For a long-lost android, Philip K. Dick looks pretty good--like he's been living it up in Margaritaville.
The acclaimed author of science fiction classics "The Man in the High Castle" and "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" died in 1982, but this is his second resurrection in robot form.
Hardware for the android was completed last year, and software is still being developed. It's the handiwork of Hanson Robotics, led by Texas-based roboticist David Hanson. He and collaborators first showed off the talking robot head at NextFest back in 2005. It later vanished.
"It was tragic when the first robot was lost--it broke my heart," Hanson said in an interview with Crave. "It was a tool for realizing sentient, compassionate machines."
He's embarrassed to admit that he forgot the head on a San Francisco-bound plane. Before it disappeared for good, it was on a flight bound for Orange County, Calif.--Dick's home.
Maybe that wasn't a mere coincidence. After all, the head had some artificial intelligence.
Built at a cost of some $50,000, the new replicant is even smarter. It can carry on conversations with users in a more convincing, complex fashion. Judging by the video below, though, it doesn't look like it could pass a Voight-Kampff test.
Still, it can remember what has been said instead of just responding to words with a quote from Dick's works.
"It has better awareness and it's able to make logical deductions about itself and its internal state," Hanson said. "There are more AI features now." … Read more
You may have heard of Fold-It, which involves different approaches to folding proteins, and EteRNA, which lets players propose new molecular structures for ribonucleic acids (RNA). While these are conceptual exercises that can influence future research, a new set of games out of Stanford takes these types of games one step further.
Stanford researcher Ingmar Riedel-Kruse and his lab group have developed such games as Biotic Pinball, POND PONG, and a soccer game called Ciliaball that involve players actually interacting with living microorganisms.
"We hope that by playing games involving biology of a scale too small to see with … Read more
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla.--Even using shuttle-derived hardware, established contractors, and long-standing engineering expertise, NASA's projected budget will not cover the costs of developing a congressionally mandated heavy-lift booster and a manned capsule for deep space exploration by 2016 as ordered, agency officials informed lawmakers this week.
NASA managers promised to continue studying alternative approaches and designs for a new Space Launch System heavy-lift booster and Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, but insisted any such program must be "affordable, sustainable and realistic."
"To date, trade studies performed by the Agency have yet to identify heavy-lift and capsule architectures … Read more
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla.--Veteran shuttle commander Frederick Sturckow will replace Mark Kelly in near-term training for a flight aboard the shuttle Endeavour in April, NASA announced today. With Kelly's wife, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, in critical condition in Tucson with a gunshot wound to the head, the substitution will free Kelly to remain at her bedside while ensuring his crewmates complete critical flight training.
NASA officials said Kelly, who endorsed the decision, remains the designated commander of shuttle mission STS-134. Sturckow will begin training with Endeavour's crew next week.
"I recommended to my management that we take … Read more
YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, N.Y.--The first words publicly spoken by a talking computer named Watson were, "WHAT IS JERICHO?"
Watson was following the rules. Like any contestant on game show "Jeopardy," the IBM Research-built machine was required to phrase his answer in the form of a question. And Watson was playing "Jeopardy." More specifically, it was a test run this morning at IBM Research's headquarters in preparation for a televised weekend challenge against famed "Jeopardy" champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, and Watson nearly shut out those champions in a category … Read more
When it comes to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), hydrogen is all the rage.
The first hydrogen-powered, unmanned UAV flight took place over California yesterday, AeroVironment, a company with 20 years experience in building unmanned aircraft, announced. Dubbed Global Observer, the "unmanned aircraft system" took off from Edwards Air Force Base and lasted more than four hours in the air. The company said the aircraft was able to reach an altitude of 5,000 feet.
Last year, Global Observer was put to the test at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center. The government organization load tested Global Observer's … Read more
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla.--Engineers believe they have zeroed in on the root cause of cracks in the shuttle Discovery's external tank, NASA officials said today.
Installation of a relatively simple modification to the tops of the structural ribs, or stringers, where the ship's liquid oxygen tank is supported by a massive flange should resolve the problem once and for all, officials say, setting the stage for another launch attempt February 24.
"We're on the road to bringing this tank to a hundred percent," said shuttle Program Manager John Shannon. "It's been two … Read more
IBM announced today that nine hospitals across Russia have switched from paper-based medical systems to electronic medical records using IBM Lotus Notes.
Designed to provide fast electronic medical record (EMR) exchange and unified access to many types of health care data, while at the same time meeting stricter medical information requirements and more secure access to patient information in Russia, the automation system was developed by IBM and Complex Medical Information Systems.
"It provides a single electronic tool for control, accounting and planning which leads to improved operation and higher quality of service," says Roman Novitsky, CEO of … Read more
LAS VEGAS--From robo-dinosaurs to mecha-masseurs, robots at CES 2011 ran the gamut of wacky novelty products like the Sphero iPhone-controlled ball and the WheeMe back massage robot to practical but funked-out floor cleaners like dancing Mint sweepers.
There wasn't a whole lot that was new, but there were enough debuts and upgrades to keep it interesting.
Japan's Murata Manufacturing, which makes capacitors found in many mobile phones, showed off its robotics skills with Murata Boy (above) and Murata Girl, which cycle along balance beams without toppling over.
Making their CES debut, the acrobat bots can stand upright even when stationary thanks to gyro sensors that control a rotating disk, which in turn corrects their slant. … Read more