From Boston Dynamics, the makers of BigDog, I bring you the Precision Urban Hopper:
The purpose of the jumping robot is to be able to scout enemy territory, and to that end it can jump as high as 25 feet. BBC News has more.
Researchers from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif, have made a mouse levitate – in the name of science, of course!
Scientists working on behalf of NASA built a device to simulate variable levels of gravity. It consists of a superconducting magnet that generates a field powerful enough to levitate the water inside living animals.
Repeated levitation tests showed the mice, even when not sedated, could quickly acclimate to levitation inside the cage. After three or four hours, the mice acted normally, including eating and drinking.
The strong magnetic fields did not seem to have any negative impacts on the mice in the short term, and past studies have shown that rats did not suffer from adverse effects after 10 weeks of strong, non-levitating magnetic fields. [LiveScience]
Anti-gravity! For Science!
Physarum polycephalum is a plasmodium slime mould that shies away from light but moves towards food. Abdrew Adamatsky and his team of researchers at the University of the West of England wants to program this mould into engineering robots.
[The Plasmobot] will be “programmed” using light and electromagnetic stimuli to trigger chemical reactions similar to a complex piece of chemistry called the Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction, which Adamatzky previously used to build liquid logic gates for a synthetic brain.
By understanding and manipulating these reactions, says Adamatzky, it should be possible to program Plasmobot to move in certain ways, to “pick up” objects by engulfing them and even assemble them. [New Scientist]
Single-celled organisms have already been use to control robots, this is simply taking things a step further: making a whole robot out of them.
The plan is to have the mould manipulate miniscule pieces of foam that can float on the slime to assemble components of micromachines.
1) Cracked comedy website lists “The Most Frequently Quoted Bullshit Animal Facts“: lemmings don’t commit mass suicide, ostriches don’t put their head in the sand and bumblebees do fly.
2) New Scientist has a gallery of microgravity physics:
3) io9 has a piece on the near-future technologies which will replace humans: android receptionists, surgeon robots and more.
There’s a technological revolution going on, but it’s not a revolution of faster, stronger and better. Instead it’s a revolution of cheaper, simpler and better.
High quality product are no longer necessarily defined by how advanced they are, but how accessible. That is the conclusion of Wired Magazine’s article “The Good Enough Revolution: When Cheap and simple Is Just Fine”
The world has sped up, become more connected and a whole lot busier. As a result, what consumers want from the products and services they buy is fundamentally changing.
We now favor flexibility over high fidelity, convenience over features, quick and dirty over slow and polished. Having it here and now is more important than having it perfect.
These changes run so deep and wide, they’re actually altering what we mean when we describe a product as “high-quality.”
They give plenty of examples of successful technologies where accessibility is the virtue, but their prime example is Pure Digital’s simple camcorder Flip Ultra.
With the Flip Ultra you can’t zoom, you can’t adjust color, it has only a tiny viewing screen and lousy resolution, but it is also small, cheap and easy to use.
And two years after its release it already command 17 percent of the camcorder market.
Willard Wigan is a micro-sculptor: his creations, ranging from the Homer and Bart Simpsons above to Betty Boop, are all small enough to fit on the head of a pin or in the eye of the needle.
And it’s not just cartoon characters that Wigan sculpt, he’s created a mini-moonlanding, a mini-Mad Hatter’s tea party and a bunch of other artworks that you can only admire through a microscope.
It’s not easy creating these miniature works of art, when even traffic on the streets outside can make Wigan’s hand shake at a crucial moment. He has figured out how to slow his heartbeat and sculpt between pulse beats, and often works through the night when things are quieter outside. Once he accidentally inhaled the entire sculpture. His “brush” might be a single hair from a house fly, or a single shard of diamond attached to a pinhead. [The X-Change Files]
If someone will only commision him to sculpt some miniature angels we can finally put that deep philosophical question to rest, too.
Cnet has a gallery of some of Wigan’s work.
I can´’t believe I almost missed this one: the Eccerobot is a robot designed to be as close to a human being as possible, not in outwards appearances, but in anatomy.
It has plastic bones, kite-line tendons and elastic cord muscles put together so as to mimic real human anatomy as closely as possible.
The team building the robot also want to give the robot human-like intelligence, which is decidedly easier said than done. And they haven’t exactly perfected the anatomy aspect of the robot yet:
Mimicking human anatomy is no shortcut to success, though, as even simple human actions like raising an arm involve a complex series of movements from many of the robot’s bones, muscles and tendons.
However, the team is convinced that solving these problems will enable the construction of a machine that interacts with its environment in a more human manner.
“We want to develop these ideas into a new kind of ‘anthropomimetic robot’ which can deal with and respond to the world in ways closer to the ways that humans do,” says Owen Holland at the University of Sussex, UK, who is leading the project. [New Scientist]
Here’s a brief video of the robot explaining how it works:
The question remains, however, whether the robot have any Dystopian Undertones, ifyouknowwhatImean?