Tag Archives: robots

Robots are going soft in their new age…

This month researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) shared a way to 3D print robots with advanced shock absorbing materials, so that robots can be safer to use and more accurate in their movement.

It uses a Programmable Viscoelastic Material (PVM) that allows the originator of the 3D print file to program the movement and elasticity of each area of the design.

It’s particularly interesting when you think about ‘soft robots’ being created for use in exoskeletal rehabilitation, my knee replacement in a few years just got much more appealing…

But more importantly it really demonstrates just how quickly robotics is moving forwards, we have robotic caterpillars that use liquid crystal elastometer tech, a walking soft robot  and as if that wasn’t enough check this little guy out…

autobot

Octobot is the first autonomous, untethered entirely soft 3D printed robot!

The Harvard team behind this derived a way to power the Octobot through a chemical reaction controlled through a logic board. They describe this as a ‘hybrid assembly approach’ whereby they create each of the components; circuit board, control panel, fuel storage, power component and fabricate the cushioning exterior using; 3D printing, molding and soft lithography methods.

Mind bending.

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Give a girl the right shoes…

I live in a rapidly evolving world where cars can drive themselves, robots can run warehouses and drones can deliver our parcels. A world where virtual reality blends with real reality (the re substantiation of mere ‘reality’) and I can get anything I want, whenever and wherever I want it, in the palm of my hand, so why do my new shoes still give me blisters?

A friend of mine lost a limb, on his road to recovery I’ve got to know him in a very different light this last year, where many would have turned inside themselves and got lost in remorse and pity, he embraced modern technology and now has a pretty cool prosthetic limb. He’s as strong as before, as balanced as he ever was and he argues, able to endure more than his human limb previously allowed him to.

This got me thinking about the tech available that could be used for solving every day irritations (not that I’m comparing blisters from new shoes to wearing a prosthetic limb!) but we could adapt the thinking…

Why not develop shoes with materials that are electronically charged, materials that transform from being soft to hardy through electro static charges? What about exo-skeletal hiking boots that enhance our ability to scale mountains like gazelles?!

Imagine shoes that transform to your feet, imagine dancing the night away, foot loose and blister free.

Give a girl the right shoes and she can conquer the world!

ruby slippers

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My Dad is a microwave blender

The only real reason that robots haven’t replaced us yet is simply that robotic engineers can’t program all the knowledge currently required into a robot quick enough. As humans we adapt and learn every second of every day, therefore the sheer magnitude of possibilities a human brain provides excels any manufactured equivalent to date.

What we have seen though is that once configured, current robots in use are quicker, more efficient and less prone to accident. Amazon already have factories with considerably less error where robots are deployed, some Governments are looking to introduce drone delivery systems and Google have tested their automated car in Nevada for over a year and the only accidents recorded happened when a human overrode the system.

And to top that, at the end of last year there was a break through in how robots acquire their knowledge; they can adapt and learn through validated paths that process the human language by understanding how to identify speech patterns, therefore replicating how the brain connects from the frontal cortex to the striatum.

With these developments engineers predict artificial intelligence and robots will replace humans in the next 10 years, and by 2050 robots will be a part of our every day life. Gets you thinking doesn’t it?

To end on a lighter note though, I’d like to share a poem I love by one of my favorite non-robots, Tim Burton:

“Mr. Smith yelled at the doctor,
What have you done to my boy?
He’s not flesh and blood,
he’s aluminum alloy!”
The doctor said gently,
What I’m going to say
will sound pretty wild.
But you’re not the father
of this strange looking child.
You see, there still is some question
about the child’s gender,
but we think that its father
is a microwave blender.”

Tim BurtonThe Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories

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When robots rule the world…

Not long after inventing the wheel man has had an increasing fascination for passing on our menial laborious tasks to anyone or thing other than ourselves. Once slavery was abolished through society in the early millennia attentions were turned to develop mechanical solutions instead. Man tried to play God.

To some degree man succeeded. By creating complex mechanisms and systems capable of performing repetitive arduous tasks; from the first water pumps, the first locomotive and in today’s vast technologically glorious world just about everything.

The last year has seen robots being engineered that can help teach children who have suffered from brain damage to walk again, the KASPAR Robot W/RoboSkin teaches autistic kids interaction, we’ve seen prototypes teach children in schools (in fact this blog caught my eye; Will teachers be replaced by computers?) and at Cambridge University they have developed a machine that can analyse millions of papers in an infinitely shorter period of time than any human can ever expect to achieve.

But where will it stop? Developing technology to aid us in our daily work seems a fantastic idea, but how long before we are entirely replaced by a robotic army?

Somewhere in the US robots have been created to be self-sufficient. Powered by microbial fuel cells, they are programmed with a survival instinct which pre-programs them to prey on all sorts of creepy crawlies and small rodents which they then digest to provide themselves with power.

A group of robotics researchers across Europe are working on a project to ascertain whether humanoid bots are able to interact with groups of people in a realistic, anthropomorphic way. They’ve built algorithms that will enable the bots to mimic human actions and emotions. Think about that for a second; if that works we are talking about human looking robots that have adept social skills. Can you imagine them in a room deciphering a conversation from all the background noise and music?

And if that wasn’t enough the future science historians themselves have marked the beginning of the 21st century for the era when robots will take their place beside human scientists.

It’s all quite mind-boggling when you think about it. I remember watching ‘I Robot’ when it came out (admittedly mainly for the Mr Smith eye candy) but realistically, a human and humanoid mixed world could be just around the corner…

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