Monday, April 16, 2007

Robots Around the World

Here's some news stories concerning robots, their kith and kin:

"Raytheon Co. has proposed a robotic lunar lander to NASA that would be based on technology already developed for a missile defense program.

A Raytheon official said the lander leverages propulsion system technology developed for the Exo-atmospheric Kill Vehicle (EKV), which was developed and manufactured by Raytheon Missile Systems of Tucson, Ariz., for the U.S. Missile Defense Agency. The propulsion system is combined with autonomous navigation technology developed for cruise missiles, she said.

“The proposal is based on these two technologies in which there has been an enormous amount of investment over the last 15 years or so, especially for the missile defense interceptors,” Karleen Seybold, senior systems engineer at Raytheon Missile Systems, said in an April 4 interview. “We’re pulling this technology together in a very low-cost, autonomous lunar lander.”"


DOMO Robot
"MIT researchers recently demonstrated the capabilities of such a robot, named Domo, which, like the robot in a recent General Motors ad, can transcend mass-production's repetition. It is designed to interact with humans and adapt to its environment in ways previously only imagined in science fiction.

Presently, Domo can identify objects, reach for them and place them on shelves. Unlike an assembly-line robot, Domo can sense its surroundings using a pair of video cameras for eyes; they are connected to 12 computers. The cameras are built into remarkably human-looking 'eyeballs,'...

Unlike its predecessors, Domo also has the ability to sense touch, necessary for safe interaction with humans. Springs in its arms, hands and neck can sense force, allowing it to respond appropriately. Pushing its hand will make it move in the direction of the push."



"Controlling a robot arm by brain power alone sounds like science fiction, but experiments involving rats' brains have brought it closer to reality.

Dr John Chapin, of the MCP Hahnemann University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, has shown for the first time that brain cell activity can be used to control a robotic device.

The research is a big step towards artificial limbs for paralyzed patients that could be controlled by thought alone, just like normal limbs.

The scientists trained rats to obtain water from a robotic arm by pressing a small lever. Each rat had electrodes implanted in its brain to record the activity of certain cells.

As the rats performed this task, the scientists analyzed the patterns of activity in the regions of the brain that control movement.

They identified specific brain cell activity associated with the rat's paw movements.

The researchers had to develop a new mathematical method to analyze the signals from the brain cells.

The next step was to connect the robot arm directly to the rat's brain. The brain now controlled the robot arm directly through the electrodes and the computer.

The rats appeared to have little difficulty in controlling the robot arm. Initially, they continued to press the lever, even though this was no longer necessary to cause the robot arm movements.

But eventually many rats learned that they could obtain water through brain activity alone and stopped pressing the lever."



"Repliee Q1 (at left in both pictures) appeared yesterday at the 2005 World Expo in Japan, where she gestured, blinked, spoke, and even appeared to breathe. Shown with co-creator Hiroshi Ishiguru of Osaka University, the android is partially covered in skinlike silicone. Q1 is powered by a nearby air compressor, and has 31 points of articulation in its upper body.

Internal sensors allow the android to react "naturally." It can block an attempted slap, for example."

Watch her here





World Transhumanist Association
"The World Transhumanist Association is an international nonprofit membership organization which advocates the ethical use of technology to expand human capacities. We support the development of and access to new technologies that enable everyone to enjoy better minds, better bodies and better lives. In other words, we want people to be better than well."

Robo-eels, critters on chips lead cyborg pack

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