In DARPA’s Virtual Robotics Challenge, 28 competing teams applied software of their own design to a simulated robot in an attempt to complete a series of tasks that are prerequisites for more complex activities. Just seven teams advanced to the next round, which was unveiled last week at Boston Dynamics: ATLAS, one of the most advanced humanoid robots ever built.
In an apple seed-sized pellet of glass, Univ. of Michigan engineering researchers have packed seven devices that together could potentially provide navigation in the absence of the satellite-based Global Positioning System (GPS.) Space-based GPS is far from fail-proof. It doesn't work indoors, near tall buildings or in heavy cloud cover; and it's relatively easy to jam, researchers say.
A low-cost system developed in Singapore, based on the principles of vibration and imaging, can turn a whiteboard, glass window or even a wooden tabletop into a responsive, touch-sensitive surface. According to its developers, retrofitting the system onto existing flat-panel TVs will transform them into new, touch-sensitive display screens.
Landing an airplane on an aircraft carrier deck is one of the most difficult tasks a pilot is asked to do. On Wednesday, the Navy will attempt to accomplish the same task with a drone. If all goes as planned, a successful landing of the X-47B experimental aircraft will mean the Navy can move forward with its plans provide around-the-clock surveillance and strike capability.
With a 3-D printer, a petri dish and some cells from a cow, Princeton Univ. researchers are growing synthetic ears that can receive—and transmit—sound. The 3-D ear is not designed to replace a human one, though; the research is meant to explore a new method of combining electronics with biological material.
Researchers of the Univ. of Stuttgart have achieved a new world record in coupling efficiency between optical fibers and integrated silicon waveguides. The breakthrough, which resulted in a coupling efficiency of 87%, was based on newly developed aperiodic grating coupler structures optimized at the nanoscale.
Honda's robotics technology, although among the most advanced for mobility, has come under fire as lacking practical applications and being little more than an expensive toy. The latest example is its walking, talking interactive Asimo robot, which is now acting as a museum guide in Tokyo. In addition to glitches that have interrupted its operation, it lacks voice recognition.
Apple Inc. has applied for a trademark in Japan for "iWatch" as rumors suggest it may be developing a smart wrist watch. The company is rumored to be working on a smart watch that would run on a version of the operating system used by its iPhone and iPad.
The saga of Edward Snowden and the NSA makes one thing clear: The United States' central role in developing the Internet and hosting its most powerful players has made it the global leader in the surveillance game. Other countries, from dictatorships to democracies, are also avid snoopers, tapping into the high-capacity fiber optic cables to intercept Internet traffic.
Digital systems are an everyday routine for more and more passengers, and even Internet is now available. But pilots are largely cut off from this development with a system that is separate and largely analog. Under development in Germany is a new system that will digitally transmit air traffic and weather communications with the ground and via satellite at high speeds.
Hospitals have fretted for years over how to make sure doctors, nurses and staff keep their hands clean, but with only limited success. Now, some are turning to technology—beepers, buzzers, lights and tracking systems that remind workers to sanitize, and chart those who don't.
Researchers have long attempted to build a device capable of seeing people through walls. However, previous efforts to develop such a system have involved the use of expensive and bulky radar technology that uses a part of the electromagnetic spectrum only available to the military. Now a system being developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology can spot people in different rooms using low-cost Wi-Fi technology.
In secure communications, which can rely on quantum information contained in one of four wavelength phase states, wrong is worse than "I don't know." Researchers at NIST and the Joint Quantum Institute have built a single-photon detector that avoids this problem, making highly accurate measurements of incoming photons while knowing when not to give a conclusive answer.
The world's first space conversation experiment between a robot and humans is ready to be launched. Developers from the Kirobo project, named after "kibo" or hope in Japanese and "robot," gathered in Tokyo Wednesday to demonstrate the humanoid robot's ability to talk.
South Korea's largest mobile operator is this week launching what it says is the world's fastest wireless network. SK Telecom Co. said Wednesday that the LTE-Advanced network can download data at speeds twice as fast as LTE networks and 10 times faster than third generation services.
In recent years, formation control of multiple unmanned aerial vehicles has an important aerospace research topic. Engineers in China have recently investigated the trophallactic—or fluid exchange by direct contact—swarming behavior exhibited by a variety of animals, including birds and insects. By imitating that behavior and considering the communication requirements of the network control system, a new network control method was proposed.
Using clouds of ultracold atoms and a pair of lasers operating at optical wavelengths, researchers have reached a quantum network milestone: entangling light with an optical atomic coherence composed of interacting atoms in two different states. The development could help pave the way for functional, multimode quantum networks.
Antenna technology originally developed to quickly send and receive information through a software-defined military radio may soon be used to transmit ocean data from a wave-powered autonomous surface vehicle. The technology, the lowest-power method for maintaining a satellite uplink, automatically compensates for the movement of the antenna as the boat bobs around on the ocean surface.
Nearly 120 scientists and engineers from around the world are meeting in South Dakota this week to discuss operational and technical issues with collecting images from the Landsat 8 satellite. In February, NASA launched the satellite, which takes images of every inch of the Earth’s surface to see what happens over time, and recently handed over operational control of it to the EROS Center.
Researchers at the Univ. of New South Wales have proposed a new way to distinguish between quantum bits that are placed only a few nanometers apart in a silicon chip, taking them a step closer to the construction of a large-scale quantum computer.
Eighteen months in the works, the top-secret project was announced Saturday in New Zealand, where up to 50 volunteer households are already beginning to receive the Internet briefly on their home computers via translucent helium balloons that sail by on the wind 12 miles above Earth. Google is launching these Internet-beaming antennas into the stratosphere aboard giant, jellyfish-shaped balloons.
In the near future, a buzz in your belt or a pulse from your jacket may give you instructions on how to navigate your surroundings. Think of it as tactile Morse code: vibrations from a wearable, GPS-linked device that tell you to turn right or left, or stop, depending on the pattern of pulses you feel.
Americans are accustomed to calling 9-1-1 to get help in an emergency. A research team lead by Ram Dantu of the University of North Texas sees the growth of cell phone and smartphone usage as an opportunity to improve 9-1-1 response. His team has designed several innovative smart phone apps that virtually place 9-1-1 operators at the scene of an emergency, allowing faster response.
Small electrodes placed on or inside the brain allow patients to interact with computers or control robotic limbs simply by thinking about how to execute those actions. Researchers have recently shown the brain can adapt to this brain-computer interface technology. Their work shows that it behaves much like it does when completing simple motor skills such as kicking a ball, typing, or waving a hand.
Ever been to a whispering gallery—a quiet, circular space underneath an old cathedral dome that captures and amplifies sounds as quiet as a whisper? Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Michigan are applying similar principles in the development optomechanical sensors that will help unlock vibrational secrets of chemical and biological samples at the nanoscale.