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Georgia Tech advances potential commercial space flight system

August 15, 2012 3:32 am | News | Comments

Last spring private industry successfully sent a spacecraft carrying cargo to the International Space Station. Now the race is on to see which company will be the first to make commercial human spaceflight a reality. Sierra Nevada Corporation will receive hundreds of millions of dollars to further develop its commercial human spacecraft system, NASA announced earlier this month; and they are now turning to Georgia Tech for help.

Engineers are designing, building mechanical ray

July 24, 2012 5:26 am | News | Comments

Batoid rays, such as stingrays and manta rays, are among nature's most elegant swimmers. They are fast, highly maneuverable, graceful, energy efficient, can cruise, bird-like, for long distances in the deep, open ocean, and rest on the sea bottom. A team from the University of Virginia and other universities is trying to emulate the seemingly effortless, but powerful, swimming motions of rays by engineering their own ray-like machine modeled on nature.

Autonomous robot maps ship hulls for mines

July 17, 2012 3:51 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have designed algorithms that vastly improve robots' navigation and feature-detecting capabilities. Using the group's algorithms, robots are able to swim around a ship's hull and view complex structures such as propellers and shafts. The goal is to achieve a resolution fine enough to detect a 10-cm mine attached to the side of a ship.

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Engineers develop an intelligent co-pilot for cars

July 13, 2012 4:10 am | by Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have developed a new semiautonomous safety system to keep drivers safe. The system uses an onboard camera and laser rangefinder to identify hazards in vehicle's environment. An algorithm then analyzes the data obtained and identifies safe zones. The system allows a driver to control the vehicle, only taking the wheel when the drive is about to exit a safe zone.

Searching genomic data faster

July 10, 2012 12:44 pm | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Biologists' capacity for generating genomic data is increasing more rapidly than computer power. A team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University researchers have developed a new algorithm that reduces the time it takes to find a particular gene sequence in a database of genomes.

Smart headlight system will allow drivers to see through the rain

July 9, 2012 12:19 pm | News | Comments

Drivers can struggle to see when driving at night in a rainstorm or snowstorm, but a smart headlight system invented by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute can improve visibility by constantly redirecting light to shine between particles of precipitation. The system, demonstrated in laboratory tests, prevents the distracting and sometimes dangerous glare that occurs when headlight beams are reflected by precipitation back toward the driver.

Computer science tackles 30-year-old economics problem

June 25, 2012 5:44 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Nobel winner Roger Myerson's work on single-item auctions was groundbreaking research, but his question regarding the best way to organize an auction in which bidders are competing for multiple items has remained unanswered for decades. Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have developed an algorithm to generalize this problem.

Researchers advance biometric security

June 21, 2012 11:11 am | News | Comments

Researchers in the Biometric Technologies Laboratory at the University of Calgary have developed a way for security systems to combine different biometric measurements—such as eye color, face shape, or fingerprints—and create a learning system that simulates the brain in making decisions about information from different sources.

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Robotic assistants may adapt to humans in the factory

June 12, 2012 3:47 am | News | Comments

In today's manufacturing plants, the division of labor between humans and robots is quite clear. But according to an assistant professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the factory floor of the future may host humans and robots working side by side, each helping the other in common tasks.

System improves automated monitoring of security cameras

June 4, 2012 9:27 am | News | Comments

Police and security teams guarding airports, docks, and border crossings from terrorist attack or illegal entry need to know immediately when someone enter a prohibited area. A network of surveillance cameras is typically used to monitor these at-risk locations. Now, a system being developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology can perform security analysis more accurately and in a fraction of the time it would take a human camera operator.

Origami-inspired design method merges engineering, art

May 21, 2012 12:43 pm | News | Comments

Researchers have shown how to create morphing robotic mechanisms and shape-shifting sculptures from a single sheet of paper in a method reminiscent of origami, the Japanese art of paper folding. The new method, called Kaleidogami, uses computational algorithms and tools to create precisely folded structures.

Floating robots use GPS-enabled smartphones to track water flow

May 10, 2012 4:26 am | News | Comments

A fleet of 100 floating robots took a trip down the Sacramento River in a field test organized by engineers at the University of California, Berkeley. The smartphone-equipped floating robots demonstrated the next generation of water monitoring technology, promising to transform the way government agencies monitor one of the state's most precious resources.

Robots that reveal the inner workings of brain cells

May 7, 2012 3:38 am | by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a way to automate the process of finding and recording information from neurons in the living brain. The researchers have shown that a robotic arm guided by a cell-detecting computer algorithm can identify and record from neurons in the living mouse brain with better accuracy and speed than a human experimenter.

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Pirates, beware: Navy's smart robocopters will spy you

April 5, 2012 10:37 am | News | Comments

Navy unmanned aircraft will be able to distinguish small pirate boats from other vessels when an Office of Naval Research-funded sensor starts airborne tests this summer. Called the Multi-Mode Sensor Seeker, the sensor is a mix of high-definition cameras, mid-wave infrared sensors, and laser-radar technology.

Self-sculpting sand

April 2, 2012 4:01 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

New algorithms developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers could enable heaps of 'smart sand' that can assume any shape, allowing spontaneous formation of new tools or duplication of broken mechanical parts.

A new dimension for solar energy

March 27, 2012 5:05 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Intensive research around the world has focused on improving the performance of solar photovoltaic cells and bringing down their cost. But very little attention has been paid to the best ways of arranging those cells, which are typically placed flat on a rooftop or other surface. Now, a team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers has come up with a very different approach.

Can a machine tell when you're lying?

March 26, 2012 8:20 am | News | Comments

Inspired by the work of psychologists who study the human face for clues that someone is telling a high-stakes lie, University at Buffalo computer scientists are exploring whether machines can also read the visual cues that give away deceit. Results so far are promising.

Guiding robot planes with hand gestures

March 14, 2012 4:00 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Aircraft-carrier crew use a set of standard hand gestures to guide planes on the carrier deck. But as robot planes are increasingly used for routine air missions, researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology are working on a system that would enable them to follow the same types of gestures.

New system allows robots to continuously map their environment

February 16, 2012 4:24 am | by Helen Knight, MIT News correspondent | News | Comments

Robots could one day navigate through constantly changing surroundings with virtually no input from humans, thanks to a system developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that allows them to build and continuously update a 3D map of their environment using a low-cost camera such as Microsoft's Kinect.

The mathematics of taste

January 24, 2012 4:03 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Givaudan has turned to researchers in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) for help analyzing taste-test results. To analyze taste-test results, the CSAIL researchers are using genetic programming, in which mathematical models compete with each other to fit the available data and then cross-pollinate to produce models that are more accurate.

The faster-than-fast Fourier transform

January 18, 2012 3:26 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

A group of Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have developed a new algorithm that, in a large range of practically important cases, improves on the fast Fourier transform—an algorithm that was devised in the mid-1960s that made it practical to calculate Fourier transforms on the fly. Under some circumstances, the improvement can be dramatic—a tenfold increase in speed.

Data mining without prejudice

December 16, 2011 6:16 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

A new technique, developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for finding relationships between variables in large datasets makes no prior assumptions about what those relationships might be.

Streamlining chip design

December 8, 2011 4:47 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Designers of mobile devices need to think hard about which functions to implement in hardware and which in software. A new programming language, developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, makes that much easier.

Kilobots leave the nest

November 22, 2011 6:17 am | News | Comments

Kilobots scuttle around autonomously on three toothpick-like legs, but their real power is the ability to coordinate behavior and swarm with other Kilobots. Created by engineers at Harvard University, the quarter-sized bots have been licensed by a Swiss manufacturer, allowing researchers and robotics enthusiasts to build their own swarms.

Honda shows smarter robot, helps in nuclear crisis

November 8, 2011 8:33 am | by Yuri Kageyama, AP Business Writer | News | Comments

In an effort to show that Asimo is more than a toy-like showcase for the Honda Motor Co. brand, the company recently demonstrated a revamped robot that can run faster, balance itself, hop on one foot, and pour a drink. It may even help with clean-up at the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant.

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