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Robotics

Packs of Robots Will Hunt Down Uncooperative Humans 395

Ostracus writes "The latest request from the Pentagon jars the senses. At least, it did mine. They are looking for contractors to 'develop a software/hardware suite that would enable a multi-robot team, together with a human operator, to search for and detect a non-cooperative human subject. The main research task will involve determining the movements of the robot team through the environment to maximize the opportunity to find the subject ... Typical robots for this type of activity are expected to weigh less than 100 Kg and the team would have three to five robots.'" To be fair, they plan to use the Multi-Robot Pursuit System for less nefarious-sounding purposes as well. They note that the robots would "have potential commercialization within search and rescue, fire fighting, reconnaissance, and automated biological, chemical and radiation sensing with mobile platforms."
Biotech

Using Magnets To Turn Off the Brain's Speech Center 269

An editor for the Telegraph, Roger Highfield, recently volunteered to allow a UK researcher to shut off the speech center of his brain with a high-powered magnetic pulse. Regular speech is controlled by a section of the brain called Broca's area. Once the precise location is determined in the subject, a magnetic pulse can temporarily disrupt speech without impairing other cognitive functions. The link contains a video in which you can watch Highfield stutter and twitch while attempting to recite a nursery rhyme. A later test shows that he's able to sing the rhyme without difficulty, since singing is controlled in a different part of the brain (as you may remember from Scott Adams' speech disorder). Researchers believe that the ability to stimulate or quell activity in specific areas of the brain may help in treating conditions like epilepsy and migraine headaches.

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