Monday, October 13, 2008

The Clothes Make The Man

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> From: The Herald Net

"Robot suit helps disabled people walk"
"TSUKUBA, Japan -- A robotic suit that reads brain signals and helps people with mobility problems will be available to rent in Japan for $2,200 a month -- an invention that may have far-reaching benefits for the disabled and elderly.

HAL -- short for "hybrid assistive limb" -- is a computerized suit with sensors that read brain signals directing limb movement through the skin.

The 22-pound battery-operated computer system is belted to the waist. It captures the brain signals and relays them to mechanical leg braces strapped to the thighs and knees, which then provide robotic assistance to people as they walk.

Cyberdyne, a new company in Tsukuba outside Tokyo, will mass-produce HAL. Two people demonstrated the suits at the company's headquarters on Tuesday.

A demonstration video also showed a partially paralyzed person getting up from a chair and walking slowly wearing the HAL suit.

"We are ready to present this to the world," said Yoshiyuki Sankai, a University of Tsukuba professor who designed HAL.

Sankai, who has worked on robot suits since 1992 and is also Cyberdyne's chief executive, said a full device that covers the entire body is also being designed, though it is unclear when it will be available commercially.

HAL comes in three sizes -- small, medium and large -- and also has a one-leg version for a 150,000 yen, or $1,500, monthly rental fee.

Noel Sharkey is a robotics expert not affiliated with the technology. The professor at the University of Sheffield in England said HAL will have wide-ranging benefits for the elderly others with movement disabilities.

"HAL can only lead to extending the abilities of the elderly and keep them out of care for longer," Sharkey said in an e-mail to The Associated Press..."
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"Scientists think that, one day, robots could fool us into believing they were human"

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>From: BBC News/Science

"Japanese develop 'female' android"
"Japanese scientists have unveiled the most human-looking robot yet - a "female" android named Repliee Q1Expo.

She has flexible silicone for skin rather than hard plastic, and a number of sensors and motors to allow her to turn and react in a human-like manner. She can flutter her eyelids and move her hands like a human. She even appears to breathe.
Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro of Osaka University says one day robots could fool us into believing they are human.

Repliee Q1Expo is not like any robot you will have seen before, at least outside of science-fiction movies. She is designed to look human and although she can only sit at present, she has 42 actuators in her upper body, powered by a nearby air compressor, programmed to allow her to move like a human.

We have found that people forget she is an android while interacting with her
Prof Hiroshi Ishiguro"I have developed many robots before," Repliee Q1Expo's designer, Professor Ishiguro, told the BBC News website, "but I soon realised the importance of its appearance. A human-like appearance gives a robot a strong feeling of presence..."

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Hello Mr. Chips

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>From: Edutopia

"Rise of the Robots: Human-Machine Interaction Enhances Tech Teaching"

"Simpler to build, less expensive to buy, self-activating machines will become indispensable teaching tools.

Robots have long been the stuff of sci-fi movies, from the rabble-rousing fembot in Fritz Lang's classic silent film Metropolis to the maniacal micromanager HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey and the Teutonic Terminator (who came back from the future to become governor of California). Film robots have been fecklessly funny (C-3PO) and ferocious (those evil Star Trek Borgs), yet what they all had in common was that they were fictional.

That was then.

Now, bots are hot, they're real, and they're a growing part of secondary school curriculum. Sebastian Thrun, a professor of engineering at Stanford University and director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, leads a team at the school that competes in the DARPA Urban Challenge, where highly sophisticated robot cars must handle simulated real-world traffic conditions. Thrun sees an increasing number of freshmen entering Stanford with head starts in robotics. "I find that there's an enormous awareness and fascination with regard to robotics in the incoming student population," he says.

This awareness may start early, as Web sites such as offer information on how parents (or teachers) and kids can build small robots. The rise of robotics now showing up in school science curricula, often starting at the elementary school level, can be credited to inventor Dean Kamen, who launched the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition in 1989, in which student-designed robots engage in a last-bot-standing battle royale. Now, more than 32,000 students on 1,500 high school teams from all over the world have competed, and the FIRST Lego League and Junior FIRST Lego League have brought robotics to kids ages 6-16..."
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