We’re All Beta Testers Now


There are two distinct camps forming around autonomous vehicles. One group wants to see self-driving cars on the road as quickly as possible because it will save more lives than if people are behind the wheel. Others are wary, insisting there is no way will this can or should happen in the next 10 to 15 years. Time will tell who's right. But what is clear is that the technology has far outst... » read more

System Bits: May 10


Topological insulators In a finding that could open up a new pathway to advanced electronic devices and even robust quantum computer architecture, researchers from MIT; Oak Ridge, and Argonne National Laboratories; the Institute for Theoretical Physics in Bochum, Germany; the Institute for Theoretical Solid State Physics in Dresden; the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris; and the Institute of N... » read more

System Bits: March 15


Drilling into metabolic details with big data In a development that may help researchers find new therapeutic targets for cancer and other diseases, Rice University researchers have created a fast computational method to model tissue-specific metabolic pathways. The team explained that metabolic pathways are immense networks of biochemical reactions that keep organisms functioning and are a... » read more

Prototyping To Help You Win The Battle


Lately, my children and I are closely following a new show on ABC called “Battlebots”. The concept is as simple as it is cool—have a massive bulletproof arena where two remote-controlled robots battle it out until one is knocked out or the time is up (and a jury decides the winner). The battles are all about making physical contact with the other robot to either directly deal them damage ... » read more

New Robots For The IoT


Until recently, remote telepresence has largely been a fixed screen with a video link between participants, and mostly in business setting. But all of that is about to change once the [getkc id="76" comment="Internet of Things"]/Internet of Everything begins to take root. There is a plethora of development going on in mobile robotic telepresence (MRT). Companies such as iRobot, Cisco, Suitab... » read more

Manufacturing Bits: Feb. 3


Robotic plants In 2012, the European Commission launched the so-called Plantoid project. In the project, researchers hope to devise synthetic robotic plants. Inspired by plant roots, the robots could be used for soil monitoring and other applications. The group is devising so-called artifacts. These components resemble plants and plant roots. The new technologies expected to result from the... » read more

A Robot In Every Home


Bill Gates, in a 2006 Scientific American article, described his vision of the future as, "A robot in every home." It's difficult to project that far ahead with technology, though. Since then, wireless has come a long way. So have microelectronics—nearly 24 orders of magnitude if you use Moore's Law. So the robot conceived in 2006 is now more like a gaggle of Internet dust particles that r... » read more

Manufacturing Bits: Feb. 18


Polite cupcake helping robots Cornell and Carnegie Mellon have made a new discovery about robots. If they sound less snippy when they communicate, listeners will respond better. In fact, developers of robots should develop systems that use less confrontational language. In the study, entitled “How a Robot Should Give Advice,” researchers discovered that robots and humans are more lik... » read more

Manufacturing Bits: Jan. 7


Climbing Terminator Robots Simon Fraser University has developed a family of climbing robots that mimic the stickiness of gecko lizard feet. Based on a “footpad terminator” adhesive technology, the robots could be used in space missions and on Earth. The climbing robot, called Abigaille, features six legs. This allows the robots to crawl on vertical and horizontal structures. The techno... » read more

Manufacturing Bits: Nov. 26


Arctic Neutrinos From Space Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) has observed high-energy neutrinos stemming from outside the solar system, an event that could provide some clues about the universe. Researchers observed the sub-atomic particles at IceCube, a huge neutrino detector in Antarctica. TUM has observed 28 neutrinos that most likely came from cosmic objects. The IceCube observato... » read more

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