Modern Robotics

Of all things sci-fi and techie, robots are probably the most easily explained and recognisable phenomenon. They’ve featured in numerous sci-fi books and movies, mostly as grossly overpowered machines of human extinction, but also occasionally as sensitive, thinking, feeling companions to mankind. Today, I will give you a few brief insights into how modern science is trying to realise the promises of those epic sci-fi stories.

The definition of a robot (in this case taken from Wikipedia) is anautomatically guided machine, able to do tasks on its own. Another common characteristic is that by its appearance or movements, a robot often conveys a sense that it has intent or agency of its own. “Automatically guided” is an important distinction, as a lot of machines that people consider to be robots are actually not.

The US military has a number of these typesofthings, but currently doesn’t have any real robots. That will soon change, with DARPA giving out a $32 million grant to the company responsible for the very (very, very) cool Big Dogrobot. This handy (fully automatic) machine is going to be used as a robotic pack mule, lugging around supplies for a troop of soldiers travelling through rough terrain. Big Dog has some really advanced movement systems, so much so that it can come across quite creepy to some people (I think it’s WAY too cool to be considered creepy, but maybe that’s just me ^^).

Thankfully, the military are not the only ones exploring Robotics in its true form, the civilian sector might actually be well ahead. South Korea in particular is making a big push to be the world leader in robotics, having made the very ambitious promise to have a robot in every home by 2020. They could even make the deadline, with awesome tech like Honda’sASIMOrobot and thismaid robot. These civilian robots are still a far cry from C3-P0, only able operate in a very limited set of environments and actions.

So the robots are coming! And with showcases like the Robotic Soccer World Cup, and constant advances in computers allowing us to evolve the software to run the robots, it’s only a matter of time.

Lots of news this week:

Twitter Developing Technology To Thwart Censorship – Twitter taking up the challenge of opposing despotic countries. Brave.

Scientists Produce Unprecedented 1 Megajoule Laser Shot, Step Towards Fusion IgnitionLevitating magnet may yield new approach to clean energy – The biggest “laser beam” built yet, Dr. Evil would approve.

Apple Ipad – various views from industry commentators.

China Is Winning Global Race To Make Clean Energy – Who would have thought?

The BCI X PRIZE: This Time It’s Inner Space – A new X-Prize being setup to advance the electronic/brain interface. Sweet.

New adhesive device could let humans walk on walls – I want to be spiderman!

Scientists Discover New Species of Tyrannosaur – Pretty cool ^^

India Objects To Google Book Settlement – Google having more problems with it’s Books program

Super Strong Metal Foam Discovered – New meta-materials are always cool

Another week, another post. Hope you found it interesting. Peace.


“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one”



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