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Robotics

Foxconn Replacing Workers With Robots 526

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the human-workers-sent-to-protein-bank dept.
redletterdave (2493036) writes The largest private employer in all of China and one of the biggest supply chain manufacturers in the world, Foxconn announced it will soon start using robots to help assemble devices at its several sprawling factories across China. Apple, one of Foxconn's biggest partners to help assemble its iPhones, iPads, will be the first company to use the new service. Foxconn said its new "Foxbots" will cost roughly $20,000 to $25,000 to make, but individually be able to build an average of 30,000 devices. According to Foxconn CEO Terry Gou, the company will deploy 10,000 robots to its factories before expanding the rollout any further. He said the robots are currently in their "final testing phase."
Robotics

Are Tethers the Answer To the Safety Issues of Follow-Me Drone Technology? 88

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the drone-kept-trying-to-escape dept.
Hallie Siegel (2973169) writes Camera-equipped follow-me drone technology is hitting the scene in spades, promising extreme sports enthusiasts and others amazing aerial shots. Imagine, your own dynamic tripod that follows you on command. But what about the safety issue of having follow-me drones crowding the ski slopes? The tethered Fotokite addresses these concerns while sidestepping FAA regulations.
Robotics

By 2045 'The Top Species Will No Longer Be Humans,' and That Could Be a Problem 553

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the kill-all-humans dept.
schwit1 (797399) writes Louis Del Monte estimates that machine intelligence will exceed the world's combined human intelligence by 2045. ... "By the end of this century most of the human race will have become cyborgs. The allure will be immortality. Machines will make breakthroughs in medical technology, most of the human race will have more leisure time, and we'll think we've never had it better. The concern I'm raising is that the machines will view us as an unpredictable and dangerous species." Machines will become self-conscious and have the capabilities to protect themselves. They "might view us the same way we view harmful insects." Humans are a species that "is unstable, creates wars, has weapons to wipe out the world twice over, and makes computer viruses." Hardly an appealing roommate."
Robotics

In Düsseldorf, A Robot Valet Will Park Your Car 120

Posted by timothy
from the stephen-king-is-taking-notes dept.
stephendavion (2872091) writes In Germany, high tech has come to airport parking. Last week, Düsseldorf airport (DUS) introduced robot valets to take the hassle out of parking for travelers. Travelers can leave their cars at the arrival level of the ParkingPLUS structure. As they leave, they confirm on a touch-screen that no one is in the car. The robot valet, nicknamed "Ray," takes it from there. The robot measures the vehicle, picks it up with a forklift-like system, and takes it to the back area, where it will position it in one of the 249 parking spots reserved for automated valets. The machine is capable of carrying standard cars weighing up to 3.31 tons.
Biotech

Researchers Create Walking, Muscle-Powered Biobots 33

Posted by samzenpus
from the franken-bot dept.
Zothecula writes If you're going to deploy robots in biological settings – for example, inside the body – it makes a lot of sense to build those robots out of actual biological body parts. Muscle, for example, is a very effective, biodegradable replacement for an electric actuator that can run in a nutrient-rich fluid without the need for any other power source. Bio-robotics experts in Illinois have demonstrated a bio-bot built from 3-D printed hydrogel and spinal muscle tissue that can "walk" in response to an electrical signal. Their next step will be trying to incorporate neurons that can get the bot walking in different directions when faced with different stimuli.
AI

Intelligent Autonomous Flying Robots Learn and Map Environment As They Fly 37

Posted by timothy
from the learning-as-they-go dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this story about a machine-learning project out of the UK's University of Sheffield: Using simple drones the researchers have created automatic-control software that enables the "flying robot" to learn about its surroundings using a camera and an array of sensors. The robot starts with no information about its environment and the objects within it. But by overlaying different frames from the camera and selecting key reference points within the scene, it builds up a 3D map of the world around it. Other sensors pick up barometric and ultrasonic data, which give the robot additional clues about its environment. All this information is fed into autopilot software to allow the robot to navigate safely, but also to learn about the objects nearby and navigate to specific items.
Books

Update Your Shelf: BitLit Offers Access To Ebook Versions of Books You Own 82

Posted by timothy
from the ink-is-kind-of-a-committment dept.
First time accepted submitter Peter Hudson (3717535) writes Cory Doctorow writes on boingboing.net "BitLit works with publishers to get you free or discounted access to digital copies of books you own in print: you use the free app for Android and iOS to take a picture of the book's copyright page with your name printed in ink, and the publisher unlocks a free or discounted ebook version. None of the Big Five publishers participate as yet, but indies like O'Reilly, Berrett-Koehler, Red Wheel Weiser, Other Press, Greystone, Coach House, Triumph, Angry Robot, Chicago Review, Dundurn, and PM Press (publishers of my book The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow) are all in."
Technology

Automated Remote Charging for Your Flying Drones (Video) 30

Posted by Roblimo
from the aerial-drones-as-automated-traffic-law-enforcers-are-(sadly)-inevitable dept.
The Skysense website says, 'Save time and manage your drone operations remotely: whenever the batteries run out, land on a Skysense Charging Pad and take off as soon as the batteries are recharged. Without ever leaving the office.' That certainly sounds convenient. Since it looks like everybody and her dog is jumping on the flying drone bandwagon, the next step is obviously charging the things without human intervention. We're talking about battery-powered ones, of course, like the multicopter drones that are starting to be used for things like pipeline inspection, mapmaking, and security alarm response. Sadly, using drones for beer delivery is currently against the law in the USA, as are the Burrito Bomber and the much-ballyhooed Amazon Prime Air drone delivery system. All this may change in the next few years as the FAA figures out how to regulate the many commercial drones that will inevitably be zipping through our skies, landing on pads to recharge themselves, and continuing their missions without human intervention. The next step in drone automation will probably be using driverless ground vehicles as drone launching and control stations. Shockingly, there aren't a dozen Kickstarter projects raising money to build automated ground support systems for automated flying drones already, but surely they'll show up before long. (Alternate Video Link)
Intel

Intel Offering 3-D Printed Robot Kits 26

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-don't-think-he-knows-I've-got-a-right-to-exist dept.
jfruh writes Intel is developing a series of robot kits for hobbyists, ranging from "Jimmy", a $1,500 "social robot," to a more robust $16,000 model. The robots are powered by Intel x86 chips, are programmable, and can have exoskeletons parts produced at home by 3-D printers. From the article: "The two-legged Jimmy will be one in a line of robots that Intel hopes do-it-yourself enthusiasts will embrace, developing more functionality for the robots, which will be able to handle tasks such as turning on lights, picking up newspapers and even having conversations, researchers said at the Intel Future Showcase 2014 in New York City Tuesday. Intel and its robotics partners will sell kits with servo motors, batteries, boards, a frame and other internal parts. Using 3D printers, users can create robot designs and place them on the exoskeleton."
Android

Google I/O 2014 Begins [updated] 49

Posted by samzenpus
from the hot-off-the-presses dept.
Google I/O, the company's annual developer tracking^wdevelopers conference, has opened today in San Francisco. This year the company has reduced the number of conference sessions to 80, but also promised a broader approach than in previous years -- in other words, there may be a shift in focus a bit from Google's best known platforms (Chrome/Chrome OS and Android). Given its wide-ranging acquisitions and projects (like the recent purchase of Nest, which itself promptly bought Dropcam, the ever smarter fleet of self-driving cars, the growing number of Glass devices in the wild, and the announcement of a 3D scanning high end tablet quite unlike the Nexus line of tablets and phones), there's no shortage of edges to focus on. Judging from the booths set up in advance of the opening (like one with a sign announcing "The Physical Web," expect some of the stuff that gets lumped into "the Internet of Things." Watch this space -- updates will appear below -- for notes from the opening keynote, or follow along yourself with the live stream, and add your own commentary in the comments. In the days to come, watch for some video highlights of projects on display at I/O, too. Update: 06/25 17:41 GMT by T : Updates rolling in below on Android, wearables, Android in cars, Chromecast, smart watches, etc.Keep checking back! (Every few minutes, I get another chunk in there.)
Medicine

Otherlab Working on a 'Fundamental Jump' in Technology for Exoskeletons (Video) 36

Posted by Roblimo
from the was-it-a-man-or-was-it-a-robot? dept.
"Otherlab," says their projects page, "is a private Research and Development company with a number of core competencies. We welcome industrial partnerships and commercialization partners. We have worked with dozens of companies globally from small start-ups to multi-nationals and Fortune 500 businesses. We develop enabling new technologies through an emphasis on prototyping coupled to rigorous physics simulation and mathematical models. We develop our own design tools because it's lonely at the frontier and to create new things and ideas, you often have to create the tools to design them." | One of their projects is building low-cost, inflatable exoskeletons that can be used as prosthetics or -- one presumes -- as strength multipliers for people who have working limbs. This is the project today's interviewee, Tim Swift, is working on. (Alternate Video Link)
Robotics

How Disney Built and Programmed an Animatronic President 97

Posted by samzenpus
from the clockwork-people dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this interesting look at how Disney created realistic animatronic figures in a time before programming languages and systems on a chip. Animatronics have powered some of sci-fi and fantasy cinema's most imposing creatures and characters: The alien queen in Aliens, the Terminator in The Terminator, and Jaws of Jaws (the key to getting top billing in Hollywood: be a robot). Even beloved little E.T.—of E.T.: the Extra-Terrestrial—was a pile of aluminum, steel, and foam rubber capable of 150 robotic actions, including wrinkling its nose. But although animatronics is a treasured component of some of culture's farthest-reaching movies, it originated in much more mundane circumstances. According to the Disney archives, it began with a bird.

Among the things Walt Disney was renowned for was bringing animatronics (or what he termed at the time Audio-Animatronics) to big stages at his company and elsewhere. But Disney didn't discover or invent animatronics for entertainment use; rather, he found it in a store. In a video on Disney's site, Disney archivist Dave Smith tells a story of how one day in the early 1950s, while out shopping in New Orleans antique shop, Disney took note of a tiny cage with a tinier mechanical bird, bobbing its tail and wings while tweeting tunelessly. He bought the trinket and brought it back to his studio, where his technicians took the bird apart to see how it worked.
Hardware

Saurabh Narain and His Homemade Lego-Based Rubik's Cube Solver (Video) 43

Posted by Roblimo
from the round-and-round-the-little-cube-goes dept.
Here's another one Tim spotted at Maker Faire Bay Area 2014: A Rubik's Cube solver made by 12-year-old Saurabh Narain. He's in 7th grade -- and started soldering in 2nd grade and messing with Linux in 3rd grade. "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Tim asked. "An engineer..." (not that you couldn't have guessed). There may be faster Rubik's Cube solvers, and there may be slicker-looking ones, but Saurabh's is a lot more elegant, if you define engineering elegance as getting the most accomplished with the fewest possible parts, using the simplest possible design. And both of the fancier Rubik's Cuber solvers linked to in this paragraph were made by adult engineers, while Saurabh is 12. Can you imagine what he'll be like at 18? Or 28? Not that he's alone; there are lots of other engineering prodigies out there. The next 10 or 20 years are going to be amazing if we encourage young people to go into STEM, and even 5% of them are as smart as Saurabh. (Alternate Video Link)
Robotics

John Hawley and His Dr. Who-Inspired Robot K-9 (Video) 23

Posted by Roblimo
from the my-dog-is-doggier-than-your-dog dept.
By day John Hawley is a mild-mannered open hardware evangelist for Intel. But after hours he is the master of K-9, a robot dog he works on a little at a time. Yes, this is a Whovian thing, which is why John's K-9 looks so much like the Doctor's. But K-9 is also a pretty good dog on his/her own. No vet bills, no constant hunger, no barking at feral cats in the middle of the night, obeys every command... so maybe Dr. Who and John Hawley have the right idea when it comes to canines. Except.... aww.... my dog, Terri the Terrorist Terrier, just licked my hand. What a sweetie! Terri may not take orders from a hand-held remote, but she has a lot of other fine characteristics, including affection. K-9 is very cute in a squared-off, mechanical way, though. Hard to resist, despite a lack of soft fur and no tongue for licking his/her master's hand. (Alternate Video Link)
Robotics

Robotics Engineers: "We Don't Want To Replace Humans. We Want To Enhance Humans. 124

Posted by Soulskill
from the resistance-is-futile dept.
Lucas123 writes: 'Scientists developing smart robotic prosthetics say the lines between robots and humans is beginning to blur and that someday soon people will be able to improve their body. For example, robotic prosthetics, using a built-in computer, 100 sensors, and 17 motors, can take natural cues from a user's residual limb, giving him or her the dexterity and grace to play a piano. Robotic exoskeletons have helped people suffering from paralysis walk again and the U.S. military is just weeks away from testing a new exoskeleton. And, more than six years ago, a University of Arizona researcher who had successfully connected a moth's brain to a robot predicted that by 2022 we'll be using "hybrid" computers that run a combination of technology and living organic tissue. "By utilizing technology, you're able to improve your body beyond anything you could do in the past," said Daniel Wilson, an engineer with degrees in machine learning and robotics from Carnegie Mellon University.'
Operating Systems

Open Source Robot OS Finds Niches From Farms To Space 36

Posted by timothy
from the why-not-linux-oh-wait dept.
jfruh (300774) writes "Blue River Technology built a robot named LettuceBot that uses computer vision to kill unwanted lettuce plants in a field. Rather than build their creation from scratch, they built off of the Robot Operating System, an open source OS that, in the words of one engineer, 'allowed only a few engineers to write an entire system and receive our first check for service in only a few months.' With ROS robots starting to appear everywhere, including the International Space Station, it looks like open source may be making huge strides in this area."
Sci-Fi

The Sci-Fi Myth of Killer Machines 222

Posted by Soulskill
from the so-say-we-all dept.
malachiorion writes: "Remember when, about a month ago, Stephen Hawking warned that artificial intelligence could destroy all humans? It wasn't because of some stunning breakthrough in AI or robotics research. It was because the Johnny Depp-starring Transcendence was coming out. Or, more to the point, it's because science fiction's first robots were evil, and even the most brilliant minds can't talk about modern robotics without drawing from SF creation myths. This article on the biggest sci-fi-inspired myths of robotics focuses on R.U.R, Skynet, and the ongoing impact of allowing make-believe villains to pollute our discussion of actual automated systems."
Robotics

MIT Working On Robotic Limbs That Attach To Shoulders, Waist 12

Posted by Soulskill
from the i'll-order-a-dozen dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes: 'Following up on news that ActiveLink is building heavy-duty exoskeletons for work in nuclear plants, IEEE Spectrum reports that MIT researchers are experimenting with Supernumerary Robotic Limbs (SRLs) that attach to either the shoulder or waist. The SRLs are capable of lifting objects and bracing against solid surfaces. From the article: "The SRL watches what you're doing with your arms to decide how to move. It does that by monitoring two inertial measurement units (IMUs) that the user wears on the wrists. A third IMU sits at the base of the robot's shoulder mount, to track the overall orientation and motion of the SRL." In the future, we will all have the ability to become Doctor Octopus (minus two robo-limbs, of course).'
EU

EU Launches World's Largest Civilian Robotics Program; 240,000 New Jobs Expected 171

Posted by Soulskill
from the skynet-will-have-a-weird-accent dept.
Hallie Siegel writes: "The European Commission and 180 companies and research organizations (under the umbrella of euRobotics) have launched the world's largest civilian research and innovation program in robotics. Covering manufacturing, agriculture, health, transport, civil security and households, the initiative – called SPARC – is the E.U.'s industrial policy effort to strengthen Europe's position in the global robotics market (€60 billion a year by 2020). This initiative is expected to create over 240,000 jobs in Europe, and increase Europe's share of the global market to 42% (a boost of €4 billion per year). The European Commission will invest €700 million and euRobotics will invest €2.1 billion."
Medicine

Robots and Irradiated Parasites Enlisted In the Fight Against Malaria 84

Posted by samzenpus
from the closer-to-the-cure dept.
First time accepted submitter einar.petersen (1178307) writes "Sanaria is a biotechnology company that has developed a new malaria vaccine. To produce the vaccine Sanaria cultivates mosquitos in a sterile environment and infects them with Plasmodium falciparum. When the mosquitos are chock-full of Pf sporozoites, the company irradiates them to weaken the parasites. Workers then herd up the mosquitos, chop off their heads and squeeze out their salivary glands, where the parasites prefer to live the better to port over to the mosquito’s next victim. They retrieve the weakened parasites from these tiny glands, filter out other contaminants and gather them up into an injectable vaccine. Sanaria’s method faces the additional challenge that dissecting the little buggers is tedious. Researchers can dissect 2-3 mosquitos an hour, which is nowhere near enough to mass-produce a global vaccine. So two years ago, Sanaria began working with the Harvard Biorobotics Lab to develop a robot that could do the work faster."

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