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Robot With Knives Used In Robotics Injury Study 132

An anonymous reader writes "IEEE Spectrum reports that German researchers, seeking to find out what would happen if a robot handling a sharp tool accidentally struck a human, set out to perform a series of cutting, stabbing, and puncturing tests. They used a robotic manipulator arm, fitted with various sharp tools (kitchen knife, scalpel, screwdriver) and performed striking tests at a block of silicone, a pig leg, and at one point, even the arm of a human volunteer. Volunteer, really?! The story includes video of the tests."

Robot Soldiers Are Already Being Deployed 258

destinyland writes "As a Rutgers philosopher discusses robot war scenarios, one science magazine counts the ways robots are already being used in warfare, including YouTube videos of six military robots in action. There are up to 12,000 'robotic units' on the ground in Iraq, some dismantling landmines and roadside bombs, but 'a new generation of bots are designed to be fighting machines.' One bot can operate an M-16 rifle, a machine gun, and a rocket launcher — and 250 people have already been killed by unmanned drones in Pakistan. He also tells the story of a berserk robot explosives gun that killed nine people in South Africa due to a 'software glitch.'"

Texas Makes Zombie Fire Ants 398

eldavojohn writes "What do you do when a foreign species has been introduced to your land from another continent? Bring over the natural predator from the other continent. Scientists in Texas have introduced four kinds of phorid flies from South America to fight fire ants. These USDA approved flies dive bomb ants and lay an egg inside the ant. The maggot hatches and eats away juicy tender delicious ant brain until the ant is nothing more than a zombie that wanders around for two weeks before the head falls off and the ant dies. A couple of these flies will cause the ants to modify their behavior and this will be a very slow acting solution to curb the $1 billion in damage these ants do to Texas cattle ranches and — oddly enough — electrical equipment like circuit breakers. You may remember zombifying parasites hitting insects like cockroaches."

Robots Take To the Stairs 85

Singularity Hub writes "Robots can climb stairs, and they are doing it everywhere you look. 'No big deal' you say, but it really is a big deal. Five to ten years ago, almost nobody was doing it. Now grad students are doing it all by themselves for thesis projects. Check out our review of robots navigating stairs, which includes some awesome videos."

Robotic Penguins Screenshot-sm 118

Corporate Troll writes "Robotic penguins were unveiled by German engineering firm Festo this week. Using their flippers, the mechanical penguins (video) can paddle through water just like real ones, while larger helium-filled designs can "swim" through the air. The penguins are on show at the Hannover Messe Trade Exhibition in Germany. Each penguin carries 3D sonar which is used to monitor its surroundings and avoid collisions with walls or other penguins."

NASA Fashions Mountain-Climbing Robot 65

coondoggie writes "NASA researchers today said they had built and tested a robot that can rappel off cliffs, travel over steep and rocky terrain, and explore deep craters. The prototype rover, called Axel, might help future robotic spacecraft better explore and investigate foreign worlds such as Mars. On Earth, Axel might assist in search-and-rescue operations in locations where people might not be able to reach. Axel can operate upside down and right side up and uses only three motors: one to control each of its two wheels and a third to control a lever. The lever contains a scoop to gather lunar or planetary material for scientists to study, and it also adjusts the robot's two stereo cameras, which can tilt 360 degrees, NASA said."

Toward Autonomous Unmanned Aircraft Technology 137

coondoggie writes with a NetworkWorld piece that begins, "Researchers at Purdue will soon experiment with an unmanned aircraft that pretty much flies itself with little human intervention. The aircraft will use a combination of global-positioning system technology and a guidance system called AttoPilot ... to guide the aerial vehicle to predetermined points. Researchers can be stationed off-site to monitor the aircraft and control its movements remotely. AttoPilot was installed in the aircraft early this year, and testing will begin in the spring, researchers said."

A Robotic Cyberknife To Fight Cancer 80

Roland Piquepaille writes "The Cyberknife is not a real knife. This is a robot radiotherapy machine which works with great accuracy during treatment, thanks to its robotic arm which moves around a patient when he breathes. According to BBC News, the first Cyberknife will be operational in February 2009 in London, UK. But other machines have been installed in more than 15 countries, and have permitted doctors to treat 50,000 patients in the first semester of 2008. And the Cyberknife is more efficient than conventional radiotherapy devices. The current systems require twenty or more short sessions with low-dose radiation. On the contrary, and because it's extremely precise, a Cyberknife can deliver powerful radiation in just three sessions."

Oil Exploration Leads To Video of a Mysterious Elbowed Squid 256

eldavojohn writes "A rare glimpse from Shell Oil of a giant squid brings to light the strange relationships some deep sea marine biologists have with drilling companies. The video of the squid (Magnapinna) is very rare as this creature remains largely a mystery to science. While some are concerned of a conflict of interest, biologists and big oil sure make for strange bedfellows. The video is from 200 miles off the coast of Houston, TX and about 4,000 feet down." Looking at this creature gives me the willies, frankly.

Robotic Surgery On a Beating Heart 54

An anonymous reader writes "Serious heart surgery usually involves stopping the organ and keeping the patient alive with a cardiopulmonary bypass machine. But this risks brain damage and requires a long recuperation. Scientists at Harvard University and Children's Hospital Boston have now developed a device that lets surgeons operate on a beating heart with a steady hand. The 'robotic' device uses 3-D ultrasound images to predict and compensate for the motion of the heart so that the surgeon can work on a faulty valve as it moves. The approach should improve recovery times and give a surgeon instant feedback on the success of the procedure, the researchers say. Here's a (slightly gory) video of the device in action."

Rat-Brained Robots Take Their First Steps 289

missb writes "Brain tissue cultured from rats has controlled a wheeled robot around a lab, according to New Scientist this week. Researchers in the UK have harnessed signals from thousands of disembodied rat neurons, and manipulated them to get a robot to respond to instructions. The team at the University of Reading in the UK hope their research will help provide treatments for diseases like Alzheimer's and epilepsy."

Robotic Fish Track Targets, Communicate With One Another 68

Roland Piquepaille writes "Many of today's underwater robots need to periodically come up to the surface to communicate with their human supervisors. But researchers at the University of Washington (UW) have developed a new kind of underwater vehicle. The 'Robofish' can work cooperatively with each other. 'The Robofish, which are roughly the size of a 10-pound salmon, look a bit like fish because they use fins rather than propellers.' According to the researchers, such robots 'could cooperatively track moving targets underwater, such as groups of whales or spreading plumes of pollution, or explore caves, underneath ice-covered waters, or in dangerous environments where surfacing might not be possible.' Further information and more pictures are also available for these autonomous fin-actuated underwater vehicles."

Brain Interface Lets Monkeys Control Prosthetic Limbs 208

himicos was one of many readers to point out one recent success of scientists working to develop working brain-machine interfaces, writing "A team at the university of Pittsburgh has finally advanced a 2002 technology enough for use in prosthetic limbs, the targeted application all along. Training computer models to the firing patterns of the neurons in the parts of the brain that control motion, they are able to project the intentions of a monkey to a robotic arm, which follows the will of the animal. The sad thing about the articles is that the beauty of the mathematics used to create and train the models is totally ignored." Reader phpmysqldev adds a link to coverage at the BBC, and writes "This of course brings significant hope to amputees and other other people with physical disabilities." (Note that this research has been going on for quite some time.)

New Robots Developed To Climb Walls 110

An anonymous reader writes "SRI International, a nonprofit research and development organization, has developed a new technology that enables some robots to scale walls. The wall-climbing robots could be a boon for the US military, which could use them on reconnaissance or other missions in war zones, said Philip von Guggenberg, director of business development for SRI International, adding that the independent group has received some funding from DARPA, the technology research arm of the Pentagon. Von Guggenberg said that the new electrical adhesive technology called compliant electroadhesion, provides an electrically controllable way to stick machines to a wall. So what can they do? That adhesion lets the robots, using either feet or tracks, scale a vertical wall. They can even climb walls covered in dust and debris, or made out of concrete, wood, steel, glass, drywall, and brick. Good news is that regular robots, especially those with tracks, can be retrofitted with the technology and turned into wall climbers. Maybe if the kids are good, they'll get one for Christmas."

Surgical Robot Removes Calgary Woman's Brain Tumor 107

Raver32 points out an article in the Victoria Times Colonist about an interesting advance in robotic surgery: "Calgary doctors have made surgical history, using a robot to remove a brain tumor from a 21-year-old woman. Doctors used remote controls and an imaging screen, similar to a video game, to guide the two-armed robot through Paige Nickason's brain during the nine-hour surgery Monday. Surgical instruments acting as the hands of the robot — called NeuroArm — provided surgeons with the tools needed to successfully remove the egg-shaped tumor."

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