background preloader

Personal Robots Group - MIT Media Lab

Personal Robots Group - MIT Media Lab

http://robotic.media.mit.edu/

Related:  Our FutureRobotica

New solar fuel device that ”mimics plant life” Scientists have unveiled a prototype solar device that mimics plant life, turning the Sun’s energy into fuel. The device uses the Sun’s rays and a metal oxide called ceria to break down carbon dioxide or water into fuels, which can be stored and transported. The prototype, which has been devised by researchers in the US and Switzerland, uses a quartz window and cavity to concentrate sunlight into a cylinder lined with cerium oxide, also known as ceria. If as in the prototype, carbon dioxide and/or water are pumped into the vessel, the ceria will rapidly strip the oxygen from them as it cools, creating hydrogen and/or carbon monoxide. Hydrogen produced could be used to fuel hydrogen fuel cells in cars, for example, while a combination of hydrogen and carbon monoxide can be used to create “syngas” for fuel.

robot adapts to injury Lindsay France/University Photography Graduate student Viktor Zykov, former student Josh Bongard, now a professor at the University of Vermont, and Hod Lipson, Cornell assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, watch as a starfish-like robot pulls itself forward, using a gait it developed for itself. the robot's ability to figure out how it is put together, and from that to learn to walk, enables it to adapt and find a new gait when it is damaged. Nothing can possibly go wrong ... go wrong ... go wrong ... The truth behind the old joke is that most robots are programmed with a fairly rigid "model" of what they and the world around them are like. If a robot is damaged or its environment changes unexpectedly, it can't adapt. So Cornell researchers have built a robot that works out its own model of itself and can revise the model to adapt to injury.

Human Workers, Managed by an Algorithm Global workforce: Remote digital workers earned $0.32 each for producing these self-portraits. Stephanie Hamilton is part of something larger than herself. She’s part of a computer program. The 38-year-old resident of Kingston, Jamaica, recently began performing small tasks assigned to her by an algorithm running on a computer in Berkeley, California. That software, developed by a startup called MobileWorks, represents the latest trend in crowdsourcing: organizing foreign workers on a mass scale to do routine jobs that computers aren’t yet good at, like checking spreadsheets or reading receipts.

Nerve-Electronic Hybrid Could Meld Mind and Machine Nerve-cell tendrils readily thread their way through tiny semiconductor tubes, researchers find, forming a crisscrossed network like vines twining toward the sun. The discovery that offshoots from nascent mouse nerve cells explore the specially designed tubes could lead to tricks for studying nervous system diseases or testing the effects of potential drugs. Such a system may even bring researchers closer to brain-computer interfaces that seamlessly integrate artificial limbs or other prosthetic devices.

Nanotechnology Basics Home > Introduction > Nanotechnology Basics Nanotechnology Basics Last Updated: Friday, 14-Jun-2013 09:28:04 PDT What is Nanotechnology? Answers differ depending on who you ask, and their background. Broadly speaking however, nanotechnology is the act of purposefully manipulating matter at the atomic scale, otherwise known as the "nanoscale." How Algorithms and Editors Can Work Together to Burst the "Filter Bubble" The algorithms that surface content for us on Facebook and Google are miracles of modern programming. But Eli Pariser, author and chairman of the board at MoveOn.org, has concerns. In March, Pariser gave a popular TED talk about "filter bubbles" — the idea that when search and social networks only serve us content that we "like," we're not seeing content we need. He cited examples where liberal-leaning Facebook friends only see fellow liberals in their "Top Stories," or a frequent traveler only got tourism results when Googling "Egypt" in the midst of the Arab Spring. As users increasingly get their news from curated social channels, this trend has the potential to isolate us and damage our world view.

Controlling Computers with Your Mind November 8, 2010 Scientists used a brain-computer interface to show how the activity of just a few brain cells can control the display of pictures on a computer screen. The finding sheds light on how single brain cells contribute to attention and conscious thought. Patients were asked to focus on 1 of 2 superimposed images, here of Michael Jackson and Marilyn Monroe. Silicon Chips Wired With Nerve Cells Could Enable New Brain/Machine Interfaces It's reminiscent of Cartman's runaway Trapper Keeper notebook in that long-ago episode of South Park, but researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison may be scratching the surface of a new kind of brain/machine interface by creating computer chips that are wired together with living nerve cells. A team there has found that mouse nerve cells will connect with each other across a network of tiny tubes threaded through a semiconductor material. It's not exactly clear at this point how the nerve cells are functioning, but what is clear is that the cells seem to have an affinity for the tiny tubes, and that alone has some interesting implications. To create the nerve-chip hybrid, the researchers created tubes of layered silicon and germanium that are large enough for the nerve cells' tendrils to navigate but too small for the actual body of the cell to pass through. What isn't clear is whether or not the cells are actually communicating with each other they way they would naturally.

The Algorithm: Idiom of Modern Science by Bernard Chazelle hen the great Dane of 20th century physics, Niels Bohr, was not busy chewing on a juicy morsel of quantum mechanics, he was known to yap away witticisms worthy of Yogi Berra. The classic Bohrism “Prediction is difficult, especially about the future” alas came too late to save Lord Kelvin. Just as physics was set to debut in Einstein's own production of Extreme Makeover, Kelvin judged the time ripe to pen the field's obituary: “There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now.” Not his lordship's finest hour. Nor his worst.

Related: