What if people who are paralyzed could use their brainwaves to get up out of wheelchairs and walk away? That's exactly what researchers from the University of Houston are hoping to accomplish with the latest evolution of robotic exoskeletons. They're turning to mind control to move these high-tech mobility machines to the next level -- and take patients with them.
The idea for for a mind-controlled robotic exoskeleton came to engineering professor Jose Contreras-Vidal, the project's lead, after Duke University's Miguel Nicolelis demonstrated that electrode arrays implanted in monkey brains could pick up on the neuron-firing patterns that occur when the monkey thinks about walking.
"Contreras-Vidal's group found out they could get the same effects using EEG (electroencephalography) to control an exoskeleton. EEG doesn't have the spatial resolution of an implanted electrode array, but it is noninvasive and has the added benefit of being able to measure electrical activity across the entire brain," Popular Mechanics reported. … Read more
Working as a stand-up comedian isn't an easy gig. Night after night, you bare your soul in front of a microphone, hoping for nothing more than a room full of people laughing at your jokes. You refine your material, research the latest news headlines, and even make a few props to get applause and a paltry paycheck. And now, you have to compete with a robot.
"There's something strange about that cowboy. He's awfully quiet and his eyes glow kinda peculiar like."
Don't mind him. He's just the latest robotic helper to round up the livestock with a flip of the switch. Earlier this month in Sydney, Australia, a team from the University of Sydney's Australian Centre for Field Robotics tested the four-wheeled remote-controlled robot called Rover to move cattle from a field to a dairy.
The bot looks more like Johnny-Five than an animatronic Will Rogers, but he apparently gets the job done remarkably well without spooking the animals. … Read more
I don't know why robots do things. I don't even know if there is a why.
All I know is that other mechanical gadgets like my toaster, my car, and MacBook Air seem to have minds of their own. So why not a cleaning robot?
I digress to these difficult areas because an Austrian robot has been accused of committing suicide.
It does seem extreme, I agree. But the rumor is that this robot was so fed up of housecleaning that it switched itself on, slid along the kitchen counter, and immolated itself on the kitchen stove.… Read more
It's still impossible to be in two places at once, unless you've got one of these gadgets lying around.
The InForm is a dynamic shape display from MIT's Tangible Media Group. It turns 3D data into crude, physical representations in real time.
Using a Kinect motion sensor, it can scan bodily movements and recreate them on a table of physical "pixels," allowing you to manipulate objects on the other end. The pixels on the InForm table are actually a grid of 900 motorized, polystyrene pins that can extend about 4 inches from the surface, according to an MIT paper (PDF) for the Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction.
The grid is powered by an elaborate system of computer-controlled linkages and actuators under the table. Meanwhile, an overhead Kinect and projector deliver data on user motion into the system while casting visual feedback onto the table. The mind-bending video at the end of this article shows how a user can cradle a ball or flashlight and interact with 3D models.… Read more
NEC may have finally found a use for a robot that's been "twiddling its thumbs" since the 1990s.
The coffeemaker-sized PaPeRo robot has communication skills and cute looks, but NEC has struggled to find a practical use for it.
The company has unveiled PaPeRo Petit, a more compact version of the droid that it wants to develop with business and application partners through the PaPeRo Petit Partner program. The droid could start functioning as a home assistant as early as January. … Read more
iRobot has launched its latest Roomba, a high-end 880 series vacuum with a new cleaning system dubbed Aeroforce and a bevy of tweaks based on customer feedback.
While I've tried the Roomba 880 and found it handy, the real story to me revolves around how iRobot thinks and approaches its products. The company started out making military robots, then got into its iconic Roomba and now has health care robots too.
In other words, iRobot is a fun company to watch, and its main value proposition is adding some time back to your life with fewer chores.
Here are … Read more
After 11 years and dozens of models, the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner has seen plenty of improvements. iRobot has just unveiled the 800 series, and the cleaner-bot has a significant design change: no more big brushes.
The 880's AeroForce cleaning technology is the subject of what's probably the most over-the-top robotic vacuum cleaner video ever produced, embedded below. The music alone makes it worth a watch. … Read more
Much like Dyson brand vacuums, I had heard my fair share of iRobot hype before I began testing the Roomba 880. I even had visions of following in Tom Haverford's footsteps and building a "DJ Roomba" of my very own. Sadly, my dreams of channeling "Parks and Recreation" were dashed when I unboxed it and began testing instead. Fortunately, though, what I discovered was a clever little robot vacuum that came in first or second place in every single performance category.
The Roomba 880 is a new model for iRobot and the very first 800-series … Read more