future space missions to rely on human-robot partnership

NASA: Future space missions to rely on human-robot partnership
As astronauts push out into the expanse of space, robots will be their companions, helpers

November 12, 2008 (Computerworld) The future of space exploration will depend on humans and robots working hand in hand as manned and unmanned missions head back to the moon, to Mars and the farther expanses of space, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

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Robots have already made their way into several missions, but Carl Walz, director of advanced capabilities at NASA and a former astronaut, said that “we’re just starting to scratch the surface of these concepts. It’ll be absolutely critical. What we’re trying to do is figure out how best to incorporate human exploration and robots. I think the nature of exploration will be different [because of robots].”

Full article (via Computerworld)


Nov 12 2008

IRobot pulls in $2M from Congress

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IRobot Corp. has been given $2 million worth of Congressional support to improve development and production of its Warrior 700 robot for combat areas. The iRobot Warrior carries up to 150-pound payloads and covers inaccessible and dangerous areas with sensor readings and real-time video and audio. The robot also features a different center of gravity than previous robots, adding to its mobility, according to iRobot.

Massachusetts senators Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, as well as congressman John Tierney, pushed the defense spending as part of the Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2009, iRobot officials said.

In October, the Bedford robotics firm landed a $3.8 million research and development contract from the Army’s Tank-Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center for the delivery of two iRobot Warrior 700 platforms.

To date, the company has delivered more than 2,000 PackBot robots to military groups. The PackBot 510 with FastTac Kit is designed to protect soldiers by detecting, identifying and disabling roadside bombs and improvised explosive devices.

IRobot maintains an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity xBot contract with the Army for robot delivery that could reach $286 million. So far, these orders have hit about $67 million.

via Mass High Tech


Nov 12 2008

Meet Keiko, the newest (talking) robot for medical students

Meet Keiko, the newest (talking) robot for medical students

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Gifu University’s Graduate School of Medicine [JP] (located in central Japan) has developed a new ‘sick’ robot, which is specifically geared towards medical students.

Named Keiko (’practice’ in Japanese), the robot is able to answer questions such as ‘How are you doing?’, i.e. by saying ‘I get tired easily lately’. The interactive humanoid robot, which has been jointly developed with Mizuno Technical Institute, is meant to help medical students practice conversations with patients.

They can also use Keiko for examinations by touch, before doing the same with human beings. Keiko is specifically designed for training neurological disorders so that medical students are able to learn the various ways brain and nervous system illnesses can be identified.”

(Via CrunchGear.)


Nov 12 2008

GlowBots: Cute Robots That Learn What You Like

Another video from Stockholm University’s Mobile Life Centre in Kista, Sweden. Here we see a family of GlowBots, tiny round robots that run around and connect with each other. When you ‘select’ one robot with a pattern you like by shaking it, the robot goes on to infect other robots with the general pattern, mutating it as the pattern enters the environment. These little guys are about a year old so they’re not quite feeling well but some of them worked correctly and passed their DNA on to other robots. The project is actually based on lizard breeding.”

(Via TechCrunch.)


Nov 12 2008

ALCNON: The dancing predator robot from Japan

ALCNON: The dancing predator robot from Japan

Sony and Honda may have the most advanced robots in terms of features, but when it comes to working, human-sized robots that truly match the wild images of Japanese anime it’s hard to beat the independently created ALCNON robot. Around the height of a small child, and equipped with one creepy cyclops eye and two giant pincers for hands, the ALCNON robot made a big splash at the recent ROBO-ONE robot battle in Japan.

Displaying the ability to dance and stand up from a sleeping position, the robot is less the cuddly robot most companies want to show you and more the menacing battle droid military experts around the world are hoping to get their hands on. Check out the chilling video of ALCNON destroying his puny enemies here.

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(Via DVICE.)