TOKYO--Japan's robotics response to the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has been disappointing so far, but a 5-ton rescue robot developed after the 1995 Kobe earthquake may see some action at the facility soon.
Created by Fukuoka-based Tmsuk in 2007, the T-53 Enryu (PDF) is a hulking, 9-foot-tall machine on treads with a bulldozer attachment and giant arms to move debris.
Enryu (or "Rescue Dragon") is expected to clear highly radioactive rubble at the plant to provide machines and people better access, but it may need to be shielded with lead to protect it from … Read more
Swiss automation firm ABB is showing off a concept factory robot called Frida that's more humanoid than the typical one-armed drones on the assembly line.
The two-armed Frida is being billed as a "harmless robotic co-worker for industrial assembly." Of course, any robot described as being "harmless" should be treated with extreme caution.
It has seven-axis arms, flexible grippers, and camera-based parts location and runs via ABB's IRC5 controller. It's designed as a lightweight, portable complement to human parts assembly.
Frida stands for "Friendly Robot for Industrial Dual-arm Assembly," but I reckon the first word in that name won't sit well with some people. Still, it has padded arms and can sense when a human hand gets too close, as seen in the video below. … Read more
The Large Hadron Collider has surpassed a record set by Fermilab's rival particle accelerator for what's called luminosity, a milestone that improves the odds that the gargantuan scientific experiment will produce new physics discoveries.
The LHC operators yesterday packed more bunches of protons into the beam, increasing the likelihood of collisions and therefore of the detection of very rare outcomes from those collisions.
"Beam intensity is key to the success of the LHC, so this is a very important step," said General Rolf Heuer, director of the CERN facility that operates the LHC, in a statement. &… Read more
TOKYO--iRobot PackBots are being used to explore the interior of reactor buildings at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which was severely damaged in last month's massive tsunami and subsequent hydrogen blasts.
The battle-hardened PackBots, sent to Japan along with iRobot Warriors, have been recording high levels of radiation at the plant, where operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) struggles to restore key cooling functions. It's expected to take months to shut down the facility.
The video below shows a remote-controlled PackBot moving through the shadowy first floor of Unit 1. Its caterpillar treads move slowly over debris strewn around the floor. Another video shows the machine carefully opening a door.
Tepco says that robots have been used to measure radiation and do surveys of Units 1, 2, and 3. They apparently measured radiation of up to 57 millisieverts per hour.
In other video related to the plant, a Honeywell T-Hawk micro air vehicle sent to Japan to help with the nuclear crisis has recorded footage of the damaged exterior of the Fukushima plant. … Read more
Microsoft, Google, Hewlett-Packard, and a host of other companies are providing funds and resources to the Startup America Partnership to further the group's goal of fostering the entrepreneurial spirit.
More than 15 companies will kick in a total of $400 million in money, services, training, and other benefits that will go directly to entrepreneurs trying to get their ideas and businesses off the ground.
Two professors at Binghamton University in New York are using a novel imaging technique to observe the behavior of an enzyme--called tubulin tyrosine ligase, or TTL--as its behavior can suggest whether certain cancer cells might grow more aggressively than others.
"Potentially, we could put [a tumor sample] in our labeling system and say, 'Yes, that has a problem with the TTL system, and therefore you should be more aggressive with it,'" says Gal, whose work is funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. "Or we could say, 'That's probably OK, so you can treat it with normal chemotherapy.'"
The enzyme TTL involves microtubules, which both help chromosomes line up correctly during cell division and provide part of the scaffolding of a cell's structure. Those microtubules are made of proteins called tubulin; the enzyme carboxypeptidase clips an amino acid called tyrosine off the ends of some of these proteins, and later the enzyme TTL puts that tyrosine back on.
Bane says it's unclear why tyrosine is clipped off only to be reattached, but it's clearly an important part of the cell's cycle: "We do know that if you don't have that enzyme, you'll die."
In some cancer cells, that cycle of removing and reattaching tyrosine is disrupted, with too many tubulins lacking tyrosine altogether. Tumors made of those cells, Bane says, "tend to grow more aggressively."… Read more
Two companies tied to prominent technology entrepreneurs are among those that received funding through the NASA's Commercial Crew Development effort, the government agency announced yesterday.
Blue Origin, which was started by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, received $22 million in the funding round. PayPal co-founder Elon Musk's SpaceX received $75 million. They were flanked by Sierra Nevada and Boeing, which received $80 million and $92.3 million, respectively.
The Commercial Crew Development program, which began in 2009, is arguably one of the most important efforts under way at NASA. Its goal is to help U.S. private enterprises develop … Read more
One of the annoying things about getting older--and yes, there are more than a few--is how frequently you discover that what you were taught either is now outdated or simply flat wrong. But don't get too down about it. Scientists only now are realizing that they've misunderstood the physics of what keeps bicycles upright.
For as long as anyone can remember, the science behind why a bike remains stable once it reaches a certain speed had to do with wheel rotation and the stability generated by so-called gyroscopic effects. Also, there was the proper distance between the steering … Read more
Any time someone concatenates the words "Paul Allen," "brain," and "science" in one sentence, two assumptions can safely be made: What's being described will be expensive; what's being described will be newsworthy.
And so it comes as little surprise that the Seattle-based Allen Institute for Brain Science announced this week a world first: a highly detailed guide to both the anatomy and the genes of the human brain that includes 1,000 anatomical landmarks backed by 100 million data points measuring the strength of gene activity at each landmark. The cost of … Read more
Mobile gadgets like Apple's iPad and iPhone could offer glasses-free 3D courtesy of a new, developing technology created by researchers in France.
Known as Head-Coupled Perspective, the technology uses the front-facing camera on a mobile device to create a glasses-free monocular 3D display. By tracking the position of the user's head, the projected 3D image can change its perspective and offer greater interaction. Even further, the technology doesn't rely on the accelerometer built into the iPhone and iPad, so it could conceivably work for other types of mobile devices.
The researchers behind this budding technology are Professor … Read more