Archive for June, 2011

Developers seek to create a learning robot

Thursday, June 30th, 2011
Missing Attachment

According to Red Orbit, linguist, Jeffrey Heinz, and mechanical engineer, Bert Tanner, share the goal of creating a robotics devices capable of learning complex subjects such as language. The two professionals are currently exploring the advent of adaptive technology in an effort to better understand how both humans and robots learn from the world around them.

"We would like to make the robots adaptive – learn about their environment and reconfigure themselves based on the knowledge they acquire," Tanner told the news source.

The machines, in theory, will be able to communicate with each other. Also, the media outlet reported group dynamics will come into play when the robotics systems interact with like-minded machines. Tanner and Heinz asserted that a robot will be aware of the limitations of its design and delegate tasks to other, more capable robots, creating a cohesive team capable of solving complex problems.

Communication between autonomous robotics systems is a growing trend in the industry. Recently, two devices called Lingodroids were developed in Australia, Reuters reported. Using area scanners and other adaptive technologies, the devices developed their own unique language in which they communicate with each other.

Robotic artist a success, yet far from perfect

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011
Missing Attachment

According to Gizmodo, robots that can replicate exactly what they see with microscopic precision may lack the inspiration inherent in their human creators. However, a new robotics sketching system may reveal some soul behind the circuits.

One device, in partiuclar, named Paul may be imperfect, but its creator Patrick Tresset insists it is undeniably stylish, claimed the news source. Tresset, favoring originality over precision, built Paul with less expensive servomotors than ones commonly featured in industrial-grade devices. The result is a robotic arm capable of registering an object through sensors and drawing it with a large degree of expression.

"I try to make robotic installations that touch people," said Tresset. "I believe that a robot that slightly fails is more interesting, more touching – it encourages empathy in the viewer."

On the media outlet's website, it shows Paul drawing a profile of a human face. While some of the pen strokes are imperfect, the overall image resembles the subject on a basic level.

Perhaps Paul may collaborate with other robotic artists. According to IBN, a new robotic system developed by researchers with the University of London called the AIKON-II also has the ability to draw. Furthermore, Tresset had a hand in this project as well.

Japanese pop star actually a robot

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011
Missing Attachment

In a bizarre twist, it turns out that Aimi Eguchi, a member of the popular Japanese singing group AKB 48, is not exactly human, reported the Atlantic Wire. Instead, she is a "digital composite" of the band members' best features.

Taking some of best human elements and melding them with a functioning digital display was the idea of creator Yashusi Akimoto. However, the announcement came after suspicions began to rise due to the fact that virtually nothing about Aimi's background was found on the internet and nobody outside the organization surrounding the music group had seen her in person, reported the news source.

The announcement of Aimi's true nature was not met with outrage by the Japanese people. Instead, it was seen by robotics specialists and sociologists alike as a clever affirmation of the nation's uniquely technological culture, claimed the media outlet. Innovative uses for robots have permeated several sectors of Japanese society, and the current generation is the major driving force behind this trend.

While Japan is having fun with its robots, others are also putting the systems to use in critical industries. According to Gizmodo, pharmacists working with the University of California in San Francisco are developing robotics systems to dispense patient medications efficiently.

Hotel patrons greeted by robotics

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011
Missing Attachment

Guests at a new hotel in New York City are welcomed by a robotics device when they first walk through the front entrance, reported the Wall Street Journal.

Deployed by Yotel, a new hotel with a hip technology focus, the robotics arm helps automate the check-out process. According to the news source, the device stands at 20-feet tall and stores luggage left behind by guests who want to remain in the city after the morning check-out time. When guests come back, the system identifies the correct bags and returns them to their owners.

However, the media outlet claimed bellhops worried about losing their jobs need not fear, as there are still human run services in the hotel, such as check-in attendants and other customer service assistants.

Experts say robotics are now being implemented in a variety of roles that, while innovative, are practical solutions for advanced technology. Therefore, it is entirely likely that more automated machines, like the robotics arm featured at Yotel, will make their way into industries reliant on delivering customers services efficiently.

According to the news broadcaster KMOV, the robotics arm, while highly-advanced, does not accept tips from thankful hotel patrons.

Robotics initiatives provide students guidance

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011
Missing Attachment

Most high school students have no idea what they want to do with their lives, though education in science, technology, engineering and math may point them towards technical careers, reported the Business Review.

Schools across the country are creating more STEM options and groups, such as robotics clubs, to promote a greater emphasis on scientific learning, stated the news source. For one student at Balton Spa High School in Balton Spa, New York, involvement with his school's robotics club pointed him in the a new direction.

"That hammered it home," said Jake Torrey, a student at the high school. "I decided to go into engineering because it’s a safer route with more career opportunities."

According to the media outlet, STEM supporters are creating more opportunities for students in the United States to experience technical subjects. Furthermore, many of these committed individuals are working with school districts to solidify budget considerations and funding for these programs, which is no small task given the current economy.

Robotics programs in the classroom meet STEM criteria, as well as garner student interests through hands on activity, reported the Atlantic.

STEM recommendations made by national education body

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011
Missing Attachment

As many technicians in the robotics field would say, education in science, technology, engineering and math should begin at a young age. The National Research Council recently announced that STEM education is lacking in many U.S. schools, though the organization intends to change this with its new suggestions for teachers of all grade levels .

One suggestion made by the national education organization is more time spent on these subjects. According to the NRC, scientific topics have received less attention from teachers than math and language arts subjects. Additionally, new curricula incorporating STEM lessons and field trips needs to be developed. These guidelines may carry additional significance, as the NRC and officials within STEM-related industries claim an understanding of these concepts may provide students with career opportunities once they reach adulthood.

"A growing number of jobs – not just those in professional science – require knowledge of STEM fields," said Adam Gamoran, a university professor and STEM education supporter.

Accordingly, many robotics industry concepts are derived from STEM topics. Even military branches are now placing additional emphasis on scientific learning, as highlighted by the recently announced scientific scholarships given out by the Citadel, a military college in South Carolina.

New robot is capable of drawing accurate portraits

Monday, June 27th, 2011
Missing Attachment

As new technology emerges, robotics systems will be able to perform more difficult tasks. Now, it appears that one robot has mastered the art of character drawing, reported IBN.

A new project, named the AIKON-II by its University of London organizers, recently developed a robotics system that, through adaptive software, learned how to draw portraits based on the teachings of its human creators. According to the news source, robotic "eyes" are connected to the machine's "brain," which then sends signals to specialized attachments that enable it to draw shapes, lines and characters.

Put all of these complementary systems together and the result is a robot capable of mimicking human drawing motions. Project coordinators stated the new system will likely lead to greater understanding about the link between thought processes and actions in robotic devices.

"The accumulated knowledge about our perceptual and other neurobiological systems is advanced enough that, together with recent progress in computational hardware, computer vision and artificial intelligence, we can now try to build sophisticated computational simulations," said Fol Leymarie, one of the project's leaders, told the media outlet.

A growing number of robots are designed with the ability to learn. Reuters recently reported on two robots, called Lingodroids, which developed their own language using adaptive software.

STEM initiative celebrates five-year anniversary

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011
Missing Attachment

NASA recently announced this summer will mark the fifth year its High School Aerospace Scholars Program has partnered with the Washington Aerospace Scholars.

The collaborative scholarship program is intended to foster student interests in science, technology, engineering and math related fields. To date, 1,160 students have passed through the program, in which STEM-minded children can also participate in a seasonal program through the Seattle Museum of Flight.

The summer initiative presents itself as a valuable opportunity for students interested in aviation and other technical subjects to gain some exposure to scientific industries.

"There are few opportunities available for such an in-depth, free education in this field. It was a unique opportunity to interact with experts in the field on engineering and aviation," said Amanda Watson, a previous program participant.

Those who wish to take part in the Seattle museum's summer residency need to take a series of tests on space exploration and other STEM-related topics. According to NASA, the students who score the best in these assessments will qualify for the program.

Students interested in robotics may consider applying to the summertime program, as there is a growing demand for this expertise in the aerospace field. According to the news outlet Space, a new robotics pilot program was recently approved by NASA to be carried out aboard the International Space Station.

Korean robot has worldwide education ambitions

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011
Missing Attachment

According to Dvice, a new educational robotics system has been developed by Korea's Robot Institute to teach school children in the country and elsewhere.

Dubbed the Kiro Robot, the device was originally designed to be an electronic museum guide, stated the news source. Accordingly, it performed its duties well enough that company executives considered implementing the robotics system in the classroom.

Developers have big plans for the Kiro Robot. Unlike other east Asian companies, Korea's Robot Institute plans to market the device worldwide. The media outlet claimed the robotics system will likely find its way to the American marketplace sometime in the future.

Kiro recently completed a three-week trial program to test its effectiveness in an actual educational setting, reported Engadget. The functions it performed during the pilot included running educational videos on one of its screens and playing interactive games with eager school children. Program observers noted the educational device kept students engaged in the daily lesson, thereby proving its worth as a teacher's aid.

Kiro also had an after-hours job during this time period as a museum guide at the Dong-A University Museum in Busan, South Korea, reported the news organization.

Companies prefer STEM trained interns

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011
Missing Attachment

Students in Annapolis, Maryland, who are trained in science, technology, engineering and math may have better luck getting competitive industry internships, reported Edgewater-Davidson Patch.

Businesses in Anne Arundel County are encouraged by government officials to support local students who participated in STEM magnet programs. According to the news source, interns will receive valuable experience in technical fields as well as be given the chance to show prospective future employers their technical skills.

"The way you write a computer program is incredibly complex, but I couldn’t explain it to you before STEM," Nicholas Manoogian, a high school senior, told the media outlet.

To date, the STEM focused program has matched more than 200 students with 52 local businesses. City officials and business planners alike claim the internships may combat the high unemployment rate in Annapolis as well as create the potential technology workforce of the future, stated Edgewater-Davidson Patch.

According to the Atlantic, the STEM industry is seeing a high percentage of job vacancies in fields ranging from robotics to computer software development. To combat this trend, new education initiatives have been started in classrooms throughout the United States.