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
Pleo Rb (for "reborn") is designed to be an emotional robot. The Life OS artificial-intelligence system in each Pleo has unique innate personality traits such as obedience and courage. They begin life as a hatchling Camarasaurus, either male (blue) or female (pink), and then go through infant and juvenile stages, interacting with their owner and … Read more
The Spirit rover, currently out of commission on the surface of Mars, could be awakened in the coming weeks.
Speaking to Space.com, John Callas, NASA's head of the Mars rover program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said that the "increasing" sunlight on the Mars surface is giving him and his team some hope that it can put the solar-powered Spirit rover back on the job.
"As long as [sunlight is increasing], we will do all we can to increase the chances of hearing from the rover again," Callas told the publication.
LAS VEGAS--iRobot demoed its updated line of robot floor cleaners at CES 2011, showing off a more powerful Roomba vacuum bot and a much more compact Scooba floor scrubber.
Roomba hoovered some crushed Cheerios, while Scooba got to work on a coffee-stained tile floor. Both robots go on sale this spring. They're similar to their predecessors, but have important differences.
Both updates have the iAdapt cleaning tech, a sensor and software system that monitors the floor more than 60 times per second and chooses from dozens of robot behaviors to get the job done, the company says.
I played around with the Scooba 350 last year, and wasn't crazy about its bulk, which proved a bit of a pain when emptying the cleaning fluid tanks.
At only 6.5 inches across and 3.5 inches tall, the new Scooba 230 has a much smaller footprint, making maintenance easier, and it can be grabbed with one hand. The new size, however, is mainly designed to allow the robot to get into tight corners around toilets, which was never a delightful chore anyway.
The 230 can scrub up to 150 square feet of sealed hardwood, tile, or linoleum floors, and has edge-detect sensors to keep it away from stairs and drop-offs while working. The company says it can neutralize up to 97 percent of common household bacteria.
A neat feature is how the reservoirs work: An active reservoir system separates the cleaning solution from the dirty water. The active reservoir shrinks as more cleaning fluid is put down on the floor, allowing it to suck up more dirty water. iRobot says this eliminates dirty water from the cleaning area so the robot isn't just moving dirt around like a mop can. … Read more
You're in a dense urban neighborhood, and you're looking for parking. You could circle for half an hour, swearing at the guy who stole the space you totally saw first, or you could rely on technology developed to explore Venus to nab a spot.
While parking might not sound like the concern of space agencies, France is literally using space-age technology to solve a mundane Earth-bound problem. The tech was originally developed to help balloons communicate with each other, as they floated through the clouds of Venus. The host balloons would have sensors that detect changes in the electromagnetic environment around them and send data to other balloons to help map the atmosphere.
The project was grounded due to budget cuts, though, so the tech was recycled into the pavement of France's fourth largest city, Toulouse, where the sensors are connected to one another under the pavement via coaxial cables.
The parking system is the work of a local start-up called Lyberta and the Centre Nationale d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES), France's counterpart to NASA, which is also based in Toulouse. There are about 3,000 of the sensors, spaced about 9 inches apart beneath the pavement, and each can detect a parking spot within a little fewer than 1,000 feet. Together, they can pinpoint areas that have available parking. The data is then shared in real time via a free smartphone app that displays a green icon to indicate a free parking spot. … Read more
A Cambridge University professor is developing a navigation system that does what most boyfriends can't: read your emotions, sense what's going on, and adapt to the situation.
Just kidding about the boyfriend part.
Charles is a robot that is more co-pilot than GPS device. Frustrated by unintuitive gadgets that aren't helpful--let alone interactive--Professor Peter Robinson, who leads the Rainbow Group working on computer graphics and interaction at Cambridge, developed an emotionally intelligent navigation system that can tell how you're feeling and respond accordingly.
The system uses sensors and algorithms of predefined mental states to track facial cues, tone of voice, body language, and posture. Using this information, Charles can read human emotion with a 70 percent accuracy rate, which is on par with human ability, Robinson says in a YouTube video demonstrating his project.
But reading emotion is only one aspect of the robot's capability. Charles can also respond with human-like emotion.
With cameras for eyes and 24 motors for muscles, the robot's head and mouth moves as it gives directions and mimics human expressions. Unlike current GPS systems, Charles politely tells you where to go based on conversation. Should you not agree with the directions Charles provides, you can suggest an alternate route. Instead of saying it's recalculating or insisting on the programmed route, the robot actually agrees with your decision. … Read more