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Science, Space & Robotics Posts - Page 5

Robots used to help keep the elderly active and engaged in retirement

Senior citizens are finding motivation and entertainment out of a 22-inch humanoid robot leading physical therapy classes. The Zora robot was originally poised to become an assistant in hotels, but designers and programmers found a more appealing market in healthcare.

 

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Previously, Zora has been used to interact with young children, helping teach them basic motor function and keep them stimulated. There are more than 6,000 elderly citizens in Belgium, France and the Netherlands use the robot to stay engaged, listening to news articles, weather forecasts, and following dance and exercise routines.

 

"A lot of elderly people are actually feeling alone. Solitude is something which is horrible for the moment for a lot of elderly people," said Fabrice Goffin, co-creator of the Zora robot, in a statement to Washington Post. "People don't have all the time to visit their families and they can find some kind of relationship with the robot and that is a nice thing to do."

Animal-inspired robots could be used to help explore space

When robots are deployed in space, often dispatched to study harsh and unknown environments, they must be able to adapt if a mechanical problem arises. Much like an animal in the wild has to make adjustments due to injury or environmental change, researchers are inspired to create ways for robots to make changes.

 

A hexapod robot that uses one robotic arm and six legs had to endure damaged or missing legs while trying to move across the floor in a straight line. A different test required ping pong balls to be dropped into a stationary cup, even with the robotic arm broken.

 

 

Researchers were tasked with creating an algorithm so robots were able to successfully complete assigned tasks, even while working in less than optimal physical condition. The study found it was possible to have "robots behave more like animals by endowing them with the ability to adapt rapidly to unforeseen circumstances."

Continue reading 'Animal-inspired robots could be used to help explore space' (full post)

Wozniak thinks AI could self-learn faster than we can program them

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak previously said the "future is scary" and could be "very bad" for humans, as mankind have made machines and artificial intelligence "too important."

 

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Speaking during the World Business Forum, Wozniak expressed concern about AI becoming a major threat to our survival:

 

"The most important thing for the future, which all of the leaders of our time with brains like Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk and Bill Gates are talking about as the biggest threat to humanity, is that once machines have intelligence and can think themselves, that's a turning point," Wozniak said.

Continue reading 'Wozniak thinks AI could self-learn faster than we can program them' (full post)

1 in 5 experts feel artificial intelligence could pose a threat

Will artificial intelligence pose a threat to mankind? Around 18 percent of AI experts feel there could be an 'existential threat' to mankind, a new report from Oxford University indicates. Oxford University researchers interviewed 500 AI experts and half of those surveyed appear optimistic, saying AI should be "good" or "extremely good" for humans.

 

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AI will match human ability between 2040 and 2075, with an eventual transition to "super intelligence" within the next century.

 

... this creation could, in turn, create yet higher intelligence, which could, in turn, create yet higher intelligence, and so on... so we might generate a growth well beyond human ability and perhaps even an accelerating rate of growth: an 'intelligence explosion,'" according to the paper.

Continue reading '1 in 5 experts feel artificial intelligence could pose a threat' (full post)

SpaceX will be able to launch US national security payloads into orbit

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will now be able to launch satellites and other national security payload for the US government, after receiving US Air Force certification.

 

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The certification could help break a stranglehold on the United Launch Alliance, a nine-year-old space venture created by Boeing and Lockheed Martin. SpaceX is muscling its way into conducting launches for NASA and Department of Defense, so it will be interesting to see how ULA responds in the future.

 

"SpaceX's emergence as a viable commercial launch provider provides the opportunity to compete launch services for the first time in almost a decade," said Deborah Lee James, Air Force Secretary, in a statement. "Ultimately, leverage of the commercial space market drives down cost to the American taxpayer and improves our military's resiliency."

Continue reading 'SpaceX will be able to launch US national security payloads into orbit' (full post)

Robots in the cockpit? Apparently, don't rule it out

New aircraft already rely on sophisticated computers, and government agencies are openly discussing robots and remote operators flying commercial aircraft. Commercial aviation flies millions of passengers around the world each year and already utilizes computer autopilots - and there is greater discussion to how much human interaction is needed to fly commercial aircraft.

 

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"The industry is starting to come out and say we are willing to put our R&D money into that," said Parimal Kopardekar, manager of the autonomous operations project at the NASA Ames Research Center, in a statement to the New York Times.

 

Pilots currently only spend minutes actually piloting planes, with pilots of Boeing 777s saying they operate the aircraft for about seven minutes - and pilots of Airbus planes spending less than four minutes piloting their aircraft.

Continue reading 'Robots in the cockpit? Apparently, don't rule it out' (full post)

Researchers teaching robots to have better dexterity and speed

Researchers from UC Berkeley have found a way to help robots obtain better motor tasks using a trial and error process, in a similar manner to how humans learn. The reinforcement learning technique is possible because of software algorithms that give robots a new ability to learn from previous mistakes.

 

 

The robots complete different tasks, such as screwing a cap on a water bottle, putting a clothes hanger on a rack, and other tasks without the need of pre-programmed details. Deep learning will continue to be a major research focus in artificial intelligence (AI) development, as the Willow Garage Personal Robot 2 used at UC Berkeley continues perfecting its motor tasks.

 

"It used to take hours on up to months of careful programming to give a robot the hand-eye coordination necessary to do a task," said Gary Bradski, founder of OpenCV, which provides machine vision software, in a statement published by the New York Times. "This new work enables robots to just learn the task by doing it."

Continue reading 'Researchers teaching robots to have better dexterity and speed' (full post)

Telemarketers and refs, lookout... robots coming for your jobs

Whether we want it or not, the transition from human workers to robots is expected to cause mayhem among a number of different industries.

 

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The following industries are expected to face the highest likelihood of being replaced, according to a 2013 study from Oxford University - telemarketers (99 percent), umpires and referees (98.3 percent), cooks (96.3 percent), manicurists and pedicurists (94.5 percent), and roofers (89.7 percent).

 

It seems careers that require a mix of creativity, negotiation skill and strong communication will be safer than other positions - and there are plenty of concerns about how acceptable humans will be to jobs being carried out by robots.

Continue reading 'Telemarketers and refs, lookout... robots coming for your jobs' (full post)

NASA discovers a new galaxy which is as bright as 300 trillion suns

NASA has just found a new galaxy that is shining as brightly as, wait for it... 300 trillion suns. That's a lot of zeroes: 300,000,000,000,000 suns. One sun is bright, but 300 trillion? Ugh, I need some new sunglasses.

 

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The discovery has been so large for NASA that they've had to create a new classification for it, and the 19 other galaxies they discovered. These new galaxies are extremely luminous infrared galaxies, or ELIRGs for short. NASA has said that the new ELIRGs are "the most luminous galaxy found to date". NASA scientists spotted the ELIRGs with their Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) space telescope.

 

The ELIRGs that NASA found are located 12.5 billion light years away, which is why it's so damn bright. NASA JPL scientist Chao-Wei Tsai says that it "may be from the main growth spurt of the galaxy's black hole".

Continue reading 'NASA discovers a new galaxy which is as bright as 300 trillion suns' (full post)

Engineers create revolutionary mind-controlled prosthetic limbs

Engineers from the Applied Physics Lab at Johns Hopkins University have created the Modular Prosthetic Limbs, a robotic arm that can be controlled by the human brain.

 

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The lab-created prosthetic promises a lifelike form factor and appearance, with human-like strength and dexterity for the wearer. The M.P.L. has 26 joints and more than 100 sensors that are controlled using brain signals that are able to control the prosthetic - with the design continually pushing forward.

 

"We've designed a Maserati here, but what most people will want is a good Toyota," said Mike McLoughlin, chief engineer of research and exploratory development for the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab, in a statement published by the New York Times. "The M.P.L. was intentionally designed to be as sophisticated as we could make it so that you could really push the state of the art, but ultimately for commercializing it, it needs to be a lower cost design."

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