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Knowing the unknown

March 27, 2013 7:34 am | by Helen Knight, MIT News correspondent | News | Comments

Robot butlers that tidy your house or cook you a meal have long been the dream of science-fiction writers and artificial intelligence researchers alike. But if robots are ever going to move effectively around our constantly changing homes or workspaces performing such complex tasks, they will need to be more aware of their own limitations, according to researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Robot meets world

March 22, 2013 7:54 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

When a robot is moving one of its limbs through free space, its behavior is well described by a few simple equations. But as soon as it strikes something solid, those equations break down. Roboticists typically use ad hoc control strategies to negotiate collisions and then revert to their rigorous mathematical models when the robot begins to move again. Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology are hoping to change that, with a new mathematical framework that unifies the analysis of both collisions and movement through free space.

Computer system predicts NCAA basketball champion

March 21, 2013 8:03 am | News | Comments

When Georgia Tech opens the doors to the Georgia Dome next month as the host institution for the 2013 Final Four, expect third-seeded Florida to walk out as the national champion. That's the prediction from Georgia Tech's Logistic Regression/Markov Chain (LRMC) college basketball ranking system, a computerized model that has chosen the men's basketball national champ in three of the last five years.

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Memristor that “learns” provides blueprint for artificial brain

February 27, 2013 11:41 am | News | Comments

Memristors are made of fine nanolayers and can be used to connect electric circuits and for several years have been considered to be the electronic equivalent of the synapse. A researcher in Germany, physicist Andy Thomas, is now using his memristors as key components for his blueprint for an artificial brain.

Teaching robots lateral thinking

February 25, 2013 9:12 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Many commercial robotic arms perform what roboticists call "pick-and-place" tasks: The arm picks up an object in one location and places it in another. Usually, the objects are positioned so that the arm can easily grasp them; the appendage that does the grasping may even be tailored to the objects' shape. General-purpose household robots, however, would have to be able to manipulate objects of any shape, left in any location. And today, commercially available robots don't have anything like the dexterity of the human hand. Until now.

Automated “time machine” reconstructs ancient languages

February 12, 2013 1:10 pm | by Yasmin Anwar, UC Berkeley | News | Comments

Ancient languages hold a treasure trove of information about the culture, politics and commerce of millennia past. Yet, reconstructing them to reveal clues into human history can require decades of painstaking work. Now, scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have created an automated “time machine,” of sorts, that will greatly accelerate and improve the process of reconstructing hundreds of ancestral languages.

Artificial intelligence helps sort used batteries

December 19, 2012 12:07 pm | News | Comments

Research at the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology has resulted in a new type of machine that sorts used batteries by means of artificial intelligence (AI). One machine is now being used in the U.K., sorting one-third of the country's recycled batteries.

A leap forward in brain-controlled computer cursors

November 19, 2012 9:00 am | News | Comments

Stanford University researchers have designed the fastest, most accurate algorithm yet for brain-implantable prosthetic systems that can help disabled people maneuver computer cursors with their thoughts. The algorithm's speed, accuracy, and natural movement approach those of a real arm, doubling performance of existing algorithms.

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Researchers help make Sudoku puzzles less puzzling

October 11, 2012 4:54 pm | News | Comments

For anyone who has ever struggled while attempting to solve a Sudoku puzzle, University of Notre Dame researchers are riding to the rescue. They can not only explain why some Sudoku puzzles are harder than others, they have also developed a mathematical algorithm that solves Sudoku puzzles very quickly, without any guessing or backtracking.

Artificially intelligent game bots pass the Turing test

September 28, 2012 10:15 am | News | Comments

One hundred years after the birth of mathematician and computer scientist Alan Turing, whose “Turing test” stands as one of the foundational definitions of what constitutes true machine intelligence, a virtual “gamer” created by computer scientists at The University of Texas at Austin has won the annual BotPrize by convincing a panel of judges that their software-based robot was more human-like than half the humans it competed against.

New 'ATM' takes old phones and gives back green

September 17, 2012 10:09 am | News | Comments

Developed by a company in San Diego, a new automated system that lets consumers trade in cell phones and mobile devices for reimbursement or recycling relies artificial intelliigence and sophisticated machine vision diagnostics. The building blocks for the ecoATM have existed for many years, but none, until now, have been applied to the particular problem of consumer recycling.

Deciphering the language of transcription factors

September 11, 2012 3:25 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

A new, Massachusetts Institute of Technology-developed analytical method identifies the precise binding sites of transcription factors—proteins that regulate the production of other proteins—with 10 times the accuracy of its predecessors.

Emotion detector developed using a genetic algorithm

September 10, 2012 9:00 am | News | Comments

Researchers in Malaysia have developed a system that allows a computer to “read lips”. The invention involves a genetic algorithm that gets better and better with each iteration to match irregular ellipse fitting equations to the shape of the human mouth displaying different emotions. The system could improve the way we interact with computers and perhaps allow disabled people to use communications devices more effectively.

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Mapping neurological disease

September 5, 2012 4:36 am | by Helen Knight, MIT News correspondent | News | Comments

Disorders such as schizophrenia can originate in certain regions of the brain and then spread out to affect connected areas. Identifying these regions of the brain, and how they affect the other areas they communicate with, would allow drug companies to develop better treatments and could ultimately help doctors make a diagnosis. But interpreting the vast amount of data produced by brain scans to identify these connecting regions has so far proved impossible, until now.

Making Web applications more efficient

September 4, 2012 3:54 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Most major Websites maintain huge databases. Almost any transaction on a shopping site, travel site, or social networking site require multiple database queries, which can slow response time. Now, researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a system that automatically streamlines Websites' database access patterns, making the sites up to three times as fast.

Artificial intelligence helps detect subtle differences in mutant worms

August 20, 2012 4:35 am | News | Comments

Research into the genetic factors behind certain disease mechanisms, illness progression, and response to new drugs is frequently carried out using tiny multicellular animals such as nematodes. Often progress relies on the microscopic visual examination of many individual animals to detect mutants worthy of further study. Now, scientists have demonstrated an automated system that uses artificial intelligence and image processing to examine large numbers of individual Caenorhabditis elegans .

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.

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.

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.

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