“While the futuristic vision of micro and nanorobotics is of intelligent machines that navigate throughout our bodies searching for and destroying disease, we have a long way to go to get there. Progress is being made, though, and the past decade has seen impressive advances in the fabrication, powering, and control of tiny motile devices. Much of our work focuses on creating systems for controlling micro and nanorobots as well as pursuing applications of these devices. As systems such as these enter clinical trials, and as commercial applications of this new technology are realized, radically new therapies and uses will result that have yet to be envisioned.”
“The system Mole Solutions wants to put in place uses the same maglev technology adopted by Japan's super-fast Shinkansen train. In a maglev-powered system, the natural repelling forces of electromagnets are used to keep the carriage hovering slightly above the track, thus cutting down on friction and increasing speed.”
John Payne's insight:
This proposal is reminiscent of PRT technologies, which have been under development for decades, as described on the Innovative Transportation Technologies website: http://faculty.washington.edu/jbs/itrans/
“A smartphone-controlled robotic chef that can cook world-class food using recipes downloaded from an online store sounds like pure science fiction - but the robot is real, will go on sale in 2017 and just made me a crab bisque.”
“The world burns or cuts down about 26 billion trees a year. It replants about 15 billion. You can see the shortfall. At the moment, we're not planting trees quickly enough to combat deforestation—a problem with big implications for climate change. That's why Lauren Fletcher wants to automate the process with drone technology. His startup, BioCarbon Engineering, plans to seed up to 1 billion trees a year, all without ever setting foot on the ground. ‘The only way we're going to take on these age-old problems is with techniques that weren't available to us before,’ Fletcher says. ‘By using this approach we can meet the scale of the problem out there.’”
This is one important example of a more general principle, which is that, to compete with irresponsible but profitable enterprises, more responsible methods must be made economical, and robots can help with this.
“Other than target selection, semi-autonomous weapons are allowed to have every technical capability that a fully autonomous weapon might have, including the ability to seek, detect, identify and prioritize potential targets, and to engage selected targets with gunfire or a homing missile. Selection can even be done before the weapon begins to seek; in other words, it can be sent on a hunting mission. Given this, it would seem important to be clear about whatever is left that the human operator must do.”
“VascuLogic, a start-up supported by the NSF Small Business Innovation Research program, is bringing to market a device that aims to make the blood collection process safer and more efficient. The technology uses infrared and ultrasound imaging to identify veins. A robotically controlled needle is then guided into the targeted vein. The whole system is designed to benefit patients and phlebotomists alike.”
“Robust and reliable neural interfaces have long been a holy grail in the field of neuroscience. … Some believe that developing such interfaces will require advanced brain implants that are still a decade or more away. More recently, though, neuroscientists—as well as a legion of ‘brain hackers’—have turned to powerful new sensing, processing, and prototyping tools to explore a host of non-invasive techniques to stimulate the brain.”
“The tiny chip, called a nanophotonic coherent imager, uses a form of LIDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) technology to capture height, width, and depth information from each pixel. LIDAR, which shines a laser on the target and then analyzes the light waves that are reflected back to the sensor, are best known for their use in precision-guided missile systems and self-driving cars.”
“AVC is just a couple months away! If you’ve never heard of the SparkFun AVC, it stands for Autonomous Vehicle Competition, and it has become our signature event. This year, the event is being held at our new HQ in beautiful Niwot, Colorado. To help the AVC Competitors get ready, we’ve created a course preview video, showing you (generally) what you can expect.”
“Hyperspectral imaging involves scanning light spectra not visible to the human eye, in order to identify the unique electromagnetic "fingerprints" of various substances and processes. While this can already be done with larger cameras, a team led by Tel Aviv's Prof. David Mendlovic is developing a much smaller optical component that could conceivably be built into a smartphone. It utilizes MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) technology, and is reportedly ‘suitable for mass production and compatible with standard smartphone camera designs.’”
Michiel Bakker dives into how Google is working to build more sustainable communities, using tech to build engagement and the food program's 5-year plan.
John Payne's insight:
If you believe, as I do, that augmentation is the twin sibling of robotics, the relevance of this article will be plain. Otherwise, you'll need to remember that Google is heavily invested in robotics and read between the lines.
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“Motherboard gains exclusive access to a small fleet of US Army bomb disposal robots—the same platforms the military has weaponized—and to a pair of DARPA’s six-foot-tall bipedal humanoid robots. We also meet Nobel Peace Prize winner Jody Williams, renowned physicist Max Tegmark, and others who grapple with the specter of artificial intelligence, killer robots, and a technological precedent forged in the atomic age. It’s a story about the evolving relationship between humans and robots, and what AI in machines bodes for the future of war and the human race.”
“When Prabal Dutta accidentally drops a computer, nothing breaks. There’s no crash. The only sound you might hear is a prolonged groan. That’s because these computers are just one cubic millimeter in size, and once they hit the floor, they’re gone. ‘We just lose them,’ Dutta says. ‘It’s worse than jewelry.’ To drive the point home, Dutta, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at the University of Michigan, emails me a photo of 50 of these computers. They barely fill a thimble halfway to its brim.”
John Payne's insight:
Perhaps just as interesting is the related MBus, “a chip-to-chip bus designed for ultra-constrained systems … a multi-master bus supporting an arbitrary number of nodes, priority arbitration, efficient acknowledgements, and extensible addressing, with only four wires and consuming only 3.5 pJ/bit/chip.”
“Margo has coached two Top Twelve graduate teams for the International Student Biomimicry Challenge and currently serves as a Biomimicry Institute education fellow. She is also on the board of both the Missouri Prairie Foundation and South Carolina’s Experience Green. She has worked as a park ranger, science teacher, and mammalogist. With degrees in science education and parks administration, her professional accomplishments include research in environmental education, qualitative mammal studies, and involvement in numerous local and state environmental boards and committees.”
“Alex Garland has one thought when it comes to the AI revolution: Bring it on. After a career of writing novels (The Beach) and screenplays (28 Days Later, Dredd), he’s moving into the director’s chair with April’s Ex Machina, a movie that pushes the discussion of AI and ethics into discomfiting territory.”
“Welcome to the Pure File Magic Area Based Editor (PFMABE). Now view and edit your hydro, bathy and topo data in 3D. Under development by the Naval Oceanographic Office since 1998, this powerful data editing suite ingests most major sonar and lidar data types and allows for quick and easy analysis, cleaning and quality control.”
“The goal of the Human Physiology of Wearable Robotics (PoWeR) Laboratory is to discover and exploit key principles of locomotion neuromechanics in order to build wearable devices that can augment intact and/or restore impaired human locomotion. The primary performance goal of such devices is to reduce metabolic energy consumption of the user. … Greg Sawicki, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering, North Carolina State University”
John Payne's insight:
A recent BBC report on this project has previously been linked from Robohub.org
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